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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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

 

 

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

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

Hello, 2017

Happy New Years my faithful readers!  I am wrapping up the final 30 minutes of the first day of the New Year reflecting over the last year {where did the time go?!} and setting out some goals for the new year.  2016 was a good year but 2017 is going to be a riveting year.  I have big goals for 2017 and I can’t wait to start achieving them.  I am still in the process of writing out these goals, as I am trying to be very intentional and prayerful about each one of them and what result I am striving for.  Tomorrow, however is the official start date of one of our goals.  We are partaking in a couples weight loss/healthy lifestyle challenge with our best friends and neighbors.  We are the Ridge Runners and plan on ending the competition finishing a race and going on a double date where the losing couple pays for dinner.  I am super excited about this and so hopeful that it really does become a true lifestyle change for me.  I am ready to have the energy of my marathon running days back {and maybe run another marathon or two}.  Of course, another goal that is already firm on our list is to sell our house.  We plan on re-listing early Spring and are setting out an action plan to make that as quick and successful as possible.  Achieving that goal will rapidly lead to the achieving of our other goals, one being moving into our RV full-time.  Some people still think we are crazy, some think we are awesome.  I’m with the awesome crowd.  I have devoted my entire day {on no sleep} to cleaning and organizing the house {starting to} so we can start clearing all the clutter and noise out of our lives.  Andrew and I are both going to do the 333 project with our wardrobes.  I was hoping to go through my side of the closet today, but we will do it together when he gets home from the country with the boys.  I think this challenge will help me with more than simplifying my wardrobe.  I am hoping it trickles down through every other area of my life and I can then go through the rest of the house with a more eager spirit to let go.  I had a harder time than I thought I would as  I went through to boys closets and toys today.  I was able to downsize some, but I plan on re-evaluating again in a few weeks as I know I have more work to do.  It is definitely a learning curve, but I am excited to start. Andrew and I always talk about the simple life.  I’m ready to stop talking and start achieving.  We watched the documentary called Minimalism on Netflix the week before Christmas and were both inspired by it.  I look forward to the LESS is MORE life.  I look forward to living our life by doing things, not having things.  Bring it on 2017 – the Hoopers’ are ready for you!  What are some of your goals this year?!

xo,

j

A Break

And here we are.  2 days away from December.  33 days away from a new year.  2016 has been a wild, crazy and fun ride.  I have a feeling 2017 is going to be even better, more exciting,  and filled with more and more change.  Until then, we are on a break.  We took our house off the market 2 days ago and let me tell you – toys are EVERYWHERE.  It feels nice.  So relieving to just be care free again and let the kids be kids without hooting and hollering about messes constantly in fear we might get a showing.  Is this what we had envisioned in our grand plan?  Heck no.  But that’s ok!  This is where we are at and we can either run with it or sit here and pout.  We are running.  We pulled out the decorations and have been filling this house with Hooper Christmas Spirit for one final time – what a special gift; a gift we didn’t even think about but man I am so happy we have it.  I love Christmas and to able to celebrate a final Christmas in our first house we had together; the house we started our family in is the best gift this season.  So now what?  We enjoy our break.  Our plan is to possibly re-list during the ‘prime’ season come spring time.  Hopefully it will be quick and painless sell and we can finally start our grand RV adventure.  I pray the offer will be the right offer and the right family.  We have said from the beginning that if it is meant to be it will be.  Now is not the time.  God has made that abundantly clear to us.  We aren’t going to push it.  We look forward to having time to continue to sort through our items of keep/sell/donate and to spend time with our AWESOME neighbors.  They are great neighbors guys.  SO SO SO great.

Andrew took the kiddos this past weekend while I worked.  It was SUCH a blessing.  I enjoyed the quiet, got to nap, and relax.  I also binge watched the return of Gilmore Girls.  AND all I  have to say about that is there better be another season because I am just not ok with that ending.  The kids had an absolute blast in the country as always and seeing those pictures of them running free is such a drive for me to pursue this dream of ours even more.  I cannot wait for that piece of land, that barndominium.  Cannot even wait.

countryweekend

Our very first Christmas in this house consisted of Andrew, I and our sweet brand spanking new puppy Shelby.   I remember pulling out the artificial tree setting it up in the living room next to the fireplace and just looking at each other and busting out laughing.  Our new living room ATE this tree up.  It was tiny!!!!!  It looked so perfect in our 600 square foot apartment downtown, but here it looked teeeeeny.  SO we moved it into our entry and became 2 tree people.  I never thought I would be more than a one tree person, but alas, life again fooled me.  We trucked off to Home Depot in search of the perfect REAL tree.  The perfect 12 foot tree.  WHAT were we thinking?  Good question.  We were obviously very new to this whole space concept.  We figured 12 foot ceilings and pretty much no furniture we could fit a 12 foot tree.  Well, after chopping off a couple of feet from the bottom and trimming the whole back side off we did fit our 12 foot tree in to the living room.  It was HUGE and it was BEAUTIFUL.  I think this may have been the starting point of this crazy dream of ours – not that either of us realized it then.  We decorated this tree with THOUSANDS {no lie} of lights and about the 10 ornaments we owned.   Because lets be real…..after buying a 12 footer we couldn’t afford to decorate it :).  SO it was a pile of sparkling pine perfection.  As we sat on the couch admiring our tree, we talked about one day having a house with a sun-room in the front that during the winter would become a tree room.  It would be big enough to put the largest tree we could imagine in there.  This was the beginning of the dream.  A tree room.  We loved that tree, {and all the critters that snuck in on it} and shoving the largest tree we could manage into our living room quickly became a new family tradition – until a toddler entered our lives – END of everything right there.  Our first toddler Christmas consisted of a Charlie Brown 2 footer {which barely survived the season}.  The next year we graduated back to a real tree but a MUCH smaller real tree – like 4-5 feet in fear our little monkey child would think it was for climbing.  This year, our final year I begged Andrew to have one FINAL 12 footer.  Just one more big tree I thought would make it the perfect final Christmas.  The more I thought about it, the more I turned from that idea.  That tree is being saved for our FIRST Christmas in the tree room, not the FINAL Christmas in our first house.  NO, the tree that deserves to be the FINAL tree in the FIRST house is the FIRST tree that has been here through it all. We spent all day yesterday digging our first tree out of the attic building and decorating it with shatter proof ornaments.  It is perfect.  AND best part – it doesn’t even look that small.  That first year our house swallowed it up – but this year – nope.  It was as if this tree was made for this house; made for us.  The stockings and the chaos we have added to the house over the past 5 years have made it the perfect space for this little tree of ours.  No tree would have been the best option considering the status of our children right who think that anything round is a baseball {hence that shatter proof ornaments} but that wasn’t an option.  So much of the magic of Christmas to me is in the tree.  Every tree holds a special story and brings back such a unique set of feelings from my childhood, my Christmas’ growing up.  I want my boys to always have special tree memories as well; and so far I think we have nailed that part.  It also seems that one day many Christmas’ from now I became a tree per room person.   Insert shocked face here.  As I wrote this post I envisioned bringing our first tree with us and putting it in our master bedroom.  After all, it will always be our tree.

 

 

first tree, downtown apartment
first tree, downtown apartment
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first HUGE tree in the house
huge, fat tree year
huge, fat tree year
my favorite tree
my favorite tree
Charlie Brown tree year, teh 2 footer
Charlie Brown tree year, the 2 footer
Wyatt's first real tree, normal size
Wyatt’s first real tree, normal size
the FIRST and FINAL tree
the FIRST and FINAL tree

I hope this Christmas Season brings you all wonderful memories and special moments.  Capture them up, you will never have Christmas 2016 to do again.  Make it a good one.

 

xo,

j

 

Five on Friday – Election week edition

It’s Friday and it’s cold!  Well, cold for Texas anyways 🙂  I hope everyone had a great week.  We have a had a few house showings this week and I am trying not to get too hopeful but I am continuing to pray that we get an offer sooner than later if this is God’s will.  Having your house on the market is exhausting – ask Andrew.  Bless his heart.  Almost every showing we have gotten notice as I am going into work for the night.  He has totally rocked all the cleaning and organizing by himself so I can just wrangle the kiddos the next day and get everybody out of the house in time for the showing!  I could not do this life without him by my side.  I had lunch with a dear friend and was telling her my frustrations and shared with me this quote that her friend shared with her.  So much truth right here.  Finding the beauty in our wait.

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{one}

Trump wins.  I get it.  I do.  Some people are scared/angry and some people are happy/celebrating.  Regardless of the side you are on I think this election has {or needs to in some cases} taught the American people some important lessons.  One – God has been on control since the beginning.  As much as the polls and experts said otherwise – HE knew.  And, personally, I think that is awesome.  We voted, but ultimately he chose.  As I prayed with my boys in carpool line before drop off on Tuesday we ended our prayer with that whoever God willed to be in office would win.  I am at peace with that.  If it had been reversed I would have been at peace as well.  Why?  Because we can only TRUST HIM.  End of story.  No rioting, no worrying, no name calling is going to fix anything nor give the other side what they want.  Two – Love wins.  OR does it?  It seems to me that some of the large groups of people that preach from the rooftops that Love wins are the ones sending death threats and filling the streets with riots and hate towards Mr. Trump and his family.  I am all about Love wins.  Regardless of my beliefs and values I try not to judge others, that is not my place.  I don’t care what color you are or what you believe in if you are behind me I am going to keep the door open for you, if your tire is flat and you are stranded on the side of the road I can guarantee you my husband will the first one to flip a U-turn and offer you assistance – regardless if you have a Trump or Hillary bumper sticker.  WHY?  because we are all humans and it is our duty to treat EACH AND EVERY other human with respect.  So to the crowds out there throwing up their arms in hatred and anger – why don’t you try loving?  After all, love wins.  Right?!  Matthew 22:37-40 reads “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself.  The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”  NEWFLASH: Trump is your neighbor, Hillary is your neighbor.  We ARE ALL neighbors.  Let’s try love friends.  If you do nothing else, I dare you to try and step out of your comfort zone.  Say hello to every person you make eye contact with, hold doors open for people, start a conversation with a stranger.  As I waited {an hour} in the voting lines I got to talk to the person behind me and ahead of me and I really enjoyed our conversation.  I enjoyed their company to help the hour pass.  Did we ever once talk about who we were voting for?  nope (and one of them was wearing a shirt for the party I was not voting for).  And guess what – it didn’t matter.  We laughed.  They played with my son and made him laugh.  They helped me maneuver the stroller through the tiny door spaces into the voting lines.  Hillary and Trump are just as much your neighbor as they were mine.  Show love.  Natalie Grant’s song King of the world was my theme song last week.  This week I am choosing Tim McGraw’s song Humble and Kind.  I pray that the American people can show kindness towards Mr. President Trump.  I also pray that Mr. Trump can stay Humble and {grow in his ability to be} kind.  We all have room to grow in ourselves; let’s stretch that ability.

 

clinton-trump-2016-electoral-map-trump-wins-640x480

Now, Let’s put all of these political wars aside and pay tribute to our veterans. THANK YOU!.  Each and every person and their family that has sacrificed their time {and lives} in order to serve our country.  Let’s make them proud and continue to make America great.

veterans-day-20131

{two}

Corbin got to vote at school.  I talked very briefly with him about the election and Wednesday morning we talked about the President that had won the election.  His response to me was “but I wanted chocolate and chicken nuggets (his vote at school).”  My sweet, sweet little boy.  Hang onto that innocent soul forever.

file-nov-10-10-07-44-pm

{three}

I just discovered the best little coffee and lunch spot in my hood.  literally right down the street from house.  I felt super trendy there with my husbands laptop, my iced green tea, and actually being dressed in real people’s clothes.  I think I found my new kid free alone time hide out {which means I’ll be there maybe 3 times a year ;)}.  swoon.

2016-11-10-12-18-26

{four}

I am almost completely done with our Christmas shopping lists.  Once our Amazon points hit our account all I have to do is click buy, wait, and wrap.  I am feeling super on top of it right now and so excited to wrap gifts and have Christmas everything pouring out of my soul 🙂  I get Christmas isn’t all about presents but gift giving is one of my languages of love so that part of the holiday I just LOVE.  I love wrapping presents, I love watching my family open them.  I just love it.

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{five}

We are heading to a Christmas Market near our house with some of our best friends this weekend.  This has been a tradition for us for 6 years now.  My friend that we go with was actually my wedding coordinator at the facility we got married at and I was secretly hoping we could stay friends after I got married 😉  She invited Andrew I to dinner and this market with them a few months after our wedding.  As much as the boys were thrilled to go shopping with us – it really was a great night and it has become tradition ever since.  AND they are some of our best friends now and their kids and our kids are best friends.  So pretty much its perfect.

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Have a great weekend friends.  Thanksgiving is only 2 weeks away!!!!!!

friday link up

 

xo,

j