Monday, July 4, 2016

2 Years In ...

Today marks two years since we moved into the trailer (which Gary usually corrects me to say "it's a fifth wheel"). When we started this adventure, I never in a million years would have guessed we would stay this long. I actually thought that by week 2, I would be miserable and we would start building my dream house instead. But. Here we are ... Still loving it. And I'm not even joking.

I think I will continue what I started this time last year, and give you my top 10 favorite things about this adventure, from this year. Here goes ...

1. I love our freedom. Last summer, we vacationed for 7 weeks, traveling to Murrels Inlet, SC, Charleston, SC, Ft. Sumter, Charlotte, NC, The Badlands, Mt. Rushmore, Rocky Mountain National Park (absolutely incredible!), Steamboat Springs, CO, Vail, Winter Park, Silverton, Durango, and finally Gulf Shores, AL. This summer, we will travel for 6 weeks total and visit: Murrels Inlet, SC, Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, Boston, Palmyra, NY, Niagara Falls, Gatlinburg, TN, Nauvoo, IL, Charlotte, NC, and finally Rosemary Beach, FL. We are only able to do this, all together as a family, because several other firefighters offer to switch shifts with Gary, and because we live on a fraction of our income the rest of the year.

2. I still love how little chores we actually have -- the place is currently trashed, but could be completely clean in under an hour. We rarely spend any time on upkeep, which is great, because probably no one will look back on life and wish they had spent more time cleaning.

3. My kids are every bit as sheltered today as they were this time last year. Their days are spent hanging out with each other, cousins, and very close friends. When you live 30 miles from your friends at school, it puts a damper on your social life ... Which just means that I get to keep them young a little longer.

4. I've gotten really good at making a home cooked meal while only dirtying one pot. I've also gotten good at doing that in less than 15 minutes. Working full time and living in a place without a dishwasher means that if I'm making dinner, it better be quick and easy to clean up. We set a goal last year to eat out only once a week. And, during the school year, we consistently met that goal. Summer is a different story ...

5. I love the friendships I've made with our temporary neighbors who come and go. While we were in Cape Cod, I got a text from one of those friends saying they were also in Cape Cod and we met up for lunch. Leave it to a couple of full time RVers to meet up in the same place at the same time, 2,000 miles away from home.

6. Those same transient friends who come and go have been so kind and generous to my children. On Halloween, several of them had noticed my two kids coming and going during the day, so they stopped by the trailer with trick or treat goodies for them. It's pretty normal for us to pull in from school and Ryan will say, "Look, Mom! Anne and Gene are back! I'm gonna go say hi." Or, I'll come home from the gym to discover that Tommy has stopped by to take Gary and Ryan out for donuts. But, I really couldn't believe the sweet hospitality when one of these regular campers sent a box of homemade cookies to Ryan with a thank you note for hanging out with them. These are other grandparents who befriend my children and give them a safe place to hang out, from time to time. These are the memories I'll never forget.

7. I love cramming into my bed, the whole family, and watching a movie together. I know we could do this in a house, it just probably wouldn't happen as often as it does in the trailer. Our time is spent hopping from one invite or event or attraction to another, in an effort to not be couped up in the trailer all the time. However, every couple weeks, there seems to be a night or afternoon without invite or event or attraction. And it gives us the opportunity to lay in bed with snacks, snuggle up, and enjoy the quaint living ... Instead of hating it.

8. Our open budget has allowed for us to spend money investing in our kids. This last year, Ryan continued guitar lessons, both kids began piano lessons (yes, we have a piano in here), Ryan joined a basketball team, and Ashley took gymnastics and dance. Most recently, Ryan has added the ukulele to his plate. Prior to selling out, there's no way we would have had the monthly budget to invest in their learning like this.

9. I'm still in love with the toilet situation and the fact that Ashley cannot clog the toilet here. Because, I'm pretty sure she uses a half a roll of toilet paper every time she tinkles. It's just one less thing to worry about. However, because of this, she's well trained to ask for help when using toilets outside the trailer. There may or may not have been a situation a time or two.

10. The bank account. I mean. That might tie for #1 on my list, along with the traveling. There's just so much to be said for saving an entire annual income, year after year.

And, I know that last year I gave you the things I didn't love, but ... This year I'll leave you with this: I still miss my dishwasher, ice, a fridge and freezer big enough for whatever I wanted to buy at one time, and being able to sleep through severe storms. Other than those things, I have verrrrry few complaints. No regrets here!

And, no. We have no idea when we are going to sell out and build that dream house. There's a good chance we will be paying cash for it because, the itch just isn't there right now. And so ... Here's to year 3!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Have bikes, will explore.

Another riding adventure ... Explored a new place out by the lake. 
Rocks, kids, and water. The keys to a happy life. 

Skipping rocks by the dock, like its 1986.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The good, the bad, the smelly

(To read how our journey started, begin here.)

Well, folks. This weekend we are celebrating one year in our tiny home. Time has really flown by.

We really do, truly, love living here. Throughout the course of the year, I've made a mental list of everything I love and don't love about our home.

Things I LOVE:

1. I love how close our family has become. I love that my kids are learning to love each other and depend on each other more than ever before - most days, they are each other's only friends.

2. My kids are maintaining a level of innocence that wouldn't be possible otherwise. We leave for school at 6:40am. They come to my classroom until the bell rings. After school, they are back in my classroom, or playing on one of the computers in the computer lab. Then we come home, make dinner, shower, and begin the bedtime routine. Our schedule doesn't allow for dirty jokes on the bus, the questionable neighbor kid who knows too much about the birds and the bees, or the snotty whines of kids who'd rather hang out with friends at their house instead of mine. In a word: our kids are sheltered.

3. Even if the place is a complete and total disaster, which is daily, it only takes about 15 minutes to have everything back to normal. The kids have their own chores and know how to maintain their space without much effort on my part.

4. It is pretty much impossible for Ashley to clog our toilet with her mass amounts of toilet paper usage. The flusher on our toilet is activated by stepping on a lever and a giant hole opens and everything falls out ... no clogs. Like, ever. (Bliss)

5. I don't have to buy as many toys. My kids are getting used to hearing, "We don't have room for that." My favorite is when we are in the checkout at Target and my son asks for one of the little Lego sets or a pack of Pokémon cards. Ashley will quickly reply with, "No Ryan. We live in a trailer. We don't have room for that." I'm fairly certain it is her mission in life to keep me humble.

6. Obviously, we are saving a ton of money. I love this. Even more: I love being totally debt free. If we want to take a vacation, we book it. If we need new tires, no biggie. Ryan gets admitted to the hospital for the third time in a year? We still want to scream at those medical bills, but they are immediately paid in full. These are things that were otherwise quite frustrating on a firefighter/teacher household budget.

7. No yard. I know that Gary misses the half acre creek lot with 14 fruit trees, but the upkeep on that was rough. Now our weekends and time off are really weekends and time off. We're pretty much earning our black belts in rest and relaxation over here.

8. Traveling: This summer, we are taking off on the road for 7 weeks: Murrels Inlet, SC, Charleston, SC, Charlotte to visit cousins, Illinois to visit Grandma and Grandpa, Mt. Rushmore, Steamboat Springs, CO, and Gulf Shores, AL. When your monthly "mortgage" payment is $340 ... you splurge on vacationing.

9. I care even less about material things than I did before. I grew up quite privileged, with a mom who dwelled and focused way too much time and energy on the things of the world. I watched the greed and need to show off consume her. As an adult, I've made a conscious effort to focus on what matters most. This past year has taught me the immeasurable value of spending money making memories instead of making purchases.

10. And finally ... I love the memories we are making. I've taken over 6,000 pictures on my phone and another 4,000 on the Canon. This is a time that Gary and I will absolutely cherish as our kids grow up, move on, and our adventure ends .... whenever that may be. For now, we are relishing these moments. Truly, if I could save time in a bottle ... Jim Croce was on to something there.

So. There's my top 10 LOVES from this past year. Here's my top 10 not loves:

1. I have no dishwasher. Well. That's not entirely true. There are actually 4 dishwashers in this tiny house. The problem is that only 1 of them works on a daily basis. 2 are pretty much good for nothing. And the last one is gone saving lives so frequently that when he's home, I prefer him to sleep and do the laundry.

2. I don't have a washer/dryer. This isn't really a horrifically terrible thing. And actually, most of the time, I don't mind it at all. (I even thought about putting the laundromat on my list of loves, but then you might have thought I had lost my mind.) Here's the deal: I do love the laundromat. We can do 14 loads of laundry in about 2 hours, start to finish and folded. That's pretty much priceless. I just miss being able to throw a random load in last minute before heading to bed.

3. Ice. Oh my gosh. I miss ice. Y'all take a quick look at your microwave. That's the size of my freezer. Keeping bags of ice isn't an option and my fridge is too small to stock it with cold bottles of water. I recently bought these two little square silicone trays that each make 9 ice cubes. I use those for chocolate, banana, and peanut butter milkshakes. Mmmm.

4. I don't love my oven. It is a propane oven, so there is an open flame on the bottom of the oven. The door to the oven doesn't have a window, so if I open the door to check on what I'm baking, all the heat escapes and the propane flame turns on full blast and the bottom of whatever I'm baking gets burned. I'm learning to figure out the exact time for things I bake. I'm trying to break the vicious cycle.

5. I don't love the water situation. I've blogged about that before. Here's a brief glimpse of the issues I face, from March 9, 2015:

"This morning, right after getting all suds up in the shower, a kind (no doubt) yet clueless (no doubt) neighbor turned off the water at the spigot. It was just as I was going in to the rinse cycle. I stood there for a moment, thinking one of the kids had flushed the toilet or turned on the kitchen sink. (#‎trailerprobs‬)

And then reality set in.

And so, I did what any of y'all would do if someone shut off your water, mid shower, hair full of shampoo, pre rinse cycle: I threw on my trusty robe and flip flops and marched outside (in the rain), down the way, to the spigot. I turned the water to the spigot back on and shut off the flow to my sweet (no doubt) neighbor's water line.

And since you're wondering: yes. I had an audience. But thankfully, I was without glasses and my horrible vision rendered me incapable of studying their [surely] mortified faces. Just keeping it classy back here. In the trailer. Next to the million dollar Prevost.

I secretly hope he got a good look because I'd like to not repeat this mistake again. Red handle stays up, black lever gets turned off. K, thanks. And if you need the wifi password, I'm your girl."

6. Things get smelly sometimes. I think we can all agree that there are occasions to use the bathroom vent/fan. Well. In an RV, it is very important that before flushing, you first turn off the vent/fan ... unless you want to instantly suck up all the glorious smell from the black tank. It's a wonderful aroma that only a port-a-potty could love.

7. I miss having a backyard. I know. You're confused because not having a yard was on my list of loves. Here's the thing: I miss looking out the window and watching my kids jumping on the trampoline, soaking wet, with the sprinkler hanging over the side. I miss inviting the whole block over when Gary put up a bounce house water slide. How many of you Prosper friends knew we were the founding/original owners of Engine 9 Bounce? Sigh. Fun business. Miss the memories. Don't miss the work. Tanner is doing a great job at that now.

8. I feel bad that my kids can't go to "their" school. Ryan asked me almost weekly all year if he could go back to Rucker. When you live in an RV, you are classified as homeless, which makes it hard to register for school. As long as we live in an RV, they have to come to school with me. I have some guilt about this, but I'm super excited because we are moving to a new school where they already have friends.

9. I miss my old schedule. I miss finishing work at noon and meeting friends for lunch or taking Lovie on an extended afternoon of running errands. This was the hardest adjustment for me, but I think I might be just about over it. The summer is healing that ache for me.

10. We all hate walking Caroline over to the small patch of grass to potty several times a day. It was nice to just open the back door and let her roam free, chase rabbits, and sniff out every pesky roly poly to her heart's content.  

So, there it is. And. If I'm being totally honest, which I am ... it was waaaaaay easier to come up with the LOVES than it was to scrape up things I don't love. But I like even numbers, so I pressed on and found 10 things I don't love or missed from before.

We feel so blessed to be where we are, know where we are going, and to be experiencing this adventure. I will only regret the risks and adventures I didn't take.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Shower Wars

This morning, right after getting all suds up in the shower, a kind (no doubt) yet clueless (no doubt) neighbor turned off the water at the spigot. It was just as I was going in to the rinse cycle. I stood there for a moment, thinking one of the kids had flushed the toilet or turned on the kitchen sink. (#‎trailerprobs‬)

And then reality set in.

And so, I did what any of y'all would do if shut off your water, mid shower, hair full of shampoo, pre rinse cycle: I threw on my trusty robe and flip flops and marched outside (in the rain), down the way, to the spigot. I turned the water to the spigot back on and shut off the flow to my sweet (no doubt) neighbor's water line.

And since you're wondering: yes. I had an audience. But thankfully, I was without glasses and my horrible vision rendered me incapable of studying their [surely] mortified faces. Just keeping it classy back here. In the trailer. Next to the million dollar Prevost.

I secretly hope he got a good look because I'd like to not repeat this mistake again. Red handle stays up, black lever gets turned off. K, thanks. And if you need the wifi password, I'm your girl.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Grand Tour

We sold our home in one showing without ever putting it on the market. We closed less than three weeks after the showing. It was the most painless. process. ever.
As I said in the previous post, we picked out our new home. That exact fifth wheel was sitting at my dad's dealership in Atlanta. So, I called my dad and told him we wanted it. He said he would let the manager in Atlanta know. I bought an airline ticket to fly up, walk through it, sign the papers, and have it shipped down to Dallas. As I was standing in the security line at the airport, the Atlanta dealership manager returned my call. He had absolutely no idea what I was talking about. He quickly checked inventory to discover that the unit I was flying up there to purchase had literally sold two days before and the new owners were taking delivery that day.
Insert crying emoticon here.
After a quick phone call to Dad, everything became clear: he completely forgot to tell the manager in Atlanta that we wanted to buy that fifth wheel. Bummer. Lucky for him ... I'm his daughter and not another actual, real customer. ;)
So, we began the process of ordering our fifth wheel. It was painless and we ended up with a better RV than the one in Atlanta. The problem? We were going to be homeless for a month while it was built. Our sweet friend graciously offered to let us invade her beautiful castle of a home and we pressed forward. Finally, over 4th of July weekend, 2014, we moved in to our tiny, new home.
This is a Cedar Creek Silverback 37BH Fifth Wheel. So, this is a really freaking huge 'trailer' that you tow behind a big arse truck. It's just under 40 feet long. I'm going to start at the front end of the 'trailer' and move to the back end with my photo tour. Here we go ....
This is the master bedroom. Not much walking around room because we brought our king size Tempupedic bed with us. It was one of very few things we weren't willing to part with. It's worth not being able to do yoga on the side of my bed. Not that I actually do yoga ...
Across from our bed .... this TV gets more use than the other TVs. The kids come home, kick off their shoes, head to my bed, and flip to their favorite shows to veg out after a long day at school. The four of us cram into bed, snuggle up, and watch movies on the weekend.

What you can't see in this picture is the two big hampers that fit perfectly in that little alcove in the wall. Every two weeks, like clockwork, those hampers are filled and Superman hauls them over to the laundromat to do the laundry.

Here we have the master bathroom. The shower is bigger than the shower in our old house. Go figure.

I have very few complaints about our new life and home, one of which is the lack of bathroom storage/space. But. We do the best we can.

These little drawers help provide the storage we need.

The vanity.

Above the toilet storage -- I only wish there were more.

Both the master bedroom and bathroom are upstairs. So, now we are going to go down a couple steps to head into the living area.

This couch is pretty fabulous. The metal holes in the floor are for the tables that pull out of the big drawer under the pull out bed, inside that couch. I'm telling you, it's a great couch.

The kitchen. You can see the stairs and master in the background.

Remember how I said there were just a couple things I didn't like about our place? The size of the freezer is one of those things. I need more ice and popsicles in my life.

We even have a ceiling fan - livin' large, people. Living. Large.

TV and fireplace below. The fireplace puts off quite a bit of heat and it was able to warm up the entire trailer all winter long.

Just another angle of the living area. Front door is on the right after the couch, by the fire extinguisher.
The kids' room. Ryan took the top bunk, Ashley took the bottom bunk.

Lots of room for everything - they each get a side of the armoire for all their clothes and shoes.

When we tried to donate this TV .... they wouldn't let us. I was so baffled! It's a perfectly good TV! So, we brought it and stuck it across from the bunk beds on the shelf of what should be a third bed. But, we don't need a third bed, so ... it works.

Let's just ignore the big soft Pottery Barn chairs crammed above the TV. K, thanks.

And finally, the kid bathroom. The door on the left is the back door that opens to the opposite side of the trailer as the front door in the living room. I was a priority to have 2 bathrooms.

And there it is in all 550 ish square feet glory. We love it. It is perfect for us.

Saturday, November 1, 2014


We might live in a trailer (love calling it that), but my dad loves to say that we live in a high security gated community with million dollar homes surrounding us. This is literally and accurately very true.

We are the hillbillies of this set up. My dad lives a few "blocks" up from us in his motor home, which is much nicer than ours. Anyway.

On the weekends, Ryan sticks to his grandpa like gum on a shoe. Last night, he rode home with my dad after trick or treating. They had themselves a boy sleepover, which most likely included falling asleep to some violent super hero movie.

As usual, my dad woke up at dark thirty to go running and hit the gym. He left Ryan sound asleep. At 9am, Ryan burst through our door and declared "Holy smokes! It is FREEZING out there! Do you have any idea how cold it is? I just ran here from grandpa's house in my underwear, t shirt, and sneakers [carrying his Superman costume and bag of candy from last night]. No one saw me until the very end. Our neighbor down there in the Dutch Star saw me. That was embarrassing."

Oh the visual. Cutest kid, half naked, freezing, and hauling buns across a community filled with the wealthy elderly. My two kids are the only ones here. We stick out like sore thumbs.
Loving our adventure.

Superman and Elsa, posing in front of our neighbor's Dutch Star

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Our New Home

We are moving forward over here, checking each box off the list.

We did actually sell our house and we closed on it a month ago. We are now in a lease back from the buyers until the end of May so that Ryan can finish school and I can finish teaching PreK.

We also decided on the RV we will be buying/living in. It is a Cedar Creek Silverback Fifth Wheel. We decided on a Fifth Wheel because they boast the most room on the interior. Y'all want a tour? Yes?

Alrighty ... here we go ...

This is obviously the kitchen. The sink is there ... you can't see the opening because there is a piece of Corian cut to fit over the sink for maximum counter space when needed. Please note the quaint little window to the left ... I'm definitely gonna be doing something different with that window treatment.

Here's the rest of the kitchen. Small, but completely do-able. The only thing I'm slightly bummed about is the size of the fridge and freezer; however, we will just get used to buying groceries every few days and only refrigerating what actually needs to be refrigerated. To the left of the fridge, there's a thin storage cabinet -- probably gonna be a cleaning supply cabinet. And to the left of that is the pantry. It's a decent size and there are rolling drawers that pull out so I can cram as much as I want in there.

This is the living room. You can see the 'front' door and stairs leading up to the master bedroom. I like this floor plan because it doesn't have an actual table and chairs, which allows for a much more open floor plan. See those metal circles on the floor? Those hold the legs to two tables that can be installed, but I'm liking the idea of not having them there full time. My kids are pros at eating off their laps. I'll also most likely be changing the window treatments in here. I'm just not really a fan.

And the rest of the living room. For some reason, the wood is showing up a little fluorescent in this picture. But you can see the door to the kid's bedroom, which is the back end of the RV.

This is one side of the kid's room (don't know why the wood looks fluorescent again). I don't love the window treatments (shocker) in here either. The cabinet on the left is an entertainment center for a TV, video game console, DVD's ... whatever. I plan to store all their toy bins up on that top bunk right there. And, of course, I love the book shelf because it reminds me of our home right now. And there are actually two of those armoires to the right. They'll each have a space to hang clothes and then two drawers for undies, socks, shoes.

This is the side they'll actually sleep on. I'm bringing their adorable matching Pottery Barn bedding and bright red shag rug to help make the room feel more at home. I love that there are drawers under the beds. That thing on the bottom bunk is one of the table tops for the living room.

This is the kid's bathroom ... how much do I love that I'm not sharing a toilet with them? A whole lot.

Here is the master bedroom. Please, do your best to visualize it without that hideously ugly bedding. That's getting tossed. We'll be taking our beautiful cream silky bedding that we currently use. We are excited because the headboard is lovely and the bed is a king. The doors to the left of the mirrors is a closet for a stack-able washer and dryer. I'm thinking we will probably use it for storage and utilize the laundromat next door. At a laundromat, you can make new friends ... and do 5 loads of laundry all at one time. What's not to like about that? (that's sarcasm, but I do prefer the laundromat to a small stack-able unit) What we don't have a picture of for this exact unit is the chest of drawers across from the bed and the TV above it.

And here is the 'master' bathroom. It's not exactly luxurious, but it's more than sufficient. I like the storage above the toilet and the storage under the sink and vanity. I'm pretty sure all the essentials are going to fit just fine.

And that's pretty much the inside. Here's a quick look at some of the cool things on the outside.

Here's a bit of trivia for you: What's the difference between a trailer and a Fifth Wheel? A trailer hooks up to a tow hitch, while a fifth wheel hooks onto a specialized fifth wheel hitch inside the bed of a truck. Lots of extra space in a fifth wheel due to the extra room above the truck bed.

If you lift up that panel/door right there, you'll find an outdoor kitchen ... which will be pretty fun to use when the weather is nice. This is the only way to camp!

And finally, here's the under belly of the fifth wheel, which is where we will keep a lot of our storage. Obviously, we can only store things there that won't be ruined in high heat or extreme cold. So, we will probably be keeping winter/summer wardrobes there when the weather is hot/cold.

And allllllll that for the grand total of $350/month. Simple living, my friends. Simple living.