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!