RV ROADTRIPS RULE!

If you ever saw this cartoon as a kid, odds are you have always dreamed of going on an RV trip.

i’ve been trying to get us on an RV trip for at least a year now but timing and finances never seemed to align. this past week we had a family reunion in NC planned that fell apart very last minute. i was left in a stressed out spot as Kevin was going to be home for the whole week but now we had nothing fun planned. i always have the RV trip in the back of my mind, so i scoured RV sites and after several calls and a spreadsheet analysis i came up with a game plan to finally get us out in an RV!

Family RV Trip tips

here are some THINGS I LEARNED, in case you want to start planning a fun RV trip for your family:

IMG_1132

1. you can’t just go off the /day fee: there are mileage fees, cleaning fees, insurance, prep fees, and generator fees. during my search i found it was a good deal if you got at least 150 free miles/day. and if the extra mileage fee was less than .30/mile. and don’t forget the cost of a place to plug-in each night in your budget.

2. negotiate! I found fees to be negotiable. for the mileage fee, they were willing to negotiate down to .20/mile for miles paid up front. if you know you will be traveling over the free mile allotment see if you can get a better rate paying up front. they were also willing to waive the cleaning fee if we did the cleaning ourselves. and if we were familiar with RVs, they would have waived the prep fee and let us do it ourselves. if theres something i’ve learned in my life recently its that you will surprised what you can make happen. never be afraid to ask, the worst they can say is no. Or as Alice Walker more eloquently puts it:

The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any.

3. be flexible in trip planning: the cost of the trip i had dreamed of (a trip up to Nashville TN) was looking to be too much when I tallied up the mileage fee and cost of gas. i was so bummed. then i remembered a mini-summer trip i had been looking into up on Amelia Island 200 miles from home. when i punched in those numbers we were within budget! so if your main goal is to experience an RV, consider a close to home destination.

IMG_1142IMG_1143IMG_1185

Anna Maria Island

IMG_1140

here are some OOPS! TO AVOID:

1. bedding (duh): as i looked at pictures of RVs, the back bed always had one of those tacky motel comforters on it. so i assumed the bed would come with bedding. and i’m sure that is true for some RVs, but this one was empty. i didn’t pack any bedding for my husband and i (i’m a notorious under packer- bringing nothing to light a fire on a camping trip might have happened before). he made the mistake of pumping the A/C down to 60 the first night and we both woke up so cold all through the night. we were kicking ourselves thinking of how comfortable we could have been all bundled up and cozy in our duvet and fluffy pillows if only we’d brought them.

2. turbulence! things get pretty bouncy when you’re driving, especially the farther back you are in the RV. sometimes i’ll admit i was kinda fearing for my life and i’d come up to see if like there had been a close call or something and kevin was just all normal driving. so don’t plan on cooking, showering etc while on the road (i had a fantasy of cooking while driving that did not come to fruition- curse that mickey mouse- taunting me with false hopes!). you can move around a bit, but be careful and sit or lay as much as you can while on the go. this is another reason to plan a near-to-home trip. the most fun is had while the RV is stopped.

3. ask questions: i assumed the TV would just work all the time but we found it only worked when the RV was plugged in. we told the boys we’d play a movie while we drove during bedtime hours the first night and ended up with some disappointed little guys😦 also we didn’t quite grasp the water pump and tank. we ended up calling their hotline and muddled through but we might have saved some time (and possibly a small argument) if we had asked for a water tutorial before we left.

THINGS TO LOVE ABOUT AN RV:

1. so great for a mid-day break: vacations are exhausting. it was so nice to come back to the RV for afternoon nap time or nursing a baby.

IMG_1175family vacation nap time

^yes, he is sleeping like that lol

2. save on food costs: we only ate out for dinner each day since we could whip up breakfast and lunch super simple in the RV and eat in the A/C at our cozy built-in table.

IMG_1153IMG_1154

3. fun while driving: no “are we there yet?” or “mom, he’s bugging me!” or having to stop for potty breaks or accidents from not stopping enough for potty breaks

IMG_1151IMG_1155

good luck and have fun on your adventure!

BEAUTIFUL BOY

i love on Mr. Peabody & Sherman the part where this song plays. the movie was recently released on Netflix. so I’ve heard it a few times since Adam was born. it makes me think of all my beautiful boys, especially my newest addition.

hospital newborn shots have come a long way from the mug shot pose you typically see, even just in the 8 years I’ve been having babies.

Adam

i usually only buy one pose for each child to go in their file. i like comparing them to each other. and seeing how different they each look from their newborn selves.

Adam2
but i couldn’t pick just one that i liked this time, so we got a few…

Adam1and the spoiling of the baby of the family begins!
Adam3

HAPPY VALENTINES

kevin has come a long way. i love to remind him of the gift he gave me our first valentines. we were poor college students, engaged to be married. we set a budget to spend on each other. $10 each.

back at his apartment we exchanged gifts. he brought out his pillow. on it, in black permanent marker, he had scrawled “I love you!”, and sprayed it with his cologne. with difficulty i kept myself from laughing at it. “Look inside”, he said. inside was deathcab for cutie’s newly released cd, which i knew he was more eager to have than me.

here we are 8 valentines later and i can now look forward to his valentine gifts. today he made pink chocolate chip pancakes with fresh strawberries for all of us this morning. and gave me a dozen of the cutest valentines cupcakes to enjoy over the next few days.

Happy Valentine's Day- celebrating w/adorable cupcakes from Sweet!

A photo posted by Summer Dean (@summerrdean) on

happy valentines day!

STACKED MOTHERS RING

we have entered a new era here. all the babies have been born. we are complete. no more members to join for at least another 10 years when they get to marriage age. i am proud of my 5 sons and all that they are and will become.

as i thought about this last week, while anticipating baby adam’s arrival, i decided i needed something physical to display like a name tag telling the world what i have that is so valuable to me.

my mom had mentioned a handstamped, birthstone mothers necklace. but as i thought about it. i am a bit of a necklace collector and like to coordinate my necklace to what i’m wearing.  i worried a mothers necklace would not get enough wear time. i wanted something i would wear everyday.

i also ruled out bracelets, because they can get in the way and i don’t see myself wearing them unless i’m dressing up.

a ring seemed like the way to go. i’m always good at wearing my wedding ring and don’t often add in other rings on my hands. i can dedicate my left hand to my husband and my right to my boys. together they equal the most important people to me in this world.

i figured i would go with birthstones, as is the tradition. but as i pictured how all their birth stones would look together (blue, red, white, purple) i wasn’t feeling it. nor did i think a purple gem really represents a boy, ya know?

7290cacb04092c000e1a04c61f559351

so i thought something like this could work, with just blue gems (blue=boy)

8d52b1759583179d6059f0187ef71605

but then i stumbled across these adorable initial heart rings on etsy. they are tiny enough that i can stack all 5 initials with varied bands in-between and fit all my boys on my ring finger.

il_570xN.693541211_3ulvsimple but i think i will love it.

 

HOW TO MAKE A PRINTABLE GRAPHIC WITHOUT PHOTOSHOP

when i wanted to do a family newsletter last year i set out looking at my options. i’m always looking for the cheapest (or freeest) way to do things. i am not enough of a photographer or graphic designer to feel justified investing in Photoshop, but from looking around it seemed that was really what i needed if i was going to put the newsletter together on my own. so i found a free alternative: GIMP

wilber

i work on a mac. it took a little bit of tech-saviness to get the download unpacked, installed, and launched but they do a good job of leading you through the process. (hey its free, can’t be too easy)

then i took a family newsletter i had found on pinterest that i loved and went to work making changes to it. this particular template was the photoshop file (.psd). when i opened it in GIMP it automatically converted it to a .xcf, which is their equivalent to .psd. all the layers Lacey had used in creating it were there ready to personalize.

problem was i didn’t know the first thing about using GIMP. luckily youtube is the land of tutorials. i watched a few beginner videos on using GIMP:

Edit text on image  (the file i chose had some text in image format, not typeable, so i had to use the eraser tool to erase, for example the name of their family, and type over the white space the name of our family)

GIMP tutorial

How to download fonts (i needed to add some unique text, not only edit already existing text)

Editing

How to move objects (learned how to move around the boy graphics so they lined up nicely)

Gimp for beginners

with a little trial and error i changed this

e8544a2a2b9be32016d96cb860340a7dto that

year-in-review-editall before it was time to pick the kids up from school😉

you’ll want to download a number of fonts for a graphic like this. pinterest is a great source for finding cute, free fonts and scoping out which fonts pair well together.

as for the boy and pregnant woman graphics. i found them via Google and just brought them in as .png files (GIMP automatically creates a new layer for you), moved them where i liked and resized.

so

STEP 1: get GIMP

STEP 2: find a .psd or .xcf to use as your base template that you can manipulate (or if you are brave start from scratch bringing in your own background .png file)

STEP 3: watch youtube GIMP beginner tutorials

STEP 4: start making changes to your template as you learn techinques from the videos

STEP 5: download fun free fonts and graphics to make the template work for you

NEW YEAR’S EVE

happy new year!

we started our NYE festivities at 8pm and every hour til midnight i did a ballon drop. i’d dump a garbage bag of balloons over the boys and say “happy new year!” and one of them got the chance to choose a ballon to pop- inside each ballon was an activity we’d do together.

ezra, my sleep lover who comes to me about 7:30 every night and tells me he wants to go to bed, lasted til 10:45.

i was very impressed by enoch’s stamina- he almost made it! about 11:45 i noticed he was nodding off as he lay next to me.

both orion and joey made it to the new year and we went out in the front yard and watched all the fireworks going off in our neighborhood, bundled in blankets.

i haven’t set any new year’s resolutions. as i read through my list of resolutions for 2014 last night, (i did well on 4 out of 9 of them) they kinda depressed me… seeing all the things i meant to do during the year that didn’t happen. made me feel anxious about how quickly a year passes and the time is just gone.

so here is to a resolution-free 2015, it’ll be gone before i know it!

YEAR IN REVIEW CARD

i remember as a kid reading through a 3 page or so handwritten, black and white photocopied family newsletter that one of my mom’s friends from a previous place we had lived sent her for the holidays. it had grainy pictures i could barely make out. but i thought it was kind of a cool idea. so fast forward 20 years and i am for the first time ever doing a family newsletter for our family! and since this is 2 decades later, it is virtual, typed, and in full color baby!!

May you find ways to adore the Lord this season and as you do, fill your home with love, peace, & joy.

year-in-review-edit