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:

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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.

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Anna Maria Island

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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.

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^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.

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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

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good luck and have fun on your adventure!

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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.

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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!
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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 post shared 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?

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

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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.

 

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

TENDER MERCIES FOR CHRISTMAS

God has given us some tender mercies the last few days. He is an excellent gift giver.

tender mercy #1: the dead battery

quick trip to walgreens before dinner. boys were good in the store, i just snagged 9 boxes of my favorite cereal for 1.88 each. life is good.

wait, why isn’t the car starting. weird. i just took it in for an oil change yesterday, they should’ve told me if anything was wrong with it. must be the battery. but i was only in the store for like 15 minutes. even if i did leave a light on would that really kill the battery?

i walked back into the store to see if i could intercept whoever was checking out at the register to help jump my car. the man checking out chatted nicely with the cashier. i noticed paint on his phone case- good sign, i bet he’s handy.

“could you help jump my car? i think the battery just died?”

“sure, i’m parked right over there” pointing to a white service van. (perfect!)

he pulled over and connected his cables. even tightened one of the battery lead clamps that was a little loose.

“there’s a sticker on your battery that says it was installed in 2010. you probably need a new one. there is an auto zone right there, they can hook their machine up to it and tell you if the battery is bad. and they’ll install a new one for you at no extra charge.”

i wished him a merry christmas, thanked him for his help, and said a silent prayer that he would be blessed for his kindness.

there was an auto zone literally next door, sharing the same parking lot. they did all he said they would.

the very next morning i needed to drive to tampa for a meeting and this story would have likely been a lot less merciful had my battery died at some point during the trip.

feeling good about how well the bad battery turned out my biggest worry arriving home was that now it was past dinnertime but i still had to make dinner, serve it, and we hadn’t done homework yet so the night was probably going to run long. as we sat down to dinner i asked the boys what homework they had and to my delight the answer was none!

couldn’t have gone any smoother.

tender mercy #2: the bad directions

“daddy will be home tomorrow! aren’t you guys excited?”

“Yay! then it will be christmas!”

as always the day before he comes home is a day of excitement and preparation.

i went to bed excited to know that by the time i woke he would be in the middle of his 5 hour drive to the airport. i hoped i might wake in the middle of the night and be able to call him and keep him company as he drove in the wee hours. but i didn’t wake until 10 minutes before my alarm was set to go off. i called him right away to see how his drive was going.

“good…” he said, but there was a little not good-ness to his voice. “so this drive is 7 hours?”

oh no.

“no, it’s 5 1/2 hours… so, what is your eta?”

“10:30”

“your flight takes off at 10:30”

…GPS strikes again. kevin is an excellent driver. if i was faced with a car plowing toward me on an icy, windy road with nothing but a cliff to my right, there is no person i would rather have in the driver seat than him. he rivals james bond in his maneuverings. but when it comes to directions and having a good bearings of north, east, south, west- ugh!

“why would you go north when Fargo is south?!”

“i was just following the GPS”

“didn’t that set off a red flag when you put in the address and the drive was 7 hrs long?”

“yeah it did, but i couldn’t remember how long you said the drive was and i figured it was too early to call you. maybe the flight is delayed and i can still make it.”

“let me check…no. says its on-time. you might as well stop driving, you aren’t going to make it.”

….i was on the verge of tears. feeling anger, sadness, disappointment, frustration, helplessness i continued,

“well let me call the airline and see if they can move you to a different flight. but i doubt there will be another one today because allegiant only flies like once a day. and who knows how much more the new ticket is gonna cost us.”

i go to allegiant’s website. no phone number. just chat and email options. i google ‘allegiant phone number’ and find it. as i start to dial, kevin is ringing me back.

“hello?”

“God is looking out for me. i just got a text message that the flight is delayed to 12:15.”

I check the website again, that i had literally just checked 2 minutes ago. he’s right, the flight is delayed, and he’ll be there with time to spare.

huge ball of stress unknots from my insides.

The Lord is good to all

i hope you are realizing some gifts from the Lord in your life this Christmas season!

MY LITTLE BROTHER

about a month ago kevin had me listen to a song that reminded me of my little brother duane. made me cry. as i saw his birthday approaching me on the calendar i decided to put the song to a slideshow of him i made a couple years ago for my mom. the song makes it more for us siblings.

today he would have been 25. can’t wait to see him again someday. i hope he’s learning and growing lots on the other side.

Duane, my brother

i wasn’t living at home anymore when the turmoil that led to his death really became all consuming. but my mom wrote it all down.