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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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.

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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.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

we celebrated Thanksgiving last week while we had Kevin with us. it was nice. we took the older boys to school in the morning like usual, with the promise we’d be back to check them out as soon as Thanksgiving dinner was ready. then we made a quick run to the store for a few last minute ingredients and started to work! i made broccoli salad, corn casserole, sweet potato casserole, heated store-bought mash potatoes and put brown’n’serve rolls in the oven. i also put together a cheese plate as a light lunch. meanwhile kevin made butternut squash casserole, turkey gravy, and a caramel apple pie.

it was about 1pm when it looked like we were ready to get the hot chicken from Publix and the boys from school. i know, chicken?? we didn’t need a whole turkey and we have ham for christmas, and honestly we LOVE the rotisserie style chickens you can get from Publix, Boston Market, Walmart etc. Publix actually had a spicy cranberry version that day and it was the best thing on the table!

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i made a gratitude wreath that we all hung a leaf of gratitude on and we’ve been adding to here and there.

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so with thanksgiving out of the way for us, i leaped into Christmas mode! Christmas music and shows. the trees are up. candy canes for the boys. i wish Thanksgiving was always held the 3rd week of November. with it falling so late in November the past couple years we don’t even get 30 days to focus on Christmas.

i’ve got all my christmas shopping done, which feels divine, even though i’m gonna miss some great Black Friday prices I’m sure.

this Christmas season I’m going to try to play the Joy to the World DVD a half hour before bedtime every night to help keep us centered on Christ. i did it tonight and although none of the boys sat down in front of the TV to watch it, they were quietly coloring in holiday coloring books and eating candy canes and i hope they felt the Spirit as they heard the beautiful music- i know i did! i fell in love with that DVD on my mission. there are some gorgeous songs on there- especially the rendition of Silent night. and the shots of Mary with baby Jesus are so touching.

happy holidays!

3 KEY FACTORS IN RAISING BOYS TO BECOME MISSIONARIES

i’m reading an oldie but a goodie Raising Up a Family to the Lord

this quote that he includes in the book really made me think.

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in the book he narrows down key behavior of a family that has successful young men (i.e. become priesthood holders, serve missions, marry in the temple). this is something that is really important to me so when he approached the topic in the book i was all ears! and while I’m sure it’s not as simple as checking off 3 things on a list, I believe it is good guidance and has given me an added drive to adhere to the behaviors.

one of the keys is family scripture study. we are pretty good about having scripture study nightly but if it gets past bedtime sometimes we skip it (like on a Friday night after a movie when a couple kids are already conked out). well this past Friday, after reading this, i made sure we did scripture study before the movie. this way my boys will learn about priorities and doing first thing first.

if you are interested in his list, but not enough to buy the book, here it is:

1. Family Prayer (which leads children to personal prayer)

2. Family Scripture Study/ Family Home Evening (which lead children to personal scripture study)

3. Agreement on Values (he gives a great example of handling the question “why do we have to go to church on Sunday?”. One parent might say “because i said so.” or another short response and not help the child come to agree on values. while the teaching parent explains the commandment and blessings associated, referencing scripture and bearing testimony, and asking the child a question or two, causing the child to come to understand and hopefully agree with the parent’s value)

you may be surprised that Go To Church isn’t even on his list. but as i thought about it i realized that just sitting in church on sunday isn’t enough to mold a life. it’s in the home, where we spend every day, that a life is shaped.