Thursday, September 18, 2014

Home Sweet RV

We got an RV. A 5th-wheel Bighorn to be exact. At the time, we were visiting Brad's grandmother and great aunt in NC for July 4th weekend, and we were not specifically RV shopping. Call it a fortuituous opportunity, if you will.
 
A little background story.....y'all know we're working towards our dream of building a log cabin, and to make that move from VA to NC. The log cabin is going much slower than originally anticipated. Think snail slow. Think glacial slow. The lack of the proper bank financing (and this dang, housing market equals poor appraisal), means we have to do this build piecemeal, instead of all at once, and thankfully, we have a log cabin distributor and contractor who are willing to work with us that way. So far, we have the land surveyed for specific house placement, the water and septic permits pulled, and the health dept is getting ready to do soil testing to identify the best septic system to use and location. so, it's slow, but at least we're making forward progress.
The log cabin will go right in there...somewhere, someday.
But let's get back to this behemoth....
Can you see hubby on the roof?
 Since the log cabin build is going slower than originally planned, we needed to come up with an alternative living space for our eventual move to NC. We were reluctant to go the apartment/house rental route, because that is money that goes out the door, that you don't recoup (although the convenience of rental can be a great thing). Brad and I discussed the possibility of getting an RV, but I was just not too keen on the idea. Squeezing a family of four into a large sardine can for an unspecified amount of time?? No, thanks. I could see myself crawling up the wall in no time, from lack of breathing room, and would sooner poke my eye out with a dull spoon. Don't even get me started on the logistics of downsizing a house to handful of totes (hello, storage costs!). But, there was unyielding logic staring me right in the face....could we afford to pay the mortgage for our current house (in the very likely event we couldn't sell it right away, for the amount we needed) AND rent on another place? Yeah, that was a big, fat "No". So, I started grudgingly leaning towards the RV idea, and lo and behold, I come back from a short shopping trip into town with my mother and the kids, and Brad comes up and excitedly says, "I saw an RV for sale on the side of the road!". He had sunshine, rainbows and sparkles coming out of his eyes, such was his enthusiasm, whereas I, on the other hand, met that enthusiasm with an equal amount of good old-fashioned New England stink eye of skepticism.    
 
You see, I wasn't quite onboard with the RV thing yet. I was warming up to it, but not there yet. So we all went to see this RV on our way to a restaurant for supper. It had a couple of aesthetic issues (ripped kitchen flooring, etc..), but otherwise seemed to be in good, musty shape. I believe my predominant thought was that the decor was very,very tan, and "where are the kids going to sleep?". So Brad, Gram and Aunt Nita were all "so, what do you think?", my mom's face said "you're nuts", and the kids had not seen it yet, so did not offer an grave, well-thought out opinion. We continued to the restaurant, and discussed it all through supper (blah, blah, blah, blue book value vs cost, blah, blah, blah, use for vacation or sell after we're done, blah, blah, blah...). Long story, short....we went back to the guy after supper and said "we'll take it!". Yeah, we're crazy spontaneous like that. It was done with a lot of prayer, leap of faith, and finger crossing on my part. Once it was officially bought, the seller was gracious enough to use his 5th-wheel pickup to haul it to the location and help Brad set it up.
Green Acres is the place to be, RV living is the life for me!
 
Brad has since spent countless hours preparing the land around the RV, checking the "guts" and mechanics, building stairs and a deck, assembling the kids' bunk beds, and perusing the RV manual for pleasure. We have stayed in it, as a family of four, a couple of times during our monthly visits to NC. During those two visits, I spent my own multiple hours cleaning the inside from top to bottom. Met multiple dead bugs (and a couple of live ones), and found some odds and ends lost in the nooks and crannies from the previous owner. I didn't find any treasure, unfortunately. (**wink**) Aside from the cleanliness factor, it did help tremendously with getting me to learn every inch of the space, and attempt to visualize where to put things, whenever the move happens. 
 
When you walk in the front door, the kitchen is immediately in front of you. It's got an oven, a microwave, a fridge/freezer, sink, and some decent cabinet space. Alas, no dishwasher, which means it's back to one of my least favorite chores...dishwashing. (booo) On the left side of the RV is the living room, dining table, a desk, and an electric fireplace below the TV. On the ride side of the RV, up the stairs, is our bedroom, bathroom, and a closet where the washer/dryer resides.


Living room with bunk beds
Kitchen/dining room
our bedroom/laundry room/closet
our bedroom/bathroom (from laundry room/closet)
I have a list of pros and cons about this RV living running through my head, which I may share with you someday, once I've actually lived in it. The biggest "con" would be that privacy will die a swift death. Not that we adults have much privacy now, with a toddler and preschooler running around, interrupting your shower and potty time, but it's about to get even more non-existent, once we live in that RV. The biggest "pro" depends on your frame of mind, but practically-speaking, paying the monthly payment on this RV is far cheaper than paying the monthly rent for an apartment or house. Can I get an "Amen!"? Anyhoo, I'm simplifying and making light of things, but a lot of thought has gone into our decision, and we're doing what we think is best for our family. I will say that the kids spend more time in the fresh air in NC, than they do here in VA. The flora and fauna that surround us provide an excellent source of education and wonder for the kids (and worries for mama...snakes! spiders! ticks!). There will be more stories on our actual experiences in the RV life, in the future, but for now I just wanted to introduce you to the latest storyline of Felt Family adventure.   
 

fun with Grammy in the living room

We haven't forgotten my mom. She's got her own things to figure out, but essentially, we're hoping she'll consider staying with Brad's grandmother for a while, until she gets a job lined up, and eventually a place of her own. She's known our plans for a while, so we're hoping she'll make the move with us, and enjoy NC as much as we do! 
Grammy Kathy and the kids

Behold! Hubby has built this using new and reclaimed wood! (man grunt)

Serenity's bunk has Minions and Strider's bunk has Cars.

Happy kid in her "big girl" top bunk

brushing her teeth in our bedroom/bathroom

There's a pocket door that still has a giant gap at the top step.
So yeah, the kids can crawl under our bedroom door anytime.
 The logistics of downsizing into an RV, still makes me want to hyperventilate, but it is comforting to know that we have one aspect of our NC goal squared away. Everyone asks us, "when are you moving?". Well, that's the million dollar question, isn't it? I'm a planner by nature, so it kills me to not have a specific timeframe. Both Brad and I have applied to jobs in NC, but nothing has solidly materialized just yet. We certainly won't plan a move unless one, or both of us, have a decent job lined up. So in the meantime, we prep and plan as best as we can, and we'll figure it out as we go. Everything happens for a reason, and all we can do is the best we can with what we have, and the rest is up to the Big Man Upstairs. (**smile**) 
 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Our Crazy Summer (so far)

We blew right through June, and now here we are, smack dab in the middle of Summer (mid-July). June was chock full of Felt "events"....Father's Day, Brad's birthday (a week later), and Serenity's birthday (the week after that), and then July 4th weekend (the following week). I was in full planning mode, hence the neglected blog. LOL.

Father's Day was low-key (just the way Brad likes it), and we just basically let him sleep, went mini golfing as a family (the kids' 1st time), and had a nice dinner at the Outback Steakhouse. I wish I could tell you that everything went smooth, but we mini golfed on a hot, sunny, busy afternoon in the middle of tourist season in Virginia Beach. Serenity caught on to the game, and actually did fairly well, but Strider's idea of mini golf was to chuck the ball multiple times until it got in the hole. LOL. You can't teach a 2 1/2-year-old to precisely and patiently hit the ball with a funny-looking stick (**It's a ball! Why can't I throw it?!**). LOL. Well, he ended up chucking it into the bushes, after we told him multiple times not to throw it, and that was that. If we didn't feel so rushed to play through, due to the players before and after us, and it wasn't in the blazing hot sun, I think we would have had more success, but all in all, I think the kids still enjoyed themselves. Brad might have been a little frazzled, but hey(!), isn't that what Father's Day is all about, to remind you of ALL the "joys" of fatherhood, including uncooperative children? (**smile**)
Homemade Father's Day gift

Strider: I chucked the ball, now I go get it!


Cheesy grins

Brad's birthday was another low-key event. He and I had lunch and a matinee movie, and then we celebrated at home with a candle in a cheesecake (his favorite), and the kids, my mom, and I singing "Happy Birthday".

Serenity's birthday was more of a bigger endeavor. A Frozen-theme party for my munchkin turning "4"! We were blessed with local friends coming to our house to help us celebrate. I had to walk a fine line between trying to make it special for her, without really stressing myself out. I think I actually succeeded, for once! Of course, it was only done with the much-needed help of Daddy and Grandma (my mom), and an assist from our friends, Brooke and Jorgen. Serenity declared it the "best birthday ever!", so I call it mission accomplished.

 
party favors

Serenity and Strider with their buddies, Erin and Carter


I made Olaf out of fondant

birthday girl


Grandma made her an Elsa cape
Mommy and Daddy got me a ridiculously large dollhouse!

Strider had fun too!
We had a lovely 3-day July 4th weekend in NC to visit Brad's grandmother and great-aunt. The neighbors spent a fortune on their own fireworks, so we could watch them shoot off right in the backyard. Poor Strider thought it was too loud, and spent the time covering his ears, but he was very interested in the flashing lights. The best view would have been floating on the lake (no blocking trees), so perhaps we'll get to do that someday. (note to self: make friends with a local boat owner! LOL. I jest.) Actually, the lake was so busy all weekend, I'm sure the boat patrol was out in full force.


Serenity's birthday cake in NC

Gram, Aunt Nita & the Felts

Grandma & the munchkins
Cooling off in the shade

Storytime
Having fun with the hose

Serenity took this great picture of the ladies

While we were in NC, we ended up buying an RV. Say what?? More on that, in a later post (it ain't for vacation! Yikes!!). Stick with the Felts', folks. It's an adventure! (**smile**)
2006 Heartland Bighorn

In addition to all the festivities, and crazy RV buying, Brad officially transitioned out of the Navy, after 10 years of service. It was a rough transition, at first, for all of us (emotionally, mentally, physically), for him especially, but I think we're finally in a normal groove. We still working on getting new (non-military) doctors for Brad and the kids, and adjusting to the new (and now paying) health insurance. Brad grew a goatee (which I think suits him), and now he's not required anymore to get a haircut every two weeks. I was expecting him to fully "rebel" and turn into Grizzly Adams, but thankfully that didn't happen. LOL. He's been busy with fixing things up at home, looking for jobs, and prepping for an eventual move to NC.

The kids are doing great. Serenity is smart, funny, sensitive, and compassionate, but it's tough being 4. Processing the whole "growing up" and being more aware of handling the thoughts, and emotions, and well, let's just say that not more than 2 days go by without tears of some sort. It's an exhausting, frustrating phase at times, but it's a good opportunity for us grown ups to practice patience and understanding. Her latest thing has been about not wanting to go to school. I'm not sure how it started, but apparently, she wants to leave daycare and go to "big kid school". I think she sees it in the tv shows she watches? I really think a preschool, with other kids her age, would be awesome for her, but I am hesitant to break her and Strider up, and of course having her leave the safe, awesome confines of Miss Tina's place. I was going to wait until the NC move (whenever that is), but sometimes kids have other ideas. Best laid plans, right? So, I think a little preschool "shopping" in the local area may be in order very soon. Ugh. I hate changing something that works fine (if ain't broke...). It makes me want to poke my eye out with a dull spoon.

Lately, my favorite, loving saying for Strider is "you are such a boy!". My mom chalks it up to different kids, and different personalities, but I really think some of it is a little genetic predisposition. It is "cars and trucks" all day, every day. If you put a NASCAR race on, he is good to go for at least a half hour before he starts getting antsy. He requests to watch a car race on tv everyday. Did I mention that none of us in the house is into racing at all? LOL. He likes to "wrassle" (wrestle), shove, push, and climb all over you. He's much rougher and rambunctious than his big sister. Most of the time, we're telling him to settle down, or "go easy". I admit that we're more lax, with him being the second child. LOL. But he's such a happy, cheerful, fun-loving boy with an infectious giggle. He is "Joy" with a capital "J", and doesn't always understand when he's in trouble. We're working on it though. As always, parenthood is a work in progress. His vocabulary is now expanding by leaps and bounds, and he's incredibly proud of the fact that he can now jump with both feet off the ground. (**smile**)

Oh, and I forgot to mention that Serenity had 6 weeks of her first swimming lessons at the local Y (it went well), and Strider is now in the beginning stages of potty training (he's excited). Strider also had his crib converted to a toddler bed. Anything else I want to cram in my life for a 6-week period?!? No, I think that is quite enough. (**whew**) Well, this got long (again). I'm doing my best to keep up with everything.... to plan what I can, to organize where I can, and at times, to throw my hands up in the air, and hope to heck that everything works out well. It usually does. Gotta keep the faith, right?       
Strider excited about his big boy bed!

Look, Mom! I can float!!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Busy May

Well, here we are, 7 weeks post-op from Strider's last surgery. Although he had some physical restrictions for 6 weeks, we didn't let that stop us from having a busy month! We started out the month of May with a fun trip to the Children's Festival in Newport News....

 

Strider and a police car!

Serenity's first pony ride
The Children's Fest was held in a park, so Strider's highlight was the swings at the playground. Serenity got to do and see all the things....children's theater, pony ride, barn animals, fun bus, etc... It was all free, which was amazing.

For Mother's Day weekend, we visited Brad's grandmother and great aunt in NC. We had not seen them, since well before the surgery, so it was an overdue visit. I got to sleep in, shop by myself, take a nap, and enjoy a family meal at the local steakhouse....all in the same day! It was definitely a nice Mother's Day gift for me. The kids enjoyed having the full run of the porches and yard, and communing with nature outside.

Selfie of me and the kiddies!

My mum on Mother's Day
 Serenity also discovered the joys of using Mommy's phone to take 9,000 pictures of anything you could possibly think of. Surpringly, there were some "gems" in there, and it was interesting to see things from her perspective.
Aunt Nita

Me

Strider

Yes, Serenity did take this!

Mr. Cow and Boots say "hi"
Right now, we're still enjoying Memorial weekend, and that has been pretty active, too. Yesterday, we went to my friend, Brooke's son, Carter's 2nd birthday party...nice weather, nice location, good food, lots of fresh air, and lots of kiddies running around. Serenity and Strider wore themselves out! Well, correction, I wore myself out, because I'm the one that actually napped that afternoon. LOL.

Today, we went to the Pungo Strawberry Festival (http://www.pungostrawberryfestival.info/), which I've been to about 3 other times, in the past. This year, the kids got to enjoy it. It was very sunny and warm, so we prepped with hats, sunscreen, drinks, etc... Serenity has extremely fair skin, and Strider is sun sensitive (due to his hearts meds) and temperature sensitive. We got there in the late morning, and stayed about 3 hours. I love this festival, because it has a small town feel, it's family-friendly, and it's got something for everyone....shopping, carnival rides/food, 4-H, and military/rescue demonstrations. And let's not forget the star of the show....strawberries! Serenity loved the carnival rides, and would have rode every one, if given the chance. Strider got to go on a kiddie car ride, and the giant slide. The kids got their strawberry smoothie, and I was very happy with my strawberry shortcake. We got through everything with no health issues, and no meltdowns, so that's a success story in my book!
 
giant slide

A very happy and excited Serenity (on a big girl ride!)
 
vroom!

 



strawberry shortcake (from the Lion's Club booth)
Serenity is going to be 4 next month, and she's growing like a weed. She is equally sensitive and shy, and sassy and daring. LOL. Strider is doing incredibly well, and shows no signs of slowing down. He is his active, usual self, like he didn't just have major surgery a month and a half ago. I actually have to tell him to slow down, and take it easy, on a regular basis. Ah, a preschooler and a toddler.....their energy....I've got my hands full with these two!