What living in 300 square feet did for our family

It is December and I am sitting in our new home watching the flickering lights on our Christmas tree and reminiscing over the past 2 years. It was a season of our lives that I wouldn't change a thing about. I believe that the moments that scare us, push us out of our comfort zone and leave us not knowing what’s ahead are the moments that grow us and give us a new found strength in who we are AND who God wants us to be. That is…..if we give our worries over to him. Because sometimes things are simply out of our control and very unknown.

We were in a season of going with the flow and seeing where we were supposed to be…….It was amazing to see that when we said “God lead us, guide us and put us where we are meant to be to raise our children and do life” We felt a peace and for the first time my controlling personality mixed with a fear of change was lifted away and I just went with it!

As I've mentioned in prior blog posts……We sold our house we had made our HOME over 12 years, we moved in with my parents for 11 months and we dreamed………………..

We dreamed about land, building, settling and contentment. there were times in between where we looked for a few fixer uppers, made offers on houses (even in Florida!) and then the opportunity arose for us to purchase land on our favorite farm in our favorite town and community.

My husbands dreams of building his own home were becoming a reality and the idea of living in my parents home….with them….EVERY DAY;) was coming to an end. Now, let me explain my parents. They are indeed the most loving, selfless, giving humans EVER in my opinion! They gave up a large portion of their home for US during our In-Between time and encouraged every crazy dream we had;) We told ourselves we would move out before a year came (because we really wanted to still love them after the whole living under the same roof experience, haha) and at month 8 we bought a used 31 foot RV! we gutted it, cleaned every nook and cranny, painted it and decorated it over a few months.

In January 2018 (11 months into living with my parents) We moved our RV into our new land!! IN THE SNOW!

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We packed up as many outfits as we could fit in the small storage areas, grabbed a few timeless toys that all 4 kids enjoyed together such as a wooden fold up doll house, a box of legos, magna tiles (worlds best ever!), colorings books and crayons, playing cards and the Wii (yes we had a tv and yes we used it;)

Things felt cozy, exciting and we were ready! like a vacation! an unknowingly 7 month vacation, hah!

You see……we jumped on this day to move because the snow had knocked out my parents electricity for 3 days and we found out that OUR land had power! we were getting stir crazy and we figured what better time to move than that day!

Remember how I mentioned I was controlling? So many things happened in those 7 months that if I had known them ahead of time I would have said NO, NO, NO, we will NOT live in an RV!

If Timothy would have told me that we would NOT HAVE RUNNING WATER FOR 3 MONTHS!!!!!! I would have said “no way”

If I would have known that it would seriously be one of the coldest windy winters I could remember I would have said “maybe not now”

If I would have known how little food for a family of 6 I could fit in a Barbie sized refrigerator I would have done better meal planning from the beginning. (It didn't take me long to learn)

If I would have known how often we would eat out at restaurants and fast food….well I don’t know how I would have prepared for that, hah!

If I would have known the fun, the adventure and the heart change this journey would bring us I would have said “Let’s do it sooner!!

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A few nights into our tiny living experience we bought salads and snacks and made a campfire. The kids giggled, and told us over and over how much fun they were having! We felt like we had suddenly gifted them with the most magical experience and we were ready to get on their level. Because don’t kids just have more fun? They live in the moment, they live life filled with joy and wonder.

Adults……We take things to seriously, We make to many plans, We stress over things not going OUR way, We spend to much time wanting more and less time feeling thankful for what we have. In this moment we didn't have much in our tiny RV…….We didn't have running water…..We didn't have a great size sofa, or a laundry room, or a full size frig. We didn't have space to stretch out or places to go to get away from everyone else, hah!

What we DID HAVE was each other. As silly as that sounds it became a clear truth that we needed more of each other. We had gotten busy, family dinners were rushed, evenings seemed to last a millisecond, and it took living in a tiny space having to do EVERYTHING together to get our family back on track.

It was beautiful.

We learned so much during those 7 months………..The biggest lesson? Life without water. you guys…..we are SO SPOILED!!!!! when we first moved in and I was aware it may take a few weeks to get water (which soon turned into 3 months) I thought “hey this won’t be so bad, I’ll just grab a few water jugs and we’ll drink from water bottles”

Then we had our first pile of dirty dishes in the sink……….hm………that's tricky. I put the stopper in the drain, filled the sink with some soap and heated coffee mug after coffee mug of water in the microwave and poured it into the sink. I scrubbed the dishes and rinsed them with cold bottled water. I averaged 4 bottles of water each time I did the dishes and we had started quiet the recycle bin;) If I was smart I’d fill glass jugs and old water bottles with water each time I’d visit my parents on Mondays while I did my weekly laundry.

Let’s get into the nitty gritty now…….The toilet……The toilet Magnolia who was 2 and ready to start potty training was TERRIFIED of, haha. The toilet worked just fine……and flushed…..with water of coarse. So we got creative and put an old barrel on one end of the RV where melted snow and rain would drain into. we would fill our old water jugs with rain water and keep 2 jugs at a time in the floor of the bathroom (because that was all that fit) and the older kids soon became pro’s at using the RV toilet!

Cooking wasn't easy but it was doable. The gas stove was incredible actually and it didn't take long to learn how to use the convection oven which was also the microwave. We made mini lasagna, fish, sweet potato fries, you name it, we tried it! The microwave was great for our countless bags of popcorn “if” we remembered to turn off both space heaters before hand. If not, all of the breakers would trip and we'd have to start over.

Leah, Our oldest reminds me of how difficult some mornings were trying to get ready for school. I mean, seriously its a hard task in any home. Shrink up counter space for packing lunches, scrambling to find shoes and making space to get dressed and do hair on a tight time crunch made for a few tearful mornings…..and I’m not just talking about the kids, haha. What I found to be amazing was that the less our kids had to choose from to wear out of their closet and bins the easier it was for them to get dressed. We stuck to a very simple wardrobe……a lot of white, black and grey and bright hair bows to brighten up any outfit;)

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Some of our best memories were the Birthday’s we celebrated in the RV. Leah and Leverette Turned 9 and 5 only a few days apart from each other and we celebrated the best we could. complete with donuts, party hats and filling the RV with balloons for them to wake up to;)

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The photo above was taken BEFORE I broke down in tears realizing that most of the beautiful produce I had just bought (you know, to help us feel better about eating fast food so often) wouldn't fit in the frig…….no matter how well I stacked, wedged, and smooshed food in, some went into a cooler outside and some was eaten that night.

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And here are two photos that are forever stamped in my mind. Our two youngest are messy, adventurous, and have no problem getting filthy from head to toe. That's not a huge problem when you can quickly stick them into a bathtub…..not easy when there is still NO WATER. I used my coffee mug water warming method to fill this Blue fruit bowl and sponge bathed both kids. not just once, but quiet often because we couldn't seem to keep them out of the lovely mud that filled our yard each day from melting snow and giant trucks delivering building materials, getting stuck and creating muddy ruts everywhere. hah!

This blue bowl sits on my counter every day holding fruit. It used to just be pretty…..now it is a daily reminder of how blessed and fortunate we are to have running water every day and a reminder to pray for those who are less fortunate.

The rest of us showered at my parents once a week, at the YMCA after school and work and I went to workout in the mornings more than ever in my life. The hot giant showers there was what got me there, plus…..I had to work off all that fast food right?! :)

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As I look through pictures I took (and I took ALOT) there aren't many where our kids are not smiling. They were amazing troopers through the whole experience. They helped out with the dishes, sweeping, washing windows and preparing meals.

Honestly it was seeing their joy that helped us get through what could have been a tough season.

On a normal day in our old home I would have spent my days much differently. I would have spent countless hours doing laundry, cleaning a much larger space and sewing. In the RV I spent time slowing down, and oh how my soul needed that!!! I read books! I journaled, I designed our new home, and I watched my kids more. not in the typical “make sure they don't get into anything” kind of watch……I noticed my kids more. I noticed how they are growing and learning. I noticed more of what made them happy or what triggered them to feel emotional.

We parented differently. When things got wild and everyone was getting on each others nerves, instead of sending each of the kids to their separate rooms we had to figure out a new plan. For the first time in my time of being a mother I stopped and got on their level (literally) and I looked in their eyes and I stayed calm and we talked through the craziness. This taught me so much! I saw where yelling and separation was not what worked for our kids……instead it was noticing their feelings and WOW what a game changer that was.

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We had fun……..

We listened to music 90% of the time:) We chose a few new artists and fell in love with the music and the vibe it filled the RV with. These are artists that I will listen to for years to come and always be reminded of this sweet segment of our lives. A few of our favorites were: Johnnyswim, Andrew Belle, The Civil Wars, and The Greatest Showman soundtrack, Ray LaMontagne, The Chainsmokers, and Chet Porter.

We danced ALOT! In our home there is always dancing. When someone wakes up grumpy we dance. When someone gets a good grade on a test we dance. When we make tacos for taco Tuesday we dance;) preferably to the last two artists I named. If you haven't tried dancing through life, give it a try!

We played a lot of games. because we were so limited to space and storage for many toys we played cards, mancala (the marble game as we call it) Guess Who, and they colored and drew countless pictures.

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Our view was one for the books! Sun rises and Sunsets so beautiful! The kids loved waking to the bright sun that filled their room and WE enjoyed the quiet evenings watching the pink, orange and purple sky.

Every morning the kids would quietly tip toe to the sofa and line up to watch the families of deer or turkey in the field close by and Leverette was always on the hunt for his friend Groundy (the groundhog) haha:)

My favorite view? The one out my bedroom window. Our RV sat 50 feet from our new home taking shape and I watched every day in delight of our dreams coming true. Our dream came with a lot of hard work and long days, I watched from my window my husband, building and building and building. From the first bit of plywood on the first floor to framing walls being lifted with helping hands from friends and family. I watched him work tirelessly in the freezing cold and looked forward to the soup and hot coffee dates we’d have through the day. At night I’d watch out of our bedroom window and see our new home windows filled with light from flood lights as Timothy would be working hard into the night to finish things up after a long day of his own personal full time job. I watched in gratitude of all that was happening and looked forward to the moments I’m having now…..sitting on our sofa in our new warm home.

Now that we are in our new home, we look back and love reminiscing on the fond memories of living in the RV. We are thankful for what it taught us, for the ways it helped us simplify our lives, and most of all thankful that it showed us how much we love adventure!! We anticipate buying another RV in the future and taking our kids cross country (if you’ve gone, tell me your secrets and where you went!!) and we look forward to settling in fully to our new home, establishing our mini farm and living life to the fullest!!

I do not have the slightest clue what I’m doing……that's the adventure…….I stopped worrying about it…..that's the beauty - Jason King

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