Home, Sweet Home … For Now

We bought our RV and SUV a few days before little-dude joined our family. We decided to take a small break from moving to adjust to being a family of four and allow me time to heal from child birth. 

Two weeks ago, we talked with our Realtor and are getting the house ready to sell. Which means we need a place to put the RV. After some research we found a cute place close to the house so we could be nearby while we sell the house and move into the RV. 

The actual trip to the RV resort was nerve racking for me – this made it real. Everything’s been abstract for months but actually seeing the resort made it real. And I have to admit, I’m still nervous. This is such a drastic change from what I’m used to. 

However, I’m also kinda excited – the resort is walking distance to parks, restaurants, and much more. Now we will have the opportunity to get out more as a family. 

It took some time to get the RV here as the place we bought it from kept “losing” our moving information. Thankfully, we managed to get the RV to it’s new home a few days ago.

We now have about half our stuff in the RV and spent our first official night. So far, so good. We still have some work to do, but it’s getting there.

Downsizing

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How do you fit a 1600 sq ft house into a 300 sq ft trailer??? The simple to say, but hard to do, answer is – DOWNSIZE. I’ve tried to put myself in a practical mindset – the more we sell, the more money we have to travel and less stuff to lug around. It also helps to remember that if we get rid of something, and want it later, we can always re-buy it.

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Now some of our stuff is a no brainer to get rid of, such as the furniture (since it’s included in the trailer), TV’s (we won’t need four in the trailer), my car (my Honda Fit can’t pull an 8,000 lb trailer), and kitchen stuff (I won’t need my fancy dishes any more).

Then it gets a little more difficult for me. We have cultivated quite the toy collection and play area in our house. I know, realistically, that our kids don’t NEED all these toys, but I do have a joy seeing them play with these toys. I didn’t have a lot growing up, so being able to provide these “things” for my children gives my great satisfaction.

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But then I’m reminded that what we remember most isn’t the actual toy we played with as children. We remember spending time with our loved ones and experiencing the world with them. And that’s what I want for my children – to experience value and love from those around them; not the things around them.

So while I know that downsizing my kids toys will be emotional for me, I also know that we are giving them an awesome experience.

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Now on the flip size, I am used to cooking in a 300 sq ft kitchen (which is the same size as our trailer). How am I supposed to cook in such a small space? Where am I supposed to store everything? I am used to having a lot of cabinet space, not to mention fridge space, to store food. I currently have three different solutions for my dilemma:

  1. Shop every few days, instead of once a week
  2. Stop buying in bulk and only buy what you need for a the meal (portion control)
  3. Grow fresh herbs and lettuce in a window

I have no idea if any of these will works, but I guess this is only part of what I’ll have to get used to going forward. On the plus side, it’s much easier to keep 300 sq ft clean than 1600 – especially with two kids!

Taking our Furbabies on the Road

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These poor cats. We adopted Kizzy and Cloud in 2008 while we were living at our townhouse in Orlando. And over the past ten years, these cats have lived in a lot of different places:

  • 2009 (October): We drove them cross country for three days to move to California.
  • 2010 (April): About six months later, in early we drove them back to Orlando, and into my in-laws house in Celebration, Florida.
  • 2010 (October): After many months of house hunting, we then moved them to our new house in Orlando.
  • 2013 (February): After a few years of downtime, we moved them to an apartment near SeaWorld
  • 2014 (January): We moved them back to our townhouse in Orlando.
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I think this pretty much sums up how he feels about car rides

Is that it? unfortunately not.

  • 2015 (September): We flew them out to California!
  • 2016 (September): We fly them back to the townhouse in Orlando

And now we are asking them to live with us on an RV and travel the country to who knows how long. I think I better stock-up on kitty treats.

Monday Motivation

Nothing in life worth having us easy to get. I have an amazing relationship with Damon. 

From the outside, people think our relationship looks perfect and easy. However, it looks this way because one of simple principle – work through the pain. So many couples argue and fight with one another instead of facing the pain and working through the issue. This in turn causes the problems to increase overtime and eventually fall apart. When this happens you are essentially telling your partner that ignoring your problems is more important than your spouse.

How do I know this? Because I lived through it with my parents. They constantly argued and allowed their resistance to face the issues overshadow their relationship. It even spilled over into my sister and me – constantly being bullied and shamed for our opinions because it conflicted with our parents issues. 

This lead to a very unhealthy relationship between me and my parents. I was determined to not have a marriage like theirs and to have a good relationship with my children. My efforts to that end causes a great deal of tension between us and more bullying. I eventually came to the hard conclusion that I can’t fix them. They won’t change and being in a relationship with them was toxic to my happiness.

From the start, Damon saw how toxic my families relationship was and helped me to work on it. The result is an amazing relationship with each other. We agree to work through our pain in the moment. While it’s hard we always come out on the other end a stronger couple and much happier. 

However, we don’t always do this. We accept that we aren’t perfect. That it’s ok to take a breath for a little bit and then return. It shows an ability to question what’s happening and come back to one another with questions. 

It’s not easy but it’s definitely worth it. 

California Adventure: The Beach

One of the first weekend we were here we took mini-man to the beach. A big change from Orlando, where the nearest beach is 90 minutes away and has tons of public access, the closest beach to uabwas several hours away. Then when we finally arrived, there was very little public parking and access to the beach was limited – very rocky terrain.

But being the adventurous people we are, we went down the path and ended up in a rocky area of the beach. After walking for over an hour we finally found a spot where we could sit – but you can imagine how tired we all were. We cooled off in the ocean – mini-man loved his feet in the water – but were more than ready to head home.

At this point mini-man was crying and I didn’t have the energy to go back the way we came. Unfortunately, each access point back to the car was private. Damon and I agreed to split at this point – he want back the way we came and I headed for the nearest public access point with mini-man.

Thank goodness we met some nice people who let mini-man and me use their private access. I got to the shade and called Damon immediately. As soon as he showed up, mini-man passed out.

Needless to say this adventurous trip was a bit much for all of us. We soon discovered that our pool was just steps away from our front door and a  much easier place to take mini-man for some water fun. 

Adulting

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I have dealt with this for a long time – the thoughts that are ingrained into our heads telling us that we are broken when in reality we are perfect.

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I spent a long time copying others so I could fit in. And by 25 I had it all (at least that’s what my mother told me) – in was married, had a degree, a house, and friends. I had it all? But who says this is what we are supposed to want? Who are these people that make up these rules?

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So while I appeared to have it all on the outside, in the inside of was really unhappy. One day I’d had enough and decided to change things. I went back to school, interned, volunteered and, for the first time, felt like I was doing what I was supposed to do.

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This change had unforeseen consequences. Since I was happier it inspired happiness in Damon which, in turn, made our relationship stronger. However, this new happiness made other relationships weaker.

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Very quickly, those who weren’t my true friends or unsupportive of my new life simple fizzled away. No dramatics, no problems – they just disappeared. There are times that I miss these relationships. But then I realize that I am so much happier with my life now without them. I don’t miss the drama or the stress. Life is so much easier and happier without all of that mess.

So for me I choose my happiness. I can’t control others and really don’t want to. I just want to enjoy my life by being who I am and not by being what others want me to be.

Welcoming Mini-man into our Clan

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Two years ago Damon and I were on a cruise when I noticed something peculiar. One day I’m enjoying soda and cruise food and the next (literally the next day) soda made me ill and all I wanted to eat were salads. I suspected something was up but dismissed it. However, my suspicions were confirmed when we got home – I was pregnant. 10 months later, we welcomed a bouncing, baby boy into our family.

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When my due date arrived, I was done being pregnant. At my check-up with my midwife she said I was close but could still be another week. As you can imagine, I couldn’t bare the thought of waiting any longer to give birth. I was anxious to meet mini-man and to stop being pregnant. That night I tried as many home remedies as I could to jump start labor – spicy food, Epson salt bath, magnesium, etc. I don’t know if these worked or if it was just time – but in a few hours I was in labor.

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I woke Damon up at one in the morning and he called our midwife who confirmed I was in labor. She hurried over and began setting things up. What happened next was one of the most amazing experience of my life.

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In bed with Damon I began to progress. There was no pressure to hurry; the room was calm; my midwife encouraged me – I felt so safe and strong. Many of my friends said that labor scared them. I never felt more empowered. Not once during the process did I think ‘I can’t do this’. I trusted my body and the people around me. This made for a very easy birth.

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After nine hours of labor, mini-man was in my arms. The first thing I heard my midwife say was ‘Oh my god he’s huge!’. Turns out I had just pushed out a 10lb, 22 in little boy with no drugs! That’s right no drugs – just peace, quiet, and a lot of amazing support.

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And we were off. Nothing can prepare you for parenthood. But the experience of a homebirth is a great way to start. Immediately it’s just you and the baby. I think that immediacy forces you to step up and start taking care of the baby.

Believe it or not, most women can have a home birth. I know the idea can be scary, but i encourage you to look into it. You never know until you try and what you gain is amazing.

Stay-at-Home-Mom: Savings

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I think we can all relate – raising kids can get pricey. The clothes they grow out of in two seconds, the toys that cost $$$ and are played with for a few months, you know the drill. Added to the fact that we are on a budget tends to make things interesting. I grew up pretty poor and learned quickly how to spot a good deal and to invest money wisely. However, my husband has taught me even more than I imagined. 

I showed him toys/clothes for mini-man that I think are a good price and he takes me to places where there even better! What places are these? Thrift stores. Places like this didn’t really exist for me as a kid – I’m not sure why. They are a great place to find awesome treasures at an amazing price. Yes they can take some time to dig and your not guaranteed to find what you are looking for but with an open mind and some digging, you can unearth some amazing items. And bonus – it’s the ultimate in recycling! An old toy gets a new life, you save money, and the old owner gets some cash – everybody wins!

 Here are some things that I have found from Goodwill, local thrift stores, and Craigslist:

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  • Clothes

 Mini-man was born at 10 pounds (naturally!). I loved my big guy but all of the clothes we had for him were too small (NB clothes fit upto 10 pounds). My first thought was to go to Walmart and get a few things. However, Damon suggested trying our local Goodwill first. OMG was I surprised – the store had a wall full of baby clothes and for $1.50! I couldn’t believe it – we left with a bag full of clothes for less than the cost of one outfit at a local retailer. I was hooked. 

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  • Toys 

Children’s toy are pricey, require a lot of batteries, and maintain interested for a few minutes. Looking at the toy aisle, I couldn’t help but wonder where all these toys ended up once kids were done playing with them. Turns out that most of them end up at garage sales and local thrift stores. We found a couple of amazing stores near us in Glendale that have huge toy sections. I have found name brand electronic toys (I.e. V-tech and Leap Frog) for $3 or less! Mini-mans airplane rocker – $3.50! (Going for $100 on Amazon). And our latest find – the car above for $10! 

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  • Books

Mini-man loves books. I started his collections with some books I found on Amazon. However, I have expanded the collection immensely from thrift stores. These books, which retail for $5-$20 are sold for $1 at thrift stores! I do take comfort in the fact that the books I bought at full retail I have never found at thrift stores, but I have found similar books that mini-man loves. The books are usually all mixed together and requires some digging, but it’s well worth the savings. 

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  • Furniture

I think this is where I am the most thrilled with my thrift store findings. Furniture can be pricey but kids grow of them so fast that a lot of it ends up on Craiglist or Goodwill. We recently went back to Florida for a week and found a Step2 pic-nic table and sand table for $50! Mini-man loved the sand table so much that we found the same table in L.A. for $20. The blue chair was in the trash near our apartment – we rescued it, repaired it and now mini-man has an awesome chair for $10. 

With a little imagination, determination, and patience, it is incredible how much you can save and still have fun with your kids!

Five fast tips for thrift stores:

  • Go Often – Thrift stores get stuff in everyday. The more you go, the more chances you have to get something you are looking for.
  • Dig, Dig, Dig – Thrift stores are notoriously unorganized. Spend a few minutes digging and you can unearth some treasures.
  • Not everything is a Deal – Be sure to check online for retail prices before you buy. I have seen things at thrift stores that are more expensive than retail.
  • Color of the Week – Most thrift stores color code their price tags. Each week they will put a color on sale. If you buy something with that color price tag and you can get a discount. I found mini-mans airplane rocker for $7 but it was a color of the week, so I got 50% off!
  • Don’t be Afarid – I am somewhere who isn’t comfortable in crowds or in unfamiliar places. However, it is worth giving thrift stores a try for the savings. 

Staying at Home

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About a year ago, I decided to step down from my job to be a stay-at-home mom. While it was hard to pull the trigger, I have never once regretted my decision. I absolutely love being with min-man every day and seeing how he grows and develops. I swear he changes every day. I think the hardest thing to deal with is losing some of the friendships/relationships I had before mini-man. 

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Remeber to live your life

I was in a field where women were encourage to work and have a family. My problem is I was working 60-80 hours a week and I couldn’t do that and be the mom I wanted to be. Fortunately, Damon and I had discussed this long before I was pregnant and decided that I should stay home when the time came. We budgeted and saved so that we could live comfortably on just his salary. We achieved this just before getting pregnant. I can’t express how happy I am that we did this – for it means I get to spend every day with mini-man. 

The tough part comes in to play with my former co-workers. Many women, who like me were brought up to believe that we should work and have a family, can’t believe that I would choose to stay at home. Why not just hire a nanny? Well for me it’s simple – I don’t want someone else to raise my kids. I want to be there. There will always be jobs out there my kids will only be little for a very short time (I still can’t believe that mini-man is 15 months!). 

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I know that not everyone is as lucky as I am to have the choice to stay home with their children and that’s it’s a daily struggle to balance work and home life. However, I will never regret my choice to stay-at-home with mini-man. This decision doesn’t make me any less of a woman, just like deciding to have family and career doesn’t make someone any less of a mom. It’s a personal choice that’s made for the each persons family. 

Lessons Learned: The Sail Boat

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One of the main reasons behind our first sailing trip was to test the sail boat itself. We want to make sure that we buy something that will work for us as a family as we travel. For our first adventure we sailed on a 30′ O’day. Here is what we learned:

  • Everything within Reach: Many of the ropes and instruments were out of reach of the person at the helm, which meant that this boat needed to people to sail it. Unfortunately, I was with Colby most of the time and couldn’t always help Damon with the sailing.

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  • Navigation: On this particular boat, most of the instruments we either out of date, not working, or not within reach of the wheel. For our boat we want to have all of our tools within reach of the captain to make sailing easier.

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  • Head room: Damon is 6’1 and pretty sure mini-man is going to be taller than him someday. They will both need a lot more head room than this boat provided.
  • Organization: This boat did not have a lot of storage, which made it difficult to put things away or to find them.
  • Layout: There was a table in the middle of the living space, which made it difficult to maneuver around. Then there were two beds – one at the front and one at the back, Both were cramped and not conducive to sleeping or privacy.
  • Air Conditioning!: Traveling in the south, it can get very hot. We got trapped motoring down a river with no wind which made it very uncomfortable for us and mini-man. For days when we are motoring, air conditioning will be amazing!
  • Shade: It can get pretty hot/cold/wet at the helm. A nice covering will make it easier to steer for long periods of time

I think we learned a lot from this first trip together. The biggest thing we learned? We don’t need a single boat for our whole adventure. We think it will be best to get one boat for cruising North America and a different boat when we head to Europ.  We are planning a long get away in October when mini-man is a little older. We shall see what lessons this trip brings.