Life… and a year in Kentucky!

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HELLO! It’s been awhile, I know. Nearly every day, I tell myself “I need to stop slacking and update my blog!” Yet…. you know what happens. Life. Life gets in the way. I get too caught up with things that when I think about posting a blog update, I tell myself, “it’s not really that important” and I go read a book instead. Or run away to Colorado.

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Yes, I did go to Colorado for a long, lovely weekend for the wedding of some dear friends. It was just what I needed to recharge a bit, too (love those mountains).

But anyway, I just…. haven’t had the motivation to blog much online these days. I have a love/hate relationship with blogging/social media/the internet. Currently? It’s leaning towards the ‘hate’ (or rather, the strong dislike of and desire to stay away from screens). Those of you’ve known me for awhile might have noticed this pattern over the years…. *ahem*

But, that aside, I owe y’all a short and sweet update of the last several months!

  • The RV. We sold our RV about a month ago. It was very bittersweet. So hard to see it go, knowing all the energy and love we (and others) put into it. But, after evaluating what to do next regarding a place to live, it was good to get it off our shoulders and into someone else’s hands. This journey isn’t over yet. We’ll get another one in the near future for weekend travels. Once you RV, you’re hooked!!!
  • Speaking of RVs, we finally met RV Wanderlust! Eric and Brittany Highland are the two wonderful and humble souls behind RV Wanderlust. After nearly a year of being connected through RV groups and getting to know each other online, Kyle and I spent a wonderful evening in Lexington with them. If you’re about to embark on an RV adventure (or you already are), do check out their blog.
  • Geocaching is my addiction….. all over again. Sun’s shining, we’re living in a windowless room, and there’s plenty of Kentucky to explore. What to do? Geocache! Kyle and I became hooked on this game nearly six years ago. We kind of let the hobby slide for a bit but got back into it again a couple months ago to beat the windowless room and see more Kentucky. Hooked. I’m looking for geocaches whenever I can… and it gets me out of the house.
  • Summer travels! Aside from a few days in colorful Colorado, we’ve been to Chicago a couple times with intention to return one more time before winter holidays. After that? I anticipate traveling less. Staying in Kentucky and using our weekends to relax at home or explore surrounding states and cities (St. Louis, Nashville,…..) We did manage to hike up Natural Bridge in Kentucky in June and loved it. Beautiful. Kayaking down the river in town has also been checked off our list.
  • Work. I want to mention that Kyle found a new job he loves, which freed up his weekends and allows us to spend more time together. I’m happy for him, and I’m happy for us. Whee!
  • We are back on our feet. We went through a rough patch within the last year as we started over a couple times, but these days we are feeling a bit more stable. It’s a good feeling. Kyle and I had a pretty easy life together in Chicagoland and we took a lot of things for granted. I have a greater appreciation now for basic, daily things that keep life calm.
  • Whole30? Oh yeah….. what happened with the Whole30? Well. It was off to a good start. And I did notice some improvements in my overall health and energy levels. But by the time the third week rolled around, I was tired of obsessing over my food and stopped Whole30. All these food lifestyles and diets (whether or not you want to call them that) take up brain energy that I’d rather distribute elsewhere. As long as I keep a varied diet of whole foods and eat with moderation, I’m fine.
  • Last but not least, Jesus. I am thinking more and more lately about what it means to follow Jesus, especially in the wake of all the controversial issues that have popped up lately. I’m digging deeper into scripture and reflecting on what kind of life I want to lead and how to lead it that way.

Also, a couple weeks ago marks a year since we’ve moved here to Kentucky. Whoa.

We’ve had two different experiences: six months in our RV on a lovely ranch and six months in a studio apartment on a main street in a small town. Both were enjoyable: I loved our sweet RV and the farm (with all the ducks and that crazy rooster) and have loved being in town, near the stores and events. I’m thankful for both the farm and the apartment, but looking ahead to the next living situation. We’ve also developed friendships with honest, humble people who have deeply blessed us. Our roots are growing with these people, with our church, and with this community. Every day I am in awe that we are here.

Nothing is forever, but plenty of things can be right now.

And right now? Kentucky is home.

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See You Later, RV….

So much changes in a year.

So much changes in a week.

When I think about 2014: I think “RV.” The entire year was basically dedicated to our RV. We purchased it in January, spent the next five to six months tearing out the inside and re-doing many parts of it (with the fantastic help of our amazing family & friends), we moved in June 1st, and six weeks later, were off to a new adventure in Kentucky. Not only that, but we purchased a truck specifically for the trailer, had the hitch installed, and spent countless hours repairing walls, ceilings, pipes, etc., you name it, within the RV. Nearly all of our savings  were poured into this dream. After we arrived in Kentucky, our plans to get settled on our land kept being delayed because of tight finances and unexpected expenses, but we dealt with it. Meanwhile, so much support overflowed to us from many people in our lives — family, friends, online faces, and complete strangers. We took a huge risk and chased a dream. Nine months we’ve been in the RV. Nine crazy months that have given us new experiences, new lessons, new abilities, and brought us closer together as a couple.

We stayed married (ha!). We adjusted. We got used to a different way of doing things, like living without hot running water when the hot water heater stopped working and putting our clothes on the heating vents so they weren’t as cold when getting dressed on a winter morning. We even made it through a rough, record-breaking Kentucky winter and learned that we are more capable of handling cold weather than we thought. (Our bodies adjusted, seriously — going into a 70 degree house is way too warm now.) Also, buying propane constantly is expensive! Yet, we accomplished something. I feel good about that.

That said, fulltiming in the RV wasn’t a forever thing. Our original plan was to stay in the trailer until our next step, which was to build a small house on a gift of an acre of land in Kentucky. Visions of goat barns and muddy boots and huge bonfires filled our heads. This particular promise of the gift is the main reason we choose Kentucky. We purchased the RV and prepped it & our lives because we knew we had a spot of land waiting for us. If the land wasn’t there, I don’t think we could have done the RV unless we somehow found a year-round park near Chicago or something (don’t think there are any). Maybe we would have gone ahead with the tiny house we originally aimed for. Or maybe we would have purchased some land somewhere. Or maybe we would be doing something completely different. All we knew was that we wanted to to live simply.

Yet…. as much as we loved our little trailer home and wanted to start building our own small farm this year, we just haven’t been ourselves. As I mentioned earlier, the RV consumed all our thoughts, energy, and sanity (in one way or another). We could handle that. We couldn’t handle the other unexpected circumstance thrown our way — our relationship with our ‘aunt’ (whom, if you recall, gifted us the land) quickly changed from a welcoming relationship to a strained one. We needed to leave quickly for everyone’s sake. [I really want to say a lot more about this, but we are still dealing with some aspects of it. When all is said and done, I’ll share the bizarre story someday. I believe there are valuable lessons we learned through this experience.]

We prayed. We talked. We decided to move out of our beloved RV into a studio apartment in town.

Which is where I am at this moment.

I thought we’d be on our land today, putting up fences, preparing for baby goats, and planning a summer garden. We never thought we’d be in an apartment again, but here we are (and for those of you who are wondering, we are breaking even financially with this apartment vs. RV costs & bills on that farm).

I know many people who live in RVs just pack up their RV and move to another location. As much as I wanted to stay in our RV, there wasn’t a good option that fit us right now.  We had to leave quick and that RV isn’t moving any time soon. It doesn’t help that it’s still sitting in a pile of snow, mud, and hay.

We are growing roots in this community and do not have plans to go anywhere else (sincerest apologies to those of you back in Chicago!). Both of us feel called to stay. Within me is a growing sense of purpose in this humble Kentucky town. Instead of building a house on the land we thought we were going to have, we will be looking at other options within the next year. Our beloved RV will probably be sold (hopefully to someone who plans to travel often or full-time), but our decision with that has yet to be determined. As soon as this weather stops (we got another snow storm today!) and disappears, we’ll be moving the trailer to another farm for temporary storage.

We’ve been in this apartment for two weeks and I do miss the farm. Oh, those chickens, ducks, and horses. But in this moment, I am grateful for our own shower & hot running water, warm toes & fingers, the ability to cook more at home now that we have water to use & wash dishes with, plenty of room for the cats to run back and forth across the floor, and the chance to walk nearly anywhere in town. Most of all, I am also grateful to be free from toxic people in a toxic environment. It was bringing me down in a way I haven’t been in years. Not good. As hard as it was to leave behind the ‘gift’ of the land and the intended generosity of the person who let us stay on her farm, we know this was the best choice for us. Are we disappointed? Of course. Do I feel like I’ve disappointed everyone that supported us? Very much so. It breaks my heart. But it’s time to dream again of another future (I still see a farm in it). I am oddly excited, which is a good thing, right??

I feel better than I have in months. I am rested. Nourished. Free.

This recharge is giving us the energy we ned to be able to focus on other people again.

And to give. I want to give. Oh, so much — I just want to share and give what God has given us. We have been unable to give much lately and it’s been hard because we love to give. Giving is just natural to us — whether it be time, money, or a helping hand. We want to give more. But to recieve? That’s hard. It’s hard to let other people take care of our needs. It’s hard to not feel an obligation. It’s hard to be unable to reciprocate. But all that we’ve been receiving? We are so, so blessed to know a God that takes care of our needs, one way or another. Someone told me this is a season of our life where we have to be good recievers. With that in mind, I have been trying to be a gracious reciever.

THANK YOU. Thank you for the kind words of encouragement, the coffee gift cards, the handmade hats, the unexpected funds, the video messages, the shared meals, the nerf gun wars, the letters, for simply being in my life. I am overflowing with gratitude towards family, old friends, new friends, the kindess of strangers, and our new church here in Kentucky. Our church has been one of the biggest supports here as we are away from family & friends, and I don’t know what we would have done without them. I don’t know how often I can say it to everyone. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thanks. Love you.

Getting the RV Ready for Winter!

Although it was fifty degrees and rainy today, we hit below freezing temperatures last week — it was like Februrary in early November. Too cold, too early. We had to quickly get the RV prepped for colder weather. We knew that winter in the RV would be a challenge — we were just hoping that winter wouldn’t be too long this year. Chicago winters can be long and snowy, but Kentucky winters are typically not as cold and have less snow. Unfortunately, I think we’re in for a long, cold winter. Our budget is also pretty tight right now as we’re still getting settled with everything.

So here’s what we did:

1) Dropped about $100 on 25 bales of straw and stacked them under the RV for insulation.

This was our biggest expense and the most time-consuming (Kyle spent about two hours stacking and packing the straw). The purpose of this was to block out all the cold wind that blows under the trailer and keep the floor temperatures a bit warmer. I honestly don’t know if it’s making a difference (the weather has warmed up since we got the bales), but I think it really helps.

2) Plastic sheeting on some of the windows.

Just like most people do in their houses.

3) Spicket insulation cap over city water hookup. 

We disconnected city water and filled our holding tank. The water in the holding tank is still very cold, but at least there aren’t any hoses hooked up that could freeze. And of course, our hot water heater works fine (when one of us dares to go outside to turn it on). We need to fill the thirty-gallon holding tank about once a week; that’s not a big deal….. at least for me. Kyle is the one that goes outside to take care of everything (oh, how thankful I am for him)!

4) Wrapped all grey and black water piping outside with fiberglass insulation wrap.

5) Plastic sheeting around slide-out seam to prevent drafts.

Our slide-out seams were soooo drafty! If you put your hand over a seam, you could feel the cold air blowing in. The plastic sheeting helps keep the cold air out and the warm air in!

6) Stick-on door gap insulation on ‘front’ door to block drafts.

Our front door was also incredibly drafty — and you could see the outside light coming in through the cracks. A little bit of gap insulation was an easy fix to the problem.

7) Put stick-on insulation around outdoor cubby holes.

All the little doors outside that lead to little cubby holes/storage spaces are also places for cold air to seep in and warm air to escape. Insulating them made us feel better.

8) Use a space heater.

Space heaters are helpful for heating small spaces when you have enough power to handle them. We did use space heaters for a bit, but unfortunately, the 110 outlet we are hooked up to cannot handle too much wattage (in addition to heat lamp for farm animals). A 220 outlet (as found is RV parks) can handle a space heater just fine.

9) Stock up on propane gas.

We do have a heating system throughout the RV that works well. However, since the RV itself is generally poorly insulated, the heater works harder to keep the heat in and we run out of propane gas a couple times a week. It’s a pain. All the steps we took to insulate the RV helped a lot, but it’s not completely airtight. Fortunately, we keep back-up tanks of propane on hand so we’re never completely out of propane while in the process of filling up another tank. Soooo thankful for the farm stores around here that fill up propane tanks!

10) Layers, layers, layers! More clothes! More blankets!

Layering up is key. If you can keep yourself warm (even in a regular house), you can cut back on heating costs. We’ve worn sweatshirts and slippers to bed, while wrapped in layers of fleece blankets. It’s sooo cozy, especially with snuggling cats. Consuming plenty of warm drinks and foods is also soothing (and the heat from the stove is nice).

So… that’s what we’ve done and we’re hoping it will be enough!

Winter, we’re ready for you!!