Tuesday, June 9, 2015

What it's like Rv Living, Building, and Having Crazy Kids: May

Where do I begin?? House stuff. We finally closed on our house May 29th! That was a HUGE relief. I felt quite a bit of sadness at the beginning of the month at having to leave the first house that I have loved in the first time that I have ever wanted to stay in. But by the time closing came, it was just a relief. We really needed the money in the bank to get the ball rolling for our construction loan. Now that that is done, all we are finishing up is the contract and bids for the bank and hopefully we will get everything submitted soon and get funded about 2 weeks after that if we are lucky. I still feel sick to my stomach over the fact that we *could* get turned down. But at least then we have money for  a down payment on an existing home. Our loan officer is sure we are fine and good to go but I guess I'm a pessimist, I'll be happy when we have access to funds. Or when they lay the foundation. Or maybe not until we have the keys...I don't really know when it will sink in, actually and I will let myself feel excited. I'm cautiously optimistic. We are starting the process of picking out materials and colors. That is supposed to be fun, right?  It's so much pressure! What if I pick terrible colors? I usually do.  I'm pretty sure I'm partially color blind. John agrees. No, seriously.
Future Home Site

Future drive way looking towards the house, you won't be able to see the house from the road much if at all, it sits a bit behind that large group of trees in the middle.
My septic guy, whom I very much like at the moment (let's hope it stays that way), of JJ services in Taylor, went out and dug some holes, so I'm declaring that our ground breaking day, even if we aren't funded and it's just a big hole. It felt momentous to have someone come and dig a big hole in our dirt. He is going back out today to do some more stuff and soon we should have a permit to put in the system. John's dad (our builder) staked off where the house will be just the other day and seeing that was a big shock, I didn't realize how much space it would take up.

Septic Guy got started!

Our draftsman finished our plans and I really love the floor plan. It's better than what I had envisioned. I think it will be beautiful and so functional.  I didn't want the totally open floor plan that is so popular right now where the living/kitchen/dining are all one room sharing the same 4 walls. I also didn't originally want a formal dining at all. But I do appreciate being able to talk and see what's going on while cooking with people in the living room. So we did some arches to divide of the space a little bit. And a huge island that is kind of like a table on one end- chairs will be on all 3 sides at one end and a regular island on the opposite end with storage/prep space which is where I imagine we will eat most of our meals when John is gone or just breakfast and dinner, and only eat dinner at the big table. The actual dining room is not in another part of the house, which was an issue to me with most plans  It's right off of the kitchen, easy to carry food to and from. I imagine though, that this will end up being our downstairs school work area which I am really happy to have that option and still have the big bar to eat at. Our draftsman came up with the area behind the kitchen that is probably my favorite part of the whole house, the "drop zone" right off of the large laundry room. and garage. I've always wanted a space like this. I thought I was being a little difficult with my requests, I wanted the sink overlooking a window, the stove on another wall, no appliances or sinks in the island, a huge eat in island, close dining room, separate but visible living room, study close to the master, kids rooms away from ours, stairs in the foyer (for a beautiful staircase) and a homeschool area in the attic space upstairs, with the boys rooms having a bathroom in between, among other things. But I couldn't really ask for it to be any better. John got his little "armory/safe room" closet in his very own study to display all of his awards and certificates and man stuff. I am actually excited about decorating his room. It's going to be very masculine and classy. John doesn't know what I have in mind. I hope he didn't have anything in mind, because I am totally taking over it. ;)

The 2nd floor is a tiny bit weird layout just because we were trying to save money by utilizing attic space but I think it will be very cute.

I've thought of turning the island long ways, but draftsman thinks when people are sitting in the chairs, people won't be able to walk around them very easily. Might be annoying while I'm cooking. The third garage is going to be John's shop. Oh, and the final plans have a fireplace in the corner of the living room, not the center, Hallelujah! 

Okay, moving on...Rv life. We are all settled in. It's really not so bad. I can't say that I mind it all that much. I was surprised when I looked at the calendar and saw we have been here one month today!!  It has flown by. 

Things I dislike about living in a travel trailer:
1. The a/c is not the greatest. I had to cover all windows with Reflectix insulating stuff. Now it's nighttime 24/7 in here, but it stays a few degrees cooler. I very much dislike having no natural light, I would prefer to have all windows open all day but that makes it miserable in here in no time. I did leave the tiny kitchen sink window uncovered for the cat's sanity. She needs somewhere to sit and stare out. It usually stays in the upper 70's in here after the morning time. Or in the 80's if the door is being opened quite a bit. but we haven't experienced any 100 degree days yet, it will probably struggle to stay 10-20 degrees cooler than what it is outside, so I'm not looking forward to 100 degree temps at all.

2. Having a cat. Elsa, who is white and named after the Frozen movie, is coincidentally covering our tiny home in white fur. And sharpening her claws on things not easily repaired or replaced- things attached/built in. I may have to temporarily rehome her, she is ruining the rv. She wants out off and on all night, keeps me up like a newborn baby. She will scratch at and ruin the screen door if I don't let her out. And then cries at the door to get back in later. And then there is the litter box we must have, with nowhere to put it. So it's in the bathtub at the moment, because we don't need to shower in here, the rv park has awesome huge showers that most people here use instead of their own. But still, even the best litter and box can't control the smell completely, especially in such a small space.  But I just didn't want to have to put her off on someone else.

3. Madison. She doesn't know how to control her body yet. She can't walk without stomping or sit without throwing herself down, she throws her weight around (170 lbs and 5'7 now!) and can't easily be in the same small space with others, like without bumping me or actually knocking Ethan over. She can't just sit nicely, she has to "fall" down. When she walks or rolls over in bed, the whole trailer shakes.  She has to make a point to walk lightly and only after I yell at her for the 20th time that day to stop stomping. This has always been an issue with her, it's just more prevalent in something like a small travel trailer. I am sure it's not her fault, nothing she really does on purpose, she just grew too fast and doesn't know her own height/size/strength or have any spatial awareness or body control yet, I sure hope it will come in time but her nanny who she is built just like, doesn't give me too much hope lol. Inside she is a little just turned 11 yr old girl but on the outside she is a full grown, tall, broad woman. I picture in my mind, her picturing herself as a 5 ft tall 100 lb little girl. And then trying to fit in spaces that she can't fit, which she does all the time and it drives me NUTS. Like between strangers at the grocery store. Ugh.

4. Cooking in here. The open flame from the gas stove or oven really heats it up in an already hard to cool space. I try not to use the oven at all,  just makes it way too hot. But the park here has a kitchen for us to use with electric appliances right across from our trailer, so I made pizzas in that the other night while the kids swam in the pool next to me, that was nice.  Also, the space is so small and the flames so hot, that anything I put too close to the stove while cooking (and really, with this much counter space, how can it not be too close??)  gets melted!

5. Having to take the trash down the road to the dumpster and pay to do laundry in the laundry room near the office. (But I'm thankful they have one.)

That's probably it. 

Things I like:

1. I can do a deep cleaning in about 15-20 minutes of our whole "house" and then have nothing to do all day. 

2. The kids have a lot fun. They have made friends, some who have come and gone, some who will stay. They have fun running around the park, which is gated and fairly safe for them to run around free. We were blessed with the perfect site, grassy with a bare dirt patch that the owners said has always been a problematic spot. This couldn't have been more perfect for my 2 little boys who only need dirt and army men to be happy. They play in that spot every single day. Sometimes it the first thing Tyler does when he wakes up, walks from his bed to that spot. There is a permanent army camp there, and occasionally legos. Madison has less older kids to play with but has found a few. And she is far more active here, they all ride their bikes off and on all day. There is a playground and we are across from the pool which we use almost daily.

3. Doing laundry isn't really so bad, every 2-3 days, we got sit in there for a few hours and the kids play in the game room, play board games and build things with blocks.

4. Having a pool right beside me that I don't have to maintain.

5. Having a yard that I do not have to maintain. (albeit small) 

6. Life just feels simple.

7. Organizing. I like constantly thinking of ways to make things more efficient.

8. No yelling at the kids to clean their rooms. They don't have any. They have a tiny floor space to walk, and I tell them to pick up the floor once or twice a day as needed. I pick up here and there all day, because in such a small space, you can't let things get out of hand or you actually can't walk or sat anything down. So there is a constant need to clean up after yourself,  (everything has a place and needs to be in it) but it couldn't be any easier.

9. The kids fighting does not usually get out of control. They are doing great for the most part. I'm  almost always right here within ear shot and eye sight, so things do not escalate like they do in a large house where kids may be in another room and your not sure what's going on and you don't even get alarmed enough to go check until there is major fighting. The kids have not even asked to go back to our house once. I thought they would be miserable by now.

10. Meeting people. Most are very friendly and I've made a few friends.

11. The sense of community in an rv park like this. Everybody helps
everybody out. Which brings me to what happened last month.

So since John left, I have had to deal with the major flooding that happened and being evacuated (we are on the Colorado River), a clogged toilet, the a/c freezing up, breakers flipping (for reasons that I didn't know would happen at first), being locked out and some other random things that taught me what I needed to know. I was TERRIFIED of being left here alone, in a new town, knowing nobody, knowing NOTHING about rv's, and John leaving me a week into it. Now, I've had to deal with most things and can sat it's not so bad. All of those things were a blessing in disguise, because they made me feel much more confident in this whole thing, I think I can manage whatever comes up. I learned that  I can't have the hot water heater on and use the microwave at the same time or the a/c goes off. Who knew? Almost everyone with an rv, apparently. A kind neighbor saved the day after I worked for hours trying to unclog a huge toilet paper mass. He had a magic stick that you stick down in there and it kind of power washes the tank. I gotta get me one of those.  When the river rose and all of people on the lower end of the park had to move to higher ground, a man that didn't even live here came and moved me for free, he was a friend of the owners. And then to come back, a neighbor moved me. Everyone helped everyone out during that time, and the owners were amazing. I just assumed when they mentioned evacuating that we were on our own to find somewhere to go. But they arranged all of that and took care of everyone like family and made sure especially that the single moms or elderly people didn't have to go without electricity or move themselves alone. Some people had to spend a few days in the walmart parking lot without any utilities :(. We were very blessed to get to stay at one of the higher sites and keep our utilities. 

People want to know how we are living with 3 kids in a small travel trailer, here are some pics. *Having very little, lots of hooks, command strips and great organization are key* And guess what, the boys don't even miss having a room full of crap!

We all fit at the table, so that's great.

You can't tell how hard I have worked inside every single cabinet door to get organized but it's all nice and tidy in all of them. 
These pictures are terrible because I took them with my phone and like I said, it's nighttime 24/7 in here with the windows covered. But I've got hooks for everything, coffee cups, a fruit hammock, banana hook, pot holders, measuring spoons, cutting boards,strainer, ect. It's a pretty efficient for a such a small space. One of the best things I have bought, and believe me I have bought a lot, is this cutting board from Ikea on top of the stove that gives me so much more prep area either just as a place to sit stuff or to chop. And was the perfect size to cover the whole stove top. . After going without it the first few weeks, I think this is the best thing ever. With limited cabinet space, everything that can hang does. Best Rv tip ever.
We added a water filter to the sink and the water is now drinkable. At first, eeeeew. John put up our magnetic knife strip, that is very helpful in an rv with few drawers and none that kids can't reach.

Made a command center and put a shoe rack on the back of the bathroom door for shoes and all kinds of other things like curling irons and brushes.That little blue bag hanging is from Ikea also and has markers,push pins, other tiny things. Great little bag, makes a single hook much more useful. We added the food rack which helps out with pantry storage a lot, keeps bread and chips from getting smooshed. Also one of my favorite things we bought. 

Our room has two doors that pull out, I put hooks that hold 12 things each on each door, that makes a door a whole lot of storage space! John mounted a tv up there as well.

The bathroom didn't need much changing but one thing we did is put a hamper with wheels in there, so I can roll it up to the laundry room easier. And the whole bag comes out and can go right in the wash if it gets stinky (ikea). And a standing TP roll holder/storage because most rv's do not come with tp roll holders attached to the wall. Why not??? We also put in a 2nd curtain rod in the back of the shower to act as a clothes line for swimwear. Great idea. Lots of hooks for towels on the walls you can't see and the bathroom vanity cabinet actually has a ton of space when organized with little cubbies and such.

The kids bunkhouse has containers on each end on the top bunks, the left side is Ethan's bed and since he is short enough, I put two wide drawers up there for his clothes (and that is all he has) so he can dress in bed, he likes that he can change without getting out of bed in the morning.  The top right is their extra bed- usually the gaming spot. That drawer is full of games and controllers and then some other random baskets and things. All of Tylers clothes are in the bottom drawer, he can't have more than what will fit in there.  (which is easy when he wears the same thing every day!)
Inside the doors is Madison's space. Instead of just having a rod to hang things, I put this large dresser like tuppaware in there. So now it's full of drawers, with a little empty space on the left side to hang stuff still. She can stay much more organized this way. I still need to order bunk house sheets. 

So that is a little bit of insight into how I have made this more liveable for the long term. I imagine it will be a while, 6-9 more months. I'm not getting my hopes up for less.

Random Pics:
Legos have to stay outside. Too small in here to be stepping on legos!
They play in their little dirt spot all day and night.

Tyler won't wear anything but camo lately, and no shorts. And it has to be a very specific type of camo. He was upset here that I wanted to wash his clothes that he had on for 2 days straight.
He was just chillin' while I washed his camo clothes.
The playground was completely covered during the flood. Couldn't even see the top of the swing set. Before and After:
It came up into the sites about half way through the park. 

All that being said, Madison has been making me crazy, we needed a break from each other. I took her to East Tx yesterday to stay most of the summer with family. It's nothing new, she is just being herself, and she and I have always clashed. I feel like I've been the enemy her whole life. At least since age 2. I don't know what to do. She is so defiant, disrespectful, uncooperative, she always knows best, will not follow rules, doesn't want to learn anything,  such a complainer an so dramatic about it. And she has always been this way. She has these days a few times a month and has forever, where she is especially defiant and uncooperative and completely out of control and now since hitting puberty, her hormones are making it even worse. Usually for 2 days straight she will have this horrible attitude. And then we have a few days of being okay, and the rest of the month is tolerable. But especially when John is gone, she has more out of control days. Days where she won't keep her hands to herself (it's like she MUST be touching someone rather they like or or not at all times), hits like a toddler, has to touch Tyler constantly who hates her touching him, won't stop trying to pick up Ethan even though he hates it, whispers in Tyler's ear even thought it makes him freak out, straight up tells me NO to things, has to argue and complain about everything little thing she has to do. She just turned 11 last week and has already been talking like a stereotypical disrespectful 16 yr old for the past year. By the way she acts, you would think she is so spoiled and has never had to lift a finger, when she has always had chores. She will cry real, dramatic tears of disgust at having to wash dishes, slam everything around, scream and kick walls and doors, just had a huge tantrum 2 days ago because I had her vacuum our tiny trailer which takes a whole 5 minutes if you do the rugs, bunk beds and seat cushions and what little carpet we have. She just woke up that day refusing to be nice to anyone, taking stuff from others like a toddler, hitting Ethan first and then slapping him because he hit her back (he is 4!!!), telling me no about everything and adamantly refusing to get up when I told her to clean the litter box and vacuum, crying and kicking her feet and hitting the couch instead, purposefully riding her bike through the boys army camp- right between where they were sitting- they had set up and messing it up just to upset them. I don't understand what causes the days. How some days we can be like friends and she is pleasant and somewhat obedient. For days prior to the last few, she was totally fine.- well, normal for her anyway, anyway, which is still difficult and stubborn at best. And then she can wake up like that. After she humiliated me at a birthday party the day before that one by being very rude to the home owners multiple times, I decided I have just had enough of her for now and prayed someone would take her for a while this summer. I am very excited that she is staying with Nanny out in podunk who has no cable and no internet and lots of work for her to do!! I think it will be good for her character development and no electronics will be a good break she probably needs. I'm going to take this time to read up more on how to handle "spirited children"  and pray for guidance. I know it's me and our personalities clashing, because she can be so sweet and compliant with other people. I have seen all of her good qualities come out, just usually not with me, she is even better with John around. Nobody has seen the worst of her like I have, it's like she hates me sometimes. I'm so heartbroken over the idea of what I thought having a daughter would be like, I thought we would have this great relationship. I'm really worried about our future if right now is any indication.  I've always said that she can grow up to be so amazing if she wants to- if she utilizes her good qualities and amazing leadership abilities, but she has a tendency to self destruct. She would rather be wrong and do wrong than submit to me and obey, she thrives on chaos and conflict. I read that I shouldn't expect her to obey, that's what I'm doing wrong. That spirited kids feel their integrity is being challenged if they submit to someone else's will, that is so her. (When I expect her to say Yes, Mam, she makes it seem as if I am running my nails on a chalk board or pulling teeth) I am having a hard time wrapping my mind around that idea and also raising a child in a biblical sense, I do expect obedience, as I think I should. If I didn't have the boys, who aim to please me, I would assume it was just really poor parenting that made her this way, but I really don't think it's all my fault, it's who she is. And God made her who she is, so I've got to find a way to love her for who she is and help guide her down the right path, to use her traits and gifts for good and not bad. This rebellious nature could ruin her life. I've all but thrown my hands up in the air. I've considered putting her in school, but I see that being even worse (dealing with your kids behavior on your own is hard enough, but when you have to deal with their teachers and schools and homework from other people, it's even worse). When she has taken homeschool classes, she has been in trouble, one teacher said she was the class clown (and she didn't pay attention or learn anything so we took her out) she won't stay seated or keep her mouth shut, it's usually something. Her piano teacher said she couldn't focus.  I do think she did better towards the end of this year in co-op. And some of her teachers think she is great, so I know she can behave. I have thought of putting her on medication, that thought quickly goes away, it's not worth the side effects. I feel like I've just got to keep on pushing forward, hoping and praying for the best. Right now I am definitely having one my bad times where I just need to vent and recover, because her tantrums and bad days exhaust me mentally and emotionally. :( 

To not end this blog post on a bad note, I'm not currently having any problems with the boys. Ethan has a mean streak and is acting like his sensitive, emotional self, but is basically a good sweet, boy who, the majority of the time, tries to obey and please me. He has a little bit of a tough time being the baby, he very much wants to be a man and says so. Tyler is going though a really nice phase, that I hope is not only a phase, of being great. I can't brag on him enough (after going through a few terrible years with him I feel such relief), he is just being so sweet, kind, considerate of others, obedient and respectful. It was only a few years ago that I was worried about his SPD and behavior issues and tendency to hit. Now I am getting complimented on his behavior, what a difference. He is sweet and selfless with other kids, a few kids we know bring out the worst in him and he absolutely has his moments with his brother and sister but that is normal. Most of the time that I call him, he comes quickly with a "Yes, mam?" Living in the rv with them is fairly easy, they are happy.