See you later, Illinois.

I'm sitting here at the Gail Borden Library in Elgin, IL. This desk is in front of the window that overlooks the Fox River. So serene. This will probably be my last trip at a library/coffee place for use of the WiFi for another week or so.

Life is good. And challenging. As always.

More RV Repairs & Prep.

Repair discoveries are never-ending! One of the side walls on our slide-out separated from the floor. It's not as scary as it sounds (nothing fell through the floor), but it was something that needed to be fixed right away. We found more rotting wood where the floor + wall meet, which explains why it came apart. Brackets were put in place for reinforcement. More caulking was done around the RV and on the roof. Three tires are also dry rotting, so we've been replacing them one at a time (and giving them a little bath). After the tires are finished, we're done with repairs.... for now. The previous owners didn't take care of the RV well (so much water damage leading to so much rotting wood), or they knew about the problems and didn't tell us. Either way, we're dealing with it as it happens and still in love with our home.

The Storm.

One day, we had two large storms come through the campground. The first one was windy, but fine. The second one was expected to have 70-100mph winds with "potential damage to mobile homes" (according to the Weather Channel app). The others in the park didn't seem too bothered ("just hunker down and say your prayers to the man upstairs!"), but we were nervous and didn't want to stick around, even though there was a bathroom building nearby that could be used for protection. We grabbed all four pets, got in the car, and drove off in search of underground parking or something -- just to be safe. We ended up at Kyle's parents' house, hung out for a few hours, and headed back to the RV park when the storm calmed down a bit. The park looked.... fine. There was no evidence of a storm. Our home was fine. Whew. (Tornadoes did touch down about 30 miles south of us.)

Fourth of July.

Kyle was on-call over the weekend, so we planned to have a low-key Fourth of July holiday. Fortunately, he was never called in and we were able to enjoy a classic car show, some porch-sitting, a baseball game with dear friends, and fireworks on the 4th. What could be more American than that!? The rest of the week, we had more dinners and gatherings with friends (including a sweet celebration for Kyle's birthday!). Kyle's last day of work is today. Tonight, we're having dinner with both families. We're relaxing tomorrow (if you're local, swing by the park for a full moon bonfire just before dark!) and leaving Illinois on Sunday morning! We plan to stop somewhere near Indianapolis for the night and arrive in Kentucky on Monday. Eeeeek!

Love.

I often sit in our home and marvel at all the love that surrounds us. Handmade curtains from Sara, art from my sister, a windchime from Michelle, the stainless steel straws from Kelly, beads in my hair from Kristine, a tapestry from Ryan, candles from several friends, a quilt from our aunt, a photo from Ashley, the plant from Tom, the rug from Salome, wallpaper scraped by Amy & Rachel, so many things fixed by my father-in-law, windows caulked by Davy, floors finished by Bob & Josiah, a notebook filled with sweet well-wishes & cards from friends, and more. I think about all the people who have stepped through our RV doors, the conversations we've had inside, dinners around the picnic table, and moments near the bonfire. Tears well up as I think about how blessed I am to have a life so full of love through friends and family. And here we are, leaving in a couple days. I know I've been strong and full of smiles, but it is hard. Bittersweet. And oh, how my heart swells with love and gratitude for every beautiful, kind soul that has passed through my life. Some will remain in touch, others will fade away -- still cherished.

[I have plenty of stationary and stamps! Expect mail to be flying around.]

Are We Ready?

On a visit to Kentucky last year, my husband and I were sitting on Jordan's porch swing when he asked me: "Are you ready for this?"

Hearing this from him was kind of unexpected, as he's not usually the kind of person to ask such a question. Yet, it really hit me. Whoa. Our mini vacations this past year have shown us how much we thrive in a country setting. We're happier. Lighter. Outdoors more. Stress less. Full of hope and ideas. Free.

Yet... we are leaving a lot of people behind. A community that has slowly been built.

It will be hard. But it's OK. We are never really leaving.... It's just "see you later."

There is so much ahead of us, obstacles to go through and experiences to have. A dream that is happening, unfolding one day at a time. I'm incredibly excited.

Yes. I'm ready. Ready for new challenges and adventures. Ready to see where God takes us.

See you later, Chicagoland.

thunderstorms & laundry.

Being out in the middle of an open field is amazing. We can see clouds for miles (or so it seems) and breathe. It's crazy how sheltered we are from the outdoors in the city and suburbs. I am definitely enjoying this rural-ish life. Can't wait to be in the hills of Kentucky!

Speaking of clouds, we’ve seen a lot of storms lately. Heavy buckets of rain and high-speed winds have rocked this little home. Fortunately, we’ve been fine. Nothing blown away. Nothing flooded. No power outages. Just crazy storms. The only damage we discovered was a little bit of floor covering under the pop-out peeling off a bit.  Nothing that can’t be fixed. I’m grateful that our little home is standing strong and that we’re able to discover these things and strengthen them now before we’re down in Kentucky.

I also tried doing our laundry with our WonderWash and spin dryer. I’ve had the WonderWash for years and had no problem doing light laundry in our apartment bathrooms. Clothes were hung up to dry on a drying rack in the tub and all was fine. This time, it was different.

A full load of dirty, heavy laundry takes a very long time outside with the WonderWash. Doing a couple shirts and socks is fine, but after cranking one small load, rinsing it under the hose, holding down the dryer while it spins and shakes, hanging up the clothes on a little drying rack, watching the drying rack topple over, picking the newly cleaned clothes off the ground, and staring at a huge pile of grease-stained jeans left to be washed is… exhausting. It also made me feel incredibly lazy. How can I give up after trying one small load of laundry by hand when my ancestors and other people worked so much harder than me on washing clothes!?? But… I gave up. I thought about doing laundry indoors on a cold or rainy day (eek!), decided to let go of the little laundry devices, and headed to the laundromat. Clothes were washed and dried within an hour. I was happy. Laundromats and I will become friends.

As for the WonderWash and spin dryer: we're putting them up for sale. Someone else can love them (let me know if you're interested). I'm a bit relieved to get rid of them, actually. They took up all the precious storage space in our back closet and it's good to have that space back to store other things. Whew.

Otherwise, life is dandy. We still have things to fix and deal with, but taking it one day at a time. I've also discovered a fiber arts studio nearby and picked up needle felting! I brought some dear friends here a few days ago and we had a blast poking wool with needles until they became flowers and butterflies! 

Ahhh.....

full-timing beginnings.

The last two weeks were more exhausting than we expected.

People keep asking us how RV life is. The truth is.. we haven't been home much to enjoy it.

It's weird: we're already living in the RV, but we're not yet away from our 'old' life. Kyle is still working, and we're still kind of around (although we're an hour away from Chicago), but we already said most of our goodbyes. It's like we're in two different worlds -- the RV and then our life in Chicagoland. One more month until we leave Illinois. My head is already in Kentucky. I'm sad to leave people behind, but I'm ready to go. You can only say "goodbye" and "see you later" so many times. The next chapter is waiting...

If you're interested, here's a recap of our full-timing beginnings:

Sunday (June 1st- Moving Day!)

I didn't wake up in a great mood on Sunday. My body ached, my head hurt, and my stomach was clenching with hunger pains. It took about two hours (including a momentary crying breakdown because I was upset about feeling this way) before the fog lifted and my mood elevated. Meanwhile, we were rushing, trying to clean up the last of our things and the mess from our goodbye party the night before. When noon rolled around, we were able to turn in our apartment keys. Our cars and the trailer were packed with our belongings and pets (no worries, the animals were in the car with me). We ran a couple errands ($90 to fill up the truck, ouch), picked up some lunch, and hitched up the trailer --- which was sooo exciting! The hitch was only just installed a few days prior so we never actually hooked the trailer up yet and I was nervous that perhaps the truck wouldn't be strong enough. But silly me, the truck was strong enough (although we've decided our next truck will be a diesel)! It was a very exciting moment when the trailer was pulled out of the parking lot! YAY! Our first stop was Kyle's parents house, so we could fill the trailer tires with a little more air, and then it was onward to our first park --- 45 miles west of Chicago. This place was home for two weeks.

When we arrived, we found a spot near a bathroom that was easy to pull in, unhitched, unpacked, cleaned, threw out all our melted cold food (we tried to save it!), went to the store to pick up some things, watched the rain, and crashed in bed around 10pm.

By the way, Kyle did a fantastic job towing the trailer. I'm proud of him. :)

Monday.

It was so fun waking up in the morning and walking outside to.... forest! The water wasn't hooked up, so we were using the outhouses and water pumps for our cleaning needs. The weird thing about being in the RV at this point is that we're both still working regular jobs. Leaving the park and heading back into the hustle and bustle of the Chicago 'burbs was a bit disorienting, and, I admit, wasn't a joy. In the evening, we figured out how to get the fridge and stove/oven to work. Yay! First cooked dinner in the RV: spaghetti. This was followed with a walk around the campground, scouting out a better location. After Sunday's craziness, Monday night was just what we needed.

Tuesday.

That night, we moved the trailer to another spot -- it was closer to a water source, close to bathrooms, large enough for the trailer and two vehicles, flatter/more stable, and a bit more private. It was very quick to pack up our stuff this time around, which was good so we could get used to picking up and going without feeling like we had to take all day to pack.

We were hoping to hook up the water but found a couple leaking spots in hoses. That had to wait, but it was nice to grill and watch the storm clouds roll in across the field.

Wednesday.

Wednesday was better. Severe thunderstorms were predicted; instead, we got a little bit of rain and sunshine the rest of the evening. I was able to leave work at 2pm and beat traffic..... went to my friend's house to take a shower (it was marvelous -- thank you, Jenny!) and relax, then back home to help Kyle figure out how to hook up the water. We encountered a leaky hose/pipe in the bathroom, so we couldn't hook up the water yet. Sigh. 

 

Thursday.

Woke up to a gorgeous foggy morning!

And we finally got the water hooked up! Thanks to my father-in-law for helping us!!

That evening, we had our first guests -- the girls from my ladies' small group. Not only was it good to see them (as always), but it was cool to have friends sitting around my dining table, talking about life and God and everything in between. The place felt like home.

Friday - Sunday.

By Friday, I think we got the hang of everything and finally felt settled. The weekend was a whirlwind of weddings and birthday celebrations (I turned 28), and Eddie Izzard! It was a fantastic weekend that ended with four hours of sleep before work started on Monday.

Monday-Saturday (Week #2).

The second week was hectic with calm moments. The last day of school (work) arrived, as did dinners, parties, water leaking through the bedroom cabinets, credit card issues, a cold (who gets sick in June?? me, apparently), and so many car problems. My husband and I ended up selling our cars (my Alero and his Camaro) and purchasing a brand-new 2014 car (to be picked up in a few days). I am not thrilled with buying a new car and adding another debt, it was the best thing for us to do. Now we're down to a truck and a new car with no issues and good gas mileage; it's a burden that has been lifted from our shoulders. Our last night at the first campground, we were finally able to have a nice fire going and eat dinner outside. Oh, and the cats seem to have adjusted well to RV life! We did have issues with Zuka going to the bathroom on the doormat for a couple days, but we relocated the kitty litter and the issue has been fixed (for now).

Sunday (June 15th).

We left the campsite around 4pm and arrived at a new one around 5pm. It was a much smoother transition this time around! We found a pull-through spot, unhitched & unpacked quickly, and drove over to a roadside bar & grill a mile away for dinner. After the stress of everything, it was so good to sit with giant glasses of beer and yummy food. There was no where else we had to be. No bill that needed to be taken care of. No cars to fix. Just us.

The new campground is much quieter. Less people occupy the spaces (actually.. there's only five RVs currently parked there) and the rural surroundings are peaceful. We also have a great sunset view for the next two weeks.

Monday.

The sun woke me up bright and early. I went for a quick bike ride through the preserve to find the lake. The bike ride was exhausting (I must be seriously out of shape), but finding the lake was marvelous. I spent the rest of the day alternating between watching episodes of Six Feet Under and reading a book outside in the sun with whatever drink I wanted in my mason jar. I also met a few of the other people living in the park, which was wonderful since I was starting to feel a little too lonely. After one day, I already like this park better than the last one we stayed in.

In the evening, we found out a couple more issues with things, so my husband and I are feeling a little bit overwhelmed at the moment with things beyond our control. The trailer is great, it just feels like nearly everything else is falling apart. I guess things can't be perfect, eh? It will all be taken care of soon. Breathe...

Tuesday (today).

Nothing is planned for the next two weeks. I'm spending the day at my in-laws (huzzah for a long, warm shower and access to wifi!) before picking up my new car tonight. Then I hope to spend the next few weeks resting, being outdoors, exploring (there's a neat house eight miles south of the park that I'm eager to check out), reading, and isolating myself from society a little bit. I hope my husband finds time to rest, too. He needs it even more than I do. Oh, how I am so thankful for this man.

Oh, and using coconut oil as 'shaving cream' is a lifesaver when you have a limited water supply!

There you have it, friends. The crazy start to our 'new' lives. Thank you for reading & cheering!

How have things been for you? :)