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!!

Mid-Autumn Reflections.

The last month and a half flew by. October was a whirlwind of leaves blowing in chilling winds and multiple cups of coffee followed by long days of work. I've been happy, I've cried from stress, and also been perfectly content. I've wanted to say so much -- unwritten blog posts were formed in my mind and plenty more words were jotted down in my journal. But, life got in the way, moments passed, and thoughts were shared with friends through conversations and videos and texts. All is good.

But here's a little update for you: we've dealt with asian beetle infestations, unwelcome fleas, days of spaghetti-o dinners, running out of propane gas (more than once), poulty deaths, extremely tight finances, crazy weather, total body exhaustion, and praying we have enough to get through the day. On a personal note, I've also been playing around with questions of "What to do with my life?" "How to make a difference?" and "Is this job right for me?" These questions led me to dig into the bible more, strengthen my faith in God's plan, and better understand how the threads of life are tangled together. We've also had crisp fall days, cozy evenings together, pizza date nights, friends visiting from Chicagoland, developing friendships, a wedding anniversary, wild turkey sightings, internet set-up, newborn horses, a glorous full moon, and countless other little blessings.

These moments have passed; I'm thankful and now just looking ahead. And we are constantly dreaming. It's easy to dream when you're already accomplished some of your dreams. Always dreaming and looking ahead....

Looking ahead to this winter and our challenges of keeping the RV warm.

Looking ahead to our plans for next spring that involve building a tiny house...!!

Looking ahead to becoming more involved with our church and community.

Looking ahead to the idea of having a bigger family.

Looking ahead to what plans God has for us. 

Looking ahead to this [already slightly] difficult journey and the fruits at the end.

That is where I am right now, friends: cherishing this messy, beautiful life.

Sending love your way. Hope you are well. Praying you're embracing everything.

A Joyful Autumn Arrival!

Happy Monday, my friends!

In contrast to the last blog post, it's been a crazy week -- in a good way!

First of all, you should know that autumn is my absolutely favorite time of year.

According to my wall calendar, autumn started last Monday. I 'celebrated' with an apple dish for breakfast and setting up all my fall dΓ©cor. I also put together all the ingredients to make homemade pumpkin spice lattes (so fun and festive)! However, apparently, autumn actually started Monday night, so I was a bit premature in my seasonal rejoicing. Oh well. When the first full day of fall rolled around on Tuesday, Kyle (he was off work that day) and I went to the nearby apple orchard to explore and delight in the perfect weather. We walked through pumpkin patches (they looked quite sincere), admired the expansive apple orchard, visited the farm animals (goats and rabbits and alpacas, oh my!), got lost in a delightful little corn maze, and explored the goodies in the country store, leaving with several small pumpkins, apple cider donut holes, honey, and a bale of hay that we managed to fit in the backseat of my little car. We spent the rest of the day relaxing together. It was the perfect first day of fall and my last day of 'break.'

Yep, that's right --- my background check came in and I started work on Wednesday!! Yay!! Oh boy, let me tell you -- I am exhausted. At the end of my first day, I came home and plopped down on the couch to watch a movie. It was all I could manage to do. After work on Thursday, we headed to Lexington for some laser tag, roller skating, mini-golf, and all-you-can-eat pizza with some of Kyle's coworkers. Everything was free; it was an enjoyable time but my body was too exhausted to do anything other than eat and mini golf. Friday's work day was followed with a volunteer shift as part of the clean-up crew after a church-sponsored dance for people with special needs. It was wonderful being a part of it, but needless to say, I was, well.... exhausted. : The weekend brought me the rest that I needed (and I finally watched The Book Thief  -- sooo good, like the book) and today, I energized myself with a large iced coffee. I am happy to be working.

I love two things about my job: the kids and the morning drive. The kids in my room -- a handful of sweet, messy, playful wobblers (approximately nine to eighteen months old) -- brighten my day constantly. Yes, it's chaotic and messy, but that's OK. It's worth it. And the morning drive? It's been heavenly!! It's sixteen miles (about thirty minutes) of winding country roads through hills and fog past farms with fields of horses and cows. The route is nearly nonstop, with only one stoplight and a couple stop signs. No traffic at all, except for the occasional car that passes by. The best part? The sunrises! I leave for work right as the sun greets the day, which makes for marvelous skies. That, combined with the Kentucky mist (patches of fog in the hills), is glorious. I didn't have mornings like these back in Chicagoland. I am constantly in awe, with eyes wide open. And yes, I have pulled over several times to snap photos. I don't know if I will ever tire of the beauty that surrounds me here.

I am so happy my own personal fog has lifted. I feel useful and productive again. My back is also almost completely better! It is sore after work since I'm picking up kids all day, but it's healing well. The next thing I have to tackle? A cold is creeping into my body. At least I have all my essential oils to help me with that!

Our internet situation is still a bit iffy -- meaning, we don't really have any. We are hoping to get that established by the end of October. Until then, it's the occasional trip to the library (when they're open), McDonald's (the only other place in town with free WiFi), and Starbucks after work (yay for a Starbucks near work). I usually don't mind this lack of internet because a break from the screen is good; however, I am itching to share more with you soon.

Love, peace, and light.

As a friend so lovingly put it, "YAY CORN."