Our home has been redone, finally.

I am super happy with the results of our remodeled home. My sister helped out with the choices and after much sewing and painting we have a very nice and comfy home on wheels. The pictures really don’t do it justice, but here are some closeups of my favorite things we did. If you want to see the comparisons head over to the Our Tiny Home tab where you can see the before and after shots. The bedroom has a tiny projector that flips up out of the way under the cornice and then flips down and gives us a huge screen to watch while we lay in bed. I found a great ottoman that the lid flips to be a seat or foot rest, then a coffee table too. I have a place to clip recent photos in my bedroom that reminds me life is good. And finally I have canvases all over the RV that are attached with velcro so that I can have works in progress the whole time we are on the road. I couldn’t be happier with the results. Now it’s time to head to Alaska.

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Green People

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Out shopping in our abayas in Saudi Arabia.

For the last six years I have thought of myself as a green person. Shortly after leaving the states for our first move overseas a friend of mine told me a story about life as an “expat” and how the experience changes people. The way she explained this change was unique and visual. It went like this, when a person leaves their home country that place is a yellow country. The new resident country is a blue country. Over a period of time the culture and traditions of the new country become a part of this person changing their once yellow color to a mixture of yellow and blue. This expatriate is now a green person. There are many green people in the world and my friend assured me that they are an interesting and supportive group. Green has been my favorite color since that day. I spent six years in my blue country. I loved it. It is an experience I highly recommend. Then came the day when this green person moved back home. I thought for sure that it would take me a while to acclimate to the yellow color of my home. Surely I was forever changed. It’s amazing how quickly being yellow came back to me. I am surprised how fast I have adjusted to life back here. The only part that hangs on for me is the constant comparisons. I try not to talk about them all the time. There are many times I can’t help it and I have to share how this country is different from the one I spent the last six years of my life in. Mostly I just miss the green people. The ones who were a part of my daily life and the ones that I knew only briefly but that touched my heart and life in special ways changing me forever and directing my path to who I am today. The girl who told me the Green People story was my neighbor in Houston before I ever knew I would move to Saudi Arabia. She lived just a few houses down from me. After I moved away we grew closer. Greenness does that to people. The reason I bring all this up here on my blog about a very different journey of becoming a full-time RV family is because I am noticing so many similarities between expats and full-time RV families. The first one is how quickly friendships form. It’s like we know we have limited time here and there is this clearing away of the small stuff because there just isn’t time for it. This happens in a foreign country as well, expats are moved away from family, friends and all things familiar in addition to the fact that they are strangers in a strange land. When one expat meets another expat, they may be from completely different countries, but there are so many experiences that are the same. This makes for quick and easy relationship. It is a need for community amongst the outsiders. Foreigners equals comrades. The people I met overseas proved to be the most satisfying deep relationships I have ever known. I miss that the most. Strangely when we started on this journey I knew there were other people out there that had chosen this path. A less traveled path. What I didn’t count on was just how much this commonality brings people closer together faster and stronger too. I have met some people on this journey so far and I can honestly say I count them as close friends. We don’t have history, but we do have something special, we are kindred spirits. I think that fulltime RV families have a color all their own. A beautiful rainbow of colors, all different, yet linked together.

Pick your own citrus grove and more.

We spent one afternoon IMG_2123at Showcase of Citrus just up the street from Thousand Trails Orlando Campground. It is a you pick ’em citrus grove and more. They have a cute little shop where they prepare freshly squeezed orange slushies that are perfectly delicious and wonderfully cool on a hot day. They also sell fresh produce and a wide variety of other items varying from honey sticks to salsa to baby chicks. Toward the back of the shop before heading out to the groves there is a sample stand where you can try the different varieties of citrus that are currently ripe for picking. This allows for picking favorite flavors to scout out on your gathering time.

There is much to see and experience here including a monster truck ride out in the pastures to see more wildlife and pastures too far away for the walk. We ventured out on foot collecting a variety of oranges, tangerines and a few lemons. There are handy signs at the beginning of each row of trees informing you what is in season and safe for gathering. They also have plenty of animals roaming around to give the picker a true farm feel. Chickens, and pigs and goats, oh my! We even saw our first live alligator in the water on the property near the entrance complete with a sailboat anchored out in the middle of the water which made my boys wonder if the gators live out on that old abandoned sailboat.

Out in the grove our group gathered oranges with long sticks that have little orange baskets on the end of them to help you pick your fruit from heights not easily reachable without very tall ladders. Although at first we thought we may not be able to fill our large mesh bags, we managed to gather enough after a little practice with the the picker contraptions and our bags were over-flowing with our finds.

All in all this was a fun and interesting experience. Word of warning… our oranges were not peel-able and had so many seeds that I ended up just juicing them for our personal use. Not sure if this is normal as this was our first experience, but it makes me wonder if super market oranges are also bred to peel easily and have less seeds too. If this is true, does it make them less healthy? I would love to hear from any one out there what your experiences with citrus has been.

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Feeling Free

20140218-154102.jpgToday I feel three weeks old. We have been on the road as a full-time RV family for three weeks now and life feels so different. It isn’t the big stuff, like living in 200 square feet, or moving around all the time, or even the “no day looks the same” syndrome. It is all the teeny tiniest details that make me feel like my life is so very, very different than it was just three short weeks ago. When we moved to the middle east we made huge changes, we left the USA, we lived in a culture very different from the only one we’d known. Our neighbors did not have English as their first language. We made huge changes, everything felt different in big ways. But me, us, our family, our routines, how we acted toward each other, when we went to sleep, how we ate and what we said, that all stayed the same. We had routines of work, and school and life and social time. So we felt like us still. It was good. An experience I wouldn’t change for anything. We learned so much. Now we are back in the USA, we are living in familiar surroundings, we know the language, the shopping, the street signs. Life is easy. But in all the small ways life has shifted. We live simply, we have no schedule and no plan. We can do anything today, or tomorrow, or next month. We are flying free and floating with the weather and our whims. Life is so very, very different now. I feel like a new person. The boys are different. Scott is different. We act and talk and respond differently. It feels like we are all tuned in at a higher frequency. Like walking out of the theatre after a matinee movie and realizing that it is still daylight when I expected night. Everything is so bright and the whole world seems to open up. The possibilities seem endless. I’m not sure how long this feeling lasts but I hope I always remember it. Life is beautiful especially in the smallest tiniest details of feeling truly free.

Thoughts on Thousand Trails

IMG_1974We joined Thousand Trails at the Fulltime Family Rally. Thousand Trails is a membership that allows you access to a network of campgrounds at incredible discounts. The way it all works is beautifully explained here. Our decision to join was swayed by the fact that we had no place to go after the rally in Tampa and Florida is very full and very pricey this time of year. Lots of smart folks escape to the beautiful climate in Florida to wait out the winter, so we are one of many and places are full and rates are at a season high. Many of the families we met at the rally were moving to Thousand Trails Orlando after the rally to continue their stay in Florida. After looking at all the options we decided this would be a good move for us as well even if we only used it for this season. We bought a Zone Pass, explained here. Thousand Trails Orlando was our next stop and we landed there for the maximum time of two weeks before we needed to move on.

The crowd at Thousand Trails Orlando is varied but there is a definite kid friendly atmosphere and loads of the little buggers running around. We met new families and really enjoyed our stay here. The campground is very large and has options to stay near the activity center, which is always bustling with activity, and then some more distance sites that are a bit more secluded. The location is very close to Disney and the fireworks can be seen at night over a nearby pond. Fulltime Families are known to travel all over throughout the warmer months and end up back here in winter for homeschool co-ops and loads of activities for kiddos of all ages. Plenty of outside activities include Lake Louisa State Park, cycling, farmers markets and “u pick em” citrus groves. Clermont, Florida is a short drive away with loads of shopping and choices of eateries. The park is large enough to support several onsite laundry facilities a workout room and a nature trail. They also offer seasonal sites and annual sites for longer stays that are very reasonable. All in all a wonderful destination for us and I hope to return someday. If you have any questions about Thousand Trails or our experience with them, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments section. Look for a future post on the citrus grove we visited nearby. 😉

Waking up at Walmart

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Our traveling home, parked at Walmart.

We got a late start leaving the ranch yesterday. Not a big surprise with all that is still such a huge learning curve for newbie Fulltime RVers. Scott realized our spare had the wrong lug nut pattern which needs to be changed or we have no tire for the trailer should we get a flat. And our battery, the house battery, is bad, having no water then water that boiled hot. So, we hit the road with two things that needed replacing as soon as we found a way. Discount Tire in Houston had the wheel we needed and Walmart carries the deep cycle battery to run the house when dry docked. We arrived in Baton Rouge at 12:41 am. Tired and ready to sleep, but 40 degrees here and a freezing cold trailer made for some not so sleepy people waiting to warm up. We had decided to just overnight park at Walmart and although the convenience is great, the parking lot noise, street sweeper and IHOP in the parking lot made for a restless night. The new battery worked all night to keep the trailer at a toasty 56 degrees and we all slept in our clothes piled on top with blankets. Today Tampa is just under 11 hours away. It is 7:32 am and we need some provisions from Walmart, then we should be on our way. I’m praying, if nothing else, warmer temperatures tonight and maybe a safe and level campground spot.