Monday, September 1, 2014

Festival Singing and Bake Off Results

So today we are wrapping up our local festival here in town.  Snuggle Bug and Sissy entered the bake-off and Sissy also was in the Karaoke Contest.




Snuggle Bug made Gooey White Chocolate Chip Fluffernutter Bars.  They were AMAZING.  








Sissy made a 3 layer Raspberry Blackberry Chocolate Truffle Cake with Marshmallow Fondant.
She won 1st place in her youth division.  That blackberry and raspberries on top of the cake are done all in fondant.  I went to bed the night before when she was starting to make them.  I was so impressed the next morning when I saw the finished product! 

Baking is truly her God given talent.



Sissy also entered the singing contest.  Another gift of hers.  
She is singing The Broken Beautiful by Ellie Holcomb







So proud of my kiddos!

Many Blessings,
The Mama



Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Conclusion to our Van Fiasco

As most of you who are facebook friends with my husband know, things did not turn out as planned yesterday.  We were suppose to go pick up our new( to us) van 2 1/2 hours away when suddenly we get a call from the seller saying he had someone coming to look at the van at 11am that day.

????

Ummm, what?!  I had set up with this guy at 3pm the previous day that we wanted his truck, had cash and would be there the next day to get it( along with all of our other correspondences the past week).  He said 'wow, sure I can accommodate you...'  And we proceeded to set up the time that would work for him
(evening 5-6pm).  He knew full well that we had sold our only vehicle to buy his van.  Not only that but we had sold our Suburban below it's value since the price of the van was lower.

Needless to say we let him know of our displeasure.  He made some excuses but refused to stop the showing with this other guy at 11am. The guy ended up not buying, so the seller said, but we told him we were not sure if we were still interested and were talking about it and we would call him back.  We simply didn't know if we could trust this guy anymore.  His integrity had been greatly diminished in our eyes.  I went upstairs to have some quiet time reading my bible and in prayer about the situation when Hubby came up to say the seller just texted to say the other potential buyer just came back and paid full asking price for the van.  Honestly we don't 100% believe this story or any stories that he told for that matter( was there really another looker or was he having cold feet that he lowered the price for us and was hoping we would pay more??).  So that was that.  We were moving on.

Now, people will say, 'well there are a lot of vans out there that you can buy'.  But anyone who has been keeping up with my blog knows that we can't buy just any van, or just any 15 passenger van.  It had to be a Ford E350, V-10, 4.1,with a tow package...in our price range.  That was the kicker.  And especially when we just sold our Burb for $400-$600 less than we were going to originally.  And no, we can't get something we can make payments on because the banks won't loan us money for the older vans we would need to get
(we inquired already). It isn't worth the investment to them being an older make and model.  Could we get a new van(eg expensive) with a loan?  We might have been able to but believe that debt is counter productive and try to avoid it at all cost.  Then we would have also had to figure in that payment in our monthly budget when on the road which would have raised the over all amount we need to travel.  

But my prayer ever since we started talking with this seller was that if we were suppose to get this van then everything would work out.  Once we sold our truck we thought it a sure sign that this must be the van for us.  Silly us!

Here is the van that we ended up getting last night though:


It was a very late night since this was also quite a distance away but it's home now.  And it has the Class V receiver/hitch that we needed for it too!  That would have been $200+ to buy that.  It needs no work( the other one did and we would have had to have it in the shop for a couple weeks ordering parts and getting fixed).  

But this one was $1000 more than the other van.  It is 4 years newer though.  I was very uneasy about getting this new van because it would really empty out our checking account( like search the couch cushions for change empty).  In the end, that will be God's problem though.  This is the van we were always meant to get so God will work out all the other details.

Matthew 6:25-27
25"For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26"Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27"And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?…"

That does not mean I can go out and blow my money of a huge shopping spree and trust that God will make up for it somehow.  You have to be spending time with God and listening to what he is telling you and where he is leading you.  That's the Holy Spirit.  And often, what the Holy Spirit leads us to do doesn't make sense mathematically.   It's good to have a budget but you should leave a big blank space labeled "Holy Spirit".  And it might throw off your other numbers when that Holy Spirit column needs to be filled, but don't worry, the Holy Spirit is good on his returns. He can always be counted on to make it all work out somehow, and may even bless you beyond the initial investment(and risk)!  If you feel God is leading you to do something or help someone but it doesn't fit into your nice little budget ask yourself this,"Am I putting more faith in my bank account than in God?"  

The family we bought the van from had just experienced the great lost of their 41 year old son.  We bought the van from the young widow.  The money from the van was going to help pay medical expenses from her husband's passing.  It was a very tragic case and I teared up often talking with the man's mother who kept getting choked up multiple occasions. They said it was bittersweet to sell the van but they were glad it was going to be used for such a fun adventure. We were glad our family could help them pay off some of the medical expenses by buying the van.  Keep this family in your prayers.  The man has 4 kids he left behind also.

I am just so glad to have all of it over with!!!  Plan on enjoying today and getting ready for a local festival that starts this weekend.  There is a baking contest that Sissy and Snuggle Bug are entering and Sissy will also be singing in the talent show.  We also enjoy getting together for fireworks at my Hubby's Aunt and Uncle's house that kicks off the festival.  A much needed reprieve from our stressful week!

Hope everyone has a safe and fun holiday weekend!

Many Blessings,
The Mama






Tuesday, August 26, 2014

He's Gone...

Our Burb is gone...


Sold him tonight to a local funeral home. He will be escorting the dearly departed from now on.

I always feel sad when one of our vehicles goes( sold, traded, junked).  This Burb brought Little Miss home from the hospital in it and has taken us many places over the past 4-5 years.  It was our only vehicle for all of those years so we spent a lot of together time in it.  Sometimes too much!

We really liked the Burb and wish we could have kept it but it's only a 1/2 ton and won't haul around us and the trailer.  

So now we are vehicle-less!!!  But will be getting our new to us van tomorrow. Shout out to my mom for letting us borrow her vehicle in the mean time.  After soooo much research and double checking every # we found the right vehicle for us. I am SO glad I can stop thinking about that part now.  Seriously, all the # involved is mind numbing.

 I will introduce him/her to you tomorrow. Not sure what it is yet-a Big Bessie or Big Bob? Will have to check under the hood-haha.


Another great thing is that there are 3 key components to us leaving on our trip:

  1. Buy a Trailer     -CHECK
  2. Buy a Tow Vehicle    -CHECK
  3. Sell our House

So we have 2 out of the 3 accomplished!!  That still leaves us with the house but that's ok.  It at least feels like things are falling into place, ya know?

Many Blessings,
The Mama



Monday, August 25, 2014

24 Week Belly

I am 24 weeks 3 days today and haven't taken a pic in awhile.  So here it is.  


 I put my 24 week 3 day pic of when I was pregnant with Little Miss side by side with my pic today.  A little rounder on the top of the belly which I carry high with my girls anyhow.  Of course this is also my 5th pregnancy and each time I show more and more since my muscles are stretched out from previous pregnancies. Still on track to gain the same amount with both pregnancies though-27lbs.

Feeling absolutely exhausted lately.  Been getting Braxton Hicks which are very uncomfortable and annoying. Feels like I am carrying a bowling ball around when they hit.  Any amount of walking seems like a marathon to me.  That's hard when you have a VERY active 2 year old to chase around!  The older kids have all been very helpful though.

Seems too early to be experiencing all that but I am 34 yrs old now, no spring chicken and I will be entering my 3rd trimester in just a couple weeks.  Which means at the end of this week there will be only 13 weeks till the baby arrives( since I will have a scheduled C-section at 39 weeks)!!  That is just crazy talk.

Many Blessings,
The Mama


Monday, August 18, 2014

Offer On The House -Clarified!

We had an offer on the house. But the family could only get a loan that left us quite a bit short of what we need to hit the road.

We were entertaining the option of maybe finding a campground to stay at during the winter in order to save up the rest of what we needed.  We scoured the internet and called around to see if any were even open year around in our (cold) area.  We found just one locally and it was right in the town the Hubby works at.  We researched what it would take to stay in a campground in the winter( since RV's really aren't set up for that).  It could be doable with some preparation.

It actually seems like it makes the most sense financially.  The Hubby has 3 weeks mandatory shut down over the holidays so we have to worry about that along with trying to pay off some debt and possibly storing our RV during the winter months if we are still around this area. We would also save on gas money for our vehicle since it would be closer to work and also to our church and grocery shopping.

Staying at the campground would allow us to put back around $1800 a month to help with the shut down, throw at some debt and we also wouldn't have to worry about added RV storage fees ontop of house payments. Plus we could be saving up for us to actually leave and have more of an official date to head out
( by March 2015).

But we just weren't sure.  So we do what we always do when we need guidance-PRAY.  We prayed that God would give us an unusual amount of wisdom to decipher what we should do about the house and make it crystal clear.  We said how we didn't want to make our own miracles and wanted to follow God's lead.

I went upstairs after our prayer to take a nap but decided to get in a chapter of "Draw the Circle-The 40 Day Prayer Challenge" by Mark Batterson( I highly recommend it!).  This is what I read:

"Don't let fear dictate your decisions. Letting your budget determine your vision is backward. Faith is letting your vision determine your budget.  And if your vision is God-given, it will most definitely be beyond your ability and beyond your resources. Why? Because then God will get all of the glory!  And I promise you this: the God who gives the vision is the same God who makes provision."

Nothing is a better example of that than our 23,000 adoption of which we had 0 in savings for yet somehow managed to not go in debt 1 cent when we brought Princess home!  God showed up in amazing ways during that process and he for sure gets all the glory.

The author, Mark, then talks about this crazy prayer he felt led by the Holy Spirit to pray for: 2 million dollars.  It would go to pay off a mortgage they had for the church.

"At one point, I got a little impatient and tried to manufacturer my own miracle with a start up business.  Unfortunately, what I thought was a $2 million idea turned into a $15,000 personal loss."  
( I updated this blog post because there was some confusion as to whether we were accepting the offer or not.  So I amended this post to clarify.  Sorry for any confusion!)

He goes on to say how him and some others still kept praying for this 2 million dollars.  And one day it happened in the form of an out of the blue phone call of someone saying they wanted to donate not 2 million, but 3 million dollars to the church.  Crazy, right?

I ran downstairs to tell the Hubby that we had gotten our answer. We are NOT accepting the offer.

One other thing that hit me when reading from the book was that staying in the campground made sense financially.  It was actually the safer road.  I have learned through my life that nothing that is God inspired and breathed ever makes sense.  It may 'feel' right ( Holy Spirit led) but it never makes sense in human terms( in our brains).

Sticking it out here and playing the old waiting game is way more risky and takes a lot more faith and trust.

So that's what we are going to do. Pray for an offer that is closer to our asking price.

We did have a promising showing from another family on Thursday.  They have to move to the area by October(e.g. serious buyers) and seemed to really like our home.  But I have no idea what other places they are looking at and what exactly their wish list is for a house.  So we are are just praying that the Holy Spirit moves them to choose our house and that they offer close to full asking price.  Did I mention the husband of this family is a pastor?  Who better to help fulfill this God given dream of ours than a man of God, right? lol It would also be ideal because they are in a parsonage now so they wouldn't need to sell their house.

We really don't want to be here all winter again( though we would come back for a little while to have the baby and for the holidays anyhow) but it's not really our decision to make.

I am reminded of a song:

"Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord, we will wait upon the Lord, we will wait upon the Lord."


We also had someone wanting to rent/lease our house from now till June of next summer and then buy it then.  That was also very tempting but we have no assurance that they will even be able to get a loan then and for the amount that is needed.  That would also take a lot of faith but after praying about it, it seems more foolish than trusting.  There is such a fine line and only the Holy Spirit can help determine the difference.


Many Blessings,
The Mama




Monday, July 28, 2014

Our 1st Camping Trip in the Trailer!! (Pic Heavy!)

We went on our first camping trip in our trailer a few weeks ago!  It was actually MY idea.  Yes, I am over not liking the trailer and not wanting to go on our year long trek.  God has restored my joy ( and impatience!).  I am feeling much better in my pregnancy so I am sure that helps my mental status too.

Thank You Jesus!!!



Daddy and Little Miss ( and a dolly)

It is so great to be able to just bring everything you need along with you in a trailer( especially when potty training)!  I have only tent camped before so this was really nice with 5 kids!  


Snuggle Bug catching lightening bugs




Princess and Little Miss snuggling after a long, fun day.




On our 2nd night at the campground we had a really bad storm come through at 1:30am.  We knew some storms were coming so we signed up for text alerts before we hit the hay.  We got an alert and I jumped up to check the TV stations.  We watched for a couple of minutes and it was nearly right on us and the main thing was 70-80 mph winds...that can easily topple and throw a trailer around

.  I said we had to decide whether to jump in the truck and head 5 minutes to my mom's place to take shelter or to go to the bathroom/shower building right next to us.  I quick woke up the kids as calmly as I could,"You have to wake up, quickly please.  Stay calm, but there is a storm coming and you need to get your shoes on NOW, we have to go."  Yeah, they were pretty freaked out. lol 

  It wasn't more than 5-10 minute after we got the text that the storm hit.  I grabbed diapers and wipes and that was it. We decided to go to my mom's but as we slid open the sliding doors the 75/80 mile an hour winds hit us full in the face along with the stinging sheets of rain.  We just had to yell,"RUN!" and head to the shower house.  Bubba didn't even have his shoes on, Princess lost a flip flop in our mad dash. The lights went out as soon as we got to the building which only increased the panic( not to mention the flexing of the metal roof).  There were others taking shelter in the building too, women wrapped in blankets to cover themselves, men in just their PJ pants holding children.  There ended up being 2 tornadoes in the area and lots of lots of straight line wind damage.

Below and above are just a couple of the many many trips the grounds keepers made that next morning  trying to clean up the snapped trees and limbs. They had to saw some downed trees in pieces and haul away.  We were right between 2 trees but praise God our trailer stayed put and so did the trees!

Our power was out till the next morning and for a family that cannot sleep with out the sound of a fan, that was TOUGH. 



Hubby chillin


This pic does not do the apple cobbler justice.  The black is just the bottom of the pan through the liner BTW.  I did it in the dutch oven and it was soooo good.  It was a pinterest find.  I will put more apples in it next time though.


We also tried making eclairs over the fire.  We made these stick called 'dough boys'.  It is just a thin dowel for the stick part and then a bigger dowel that Hubby cut and drilled a hole in and stuck on the end of the smaller dowel. That way the dough gets spread out more and cooks through.  I would love to claim the idea, but again, found it on pinterest! 



After you wrap the crescent roll around the stick and cook it till golden brown, you then put vanilla pudding inside and smear chocolate frosting on top.  I really tried to have us eat as healthy as possible on our trip, but you got to make some exceptions ;)  

Because what is camping with out smores? I did use organically made, minimally processed graham crackers at least though! lol  And yes, they taste exactly like the regular, chemical/preservative laden kind ;)


Little Miss LOVED being outside all the time-and it showed!  It was great having a bath right in the trailer. 

I am proud to say that as a camping girl growing up and then as a scout leader for my daughter for 8 years, I cooked every meal over the fire!  (go me, go me)   Even though I had a perfectly good kitchen in the trailer. Above is a pic of our fave meal of biscuits and gravy over the fire. 

Here was our meal list

Breakfasts:
Eggs, Bacon and Toast( everyone was astounded that toast can be made over the fire LOL)
Pancakes and sausage
Biscuits and Gravy 
Cinnamon Rolls
( oh I did use the oven for this on our last morning because we didn't have time to make a fire)

Lunches:
1st day arrival was just quick sandwiches as Hubby got the trailer set up
Walking Tacos 
Hot dogs
We allowed everyone to get something from the concession stand the one day


Dinners:
Pizza Roll ( from scratch not the frozen kind)
Foil Packet Dinners
Pork Burgers

Desserts:
Banana Boats
Eclairs
Smores
Apple Cobbler

And we had 1 more dinner that I cannot recall for the life of me!

With meals and for snacks( though we were never hungry for snacks!), we had fruits and veggies and some chips like pirates booty and Stacey's Pita Chips( I LOVE the parmesan garlic ones!)



The campground also had mini golf that we did and we picked the hottest day of our entire stay to do it.  But I still beat the Hubby!  I also conquered this course after last being there when I was 6 years old.  I fell into one of the water hazards and have been traumatized every since.  I am glad to report they have filled those in with rocks now so no other child has to go through that ;)

The 1st part of the week was hot and the last 1/2 we were in pants and sweatshirts.  That's weather in the midwest for you though.

We did have some learning experiences.  Our sewer hose didn't fit but we were blessed with a couple next to us who were just leaving and gave us a brand new hose.

Then we got the water hooked up and it started pouring out from somewhere under the bathroom.  This was very disappointing as this was all suppose to be inspected and in good shape when we bought the trailer.  It ended up being a cracked cap and we were able to replace it.

We couldn't get our hot water heater to work.  We could hear it trying to ignite the pilot but it never would.  Our other neighbor said to try using sand paper on the connectors and that worked.

Our living room slide would not go out when we 1st got there which was very problematic because when the slide is in we can't get into our pantry.  After calling a couple people and looking things up on the internet Hubby finally got it working though.

I have a list of some things I would like to get for organization and storage after staying in the camper for week.  You can't really get a good feel for what is needed until you are i there living for a bit.

We really had a great time and didn't want to leave.  We hope to camp again for an extended weekend later this month at another campground( we want to try a bunch out).  We have even talked about staying for a couple weeks at a campground and just having hubby commute to work.  We may still do this actually...

We are still trying to sell our 1/2 ton truck to get a 1 ton 15 passenger van to haul the trailer on our own.  For now, Hubby's uncle let us borrow his pick up.  We are going to be getting a sway bar and stabilizer bar.  We already had this all researched out( lots of mathematical configurations to figure out what is needed-YAWN) but hadn't been in any rush to purchase them because we didn't have anything to tow the trailer with anyhow.  

Some newbies enter into the RV world without researching anything about GVWR's, dry weights, cargo loads,curb weight,  tongue/hitch weight, etc etc etc and that can mean major trouble.  I mean, life threatening trouble.  I recommend rv.net forums to talk to people who have been there, done that.  They really helped me in figuring out things, especially with so much math involved, acronyms to decipher and getting it all straight and knowing weight balance and how to figure it all up.  I just gave them all our #'s before we bought our RV( no sense in buying a trailer we can't tow safely) and the forum community helped to give me the formula's to figure out everything else and pointed me in the right direction for vehicles( this is really tricky because we have so many people in our car that we have to figure into #'s), tongues and weight distribution systems(WDS) that can handle the right percentage of weight to balance the load up front which should be 10-15% ( extremely important with a big trailer like ours and people often miss this crucial fact), etc 

Perhaps with a small trailer all this isn't as big of a deal or if you are just staying local.  But with a large trailer and the fact that we will eventually be traveling cross country, it is a matter of utmost importance to do the research and know exactly what you need to tow safely- for both you and the other people on the road.

I will do a future post about all that and what exactly we are getting and what factors into deciding what is needed.

But I have already bored you enough with the technical side of towing an RV!

I leave you with a couple videos of our camping trip
( and yes, i realize I need to still post pics of our trailer inside and out!)


video



Many Blessings,
The Mama







Monday, July 14, 2014

The Baby is a....

video




So the reveal didn't quite go as planned.  We were so afraid that everything would fall out of  the box too early we unwittingly made it too hard to actually open.  Oops!  Oh well.  


I had a big empty box in the attic that we covered in wrapping paper and then just got some stick letter to put on the front.  Inside we put 4 packets of confetti, balloons and taped streamers inside.  We had to get some rope and poke holes in the flaps so, theoretically, the kids could pull on them and the box would open over them spilling it's contents.  Then I just put more wrapping paper over the flaps( the bottom).  We made holes in the top of the box on either side after we wrapped it and hooked a bungee cord there.  Then we just strung a rope through that and hoisted it over a tree branch.





The rest I kept simple.  Got some gender reveal stuff at Walmart-table cloth, napkins, and stickers for voting boy or girl.





 I grabbed some little sheer goody bags in blue and pink and threw in some blue and pink gumballs with pearly white sixlets( chocolate) and then grabbed the cupcake centerpiece too.  I did not have time to make my own cupcakes so I bought them and tweaked them.  I bought chocolate 'Frozen" theme cupcakes in blue and took off the characters on top and replaced them with little onesie sugar decoration with pink and blue hearts in the middle.  Then the white cupcakes I had to take off the toppers and I had a little can of pink airbrush coloring at home( edible of course!) that I sprayed on them and put the onesies on those too.  That's it.  Simple( which means less hassle for me!)

Only 1 person thought it was a girl and that was my BIL.  He asked,"What's the heart rate?"  I said 150's and with out pause he said "GIRL!"  


Impressive

The funny thing is though that at 8 weeks 5 days and 9 weeks 3 days the heart rate was 176 and 171 which indicates boy.  Then the last couple times it has been in the 150's.  

We are totally shocked that it' a girl. We were so convinced it was a boy and to be honest I am still not a 100% convinced.  I am fine with a girl though, but a boy would have been nice because I haven't had one in 9 years. 

We are blessed either way!

Many Blessings,
The Mama