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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Moving day

Today we moved out. Or at least, it felt that way. We rented a Uhaul and moved out some of the biggest furniture that we had to clear up some space. We took out our king-sized bed and put up our queen guest bed in our room. We moved out the piano. We returned the treadmill we'd been borrowing. Several other awkward-sized items went too, like my bicycle and a computer desk we'll be selling. And a ton more boxes, mostly for the garage sale but some boxes of pictures & other memories items we're not ready to get rid of just yet. It was a lot of work, but it feels so good to get rid of things. I think this stuff-purging is getting addictive.

We're actually thinking now about selling our car too. Why keep a car we won't be driving for two years? We can always get another one later when we need it. We kept it when we moved to Thailand for a year, but that made a little more sense since we kept very little else and figured we'd need a way to get to job interviews and potential apartments. But if we could sell it now, that would be nice since we own it outright and it could help with cash flow issues. And all the reasons we had for keeping it seem pretty silly anyway. It's just a car.

My garage sale pile is getting rather enormous. I sure hope people want to buy this stuff, because I don't want to have to rent a truck again to take it all to goodwill.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Thank goodness

Our furnace stopped working over the weekend. We noticed since we got a crazy cold snap and it snowed. Our furnace was happily blowing away, only the air was cold. Clearly we can't sell a house with a broken furnace, so we had the guy come out today. He told us we needed a whole new furnace. It would be around $4000 and a salesman could come by in a few hours to talk to us.

Before we plunked down that kind of change, we decided to call a different serviceman just to get a second opinion. Best $78 we spent all week. He basically (in as polite a terms as possible) told us the first guy was trying to rip us off. The problem could be as simple as the wind blowing down the chimney just right, or as complicated as we need to replace a $200 switch if it happens again. No new furnace needed. Praise the Lord!

Needless to say, we won't be calling the first place ever again if we have trouble.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

One of the hardest things to give up

I love couponing.

It's not just using a coupon here and there. It's a whole different mindset on grocery shopping. You don't make your list with what you'll eat for the week. You make your list by what's on sale, then fill in the items you need and don't already have in stock. After awhile, you do most of your shopping out of your own pantry, and each week you're pretty much just buying the sale items for the week plus fresh produce, milk, & bread. It's changed our diet dramatically-we eat much healthier meals, with more fresh ingredients, and our monthly budget was cut in half.

Obviously, I'll need to make a bit of a paradigm shift when we move into the RV. I will no longer have the room to store 50 boxes of cereal, 20 cans of soup, or 30 bags of frozen veggies, just because they're free. Plus, since we're planning on being in a new place each week, every Sunday I'd need to figure out which paper in the area carries the most coupons and where I can go to buy a copy. And every week I'll need to figure out what grocery store is in the area and find what's on sale there. I won't be able to follow the normal 2-3 month cycle of sales since we'll always be moving to a new area. That sounds like a lot of work for much less benefit than we get now.

I know that logically, it makes much more sense to use the coupons I have, but give up on buying papers and going hard-core. I can do the occasional coupon clipper service for items we know we will buy regardless and switch to Aldi/generics as much as possible. Even if our grocery bill goes up a little, it will be worth it to have the space.

But it still will feel strange to simply walk through the store, fill up my cart, and pay.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

I guess this is good practice

for when we're in colder weather.

Our furnace is dysfunctional today. We had just made it into spring weather and now we're getting this funky cold snap with snow tonight, and of course it picks now to break. It doesn't look to be anything too expensive (fingers crossed!) but it's not lighting so we have no heat. We've got space heaters going and our house is staying around 64 for now. Obviously we will be fixing this since we're selling the house, but we don't want to pay $$$ out the wazoo just for calling on the weekend, so we're toughing it out until Monday. Probably good practice for those times when we wind up in an unexpected cold spell. Yes, we got a four seasons unit-but I'm sure we'll still be stingy with the propane like we're stingy with our utilities now, and we'll prefer to put on an extra layer and sleep with an extra blanket. It turns out 64 is a lot warmer than it sounds, especially with an occasional warm breeze to fool you.

We went to the Springfield RV show today. It was more a diversion and a chance to destress, since I can no longer relax in my house. (I just look around and see all the things we need to get done in the next week.) We were disappointed at how small it was, and how few vendors there were (we were hoping to shop for some accessories), but it was still a nice way to spend the morning and think about the lifestyle we get to adopt so very soon.

I also emailed a lady who is living in a fifth wheel with her husband and their two year old. She had some great advice for how she keeps her son entertained and what things look like with a little one on the road. It's reassuring to know that there are other people out there doing this successfully and happily, even with very young kids. You can see their blog at http://www.bigtrucknewhouse.blogspot.com/.

We've rented a truck for Tuesday to move out more unnecessary furniture and storage items before our open house next week. And we've scheduled our RV orientation (and first night in our new house!) for April 7th. That will be a great reward for making it through the open house, and I think we'll be able to enjoy it a lot more since it will be after the bulk of things for our house are done.

Just keep pressing on.

Friday, March 27, 2009


This is supposed to be simplifying our lives, right? It sure doesn't feel that way yet.

My head is spinning with all the things we need to do. Packing and moving out random stuff, rearranging and borrowing furniture, staging the house, buying some items for staging the house. Relisting the van for sale, calling dealers to see what they'd buy it for, looking for backup options. Arranging financing for the truck, working out an agreement on price, figuring out how that purchase will work. Finding time to pick up the camper, doing the walk-through, camping for the first night, figuring out what we'll need by then, looking for checklists and tips for the walk-through. Making lists of what we need for the RV, shopping for the best prices, prioritizing what we need before we leave and what can wait. Pulling out things for the garage sale, pricing them all, organizing them, and getting them ready to sell. Packing and organizing the things we're keeping in storage. And somewhere in there, keeping track of where my two kids are and when they need to eat, sleep, and have their diapers changed.

In six months our lives will look so different from now. I'm sure there will be stresses, but they will be different. At least we won't have the stress of all the stuff and what I have to do to take care of it.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Stager

The stager came today.

It was a little stressful, since I was picturing having another week or so to get ready. She came in, gave us some ideas, and left with our furniture all out of whack and halfway to a new arrangement. Now things are everywhere. So much for my nice clean house and only needing to work on the basement.

We're also still working on selling our van. No leads yet. I hope we're able to sell it for a fair price. We're not looking to profit a ton off it, just enough to pay for the truck we need that has a lower value than our van.

Oh, and the Oprah show called today! They did a "simplify your life" show awhile back about inspiring people to declutter and I wrote in telling how we're getting rid of most of our things to live in an RV for two years, and how I hope that this will be a good learning experience for us and our kids about not always needing a lot of things or needing something new. They called today asking for more information about our timeline. She was a little disappointed when I said that we had already decluttered a lot of our house and we were leaving in June 09, not June 2010. I'm not sure if anything will come of it or not. It would be fun to do one of the short little bits where viewers Skype in to the show live. Who knows?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

More preparation

It makes me feel a little sick to think about how much time I've had to spend getting these piles and piles of things we don't need out of the house. I'm not even done yet and there is an enormous stack of boxes and tubs of things we're selling. What does it say about us that in only two years we've managed to accumulate so much unnecessary clutter? It's amazing how you (and your things) just grow to fit the available space.

We've also been working on our RV "shopping list". Seems kind of silly to have to buy stuff when a big part of this trip is all about getting rid of things, but there are some things there's no way around. We need to buy some sewer maintenance & electrical items for the trailer, and there are other items too like bed tents for the kids (replacing their current cribs) and certain tools that we don't have. Hopefully the money from selling a lot of our current stuff will pay for the bulk of what we need.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Open House soon!

We met with the realtor today. It actually went really well-she said that many of the improvements we made to the house should help with marketability, and we're in an awesome spot for a family (quiet cul-de-sac in the best school district). She's optimistic that with interest rates being so low, there will be some buyers out there. And she gave us a number to list our house at that is higher than we thought she'd say. Obviously no guarantee we'll sell it for that price, but it was encouraging that she doesn't think it's overpriced there.

We're planning to have the open house on April 5th. Definitely still have work to do, but I think that's realistic. We're the kind of people who just need to pick a date and call that our deadline, or else we'll never manage to get it done. So this is a good thing.

We haven't gotten any bites on our van yet. I think we may take it to a dealer and ask what we could get for it from them. We'd prefer to find a private seller, but we are on a timetable so we'll have to see what we can get. We just need to sell it for enough to buy the truck, and our van is worth more than the truck, so it *should* work out. Just have little details like sales tax to figure out.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Tomorrow's the day

we meet with the realtor. Hopefully it will go well and she'll be optimistic about our chances of selling soon and recouping most of our costs.

The weather was beautiful today. We got to spend a few hours playing in the yard, and even then Ian didn't want to come in. I think he'll do just fine with spending time at campgrounds and parks.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


We've been reading a lot of forums of RVers, especially those traveling with kids. One thing that seems universally agreed upon is that the Fourth of July fireworks at Mount Rushmore are unmatched and definitely worth seeing. There's apparently a huge all-day celebration too. It sounds like a lot of fun. That, combined with the fact that becoming South Dakota residents is looking increasingly promising, is making us want to do this earlier start to our trip:

Start off heading to visit our good friends in Kansas City, then head north to Sioux Falls to get mail forwarding & residency things set up, then head over to Mount Rushmore for the 4th of July. Then we'd have about two weeks to get down to Colorado Springs to meet my family. It looks like a nice route, doesn't it? And it's heavier driving, but very doable IF we can get out of here by early-mid June. What are the odds of that?

So we've been thinking about what's next. We're calling the realtor tomorrow morning to list the house-hopefully this will sell quickly but we all know how the housing market is. We also need to help clear out some more space in my mom's basement so we can store some things there, and if need be we'll buy an outdoor shed to store the overflow. We also need to sell our van so we can buy a truck so we can bring our camper home. We need to camp in it several times (as many as possible) so we can work out the kinks and feel totally comfortable with operating everything before we leave. We need to stock the RV, which involves purchasing many items and learning to use them. We need to pack & store everything we're not taking. We need to be fully moved out of our house before we leave so we don't have to come back if it isn't sold before we go.

No problem, right? Surely we could do that in a little over two months. :)

The weekend

Yesterday was nice. It was pretty low-key around here, but Jeremy did get some yardwork done and I have straightened up the basement a little, and done a few more small things like listing items on Craigslist and pull more things for the yard sale. We also went to the park with Ian and took some adorable pictures of Rinnah there and in the tub. (Ian was not so cooperative for the camera.)

From Late Feb/March

From Late Feb/March

From Late Feb/March

From Late Feb/March

Not too happy about her brother splashing her.
From Late Feb/March

From Late Feb/March

We also spent some time compiling a list of RV books that look interesting. There are so many books out there about RV maintenance, and living in an RV, and cooking in an RV, and where to go in your RV....I think at minimum we'll need to purchase a good atlas, a good campground directory, and a good basic maintenance 101 type book since we have no idea what we're doing yet. It's just hard to decipher which will be the best from the descriptions online.

Friday, March 20, 2009

More cleaning

More cleaning today. We have more or less gotten the first floor ready to show now. It's kind of strange; it almost doesn't feel like our house anymore. All our pictures are put away, and most of our personal stuff. We put away most of the kitchen appliances and decorations. A lot of things have been sent to my mom's to get ready for the garage sale. It just looks kind of....sparse. I mean, that's the whole point-make it look big and open and impersonal, so people can imagine their own things here. But it still feels strange.

We're still trying to decide what to do this weekend. There are so many things we should do-rake the yard, fix things around the house, move out some furniture, touch up some paint, clean out the garage, price things for the garage sale....we have hours and hours of work to do. But we've worked hard all week and we need a little downtime too. Maybe we'll look through all the brochures for exciting campgrounds we picked up at the RV show and see if any places should be on our destination list. That would be fun, and it's almost productive even.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Slow and steady

Ian went over to a friend's house again this morning, and Jeremy arranged it so he could take a little time off work. Jeremy did some work on the yard and I scrubbed the kitchen floor and worked on getting that room ready. Hopefully we'll be able to call the realtor next Monday and list the house. And hopefully she won't need any pictures of the basement, because that will need a little more time.

I also got more things priced and packed for the garage sale, and listed a jumperoo on Craigslist. I'd like to get some car seats and some other large items listed there, because I think it will be easier to sell on Craigslist than at the garage sale.

In between, we got to go to the park. We're starting to get some warm weather and Ian was super rambunctious and wild today, so it was a good day to go let him run. Rinnah is also really enjoying the slides now, so she had fun too.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wanna buy a van?

We listed our van for sale. :( It's kind of sad in a way. We were SO excited when we got that van, and now here it is only five months later and we need to sell it. At least someone will save some money off buying a new one. Once we have this sold we can buy the truck we like. It belongs to one of the employees at the RV dealership, and he isn't in any huge hurry to sell, so he's probably going to wait until we're ready to buy it. That's pretty awesome.

I was thinking today about how this whole RV thing is going to bring back so many things I enjoyed about my life before kids-travel, the ability to pack up everything in one vehicle (okay, so one vehicle with a really large trailer, but still), enjoying the great outdoors, camping.....there are so many things I love about this plan.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

She's really ours!

After a few hiccups getting financing worked out ("You're approved, but we can't find this trailer in our system", "If it's a 2007, it must be used"), we finally have the checks in hand today. Jeremy will go up there after work today. I'm sure the dealer will be relieved since we're the third group trying to buy the trailer.

We also have a lead on a truck that would be perfect for our needs. So the next order of business is to sell our van so we can buy the truck. Hopefully we can get that taken care of quickly. We'd love to have possession of the truck and trailer by the first week of April.

We're also still working on getting things ready for our very large garage sale (or two) that we'll be having and working on getting the house ready to show. So much to do in the next few months! It will be great when we have all this taken care of and can really enjoy the open road with our new home right behind us.

Tour our new home

These are the dealer's photos. We'll update this with our own once we get settled in.

The outside

From Fifth Wheel

Living room (the door is on the right, just past the chairs)
From Fifth Wheel

Dinette in kitchen-we'll move the table & chairs for the kids to sleep here at night
From Fifth Wheel

Rest of the kitchen-I love my big kitchen!
From Fifth Wheel

From Fifth Wheel

Master bedroom
From Fifth Wheel

Sink and shower (toilet is in a room across the hall)
From Fifth Wheel

Stove and big fridge
From Fifth Wheel

Home sweet home!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Meet the Weatherfords

We are the Weatherford family! Until recently, we were a very typical American family-two beautiful children, a home on a quiet street, quietly settling into our lives as a family with kids. But as we explored our options for relocating, we found that nothing really satisfied us. We have grown increasingly disenchanted with our ever-growing pile of things, while so many family and friends become increasingly difficult to reach due to the time and money constraints of traveling. We decided to take this opportunity to teach our children (and ourselves) that we really need less than we think we do, and it's more valuable to fill our hearts with people and our minds with wonderful memories than it is to fill our house with things.

Jeremy works as a software developer for a company in Cleveland, Ohio. He is most excited to take this adventure before settling down for good.

Kim takes care of our two adorable kids. She is most excited to be traveling again-that has been something that was difficult to give up after having kids. She is most concerned about changing her shopping habits-normally her couponing will yield large quantities of free or nearly free items at a time, but we will no longer have room to store them! She is looking forward to seeing family, friends from college, and the Grand Canyon.

Ian is 2 years old and it shows. He loves dogs, big trucks, and the color orange. He does everything big-big hugs, big laughs, and sometimes big tantrums. He is a very good big brother and loves to help get snacks and toys for his sister. She enjoys his big kisses too!

Rinnah was born in July 2008, and she is just learning to crawl, stand, and take a few steps. She is a sweetheart and greets everyone with a huge, captivating smile.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Our New Home

Jeremy talked to his boss today and got the green light. He said he'd had a lot of time to think about it and it sounded like a lot of fun. We still have some minor details to work out, but overall he gave us a go.

So we decided to go look again at the trailer we liked. Good thing, because another very interested buyer was coming tomorrow morning. We had our list of questions and got everything answered, took some measurements, and talked about pricing. Everything worked out beautifully. I really feel like this trailer was meant for us.

More pics to come soon!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

We found one we like!

We found a very nice fifth wheel only 40 minutes from our house!

True four seasons package, can be towed by a one ton truck, we think the layout will work for us, and it's a few years old but never been sold, so we'll even get a little warranty on it. We'll go look at it again tomorrow or Saturday.

We really like this one. If only we had the green light from Jeremy's boss! He was on vacation all last week and has been sick all this week, so Jeremy hasn't been able to discuss it with him.

I'm trying to be patient, I really am. But we are so excited about this idea and I'd really like to start making things happen instead of just making plans. It's hard to keep waiting!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

So much stuff

I've been doing a lot of cleaning, sorting, and purging lately getting ready for the move. Even though this will be the 6th move since we got married almost 5 years ago, and we've gotten rid of things every move, it's amazing how the stuff just creeps up on us. Especially since having kids. It feels like such a waste of time to have spent so much time shopping for stuff, buying stuff, cleaning stuff, organizing stuff, storing stuff, buying more stuff to store our stuff, putting stuff away, and now throwing stuff out, selling stuff, or giving stuff away. Wouldn't it have been easier to have never had the things in the first place? Sure, many of the items have served useful purposes, like baby items. But plenty others have done nothing to make our lives happier or more joyful.

Some things are harder to let go of than others, but it feels like a breath of fresh air every time I get a load of things out of our house.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Why travel?

So, why would we want to sell our house and move into 400 square feet with two small children?

First, we love traveling. Or at least we did before we had kids. Then traveling turned into a nightmare when it interrupted sleeping schedules, and flying was both expensive and nerve-wracking because when our child is screaming, he's not just bothering us but also the other 200 people on the plane. Driving takes too long to go the places we want, like California. We've often joked that we could drive to California if we could do it an hour at a time. This way we actually could. Plus, we'd get to see so many friends and places that we'd never have the time or money to go see on individual trips.

Second, we love the idea of getting out from under our stuff. We do try to keep from accumulating too much, and often give things away or hold an occasional garage sale. And every time we move (which has been fairly frequent) we eliminate a whole other chunk of our things. But somehow, especially since having kids, it all keeps piling up anyway. I feel like I spend a lot of my time just taking care of our 'stuff'-putting things away, cleaning, etc. I read recently that the average American only uses 10% of their stuff on a regular basis. We love the idea of getting down to just that 10%, and making our lives (and our kids' lives) more about experiences than about things. Sure, it will be rough on all of us at first to not have a million toys for entertainment, but I think it will be good for us.

Third, what a great opportunity! It would allow us to really make the most of Jeremy's ability to telecommute, before we have to worry about kids' school schedules, or our church commitments, or our house, or Jeremy needing to go into the office, or any of the other things that will eventually tie us down when we settle in Ohio. It will be good for us to put down roots as our kids grow, but why not take this last chance to really get out and see the world. We figure it's go now or wait until Jeremy retires. Why wait?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The truck is getting bigger....

We've been doing a lot more research on fifth wheels, and there is a pretty short list of fifth wheels (or 5ers, as the veterans call them) that are agreed to be true four seasons rvs. These tend to be a lot better insulated, and the real distinction is that all the piping underneath is enclosed and heated to keep it freezing. Since we're pretty sure we will be in cold weather at some point (despite our best efforts) this sounds like a major plus. Not to mention the same short list is considered the best for full-timing, in that they hold up better over time, have more quality construction and materials, etc. For all these same reasons, this short list of fifth wheels tends to be pretty heavy. Like 16000+ pounds. I've seen plenty of people talking about towing them with a Dodge Ram 3500, but my sources seem to say that it's only rated to about 16500 pounds, and I'm pretty sure we'll have more than 500 pounds just of water and propane to carry around, let alone luggage.

So what do you do if you need a truck bigger than a one ton truck? Well, I've found a few options. There's the Chevy Kodiak, which can tow 30K pounds.

Or the Ford F-450, which can tow 21K pounds, more with the right options

Or the GMC Topkick, which can tow 17K pounds

We'll see. We'd like to stick with a regular one ton pickup, and it sounds like the numbers work a little differently with a fifth wheel hitch than towing a trailer straight behind.

It feels like the chicken and the egg problem. Do we buy the trailer first so we know how much truck we need? Or do we buy the truck first so we could bring the trailer home?

Monday, March 2, 2009


It's so much fun to daydream about all the places we could go and the people we could see if we can make this RV idea a reality.

We've come up with a few different loose ideas for itineraries (trying to nail down by month at least what states we'd be driving through) and all of them have really exciting parts and frustrating parts. It's pretty much guaranteed we can't be in both Florida and California during the same winter, unless we want to have a big long driving time. So do we want to drive north (Washington, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota) during late winter/early spring? Could be cold. Or do we want to end up driving south (Texas, Louisiana, Florida) in early summer? Could be hot. It sounded so easy to just say we'd avoid the extreme weather, but we can't really do that and also avoid a lot of driving.

Someone told me today about National Park passports for the kids.
They can collect stamps at each national park we visit. I think this sounds like a great keepsake for them, and something we could keep adding to as they grow up. It's definitely going on our list.

It's so exciting to look at a map of the US and just make dots (okay, Google maps destinations) wherever we'd like to go! I think at the end of this we'll be excited to have a house, but a little sad to give up the freedom of travel.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Still debating

Still trying to figure out how to make this rv thing work.

Jeremy's boss was a bit disappointed when Jeremy pitched the idea. The boss would love to have Jeremy out there sooner, and we really appreciate what he's done to help us explore our options out there. But really, it comes down to us not being ready to commit to a house long-term at this point. Looking at short-term options, the rv idea is the most attractive. Still, without the approval of the boss, it's a no-go.

Right now, we're experimenting with different routes and rough itineraries to figure out what our goals would be with an rv, how many places we'd go, how much driving we'd do a day, etc. We're thinking we could drive to California and back, once taking a northern route and once taking a southern route, with many stops along the way, averaging around 100-120 miles a week. That sounds great. We don't want to drive every day or it loses its appeal. Camping for a week or two in most places would give us a chance to explore and sightsee while still having time for grocery shopping and a big family outing on Saturday when Jeremy doesn't have to work. Then Sunday we'd visit a church, pack up our things, and drive for a few hours to our new 'home'.

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