Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Well That Stunk!

We were suppose to arrive back home on Friday December 4th but surprised everyone and came back on Tuesday the 1st.

It was quite the ordeal getting back here though.  It was suppose to take 13 hours but ended up taking 25 hrs!

Here's what happened:

  • dead battery when we we ready to leave
  • headlight out and had to replace it
  • blew a tire at 1:30-2:00am in Nashville which ended up taking till 5:30am to get fixed
  • all lanes northbound closed for an hour outside of Louisville due to an accident
It was the day that never ended!

We ended up leaving out trailer(which is staying in Florida for right now) at 3pm on Monday Nov. 30th.  Our original plan was to leave around 8pm and drive through the night.  So Hubby stayed up till 6am Sunday night/Monday morning.  He planned on sleeping till  3-4pm. Unfortunately he was up at about 11:30 am-and felt like crap.


So we decided to just leave as soon as possible before he crashed.

 The back of the van had been emptied the day before(bikes,wood,tent,waste tote, Jimmy Hoffa, etc) and loaded a bunch of things. In case you were wondering what things we packed, just imagine everything in our trailer in the back of our van.  Seriously.

We also had added tasks like making sure any perishable food items were taken with us or thrown away, cleaning the pantry of yummy morsels that critters might like, cleaning the fridge since our electric would be off, etc.  We put out ant and fly traps and some rat poison too. Don't want any unexpected visitors when we come back.

Once everything was packed up we put all the stuff that was sitting in the grass(bikes, wood, etc) into the trailer, unhooked the electric and water and pulled the slides in.

Then the van wouldn't start, not even with a jump.  So we got a new battery and were on our way!

We stopped to have a late lunch and about an hour later noticed a headlight was out.  After stopping at an Advanced Auto Parts we got it switched out and a half an hour later we were on the road again.

Now, my SIL Amanda was in Alabama doing training for her work and it just so happened we would be going right through the city she was staying at so we stopped in and had some pizza with her.  We spent 1 1/2-2 hours there.

It was 10-10:30pm(central time) by then.

Baby Girl was doing great and we hadn't had to make any extra stops to feed her.  *thumbs up*

It started raining pretty good and just as we were passing through Nashville we felt the all too familiar vibration of a blown tire.

It was 1:30/-2:00am and pouring rain.

We called insurance and they sent someone out who spent a whole of 10 minutes trying ot change our tire and gave up saying he couldn't get it and to call a tow truck.

This part is a really, really long story. I will try my best to give you the Cliff Notes version.

3 tow trucks and another roadside emergency guy ended up coming out to us.  2 of the tow trucks wouldn't work because our rear tire was blown and the 2nd guy who tried to change our tire ended up getting into it with the cop who was sitting behind us( so we wouldn't get hit) and suddenly packed up his tools and left!  Later on that guy's boss called us to say he had been fired and had dome something similar to somebody before.

The 3rd tow truck was a flat bad and said he could tow us to the shop he worked for but they didn't open for another 2 hours(7am) and they might not even be able to change it anyhow. Awesome.

In the end they towed us to a gas station and the cops, who were so annoyed that it took so long to get a tire changed, called up the flat bed drivers boss and made him get out of bed to come change our tire.

The police officers were so apologetic to us and we sure appreciated their help. Bubba, Sissy, Princess and Snuggle Bug rode in the back of the cop car and Hubby,Little Miss, Baby Girl, and me rode in the cab of the tow truck.

So at 5:30am we were on the road again and stopped to have breakfast. Only another 7 and 1`/2 hours ahead of us( if we didn't stop again).  Yay.

8am Tuesday morning came and Hubby said he had to sleep so we pulled over to get gas and switch. He had taken 2- 5 Hour Energy's and was now crashing.

I do not like to drive on multi lane roads but as long as I didn't have to merge or get off at an exit I was ok.  I had dosed a little bit but decided to park at the gas station for a half an hour to rest up a little more.

When 8:30am came around, Hubby said he actually felt good after his power nap. So he ended up driving the rest of the trip.

We made a couple more stops before getting home- potty breaks, fed Baby Girl and grabbed some lunch.

Before we left for our trip home, the kids were so excited to eat out.  We would be eating out for lunch, dinner and breakfast.  They all said how we never eat out that much on a trip.  But by the time we were getting eating out for the 4th time in 24 hours they were all complaining about stomach trouble and asking for something more 'clean'. I got some secret enjoyment out of that ;)

Just as we were crossing into Indiana there was an accident and we were at a stand still for about 45 minutes to an hour.

It was my mom's turn 1st to be ambushed  surprised by us.  We parked across the street from her and snuck over to her place to find her car wasn't there!  Uh-oh.

We went back to the van to wait and we thought we saw her pull into her drive so we we jumped out and stealthily went down the road towards her place again.  But it wasn't her.   So we turned around to head back to the van...just as her headlights illuminated us!

We darted toward the cover of some nearby trees hoping she didn't see us!

I called her and was chatting with her on the phone while we went over to her door.  I knocked while still chatting and when she opened the door she was quite shocked to see all of us standing there!

We visited for a couple hours and then headed to Hubby's parents about 45-50 minutes away.

Our plan was to to video chat with them right outside their house but they didn't pick up so we just called and did the same thing we had done with my mom.

What an ordeal!!  We will definitely get a cheap hotel room when we go back down and stop at the halfway point.

It's surreal being back home but we are enjoying seeing everyone of course.

I am also enjoying having reliable internet!!  I have several posts in the works so keep checking in here or you can subscribe to this blog to the right of the page and receive a notification in your email whenever I post anything new.

Many Blessings,
The Mama

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Thanksgiving in a Tin Can

Preparing a traditional thanksgiving meal can be hectic in even the largest of kitchens. Now imagine it in an RV... Yep.  A challenge.

Did I mention it's Hubby's favorite holiday?  No pressure, right?

I debated about doing several different things in regards to our meal:

  1. Prepare a full on meal in the trailer complete with a regular turkey.
  2. Prepare a full on meal but do a turkey breast in the rotisserie that is in our Hamilton Beach convection oven,
  3. Buy the entire precooked meal at the grocery store including sides.
  4. Buy a precooked turkey at the grocery store and fix the sides in the RV.
  5. Stay at a campground that was doing a meal/carry in.
  6. Go to Bob Evans and get a  turkey meal.

If we bought a prepared meal at the grocery store I would still have to do all my own side dishes to ensure they were dairy free(and make sure the turkey was as well). So that didn't save me a whole lots of time plus it was $45 for the meal.  Not to mention that I had to reheat everything including the turkey.  Which meant I would still have to compete with only using one appliance at a time(otherwise with only 30amp we would blow the breaker).

Going to Bob Evans would be too costly for each of us to get a meal and we thought we would lose a little of that Thanksgiving magic for us.

The campground we are at wasn't sure if they were going to have a dinner or not when we booked it but it was a possibility.  After arriving they let us know they had decided not to,  So we crossed that possibility off the list.

That left option 1 and 2.  A full meal in the trailer with a regular turkey or a turkey breast.

After looking at prices (.59lb regular turkey/1.89lb frozen turkey breast) I went with a regular turkey.

The trick was finding one that could feed all of us yet still fit in our oven!

Sissy and I found a 17lb 'young turkey' that we thought looked like it would fit...

until we went to get a foil pan for it in an adjacent aisle.

I knew a 9x13 pan does not fit in our oven so I got the smaller rectangle pan and the 17lb-er would definitely not fit.

So, armed with our smaller rectangle pan we went back to the turkeys, returned the one we had and started tossing turkey into it the new pan!  Turns out a 14lb bird was the biggest that would fit in the tray so we bought it.

Our menu was as follows:
Mashed Potatoes
Creamy Corn(corn and cream cheese)
Deviled Eggs
Cranberry Sauce
Pumpkin cupcakes w/cream cheese frosting
Apple Cobbler

*Everything was dairy free.  I used Earth Balance vegan 'butter', Almond Milk, and Tofutti Imitation Cream Cheese.  Sounds scary but even my super picky hubby raved about everything!  

I decided the best way to tackle it was to split  up the dishes so I wouldn't be cooking it all on the same day since I would have the oven going all morning meaning I couldn't use any other appliance during that time.

I assigned the Deviled Eggs to my husband and Snuggle Bug to do on Weds.  I hate deviled eggs.  The smell makes me gag.  If he wanted the dish, he was going to have to make it himself!  And he did- very successfully I hear. I knew he could ;)

I made the Creamy Corn and Stuffing on Weds also and Sissy made her cupcakes that day too.

All I would have going on Thanksgiving day would be the turkey,gravy and potatoes.  I planned on doing the cobbler outside in the cast iron dutch oven over the fire.

Everything went smoothly except that my charcoal would  not light so I just did my cobbler in the oven while we ate our meal.  

I was even able to plug my induction cooktop  directly into our electrical box at the campground and cook my potatoes outside while the turkey was finishing up.  I threw my gravy  on the burner too once my taters were done.  What a luxury to use 2 appliances at once!!

My original plan was for everyone to just put the stuffing and corn on  their plate and pop them in the microwave to reheat them.  Silly me. I forgot that out plates are melamine and can't go in the microwave. Boo.

I just tossed the entire bowl of each of those in the microwave then and it worked fine.

We had a tasty meal that was very stress free!  In a tiny trailer no less.

It surely wasn't a pretty display though!
No fancy dishes here; most things just stayed in the pot it was made in.

And everything was crammed around the sink full of dishes.


I have learned to let go of some expectations while living in the trailer though. 

Sometimes good enough is, well, good enough.

Bubba hates me for posting this picture but hey, that's how we all look while eating.
Especially at Thanksgiving!

Apple Cobbler

Delicious Pumpkin Cupcakes with *cream cheese* frosting

(Confession: I ate 4 of them over a 2 day period and still want more)

I even had time in the morning to pull up some Thanksgiving themed activities for the kids(easy crafts, color pages,etc).

Move over Martha!!

It was a beautiful day(mid 70's and sunny) and we were going to eat outside but the bugs wanted to join us so we ate inside.

I felt so victorious today.  It was our first major holiday in the trailer and we pulled it off!

We have a holiday tradition of putting up our Christmas tree the day after thanksgiving.  We play music, spray the glade pine scent, and eat pizza.  So we were feeling a little bummed not to be doing that this year.

So instead...

We packed a lunch and went to the beach!

I know, you feel so sorry for us.

The Emerald Coast on the panhandle is definitely our fave beach so far!  

This was at Henderson State Park. It was $6 to get in but worth it!  The beach is right by the parking lot and we didn't have to hunt around for parking or a public access site.  Great facilities too.

Beautiful quartz white sand.  It wasn't as sticky as Siesta Key.

The water was pretty chilly though but the clearest we have seen.

Snuggle Bug pointing to the helicopters that were flying by.

77 degrees, sunny with no humidity


Little Miss doing a head stand.

Sissy and Bubba

Hubby's legs. 
 Didn't want anyone thinking I had given up shaving while on our trip!

Little Miss found a princess dress in one of the bags we brought to the beach.

It made for a precious picture

Playing football

We're a sucker for a beautiful sunset!

We went back to the trailer and made frozen pizza and watched a movie
(Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix).

It was a fabulous day despite no tree decorating.

We are heading back home for the holidays so we really relished this last beach excursion.

I keep saying we really screwed this all up.  We should have stayed here in sunny Florida and had the grandparents come to us instead! 

Oh well. Little Miss is wanting to see some snow after listening to Christmas music this week.

So now we are making packing lists and need to do some deep cleaning before we head north next week.

I don't know if I have said yet but we are leaving our trailer down here while we are back home.  We'll be staying with my in laws while we visit.

  It will be so weird to be back in a SB(sticks and bricks) home again!  

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving as well!

Many Blessings,
The Mama

Saturday, November 7, 2015

St Augustine, Bradenton, Turtle and Siesta Key

We are staying near the Sarasota area now and doing some beach hopping. The weather down here the past week  has actually been too warm.  Temps near 90 but with humidity its been around 100. It's been better the last couple days though thank goodness.

Here is the 2nd beach we went to on the Atlantic side: St Augustine. I did love how you can drive right out onto the beach all up and down the St Augustine shoreline.  It makes it so much easier than hauling all of our stuff a few blocks while trying to keep hold of the little ones!

Still a really windy day like the previous one.

See the sand blowing(looks like snow on the ground)??  
This was the point when we called it a day and left!

We were treated to this amazing rainbow right as we were leaving!  I have never seen one where the colors were as vibrant.  The pictures don't fully do it justice. God is an amazing artist!!

Here we are at Siesta Key Beach.  Now I know why it has been voted the best beach in America so many times! The soft,white  sand( though it tends to stick to everything) and the gorgeous waters-wow!  And there is no drop off in the water like there normally is at other beaches.  

We must not have applied as often as needed because we all got a little burnt despite only being there for a few hours.

The sand reminded me of the Moonsand that they sell(like playdough)

That Sissy and Bubba in the water and Snuggle Bug on the shoreline.

Sorry lady whose butt i got int he picture!

crystal clear water

Snuggle Bug got stung on his hand by a jellyfish. We saw like 5 of them in the water(appeared to be dead) previous to the incident. It stung pretty good for about an hour.  Contrary to popular belief you should not put urine on a jellyfish sting(Snuggle Bug was relieved to find this out), rather vinegar. 
 So now I carry some in the car with us just in case.

Daddy is holding Baby Girl while she is sleeping so I could enjoy the water a bit.

We had planned on getting our lunch at the beach because we knew they had a concession stand.  But for some reason the stand was closed.  They had some drink carts open though. What a bummer

 That is one reason we left the beach earlier than planned.

Next up is Bradenton Beach!  We had a great day there and stayed till sunset.  We were a little disappointed in the murky water though.

Little Miss

Photo Bomb

Again with my finger! 
 It was so bright out I couldn't see the screen to know my finger was in the way.

There was a restaurant behind us and one time I looked back and everyone on the beach had their backs turned away from the sunset.  

Have you guessed it?

They were all taking selfies and not even looking at the gorgeous view.

Sign of the times right?

We were going to go to Anna Maria Island yesterday but went towards Siesta Key instead.  Instead of driving another 40 minutes to Anna Maria we decided to head to Turtle Beach.

This beach wasn't as pretty or as big as the others but it was spectacular shelling!!  It would be great for snorkeling too as the kids saw some large striped fish in the water. 

There lots of these little exoskeletons in the water. 

Diving for shells

That is the beach umbrella bag filled with amazing shells!!

The kids asked to go back to this one another time before we leave the area.

Got to go meet another family who is full timing it too!

Many Blessings,
The Mama