#family · #RVing

RV Shopping

Earlier this year, we sold our family RV with the hopes of finding a better fit for our family of six. Making couches into beds and breaking down the dining table nightly gets old when you are living on the road for long periods of time and the kids want to be able to have a space to call their own. So we said goodbye to our 2002 Travel Supreme and embarked on the journey to find the perfect fit for our family.

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Shopping for an RV is a big investment, so we didn’t take the decision lightly. We had some wish list items, and of course mine were different from my husband’s so we had to find something that met all of our criteria. His wish list included:

  • Diesel engine with enough power that he could keep at an even speed up the mountains AND tow his truck behind us
  • Tank capacity that was high enough that we could be self-sustainable for 2-3 days without needing to hook up to water or dump our tanks
  • Exterior full body paint
  • Aluminum wheels
  • 2000 watt inverter so we could have power without running the generator

Now, don’t get me wrong. I wanted some of those things, too, I just wasn’t sure I was willing to pay the price for it all. Especially after looking at some gas engine coaches and seeing how much more you can get for your money (the same RV with a diesel engine vs a gas engine will run you about 30% more on average). But it’s more than just power, there is also the safety benefit of air brakes with a diesel and the air ride, which is what makes the trip quiet and comfortable instead of bouncy and jarring like driving a big truck. I just didn’t want to sacrifice interior. This was my wish list:

  • Updated interior. Our Travel Supreme had a remodeled interior with cherry real wood cabinetry, ceramic tile floors and solid surface counters with a neutral color palette. We put upgrades into it ourselves, like changing out the old TVs with new flat panel ones and removing all the brass hardware and fixtures for updated stainless and bronze. I wanted our new coach to a least be as nice and wasn’t sure I was in the mood to tackle an RV remodel.
  • Storage. I need to be able to pack clothing for the six of us for all climates (usually we travel so far that we range from needing heavy jackets to swimsuits in the same trip!). Then there are toys and entertainment items that the kids need, camera equipment, gear for our outdoor activities like hiking backpacks and beach toys…
  • Bunk beds. This is our main reason for upgrading – we wanted the kids to have their own “bedrooms,” but RVs with bunk beds are harder to find. The RV market tends to be predominantly retirees, and empty nesters with no kids in tow. The younger crowd with kids will usually opt for a class C model, and although we considered that as well, with the length of time we like to be gone and the amount of “dry” camping we do (no electric or water hook ups and off the grid) we knew the class C would not work for us. The tanks are small and they do not offer the amount of storage we would need.

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    Class C Envoy
  • Larger fridge and pantry. It’s easier and more cost efficient to make a big Costco trip and stock up on meats and pantry items before traveling, rather than make tons of grocery trips during vacation. Our family can EAT and we like to cook dinner as much as we can while we are traveling, so being stocked up is important. That just leaves produce and milk and bread that needs to be replenished frequently during our travels, and our favorite way to do that is to hit up local farmers markets while we are in new places.

So we spent our evening scouring rvtrader.com and local RV dealers, hunting for that RV that just spoke to our family. We spent weekends touring our finds, usually disappointed to see (or smell) that they just didn’t look as nice as they did in pictures.

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Who picks out the fabric in most of these things?

We spent full days at RV shows, walking through unit after unit. We would find the perfect interior, but the engine would be less than we were hoping for. Then we would find the perfect motorhome mechanically, but we would be needing to replace furniture from the interior and hire out a cabinet maker to build bunk beds into it. Then the clouds parted and the sun shined down on that magic one…okay, not really. It was the rainiest day we had had all year and we were in rain jackets with umbrellas and still soaked at an outdoor RV show. But in the case of the right place, at the right time, we discovered that there was a deeply discounted 2017 unit that had all of our wishlist items on it, and we knew it was time to make the plunge! We haven’t even seen it in person yet, as it is still in Tucson, but we walked through it’s twin, and we are super excited to be done with the searching and onto the trip planning!

Here is a photo of what our new home on wheels will look like (photo taken from Motor Home Specialist in Texas). Ours is this exact unit, minus the washer/dryer, which is an add-on that we will put in ourselves.

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So excited to take this baby on the road this summer for our biggest trip yet! And I can’t wait to blog about every minute of it so our friends and family can feel like they are traveling right along with us! Until then, you will find me immersed in mapquest and rvparkreviews.com planning every step of our summer on the road!

#family · #motherhood

Finding my Mom outlet

I have four kids spanning 10 years. I feel like life before kids is unrecognizable. The last decade has been for them. I love it. I was made to be a mom. I may not always be the best at it, and I may oversleep far too often and complain that my head is going to explode when they are all bickering in the back seat, but at the end of the day, I am mostly fulfilled. But there’s always that need to carve out a piece of my day that is just for me. With my youngest still only 6 months old, that can be a challenge! But I thought I could try my hand at this whole blogging thing as a method of unwinding and translating the mess of thoughts in my head onto paper, or rather, the screen. And the bonus of it all is that I feel such a need to document this crazy journey through motherhood because it goes so very fast and it is already hard to recall my 10 year old as a tiny toddler. I would like to encapsulate as much as I can. So – to begin – I introduce you to the wonderful kiddos that made me a mom and the person I am today!

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First we have my tiny, thoughtful and sweet girl, Charlotte. She is our last baby and I just want to freeze her like this on some days. She is a mommy’s girl and would lay on me all day if she could! She studies her whole world with careful pondering and saves her biggest laughs only for her older siblings whom she adores! Which leads me to my next “baby,” Avery.

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She is my curly haired, silly ball of energy. She loves to be goofy and make everybody laugh but she is also the most lovable and caring little girl. She will share everything with everyone, even her favorite candy and toys! She is very shy around strangers but also very tough and dominant with other kids. She loves to give hugs and cuddle and play pretend. She was the baby for so long because we had thought three kids would be our limit, so she will always be a little bit of “my baby” even though she turns 5 in just a few short months!

Next up are my big kids. My third and oldest daughter, Aubrey. She is entering that “preteen” stage, even though she is only 8! Emotions can run very high in our house and she is very passionate. But that also means that she has great love for everybody, especially her baby sister Charlotte. She has stepped up in a big way and loves to care for Charlotte, change her diapers, and anything else to help. She also is great with Avery and plays school with her to help her learn skills for kindergarten. However, the two of them will love each other one minute and be at each other’s throats the next since they both try to be dominant in everything they do. Aubrey is happiest with a good book or a canvas and some paints. She also loves the monkey bars and outdoor activities, but is equal parts girly girl and loves to have her nails done and get dressed up.

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And finally, the mini adult of the house and my oldest and only son, Nicholas. He has been referred to as “mature” and “wise” since he was in preschool and now he is 10 going on 30 some days! He is always a teacher’s favorite because he has such a thirst for ALL knowledge and soaks everything right up. He is a whiz at math and recently started computer coding classes which he continues to excel at. Also this year, he has started to learn the violin. He is incredibly helpful around the house and with his sisters, even when they start to irritate him. He loves to work on “Scratch” coding videos, play video games, and build with Technic Legos. He’s very grounded and we feel so very lucky that he is our oldest because it will be good to have another watchful eye with three teenage girls in the house some day!

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I’m a stay at home mom to this crew and have been married to my husband, Adam, for 13 years next month. We are high school sweethearts who have been together since we were 16, so we’ve seen a lot of ups and downs and know how much work it is to keep a marriage going after spending half of our lives together!

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He is a self-employed architect who works from our home and the beauty in that is that he is a very hands on dad who always makes time for all of the kid’s events and activities. It also allows us the ability to travel quite a bit. Our favorite mode of travel with young children is through our RV!

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We are known for taking extensive 1-2 month trips every summer and living on the road, fantasizing about what it would be like to just up and sell everything and go full-time with our kids. We recently bought and renovated a house, so it would be hard to let that go, but I can’t say we aren’t tempted by the thought of the freedom of living on the road with a different backyard to wake up to every day and amazing experiences to be had with our kids. You never know, we still might do that! But for the time being, I would love for this blog to be a way of documenting my day to day parenting life, as well as being a fun trip blog for all my friends and family to feel like they are traveling right along with us! We recently sold our RV of four years and many many trips in hopes of upgrading to one with bunk beds and better space for the kids. We are in the process of finding that magical home on wheels for our family and planning our next adventure for this summer- two months on the road up through Canada and Alaska! It should be quite the adventure and after the crazy that last summer was (moving and renovating a house plus having a baby all in the same month!) we are looking forward to that relaxing escape! Thanks for stopping by!

#crafting · #kidsparties

Kid’s Birthday Parties: Rainbow Pool Party!

Last week I shared my daughter’s Art Party details and I briefly mentioned that the previous year she had a Rainbow Pool Party so thought I would share some fun details from that party as well!

The food is SO fun with this theme!

As I said, I love a good theme and this one was so much fun because it involved color! There are so many possibilities with a Rainbow party, but immediately I knew I wanted to do one of those six layer rainbow cakes. For this cake, I bought six boxes of Pillsbury Funfetti cake mix in each color of the rainbow. I also bought the white Pillsbury frosting. I figured since I was making SIX boxes of cake, cutting corners with store bought frosting would be okay. Since I only had two 8″ round cake pans, I made two cakes Wednesday, two on Thursday, and two on Friday. I used frosting to “glue” each layer together and kept them in the refrigerator.

This cake is easier than it looks!

On Saturday I coated the whole outside with a second tub of white vanilla Pillsbury frosting and kept it simple by printing my own little cake banner with my daughter’s name in rainbow colors and a #6 candle!

Other party food included yogurt dipped pretzels with rainbow sprinkles, fresh fruit skewers in rainbow color order, chocolate chip cookies with colorful M&Ms, and a rainbow veggie tray with dip! I bought mini water bottles and colored them with a drop of liquid Kool-Aid.

I found these glass jars with colorful lids at Michael’s on clearance and scooped them right up! I filled them with Sixlets chocolate candies to create a fun rainbow backdrop for the party table, but didn’t factor in the heat outside, so chocolate candy was definitely not the right decision and these babies ended up staying inside for the party. For a pool party, I would recommend gumballs!

We also had a rainbow lollipop bouquet because those look so fun on a party table and are always a hit with the kiddos!

Party favors were fun too! Since it was just a bunch of little girls at the party, we did rainbow glitter lip glosses, rainbow rings, and colorful rubberbands to make bracelets with.

We were blessed with perfect sunny weather on the party day and all the kids had a blast! I bought jumbo balloons from Amazon and tied them to matching color buckets from the Dollar Tree to decorate around the pool.

And when it was time to cut the cake…bam! Look at that rainbow of color!! So much fun and all the kids were extremely impressed!

This girl was on a cloud after a day of swimming and snacking with friends! Another successful party down!

#crafting · #kidsparties

Kid’s Birthday Parties: ART Party!

My oldest daughter just turned 7 last month and she is an artsy one! Pretty much the week after her 6th birthday (a Rainbow Pool Party) she had already decided she wanted to do an Art Party for her 7th. I love a good party theme and was thrilled with this one! It was one of the easier parties we have done because it was held in a local art studio which means I didn’t need to do anything in the line of decorating as the studio already had all the party ambiance one could want. And the best part was not having to clean my house before and after the party – so it was a win/win! I also didn’t have to worry about party favors since each guest would be getting a potty piece to paint that would be fired and returned to them as their party favor.
We had the party mid-afternoon so the only party food we had to focus on was a few sweet treats!

This is super simple with a big impact. I bought the wood palette at Michael’s for $4 and found these little chalkboard signs there as well for just $1 each! The bigger chalkboard was also a Michael’s find on a 50% off sale it was only $8. I knew it was a piece that I will use at home all the time! (#chalkboardobsessed) I made simple vanilla cupcakes and then a big batch of Royal Icing (I always use THIS recipe) and used gel food coloring to dye them bright colors to resemble different color paints.


Another easy dessert was rice crispie treats that I shaped into paint brushes and put on wood crafting sticks I also found at Michael’s. Then I used melted Wilton candy melts in a variety of colors to dip them in and give them the wet paintbrush look. This is such a fun cooking project to do with kids!

To add a little interest to the table I did a lollipop bouquet. I had the pink paint can bucket from the dollar spot at Target several years ago and I bought two bundles of lollipops at Dollar Tree (yes, only $2 spent on ALL of those). I picked up the wood #7 when I was at Michael’s and painted it purple with some craft paint I already had on hand. Then I hot glued a wooden grilling skewer onto it to make it a fun addition to the bouquet. I always try to incorporate the kid’s ages into the party table in some fun way!

Another simple way to customize any party is to create custom water bottle labels! Just pull off the existing label, wrap and tape these on. If you want to make them waterproof you can use packing tape to laminate them but I just used scotch tape on these since I knew they would just be room temperature sitting on the party table. I also like the small size at kid’s parties because it cuts down on waste from half drank bottles.

This party was a hit all the way around! The small size of the studio and bright lights made photographing the event more challenging, but I managed to capture some fun moments!

We ended the day with one very happy birthday girl! Happy 7th to my sweet Aubrey!

~ Tamie

#home

Custom home inspiration – Master Bathrooms!

Let’s talk master bathrooms! I have a pretty small “getting ready” area right now and dream of having drawers to organize all the necessities and a cabinet for towels and maybe even a place to sit and do my makeup. I want a fresh and clean space, a big beautiful tub for relaxing and a walk-in shower with no doors to clean. Here’s where I’ve been taking inspiration from these days:

I would love a display niche next to my tub like the beautiful spaces above! A place to roll up some fluffy white towels, arrange bath salts and candles, and have picture frames or other pretty decor pieces displayed.

The shower needs some recessed shelving for shampoos and soaps. Also a seat is very important because shaving is impossible without a place to rest your foot!

Another beautiful example of shower seating and niche storage:

We are going to have some linen cabinets in our space and these options offer lots of storage and are pretty to look at, too:

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~ Tamie

#home

Custom Home Inspiration: Owner’s Entry

I have been away for awhile but have been thinking about how much is going on and I really want to have a good account of this time in our lives. Our kids are growing faster by the minute (almost 9, 7, and 3) and we are starting the process of achieving a goal that we’ve had since we were high school sweethearts. Building OUR OWN custom home. My husband has had a big year since he passed all of his exams last spring and is an official licensed architect. He has spent years designing dream homes for everybody else and we have always known someday our day would come as well. We have purchased the land and we have been working on floorplan designs for years. It is a constantly evolving process as our tastes change and our family has grown. But I think we finally got it right this time.
I’ve been taking time to find inspiration on Pinterest and want to share some ideas on here! First up… the owner’s entry! On the east coast or mid-west, you may call it your mudroom but we don’t get much rain here in Arizona so we are calling it our owner’s entry. It may be the hardest working space in a home since it is the “dump station” for everything you drag in the house every day. Each family member needs their own basket to store their shoes and a hook or two for backpacks, sports bags, purse, etc. Extra space up high would be great for things you only use seasonally, like sunscreen and pool hats or mittens, gloves and snow boots. This is one of my favorites:

This one is pretty nice, too. I love the character in the ceiling and floor compass.

What I like about this one is the interest in the rustic barnwood backing. I like a dose of character and have been really liking rustic wood details lately.

And I have always loved the warm comfortable feeling of Megan’s owner’s entry from Honey We’re Home:

This space also needs a dump zone for the kid’s school papers, incoming mail, coupons and a bulletin board for calendars and reminders. This is great for each kiddo.

This one is nice because the wire baskets force me to see what’s inside and file away or attend to it instead of forgetting about it.

And lastly, I will leave you with this fabulous space!

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~ Tamie

#crafting

Sick Days and Teacher Appreciation M&Ms

Lots of illness in this house over the last few weeks. Guess I’m thankful that we are getting it out of our systems before we all huddle into an RV for a month. Speaking of that- we leave in three weeks and so much to do – eeeee!! But more on that later. So what do we do during all these sick days at home?

 candy crush time!
Well, there’s lots of Candy Crush on the tablet. It’s a favorite of ours and Nicholas has turned into quite the candy crushing guru. And what makes Aubrey happy? I volunteered to be her makeover subject and she did my hair, makeup, and accessorized me. It’s the closest thing I’ve had to a spa day in a long time!! She was quite proud of her handy work.

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In other news, it’s teacher appreciation week and we had fun with it this year! I found THIS cute idea on pinterest the other day and loved it. It was super simple and didn’t involve a ton of crafting, since we’ve been sick and lazy and all that this week. And it was a good excuse to buy some more mason jars, which I LOVE for storing and displaying things in around the house. I also got to bust out some cute washi tape for the labels. I couldn’t find a printable template for the poem, so I created one using Adobe Fireworks and am attaching it here. Feel free to download it and modify it for your own M&M:

I found this whole “apple collection” of stickers and gift packaging in the dollar section of Target last summer and scooped it up for future teacher gifts. That’s also where I stocked up on the cute red and white twine. So here is how it all came together: cute apple sticker on the lid of the jar, a bit of twine tied around the top, fill ’em up with M&Ms and attach the cute printable poem. I attached mine to some cardstock and added some wasabi tape for color and we were done!


For Aubrey’s preschool teacher, we packed her a breakfast “snack” which consisted on a Paradise Bakery blueberry muffin and a cute individual carafe of Simply Orange and we packed it in the apple gift box I mentioned above. Aubrey signed her name on the gift tag.

I found these adorable gift tags in the dollar section of Micheal’s. How cute are these to attach to $5 Starbucks gift cards for all of Nick’s specialty teachers?! They look like they were designed specifically for his PE teacher, French teacher, art teacher, and music teacher! I mean, c’mon! Music notes and French writing?? LOVE!

And here is how the completed project turned out! An apple is nice, but who wouldn’t love a jar full of M&Ms?!