Who do you think won our “who laughs the loudest” contest?! I’m just glad we were all smiling at the end. We battled rain (with no real rain in the forecast), a forgotten camera battery (thankfully it was only a few blocks away in our car, whew!), a potty break and tree climbing boo-boo. But I thumbed through their photos and all I see is love. Sweet little moments and four people who love each other so much. I’m so thankful they rolled with the punches the evening threw at us like it was no big deal at all!!
Jane was only 2 when we had her first session. 9 years have gone by in a flash. She’s such a beautiful, bright girl. Happy birthday Jane!!
Sweet little Jay is already 9 months old. He was sooooo happy for his session this morning. The bottom black and white was an instant fave. I’m totally in love with the way he lights up looking at his momma.
We’ve received some really great questions about our decision to launch in to fulltime RV life and traveling with the kids. I thought we could start to answer a few of them here! The #1 most asked question is: How are you all going to fit in an RV?!?!
6 of us will be traveling regularly and Ty will visit us occasionally. We chose a 5th wheel RV. They are typically larger than your average travel trailer, have more headspace, more storage, etc. A 5th wheel is towed behind a heavy duty truck, meaning it is not a self contained motorhome that you drive. We looked at motorhomes but we didn’t feel they offered the storage space or safety for kids in carseats that we needed. We will trade in our Expedition for a heavy duty dually truck. We also own a Honda Pilot. It is very close to being paid off and we haven’t quite decided what to do with it. We may leave it with Ty as a second vehicle for him so that we can have use of it when we return to life in a house down the road. We may sell it so we don’t have the added expense of insurance, we just aren’t sure yet. No matter what, Jason is SUPER excited to get a big truck. Because we are a family of 6 +2 dogs, we will add what is called a Cowtown Sleeper on to the truck. This will give us additional seating so that we can all safely travel in one vehicle together with the dogs and not caravan. We want to be in one vehicle as we pass by the world’s biggest spool of yarn lol! 5th wheels are surprisingly roomy. Our home was 2100 square feet. The new RV is 430 square feet. A pretty significant downsize for a big family. I think most people are surprised when they see it – it has so many comforts of home. Some of our must haves when shopping included:
- A kingsize bed. A must since we will co-sleep with Zachary for quite awhile longer.
- A washer and dryer. 6 people create a crap ton of laundry. Especially 6 people who adventure (and use their shirts as napkins ::cough cough:: Jude) regularly. Plus cloth diaper. Neither of us has the desire to find laundry mats every couple of days. We upgraded from an all in one washer/dryer unit to a stackable that will live in the master bedroom cabinets.
- Space for the kids. The middle boys will get what is called the “mid bunk” in our RV. It’s a separate room in the middle of the floor plan. It comes with a couch, desk and wall of storage. We will remove the couch and install bunk beds for all 3 boys even though Zachary will co-sleep with us for quite a bit longer. It’ll be there when he’s ready. Taryn will have her own loft area and we will put a curtain up to give her some privacy. The couch in the living room folds out and Ty can stay there or we will put him up in a hotel when he visits. It’ll depend on the location.
- A living space that provides everyone a place to sit and room to play. This was definitely a must. Our trial run in a travel trailer with only one small love seat just didn’t cut it for our big family.
- A large residential size refrigerator. Being a food allergy family, traveling with food that is safe for our kids is super important to us. We don’t have the luxury of driving through fast food places on busy days. Food was a big challenge to overcome in making this leap – more on that soon! We also have a nice sized pantry. Another must for us.
- A shower and bathroom big enough to actually move in. The shower in the travel trailer we rented was tiny. If we are friends on facebook you may have gotten a good laugh (at my expense) when I shared about our public shower experience on our trail run. I made it public so you can read it but I’ll forewarn you that we were a hot mess. Big shower = must because my family cannot cope with shower stalls and quarters y’all.
- We sit and eat almost every single meal as a family. A table big enough for that isn’t standard with any RV but my super handy hubby is going to put his magic touch on it. I can’t wait to show you what he’s going to build! So excited! We will be set up to eat outside quite a bit as well.
- Lots of windows. And boy does the one we ordered fit the bill. I didn’t want to feel like I’m living in a box. We are traveling this beautiful country and I want to see it, even if I’m inside! Our model has tons of huge windows, I love that!
- Not a must but definite perks include a fireplace in the living room and an outdoor kitchen.
You can see photos here.
And take a virtual tour here.
I’m really excited to move in and put our own personal touch on it! It’s going to require so much organization and really narrowing down what we actually need, instead of all the things we want. Homeschool items, books, games, just a few toys, clothes, shoes, dishes will fill it up fast! Our plan is to LIVE outside, sleep inside. Of course we will have bad weather days where we need to hunker down and we will make it work with games, movies, etc. Or even a trip to the library. While there are spaces for 3 televisions in our RV, we opted to only leave 1 in and we will sell the others. So that’s our new RV. We can’t wait to get it from the dealer and start working on it to make some changes and customize it a bit! Ok, I’ll come back and answer more questions tomorrow! Including how we will manage food allergies on the road, healthcare on the road and more!
ps – Thank you for all the love, encouragement and support with our announcement yesterday. I was nervous to put it out there and our tribe showed up to love on us in a big way. Thank you!
Big changes. Our family is going through a major time of transition. God is moving us. Which requires a lot of faith, conquering fears, excitement, feeling overwhelmed, feeling adventurous. In our waiting, in the pain, God is working.
We’ve talked about it for years. Probably at least 4 years. We found ourselves in transition. We both felt the nudges. And it’s time to take a huge leap of faith….
We’ve been waiting for months to announce these changes for a variety of reasons but things are already in motion and we are so excited to finally be able to share our big news! Our family has been preparing to live and travel fulltime in an RV. It is something we wanted for many reasons, but the timing wasn’t ever right. Now it is. And we could not be more excited!
For those that are curious, I thought I’d share a bit about our “why”. The disease of busy has stolen our ability to slow down. To allow the beauty in life to let itself in and stay awhile. The simplicity in just being. Will we always have chaos? Yes, we have kids!
But what if busy isn’t the answer?
What if constantly taking on more isn’t the answer.
It certainly is making us happier.
What if we reset to a slower pace, to notice, observe, admire, absorb what the world around us has to offer?
I love my clients, I love what I do. I love IAPBP. I love homeschooling. I love cooking every meal for my family and keeping our home warm and well cared for. I love being a wife and mother. What I don’t love is not having any balance when it comes to all of those things. I struggle in choosing which of those things to be good at on any given day or moment. Working 80 hours a week during busy season, never feeling like I can give IAPBP enough of my attention, not meeting business goals, motherhood and desperately wanting to be a better wife to my really amazing husband. Oh the guilt of never being enough. Is going fulltime RV going to fix all that? Yes and no. It’ll reset our priorities. It’ll reset our financial situation so we can payoff debt by selling the house. Living a more simple life financially will take a lot of pressure off both of us. It’ll allow us time. Time to recover. Time to breathe. Time to experience. Because the truth is we want experiences to be more important to us than collecting stuff and maintaining a home. Taking care of the stuff is killing me. I often tell Jason my official mom title is “professional rearranger of other peoples stuff”. I’m so over all the stuff in our home. Stuff we collect that most definitely isn’t making us happier. It’s the opposite, it’s so stressful! I’m over not feeling like I’m enough. I want to connect with my family in a different way. One that’s right for us. I want to be more available to my children. Less connected digitally. I want to have time to nourish that which is so very important to me, instead of constantly giving them what’s leftover of me. My husband, my children, my businesses. Remove the stuff. Remove the big house. Remove the things that are distracting us from what we really love. Live simply. That’s what Jason and I crave. We no longer want to just survive, we want to live.
We started regularly camping 4 years ago. It’s been amazing for our family. Each trip has been a huge reset button for us. We all crave it. The time outdoors, the family time, the disconnect from electronics to reconnect with each other. Then we went on a trial run last fall in a travel trailer. It was…..hard. And interesting. It was uncomfortable. I was big pregnant. I was still sick all day, every day. And we chose the wrong RV for us. We learned a lot about what worked for us and what didn’t. Some things we thought we wanted we were totally wrong about. Some things we thought were important weren’t at all important. We learned. We tried it on. We wondered. We doubted. We dreamed about it some more.
We can’t leave Ty.
We love our jobs.
We love where we live.
We love our house, the layout, our view.
We love doing home renovations.
And Amazon Prime…
Giving up where we live and love, it’s a huge leap. For a long time, Ty was still in public school, then high school homeschool. That was a good reason to stay. We wanted another baby. Getting Zachary here took longer than we expected, 3 losses and struggling with fertility. We certainly never anticipated that it’d be through his birth that God would begin moving us.
Zachary’s birth was traumatic for us. I was fairly quickly diagnosed with postpartum depression. Severe PTSD followed. It was life changing, both conditions, not just for me, but our whole family. I haven’t told Zachary’s birth story yet, maybe I will someday. When the healing feels right. When saying it out loud helps more than it hurts. Right now, it’s too soon, I’m still very broken. We are all learning how to breathe again after being shaken so hard. I bring it as a whisper to this conversation because I need to say that our home became hard for me. And even with a lot of really kick ass EMDR therapy, over time we realized we couldn’t expect me to live and thrive in that space any more. I stuck it out, working hard through therapy, not wanting one really hard day to overshadow 10 years of beautiful moments in our home. I wanted to be stronger than that. I didn’t want the trauma to “win” especially since most of it occurred at the hospital. But then I realized there is strength in choosing to be in a new, healthy, space. And that makes it easier to let go of it. I wanted to be sure it was a healthy choice of letting go vs. running away, therapy and a lot of talking it out with Jason helped. I hear it’s common for those who have endured trauma to seek change, and that it’s a good, healthy, thing.
What about money?! How can you afford to travel full time?! This answer is different for everyone. We will both work on the road (although I will work much less than I do now). The short answer for us, we really can’t afford not to. We have had several major financial hits through the years, losing everything to Hurricane Katrina, Jude’s vaccine injury that cost us well over six figures, me being out of work with a foot injury for part of 2016 and then again for 6 unexpected months of recovery after Zachary’s birth this year. We spend a lot of money on food each month due to food allergies and chemical sensitivity. We have worked me in to the ground with running two businesses and homeschooling for years. Keeping up with the house, all the things in it, 2 cars, vacations, the stuff, it’s too much. We are paying for a lifestyle that’s draining and it’s wearing us down. Simplifying our life and expenses is needed at this point. Selling our home and cashing in on our equity, working our way out of debt, feeling that weight lift, will be huge. By significantly reducing our expenditures each month by no longer keeping up a large home and all the expenses that go with it, we will be able to afford to travel and pay off a huge chunk of debt while we are at it. For some fulltime families it costs the same amount to live in a home as it does to travel. That’s not the case for us and we are very thankful for the opportunity to simplify.
So what does this mean for…..
Ty. He’s 20 years old now and finished with school. He moved out a year ago and he’s about to take his national certification to be a licensed home inspector. He’s building a life here. It’s hard to say see ya soon. And we will. We plan to fly him out to see us at several destinations of his choice. We are buying an RV big enough to have room for him when he visits us. And we will do everything we can to still be together as often as we can and especially on holidays. We’ve budgeted to pay for his travel expenses to see us as often as he chooses and is able with his schedule.
Life in Motion. My photography business will remain open. I have sessions on the books in Austin through the end of 2017 and all will be completed before we hit the road fulltime. I absolutely love my clients, so many are like family, and it’s one of the hardest parts of this leap. I will miss y’all so much, I would not be who I am today without you. I will definitely be posting when we plan to roll through Austin so we can connect!
While on the road I will be taking on sessions while traveling. 2018 will include Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Utah. We will travel the East Coast in 2019. By the end of 2019 we will have hit every state except Hawaii and Alaska.
I will transition to an all inclusive price model for 2018 and 2019. You can view pricing for travel sessions here. Please feel free to email me for details if you’d like to book a session as we roll through your area. I’d be honored to photograph your family!
IAPBP. For years we have dreamed of us having more time to devote to the association. We have so many goals and this change means we will finally have the time to throw ourselves in. Big plans are already in motion and we are super excited to expand and devote more time and attention to improving IAPBP. It is our hope that our travels will help connect us with many of our members across the US.
The dogs. They are going with us. If traveling becomes too stressful for one or both we will reevaluate. But we feel confident they will both do well on the road.
Homeschooling. This will hopefully be an easy transition for us since we have been homeschooling for 5 years now (((say what?! Has it been that long?! Crazy pants!))). We will roadschool the kids. Focus on core subjects like math and language with books and learn the rest on the road. Integrating history, science, art, music, etc with our location is going to be a blast. They are each already knee deep in choosing states to plan our trips, where to stay, what to see and explore, etc. their research skills are working overtime and their history books will come alive as we travel across the country. Its been so interesting to see what they add to our experience wish list. Everything from snorkeling to riding in a hot air balloon, visiting an organic farm, whale watching and standing next to the Statue of Liberty. Their lists are amazing and we are already getting to know them in new ways just through planning. It’s an adventure of a lifetime but it comes with sacrifice. The sacrifice is the stuff. While it’s hard to let go of stuff, they are ready and really excited.
The house. Our house is currently under contract and we are set to close in September. We are living temporarily at my mom’s house next door to ours. Yay for not having to keep it show ready and living in it while on the market. We are thankful that it sold quickly to a really sweet family.
The stuff. We’ve already had two very large garage sales. It’s been freeing and emotional to get rid of things. We’ve spent so much time, energy and money filling our home with things I don’t even care about. I’ve spent so much time cleaning it all up, over and over and over. I want to put that energy from maintaining it all in to living. We will keep a storage unit of sentimental things, a few favorite pieces of furniture and we are letting the kids decide what they keep, store or sell. I’ve been impressed with how much they have been willing to let go of as we’ve worked through this process. I think giving them the power to decide helped a lot. Stuff is just stuff. It can be replaced. We cannot purchase a meaningful life. (The minimalists).
There isn’t one reason, there are a lot of reasons. Adventure. Feeling like we are LIVING this one life we’ve been granted. Freedom to move and explore. That freedom was taken from us for a time when Jude was very sick. If we traveled with him, he’d regress. He’s better and able to travel, and it’s something we don’t take for granted. Working through PPD and PTSD, knowing how hard that is, not wanting to waste that perspective that life is precious and valid and short. Too short to say someday. A more active, outdoor, lifestyle. It’ll be good for us financially and emotionally. Maybe we will love it. Maybe we won’t. But we won’t know if we don’t try. And thats something I really, really want to instill in my children…..
Try things on. Be brave. Seek adventure. See the world. See what’s beyond that lit screen. Step outside of your familiar. Even when it’s uncomfortable. Especially if it’s uncomfortable. Seek Gods will for your life. You might fail. You might succeed. Either way, you’ll learn something.
Our hope is that you’ll follow along on our journey, via this blog and on our Instagram account. We will be posting regular updates to both as we transition to being fulltime. I am very much looking forward to photographing our adventures across this beautiful country. We can’t wait to get started….
This little squish! We usually weigh him on Sunday mornings and I just had to grab a few photos of him on the scale. He’s so sweet at this age and his little personality is really shining through!
Jude asked me if I’d take a few photos of him with Zachary. Who was I to say no?!
A little while later Jonah received word the above photos went down. So he marched right on up to the bed and declared he needed some too! Zachary is seriously the most loved little boy!
And just a few of him by himself…
Backtracking a bit to May. Life has been busy and hard and just a million different things. But I’m hoping to catch up on blogging a bit before I explain it all. Z was 4 months old here. <3
So, what was supposed to be a short 2 month maternity leave for me had to turn in to a 5 month long maternity leave. Healing and recovery has been long but I am slowly returning to work again. This little dreamy guy – I mean really – could he be any cuter?! The Texas heat can be brutal, even at 7 am, but he did so great! Happy half birthday sweet baby Jay!
I’ve been incredibly blessed to get to photograph the birth of each of these beautiful children. And while a lot of us had boy vibes at the birth, it was still such a fun surprise to see a boy enter their family! He is quite the squish, weighing in at over 10 lbs. I was super excited that they asked me to do their newborn session as well and oh my goodness, this chubby baby boy was so fun to photograph. He’s absolutely adored by every single person in their family and I hope their gallery reflects just how much he’s loved.
I knew it was going to be a great session with the very first photos were smiley. This family has the best smiles! Big brother and sister were just the sweetest with their new baby brother. They loved on him so much and it was so sweet to see.