Jul 25, 2014

We bought a motorhome!

This post marks a big change for our family.  A time when dreams of RV living start to have a solid foundation of becoming a reality.  We are now actual owners of a motorhome.  This post is dedicated to the "Why now", the "How", and the "Why this one?" But first, a video tour, because videos are so much cooler than text, and let's be honest, that's what the majority of my readers want to see anyway.



Sweet.  So...  Why now?

Well, ultimately it boils down to our family wondering if this home is a safe place for our kids.  Now granted, Norco is an awesome place, and having a house that is hidden in a back yard that's not visible from the street, as well as having a closed yard with no access to the street has been a big plus.  Our landlady is really awesome and her son is sweet.  And the price of rent is right.  It's just that, well, the previous tenant smoked in this home, and it's just so-o-o hard for a home to recover.  We've got fans running full-time to circulate the air, we did a lot to fix the place up, scraping the ceiling, painting, replacing the carpet, etc.  I love the layout of this home, and I certainly don't mind the size.  Well, we left for a week and the air just sat.  When we came back, it smelled like someone had just smoked in the room.  We realized that no matter what we do, that smell is never going to really go away, and we worry about what the air will do for us and our kids.  Certainly we are in no imminent danger, but because of this situation, we started talking about an exit strategy.  We know we were really, REALLY lucky to find a place so affordable in Norco (we don't believe in coincidences, and we truly feel we were SUPPOSED to move here, even though we knew about the smoke issue before we moved in).  We know we would be hard pressed to find something better in a stick and bricks home.  There's also the elephant in the room, being the fact that I WANT TO LIVE IN AN RV.  This is a dream I have been chasing for some time now.  So what does a girl like that do when she wants to change her living environment?  She gets on Craigslist.  And it just so happens that I found a nice motorhome that fit the parameters I thought would be ideal for our family.  And it was a good price.  So I showed Michael, we contacted the seller, and a week later after taking care of financial arrangements, we brought it home.  We need to fix it up a bit, so we won't be moving in right away, but it's there in the driveway, clean but a bit dusty, waiting for us to make it uniquely ours.

HOW?

This one is a bit personal, but so many people have asked, I might as well be public about it, since that's what bloggers do and it's not a secret really.  So, Michael's first solar gig didn't work out so well for us, and we are transitioning into a new job.  Money has really never, ever been so tight for us.  Those in our close circles who know about this have been rather shocked that we would be capable of paying for a giant rig.  Someone even asked us if we are independently wealthy.   Ha!  No, but wouldn't that be nice?  The reason we were able to pay for it is actually very simple.  We drew money out of our Whole Life Insurance policy.  It's as simple as that.  We borrowed money from ourselves, from our future retirement fund to pay cash for a house.  And now we own our own home.  How cool is that?  Yes, we are taking a risk here because that life insurance policy has been our safety net financially, and now it's worth much less.  And we are in debt.  But on the other hand, owning a roof to put over our head is also a safety net.  We paid less for this motorhome than it is worth, so we are confident that if we needed to sell it, we would be able to get our money back.  Anyway, it's a risk we were willing to take.  People say that whole life insurance policies are a dumb investment, but we don't see it that way.  It has given us the freedom to be our own banker more than once, and that's a cool feeling.  This isn't the first time we have borrowed from our policy only to pay it back later.  We will pay ourselves back, and we will have that safety net to fall back on again when the time comes.  Newlyweds take note.

WHY THIS ONE?

 That's an interesting question.  When I first started my research into the RV world, I noticed that a large portion of full-time FAMILIES lived in 5th-wheels.  The benefits of this route is that they have the best lay-outs for multiple people, especially the toy haulers.  If the engine needs fixing, you can still have your home while the truck goes to the shop.  So we wanted one, and almost bought one earlier this Spring.  Ultimately we didn't go this route, simply because we would also have to buy a truck to pull it.

We also thought about doing a schoolie (converted school bus).  They are very durable, and were MADE to withstand roll-overs.  School buses are great for their structural integrity.  If you make your own, you can make it just how you want it.  It can be insulated like a real house.  There are some great conversions out there and we dreamed a bit.  However, they take SO MUCH WORK, and we don't have the time right now.  People who have made them tell us they love their rig, it is indeed exactly what they needed, but they would never do it again.  Just taking out the old seats is a real pain, then you're left with all of the wiring, plumbing, and building you would have in a regular house, only your margin of error when it comes to design is much smaller.

Then I read this great post:  Honey I bought an RV.  I reflected on how there are indeed many rigs from the '80's in great shape, they are just cheaper because they are simply old.  It's crazy how the difference between a beat-up piece of junk '80's motorhome and a relatively nice one is only a couple thousand dollars.  No matter how nice it is, the sheer fact that it's old drives the price down.  People with these rigs often just want to get rid of them.  Maybe it's the cause of some marital conflict.  Or the owner died and the kids don't want to pay taxes on it.  Or a myriad of other things.  The point is, there are a lot of nice rigs out there combined with the relative junk, and if you're willing to watch the market and be patient, you might get lucky.  That's what we did.  We bought a 1989, 40' bounder with only 4200 original miles on it, 47 hours on the generator, and the price was right.  Now, we are sure there will be things come up that will need to happen.  It's got the original tires so we need to replace those soon.  As there are no cracks or flat spots, it's not an emergency, but it needs to happen.  I'm sure there are brittle pipes that will break, and more of the like.  These things happen in old rigs.  But they will happen over time and even all upfront, they will happen and be fixed and our overall cost for a complete rig/motor setup is the least.  I wanted a motorhome from the '80s with low miles, and I got the best of both features.  Lucky me.  But then again, I don't believe in luck.  I know someone was looking out for us and I'm very grateful.

Pictures courtesy of the seller.



















Jun 13, 2014

Kids Reading Update


I made this video by way of a progress report to see where we are at right now.  My children are not the product of any one reading program, rather their abilities are the result of Glenn Doman's teachings in his book "How to Teach Your Baby to Read".

You can never have too many children's books.  Over the years we have collected reading materials from various companies as well.  You don't have to go all out like we have to be successful.  I'm just an early learning junkie.  :)  The following all contribute to their reading skills.  This is not a comprehensive list, nor do we faithfully follow any of these programs religiously.  They are just a good place to get your feet wet.  This list is not meant to intimidate or overwhelm, but rather to serve as a reference for those looking for reading materials ideal for babies/toddlers/preschoolers.  We also read a lot of books.

Little Reader
Your Baby Can Read
MonkiSee
TweedleWink
Preschool Prep (Meet the Sight Words. Great apps!)
Starfall (including physical copies of the beginning readers)
Reading Bear
Sparkabilities (not directly a reading program).
Word World (Edutainment, but a fun introduction to spelling and phonics)
Rusty and Rosy (great music!)
Peter Weatherall DVDs (mostly science)

We also have homemade materials we draw from, such as Flip-up Cards and Bits of Intelligence.
For my older kids, we are simply finding materials at their level and read with them.  Patrick and Helen still do their formal reading with me.  Helen's favorite book this year was "The White Sea Horse" by Helen Cresswell.  Peter reads on his own and I periodically check in with him, ask him about the story-line, who the characters are, and clarify anything that may be confusing.  His favorite book this year has been Charlotte's Web.
Early learning has really made regular school so much easier!

 By the way, I made the text portions of the video using VideoMakerFX

May 23, 2014

Top 5 reasons to visit the BrillKids website

Our family truly loves BrillKids.
I've mentioned before why I love Little Readerthe Deluxe materials, Little Musician, and Little Math.  But these products are only a part of my journey with the company as I have followed them through the years.  After the products, Here is my top 5 list for why you should check the website out.

1.  The Forum!

May 9, 2014

Graduating debt free

I stumbled across an article from the Deseret News this morning about how to graduate from college debt free.  This is one thing my husband and I have in common- we both graduated from college with absolutely no debt from college.  What a blessing this has been for us in our marriage!  Perhaps a post on how we both did it would be of use to others, so I share our stories not to boast but to offer a testimonial that it can indeed be done.

Feb 14, 2014

Going Small

Update:  We did move into the 640 sq ft home


My husband and I have gone through quite the journey together in our marriage.  Our first apartment was a small attic with two bedrooms with slanted slopes.  It was a smart choice for us as it was only $350 a month and it was close to the university where I had one more year of school.  The only problem was that for the first time in our lives, we came face to face with the need to deal with all of our stuff.  In addition to the generous wedding gifts we received necessary to starting a new home, we each had our own stash of collectables from our childhood.  By the end of that first year, neither of our parents had any of our possessions left in their homes.  Furthermore, we knew we would up-size soon so we started buying furniture when we found stuff we liked on thrift. It was starting to get very cramped.

Feb 4, 2014

We moved to California!

Part of why I haven't been blogging as much lately is because our family has been caught up in a whirlwind of moving.  I haven't done regular homeschooling for a few months.  My husband has new employment in the sales department for Solar City.  In December he came out early while we stayed to finish up choir concerts the kids were in and continue packing/thinning our things.  Then Michael came home for Christmas, we packed up, and on January 2nd we left.

View of our townhome complex and the winter wonderland we left behind.

Dec 16, 2013

How do you do it all?

People often look at my with my little brood of children and ask me how I do it all.
Simple. I don't. Ha!

My friend told me something interesting when I was telling her about how my kids don't have clothing in dressers anymore, just totes that I can quickly sort their laundry in by child. No folding, and it's easier than digging through laundry baskets of EVERYONE'S clothes because I used to put off sorting laundry. Now I get it done in a snap!

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