Four Months in, Let’s Catch up!

4 months! We have been a Fulltime RV family for 4 months!

There are still negatives and positives, just like life in a sticks and bricks home. However, I can 100% say……IT HAS BEEN WORTH IT.
There are days where I think “Oh my, what have we done?”. But, then I look and see my boys building lizards a little rock home together. I see my daughter learning to free dive. I have WAY more time with my husband. And that is what this entire adventure was all about.
FAMILY.

We have been busy making memories, exploring, workamping, and handling life’s challenges together. A few challenges we have encountered…..
Our truck broke down a month after we made it to Florida. It is no small fix. We had to purchase an entire new engine, and it is still in the shop thanks to parts being on back order. It should be done this next week though! With not having a vehicle, we relied on the amazing people we are camp hosting with. They have been the biggest support system we could have hoped for. If we needed groceries, they gave us a ride. If I just needed a breather, they took me to go get ice cream from the most amazing local, homemade, ice cream shop. Anything we needed, they gave a helping hand.
We needed our own means of transportation while in this waiting phase, so we purchased a little ‘08 Honda Civic off Facebook Marketplace to get us around. It has been a life saver! There was one drawback- it is a manual. I cannot drive a manual, but Jameson can, and he loves it. He has given me a few lessons, but my lack of patience takes over, and 3 peddles frustrates me! I’ve stalled that care more times than I care to admit.
Another challenge was a water leak in our slide out. At first, I almost went into freak out mode. But, since RV’s are cheaply made, they are cheaper to fix than a sticks and bricks house. We sealed up the window where water was getting in, fixed the floor that had some rot, and put down new flooring.
Both of these things would have left us in a complete financial mess if we had been living in a built home. I’m thankful we took this plunge, which has allowed us some financial freedom in this hyper inflated time!

We have been workamping at Alexander Springs in the Ocala National Forest here in Florida. For those of you that don’t know (like me, 5 months ago), workamping is where you work at the park you stay at. In return, you get a free site (no rent!) plus pay. This is SO SO helpful, especially for a family like ours, with 3 kids. Park rents are high right now, especially in Florida. You can end up paying anywhere from $600-$2500 a month depending on which park it is. And, many do not include utilities. We have been so lucky to find a place that includes everything, plus we have laundry on site.
Adventure Ocala is the management company that runs Alexander Springs (also Juniper Springs, Silver Glen Springs, Clearwater Lake, and Mill Dam). They paid for us to get lifeguard certified! This was so awesome for us, because it is a global certification, and we can take it anywhere!

During our free time, we have a mix of cleaning up (you would be surprised of the clutter you can accumulate in such a small space), run errands, and most importantly, explore. With our limited vehicle situation, we have stayed pretty local (within 2 hours) of where we are staying.
We spent a day exploring Saint Augustine and it was BEAUTIFUL.

Part of the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument

If you find yourself in Saint Augustine, make sure you visit the Castilla de San Marcos monument! You can feel the history in the air. It is gorgeous. You can also take a tour (which we did not have time for, sadly).
Take a stroll down St. George Street. It is a cobblestone street that is walking only, no cars! It is filled with places to eat, treats, music, shops, and so much more. It is definitely touristy, but if you are a tourist for the day, embrace it!
If you are looking for the beach, head over the Bridge of Lions to Anastasia Island. Depending on which end of the beach you end up, Saint Augustine has both white sand beaches and shell beaches. If you are looking to ride some waves, this is the place. Atlantic Ocean waves are much bigger than waves in the Gulf. We made some time to ride the waves on our boogie boards, and it was a blast!
Saint Augustine is known as the oldest city in America, and you can feel it around each corner and down every street. Every building looks historical, has beautiful architecture, and is filled with character. Definitely a must see!

We have become regulars to Ormond Beach, which is north of Daytona Beach and south of Saint Augustine. It is a smaller beach, which I call “Florida’s best kept secret”. It feels like a local beach, with hardly any high rise condos. You can park your 4 wheel drive vehicle on the beach and enjoy the waves, the sun, and the ice cream truck the passes by a few times a day. Parking in public parking (not on the beach) is free in Ormond Beach, and $25 for the day to park on the beach. There are tons of restaurants and stores! Right up the road is Tomoka State Park.
We choose Ormond, because we were not impressed with Daytona. It didn’t have the family feel we were looking for. It was extremely touristy, run down, and honestly…just had a weird vibe.

Ormond Beach

Central Florida has SO much to offer. There are tons of springs where you can paddle board, kayak, canoe, swim, snorkel, and scuba dive. Multiple springs have manatees, otters, tons of fish, and of course, gators! Here at Alexander Springs, we have lots of otters, gators, and bears. Yes, the Florida Black Bear. At first I was super nervous with so many things nearby that can kill us (lots of poisonous snakes too), but I grew some thicker skin. Bears and gators don’t bother you, unless you bother them. Black bears (here at least) are more scared of you than you are of them. Luckily, I have only seen one poisonous snake, a cottonmouth, and it was relocated. We do have the coral snake, which is deadly and there is no anti-venom. That makes me nervous, but we have not seen any yet (and I pray we don’t).
Central Florida really is like it’s own country. There are so many different species of animals and bugs Tennessee doesn’t have. We are in a forest, but by the ocean. It is crazy, and we absolutely love it.

Swimming at Alexander Springs

I’m not sure where we will end up next. We have a slight idea and plan, but still in the planning process for it, so I am not sharing yet 😉

4 months of living in a RV full time with 3 kids and 2 dogs, and I can honestly say, I do not regret it. I just wish we had done it sooner. There are things to adjust to, but if you have a positive attitude, it is no big deal. For us, our priorities of more family time, more experiences, and less stuff…. It made adjusting much easier. Experiences over stuff will always be my choice. Time with my kids, always my first choice. Time with my husband, whether working together or hanging out under our awning, always my first choice.
We only have one life, and I hope I never live it the way people expect me to, the way society tells me to, and the way we were living. I am so proud of us. And I am so excited for what is ahead 🙂

Have a happy day, friends 🙂

Stress, Wine, and Jesus.

I’m sitting here trying to figure out the best way to write this post. On one hand, I want to push/encourage. On the other, I’m terrified of being judged. However, I feel like it is something to share, so here I go.

Since being quarantined, stress greets me daily. Not only does it greet me, it likes to hang out for a while. In my previous post, I shared that I have been working on changing my perspective, which changes my attitude. And it definitely helps. Before I was changing my perspective though, I was going to a glass or two of wine. The kids would stress me out, I would pour a glass to “chill”. It became a daily habit without me even noticing.

Here’s where I want to address the people who will judge/be offended. I am not saying a glass of wine is wrong. I am not saying alcohol is the devil. What I am saying is this: relying daily on it to relieve stress is not healthy.

Continuing on.

I was having probably three glasses a night, every night. April 11th at 2:50am I was suddenly awake. I felt convicted. I felt God speaking to me, even in my tired state in the middle of the night.

“You cannot influence when you are influenced.”

*Big humble pill ready for Candice*

The biggest thing I am thankful for in my life is conviction. I would rather be convicted lovingly by God, than numb. I am so grateful that He still guides, teaches, and is oh so patient with me. I hope I never know what it is like to not have Him kindly instruct me.

3am, lying in bed, I repented. I do not want to rely on anything other than Jesus for my peace. I do not want to seek out something to take the edge off on the daily. Why? Because those things we rely on, become habits. Wine had become a habit. I would justify it in every way possible.
“I’m not getting wasted.”
“I’m still working my job, and being responsible.”
“Jesus turned water into wine. So.”
You name it, I thought it. And again, I’m not saying wine is wrong. Relying on it…. is.

Since that night, I have had no alcohol. The first couple days, I was an emotional mess and I could not figure out why. I wanted to cry about everything. Here’s the thing: alcohol is a masker. It masks things we don’t want to deal with. I could not figure out what I was masking, until it hit me in my very sober face.
STRESS.
I didn’t want to deal with the stress of my kids. The fighting, whining, complaining, etc. I just didn’t want to deal with it. I realized, I was neglecting actually raising my children *one more big humble pill*. Instead of tackling the stressful moments with listening, instructing, and helping them learn to be good, decent people… I was having wine and sending them to their rooms. I still send them to their rooms, but now it is with a discussion of right and wrong. I discipline with a prayer, helping them understand WHY we don’t act like that, and how we should treat each other.
I have only been a week with no alcohol, and I can assure you, I feel all the feels. I am aware when I am angry, when I am stressed, when I am happy, sad, confused, all the emotions. BUT, I now look at why I feel those things. What stresses me? What can I do instead of pouring a relaxing glass of wine? I have taken away my “go to” for stress and replaced it with new habits. Spending more time with Jesus, working out from home (Amazon Prime has some awesome workouts), stretching, reading. I procrastinate less. I’m much more aware of my children’s feelings and where they are at mentally.
I am not here just to keep them alive and meet their basic needs. I am here to make sure they grow up to be people who love the Lord, who are kind, compassionate, giving, and good little people. That is our job as parents.
I am in no way a perfect mom. I have snapped and yelled at my kids more times than I care to admit. But, I am a mom who always wants to be better. Each day is a new day. A new day to do better. A day where His mercy is new every single morning. And for that, I am beyond thankful.

Perhaps this is too early in my blog to be so vulnerable, but maybe it isn’t. I’m sure there is someone (hopefully) that can relate.

“But everything exposed by the light becomes visible–and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.” Ephesians 5:13

“Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” John 3:20-21

Is there something that you rely on for stress? Is there stuff that is kept hidden from friends or family that makes you feel shame/guilty? We are not meant to carry shame. We are meant to live in the Light. I love these verses that let us know, ANYTHING we bring into the Light, turns to Light. God can use the Light. How encouraging is that?! He loves for us to come to Him with all our dirty stuff, no matter how big or small, and not only help us, but use it for His good.

Good is good. He loves you. He hears you. And like a good Father, He will always help you 🙂