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 🙂

Less Equals More

We did something crazy. Well, crazy when held to the standard of conventional American living.

We sold our house and almost all of our belongings, and we became a fulltime RV family!

Let’s rewind and give some backstory, shall we? I’ve been pretty restless for the past couple years. I grew up traveling, living in different places, doing different things. I LOVE to experience new things, and I only last so long staying in one place and doing the same thing everyday. Most of my life, I viewed this as a flaw in myself. I would pray and beg God to make me content and at peace with the ”normal” life I saw everyone living. It just didn’t happen. There were a few things I noticed God did shift in me. I was no longer trying to have some huge-boss-babe career. I was no longer interested in having a big house. I became content with less. In fact, I craved it. About a year ago, I started purging our house. I didn’t have a reason why other than I hated clutter and having things in closets we never used or wore. It is like therapy for me to take a load to Goodwill or the dump.
Looking back, I was preparing for this new season of our lives without having a clue. That makes me smile.

I spent all of last year feeling like I was in a weird life crisis. Looking at my life, it was great. My husband has a great job, I am now homeschooling my kids, we lived in a nice neighborhood. What is there to complain about? Don’t take my restlessness for ungratefulness. I was extremely thankful for all that we had. I was thankful for our home, I was thankful for the opportunity to homeschool, and I was thankful for my husband and his robot work ethic. It wasn’t that I was ungrateful, it was more of a shift in my heart. I wanted my kids to see more of the world and less of their video games. I wanted to make memories as a family and not be so exhausted from our days. I wanted my husband to actually be able to do things he enjoyed instead of working for the weekend just to catch up on sleep. Our lives were in a zombie routine mode and it was fine, but not really living. We were just doing everything we were ”supposed” to. So I started to pray. Months of prayer, months of laying down my desires and plans, and asking God to fill my heart with His desires and plans. That’s where the shift happened. Slowly, but surely, a shift and desire for something I didn’t quite expect.

It was the beginning of February of this year, so a month and a half ago, and I told my husband, ”If the house behind us sells for what they are asking, we need to get our’s on the market”. It sold within a day.
We began tossing around ideas. We could sell our house, but the market is so insane, we couldn’t buy back into anything we would like. Plus, we didn’t want to stay in our town. We had felt that our time in that town had been coming to a close for a while. So we just started brainstorming. Honestly, we didn’t brainstorm too long. The idea of selling it all and living in a camper was pretty quick on our list. But it was just an idea.

How crazy would that be?” I probably said that to my husband at least 50 times just to hear him tell me it wasn’t crazy and we should do it.

Fast forward two weeks, I have spent 10 consecutive days painting doors, baseboards, trim, and walls from the moment I woke up until the moment I went to sleep. Before our house was even on the market, it was sold. We received an offer above asking and they waived inspection. If you have ever worked in real estate, or if you have sold a house, you know the inspection can be the tricky part. It has the potential to break the deal, or it can add on an expensive list of fixes that you didn’t even know needed fixing. Our house is older, we have taken good care of it, but it still causes anxiety. Thankfully, we didn’t have to deal with that (praise).

I’ll spare you the daily details of dump runs, thrift store runs, selling things, a few days of pure panic wondering if the deal was going to fall through, finding a camper, finding a person selling the camper who would be open to waiting until we closed on our house, and exhaustion. It was a fast three weeks with every single emotion you can imagine. A rollercoaster would not give it justice.

Now, here we are. We are in a 33 foot travel trailer with our three kids, two dogs, at a campground by the river. Some may hear that and think it sounds absolutely miserable. We love it. Let me give you a few reasons of why we did this, and why we love it.

  1. We wanted freedom. We wanted to be debt free, we wanted the freedom to travel, freedom to move, freedom to have adventures with our kids while they still want to. FREEDOM is the biggest and only reason. It can explain our ”why” with our kids, our finances, all of it.
  2. We love it because it is simple. It is a simple life. My kids play outside almost all day, and have made new friends. They aren’t begging to play video games or fighting over a TV. It is less space to clean, less things to take care of, and more time for family time. We make a fire almost every night and sit and talk together, we cook together. It has only been a week, and we have done more together as a family than we have since the beginning of the year.
  3. Fulltime people are our people. It is a community. Our first day here, neighbors parked around us helped us get hooked up, leveled, and everything needed to park the camper. We are new to this and weren’t fully confident in everything. Fulltimers came to the rescue and have helped us and taught us. Within our first few days, one of our neighbors made this amazing Cuban dinner (authentic by the way, he is Cuban and from Miami), and fed my hubby while I was grocery shopping. It is the epitome of community in all the best ways.

Many people have said “Wait until the new wears off, it won’t be fun anymore”, or “Why would you do that with three kids?”. For a minute, I questioned myself again, wondering what is wrong with me to want this and not the stability they all live and love? But then I realized something, God made us all to be different. He made us to be unique, have different passions, talents, desires, personalities. We are not all the same, and that is AMAZING. Maybe down the road we will be over it and learn this life isn’t for us anymore, and that is okay! But the best part is this, we get to figure that out as a family. We get to make the memories along the way. We may look back and say ”Hey, remember when we lived in an RV? That was nuts.”, or we may love it so much, we keep it up for a while and don’t look back. I have no idea. A few months ago, I didn’t even know this would be our life right now, so how am I to know what’s ahead? Quite frankly, that’s my favorite part. Not knowing, following God’s lead, and taking it one day at a time. What a life!

Obviously, I will be updating our adventures here on this blog. Henley Happenings is actually the perfect name for it too. That also makes me smile. If you pray, pray for our family and our travels. Pray for safety, direction, and also a fun time 😉

If you are a Fulltime Family, I hope we see you on the road! 🙂

Free To Pivot

I had all but abandoned this blog. Life took a few ups, downs, and sharp turns in the past year. I look back at my previous posts and it is almost hard to picture myself back there, even though it wasn’t that long ago.

I am no longer selling real estate. I don’t have much explanation besides, I did not like it. It was exhausting working hours and hours only to pray and hope we would make it to the closing table. I think there are some people who are built for the tough sales life, then there are people like me who get anxiety and loss of sleep. So I retired my license.
I was looking to reset my priorities. I wanted more time with my kids. They are getting older, and I started seeing the seriousness of focusing on the people they are becoming. That is always important, but I felt a deeper concern and need to focus on raising them instead of focusing on a career.
I took a little assistant job at their school. The pay was basically nothing, but I would be on their schedule. That is what I wanted. To be involved, home for Christmas break and summers. Perfect, so I thought.

I look back now, and I see how it was completely God that allowed me to experience that job, and experience being in their school. This is not to completely bash the public school system, but I would not know what I know if I had not worked there. My eyes were opened to the abuse teachers go through, the anxiety these young kids have, and how nothing is operating how it used to. I was spoken to like a dog by kids I was trying to help, but the administration could do nothing. My daughter was punished for trying, while kids who have done no work were rewarded. I will leave it at that. Details are not necessary because the point is not how awful it was, but rather, God allowed me to see with my own eyes so I could take the step He wanted me to take.
For the past few years, I have been so focused on my career and trying to build something of value, that I ignored my kids when they were having a hard time at school. I told them key principles like “be a good friend, listen to your teacher, be respectful, be kind…”. But I didn’t truly understand their mental and emotional struggles until I was there for myself and saw with my own eyes.

Side note: God knows us so well, better than we know ourselves. He knows I am the type of person who has to experience things for myself to know for a fact it is not the path or the way. Had I not been in my kids’ school and experienced first hand the downfalls of the system, the struggles of my kids, I would not have made the bold choice I recently made.

I quit the assisting job, and I pulled my daughter from public school to be homeschooled. My meeting with the principal went better than expected. I intended to finish out the year, but some things happened, and I felt this pull to not return after Christmas break. I basically gave her a couple days notice before break. I felt awful. I just knew she would be upset with me. I truly believe that because I listened to that “pull”, I was not met with anger, but with favor and grace. The principal smiled at me, told me she completely understood, to do what is best for my kids and my family. She all but said “DO IT!” I was blown away. I finished out the week, ordered my daughter’s books, and got her all set to begin the second semester at home.
It took some prayer and thinking, but I decided to let my two youngest finish out the year at public school. They are young and are both having a good year. My daughter has struggled the most, so I think this will be a very key and important time for just the two of us together. I do plan to homeschool all three next year.

If I were an outsider looking in, I would think I was unstable haha. The total pivots and shifts in my career, my priorities, choices, I look all over the place. Truthfully, I went through a short period of thinking this about myself. I felt embarrassed. I look around and most moms have it together. They are consistent in their choice. They work and keep at it, or they stay home and have no intent to work. I am a trial and error person. However, God’s grace is the most beautiful and overwhelming gift we could ever hope for. He comforted my heart and met me in ways I never expected over this. He gave me a new found confidence in Him rather than what people may think.

Who really cares anyways?

His direction is far more important than what people think. My obedience to His gentle nudges is greatly more rewarding than doing things for the approval of others. We are FREE to try and fail. We are FREE to get up again, seek God’s plan, and completely change directions. How wonderful is that? We are FREE to pivot.

My hope and prayer for this year is grow closer to the Lord and hear His voice and direction more clearly. I want to grow closer with my children, and help them grow closer to the Lord. I want my family to be open to anything God has in store for us. I want us to be content with simple living and being unpopular. And honestly, I want to eventually get back to living in the country and have some chickens and a garden again ;).

Happy 2022! It is a new year, and despite a pandemic, God can do absolutely anything. Be open to change, be open to correction, and be open to new seasons.

🙂

Quarantine Real Talk

January 1st 2020: I remember the hope (to be dramatic), the newness, the potential. Oh the plans we made for the year. The goals, dreams, travels, etc. The possibilities were endless.

March something 2020: stuck. at. home. Worldwide pandemic with stay at home orders. School cancelled.

April 14th, 2020: still at home, like the rest of the world.

I wish I could say that I have taken this time to nail down a new hobby, organize my house, have all of the laundry done, and flawlessly be a Pinterest mom. However, that is not my story.

Bless those precious teachers when they teach my children day in and day out. Bless. Them.

Please know, I have had multiple breakdowns. I’ve cried sitting at my desk while working because I am overwhelmed. I have cried at the table when my kids were stir crazy and wouldn’t just sit down. I cried thinking about how many times I have snapped at my kids because I am stressed. But then….I was tired of thinking about ME and MY complaints.

  • I may have cried sitting at my desk = I still have a job
  • I cried when my kids were hyper = My kids are happy and safe at home
  • I cried feeling like a failure as a mom = I can show an example of how to apologize and show I am human also.
  • I’m stressed because my husband is gone at work and everything is on me = We still have two incomes when many people have zero income in this time.
  • I have piles of laundry and dirty dishes = My family has clothes to wear and food to eat

Changing my perspective changed my attitude. Please don’t misunderstand me, I am sure to have more breakdowns. However, taking a minute to re-evaluate, adjust my heart, and be thankful changes how I react to stress. It is a choice. Definitely does not come naturally, but I would rather choose thankfulness in the midst of chaos than be a complaining ball of stress.

Happy quarantining, folks… we got this.

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Coffee and laundry forever loyal