Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Baking--Camper Style

Ingenuity.  I think you have to have it to survive living in such a small space.  We have to crate one of our dogs, Joey, during the day due to his severe separation anxiety.  The shelter had told us he was rescued from an animal hoarding situation.  He freaks if you leave him alone without the safety of his crate.  Fred, our other rescue, does great without the aid of the crate.  So, every morning, we put Joey in his crate with some toys, and go to work/school.  Breaking it down every night, just to have to put it up again during the day got old, fast, so I'm working with it.  I have limited counter space, so I put my chopping block on the top of the crate and have created an island work space.  Since I'm a midget 5'2", it's the perfect height for me to prep my meals. 


Mornings with kids are hectic regardless of where you live or what you live in.  Now that we are getting into a groove, I thought I'd prep breakfast for the week on Sunday night.  I made these yummy egg muffins.  Full of peppers, onions, ham and cheese, they were delicious.  My kids hated them, naturally.  It called for 8 eggs, which we have in abundance since we raise pastured chickens and eggs. But, I share this with you because I finally used my little oven!  It did great!  I did have to open the door to the camper because it got a bit smoky since the oven was set at 400 degrees. 
I also installed this magnetic knife bar because of the limited drawer and counter space.  I love it!!!!
No more major disasters in the camper since the flood.  Our slide out did leak during a particularly heavy rain, but my camping guru friend has shared how to fix the issue. 

Seriously blessed to have this life!

Monday, March 27, 2017

A Bit Soggy

Tuesday morning, I was flown into consciousness by hearing the middle girl vomiting.  Day 2 of a tummy bug and no laundry facilities. At 3:30 am I changed her pj's, washed her face, hair and teeth, and she slept soundly on the couch dog bed with Joey.  Off to work with Daddy she went.  I took all the laundry to a dry cleaner 2 blocks from my work.  They offer a wash, dry and fold service for $7/load.  When I brought in the soiled linens, Polly, the sweet lady behind the counter scrunched her nose up.  "We charge extra for barf." She says with a twinkle in her eye.  I profusely apologize, drop off the comforter and clothes.  It was ready for me when I left work the same day.  $27.  Ouch.  $20 to launder the comforter alone.  That's more than what I paid for it on clearance at Target.  Oh, well, what can I do?  I don't have time to sit in a laundry mat for hours watching it slowly dry. 

Tuesday night in the camper wasn't so bad.  We ate dinner, the kids watched a movie, little man took a bath, and I cleaned up.  That night was going to dip into the teens so we left the water dripping in the kitchen and bathroom.  We woke up Weds morning with water!  Hallelujah!  But no hot water.  Shannon had to take a shower at the house, 20 miles south.  Luckily, we hadn't closed on it yet and we still could use it.

Before Shannon left, he suggested we leave the water dripping in the sinks to prevent freezing because the high was only going to be 26.  Before I left, I put the dogs in their crates and the water dripping. 

I came home late that evening to a FLOOD.  The camper had flooded.  I escorted the dogs out, 2 by 2, and preceded to freak out.  My nerves were shot, and this was the icing on the cake.  Apparently, the gray tank had frozen, displacing the water dripping from the faucets.  The tub overflowed.  The same tub that held my little cherub the night before.  Why, tub, why, have you forsaken me?!?   We only have 5 towels in the camper, one for each of us, and I used them all.  That barely made a dent in the water.  I remembered that I had a box of towels in the back of the van I was going to donate to the local animal shelter.  I ran outside and used them all.  I called Shannon sobbing that I couldn't handle it any longer.  He was so calm, and just said these were growing pains and just little bumps in the road. Sure.  That just annoyed me even more.  How could he be so calm?  BECAUSE HE DIDN'T HAVE TO CLEAN UP THE FLOOD. That's why.

I piled all the wet, heavy towels outside and went to feed the livestock.  I called our dearest friends, and we ended up spending the night with them--in a real house.  It was luxurious to say the least.  I slept like a log.  The next day, I retrieved the now frozen towels, and took them back to Cook's Laundry Service.  Another $30 later, I have clean towels.  I ended up hoarding the extras in case of disaster again.  They live under Joey's bed couch.  Just in case there's other flood. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Hard Learned Lessons

I had this idea in my head of what it would be like living in a camper. Cramped, irritation oozing out of our pores. The concept of privacy going right out that little camper window. Shannon and I literally have to get dressed in the living room because there is no room in our bedroom to bend over and put on your jeans or underwear for that matter. But also, the idea of not tripping over endless toys and campfires and singing around the campfire. I do believe we will have great moments of triumph, but also know there are going to be times when we are ready to pull out our hair. Our first nights was the sort for pulling out hair.  The first week was HELL. I'm not exaggerating when I say this or put it in bold letters. It was horrible. We moved the camper to a local campground until the utilities on our land are up and running. It's important to have things such as water, septic and electricity. So we moved the camper. It had been winterized at Camping World where we bought it and we had been "living" in it while we were still at our farm. We basically played Uno in it and slept in it (the camper was parked in our driveway) since everything was in storage. We showered, cooked and watched TV at the house. So when we moved it off our property to the campground, it was on like Donkey Kong. We tried to remember what the guy had told us in his brisk walk through of how to operate and dump the various tanks for this and that at the dealership. We had to hook up water, electricity and the black pipe (for the gray and black tank) to septic. We had to slide out the bunk room and the living room. We needed to turn on the heat.  We needed to level the camper. We needed to survive. I was literally in survival mode. We got to work. Shannon hooked up the water. He hooked up the Electricity. No biggie! Right... We flushed the antifreeze from the pipes. All the water and such from the sinks and shower go into the gray tank. All poo and pee goes into the black tank. We also have a fresh water tank with a pump in case of severally cold weather (the tank are supposed to be well insulated to prevent freezing) and in case of camping without a water source. Shannon couldnt really remember how to turn on the hot water heater. Neither could I. He asked for the notebook where I frantically took notes. Taken during the quick run through by a fast talking West Virginian employed at Camping World. It's an oxymoron, I know. I told him where it was in the truck and he came back frustrated that he couldn't  find it. Typical. The kids are excited. They are jumping up and down rocking the camper. Shannon can't get the camper level. He says the jacks aren't supporting the weight of the camper on one side and they are buckling under the weight. So the camper is lopsided.  I call my friend from college who has been living in her camper for the last 18 months with her family of 5. She's the camping Ghandi. She's always calm, supportive and reassuring. She gives great tips and suggestions. She tells us how to turn on the hot water heater. As soon as she tells us the proverbial lightbulb goes off and we remember what the West Virginian said. Yes! That's it! Crisis adverted. Also how the jacks are supporting jacks and not leveling jacks. We will have to hook the camper back up to the truck to put the tires on blocks to level it. Maybe tomorrow.  I turn on the propane stove to start sautéing peppers and onions for our first camper made meal of steak fajitas. The flame isn't that excited. In fact, it's sad. I'm cooking the peppers and onions on a super low flame and when I'm almost ready to add the meat, the flame dies. That's what happens to flames when they're sad. They die. I call out to Shannon to switch over the propane tanks. I can't understand how we could be out of gas already. Did they fill them up like they said they would when we picked it up???  Shannon switches the tanks. They are both empty. Great. No steak fajitas tonight. Shannon says he'll go to the local grocery store and pick up a small tank made for grills and such so we can have dinner. I call in a pizza from Papa Johns because it's 7:30 and the kids are already complaining of dying from hunger.  I go into the bunk room and suggest they watch a movie on their TV so I can sort out setting up the camper. The TV and DVD don't turn on. Ok...I check the fuse box. Everything's fine. I look at the sink and think it would be a good idea to start washing dishes. I turn on the hot water and it's ice cold. I figure the hot water heater hasn't had enough time to heat of that big 6 gallon tank. I fill up a bowl of water and pop it in the microwave to heat up some water. Nada. The microwave isn't working. Ok...  It's at this time the kids come in from jumping around like Mexican Jumping Beans and tell me they need to put on their coats because they are cold. I realize that I, too, an a bit chillly. Huh. I have the heat on. I hear the hum of the air coming through the vents. I put my socked foot over the vent and I feel air. Cold air. What?!  I go outside to check the electric box to ensure we have the breakers on. Nope. They are all switched to the off position. I turn them on. I hear the kids cheer as their TV comes to life. I go in and see the lights to the microwave are on. So the battery for the camper can run lights but not the appliances and energy suckers. Got it. Also, I intelligently deduce that our furnace must run on gas. We had run the heat while living in the driveway all week. That's why we were all out. Sweet.  I warm up my water to wash dishes as I wait for Shannon to get back with pizza and gas. It's freezing in the camper.  I'm doing the dishes in my coat. Crazy. I walk to the bunk room to make sure my oldest has turned on the movie and I notice the hot water heater is leaking!  I grab a towel and hand tighten to knob. It stops. Thank God!  Shannon comes in with the pizza and goes outside to hook up the tank. As soon as he does, it gets warmer in the camper. Shannon comes in, eats a slice of pizza and goes out to fill up the fresh water tank. The kids scarf down the pizza, we get ready for bed and they watch their movie. Shannon comes in and asks about how long do I think it will take to fill the 50 gallon fresh water tank? I said about 20 mins or so. We stand around, delighted with the sudden warmth and a bit deflated by the set up obstacles. It's about 9:30 at this time. On a Sunday. We have to go to work in the morning and the kids have to go to school. After about 20 mins Shannon checks the levels of the tanks on the lighted indicator in the camper. Huh, he says. The fresh water tank is saying it's empty. But the gray and black tanks are nearly full. That's impossible! I say. Could there be a valve open on the fresh water tank and the water is literally going in and out? I ask. Shannon goes out to check. Nothing. So the tank is still "filling" and he sets to putting the panel over the hot water heater on. All of a sudden, we hear this alarm going off. It's one of the 3 detectors in the campers. It's the propane detector that's screaming at us. I hadn't turned off the eye of the stove when the flame went out. Now our camper was full of gas. Nice.  After 20 mins or so, Shannon goes out to check on this blasted tank. "Aimee! There's water pouring out everywhere!" He screams. I told you! I say with a smile and an edge of snarkiness. He gets furious and goes back out. I diligently follow and see the outdoor kitchen has flooded. Yellow water has filled the sink. Overflowing to the counters. I grab a towel from the bathroom and sop up the water. I also grab a pot and scoop out this strange yellow water. Why is it yellow?!  Huh.  Shannon and I are so frustrated, cold and tired at this point. He suggests we deal with it in the morning. With the temperatures dipping into the 20's that night, we decide to leave the water dripping in the kitchen and bathroom. We go to bed. I'm too angry and agitated to sleep so I text my college friend and tell her what has happened. She told me Shannon had hooked up the water to the outside gray tank which overflowed to the black (poopy) tank which backed up to our outdoor kitchen. Great. The outdoor kitchen is currently contaminated with all our pee and my middle daughter's poo. Awesome. That explains the yellow water. Gross.  As I lay there in bed processing the last few hours, I wake Shannon up to empty the gray tank. With the water dripping, the tank will just overflow to the kitchen again. Double gross. So he dutifully gets up, puts on a coat and shoes and goes to hook up the poopy pipe. I hear some noises coming from outside and wait for him to emerge. 5 mins later, he comes in and I ask how hard it was. He says it wasn't but he couldn't hook up the poopy pipe because we don't have the right attachments for the 50 ft poopy pipe so he just opened the valve and essentially fertilized the grass. Good enough for me. We slept pretty soundly. Until we heard our middle daughter call out "Mommy!" And the sound of vomit. Awesome. We don't have a washer and dryer. I pick up all the soiled linens and put them in the back of the van. Get the kids ready for the day, and Shannon takes the sick one to our business and I take the other ones to school. So, there you have it. Our first night in the camper sucked. It was horrible and stinky and contaminated with pee and feces, and vomit.  But we did it. And that was just the first night! 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

My Husband is a GENIUS!

I say this half jokingly.  My hubby is very bright, I like to think a bit brighter than bright, but when he came to me about 6 weeks ago and suggested we buy a camper to live in while we build our home, I thought he was an idiot.  I remember that I was at the sink cleaning up dinner dishes and he made this announcement.  "Hear me out before you say no."  I hate it when he prefaces ideas like this.  Then he dropped the bomb.  "What about buying a camper, living in it while we build the house, and that way, we put the money we'd pay in rent somewhere into an asset we can benefit from? We can have the camper paid for in 9 months and it's OURS.  We won't be paying someone else's mortgage.  We will have a place to vacation in for years."  I was silent.  I remember just looking at him, batting my eyes like a frog in a hail storm.  Then, I realized that what he was saying made sense.  So, we bought a camper.  We bought a nice camper.  So nice that it even has a leather couch, surround sound, and outdoor kitchen (with an additional fridge!) and bunk room for the kids.  If I'm going to live in something that will test my sobriety and sanity, it needs to be worth it. 

I thought I'd take you for a tour.  It took us several days to get it set up for occupancy, and I'm going to give you my honest reviews of living in a camper with 3 kids under the age of 7, 2 dogs, and keeping our sanity. 

Here we go!

 35.5 feet long... which equals less than  300 sq ft of living space.  We were excited to start our new adventure!

 Our little kitchen.  We call kitchens like this "one butt kitchens" because that's all that will fit. 2 drawers, 3 cabinets and a micro fridge.  It's taken a lot of adjustment to work in here, but we've done it!  I have to grocery shop weekly instead of every 2 weeks, and we have 2 big freezers at our business.  We've also set up a "pantry" of all our canned goods at the business for storage. I have to plan ahead on dinners.  Just last night I had to tell Shannon to bring home some chicken breasts and ketchup for dinner tonight.  Not a big adjustment, but an additional step for meal planning and prep. 

 Our living room.  The couch folds out to a bed and so does the kitchen table.  We haven't used them for such but the dogs enjoy the couch bed. 

 This is the kid's bunk room.  The two smaller kids pull out the futon and they sleep there.  There are no railings on the side of the bunks, and they don't want to sleep up there yet.  lol  So, every day, we make up the bed and that's where they saw logs.  The top bunk is used for storage and we've kept the plastic on the mattress so it doesn't get damaged. The green bin has toys, and the drawers hold the girl's clothes.  This is a slide out so we have to shuffle some stuff when we're traveling. 

 This is our oldest daughter's bed.  She loves to read and has her own reading light above her head.  Underneath, they have their TV and DVD player.  This is a God send when Shannon and I want to watch something and they can watch Trolls for the 538th time.  The cabinets underneath hold diapers for the little guy, and his clothes. 

 The "One Butt" bathroom.  It's small, but we have really utilized vertical space by incorporating the over door baskets.  They are now full.  You don't realize how much stuff you need for a family of 5 until you downsize.  The factory shower head was replaced with a water saving one we bought at Camping World.  We only have 6 gallons of hot water at a time, so this is a great upgrade I would recommend!
 The sales person was VERY excited to share that this is a real CERAMIC toilet.  I don't really know why that's so impressive.  lol  What is more impressive is the genius of Command Strips!  Those white baskets looking at you?  Command Strip baskets. AH-MAzing! Holds lots of goodies in there. 

 I bought a Command Strip hand towel bar to hand my hair dryer and curing iron basket on. I bought this awesome contraption at Target.  I also really like the door in the bathroom.  No, seriously.  It's genius.  If your kids are like mine, they go potty 90 times a day.  Not to mention a potty training toddler.  So, while they are out playing, they can go in and out all day long without going through the whole house.  I mean camper.  Also, if you want to check the weather while your doing your morning constitutional, open the door!  It's great I tell you!

Under the kitchen sink is a LARGE space for all your kitchen gadgets and such.  I ordered on Amazon the shelving with drawers on the left and the pot/skillet rack on the right.  Great space savers.  I went minimal when deciding what to bring.  And I can't live without my crock pot.  I do want to put a light in here though.  It's dark as a cave. 

This is our tiny pantry across from the bathroom.  Again, I ordered shelving, and have had to organize our needs.  No crazy bulk shopping for us any longer!  We buy what we need.  It's actually liberating. 

This is evidence that the dogs have a great life.  Fred and Joey sleep on their bed every night.  Rotten, I say.

So, that's the grand tour!  I'll do a separate post on our room, and other storage spaces.  It's not large by any means, but it will make you appreciate your master suites!