Our fifth wheel is here! Picture post

On Thursday this week we took possession of our trailer!  

  

We put it in an RV park halfway between our current apartment and the land we are in a contract on. Here is our first look at the big guy!

  

I think we got one of the best spots in the park. This is the view out the front door. There’s a wooden patio, a spot for a grill, and a grassy area shaded by six huge crepe myrtles. 

  

Our king sized bed!

  

The sink has these awesome sink covers so that when you’re not using the sink, it becomes one large counter. I discovered the genius of this the first day. Love it. 

  

We were very glad to get a freestanding table and chairs. They’re cute too! Our couch is right next to the table. 

  

This was a surprise. We thought this area would be a bench with a bookshelf and small cupboard above. Instead we got a 50″ TV, an electric fireplace and four large cabinets. I think it’s really nice! We will probably pull out the fireplace (hello? It’s summer in Texas. A fireplace is 110% useless). 

  

Two adorable little helpers on the couch. 

  

This was another surprise! This is the girls’ room. We thought this area was a bunk on top and a sleeper sofa under. Instead there is a third bed below, which is totally perfect. Emily, who is two, can sleep here instead of us having to move her rather large toddler bed into the space and figure out what to do with an extra sofa. 

 

Plus, we took the extra mattress off the third bunk and put it on the bunk on the other side, which made it thick enough to attach the bed safety device. Now Ellie can sleep there safely! She LOVES her bunk, too. The child loves caves and tents so this enclosed area is making her little heart so happy. 

We were going to spend a night or two there and then go back to the apartment and pack some more. But once we were out there we decided to just start living there and not go back and forth. 

I love it. I love it a lot more than I thought I would. It’s well designed, but somewhat poorly/cheaply built, so Andrew is already fixing things and improving stuff. I can see us living there for a few years, no problem. 

It’s definitely hard to pare down our belongings, but I recently read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, and it’s absolutely living up to its title. Her premise is that everything in your home should make you happy, or spark joy. So, category by category, you go through every one of your belongings and discard everything that does not spark joy. I’ve done clothing, books, and most of the paper. And also the girls’ toys. That was IMMENSELY helpful! Our clothes fit in the tiny closet and tiny drawers. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get to my kitchen stuff, so I’m trying to go through it as I move, which is kinda stressful. But I’ll get it! 

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Laser hair removal experience 

Words that describe me: hippie, urban farmer, low-maintenance. Not really the kind of person I would assume would want laser hair removal. But after my kids were born, having stubble on my legs triggered a strange overstimulated reaction. I was being touched like 90% of the time by my kids, and having irritating hair on my legs pushed my senses into overload. So I just quit shaving for like a year and a half. I didn’t love the way it looked but I hated the way stubble felt even more. 

I’d been eyeing laser hair removal on Groupon. One day when they were having a 30% off deal I jumped at it. I’ve had two lower leg treatments and I’m really happy so far. It takes about ten minutes per leg and, to me, doesn’t hurt any worse than professional waxing. But I’ve had two natural births so maybe my pain tolerance is on the high side. Here’s what my legs look like the day it’s done.  

  
I’m being very careful with sunscreen on my legs this summer as a result of the lasering. After a treatment the hair seems to grow a lot slower, and I think some of the hairs have stopped growing entirely. 

I’m pretty happy with my decision! Hopefully when all six treatments are done I won’t have to shave any more!  

Testing the land

In our contract on The Land, we have an option period. I don’t know if this is unique to Texas contracts, but for a certain price (ours was $150), the buyer gets a certain period of time (we asked for 10 days) wherein we can terminate the contract for any reason whatsoever. It’s a super nice feature of our contract. We can do whatever testing we want and visit the property as many times as we like in order to get the testing done. I mean, we can’t camp out there for a weekend, but we are allowed to take soil and water samples, dig some holes, test the fences, etc.

Here’s what’s important to us to test before we complete the option period.

Septic: This is hugely important. We are going to be far, far away from city services. The soil and land HAVE to be suitable for installing a septic system and leach field. Fortunately for us, The Land seems to have had people living on it in the recent past; there’s a disgusting old mobile home with water and electric nearby, and a 25×35′ concrete pad poured with water, electric, and some sort of septic system nearby. While we aren’t going to have a septic company come out and check the existing system for usability yet, we can be very confident that the land itself can handle our graywater and blackwater with the proper system installed.

Water: There is at least one well on the property; perhaps two. Andrew got water sample containers from North Texas Regional Laboratory. They do chemical and biological testing. There’s a very specific way to do all the testing and I’m sure he’s going to put up a YouTube vlog about it soon. He got the little jars, drove out to Paradise, got the water samples, put them on ice, and sped them back to Fort Worth all on the same day. And the testing came back clean! Yay! We have water!

Side note: I think our gasoline budget is about to skyrocket 😉

Soil: This is not going to be as important to complete in the first 10 days of the escrow period, but I am going to want to send some soil in to Texas A&M’s soil testing service in order to know how best to amend the soil. I already dug a hole and found that it’s quite a bit sandier than the incredibly dense clay soil we have in Arlington, so that’s going to be awfully nice.

Animals: There’s about 20-30 cows on The Land. Since we’re planning an agricultural operation, but aren’t familiar (like, at all) with raising big animals, we’d like to keep these particular low-maintenance cows on the land. We’ve learned that they belong to a friend of the current owner, so we will try to work out a deal with the owner of the cows to keep them on the land – and, more importantly, to keep the land under agricultural use exemption when it comes to property taxes. Eventually I’d like my own, similarly-sized herd, but moving an hour away and living in a trailer and all the change that will happen when plunging into country life is going to be enough to handle without also suddenly raising large, expensive (and tasty) animals!

That’s all I can think of for now. So far The Land is passing all its tests with flying colors. Really all we’re waiting on is our lender to finish their homework on us and on The Land. We were pre-approved before we hired our Realtor so we aren’t super worried.

And I have to give a huge kudos to my husband. Andrew is doing MOST of the legwork and traveling that we need to be doing right now. He’s in contact with the lender and our Realtor, he’s driving out there to do testing, and he’s on the phone a lot (which I HATE). I love him!

Contract executed!!!

Wow! Words are hard to come by on this fabulous day.

We have an executed contract on 46 acres of land in Paradise, Texas! I am SO excited! All the crap we have been through since October of 2013 has composted into some beautiful fertilizer. Our dreams are not dead; they are alive and well!

It just so happened that Andrew got word about the contract from our Realtor when I was at our church’s women’s conference. Even though I was attending with my sister-in-law, mother-in-law, and grandmother-in-law, I’d chosen to have lunch alone because I’m an introvert and needed some recharge time. Thus, when Andrew told me, I didn’t have anyone around to immediately share the news with. Even though I’m an introvert, I still have to tell SOMEONE when something momentous happens! Anyway, I was just walking around the church with this huge grin on my face, tearing up a little, soaking in the news.

Then I went back to my seat and found a bright pink envelope on it. Our church does this really cool thing for the women’s conference; they have a team of women who pray and read the Bible and write down short notes of encouragement. I believe they are all unique, and we had 4,000 women attending this conference. They seal them and put them on the chairs, asking the Lord to get the right note to the right person. They can be pretty generic, but sometimes they’re oddly specific. When I got to my chair and found mine, I wondered if I should open it right away, and I heard the Holy Spirit say “open it! open it!” I did. Here’s what I read.

I’m not someone who’s prone to cry a lot, but this sent me right from smiling and some tears to full-out laughing/crying so hard the lady a few seats over asked if I needed a hug. If I needed confirmation that we were doing the right thing, I GOT IT. This note is gonna be framed and hung in the trailer. God is SO GOOD.

(And we are scheduled to close on or around May 22!)

Red-letter day

Does it ever feel to you that you trudge along for a while and then all of a sudden you have one glorious, terrific, everything-comes-together kind of day? Today was that kind of day.

It didn’t really start out great. For the last couple of weeks Andrew has had very little paying work. We are learning to trust, one day at a time, and this was definitely an exercise in faith. March was one of our best months yet, and February was just about $100 better than March, so we were hoping and praying April would be another of the same. One-third of the way through the month, though, and there wasn’t much. And then last night something was acting weird, and this morning two clients called and said things were broken, so Andrew was kind of flustered on his way out the door.

Then, like, every one of his major clients had things for him to do today. He got his minimum number of hours for the week TODAY. He figured out the weird thing, and the broken things, and got a call from a minor client who wants to do a major building project. Like next week. They’re meeting to talk about Andrew’s proposal tomorrow.

And then, our wonderful CPA has been working on our taxes for a LONG time. GOD BLESS CPAS. All of them, but ours especially. Andrew has been a beast about saving money this year. He saved over 30% of our income for taxes. And today, after waiting on pins and needles to see how much we would owe in taxes, we owe about 12% of our income. Not 30.

Twelve.

We totally sent our CPA a nice gift basket as a thank you.

So, y’all, do the math; we have a lot more money for our down payment than we thought we would. It doesn’t mean we need to spend it all, but we are going to pursue an incredibly gorgeous piece of land we found, that we can now nearly certainly afford to buy. (Ag loans require at least 20% down; we would have no trouble with the monthly payment, but that big cash outlay has taken a long time to save up.)

And THEN, on top of all this business, and finding us in possession of more cash than we thought we had, we decided to max out my 2014 contribution to my IRA. We were saying it was a little disappointing to take money from the down payment fund to put towards retirement, but we agreed it was better for us in the long term. In the next hour, Andrew sold a super specific and random camera part on eBay. When he looked at his PayPal account, he saw that it was, within $100, the amount we needed to complete my full IRA contribution.

Plus the girls and I got to climb trees and play in the rain.   

I just have to say, prayer works. We had a thunderstorm last night which woke up most of the family. Since I was awake already, I prayed. I prayed as a daughter talking to her dad. I told God that although I would follow his lead in wherever we ended up, I love this certain property that we are pursuing. So please, if it’s the right one, could we have it. That was it. Then today when Andrew was having trouble, I prayed for him. I don’t spend hours on my knees entreating someone to listen. I just calm myself, say what needs to be said, say thank you, and I’m done.

So, thank you God. Thank you for this red-letter day, and thank you for teaching us to believe.