Sunday, June 30, 2013

What are we living in exactly?

OK, I get asked about the details of our living situation so I thought I would share:-). I don't know how long this will last but since June the 14th, 2013 we have been living in this pull behind camper. It is 30 ft. long by 8 ft. wide. read that correctly, 7 people including a baby are living in approximately 240 square feet of space! It is beyond hard, but we are keeping our eyes on our goal of building the farmhouse we have always wanted for our big family, on the 11 1/2 acres that the Lord has blessed us with in the hills of beautiful Southwest VA!

Our humble abode:-).

Our beautiful 11 1/2 acres of land! The kids are actually
playing in our future living room! The views
are beautiful and peaceful and we cannot wait
to live there! God is so good! 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A day in the Camper

Today I used the nearby laundromat for the first time... I must say, it was quite an experience as well as   inconvenient and expensive! My heart goes out to people who have to use one all the time. I overheard various conversations regarding disappointment over a trailer park in Christiansburg being demolished by the town and met a woman who visits the laundromat everyday due to her 87 year old mother's incontinence. This lady was unselfish enough to take the time to show me the ropes of using the laundromat while her 87 year old mother sat outside the laundromat door in a lawn chair. 

Upon returning from the laundromat with my clothing only partially dried (it costs $0.25 per 5 mins of dryer time!), it was time for lunch. My sweet 7 year old created this message out of his little crackers. As you might have guessed, This mommy's heart melted:-)

After lunch it was quiet time. Isaac did his math lesson while Mercy rested on the other side of the dining booth and you can see where Susie had her nap! My goodness, the pack'n play takes up a lot of space in the camper!
 James read to Grace on the camper couch out of our new Apologia Science textbook. Did I mention that we love Apologia science? It is the best I have found to hold the interest of my 3 elementary students and a huge plus that we can all do it together!

I wish I could say that nap time was always this peaceful in the camper, but as you might guess with 5 children trying to rest in the same room, I often  deal with fighting siblings and a screaming baby during naptime:-).  When we are all in the camper, it can get loud and when the kids are up and about, the entire camper rocks, literally.

I also want to share a link to my good friend Sarah Breinich 's blog. We have gone to church and purchased raw milk together for quite some time. The Breinich family is doing the exact same thing we are doing except they are renovating a cool retro airstream camper to live in while building their permanent home and purchasing land further out in the country to start an organic farm. So cool to have friends doing the same thing as our family at the same time!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Timeline and Testimony of Our Move

I have gotten so many questions regarding the details of our move that I decided to write a timeline and testimony of how God worked on our behalf to get our home sold and our dreamland purchased on which to build our family home. Praise be to God, for HE has done great things for us!

2003 ~ We purchased a cute, tiny townhouse in the town of Christiansburg and it was just perfect for the two of us!  I loved that it was next to a cow pasture. It's tiny size was just perfect for us until... we had a baby boy, and then another!

2005 ~ Though it was the height of the real state market, we moved out of our tiny newlywed townhouse and bought our house on Chinquapn Trail at a decent price because it needed lots of updating, there wasn't even a bathroom downstairs! We decided to overlook the fact that it didn't have air conditioning and interstate 81 practically roared through our backyard because it was so spacious inside and perfect for us at the time. We needed more space indoors as I had to be inside the majority of the day caring for our 2 baby boys ages 15 months and newborn. We loved it! We set to work remodeling it the way we wanted it and even though there was always more work that could be done, we made it look appealing and enjoyed living in it! I was so thrilled that I could have people over! We painted the nasty green shutters a deep red and then painted the yucky green garage doors white before setting to work on the interior. We did tons of painting and tearing out to open up the floor plan and put in a bathroom on the main level.

Despite all of it's problems indoors, this house had
awesome curb appeal! 
2006 ~  Daniel made a huge career decision not to stay with Vdot and took a job with English Construction in hopes of launching his engineering career faster. We rented our house out and then rented an apartment in Williamsburg, VA for one year so Daniel could be part of scheduling the construction of a new naval base in Portsmouth and a project in Richmond on I-64. While we were there, I gave birth inside the apartment to our first beautiful daughter, Grace.
This is the only pic I have of the apartment taken 5 years
later on a return trip to Williamsburg. It was tiny and had only
3 rooms total! A little tight for a family of 5! 
2007 ~ We moved with 3 children ages 3 and under to a small house in Bluefield that needed work for Daniel to pursue a business opportunity and to be close to family. It was nice being closer to family but both the business opportunity and the house turned out to be a financial disaster for our family. Praise God His mercies are new every morning! We lived very tight and spent a ton of money fixing up the house and are still praying for it to sell. We believe that God will redeem this for our family!

This was in our front yard in Bluefield.
2008 ~ We came back to our house in Christiansburg! Our 3 Children were then ages 4, 3, and 1.

2009 ~ Life goes on, and I give birth to our 4th child, Mercy. Her birth was so special because we deeply desired a big family and I had 2 disappointing miscarriages leading up to her pregnancy.

2010 ~ Our boys turn 6 and 5 years old and we start wanting, dreaming and praying for a yard for them. 

2011 ~ We looked at several foreclosure and bank owned options but there were always too many hoops to jump through and nothing ever worked out. There was a house and 5 acres near one of my best friends that we really loved but again, we just couldn't pay cash and bank loans were hard to get on foreclosed properties. 

2012 ~ More of the same! We continued to keep an eye on the market but never saw anything that suited us. We started the process of slowly getting our house ready to sell and packing things up when we find out that I am pregnant with #5. I get very ill during my pregnancies and needless to say all the house selling endeavors had to come to a halt while we traversed our way through another difficult pregnancy. Daniel invited a realtor connection of his to come look at our house to see about listing it but I ended up not having peace about the realtor or listing the house so we decided to hold off as much as I hated it. I knew I could wait as much as I didn't want to. I could tough out another summer pregnant without a backyard or air conditioning because I had done it before. At least I had a loud window unit in my bedroom! 

2013 ~ We visited my parents in January and they prayed over us about our housing situation and encouraged us to drive our family out to the area we would like to live and ask the Lord for some land there. When we returned home to VA, we did just that and all of us took turns praying while driving around in the area we wanted to live. In February, Daniel attended a Men's Encounter with our church and while he was gone, I started having peace about the timing being right for us to list our house. When Daniel got back he also felt that the timing seemed right. We got serious about getting the necessary work done on our house. I cleaned and packed while Daniel did lots of odd jobs and hired others to help. The date we hoped to be ready kept getting pushed farther and farther back and we felt more and more discouraged about all the work there was yet to be done!
Finally, in April my parents took the kids for a few days and we were able to make the final push to finish the work and get it listed! Before they left, we all walked the perimeter of the house and prayed for God to send a buyer while the kids were gone so I wouldn't have the stress of keeping the house clean for showings with 5 kids in it and having to load them all up and leave every time there was a showing.  God had mercy on me and  answered our prayers... we had a contract within 4 days!
In the meantime, Our realtor told us about a piece of land she had listed in the area we were hoping to live. We drove out to look at it and were amazed that it was the first piece of land we looked at that actually had everything we dreamed of.... 11 acres off the main road, no water to pose danger to our small children, woods for the boys to play in and get firewood, not too steep, with plenty of cleared land as well as beautiful views! Another bonus was how close it was to the best healthcare center in our area (1 mi.) and how quickly Daniel could access I-81 for all his work travels!  The land was out of our price range but we knew that if it was to be ours that God could lower the price despite our realtor telling us how wealthy and unmotivated the seller was!
We made a lowball offer and then countered back and forth with the seller until we ended up at 10k below asking price, exactly what we prayed for! We were thrilled and everything seemed to be smooth sailing. We made plans to close the land on the same day our old house was closing. We were beyond disappointed when our soil scientist conveyed to us that our land would not perk for a traditional septic system and the septic would end up costing 9K more than we thought. We knew that unless God performed a miracle, we would have to back out of the land purchase. Our realtor informed us that the seller was hard nosed and unwilling to negotiate much due to his prosperous financial state. Knowing that all things are possible with God, we decided to have our realtor present another offer to the seller anyway to come down another 10K. We knew it was a long shot but we also knew we would have to exercise our right to nullify the contract and be out of the $600 we had already paid the soil scientist if he chose to reject our offer. We prayed and tried to accept the fact that this land most likely wasn't going to work out for us and tried not to be devastated. We even talked of going to the beach for a week to de-stress and looked at houses for rent on craigslist to move into when we returned. A day or so later, we got another call from our realtor informing us that to her shock, the seller had agreed to come down yet another 10K! We were amazed and knew that it was the Lord at work on our behalf! Oh how he loves us! On June 14th, 2013 we were able to close on both properties.

Staking out the Rich home, So exciting! 

The Rich brothers will finally live on land! 

For God has done great things for us and we are filled with Joy! ~ Psalm 126:3

Monday, June 10, 2013

I met the Duggar Family!!!

If I have ever had a favorite TV show, it is definitely TLC's 19 kids and counting! I so admire Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar for truly living out what the bible say's about having children and allowing Him to plan their family size. I sometimes wish that I had more help and didn't have such tumultuous pregnancies so that I too could have a supersize family but apparently God has other plans for my life and I am ok with that:-). It was so fun to go to the VA homeschool convention this year with Daniel and baby Susanna (big thanks to Nana and Pops Rich for watching the oldest 4) and finally meet some modern day hero's of mine!

I met The little guys first and they were so cute! 
Jackson and Johanna Duggar
 The family was so nice to sign the book I bought for our kids. It was one of their favorite children's books "The Pinneapple Story". I had this book when I was a child and loved it.
John-David Duggar
 I got to talk to Jessa Duggar the most and she had lots of questions for me, She thought I looked really young to have 5 kids and that I just might have time to catch her mom! She is really beautiful in person.
Jessa Duggar

The Duggar family performing
 Michelle thought I might be young enough to catch her too and when I mentioned that I didn't have any twins, she reminded me that her good friend, Mrs. Bates had 19 single births! Jim Bob went to the bathroom so I didn't get to talk to him much but he did sign the kids' book and pose for a picture:-).  So fun meeting the Duggars', I am sure it will always be something to remember!
Michelle, myself and Jim Bob! 

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Delicious Mango Smoothie Recipe

This recipe is so delicious! I'm sure you all will love it. Isaac found it in his Clubhouse Jr. magazine and of course I had to take him to Kroger soon afterward to get the ingredients he needed to make it. He added way more of each ingredient to make enough for our whole family but you can adjust as needed. This original recipe makes one large smoothie.

1/2 c. frozen mango chunks
1/2 c. mango nectar
1/2 c. vanilla yogurt
2 teaspoons honey
ground cardamon (optional)

Blend in a blender until smooth, pour into a tall glass and sprinkle with cardamon. Yummy!

A few pics from our winter visit to GA!

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Christmas is Coming!

Rocking the Skinny Jeans

I remember when skinny jeans first came out. I thought they were the most ridiculous fad I had ever seen and thought for sure they wouldn't be around long. Boy was I wrong! They are everywhere and have been for several years! I ended up getting a couple cheap pairs for myself to wear with boots and my mom bought each of my girls a pair. I have seen lots of people in skinny jeans but Mercy rocks the skinny jeans like no one I have seen! Is she not the cutest? Her pre-school teachers just loved it when she wore her little skinny jeans. We all loved it! I am sad to say that she has now outgrown her adorable little pair of skinny jeans but before I packed them up, I just had to get a couple pictures of her in them so we can always remember:-). I love you Mercy and I will never forget how you looked in skinny jeans when you were 3! 

She is also wearing Isaac's Durango boots:-)