We bought a new RV – Cedar Falls, Iowa…

A few months ago, we decided we may be ready for a new RV. We were like that when we lived in houses, too. We’d buy one, fix it up, enjoy it for awhile…then we were ready to sell and go through that process again.

We set out looking at 5th wheel toy haulers with two bathrooms. We went to several dealerships and searched the internet for photos, videos, floor plans and information on every make and model we could find. After about a month of searching, we became fixated on the 2020 Keystone Fuzion 430. But we had not seen it in person, and it was hard to find as dealerships are now stocking 2021 models. We specifically liked the interior of the 2020, though, not the 2021.

You know we love renovating, but we felt we hit the jackpot finding an RV with woodwork a color we like and one without carpet.

When we got to Iowa, we saw there was a 2020 Keystone Fuzion 430 two hours from where we were. We drove over on Ryan’s birthday, and we found that it was all we hoped it’d be. We put a deposit on it and started actively trying to sell our RV. Eventually, after we’d moved on through Illinois and into Indiana, we reached a deal on buying and selling. We drove 8 1/2 hours back to Iowa, bought our new RV and moved in right there in the parking lot. It was pretty wild!

Saying goodbye to our first RV was a little hard and sad – bittersweet. It was a great home for the past year! It went with us through mountains, valleys, sunshine and snow in 28 different states! We loved our time in our first tiny home on wheels!

The day after moving into our new RV, we headed back to our spot in Indiana. We decided fixing up the garage would not be too hard to do while on the road, so we went ahead and did it.

We made the slanted portion of the garage floor flat, and we added peel and stick tile. We added storage furniture to hold all our kids clothes, and we added a sofa and storage for homeschool books, crafts, games and personal belongings. We love how it came together!

Two queen beds are raised to the ceiling during the day, giving us extra hang out space. And with the push of a button, we lower the beds at night. Right now, all of our girls except Bravely sleep here. Eventually, we’ll move Bravely in this room and have her and River sleep on the sofa. The girls are absolutely loving being together in their new room!

Manning is so excited to have his own little loft above the kitchen, and Rhythm is happy having the living room to himself.

We have a second bathroom with a sink and toilet, which has already been so nice to have!

We are settled in and all enjoying the space. It does feel quite a bit more spacious than our last RV, though we did really love our last RV.

The back deck is a great addition as well!

We are thankful for our new home on wheels, and we hope to have as many or more great memories in this one as we had in our last RV!

Ark Encounter – Williamstown, Kentucky…

We have been wanting to visit the Ark in Kentucky every since we first heard about it.

It was a great time for us to visit because kids ages 10 and under get in free during 2020. That was obviously a huge help for us as most of our kids got free tickets.

Driving up to the ark parking lot and then walking up to the ark was very cool. We were in awe of the magnitude of it.

The Ark Encounter features a full-size Noah’s Ark, built according to the dimensions given in the Bible.

We enjoyed walking around, seeing the way the ark was constructed and reading all about Noah’s ark.

We saw examples of where and how animals may have been kept on Noah’s ark. And we saw examples of possible food storage and even how waste may have been handled.

There was so much to see and read. We spent a good while walking through the ark.

After walking through the ark, we visited the gift shop. Many of our kids purchased gifts for a sibling whose name they drew for Christmas. We bought smoothies for the kids and coffee for us.

Jubilee had a strawberry smoothie. She immediately broke out in a rash. The rash persisted to get worse for the next two weeks. I messaged back and forth with our doctor. We are pretty sure that Jubilee is allergic to strawberries. She has had several unexplained rashes in the past, but never this bad. I don’t think she’s ever consumed as many strawberries in the past, though. We felt so bad for her that we let her pick five candies from the candy bucket to eat throughout the week.

After we left the gift shop, we got to do the coolest thing – see and pet kangaroos! We all absolutely loved this!

Then, our kids got to feed a camel!

Even River and Bravely fed the camel lettuce. So, so fun!

The kids petted goats, and we saw different animals as we walked around. We ended at a fun playground, where the kids ran around and played for awhile as the sun was setting.

We admired the bigness of the ark one last time before heading home. The Ark Encounter was a really neat experience, one I think we’ll all remember!

Celebrating Mercy’s 7th birthday – Pigeon Forge, Tennessee…

Today we celebrated Mercy’s 7th birthday!

Mercy started the morning playing a game with Jubilee and River.

Then, she rode with her daddy to choose some donuts for everyone for breakfast. She picked maple, chocolate with white cream filling, pink with sprinkles and a powdered donut with strawberry filling.

This is our first birthday to celebrate in the new RV (which I will post about soon).

Mercy asked for trick candles. I told her we didn’t have any. We were ALL surprised to find out that these were trick candles. She got her wish, and it was impossible to blow out these candles! Mercy had fun trying. Ha!

After breakfast, we read her what we’d written in her journal and she opened gifts. Her siblings gave her thoughtful souvenirs, which she absolutely loved. Her favorite gift was a fair trade rainbow sketchbook I picked up for her at the Creation Museum. Mercy has become quite the little artist, and she fills sketchbooks quickly with her drawings.

Mercy spent the morning playing with gifts and playing on the playground at our RV park. Then, she had the lunch she requested and so desperately wanted…Chicken & Stars soup. No joke! She loved every bite!

After lunch, we went swimming. It was 27 degrees here this morning, but it was sunny and in the 50’s by this afternoon. There is a heated pool and lazy river at our RV park. Mercy’s dream was to swim on her birthday, so she was one happy little chick!

This evening, we had pizza and told Mercy what each of us like about her. She came in our bed and watched Paw Patrol and Peppa Pig. We don’t watch much TV, so this was a special treat for her.

Mercy had a great, fun day, and we loved celebrating our girl!

Happy 7th birthday, Mercy Rain! 🌈

You are such a cute and fun daughter! You giggle often. You find so many things funny, and you love saying and doing funny things. You are laid back and easy-going most of the time. You are well-behaved and almost never get a consequence. You do speak your mind. You say what probably everybody else is thinking. You aren’t afraid to call something what it is, good or bad. I love it when you do one of your cute, funny dances. You have recently emerged as this amazing little artist. The pictures you draw blow me away! You are a really good friend to each of your siblings. You rotate around playing with youngest to oldest, a friend to all. You love fashion – dressing up, wearing clip-on earrings and doing your hair. You are athletic, and you enjoy most any outdoor activity. You are easy to parent. You add so much cuteness, laughter and fun to our family. I am so happy I get to be your mommy, and I love you so very much! 💕

The Gateway Arch and City Museum – St. Louis, Missouri…

It was just an hour and a half drive from our RV park in Springfield, Illinois to St. Louis, Missouri. So, we drove over for the day!

First, we stopped by The Gateway Arch to see if we could get tickets to ride the tram later that afternoon. Did you know that there is a tram inside of the arch that you can ride up to the top? We had no clue until we were researching the St. Louis area. We were able to get tickets, and we were looking forward to it!

From there, we drove over to City Museum. Manning had read about City Museum, and he thought it looked and sounded really fun.

The tickets were what we consider pricey, $28 per person. We paid the group rate, which was $23 per person. We do substantially less indoor, and we spend a lot less of our entertainment budget each month ever since COVID started. Therefore, we can afford to splurge a little here and there. We all found this splurge very worth it!

ALL of our kids had a blast! They loved the fun slides, and they especially had a blast in the skatepark area.

Pinball Hall was a lot of fun. None of our kids had ever played pinball, but they all enjoyed trying and learning. It took Ryan back to his childhood. I had to remind him to give his kids a turn. Haha!

The rooftop of the museum was really cool! We enjoyed big slides and a Ferris wheel ride.

The St. Louis City Museum made it into our top 3 favorite museum list, alongside Meow Wolf in Santa Fe, NM and the Selfie Museum in Denver, CO. We had such a good time!

We left the museum in a rush, as we had tickets to ride The Gateway Arch tram at 4:30 PM.

We arrived right on time. We went through a security check similar to an airport. Then, we excitedly awaited entering our tram carts.

Each cart holds five people, but they allowed six in each for us since two of ours could sit on laps. It truly felt like entering a time warp capsule!

We rode 630 feet up to the top. When we arrived, we looked out the windows. On one side of the arch, we saw the city of St. Louis, Missouri.

On the other side of the arch, we saw Illinois.

After looking for a bit, we made our way back down the arch. It was a very unique, fun experience! We loved exploring and playing at the City Museum and we loved our time at The Gateway Arch. It was one of those days that was an all-around great one!

Ten Abraham Lincolns for Halloween – Springfield, Illinois…

We moved from Iowa to Springfield, Illinois. Because of the snow, we got a later start than normal plus crossed time zones making it an hour later in Illinois. We arrived at our RV park after dark. It felt remote and a bit creepy. We had no clue the beauty that surrounded us until we awoke the next morning.

We decided to drive around to check out Springfield. I was captured by the beautiful fall leaves on the trees aligning the road that lead to our RV park.

While we were out, we drove by the Lincoln Library and Abraham Lincoln’s home. A few days later, we set out to explore all things Lincoln.

We parked near the Lincoln Library, put on our masks and walked in…only to find out that we were at the wrong library! Ha! The Lincoln Library is a public library. We were looking for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. It was just a few blocks away, so we walked over to it. It was closed, but the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum next door was open.

We decide to go, and we really enjoyed it! It was really neat to walk through what represented Lincoln’s boyhood home and ultimately walk through the White House representing his presidency.

Our kids learned a lot, and they were very saddened by the tragedy and loss Lincoln had to live through as well as the way his life ended. But they loved hearing, reading and learning about his life.

As we were leaving the museum, a man we had enjoyed talking with handed each of our kids a bag of candy for Halloween. And a woman gave them Lincoln hats, tattoos and stickers. Our kids were so excited! They enjoyed eating some candy as we walked from the museum to Lincoln’s home.

I don’t know if the home was closed because it was Saturday or because of COVID, but typically you can go inside. We got to walk the perimeter and see the exterior, though, which was really neat. This was the home where Lincoln, his wife and 9-month-old son lived prior to his presidency.

After visiting Abraham Lincoln’s home, we drove to the cemetery where he and his family are buried. We arrived too late to drive through the cemetery, but we could see the tall tower of a tomb sticking up in between the trees.

After experiencing all that rich history, we ended our Halloween evening with all ten of our kids dressed up as…guess who? Abraham Lincoln.

RV shopping, starting school and snow – West Des Moines, Iowa…

After our time in Branson, we headed to West Des Moines, Iowa.

You know that we typically plan to do something specific to each state, but we did not in Iowa.

We found the exact RV model we’d been looking at on the internet for over a month a couple hours from West Des Moines, so we were fixated on seeing it.

We ended up driving to see it twice. It was all we hoped it’d be in person. The second time, I took my tape measure and measured most every space I’d want or need to use for storage and furniture. I think the salesman thought I was crazy. Haha! I didn’t care. I was happy to collect all the important information.

We ended up making an offer and negotiating. We came to an agreement on price, so we put down a deposit. We like the 2020 model better than the 2021, so we wanted to stake claim on one of the handful left in the U.S. Once we sell our current RV, we’ll pick up our new toy hauler or have it delivered. We will be very thankful to have two bathrooms and a large bunk room for all our girls. And it will be fun to turn the garage space into a beautiful and functional room.

After celebrating Ryan and Cherish’s birthdays at the first of our week in Iowa, we finally started school! We typically start our school year soon after Labor Day. The mail has been very uncertain during Covid, though. We’ve had a couple packages go missing and some not make it in time to an RV park where we are staying. Therefore, we decided to have all our homeschool curriculum sent to my parents’ house. That worked well, but we weren’t able to pick it up until October.

The good thing about starting school late is that our kids were so ready! They are very motivated and are enjoying challenges and learning new things.

It was really cold, rainy and misty most of the time we were in Iowa. We enjoyed our week, nonetheless, and we woke up to snow on our last morning there!

Travel day is not the most ideal day for snow, but it was pretty and the roads were fine for driving.