This is destiny.

This post will be a segue topic but I promise we will get back our usual programing in up coming days.

 

I met Ethan on the eve of my 17th birthday. We talked about what we wanted out of life and some of the avenues in order to get there. From that night on I’ve not ceased to be amazed or impressed by my husband. Whether it was the days he lived in bike shorts  or the years he spent working and going to school full time or those early months in the military, he has always been amazing. Dedicated is a word I would use to describe him along with loyal, generous, intelligent and loving but more than any illustrative definition Ethan is my soulmate. It’s cliché but I know in the depths of my being that had I settled I never would have reached my full potential. You see, Ethan being my soulmate is self betterment as much as it is love. He pushes me and drives me to be the best mother, wife, daughter and Christian that I can be. I care deeply about his opinion and there are very few things I could recall where he was wrong. I write this, in a public blog, both to honor him and reflect. This month Ethan and I will celebrate 8 years of marriage. Honestly, not many people thought we would get this far. We have though and when I look into his eyes I still see that boy with the crazy curly hair and a love for spandex cycling shorts.

 

With our centenary approaching we were excited to have a few dates while his family was in town. What do skoolie people do on dates? Go to Ikea. You guys I’m not sure how we did it but we only bought a high chair and some toys. I kid you not. When we weren’t looking at particle board furniture we were eating. For me going out to eat can be both a challenge  and a disappointment. Most restaurants do not have a vegan option and we they do it could be little more than a side salad. Thankfully we found an astounding, purely vegan restaurant in downtown Kansas City, Mo. Füd was delicious and we highly recommend it to both herbivores and omnivores. If vegan isn’t something you’re into how about a date to Manhattan, Ks and have yourself a Chipotle bowl. Seriously, our dates mostly consisted of eating and window shopping. Ethan is a good sport. All that time wasn’t spent eating in silence though, there is no topic as interesting to discuss as skoolie ideas. I’m not sure that our visiting family will ever know how helpful it was for Ethan and I to have some uninterrupted bus talks while they watched all 5 of the kidoes.

 

 

 

Now with a much treasured reprieve we are ready to hit the ground running but not with out the proper warm weather gear. My husband is very much entertained by the fact that I’m wearing a vest. I ribbed him and our buddy Wade at every opportunity over their matching vests because I thought they were useless. I have been converted and see the practicality of a core warmer. The coveralls are both sexy and functional. No longer will we be freezing our buns off in our heat suck shell of a bus. The added adorable factor that we are matching has not been lost on me.2017011495132124.jpg

 

Ultimately the best thing about me is you, Ethan Tingle. Thank you for going on this journey with me.

 

Our universe grants every soul a twin—a reflection of themselves—the kindred spirit – And no matter where they are or how far away they are from each other—even if they are in different dimensions, they will always find one another. This is destiny; this is love.
Julie Dillon

 

 

 

2017, here we come.

Had you told me January of 2016 that by April I would have a bus and that I’d  be beginning an adventure I would have believed you. Seriously, not much could surprise me but I will say the slow roll of our build has got me down every so often. I’m one of those ‘do it now and go all out’ kinda people so the prolonged action has deflated my bus bubble at times. 2017, that’s our year to really get our dreams rolling, hopefully literally as the engine is near completion.

Speaking of the engine, I can’t believe the fiasco that we have had with trying to repair it. Lots of learning has been accomplished but at what cost? You can’t live off dreams alone and for a short moment our bus dreams seemed dashed. Though the engine is now under way you never know what could be next. I can’t dwell on the unknown or I’ll tail spin into an often relished pity party. As frustrating as the engine has been this winter waste land of progress is a close second. It’s too cold to insulate and it’s honestly to cold to finish the welding that is prep for the insulation. 

With the winter keeping us down on the physical aspect of completing our bus we now turn inward to the mental excitement and sometimes anguish of budgeting our time and money. For a moment imagine you have 5 kids, a mortgage, car note,  motorcycle note, electric bill, ext. and then you say to yourself ” Why not leave all this behind (minus the kids) and move into 250 sqft on wheels.”. The reality of that sometimes can knock the wind out of me. I look at our budget and then I realized making it work now will save me years of making it work in the future. That $40+ water bill will one day be a museum outing or some of a plane ticket. The hard work now both on Exodus and about Exodus is investing in our future. She may not be a 401k but she is a means to a very specific end. Sustainability.

I’ll be posting in the next few days a spread sheet that shows our costs so far and will update it as work is done and things are being purchased. Along with the fiscal I’ll also be doing a physical time line, an accountability list if you will. Not that I expect any of you to call us out but I hope is gives us extra incentive to be intentional with out time frame. 

Success!

This is the fan that needed to be removed. FOR MONTHS my amazing husband has tried without prevailing to remove this fan so that he could get to the oil leak behind it. Funny enough all we need was the best friend in all the world, Wade.


These video show the first day of trying everything we could think of to pry this darn fan from it’s hold not only on Exodus but also on our progress.

wp-image-580536531jpg.jpeg

My guys deep in conversation trying to decide the next rout. If they couldn’t  get the fan off we would have to find a traveling diesel mechanic hopefully willing to do us solid with our draining our bus reserve.
wp-image-426459363jpg.jpegBus mess, bus mess, bussy bussy bussy mess 🙂 don’t worry this was rectified  ❤

wp-image-1358623802jpg.jpegDay two and still nothing. These men would not accept  defeat.

20161211_141520.jpgThis, this is complete and utter relief. No longer are we worried about finiding a mithical mechanic of the vagabond variety. We have accomplished what had begun to look futile! Victory!!!!

wp-image-770103243jpg.jpegIt wasn’t all bus and game though, these two never miss an opportunity  to bromance, hince the matching vests……

wp-1481561621141The rectification of the mess and it has once again become a place of excitement. Our reservations nullified we are now moving on with restored resolve.

20161210_082837THANK YOU WADE!!!!!

 

What are friends for?

We all have those friends that are virtual, the friends from high school who we never see and then there are friends that melt into your daily life and thoughts. Those are the people you can’t  quantify their importance, the ones you  enjoy doing life with.

Exodus has had little improvement over the last month or two due to the oil leak and a fan that Ethan just couldn’t get removed. Trying and trying without avail had made the perfect storm of procrastination and disappointment. There is one person who always  re- ignite’s the flame in my husband fix-it fire and it’s not me. That person is Wade  Mendenhall. When the two of them get together it’s bromance and youtube. I love seeing them work on projects and really enjoying one another’s company. So, Wade has come for the weekend to get Exodus and us a helping hand.

Pictures  to come and hopefully I’ll do justice to the man who has always been there when we needed him, including watching 4 kids while I was giving birth to our 5th, and who we genuinely love.

What we have been up to. 

Ethan and one of his awesome videos!

Back yard bonfires 

Insulation be gone.

Making things in order to make things. 

The above are just a few pics from our instagram @exodusskoolie.

The future is promising with the much anticipated arrival of our dear friend Wade, getting the engine repaired and beginning the window removal for the back half of Exodus. I’ll be better at updating out progress and will most likely be sprinkling in some family/homeschool post along the way :). Thanks for taking the journey with us!

Never renovate a house with your spouse or you will get divorced.

I’ve been with my husband since the eve of my 17th birthday. That is 8 years of ups and downs, triumph and failures. Could this bus really be the demise of a relationship that has withstood 5 children, a realtionship that started with two very naive teenagers?

We have all heard it. Never, and they mean never, renovate or build a home with your spouse. If you do, it will be the cataclysmic pinnacle of your existence leading only down the path of inevitable separation from your beloved. Okay, that was a bit of an exaggeration but you understand what I am saying. Why is it that so many relationships are ended during the process of giving life to an idea? I honestly have no answer to that question. This bus, this idea, has solidified my marriage. When I told my husband I wanted to lay aside this life he has built, the home he has bought, for a bus he was obliging. Ethan didn’t look at me with discontent eyes and tell me all the things that could go wrong. He held my dream in his hand and with his blessing gave it life. In that moment I was never more vulnerable nor have I felt so loved.

Money. Most phycologists will tell you that the culminating  factor between divorce and renovations is money. I would be lying if I said that an argument about money has never graced the threshold of my abode. It has, on more occasions than I would like to admit. Is overhauling a metal tube almost the width of a basket ball court expensive? Simple answer, yes. How do we overcome this hurtle? By communicating till our faces are blue. I couldn’t tell you how many times Ethan and I have gone over the game plan. From what is the next step in the reno to what is will cost. Over and over we go. Cycle after cycle of how and how much. There have been surprise expenses and unbelievable savings but it contributes to the bottom line. Will the bottom dollar be the anchor to this ship of dreams or the weight tied around our feet?

8 years is nothing. When I met Ethan I was a self-absorbed brat looking to make my mark on the world. In my defense, so was he. We have overcome so much. From the baggage of young adulthood to having our subsequent children, Ethan and I have withstood. Our tree of life may look weathered but it roots run deep and branches spread long, engulfing all in its vicinity. Our love is tangible, it’s infectious. We have worked hard to be so in love. It is a triumph not a fluke. Are we perfect, no we are so far from perfect. But in our imperfect selves we are able to love one another imperfectly. This bus will be a life dream made into reality by two flawed people. It will mirror its makers. The only perfection this world knows was given by God so who are we to want to obtain it?

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”       Lao Tzu

 

16 hours in a van with 5 kids, over two days.

  I took my 5 children, by myself, home to Alabama for a 3 week vacation. No, I’m not insane or, at least, that’s what I tell myself. 16 hours in a van with 5 kids, over two days…. it was a win.

 We started our adventure at 5 a.m. on a Sunday morning. Waking up children is never advised but it is especially dramatic if it’s before the sun rises. With 5 grumpy and awake children, 4 backpacks, one mommy bag , one cooler of iced coffee and a backpack full of snacks we embarked on the rainy road toward Alabama.  The first few hours were full of excitement and talking about what we were going to do when we got there. All was well till we stopped for lunch. I filled up the tank for a second time and was fixing pb and honey when my eldest son, Elijah, told me his knee was really hurting. I looked him over and realized he had several swollen bites that were inflamed and painful. I did what every good mom would do, called my mom and husband and took a million pictures of the spots. Both said he would be alright but to keep an eye on the swelling. 

  My mother and her fiancee Robert got me a hotel ahead of my departure so that I could break up the 16 hr drive. We were coming into Little Rock, AR, where we were to stay the night, when we decided to stop for dinner. We stopped at Cracker Barrel, my least favorite restaurant, and Elijah couldn’t walk from the pain in his knee. As I stood there, baby on my hip and a toddler in the stoller, with very hungry children I look up to see a God sent. Next to the Cracker Barrel sign was a Baptist Emergency Care sign. A hospital was literally down the road from were we had pulled over for dinner. So, I piled all the kids back into the car, with much protest and many tears, and we headed to the emergency room. The hospital staff was very speedy and kind as we waited to get Elijah some relief. To my astonishment he had staph in his bug bites. They gave us an antibiotic prescription and said he should be fine as we had caught it early. Let me tell you that having a prescription filled out of town while on tricare is quite the adventure. That being said, Krogers went above the call of duty by taking my script 5 mins before closing and grabbing bandages and antibacterial cream for me to purchase through the drive through window. All the medicine received and Moe’s is our bellies we headed to our hotel.

  Why are hotels so exciting to children? I just do not get what’s so great about sleeping in a random room with papery sheets and germ ladder carpet. My kids love it. I’d love to say we got a great nights sleep and I was well rested come morning to finish off the last 7 hrs of driving but I’m not a liar. After a restless evening we still got on the road at 6 a.m. and were ready to concur the day. Let me tell you, the novelty of a road trip had waned tremendously. At one point the rule was no more “when will we be in Alabama” or any form of the question unless you wanted mommy to hang you out the window by your toes. The boys found that exceedingly interesting and my empty sarcastic threat became a challenge to test my sanity. I have never been so elated to see a state sign as I was when we rolled into Alabama. 3 p.m. and ready to stretch  our legs we drove into my home state. Glory, it was pure glory. 

  I had taken my 5 children over 1000 miles with one emergency room trip and I say it was a win. They amazed me with their wonder and genuine conversation. I got 16 hrs to listen, to really listen, about how things make them feel and what they think about everyday things. In those moments I became a better mother, they made me a better person because I could see through child like eyes. What an amazing place the world is when you think like a child. Our time in Alabama is coming to an end and I’m excited to learn something new about them on our trip back to Kansas. Maybe I’ll get a glimpse into their tiny minds and big hearts. I can only hope.

The soul is healed by being with children.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky