RV catches on fire

If there is one thing I have learned to count on while living in an RV it is that no two days are ever the same.

Life around us is always introducing new experiences. Last night it was a RV that caught on fire.

Thankfully, it happened before the couple went to bed for the night.

Thankfully, they (and their dog) got out safely.

Thankfully, the fire didn’t spread to the neighboring RV (which got moved as soon as possible) or the nearby trees.

Thankfully, we have a close and responsive fire department.

RV catches on fire

However, no number of thankful things can erase the fact that this was a devastating situation for the owners of the motor home.

It is believed that there was some sort of electrical malfunction in the back of the diesel pushing rig. The owners were watching TV and felt a strange shaking almost like their dryer was running. Moments later there was a popping sound and a fire had started. They were able to escape with their little dog and the clothing on their backs.

RV after the fire
After the fire

You can be sure we will be reviewing our fire safety routines after this sad situation.

How to install a Maxxfan deluxe in your RV

 

Even though we purchased a new RV (click here for our video tour), there are still modifications we would like to do to make it even better.  We are upgrading the battery pack and installing an inverter so we can dry camp longer, adding a washer/dryer, beefing up the master bedroom closet, and upgrading the ventilation system. Today I’ll walk you through the changes we made with the ventilation system.

Why we decided to install a fan

Our Coachmen Brookstone 395RL RV came with a passive vent in the loft area. A passive vent is basically a screened hole in the roof that allows heat to escape. We wanted a vent/fan system that would move air in or out depending on our preference. After researching the options we choose to install a Maxxfan deluxe because it moves more air than the leading competitors and there’s a built-in rain cover so we can operate it while its raining (other fans require a separate rain cover to allow simultaneous operation).

Cute little helpers

The Maxxfan install process

I videoed the process of installing our fan in order to show you some of the steps that I felt were missing from some of the other videos I found online (such as how to find and connect to the 12v electrical system). I hope you will find it helpful if you decide to take on a similar project. I invite you to watch the video and if you have any questions feel free to post them here or on YouTube and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Note: At the beginning of the Maxxfan install video I talk about a few verses in Proverbs that encourage me. I am not a proponent of the prosperity gospel. I’m not saying that if you give, you will be wealthy monetarily. Giving is simply a response to what has already been given so abundantly to us. Even if you don’t feel rich or can barely make ends meet each month, look at your life through the lens of someone living on a few dollars a day. Its pretty easy to see how everyone living in a 1st world country can say they are “rich”.

Our thoughts on our fan now that we have used it

We have been using our Maxxfan for over a month now and have been completely pleased with the amount of air that we are able to move through our RV because of this one change. At this point in the year we are using it mostly at night to pull the cool evening air into the RV while we sleep and it has been highly effective. We have also found that it is very quiet (especially compared to the fan in our bathroom vent). This is appreciated especially given its proximity to two of our children who sleep in the loft where it was installed.

*There are affiliate links in this post.

the moving carousel of milking cows

I love factory-type tours so when my mother in law asked if we would be interested in visiting a new diary during our recent stay in Minnesota, we were quick to agree.

To be honest, my expectations were low. I’ve been spoiled living in Idaho with fresh, raw cow milk. I’ve been friends with the farmers. I know what the cows eat (grass in the summer and alfalfa in the winter) and how they are treated. These cows are not given a number, but a name. These are happy cows. Happy cows are going to give me awesome milk. Lately, I’ve even had the milk hand delivered to my front door two times a week. That’s a tough act to follow. But as I said, I love tours so how I could I not go?

Cow Carousel

Upon arrival we were entranced by the moving carousel of milking cows. What a sight to behold! Just over 100 cows (most of them Jersey) slowing turning in a circle taking a 6 minute ride from start to finish while they are milked.

cow field trip

Next, we saw where the collected milk is cooled and transferred directly into the trucks that will deliver their load to a nearby cheese plant within hours of milking.

cow field trip

cow field trip

One of the most mind-blowing aspects of the tour was this little machine that processes the cow manure in such a way that almost all of the moisture is removed. The resulting product is dry, crumbly and reused to line the cow beds!

cow field trip

cow field trip

As we visited the mama cows, we were greeted with the best surprise of the day-a baby calf being born right in front of our eyes! We stood quiet and in awe, ever thankful for the wonderful timing of our tour. Click here to view the 2 minute video of the birth.

I still love my raw milk and the option to farm on a small-scale. However, I will willingly admit that for a large-scale operation, this dairy was doing a lot of things right and I’m glad we had a chance to see it in person.

the question you are afraid to ask: my stillbirth story

What happens when death visits and you have no one to talk to about your loss? How I discovered my tribe and found a voice in the void.

Whether its facing toddler tantrums or travel woes, potty training or panic attacks, it feels good to know we are not alone. Talking with others who are or have walked a similar road of celebration or sorrow is comforting, if not simply confirming, that we are not slipping silently into insanity. However, certain topics are by default easier to talk about than others. Menopause for instance is a conversation I have not dug into with anyone just yet. To be honest, that future period of my life (or lack thereof if you know what I mean wink-wink) is still very hazy. Stillbirth is another not-so-common topic of discussion. The unfortunate consequence is that grieving can be a confusing and lonely place to find yourself.

my stillbirth story begins
Our family the morning that Sawyer was born

Eight years ago, when our third child (Sawyer) died three weeks before his due date, I faced a mountain of unknowns. What was it like to deliver a dead baby? Does one have a memorial service in a situation like this? How do we explain his death to our children (who were 5 and 3 at the time)?  After delivery should our kids be allowed to hold their baby brother or be sheltered from seeing him? Should I change plans and deliver him in a hospital or continue with the home birth as planned? Should we induce or wait until my body went naturally into labor? Should we bury or cremate his body? Would my body still produce breast milk? How long would it be until my mind could conceive a single thing that was not somehow tangled in thought to my son? Would the pain ever go away? Was it normal to want to get pregnant again so soon? The questions seemed as endless as the grief. I’d never known anyone to face this kind of loss to whom I could go to and ask questions. Or so I thought. . .

According to the Centers for Disease Control website,

In the United States, a miscarriage usually refers to a fetal loss less than 20 weeks after a woman becomes pregnant, and a stillbirth refers to a loss 20 or more weeks after a woman becomes pregnant.

Stillbirth is further classified as either early, late, or term.

An early stillbirth is a fetal death occurring between 20 and 27 completed weeks of pregnancy.
A late stillbirth occurs between 28 and 36 completed pregnancy weeks.
A term stillbirth occurs between 37 or more completed pregnancy weeks.

Occurrence

Stillbirth effects about 1% of all pregnancies, and each year about 24,000 babies are stillborn in the United States.1 That is about the same number of babies that die during the first year of life and it is more than 10 times as many deaths as the number that occur from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

As it turns out, that 1% segment of the population was much larger than I realized and as I began to write about my stillbirth story on my blog, I began to connect with women who knew the road I was walking because they had traveled it themselves. I also began meeting others who had bravely walked alongside those women. Together we were stronger, braver and had more purpose than we did alone. Many of these women were willing to share a part of their stillbirth or infant loss story in my recent book, “Finding Joy in the Mourning: A Mother’s Journey through Grief to Hope & Healing“.  They openly answered questions such as:

  • After your loss, what were your feelings toward having another child?
  • Is it helpful for you when people bring up your loss or would you rather avoid discussing it?
  • Are you comfortable if/when others ask about the details of what happened (how/why your child died)? Would you rather people ask or just leave that question alone?
  • What would be most meaningful to you for friends or family members to do to remember your child’s birthday or anniversary of their death?
  • How have your relationships with other people changed because of your experience?
  • How have your beliefs about God and the world changed or deepened through your experience? Have you dealt with anger toward God?
  • Which “comforting phrase(s)” or comments were most hurtful to you (i.e. what should people avoid saying)?
  • Were there any gifts given to you or your family after your loss that stood out as most meaningful? Why?
  • Looking back, what do you wish your friends and family would have known that might have helped them to support you better?
  • And many more. . .

Isn’t it beautiful to think of the combined consensus of support that can await those who have a tribe of understanding hearts surrounding them? I want that. I want that for myself and I want that for you. Be it parenting, marriage, lifestyle choices (living in an RV anyone?) or grieving, we all need “our people”.

August 7th at 6 PST/9 ET I had the opportunity and privilege to speak to my new tribe of fellow full-time RV traveling families about losing Sawyer and the book that followed on the Roadschool Moms radio show. I chatted live with co-hosts Kimberly and Mary Beth and you can still listen to the recorded podcast here if you prefer iTunes or here if you would rather just listen to it via their website page.

Lastly, if you or someone you know is grief-stricken, I’d consider it an honor if you would share my book with them. I’d love to have the opportunity to keep them company on their own journey of sorrow and, Lord willing, bring them some glimpses of hope and healing.

*This post contains affiliate links.

the perfect potty break: or the time we accidentally visited Pompeys Pillar

As I write this we are driving west on Hwy 90 through Montana. Brown hills poke up around me in the distance with patches of green trees and low-laying brush. Fields with freshly harvested hay show off their large round bales and a gentle breeze is coaxing the leaves lining the road into a steady wave of hello and farewell.

80 miles back Ashlyn was in need of a potty stop. In what has turned out to be the second serendipitous stop in two days (the first being a potty break yesterday right next to a Geese in Flight sculpture), we found ourselves at the entrance of Pompeys Pillar National Historic Landmark.  My eyebrows raised at the words “National Historic Landmark”. We’ve driven this route approximately once a year for the past eight years and I’ve never noticed this sign nor did I have a clue what was historical about Pompeys Pillar. However, after a quick search online, I realized the significance of this location and petitioned my husband for a visit.
((Cue the angels singing their Holy songs of glory))
I married up my friends. Mr. Wonderful agreed to another detour (this would be following our before mentioned detour to see the World’s Largest Holstein Cow and our recent stop to see the World’s Largest Buffalo).
buffalo
Buffalo detour

Our quick potty stop morphed into a beautiful hour of discovery. We learned about bull boats (boats made out of buffalo skins reinforced with bent sticks), saw examples of dugout canoes and for the piece de resistance: William Clarks signature carved and dated into the side of the Pompeys Pillar! This signature happens to be the last remaining physical evidence of the Corp of Discovery’s trail. Even better? Today is William Clarks birthday! I stand amazed at the perfection of this potty break and grateful for a husband who enjoys the journey just as much as the destination.

pompeys pillar
Standing at the top of Pompeys Pillar
Junior Ranger Pompeys Pillar
Ashlyn getting a new Junior Ranger badge

On the banks of Plum Creek

“As you read my stories of long ago I hope you will remember that things truly worthwile and that will give you happiness are the same now as they were then. It is not the things you have that make you happy. It is love and kindness and helping each other and just plain being good.” -Laura Ingalls Wilder

Any Little House on the Prairie fans out there?  I’m waving my hand! We haven’t read all the books yet. In fact, the only book we have read so far is Farmer Boy. Does it count that we own all of the Little House books? Does it count that we have been working our way through the TV series DVDs? Yes? Thank you, I agree.

Moving on.

If you are familiar with Laura Ingalls Wilder, than the town Walnut Grove will perk your ears. Guess who recently visited Walnut Grove, Minnesota? I’m waving my hand again!

We walked on the banks of Plum Creek and stood where the Ingalls’ dugout home once stood.

The Banks of Plum Creek
IMG_0486
The yellow rope marks the perimeter and location of the location of their dugout home

Continue reading “On the banks of Plum Creek”

Minnesota bound

IMG_0468
The Ledeboer gang loving their audio books

We’ve recently embarked on our last big road trip before we officially launch our family’s traveling adventure this September. Locking up our RV and piling into our van, we headed east from Idaho to Minnesota to celebrate my in-laws 50th anniversary.

The back of our van was shamefully full as we brought some items to store with my in-laws that we did not wish to leave unattended in storage. The rear seat between Hunter and Ashlyn was ridiculously heavy-laden with library books as we seem to be sucking all the remaining marrow out of the bones of our library cards before we tearfully say good-bye to easy, free accessible literature. The middle row was filled with a cooler of snacks between our younger two boys and Trent and I smiled deeply from the front as we hit the road once again with our family in tow. Continue reading “Minnesota bound”

the best habit I’ve developed this year

Quick: what is the most useful habit you have developed this year?

No seriously, what comes to mind, anything?

If so, please share with me in the comments below because I am going to give you mine and it’s really good!

The life altering habit that I am going to share with you should take less than an hour to put in place and less than 5 min a day to implement. However, the pay off is huge! Ready to find out what it is? Let’s go. . .

Scripture memorization (or memorization of any kind) can be difficult and tedious unless you have a plan in place and approach it from a perspective of slow and steady winning the race. Here is the most pain-free method to memorize that I’ve found:

My 7 year old listening to his playlist

Continue reading “the best habit I’ve developed this year”

the hardest thing I have ever written: my stillbirth story

When I was six I decided I wanted to write a book.

I became fixated on the idea and began by copying other authors’ works in preparation for my own childhood manifesto. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein was painstakingly transcribed word for word into my notebook and I dreamed up stories of my own to tell the world. I filled out an application for the Institute of Children’s Literature and waited anxiously for their reply. When their rejection letter came, I couldn’t understand the reasoning of their denial. I was “too young” they said.  Who better to write children’s books than a child?

I never imagined the story of my book would be stillbirth, grief, hope and healing.

Years passed and I tucked my writing dream into an inner pocket of my heart. From time to time I would pull it out and stroke it gently through journaling and later blogging. Then an event happened that was bigger than I had ever faced. My 3rd pregnancy train wrecked in the 37th week and my son Sawyer was stillborn. This grief required something new of me; something raw and deep and painful that demanded to be dealt with. I pulled out my electronic notebook and began to write. This time the story was my own. The words, the thoughts, the emotions were mine. I wasn’t writing to make a book, I was writing to examine my heart of grief from angle that I could understand it better. There was a lot to process and 200+ pages later I had finally flushed out the topic of loss to a degree that I could lay down the notebook and prayerfully reflect. In doing so, the Lord prompted me to share my stillbirth story to show others what the process of loss can look like when we are sustained by our Savior. Continue reading “the hardest thing I have ever written: my stillbirth story”

Family Adventure Podcast interview

faithtakesflightfamilyadventurepodcastToday I had the privilege of being interviewed by Eric Hemingway for his Family Adventure Podcast. Listening to his show has been like a gateway drug for our wanderlust hearts as we have prepared for living full-time in an RV so it was an honor to be a guest on his show. In this interview I talk about how we prepared financially. I discuss homeschooling and what was hard about that transition. I share details on downsizing and the difficulties that we faced in that area. Finally, I speculate what the next year might look like for us. I invite you to click here to listen to the interview.

Show notes:
I mentioned the author Robert Kyiosaki and his book Rich Dad, Poor Dad. Another book that was helpful to us that didn’t get mentioned was Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. The homeschooling book that I refer to is 102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum by Cathy Duffy. The website Fulltime Famlies and it’s facebook group is also mentioned.
*This post contains affiliate links.