Sunday, April 29, 2012

The juggling act

I now find myself in the midst of this thrilling, exhilarating, and frustrating juggling act.  We have had great success in moving most of our small and medium items.  Now we are at the point where the big things need to happen.  Sell the car, the van, the motorcycle, and the house so that we can purchase a truck and fifth wheel.  All the while keeping life going as usual.  The goal is to borrow as little money as possible--even as a short term loan--during this process.

2003 Harley Davidson Sportster 1200c 100th Anniversary Edition up for sale.
So here we are left to figure out what we sell first, then second, then third. We also must figure out when, after we sell one or some of these things, it is time to purchase something else.  While this is going on, we still have to make sure that we have transportation to and from work, school, shopping, and any other events or activities that we have planned.

Thus, the juggling act.

It is thrilling for me, because I am back in the 'let's get things moving' groove.  I can seriously look for the fifth wheel and the truck with the intent to work a deal and purchase.  No more do I have to peruse listings and spec sheets only to imagine and file away the information.  Believe me, I AM EXCITED!

And I am frustrated, because I am not in the position to make an offer and say 'I'll take it' when I find what I want.  Instead, it is a matter of asking if they can be flexible, to wait for my other things to sell, to find out if it can be held.  I know how I have felt in selling my items when someone has asked for me to wait.  NO, I don't want to, I want this thing sold and gone. Yes, there were times that I was able to be flexible, accommodating, and work with their schedule.  I can only hope that when I find 'the one' that this will be the case.  I also remind myself that being a larger priced item, that they will understand some time will be needed to complete the transaction.

Speaking of large purchases and juggling, we found out which item will be the first to leave the juggling act.  We sold our car this weekend! Now we are down to the van.  This will be great practice for when we just have the truck while on the road.

Goodbye Saab! You were a great car.

This is another reminder of how I really am not in control of this whole process, and that I need to just stay out of the way.  One of our small group members has a friend whose car went kaput, and not in a pretty way.  So, since they were in need of a vehicle, they were able to get into contact with us about our vehicle.  I quickly got it ready to show, and they absolutely loved it. The most amazing part is that while they were working with limited resources, they were able to offer the price that we needed in order to sell the vehicle.  A win for both parties!  We were able to sell our vehicle without having to go through the arduous process of prepping it and placing ads, and they were able to get a great vehicle for their commuting needs.

Now we need to find the buyer for our house! Anyone looking for a great house in Indianapolis, check this one out.  And if anyone knows of a good heavy duty truck that can seat six people, please let us know.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Little by Little

As word begins to spread amongst friends and acquaintances about the changes ahead for our family, many new questions continue to arise. Obviously, some changes are bigger than others. Selling our house and moving into an RV and a major vocational change for Jason are the biggest changes, but many other lifestyle changes are currently taking place in preparation for our big move. Many are so seemingly insignificant in light of bigger changes that I don't even think about them until they come up in conversation.

One of the biggest changes is the shift from private school education to homeschooling for our kids. While our girls are still in school now and will continue to finish the year strong in the school that we love, we are finalizing curriculum research and gathering our materials to transition to homeschool methods over the summer. Fortunately, summer break coincides with the timing of our big move, so we aren't feeling like we have to make a quick jump into road schooling, but we also will not be waiting until September to begin the next level of education for our kids and I want to make sure that our plans are in place to begin whenever we feel settled enough to start up with school again. Once plans are finalized, I'll write a separate post about our plans as we begin our first year of homeschooling (or road schooling as we most frequently refer to it).

Another aspect of life with small children, namely an 18-month-old, is dealing with diapers. We are pretty anti-early potty training around here--mostly because it has backfired more than once on us with having kids nearly trained by 18 months--then have a new baby+regression=AWFUL process to re-train them (and before about age 2, it's not the kid who is being trained but the adults who are toileting them who are being trained)! So we just don't go there anymore and wait until they are ready. And our kids tend to be later ones to the fully-potty-trained party, and that's totally okay by us. All that to say, we are still deep in the throws of life with diapers with Eliza. We typically don't give a moment's thought to buying diapers. For environmental and economic reasons alike, we have been a cloth-diapering household since the week that Caroline was born almost 7 years ago. She was a 100% cloth baby due to skin sensitivities, and the 3 babies after her have been somewhere between 50-75% cloth-diapered (we're realistic with the expectations that we put on ourselves--it comes with the territory of having 4 kids in 5 years!). When we buy disposable diapers we either buy the enormous box from Costco that lasts 2 or more months or order a similar shipment from and we only think about buying diapers every 6-8 weeks or so. All this will change when we go on the road. There will be no on-your-doorstep diaper delivery service, storage space will be at a premium--so no 200 pack of diapers from Costco, and I will not be washing our diapers in the laundromat every 3 days. This week I bought my first small package of diapers to begin learning what it is like to buy diapers weekly. At $10 for 36 diapers--and realizing that I'll have to go back to the store to buy another package next week, I can see why many parents are proponents for early potty learning!

Along with buying diapers in bulk, we also like to keep a well-stocked pantry and freezer. We put up food for the year, whether by canning or freezing during harvest season and buy our meat in bulk from local farmers. As we finish using what was put up last year, it feels really strange to not be preparing to put up the bounty from this coming season. Instead, I am preparing to adjust our food-buying to shopping weekly (or twice weekly) for our family. Again, with freezer, refrigerator and pantry space at a premium in an RV, we need to learn how to plan and prepare meals and do our grocery and market shopping with an entirely different mindset.

Another adjustment that I haven't given thought to, but came to light in the midst of the Kid Stuff Sale last weekend, is how we've all significantly pared down our wardrobes. The younger kids each have about 2 weeks of clothes, or 14 outfits, for this summer--including dress clothes, casual clothes, play clothes--everything! The older girls are currently wearing the same size, so they have about 3 weeks worth of clothes, or 21 outfits, combined between them for this summer. That sounds like a lot, but if you compare it to previous seasons it is a significant reduction! We've opted for pieces that can be mixed and matched together and dresses that we can stretch through several seasons for the girls in order to keep a more minimalist wardrobe. Jason and I have also pared our wardrobes down significantly. While he still needs a professional wardrobe for school, I have slashed my clothing down to 2 pair of jeans, 3 other pants, 2 pair of shorts, a few skirts, a handful of dresses and a handful of tops and t-shirts that pair with my skirts/pants/shorts. My wardrobe is effectively 1/3 what it was just a few months ago. And you know what? I don't even notice the difference! With compact wardrobes I am forced to do laundry on a regular basis, but that's something else that I need to get into the habit of. When we are living in a 400-square-foot space, how much laundry do I really want to let pile up anyway?! There are better things to devote our time and space to.

A few other adjustments that we've made lately to help ease our transition include selling our desktop computer and adjusting to a single laptop for our family, canceling our newspaper subscription, and canceling our dairy delivery (probably the saddest and hardest for me!). There are more to come, but what currently seems like a sacrifice is for a greater purpose. If we're going to live our dream, we have to step away from what has always worked in our current situation for what will serve us best in our new situation. Just because something has always worked doesn't mean it's always the best option. As our plans evolve, everything is coming under scrutiny and the only absolute is that we're going to do what is best for the Simpson Six in a manner that will bring honor to God. And contrary to what I have always believed, sometimes "living the dream" means buying a $10 pack of disposable diapers every week.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Waiting, patiently?

Raise your hand if you like to play the waiting game.......Anyone? neither.

And yet, that is where I find myself.  

Waiting to find the right truck.  Waiting to find the right fifth wheel.  Waiting to sell the house.  Waiting for one job to wrap up, and for another one to begin.  Patience does not seem to come readily to our household.  Stephanie and I have joked about how we missed the opportunity with the kids' middle names.  We were able to hit Grace, Joy, and Hope, but we missed the boat on patience.

I know that a lot of what I am feeling is coming off of a spree of changes.  We have had a huge garage sale and since sold off many more items; rearranged, redecorated, repaired parts of the house; have put the house on the market; have been telling countless souls about our plans and preparations.  Now, we are at a lull.  A point where most things are in motion and it is time for us to take a step back...and wait.

I am the type of person that likes to stay busy.  When I get a list of projects and to do items, I can't wait to jump in and get them done.  I attack them with a strong vigor and focus, yet I know that once I have the list completed I will be back in this position, impatiently waiting for the next thing.  Obviously, what doesn't help is knowing that these things are close at hand.  It is the basic human nature, if you don't know that it is there, it doesn't exist or matter.  Once you know it is close by, it is all that you can focus on.  When I have decided on a course of action, I chomp at the bit to get things moving.  I don't want to sound like I am just done and checking out, but quite the opposite.  I love where I am and what I am doing, but big things are on the horizon for us.

So, yes, I am getting my own opportunity to work on being present where I am.  

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Kid Stuff Sale

For all of our readers with children in your lives who live in the greater Indianapolis area (extending to at least a 1.5 hour radius as well!), this Saturday is a HUGE consignment sale that you'll want to make sure you come to! It fills the entire church gym, Youth Center and a large preschool classroom with top-notch items for kids of all ages!

The Kid Stuff Sale at Church at the Crossing, just inside of 465 near Keystone at the Crossing, is this Saturday from 8-noon! 50 consignors are bringing their best clothes, toys, gear, equipment and more for kids age newborn to size 16 (or about 12-year-olds) and maternity clothing. This is the 15th annual sale and it only gets better each year!

Everything is pre-screened by a committee to make sure that clothes are all in great condition--no stained or damaged clothing and all toys and games are not broken and have no missing pieces. Many name brands, new items with tags and unbelievable pricing! Most consignors price their items at garage sale prices for high end children's consignment-store quality items. In my days of stock-piling clothing for the year ahead, I would clothe all 3 of our older kids for the entire year for less than $200--and would buy most of our toys and large equipment items (like strollers, bike trailers, high chairs, baby slings, playroom furniture and more!) still staying within that budget. Seriously, this is not a sale to miss!

Check out the website at for more information.
Can't shop on Saturday? It's not too late to volunteer to help with the sale and shop early on Friday evening before the sale opens to the public. Information on how to volunteer is also on the Kid Stuff Sale website. And don't worry if you're shopping on Saturday--there's so much great stuff that it won't all be gone before the sale opens on Saturday. I have always shopped early and still see things late into the morning on Saturday that I can't believe I didn't see on Friday (and usually go back through the check-out!).

I'll be there all weekend! If you do decide to check it out, come say hello! It's the first year ever that I've been at the sale without either a baby strapped to my hip or pregnant with our next little one--I don't know if I'll even know what to do with myself without a wee one in tow!!

Monday, April 16, 2012


This past weekend we had the pleasure of a visit from my sister (commonly referred to as Aunt Shannon by the minions).  We had a fun time visiting, playing, and hanging out.  We planned a theme for the weekend, and tailored our dinnertime around it.  
The theme: Pirates.

We played games, dressed up, read stories, and created a meal where each item of food was built around pirates.

The table was set, complete with pirate table service and an eye patch for all to wear.

Here is the food.  We had kabobs (swords), zucchini 'boats', couscous islands with coconuts (almonds) and trees (celery), and cauliflower 'clouds'. 
The band of scalawags ready to dig in!

Pin the flag on the treasure map.

Having fun with dress up.

A fun weekend and a reminder to play.  It's good for you!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Value of Being Present

Throughout much of the past 9-10 months, as we began planning and taking steps for a major lifestyle change for our family in preparation for life on the road full-time, I have felt a great tension. How do we do all that we must do to prepare for what is ahead of us while remaining present where we are?

No matter what the circumstance, whether it be preparing for a marriage, a job change, the addition of a child to your family, moving homes, or any number of major life events that require preparation, I'm certain that I'm not alone in feeling this tension. The tendency to prematurely pull away from that which you will be leaving behind after the change is a tough one to counteract.

We have become deeply rooted in our present community. We are invested in a school that was our reason for moving to Indianapolis and has become our extended family in town over the past 10 years. We helped plant our church in the community where we live 5 years ago and have grown to call it home. We live our daily lives among some of the most fantastic neighbors we could ask for and are blessed to call them friends. For a place where neither Jason nor I grew up and have lived for just a few short years, we have found ourselves surrounded by so many great people in our "village" that I want to treasure every bit of time with them while we are still in close physical proximity.

For this reason, we held tightly to our dream and specific plans until we could no longer keep it to ourselves. You see, as much as our excitement is overflowing, the bittersweet side is that now that everyone in our village is caught up to speed with where we're going, we now are faced with the challenge of remaining present where we are and not looking too far ahead to where we're going.

Do we want to sell our house and possessions quickly and buy our new-to-us truck and RV ASAP?--ABSOLUTELY! Do we want to be so focused on where we hope to be three months from now that we miss out on everything here and now?--ABSOLUTELY NOT! As our life on the road will be about learning to enjoy the journey without worry of the destination (partly because we don't know when/where our final destination will be), we're doing our best to live that now.

Will we talk your ear off about our plans and preparations and share more details than you ever thought you wanted to know about RVs, trucks, road schooling, minimalist living, veggie oil conversions, etc.?--Only if you want us to. Will we act like life is continuing on as usual? Definitely. Because it is. Our version of life-as-usual just might look different from your own, but that's often the case when we delve deep enough into one another's lives.

Our lives for the next several years will involve a constant state of change of both scenery and cast of characters with the places that we go and the people that we meet. We can choose to keep people at arm's length, knowing that we'll soon be traveling onward, or we can choose to invest in the lives of people that we meet, not knowing if we'll be spending the next 2 months near them or if after today we'll never meet again. Now is the time for us to practice not "checking out" early, but being present where we are and continuing to invest fully in the people and things that we love while we are still physically present among them.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Going on the road FAQ

To help answer some questions and expound upon what we have already posted about, we will do a type of FAQ. 

When will you leave? 
As soon as we can. Jason's contract is up June 30, so we will try to have the first job lined up and be ready to head to it by that time. We are hoping to have the house sold by that point so that all of us can head out together. If the house is not sold by then, Stephanie and the kids may stay behind until it is sold. 

When will you get your truck and fifth wheel? 
We are actively looking for them both. At the same time, we will be selling Jason's motorcycle and our car. We hope that the two of them will be enough to pay a sizable chunk toward the truck. We hope to find a fifth wheel soon, but we may have to wait until after the house is sold to buy it. We are just looking at one big juggling act, and hoping to have as little debt/loans as possible with the transactions. 

How much furniture are you storing? 
Not much. Once the house sells, we will be putting up most of our furnishings for sale. We have only kept them for staging purposes. We plan on storing our bedroom furniture and dining room furniture. Pretty much everything else will be sold, so keep an eye out for the house clearance sale. 

What state will you claim residency in? 
Indiana. All of our vehicles are registered here and this is where our records are. The company that I plan on working for is based in Indiana. Stephanie is already familiar with the state requirements for education, so that will make homeschooling easier. 

What about a mailing address? 
We have not settled on this one yet. We are between renting a mailbox with someplace such as UPS or working with someone that we know to use their address. Either way, we will be able to have our mail forwarded to us at our leisure.

How will you access the internet to give us these sweet updates?
We plan on several ways to access the internet.  We plan on adding mobile hotspot to our cellular plans so that we can have something with us, provided we are in range.  Most campgrounds offer some type of access, whether it is wireless across the campground or something at the main lodge.  Many restaurants and establishments offer free wifi, such as Starbucks and Panera (think two birds with one stone).

Exactly how much are you taking with you?
Not much.  Once the house sells, we will be clearing out most items.  We plan on taking just enough clothes, linens, dishes, etc. for the 6 of us.  Each person will have an allowance of a few small items.  Jason will have his tools for electrical, but no big power tools will be going.  Some toys, a computer, the cameras.  We are not trying to pack out the 400-500 square feet that we are moving into, so we really are trying to pare everything down and get rid of the rest.

What will you eat?  We know you like wholesome food.
No more stocking up for us, the refrigerator and freezer space will be at a premium. Goodbye 12'x23' organic vegetable garden, hello small container herb garden! We will do our best to find local growers and stores that sell responsibly grown food.  We look forward to seeking out new places and connecting with new people.  

How long have you been preparing for this move?
Mentally, about 4 years.  Practically, close to one year.  This is not a decision that we made overnight.  It does take a lot of planning and preparation to dramatically downsize on this scale.

Please ask any other questions that may have been missed.


Thoughts about Doctors and medical insurance?
We are fortunate (knock on wood) that none of us have any kind of pre-existing medical conditions.  We see our Drs. for physicals, but that's about it.  We plan to keep the same Drs. and still see them for our physicals as we swing through town and utilize MedCheck-type facilities for acute illnesses, like ear infections, etc. as anyone else would when traveling.  We're still deciding about insurance, if we'll COBRA for awhile, pick up insurance through Jason's construction employer when he's eligible late-summer, or get private insurance.  We haven't weighed all of those options yet.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

House is officially for sale!

It's official! Our house is for sale!

Check out the listing here and spread the word to anyone that you know who is house-hunting in the Indy metro area, friends who are in real estate, neighbors that you'd like to relocate (okay, maybe not the last one!), etc...

It's a great 3 bed/2 bath home between Castleton and Fishers. Super-convenient to everywhere on the north side and close enough to the highway for a quick commute, but in a quiet little neighborhood where you don't hear the highway and city noise. Tons of upgrades, immaculately maintained and priced to sell!

We appreciate our readers helping us get the word out!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Taking the plunge

If you have been following what we have been up to, you know that we have been making an intentional effort to simplify our lives and our home.  If you have not been following, you can catch up here and read through the links at the top (or put on a pot of coffee and start from the beginning of the blog!)

We have enjoyed taking the little steps towards a more simple lifestyle and downsizing the stuff that we have.  It is refreshing to find out what you can live without and not even miss.  I would love to say that all we have been doing throughout this process is to make ourselves more comfortable where we are at, but it's more than that.  As I said, we have been taking small steps, but dreaming big along the way.  This is the point where we start taking big steps.

This is the point where we sell our house.

We are downsizing our living accommodations, and not just in square footage, but in type of accommodation.  Our goal in this process is to move all 6 of us into an RV and travel about the country.


You read that right.  This is an idea that we have been tossing around for 4 years now, and we are at a point where it can (and will!) become a reality.  Our plan is to have the house sold before the end of the school year, and then to seamlessly transition into a fifth wheel RV.

To answer a few of the big and initial questions:

Income:  I will be working electrical again.  There are a lot of jobs that hire 'roadies' to work on a short term basis.  The jobs average 6-8 weeks in length.  I have several sources for job sites, so work should not be hard to come by.  We will also supplement this income with some smaller and side items.  I plan on marketing my photography skills, doing odd jobs at campgrounds, and ad revenue and sponsors on this blog.

The kids:  They are almost as excited about this adventure as Stephanie and myself are (which is VERY).  Educationally, as an elementary teacher, Stephanie is more than capable of instructing them through homeschooling methods.  There will be plenty of space in the RV for them--we have been looking at some models with 4 bunks (I don't know why, since they like to sleep in the same beds with each other).

Storing stuff:  There really won't be much to store.  We have a few keepsakes and items that are important and will store longterm, but for the most part if it isn't coming with us, we don't need it. Most furniture and large items around our home will be sold.

Where to first:  My initial answer is where ever the wind blows us, but at first it will be dictated where the jobs are at.  The good thing is that I won't need to work full time, so we will be able to take some time to go places that we want.  We do plan on trying to cover the whole country, so our destinations may become more specific, but for the most part, we want to enjoy the journey and not be focused on a destination (which is a hard one for me).

How long: As long as it's the best thing for our family. Initially, we're thinking 3-5 years, to give ample time to see the country and experience life from coast to coast and everywhere in between. However, if we find we're done with the nomadic life sooner or later than that time, then that's when we'll come off the road.

There are a lot of factors to cover and questions to be answered.  We will try to go over most of them within the next few posts, but if you have a specific question, please send it to us or leave it in the comments.

We appreciate your support during this exciting time!

O yeah, if you know any one needing a great house or selling a truck or trailer...