The Traveling Home

DISAPPOINTMENT AT YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK // CALIFORNIA

Emma-lee Hacker2 Comments

We waited a few days at Yosemite Ridge Resort for our van.  Finally, on Friday it was ready for pick up.  Jeremie, myself and the two littlest drove down to Jamestown, picked up the van and then returned to the Resort, where we hooked up the trailer and drove to Mariposa.  

Mariposa is about one hour from Yosemite National Park (via highway 140) and since our plans were to continue going south on our journey, it made sense to take the trailer with us and find a campground down there.  After doing a bit of research, we decided to stay at the Mariposa Fairgrounds.

On my roadmap of California, the Interstate 49 is shown as a very straight highway.  Well this route, couldn’t be anything further from the truth!  There were more switchbacks than I could count.  The road was so twisty, so curvy, so steep, lacking in guard rails and shoulders, and so very scary.  I didn’t dare to look over my shoulder at the scenery for fear I might drive right over the edge!  It was beautiful, but so nerve wracking!!  During the descent, the breaks on the pick-up truck were literally smoking and the during the climb, our truck’s transmission temperature climbed to 271 degrees(F)!  Exactly why did we avoid going to Fort Bragg?  Because the roads were too twisty?  Somehow I think this was worse! 

We arrived at the Mariposa Fairgrounds RV Park with plenty of daylight to find a great spot.  We were parked right next to the California State Parks Mineral and Mining Museum.  Unfortunately, it was closed due to renovations.  The website for this park lists the nightly rate for both RVs and tents - nothing more.  When you arrive at the kiosk where you are to do self-registration, it mentions the charge is based on a 3 person occupancy, with a $4 charge for each extra person.  In our case, the $30 per night rate would end up being $54!  Fortunately, I found a staff member who told me not to worry about the extra kid tax…Hooray!! (Note: KOA in the area was going to charge us over $90 a night - This I do not understand…It’s camping!!)

The next morning, as we were starting to load all the kids into the van to go to Yosemite National Park, Emma-lee had an unfortunate mishap where she accidentally hit the top of her foot where her surgery this past Fall had been.  The pain was excruciating and it was clear there was no way she could go to Yosemite.  Since seeing Yosemite was on Emma-lee's bucket list, there was no way we would go without her.  Instead we went the following day.

The drive into Yosemite National Park is quite beautiful.  It is at a much lower elevation than Highway 49, so although the roads are still quite twisty, it doesn't seem as nerve wracking.  Our first impression of Yosemite was one of surprise.  Yes, it is beautiful but, it is also so incredibly busy.  We had a really hard time just finding a parking spot as we circled in lot after lot.  Another thing we quickly noticed was the amount of construction and all the detours.  

After finally finding a parking spot, we headed for the Visitor's Centre.  The park has it's own transit service which takes you to various points throughout the park.  This comes in handy since nobody wants to loose the parking spot they worked so hard to find! Ha!ha!  At the Visitor's Centre we inquired about getting a wheelchair for Emma-lee and the paperwork for the kids to complete their Junior Ranger Badges.  After exploring the Visitor Centre and the Museum next door, we went by bus to the Lodge to get a wheelchair.  By the time we finally got one, it was already time for lunch.  We still hadn't really done much and everyone was a little frustrated because they had been waiting to see Yosemite all this time.  We all just wanted to go exploring!

After a quick lunch, we headed for the Lower Yosemite Falls hike which is wheelchair accessible. It is a beautiful walk that meanders through the woods before coming to the misty base of the falls.  

Everything seems to move in slow motion in the park as things are so spread apart and there is sooooo much traffic! The sheer number of people and cars made it feel like the "Disneyworld of National Parks!!" I cannot imagine what it would be like in the summer time!  After the walk, Jeremie and Bethany went to get the van and I took the rest back to the Visitor Centre so we could get the Junior Ranger Badges for Wesley and Rosie.  Poor Jeremie.  We didn't realize that the place where we had agreed to meet and have him pick us up at, was restricted to bus use only.   After many frustrating loops through detours, we all finally connected.  We decided to head to Half Dome Rock where there was another trail and a beautiful view of the rock.

Well, after circling twice and never getting where we wanted to go, we decided to stop by a field and have a family photo with the some deer and the Half Dome Rock in the distance.   This is the closest we ever got.  With time slipping through our fingers and the sun beginning it's descent, we decided to return the wheelchair and head back to Mariposa.  It was too bad.  We were all frustrated and extremely disappointed with how our day went.  But the traffic and crazy detours were beyond our control.  

 

 

 

 

SMALL TOWN KINDNESS

Cynthia Comment

We left the Santa Rosa area and headed for Yosemite Ridge Resort which we understood was about an hour from the Yosemite Valley floor.  Although the sky was cloudy, we didn’t have any rain which was great.  Unfortunately though, our van was starting to act up.  It would drive great on the highway, but as we slowed down you could hear the engine surging and then it would go super quiet like it was about to stall out.  This problem just got worse and worse.  As we drove along the highway 120 about an hour and a half from Yosemite Ridge Resort, we came across a huge detour.  It was crazy!  The roads twisted and turned and went up and down.  The van was doing the crazy surging thing and the pick-up truck’s transmission wasn’t too happy either.  When we finally arrived at the campground, we learned that the road into Yosemite National Park (via highway 120) was closed due to a road washout.  In order to get into the park we would have to take the alternate entrance two hours away!  

Jeremie decided to drive to a GM dealership the next day and they confirmed our suspicions and said we needed a new injection pump.  Instead of leaving the vehicle with them, he decided to bring it back to the campground and do a bit more research to try and find a less expensive option for our diesel van.  He then installed the extra PMD (electronic module for the fuel pump) we had and took the van for a test drive.  Guess what?! It ran great! We wondered that perhaps it wasn’t the injection pump after all.  

The next morning, the van started up no problem so we decided to make the long drive over to Yosemite and loaded all the kids in the van.  Well, we got about a half hour down the road and the van started the surging thing again.  Then another half hour after that it, stalled out completely.  We decided to turn around and explore the nearby historic gold mining town of Coulterville before heading back to the camp.

While the children enjoyed a nearby playground with big sister supervision, Jeremie and I ended up in a Flower shop/ tourist information centre.  The lady who owned the store, named Nina, was so kind.  She asked the right questions and before long heard about all our van troubles.  Around the time this was happening, a good friend of hers came in named Tyler.  The two of them tried calling several mechanics they knew and when one didn’t answer his phone, Tyler walked us over to his house! (He wasn’t home).  Tyler also offered to let us borrow his suburban just so we could all go see Yosemite.  He didn’t even know us!!  The store owner then loaned me some gold mining pans so we could take the kids down to the river to try gold panning.  But it wasn’t just that, the pans were part of her display in her store…she had to dump all the contents out in order to loan them to us. 

After some fun family time in Coulterville, we loaded back into the van to go back to the camp and make arrangements to get the van fixed.  About 30 minutes from the camp, we stalled going up a big hill.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t any shoulder and we were blocking the whole lane.  Behind us, in a small minivan, was a mother and her teenage son.  The son quickly jumped out of his vehicle and asked if he could help us.  He offered to try pushing us up the road with the front of their minivan to the next turnout.  That was sweet, but our big, heavy van would’ve destroyed their bumper.  His mother then suggested she drive me to the tow truck shop.  This lady who didn’t know me, then turned her car around and drove me back 10 minutes down the road to the tow truck shop.  AMAAAZING!  The tow truck driver named Chris then dropped everything and drove me back up to Jeremie, who had in the meantime, managed to get the van running long enough to get up to the turnout ahead.

What happened next is a bit confusing…Chris agreed to drive the two littlest and myself back down to his shop in the village called Greenley Hill with the van towed behind and then he switched to his pick-up truck to go back and take Jeremie and the five girls (who had been left on the side the road) to Yosemite Ridge Resort.  Once at the Resort, Jeremie got in his truck, drove back down to the little village to pay for the tow, and then took me and the littles back to the Resort.  Chris would then tow the van to the Jamestown dealership the next morning.

* Chris is a former Nascar Racer and the kids really enjoyed seeing all his trophies in his shop...not to mention the ride in the tow truck! 

The moral of the story is, if you have to break down on the side of the road, try not to do it with seven kids in the vehicle…it just gets complicated! haha!

Amazed by the kindness of strangers, we now we wait for our van!

 

CHANGE OF PLANS // SONOMA COUNTY/SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA

Cynthia Comment

As some of you know, our plan was to drive down a bit of the California coast to Fort Bragg (the home of Glass Beach).  But, as we slowly wound our way through the Redwoods in Grants Pass, the transmission on the pick-up truck started to overheat.  We were told at an information stop that the route from highway 101 to the scenic 1 was going to be very similar to Grants Pass, but also very steep in some parts.  The man we spoke to said he didn’t like to take his little camper through on that route and advised that we not take one as big as ours. So, we decided to heed the advice, save our truck, and put the trip on our bucket list for a time when we are traveling with a smaller camper.  Instead we continued down highway 101 all the way to Santa Rosa.  

As we entered Santa Rosa, we followed the signs for a California Welcome Center and ended up crawling through rush hour traffic in a large, unfamiliar city.  Thankfully, it wasn’t too long before we came upon a large city park and we were able to park the trailer while we searched through our GPS trying to find somewhere to stay the night (the downside of no internet).  The younger kids were thrilled with the opportunity to stretch their legs and play on the playground equipment.

Remember the great success we had earlier this week at Crescent City Walmart?  Well, the Walmarts here are not so accommodating.  After a lot of phone calls with Walmarts and local campgrounds, someone finally suggested I call the Sonoma County Fairgrounds RV Park.  By now it was dark and raining…hmmm…thought we were not going to do this again.  We decided to just drive over and check it out.  I’m not sure what we would have done had this not worked, but thankfully it did.  The campground had lots of space and they were so kind as to wave the “kid tax” for the three nights we were here.

After a quiet, rainy day at home getting caught up on laundry, we were happy to see the sun come out the following day.  We decided to take the children to see San Francisco.  What a beautiful city!  There was so much to see and do and we were only able to scratch the surface.  It would be easy to spend a week there and not run out of things to see and do.  Our first stop was the Maritime Marine Museum National Historic Site.  The building was built like a big ship and is still as beautiful inside as it was when it was built in the 1930s.  Here the littlest two got their Junior Ranger badges and had so much fun reciting their pledges with the Ranger on duty.  He had them singing and promising to eat their vegetables…it was hilarious!

The Historic Site portion of the museum has five ships that you can tour including:  an old ferry that operated before the Golden Gate Bridge was built, an open ocean tug boat, and a sailing ship which was built in 1886.  What a history lesson and a fantastic experience!  We purchased a National Parks pass and it allowed us to all enter with no additional costs.  (Tickets are regularly $10 each for all those over the age of 15.)

From here we walked across the street and up the hill to the famous Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory.  We were given a few samples and then had fun filling a keepsake tin with our favourite flavours.  

Once back in the van we tried to go see "the crookedest street" but kept being detoured by signs which denied access to vans over 8 passengers.  Street parking was virtually non-existent, so, we couldn’t have even tried to walk it.  FYI, Saturday is a very busy day in San Francisco! ;-)

We continued to the old military base Presidio (dates back to the 1700s) and then went onto Fort Point.  (Both of these are free to the public.)  Fort Point is incredible.  As I looked at the old brick walls,  I kept thinking how amazing it would be for wedding photography! Haha!  Guess that daughter of mine has had a bit of an influence!*  The old fort sits directly under one end of the Golden Gate Bridge and you can climb the stairs all the way to the roof for an amazing view.  After the fort closed at the end of World War II, it was slated to become a prison.  Structural changes were made to the fort to this end, but the plans changed and it never did become a prison. 

We continued back through San Francisco and ended up in Golden Gate Park. We could’ve easily spent a whole day here.  It is beautiful and enormous!  There is a flower conservatory which we would have all loved to explore (well, okay, maybe not Jeremie and Wesley! haha!) and then further along and across the street is the deYoung Museum.  Both buildings had amazing architecture and are well connected by the walking/bike paths which are throughout the park.  There is also a Japanese Tea Garden which we didn’t even get to see.

We just simply ran out of time.  We caught a beautiful sunset over the ocean, said good-bye to San Francisco and headed back home. 

CONTINUING EDUCATION // CRESCENT CITY, CALIFORNIA

Cynthia Comment

You would think by now, that we would have the whole traveling thing down to a science, but no, (sigh) no we do not.  Our second stop on our long route back to Ontario was Panther Flats Campground in northern California.  Although we left Fort Stevens State Park in Oregon early enough in the morning, the suggested (by Google Maps) seven hour trip turned into something closer to nine and we arrived at Panther Flats right at dusk.  I suppose that multiple potty breaks, never ending rain, and slower traveling speeds could be blamed for this.  However, we have learned through this experience that the day should have been broken into two and I have now gone through our trip’s itinerary and adjusted it accordingly. :-/ 

You know the trees are big, when they make a 15 seater passenger van look small! :-P

You know the trees are big, when they make a 15 seater passenger van look small! :-P

The State of California does not have many State parks or National parks along the coast that can accommodate our size of trailer, especially close to the Redwood National Forest.  Panther Flats, although primitive, was supposed to be able to accommodate up to 40 foot lengths…but when you arrive in the dark and you’re in a torrential downpour,  the sites are very difficult to get into.  After two hours of frustration, we called it quits and drove a half hour down the road to Walmart in Crescent City.  There we happily discovered we could park for a maximum of two days for free.   The area was really nice and we felt comfortable enough to leave the unit while we explored a bit of the Redwood Forest and the beach in Crescent City the next day.  

We are thankful for lessons learned and for friendly, accommodating Walmarts.

FORT STEVENS STATE PARK // OREGON

Emma-lee Hacker2 Comments

It’s been a few days since we entered the United States.  We have been without internet and we are all going through withdrawal! Haha! Even little Wesley cannot understand why he cannot “connect worlds” with his older sisters on Minecraft!  I have enjoyed the change though.  It seems quieter - if that makes any sense. 

The border crossing through Aldergrove, BC was one of the easiest we have experienced.  We were asked hardly any questions and wished a great day as we were sent on our way.  Since we had to go in the transport truck lane with the fifth wheel, we also bypassed a huge line-up of cars waiting to go across.  Yay! :-)

We rallied the vehicles together at the first pull-off down the road which happened to be in front of a dairy store.  (Not much different than Kawartha Dairy for all those back home.)  We had gone through the border with Jeremie driving the pick-up truck and pulling the fifth wheel, and I followed with all the children.  Our reasoning was that he would give consent for his children entering the US, so that no special letter of a consenting parent would be required.  Now that we were through the border, some of the children wanted to change vehicles and drive in the pick-up with Dad.

Well, for those who may also be crossing the Aldergrove border at some point in the future, Edaleen Dairy had the best ice cream we have had in a long time!  Perhaps the price of $1.25 per cone helped make them taste so good, I’m not too sure! Haha!  

Our first camping stop was Fort Stevens State Park in Oregon.  This is one of the largest State Parks in the country and it is located at the very north west corner of Oregon.  It is about 40 minutes north of the iconic Cannon Beach and was a functioning Fort from the Civil War all the way until 1947.  As we toured the military museum there, we also brushed up on our American history!  It was especially neat to see the fort after having just visited the one on Vancouver Island.  

Fort Stevens is located at the mouth of the Columbia River.  In the last 150 years the river has seen more than 2000 shipwrecks!  The Peter Iredale ship, which ran aground in 1906, can still be seen on the park’s shore. 

Cannon Beach and its signature Haystack Rock is beautiful and we had a gorgeous sunny day to explore it and the nearby Ecola State Park.  We came home with tired legs and pink cheeks on some of our faces! Jeremie and I both appreciated that we had our home with us and could easily relax in our own space after such a big day.

0Q2A3319.jpg

We are back into the rain again today as we head south to California and our adventure continues.

BUSY DAYS // BRITISH COLUMBIA

Cynthia 2 Comments

It is hard to believe that we will be leaving beautiful British Columbia.  Yes, the packing is now well underway and it is bittersweet.  Although we are so excited about the wonderful places we hope to explore in the United States, we are also sad to be leaving a place that has been home for so many months.  We have really enjoyed spending time with Jeremie’s parents, and his siblings and their families. We have also made several new friends who have shown us incredible kindness and hospitality.  We will miss all of them.

We have been busy these last few weeks as we have tried to fit in all those things we hoped to accomplish before we left.  We visited the Vancouver Aquarium and made use of the tickets we had pre-ordered through AirMiles.

We also celebrated some birthdays.  Jeremie’s Dad turned 79 at the end of February and this last weekend we had a Knights and Princess Party for Wesley and Rosie.  This party was inspired by Playmobil and we had so much fun putting it all together.

IMG_6657.JPG

Another opportunity we had, was to attend the Festival of Hope in Vancouver.  We enjoyed hearing "The Afters" and "For King and Country" in concert.  For four of our children this was their first concert.  It was so much fun.  We also really enjoyed hearing Franklin Graham speak.  When he asked if anyone would like to ask Jesus into their heart, both Wesley and Rosie decided they would like to.  It was definitely a night we will remember for a long time!

In celebration of International Women’s Week, "The Sky’s No Limit Girls Fly Too" organization hosted a free event at the Abbotsford International Airport, where they offered free helicopter flights for girls.  Because of the popularity of the event, they decided to release the tickets in blocks, sometimes through Facebook and sometimes through Twitter.  You had to be online at the time the block was released as they filled up quickly.  So, when a block opened up after midnight at the end of January, I was ecstatic to be able to not just get one ticket, but seven!  Jeremie and I decided to keep it a surprise until the day of the event.  I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed teasing the girls with strange hints about what the surprise might be…like this one… “You might want to wear your hair down because you will have something that will be covering your head and ears!” heh!heh!

The girls and I were soooo excited to be able to go on a helicopter ride!  

Rosie and I were able to go up first and then we watched as the big girls got to go up in their helicopter.  

The pilot said that he had never had five sisters on his helicopter before and after the flight wanted a picture with them.  The volunteers were kind enough to allow me beyond the safety barricade so I could also get a photo and we had the sixth and littlest sister join them for the photo too! haha!

Following our helicopter rides, we walked around and enjoyed checking out all the displays and various hands on activities at the event.  Universities and colleges that specialize in various aviation and aerospace fields were there, as well as, representatives from the Canadian coast guard and military.  We even had an opportunity to meet Astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper. 

The extra little girl in this photo is a new friend of Rosie's.  We learned that she is also homeschooled and that her family is visiting all the way from Japan where they live as missionaries.  It was wonderful to meet her and her Mom.

The extra little girl in this photo is a new friend of Rosie's.  We learned that she is also homeschooled and that her family is visiting all the way from Japan where they live as missionaries.  It was wonderful to meet her and her Mom.

Rosie the Riveter! Haha! 

Rosie the Riveter! Haha! 

We also toured several planes including a couple of water bombers.

When we came home, we learned that Wesley had visited a toy store with Daddy and had spent some of his birthday money on a new plane…which happened to also be a water bomber! :-)

IMG_20170312_165526.jpg

Now on to our next adventure!

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Cynthia 9 Comments

I have always said that to be a “fly on the wall” in our house would be very entertaining.  Sometimes it would be great entertainment and other times, well, not so much! :-P When my friend Karen asked me to write about the details of our day to day life here in our RV,  I gotta be honest, my first reaction was, “Uh, ya right! Are you sure you want to know?? Why don’t you just enjoy the pretty pictures of the scenery!” Hahaha!  We sure have some really neat moments living on the road.  Why today, for example, as I was driving over to my in-laws a bald eagle swooped down in front of our truck and crossed over the road to land on a tree beside me.  It was awesome!!!  But, tonight as I write this, stuff seems piled everywhere, and it is not so awesome (gotta love laundry day!)  But, I will try to give you a peek at life in our tiny home as I answer some of the most common questions we get asked.

The first question of course, is "How do you do it?” followed quickly by the statement,  "I could never do that!"

Well, let’s face it, we have shoved nine people into a space just over 300 square feet!  It is squishy!  It is messy and sometimes frustrating.  Years ago, we learned about a man named Dave Ramsey and his “Total Money Makeover.”  One of his famous quotes reads something like this, “You have to live like no one else, so you can live like no one else.”  Of course, he is referring to becoming debt free, but I think the quote works for us living in this RV too.  We are “living like no one else, so we can live like no one else.”  Honestly, it can be hard on teens to share such a small space with younger siblings and sometimes ours are fed up with it.  But, I hope they realize (and I think they already do) that they are experiencing incredible things they would not have the privilege of enjoying if we had not opted to take this opportunity when it presented itself, even if it is squishy!  Also, I love that they are bonding as siblings.  Although the teens might get frustrated with the younger ones from time to time, they also take great joy in their antics and cute behaviours.  Those little ones look up to their big sisters and adore them in return.  One of their favourite things this winter has been to go on a “date” with an older sister to get sushi, a bubble tea or candy in town.  

IMG_20170214_144552.jpg

Although we are living full-time in our RV, we are stationary for large chunks of time.  This past year, especially so.  We spent May through to October at a campground in Ontario and from November to March at a campground in British Columbia.  In the summer our kids were busy with summer jobs and children’s programs and because of this, they were outside much of the time.  Time with friends was a huge component of our summer.  This winter is definitely very different than the one we experienced last year when we were traveling for six months.  Just like when we were in our house in Ontario, this winter has been a quieter season as we busy ourselves with homeschooling and day to day routines. 

“Tell me about your Routine" 

What’s that?! haha!  I guess everyone has a routine, but at this time ours would be seen as very loose.  This winter, our weekday mornings are slow and usually start with reading and school work.  Sometimes the girls will opt to sit on their beds under the covers to get their school work done and other times they will opt to sit at the kitchen table.  It really doesn’t matter to me, so long as progress is being made.  Wesley is not a big fan of school work.  He would much rather play Minecraft, build Lego or play with Playmobil. But then again, what five year old would rather practice writing letters and numbers than play with his favourite toys?!   He is only five so really we are not worried. :-) He is doing great in Math and is also learning to read.  Rosie on the other hand, doesn’t really have any specific school work to do (she is only 3) and literally asks every morning if it is a school day and if she can please do school work…so funny!!  By lunch, school is in full swing (hopefully) and we can plan a walk by mid-afternoon, a shopping trip, or a visit to Grandma’s.  Life is pretty simple and although it is great to have a visit with Grandma every week, we all are missing the excitement of exploring new places like we do when we are traveling.  This past week I spent an entire day planning out our trip back to Ontario.  We are really looking forward to this upcoming trip.

"Food/ How can you possibly cook in that small space?"

Well, we do.  Counter space is at a premium and often preparing for a meal involves tidying up and preparing the workspace first.  We grocery shop mostly at Costco, Walmart and No Frills and I pretty much cook the same meals I did in the house.  The only difference is our fridge is 8 cubic square feet (yes, I said 8!) so I have to plan out our meals a bit and I usually have a bin of vegetables on the floor in the corner.  As I type, the bin has a couple of heads of cabbage in it, some sweet potatoes and onions.  I don’t have enough room in the fridge and they will keep just fine where they are for a bit.

"How can you all sleep in there? Is there enough room?"

Our RV came with two bedrooms.  The master bedroom has a king size bed.  The back bedroom has double slide outs and in each slide out there was an upper bunk with a queen size sofa-bed below when we purchased it.  The sofa-beds came with air-mattresses instead of spring mattresses which were destroyed in less than a month of our purchasing the RV.  Instead of purchasing new air-mattresses we decided to build two twin beds into the spaces with a trundle bed underneath.  The room sleeps six.

Any of you who have children will know, life is a constant adjustment.  Ideas will work great for a while and then they have to be changed up a bit.  Well, this was true in the back bedroom.  The kids have played musical beds a bit and we have finally figured out the best arrangement of who sleeps where (for now!)   

Our couch in the main living area also sleeps two, so we have reserved that place for our only boy.  This way the girls get their own room and privacy.  They also have a little powder room back there which helps with getting ready in the morning.

"Where do you put all your clothes?"

One of the biggest challenges with downsizing is determining how much you will need while on the road.  I don’t know about you, but I always pack way too much stuff!  I do laundry about once a week so each of us has about one weeks worth of winter-type clothing and one weeks worth of summer-type clothing, give or take a bit.  When we left Ontario in the fall, we knew we were going to be in Canada most of the winter, so we did leave a few of our summer clothes behind to save space in the RV.  However, that being said, we did bring winter coats, hats, and mitts.  We ended up purchasing boots in BC when we realized just how wet and muddy (and snowy) it was out here.  The girls winter coats are hanging on "Command Hooks" on their bedroom wall and Jeremie, Wesley, Rosie and my coats are hanging on our master bedroom door rack.  I am already looking forward to putting these into a vacuum sealed “space" bag and storing them when we finally are back in warmer weather.  They are hanging in a high traffic zone and are sometimes annoying.

The girls have two shelves and one drawer for their belongings.  They tend to use one shelf for their odds and ends (like books, jewelry boxes, etc.) and the rest for clothes. Jeremie and Wesley each have two drawers in the master bedroom dresser and also some closet space.  Rosie has two bins that sit on the floor of the master bedroom closet and all her little dresses are hung up.  I primarily use the closet and a couple of shelves next to it.  I probably have the most clothes but let’s face it, I have also been collecting them for the longest! Haha!  I do need to fix this…perhaps another blog post could be one about a "Capsule Wardrobe.”  I think I am almost there, but not quite. ;-)

When we lived in our old house the thing that bugged me the most was our front entrance.  It was so small and I always felt there was never enough room for all the shoes!  Hahaha!  Well, perspective sometimes helps you appreciate what you no longer have.  Talk about a small front entrance!  During this past summer, I purchased black, stacking shoe-drawers from Ikea (http://www.ikea.com/ca/en/catalog/products/30110832/) They work great for flip flops, ballet flats and running shoes but not so much for winter boots.  After seeing that we were overflowing with footwear this winter, we decided to purchase an ordinary shoe rack from Costco and limit ourselves to one pair of boots and store the rest of the footwear either in the back of the van or under the trailer in a bin for now.  With nine of us, there just isn’t room for multiples of shoes.   Sometimes Sunday mornings have the girls scrambling to find their more dressy footwear, but for the most part, this solution seems to be working great. 

Well, those are all the questions that come to my mind.  If you can think of any other questions, don’t hesitate to ask!  It is a unique lifestyle for sure and we love it!