Sunday, June 17, 2018

Round Rock Express Baseball: a Family Tradition

Our crazy family seems to make a habit of cramming several birthday into one month. June is packed full! Ron, Scott, Jamie, Samantha, Sophia, and Sophie all have birthdays in June. It is always such a busy month anyway, with school just getting out, family vacations starting, and added to the mix; Father's Day. One year, we decided to spend an evening in Round Rock at an Express baseball game, and have gone back every June since then. The Round Rock Express is a feeder team for the Texas Rangers so we follow them closely, often seeing players move up to the big league.
It usually is pretty toasty in June; but, evening games are fairly comfortable after the 3rd or 4th inning.  The grands haven't always enjoyed the games; but, they like the food, playground, music, silly infield games, and just spending time with each other.
This year, our gathering was a little smaller than normal.  Ryan had to skip out because he has some sort of viral thing going on and his body is miserable, fever blisters, an odd rash, aching joints, fever or chills, and bulging eustachian tubes. He figured he would be extra miserable with the heat the way it is this year.  Becca and Ed just moved into a different house, and Becca is now working in Waco. They missed the game as well. Gerson was working as well.  But, those of us who went, enjoyed the company and the game. Which, by the way, was super exciting... in the last inning! I almost talked Ron into leaving at the end of the 8th inning because I didn't think they could come from behind and win. Happily, the grands wanted to stay and I was wrong! They won!!
Here are a few pics from our 2018 trip. I look forward to many more.

Scott's gift from Gerson. I doubt the big, white guy will be wearing this shirt very often.

I absolutely LOVED Sophie's Goodwill shirt! I have to find me one just like it.

Seth is a pretty good sport about hanging out with his grandparents and
tiny cousins. 

Maggie has started watching the Rangers on TV... a girl after her Mimi's heart.

Oh, Scott. He doesn't believe in a normal picture face... unless he is caught off guard.
Thank goodness these ladies are beautiful enough that he isn't a distraction.

Happy Birthday Boy!

Samantha sat next to me most of the game. She is a great
conversationalist! We had quite a few really nice chats.

It was a bit of an intense moment in the game. 

I was super excited to see 2 Rangers playing. I'm not sure if they were there getting ready
to be taken off the disable list or what.

Austin Biben-Dirks and Ryan Rua both play for the Rangers.

I was lucky to get them lined up for 3 pictures!

Sophia has learned so much from Ryan. Even not so good things like making
strange faces in pictures.

Leslie and the girls. Gerson wasn't able to get away from work.

These girls love the crazy dances between innings.

Rua! Rua!

Can they be any more adorable?

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Meridian State Park Camping Trip

Ron and I have been taking our dumb dog on longer and longer rides, hoping to prepare him for life on the road in an RV.  On one of our long drives, we stumbled across Meridian State Park.  ( It is a pretty small park, in a relatively hilly area of north-central Texas. It has easy hiking trails, a lake for fishing, canoes, or kayaks, full-hook up sites, and the cleanest park restrooms of all the parks we've visited. I scheduled a family camp out over a holiday weekend in February, which is really the best month for camping in Texas.  It seems like the worst of our "winter" is over by then, and it is a relatively dry month.  Unfortunately, this trip ended up getting cut short because it rained the last day we were there.
Meridian State park is centrally located betweenTemple, Gatesville (where Becca lives) and Ft. Worth (where Leslie lives.) I think it was about an hour and a half drive for each of us, with the added benefit of not having to drive on I-35! Ryan and the twins didn't get the Monday holiday at their school districts, so they weren't able to join us. Otherwise, we would have tried to find a park a little farther south.
Ron, Scott, and I went out early to get camp set up, that way the rest of the family could come and go as time allowed.  We were even able to run back into town for church on Sunday, so weekend camping at this park will be perfect.
For some reason, I didn't get as many pictures of the park as I thought. It really is beautiful and my pictures do't do it justice. But, the subject matter of these photos is pretty amazing to me.

No matter where we go, Maggie spends time
reading and writing.

Sophie loves the yard games we have in the RV.
She will even play by herself.

This was Pete's first trip. That boy needs
socialization classes!!!!

Tico is getting better. He is usually a nervous wreck at night,
especially if it storms.

Next to the lake, there is a really nice group picnic area
with a pavilion.

Becca and Ed came out to spend the afternoon with us.

Hoss LOVED the lake!

We ended us with a wet dog smell around camp for a while.

There was really nice fishing pier and cleaning station; Scott
took the girls down for some fishing but they
didn't catch anything.

Meals still tend to be a challenge. This one was a hit with the
grands and so easy! Chili, chips and cheese.

Another meal that ended up being super easy and required no
refrigeration was Dinty Moore beef stew over egg noodles.
Everyone loved it; but, we were pretty hungry.

The dogs on leashes, camp chairs, and a fire pit
require lots of coordination!

Ahhh; my favorite way to spend an evening at camp.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

De-cluttering and Re-doing: Master Bedroom

As Ron and I began to consider moving into an RV full time, I realized that we have a lot of crap to get rid of before that can EVER happen! Since January, we have given away furniture, tools, household items, holiday decor, and assorted plunder. Each month we donate boxes of things to either Goodwill or Adapt of Texas. We considered gathering things in one area until we had enough for a yard sale; but, honestly... it's too hot in Texas to be sitting outside all day trying to earn a few buck by selling our unwanted things.  Donating what our kids and grandchildren can't use just makes more sense for us. Even though we've been at this for six months now,  it still seems as though every closet, drawer, nook, and cranny in our house has stuff in it.  Not only do we have to de-clutter; but, we have to make sure we don't accumulate more stuff and undo all of our hard work.

Our bedroom was probably the easiest room to de-clutter. I was able to donate most of my work wardrobe to charity, simply because I don't need to wear professional dress every day.  Ron had accumulated a plethora of t-shirts from various sports teams and ball tournaments that he has officiated over the years. Those were difficult for him to part with so he kept what still fits (insert a smile and a wink here.)  We have gone through things twice already, and will most certainly go through them again when we sell the house.  It has actually been very liberating to let go of the excess stuff. Along with getting rid of things, we have instituted a "buy one; toss one" rule.  For example, if we buy a new piece of clothing, we have to get rid of one.  That has drastically reduced my shopping! We also had a lot of junk in jewelry boxes that needed to be sorted through. I donated most of my work costume jewelry to Goodwill. I kept a few things that have sentimental meaning or monetary value.  I'll probably give those to my daughters, once we finally move out of the house. I hope to get to the point where the jewelry I own will fit into a 3X5 file box.

When we de-cluttered, I decided the room needed to be painted. Besides, I hadn't painted in several years so the walls were pretty dinged up. The bedspread was being donated anyway and the quilt I wanted to use on my bed now and once we are in the RV didn't match the peach walls.  I took all of the decor out of the room and if it couldn't be used for staging the house when it is on the market, I got rid of it.  I kept a few things that are small and lightweight to use in our RV. It seem a little bare in there now; but, it does look fresh, bright, and clean.

I can't put a post on the blog without pictures, so these were taken after the bedroom was purged and painted.

The quilt on the bed is one that Mom had made a few years ago. She had it on her bed before she passed away and it has a lot of memories attached to it.  Because I spent so much time with her and Dad while they were in HOSPICE care, I started many mornings by making her bed with this quilt on it.  It was one of the things I chose for myself when we were cleaning out her house.  Luckily, there was a lot of fabric left over from the quilt in her sewing room. I found a piece large enough to make a couple of simple valances to match.

Our bedroom furniture will stay in our house until we sell it. After that, we will probably give it to one of the kids.  Each of them has a guest room we stay in when we visit so one of them can probably put this to good use there.

I hope to have a wall big enough to hang my sunflower painting in the RV bedroom. I love this stupid painting! Our staff had a back to school party at the local Painting With a Twist and we each made one.  I saw variations of this painting in so many classrooms! I think of the wonderful people I taught with each time I look at it.

 Not only did I manage to find enough scrap fabric to make the valances, I managed to piece together a table runner for the top of the dresser. I used to think blue and yellow were cub scout colors. But, I've grown fond of the color combination by trying to find things to use with Mom's quilt.

Here is a better picture of the table runner. I tried to mimic one of the pieced panels in Mom's quilt. I didn't have a pattern so I did a lot of measuring, cutting, piecing, and guessing. It didn't turn out too bad at all!

The purging will continue through the next 3-6 months; and, I hope to see light at the end of the tunnel one of these days.  Ron and I are in no rush to sell the house or buy the RV so we are taking our time.  Some of our friends think we are crazy; others are envious.  Regardless, it is a dream we've had for many ears and we hope it comes true.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Our Family RV Remodel

Two years ago, our family went on a road trip to visit several National Parks.  We came to the painful realization that the price of hotels, cost of meals, and constant packing up and unpacking at each hotel were simply pains in the neck.  We started bouncing around the idea of getting a Class C RV for family road trips. When we got back from the trip, the topic of buying an RV continued to pop up; so, Leslie, Scott, and I went to look at new ones. Wow!!! They were so stinking expensive! That, and the fact that we had never used an RV before, made us look for a used one.  We checked Craig's list and found a used Class C that was in pretty good shape and pooled our resources to buy her.  We named her Miss Lippy, and started out using her for weekend trips to state parks.
We quickly discovered that Miss Lippy really didn't meet our needs.  There would be anywhere from 4 to 8 of us camping at one time; and, Miss Lippy realistically only slept 5. Honestly, probably 5 people under 5 ft. and weighing less than 100 lbs.
Our resident Jack-of-all-trades, Scott, said he could probably remodel Miss Lippy so that she was better suited to our needs.  It has been a 2 year journey; but, she is almost finished.  Behold... the transformation!
This is the kitchen before the remodel.  Typical 1980's decor of blues and mauve were used in the upholstery and wall paper border.

The jack-knife sofa was extremely uncomfortable, the carpet was a pain to keep clean, and the dining booth was too small for anyone but the grandchildren to sit in or sleep on.  There is also an over the cab bunk. But, I'm not sure what weight it is rated for, so only the grands are allowed to sleep up there.

The bedroom was separated from the bathroom area by a curtain. It had cabinets over and beside the full sized bed. There was also a corner cabinet with a TV that didn't work. Between the bedroom and living area, is a bathroom.  It had a sliding door that was constantly banging around so it was one of the first things we took off. It has been replaced with an accordion door.
The first project was intended to provide us with sleeping space that would fit people over 5 feet tall.  Scott gutted the bedroom area and had to reconfigure the plumbing, some wiring, and heat/AC vents.  He bought 2 smaller water tanks to replace the large one that was under the bed. He placed the smaller tanks on either side of the bedroom.  There were several PVC pipes that needed to be covered, and the under carriage storage to contend with; but, he managed to build boxes over those that are used as steps to access the upper bunks.

box covering new water tank

wiring and plumbing re-configured

new water tank

water pump, wiring, and plumbing; all were covered with a step
Scott spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to make the bunks solid enough for an adult but light enough to not add a lot of weight to the RV.  He also wanted to make them so they would drop down on the outside of the top bunk to make couches.  That way we would have a comfortable place to sit and talk, play games, or watch movies when the weather wouldn't let us be outside. We also wanted lightweight but comfortable mattresses that were a better quality than the typical bunk or RV mattress. We ended up buying memory foam and cutting it to fit. We cut 2 bunk mattress out of one queen mattress. They are covered with bunk mattress covers that don't fit really well, but I didn't want to go to the expense of having them upholstered.  We may do that sometime in the future.

The top bunk crosses in front of the window so we took the blinds off.  

I used a weathered gray stain rather than trying to paint the wood. I didn't want to have to prime and paint when I could use stain and get it done in one step. I also painted the walls while the space was gutted.

There is some wiring hanging down that went to the TV cabinet. Scott is going to put some bunk lights in (eventually) and the wiring will be gone. The lower bunk platform is level with the under carriage storage.
After the lower bunks were built, Scott had to order some metal bars for the top bunks.  He put piano hinges on the backs so they will fold down.  I had to come up with something to keep the heat out and give us some privacy. Blinds weren't going to fit so I found some cute camper fabric at Hobby Lobby and made giant pockets. We cut car window sun shields to fit the RV windows and those slip right into the pockets for insulation for the heat/cold. I put tabs with plastic rings on them to hang them over the windows.  We tried command hooks, but they fall off in the heat.  We are slowly replacing them with cup hooks. When we take the window covers off, they easily store under a bunk mattress.

We used peel and stick vinyl flooring on the unfinished plywood.  (No more carpet!!!) I want to get more to add to the front of the step.  Scott's cooler fits perfectly and it is used as the last step to get onto the top bunks. The rear window is also an emergency exit.  I had originally wanted Scott to put some sort of entertainment center here for a TV, DVD player, etc. But, I know we need to have the exit.

I found these organizers at IKEA.  They had to be altered to fit in the space but they are perfect storage for tablets, flash lights, water bottles, watches, etc.

The organizer was longer than shown with only one pocket at the top.  I folded it over, used jeans grommets to secure it. That gave us an additional pocket.  I can easily fit my lap top in the top pocket. Right now, these command hooks are working but I think I'll have to switch them out for something more secure.

This is the almost finished bunk room. I removed the old, floral curtain that was used for privacy and replaced it with a khaki colored one.  We still need to cover the front of the steps and put in bunk lights; but, it's usable the way it is now.  
We gave up what storage there was in this room when we built the bunks.  Leslie and I were at Ross one day and found some hard sided, fabric boxes with handles.  They fit perfectly under the bunks so we bought several of them.  It's convenient to take the boxes home and pack them, then put them under the bunks.  That way we aren't dealing with backpacks/suitcases.  Sometime in the future, Scott is going to gut the wardrobe in our bathroom area and replace it with shelving units to store the boxes.

Once the bunks were finished, we started on the living room/dining area. The guys pulled everything out so we could remove the carpet and put in benches that will convert to twin sized beds.  Because we were probably going to have people riding in this area when we travel, Scott left the seat belts on the sofa side.  While everything was torn out, Ron found used replacement seats for the cab (they were terribly uncomfortable) and the guys put those in as well.  Scott reused as much of the original wood as he could. I'm torn about that because I know it saved money; but, it's ugly.

There is a heat/AC vent that was squashed and didn't work anyway. I'm not really sure what Scott did with it; but, it isn't there any longer.  The cushions are actually a king sized memory foam mattress cut into 4 pieces and covered with some fabric I found at Hobby Lobby. I had them covered at a local upholstery shop rather than do it myself. It was well worth the added expense. 

Scott reused the doors on the dinette benches. We ended up having twice the storage with this bench. 

I had to put down flooring where the carpet was pulled up and stain what wood I could. I don't like the cheap RV wood below one of the benches but I'll just have to learn to deal with it.  We found a plastic folding table at Wal-Mart that fits between the two benches so we still have a place to eat indoors when we need to. The table is stored in the basement of Miss Lippy.  To turn these into beds, Scott made support legs and an add-on platform that are stored in the shower until we need to set up as beds. The back cushion then comes off and lays beside the bottom cushion. It makes a very comfortable bed that is plenty large enough! This is a huge improvement over the original furniture.

The bench where the sofa was. The seat belts are behind the bottom cushion.  The new cab seats are leather and have a lot more lumbar support than the original blue velor seats.

This bench is where the dinette was located.  We have clear pockets on each of the doors and I use 3X5 cards to write what is in each cabinet.  This saves us a lot of time when we are looking for stuff.

We are leaving the over cab bed alone. Luckily, it's a plain blue so it looks okay. The curtains up there are still in good shape so they will stay as well.  We have ordered replacement blinds for the windows behind the benches. These are in pretty bad shape and really faded.  

I painted the walls a very light gray, almost white. We found this peel and stick backsplash at Ross.  There were only 3 packages so I bought all they had. I would have loved to completely cover the back; but, this is a huge improvement over the wallpaper border.

As I mentioned, we have one more area to update. That is in the center of Miss Lippy. There is a split bathroom.  A shower and sink are on one side and a toilet room and large wardrobe on the other side. Scott wants to pull out the wardrobe and put a shelving unit in there.  He intends to have the shelves high enough that a dog kennel will fit under them.  That way we have the kennel for his crazy dog to sleep in. Our dogs, (Leslie & me) sleep wherever they can find a spot.

Miss Lippy has been quite an adventure. We have used her for camping at many of the state parks here in Texas while this whole remodeling process has taken place.  During that time, we have upgraded her tires all the way around. Ron and Scott plan to get all of her belts replaced soon because we will be taking her on her first real road trip in August.  Hopefully, she'll prove just how tough an old girl she really is. We can't wait!