Tuesday, August 30, 2011

On the road with Price Hill...

Alright, it has taken me way to long to post this update. You would think with Chris at home now, I would have more time to blog. Not the case. Anyhoo...

We are BACK! In case you didn't know we were gone, last month the whole family went on tour with Chris' band, Price Hill...for 3 weeks. Yes, it was hard and yes, it was awesome.

Here's a rundown:

Week 1: Christian Camp of the Living Word in Point, TX
1. We got our own bunk room with a bathroom! And it was attached to the cafeteria and game room, so we could actually leave the room with the monitors after the kids went to sleep. Priceless.
2. Max ran a 102 fever for a couple of days, so we had to take him to the ER. I know! The ER? For a fever? But, we couldn't see any local doctors with the kid's insurance so they sent us to the ER. Come to find out, they didn't take CHIP either. So we owe them a few hundred dollars...for giving Max Tylenol. Frustrating.
3. Ramona had a blast playing with the camp director's daughters, listening to Price Hill, swimming, sleeping in a bunk next to Mommy and Daddy, etc...

We left Point, TX and hit the road for Cincinnati, OH.

No way were we going to drive the whole way without stopping like the band, so we took our own car and camped (in a tent) for the night in Memphis, TN.

Camping in Memphis, TN
1. We arrived before dark and set up camp and the weather is beautiful!
2. I tore a small hole in the tent...oops.
3. Chris leaves to go get dinner for the family while we play at the playground.
4. We have a wonderful picnic of roasted hotdogs and chips and salsa.
5. We clean up and get ready for bed.
6. Chris starts looking for the laptop. (Ramona has been watching movies on it in the car.)
7. Chris realizes where it is and starts freaking out.
8. Apparently, when he got Ramona out of the car earlier, he set the laptop on top of the car...then went to pick up dinner.
9. Chris drives around looking for the laptop...on the highway.
10. Chris finds the laptop smashed to smithereens.
11. Chris mourns.

RIP, sweet mac.

We left Memphis, TN early the next morning and arrived in Cincinnati, OH that evening for dinner. That drive is beautiful!

Week 2: Cincinnati, OH and Surrounding Areas
1. The band plays in Ohio, Kentucky and Pennsylvania.
2. We stayed with a band member's in-laws in their awesome basement.
3. Me, Chris and the kids had our own room. The kids did great sleeping all together.
4. Max hit crazy milestones: cruising, pointing, table food. And he developed a love for the drums, fish tanks and the guitar player's wife, Allie.

The obsession begins.

Allie and Ramona running out of the misting cloud at the zoo!

5. Chris gets a speeding ticket. Dang!
6. The band van breaks down, but a good Samaritan at the Kentucky church we were at fixes it for free!
7. Our car breaks down, so we buy a new battery.

Week 3: Road Trip to Illinois, Iowa and Oklahoma
1. We hit the road to Illinois, only to have the car break down again in Indiana. It's the 4th of July, by the way, so not a lot of places are open.
2. We manage to get the car to a Auto Zone and they confirm that it's the alternator.
3. We say quick prayers and tell the guy that we are from Texas and have no place to go.
4. He calls a friend at NTB and they fit us in right away. (Thanks, God!)
5. Luckily, there is a Goodwill and a Dairy Queen open in the same parking lot, so we are entertained while we wait. I don't know what we would have done for 2 hours in a NTB with 2 kids.
Max had his first taste of desserts on tour.
He cried when the ice cream was gone.

6. We spent the night in Illinois at a lovely couple's home who volunteered to take us in after the band played at their church.
7. We spent another night in Iowa in the middle of beautiful farm land at a camp choc-full of kids Max and Ramona's age! I wish we could have stayed there longer.
8. Then we drove to Oklahoma and spent a night with my cousin and her super cute family.

Ramona and her cousin, Olivia, were instant friends!
(which means they didn't fight TOO much.)
I'm so sad we don't live closer.

9. Luckily, we had planned on stopping there, because Chris' car broke down AGAIN! I honestly, can't remember why this time.

And, finally, we headed home for a few days.

The kids and I were supposed to go with Chris to yet another camp for the final week of tour in Tanglewood, TX. But, the camp was too full and we didn't have anywhere to sleep. Honestly, we were fine with that. We were exhausted.

Nap times are quick and dirty on tour!

So, as you can see, there were many set backs on our trip. But it was amazing! God really took care of us. Every time we broke down, we were never in danger or had to walk for help. And when we got home, Chris' parents had bought a (relatively) inexpensive lap top for Ramona to play her games on. So we decided that would be better used as the family computer...sorry Ramona.

Even with the hard times, it felt great traveling to different cities doing what we believe God made us to do. And as an added bonus, we were able to see so many beautiful parts of the country. I took several breathtaking drives through the Kentucky hills while the kids napped in the backseat. (Note to self, taking pictures while driving is bad parenting!) I would love to settle down nestled in the Kentucky hills one day. Maybe after we are done touring like crazy with the band. (fingers crossed!) Our goal is to have the band be our main source of income. So far, God is blessing us like crazy with new opportunities. More posts to come on that, hopefully.

Extreme Save Mode

My family has been going through some big changes for the past 9 months in order to save money. Here's the rundown:

1. We sold our house. We bought it when we had two incomes and I was nine months pregnant with Ramona with no plans to be a Stay at Home Mom. Well THAT'S changed!

2. We signed up for CARES Apartment Life so that we could plan events for a local apartment complex and live there at a discount. CARES is a great Christian program, but as it turns out won't work with Chris' band schedule. We found that out AFTER we sold our house. But we knew that God wanted us to sell, so we moved in with Chris' parents for 5 months to figure out what our next step.

3. We purchased The Doublewide! It is a fraction of the cost of our old house with more square footage. Our mortgage payments are less than half of what we were paying. Yay! Also, because Chris' parents live on 3 acres of land, we get to set it up on their land for free! I am so excited about the kids being able to play on all of this land everyday. And best of all, the kids can walk over to Nanna and Paw Paw's house all by themselves. Well, Max can't walk yet, but you get the idea.

Chris and Doug built a deck for The Doublewide.
I LOVE it.

4. Chris and his Price Hill band-mates are finally quitting their day jobs and pursuing the band full time. They play Christian camps, youth events, concerts at churches and parks, revivals, etc... For many years they have been really successful at doing this part time. But we all believe that this is our calling and that God wants us to spread his word through music. What does this mean? Chris quit his job in June to play all the summer camps they had lined up. That's right, you read correctly, we are SELF EMPLOYED! So we are trusting God 100%. Chris had to turn down a promotion which would have led to a significant pay raise in order to play with the band this summer. Which was really scary, but we were not put on this earth to earn money. If this is truly our calling, we believe God will take care of us....and he has. (more posts to come)

Hence the EXTREME SAVE MODE. We are not spending ANYTHING unless we absolutely have to. Here's how we are making it work:
-No TV
-A shared cell phone plan with Chris' parents
-No internet...unless we sit by the window in the living room with our lap top.
-Food stamps (Thank you, LORD!)
-CHIP health insurance for the kids
-Medicaid for me and hopefully Chris soon
-$400 a month mortgage for The Doublewide
-A collection of odd jobs for me and Chris

We have managed to get our monthly bills down to around $1000 a month! Amazing! Hopefully Chris and I can actually earn that much a month. So far, so good!

Well, that's the updates. With the addition of eating organically, we are pretty much overhauling our whole lives. The organic thing is going great by the way. I lost several pounds and then we went on tour and ate camp food and pizza for 3 weeks.

The next post: Price Hill Summer Tour 2011!