Saturday, June 18, 2016

I cannot believe it's over!

It's truly hard to believe but we have actually completed our adventure! We got back to Texas and suddenly it hit us...the adventure of a lifetime was over. Instead of being our reality, it was now about to become a thing of our past, a thing we did that we can only now remember and talk about. I honestly cannot believe we succeeded. When we came up with this idea last summer, we thought we might be lunatics. We literally thought it would be a good idea to take three kids and set off around America in an RV! Let's add to that statement that I do not camp, have never camped and had no desire to camp EVER, in my whole life. Oh and for fun, let's also add that neither of us have ever driven an RV, owned an RV,  have never home schooled our children, had no idea if something of this magnitude could actually be pulled off and yet we still went ahead with it! We heard "we were insane, we were nuts, we were awesome, we were cool, we had lost our minds, we were incredible parents, we were bad parents, we were getting in over our heads" and so many other things. All of this should have stopped us, should have made us have doubts in our parenting abilities, should have made us just forget the whole idea. BUT IT DIDN'T. The more we talked about it, the more real it became, the more we saw we had to at least try. We knew that if we tried and failed, at least we could know we tried to do something extraordinary with our kids. We knew that if we had gotten ourselves this excited and then decided not to bother, we would regret it the rest of our lives. Sometimes you have to tune out everything else and just trust your gut. Trust that you are being led to make an insane decision and hope and pray there is someone, somewhere looking out for you.

 Don't get me wrong, we had our share of moments this past year that we are not proud in 400 sqft is gonna make anyone crazy! Our kids have heard a few choice words come out of our mouths that we never dreamt we'd say in front of them. They have seen us fight and make-up, they have learned to live with so much less, they have truly seen how others live and have voiced over and over to us how lucky they are.  They have become their own little pack...having each others backs for the rest of their lives, they have seen and done things they might never have had the chance to do had we not taken them on this adventure, they have made and checked off bucket lists, they have  made their own dreams a reality, and they have seen that hard work pays off. The biggest thing we hope they have taken from this is that it is okay to dream and it is even more okay to take a crazy risk. You may be successful or you may fail. But if you don't try, you have no way of knowing what the ending would be. Let's be real...I never had a dream to live in an RV, never had any desire to pack up my life every few days like a homeless person, but I did have a dream to take my kids to every state in America and show them just how amazing our country is. I had a dream to spend endless time with my kids as they become young men really just enjoying them, spending time with them, playing with them and learning who they are slowly becoming.

I never in my life thought I would be sad to have the RV gone, but I am. Being back home is great, we have a beautiful new home, we have seen our friends and family that we missed, our kids are back to the daily hustle of sports, appointments, sleepovers, etc. We have all our stuff back from storage, we have a dishwasher again :) and we all have our own space to get away from each other. And you know what, every single one of us would give it all up in a heartbeat if we had the chance to do this again. We have all learned so much about ourselves this past year, and have learned that we actually really like being on top of each other, in each others business. We like having nothing to do on our schedule, we like having only each other to rely on and we like spending endless time together. Funny enough, we have this big new house with our own space and 95% of the time we are all in the same room. I am so proud of us, proud that we stood our ground and did this, proud that we made it home having actually checked off our whole list. I told my kids continually some things are clearly meant to be in life and this trip is an example of that. I thank God everyday for keeping us safe the entire time. We had zero incidents, zero emergencies, we missed severe weather constantly by pure luck.  Gas was at record lows the entire year, enabling us to complete this trip. The perfect home fell into our laps in the exact place we wanted to return. There are so many things that could've gone wrong over and over and they just didn't. We are truly blessed to grow old together knowing we did something with our kids that made a difference in their lives, gave them something they will remember forever and know we can both now look back and say "we actually did it" with giant smiles on our faces!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Texas...we have arrived!!!

Well, we actually made it! We crossed the border into Texas and we all felt a mix of emotions. The trip was actually over, but we had all kinds of new excitements awaiting us! The drive into Texas is one I will never forget. We came though Amarillo (stopping at Sam's Club to load up on supplies for our house!) and decided to just drive as far as we could. Craig and the boys were particularly anxious as they had never seen our home that we were heading to! Around 9pm we were up in the scariest part of America, the panhandle of Texas and border of Oklahoma...Tornado Alley. I have a lifelong fear of tornadoes and wanted to be out of here as fast as possible. Imagine my horror when we ended up there in the dark, in the middle of a thunderstorm with my phone going off nonstop alerting me to tornadoes literally just miles from us! Oh...and we are in a driving death machine!!! My phone is saying "seek shelter", the warnings literally said "mobile homes will be destroyed" and we are smack dab in the middle of it! The scariest part of the whole night was when we have the pedal to the metal...literally, going max speed for our bus, and two storm chasers go flying past us! To say we felt true fear is an understatement. I gotta hand it to my husband, he stayed calm and was my rock cause I was peeing my pants in fear. I had all the kids in their beds with headphones playing tablets so they couldn't see just how scared I actually was. Once again, we had God watching over us. We made it out of crazy town as the storm was crossing the freeway and truly are thankful for someone watching over us keeping us safe.

Arriving at our house was the best moment for me...seeing the kids with their heads hanging out the windows, dying to see their new house was a memory I will never forget. I was so anxious for all of them to see it, I picked it out, saw it and made all the changes 100% solo. Fortunately for me...everyone was thrilled! We immediately rented a U-Haul and Craig and the big boys set off to storage to collect our belongings while Luke and I began the job of emptying the RV. About 6 hours later, I get a call from Craig. He is out of breath telling me his phone is almost dead. I honestly remember thinking "then why are you are wasting your battery calling me?" He keeps repeating "my phone is about dead and I don't have a charger in truck" and then finally follows up with "Kate...I don't freakin know where we live!" about pee your pants laughing!! Poor Craig...we moved about 30 miles from our last house. While he knows general area we live at, and knows our address, he had no clue what exit we lived off of our what streets you turn off of ;)

Now we are in the process of settling in...we are buried among boxes, we are eating non stop takeout, we are hot, sweaty and disgusting from moving, we are sleeping on mattresses on the floor but we are home, right where we belong :)

Sunday, May 22, 2016


We are officially on the last stop of this 9 month mega adventure! It blows my mind that in one week we will be home, sleeping in our new house and this whole trip will be a distant memory. Our official last stops were Montana & Wyoming. I say both as we literally stayed on the border of both in order to visit Yellowstone National Park. It is so easy to see why Montana is called God's country. The scenery is breathtaking and goes on as far as you can see. I feel like Montana is a place I am gonna buy a big old ranch in if I ever win the lottery :) Yellowstone is so much cooler in person than it could ever be described to you. There are literally mini geysers all over the park, right off the side of the road. There is an abundance of wildlife (kinda like a smaller scale of Custer State Park!) and boardwalks everywhere that you can walk out over the bigger geysers! Seeing Old Faithful was the big attraction on our bucket list and it was such a cool experience! Getting to sit with my kids and watch Old Faithful literally blow its top was the perfect ending to this adventure! And let me tell you, it isn't a quick blow...this went on for almost 13 minutes!!!

On we go to make the final 26 hour drive home! We are all ready and excited! I am the only one that has seen our new house so I am extra excited to see what they all think of it :) We shall see how many days we can make it in...Texas get we come!!!!

Friday, May 20, 2016


Well, we have hit the grand finale for our trip...Alaska! I honestly cannot believe we made it this far...back when this whole trip was a dream, we talked about Alaska as this mythical, far away place that would be our ending and holy cow...WE ACTUALLY MADE IT!!! We opted to fly from Seattle to Anchorage to save time rather than drive although we would love to actually do the drive someday. Let me start by saying that after a week in Alaska, I feel like I found the state this whole family could run away to and not look back. I have never seen a more beautiful place and wish it was some kind of law that every citizen of America had the opportunity to visit here someday!

Our first stop was Anchorage and we packed in the fun! We went to the Reindeer farm where we got to hand feed reindeer! And these aren't just ordinary reindeer; Santa actually comes here every year to pick the best of the best to join him in the North Pole! Luke about peed himself with excitement when he learned this info! Top that with learning that Rudolph and his Dad "John Deer" came from here and that little boy was flying so high on a cloud it will take him months to surface! I have to say, you honestly could feel the magic at this place and we had the most incredible 3 hours ever! Our next stop was the Anchorage Zoo...home of Matt's first moose sighting!!! Another win for this family! How neat to get to see all of the animals native to Alaska all in one place!!! Anchorage was also home to sea-plane watching, the worlds largest chocolate fountain, lots of souvenir shopping, hanging out on the beach, lots of hiking though the woods, and following the local moose paths!

Our next major stop was Seward, a super cute, teeny-tiny town that would lead us to glaciers! Craig's Dad joined up with us for this leg of the trip and the kids were excited to have Grandpa along for the fun. We stopped to see the Portage Glacier which was sadly shrinking due to a warm spring but rest assured was still there! Big shock my people felt the need to hop into the Arctic, FREEZING water (if their are glaciers it's clearly cold!) and actually hold a chunk of ice! Talk about once in a lifetime experiences!! In Seward we went to the Sea Life Center and Otter Rehabilitation Center. So much fun!!! We saw 4 day old otters, watched the most hilarious sea lion family having a family dispute and got up close and personal to so many animals. Our hotel was right in the water and we could see the fisherman bringing in their catches from our windows, as well as the otters playing in the water below us! Our big adventure in Seward was the Glacier and marine tour we took...coolest experience ever! We not only saw Shamu and his family in the wild, we saw Mountain Goats, Sperm Whales, Dolphins, Orcas, Bald Eagles, Moose, Dall's Porpoise, Gray Whales, Humpback Whales, Stellar Sea Lions, Puffins, Black Bears and Seals! On top of all this crazy wildlife, we saw glaciers so close we could feel the spray of ice breaking off! What an amazing adventure!!!

Homer was our next major stop and we got to go through the Kenai River on our way there...what a beautiful drive! I'm absolutely in love with this entire state and cannot stop staring out the windows! In Homer we stayed with Eileen and Dave, friends of Craig and his Dad since his Dad's childhood and such kind people! They made us feel right at home and we enjoyed our entire visit. In Homer we got to see the world's largest fish hook, the actual ship from "Deadliest Catch", more bald eagles, more moose, went to the Islands and Ocean Visitor Center, saw a crazy amount of otters playing in the water, shopped for more souvenirs, played outside in the breathtaking scenery and went up the road to the sleepy town of Ninilchik for our biggest adventure...halibut fishing!!! Matt has bee looking forward to this since before the trip began and it did not disappoint! We had a private, chartered boat that took us out for 6 hours to find our fish. (I would have happily skipped this adventure but as a Mom, could NOT miss seeing my Matt's face when he got to finally catch the fish of his dreams! I despise fishing, battled sea sickness and migraines and would still do it all over again to see those smiles and excitement on my guys faces!!!) Our 2 captains could not have been nicer to the kids and went out of their way to make sure they had a fun day. Everyone gets 2 fish per Alaska law so you can bet for the price we paid Craig made me record my 2 fish as well :) And no..I did not actually catch them but rather ran over and grabbed Craig;s rod once he had them on the line, pretended I caught them and let Craig pull them in! Seeing Luke beat the fish with mallets, Brian almost falling in doe to tension on his rod, Matt with a smile as big as his face and Craig beaming with pride will go down as my favorite Alaska memory!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Washington (& Idaho)

We are nearing the end of this mega-adventure as we are almost out of states!!! Washington has been so much fun! We saw the whole state as we got to spend time on the both the western and eastern sides, visiting both Seattle and Spokane.

Seattle was a blast! The kids and I spent an afternoon at a pinball museum, where one price got my guys unlimited pinball games!! Talk about right up their league of fun! Luke even managed to break the existing record on one of the machines! We explored the famous Pike's Peak Market, watched the fish tossing, bought a giant bouquet of flowers and even went to the original Starbucks!! The best part of our Seattle fun was the ferry ride we took to Bainbridge Island. My kids have been on so many cruise ships and they were acting like it was their first boat ride :)  They couldn't get over the fact that we drove the Jeep right onto the boat and were parked next to a school bus and an 18 wheeler! We also got to see my friend Shelley and her family while in Seattle. Shelley and I taught together way back when at Immaculate Heart Academy in Arizona. We have kept in touch over the years but haven't actually seen each other in 14 years! Our kids had a blast together and catching up was such a great time!

Spokane was home for two weeks, one of which we spent in Alaska. Craig's sister Gretchen and our nieces live there and we have been so excited to get to spend time with them. What a whirlwind week of fun and tragedy. The kids had so much fun together playing, golfing (& sadly injuring poor Uncle Phil!), running in the girls school fun run, celebrating belated Birthday's, playgrounds, picnics, going to Coeur d' Alene, Idaho to spend the day on the beach paddleboarding, swimming and playing (with Craig, Gretchen & Phil while I made a very insane less than 24 hour trip to Texas to see our new house!). A huge surprise was the elopement of Gretchen & Phil with us as the guests! Craig walked his sister down the aisle and it was so wonderful for all of us to be included in the surprise!! The trip also held a very sombering experience for us all...our precious 6 year old nephew found his forever home after a horrific 5 year medical battle. Arron was Craig and Gretchen's sister Chandelle's son, and the sweetest, strongest, bravest little guy I have ever met. Chandelle is a true example to motherhood and we all should wish we could be half the mother she has been to Aaron. Gretchen flew to be with Chandelle and we stayed in Washington with all the kids. We had the sweetest day celebrating all things train in honor of Aaron, and ended our night with a train ride around Spokane park. It was the perfect tribute for a group of kids to remember their cousin...

Monday, May 2, 2016

Vancouver, Canada

Well you know we couldn't get this close to the border and NOT cross it!!! The kids love any opportunity to use their passports so to Vancouver we went! The trip was off to a great start until we reached the border...Leave it to us to be randomly chosen for inspection crossing border into Canada. We got to all pile out of RV and answer questions while they search the RV. The officer standing in doorway says "I thought you said you left your guns in Texas" to which Craig and I both reply "we did". He says "upon opening your center upper cabinet there appears to be multiple guns"...I start laughing, Craig looks like he's about to panic and glaring at me wondering what I have thing we hear is the second officer from inside yell "they are toys!" I am now dying laughing, officer in door is now chuckling and Craig starts having color return to his face...AND THE BEST NEWS... the 6 cap guns are safe and allowed to continue the journey!

 After we finished our lesson to the kids on how border patrol works, we were shocked to find Vancouver was a complete surprise to was much larger than we expected, way more expensive than we had thought (think Hawaii prices), and extremely populated. On the flip side, the beaches are gorgeous, the restaurants are plentiful and delicious, THEY HAVE AN UNDERGROUND WALMART, and they are home to the coolest suspension bridge we have ever seen!

Capilano Park is home to a 450 long, 230 foot high bridge that is just swaying over a massive rushing river...too cool! And you get to walk across it as many times as you want! One you cross it, it leads to to a tree canopy bridge park that takes you through an actual rainforest! On the other side is a glass bottom cliff walk that hangs you from the side of the mountain dangling over that same river! This place is an adrenaline junkies paradise (and big shocker my people LOVED it!) I freely admit I had reservations about crossing that bridge but turns out it was really fun and I am so glad I joined the fun! I did skip the cliff walk for the gift shop (a girl has her priorities!) but am okay having missed that one!

We also spent a day at Stanley Park, Canada's version of Central Park complete with the horse drawn rides! What a beautiful place to spend the day seeing the beach, playing football, enjoying a picnic, walking the seawall and just enjoying the beautiful day! Our trip to Vancouver was short and sweet but we definitely enjoyed ourselves!

Monday, April 25, 2016


The coast of Oregon might be as close to I can imagine what Heaven might look is truly something to see. This is my perfect idea of beach living...I could have the backyard of sand and ocean, hear and watch the waves, and see whales and seals from my windows all while never having to actually get into the fish water as it is just too cold! Our drive into Oregon was its own adventure as we were taking the scenic coastal highway...something we can now say we've done that is on so many people's bucket lists :)  Seriously...seeing the teal blue ocean out your left windows and the massive Redwoods out your right is something I hope everyone gets a chance to see at some point in their lives!

We stopped with the kids for a break to play in the massive trees...and of course Luke managed to give us a laugh :) Why he thought it was a good idea to kick his legs up and down over the river like he was a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader, sending his shoe flying into the river is beyond me! He literally just stopped and burst into sobbing tears screaming about his shoe as we all watched it float down the river, laughing our butts off like the good parents we are!! Fortunately Luke has some seriously awesome big brothers who bolted down the riverside and actually managed to catch his shoe downstream!!!

Gold Beach, Oregon was our home for a few days and one we literally had to drag ourselves away from. Looking out our RV windows at the Pacific Ocean is hard to replicate anywhere else and something we will miss having the opportunity to do when this adventure is over! We spent so much time playing on the beach, sitting face to face with seals, whale watching, spending hours watching the wild sea otters, and even saw a few bald eagles! The coolest thing about Gold Beach is the treasure hunt they set up for the visitors. They continually hide these beautiful glass balls all over the coast, in the grass and dunes and you get to search for them. You even get to keep your treasure! We spent hours playing pirate and searching for treasure!!! Craig and I took the kids on a private tour of the Salmon Hatchery and had the most fascinating hour learning every little detail about this sleepy fishing town's main industry! The kids couldn't let a trip to fishing land go without giving it a hand ourselves...of course Craig had to work so I had to take them...YUCK! I about passed out when the rod I was holding for Luke managed to snag a fish and I had to reel it in!! Matt had the biggest catch of the day and we all left Gold Beach with smiles on our faces!

Our second stop in Oregon was Portland...we stayed out by the waterfalls and spent a full day hiking the falls, exploring the forest and even meeting Herman, the world record holding Sturgeon! The kids and I ventured into downtown Portland to spend the day at Portland Science Museum (OMSI). What better way to learn science than spending a full day fully emerging ourselves! Definitely recommend this place if you are ever in the area! This family spent a week in Oregon and it was no where near enough! Oregon...we will be back!!!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

California, Part 2

We are back in California...this time up in the Northern half of the state! Our first stop was a highly anticipated one, particularly for the kids...back to Craig's Aunt & Uncle's house for a fun filled weekend with Craig's cousins and their kids who are all around the boys ages! Over the years we have done most of our keeping in touch remotely as we all live so far from each other. This year we were blessed with not one, but two trips here to spend time with everyone! The first was last February when we made a long weekend trip out, the primary reason being to say goodbye to Craig's Grandma. Craig's Aunt Mary & Uncle Jud were fantastic hosts as always, they are very welcoming and make us feel as if we were at home with my parents as they just dote on everyone. Mary and I even managed to sneak away for pedicures :) Luke's dreams were met when he spent more than a few hours in the giant bathtub in the guest room...the only thing he has missed this entire trip is taking bubbly baths (the kid is like a fish and stays in for hours!). All 3 boys had a fantastic time running around with cousins and Craig got to spend time hanging out with all of his cousins :) Definitely a successful weekend!!!

Our second stop was another place we were just at last year but this time we had a super cool visitor flying in to meet up with us for a few days...Aunt Key (my younger sister!). The kids were so excited to show her San Francisco and drag her (and her poor broken foot) all over the city to show her their favorite places! We even got to squeeze in something new for all of us...a tour of the Guide Dogs for the Blind Headquarters. What an amazing place!!! And the was so hard not to just grab them up and run as fast as you could! We learned so much on this tour and have such a new-found respect for these incredible dogs!

Our last adventure in California was a doozey...we had our first "emergency". Kerry and I were driving back to Napa with the boys from SF when the Jeep had a tire blowout! I have never had this happen to me while driving in my life. I was well trained to call Craig and have him help when much to my amazement my baby sister decides to showcase her hidden talent of apparently being an auto mechanic in a prior life and hops out of car, rolls under the Jeep and promptly changes the tire while the kids and I got to be her assistants! Craig watched the whole thing live on Skype and was as impressed as I was!  She had the whole thing done before he could even get there to help us! Her reward...her very first ever campfire cooked dinner of hot dogs and S'mores, followed by her very first time ever camping :) We were so sad to see Aunt Key head back home but so happy she took time from her own family to come spend a few days with us!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Nevada, Part 2 :)

Well, we are back in Nevada...this time we went across the part of Nevada not as well traveled as that famous bottom corner...the top of the state. Our destinations being Reno and Lake Tahoe. I'll be honest, Reno is a place I really could have cared less to go to but it was Brian's Birthday week and we wanted to be somewhere fun for him! We ended up staying at the neatest RV park, it was attached to one of the massive casinos. They were completely kid-friendly and boy did my guys enjoy themselves!!! Brian's Birthday was a full day devoted to his wishes...we started with presents and pie, followed by airsoft paintballing/laser obstacles/inflatables, next up was the over the water driving range they were dying to try at the resort, with wacky bumper cars to finish off the fun before dinner at Chili's!  Brian's day of fun about exhausted us but he had the best day ever and that's all that matters :)

Lake Tahoe is so drive through the switchbacks and literally end up at this gorgeous, blue piece of water that looks like it fell out of the sky! We had such a fun time exploring the surrounding cities, playing football on the beach and enjoying a picnic together :) What  a neat treasure so close to such a big city...who knew?!?!?

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Utah (Part 2)

We are back in Utah! On our way back west through the Northern part of America we decided Easter in Park City sounded perfect! My adventure loving family has declared this a state we would definitely consider moving to if we decided to ever leave Texas! On this trip we have been to three different parts (Zion, Moab & now Park City) and have loved one more than the next! We were so lucky to have my BFF of 25 years and her two kids (one of which is my godchild) join us for a super quick, but super fun 24 hours, including Easter morning!

Park City was supposed to be a five day stay and thanks to Mother Nature turned into a nine day stay and there was not a single complaint! The first part of the week included a lot of trips to Olympic Park...we literally couldn't get enough! We visited the Olympic Museum, tried out the virtual rides, watched the history videos, bought all day passes to the Extreme Adventure Park (more on this in a minute), played in the snow and did the funnest thing ever...watched Craig go in an actual Swiss Olympic Bobsled down the actual Olympic track! Talk about a once in a lifetime experience! The only two places in the world you can do this is Park City and Vancouver, and they only offer 6 time slots each day in the winter months. The kids and I got him this for his Birthday and he has been looking forward to it since. Craig has spent a good amount of time on this trip working (to pay for it!) and it was so fun to get to do something just for him! You could not pay me to hop in one of these but Craig got off with a smile lighting up his whole face! Flying down the course at 74mph, taking 16 turns with the g-force shoving him against the side of the sled was "the funnest thing ever" according to Craig! The extreme adventure park was not for the faint of heart! From extreme tubing down the ski jump hills, extreme ziplining at 65mph down a mountain and the adventure ropes course towering in the sky, my crew opened up the place and then shut it down 6 hours later! They even managed to convince me to zipline!

Easter was our final major Holiday of the trip and it was successful! The Bunny came for all 5 kids, leaving baskets and a huge egg hunt for candy and money! Waking up with 5 kiddos made the day so much fun. My guys were so excited to have Lance & Madison here for Easter...the kids all love each other so much and do not get to spend nearly enough time together.

Our trip is now officially in the 2 month homestretch. We know life is going to soon return to normal and the days of endless playing together, sleeping in, staying up late watching movies as a family and just being lazy are coming to an end. Even waking up to the excitement of massive amounts of snow is soon going to be a distant memory. While we are so excited to get back home and see family and friends and our pets, it's hard not to be a little sad at the thought of all of this ending. My kids have become closer than ever and Craig & I have had the chance to just enjoy them without all the stress and chaos that is normal life for us. We have given them the opportunity to truly just be kids, without all the pressures kids now face (completely different than when Craig and I were kids) and will always look back on this as the best thing we ever did! Now...let the countdown begin...Texas here we come! (after a few more stops!)