Sunday, September 27, 2015


Back to where this Rose Family was originally established...Arizona. We actually didn't have much on our Arizona stop as we were just here with the kids 2 years ago for Spring Break and did everything from top to bottom then! We were fortunate at that time to hit everything from an 18in. blizzard in Flagstaff to 95 degree weather in Tucson so the kids got to see what Arizona really has to offer. This round to Arizona we based ourselves in Casa Grande, a city smack in the middle of Tucson & Phoenix. Our first day in Arizona was perfect...Eegees for lunch and Macayos for dinner (two Arizona chains that we desperately miss!). My oldest friend Andrea (literally have been friends since middle school!) joined us for the day with her kiddos (my godson!!) and we had the best time with all the kids :) We see each other only a few times a year now but manage to pick up right where we leave off every single time! An amazingly fun indoor playground was the hit of the afternoon and all 5 kids spent 3 hours running themselves ragged. The kids loved hearing stories of us as kids all day and Luke finished his night with pre-Birthday singing and the yummiest dessert on the planet...chocolate chimis!!!

Luke's Birthday happened to fall on this leg of our journey...our first celebration for the year in our new home! The boys and I decorated the RV for him as a surprise when he woke up, we had cake, a cinnamon roll "8" and presents galore! He live skyped with Gaga so she could be part of the fun and had the best morning, even declaring he grew on his Birthday cause his knees hurt :) The rest of the day was Luke's choice...we spent the first part at The Ostrich oldie but goodie located right off the freeway between Phoenix & Tucson. It's a petting on zoo on steroids complete with goats in the sky! Little man had a ball running from animal to animal with giant cups of food and even scored a free ostrich feather from the gift shop as a Birthday treat :) Next stop...Dave & Busters...Luke's favorite restaurant! The boys got extra lucky here as DHL was having a convention. A few guys on their way out gave the boys each an unlimited video games card, good for the rest of the day! What a LUCKY surprise!!! They saved their cards we had bought for the games where you win tickets and spent hours playing all the video games they could. Craig & I literally had to drag them out of there!!! Back home to our RV for cake and a late night swim concluded Luke's big day :)

Our main reason for stopping in Arizona was my surprise to Craig & to University of Arizona vs, UCLA football game at Wildcats home! Brian was over the  moon...his dream has been to see a home game (he has been to away ones with Craig) and seats on the 50 yard line are about as good as it can get!!! We headed down to Tucson early so we could stop and shop for new UA apparel, as well as partake in all the fun going on around campus as not only was this a home game, but it was chosen as the ESPN College Gameday Game of the Week! Seriously...Brian's world just kept getting better and better!!! Matt was even a good sport and dressed up complete with facepaint even though he announced multiple times he is an OU fan, not a UA fan! Craig managed to catch up with one of his childhood friends before the game for a few minutes while the kids had fun in the Coca Cola Kidzone. We got into the stadium and I don't think Brian stopped smiling the whole 4 hours...even though Arizona got their butts handed to them on a platter with a massively embarrassing loss! He was a true fan that stayed till the end, even though the majority of the stadium had cleared out and declared this the best day of his life!  Next stop...California!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

New Mexico

Well...we can check New Mexico off our list and we are now 3 states and 2000 miles down! Whoohooo! When this all started I thought maybe 10-11 months was gonna take a really long time to complete but time is flying! The kids and I have finally settled into a routine and we all feel like we have just about figured this thing out. We do school for about 3 hours right when we get up and then either head outside to swim, ride bikes, play or we head out on an adventure or errands. Craig sadly has to stay back and work (we gotta pay for this somehow!) but we try to save the really cool stuff for when he is done for the day or the weekends so he can tag along! 

We spent the last 5 days in New Mexico. I can honestly say from all of the times I have either been to or passed through, New Mexico is not one of my favorite places. I am a huge fan of some of the things to do in New Mexico but wouldn't have any desire to live each their own I guess :) Our first stop was Albuquerque...home of the world renown hot air balloon festival. While we missed the festival by just a few weeks, we did get to go and play at the Hot Air Balloon Museum and learn all about the science behind hot air balloons! Next stop...the top of Sandia Peak in a sky fun! We took a 20 min ride 3 miles straight up the mountain in a swinging cable car to the prettiest views of New Mexico! We hiked around the 2 mile trail with the kids, saw the different ski runs and had an absolute ball! 

The second half of New Mexico was spent in Alamogordo...a tiny little town in the bottom of the state and home to one of our favorite places in America...White Sands National Park! 7 miles of pure white sand dunes literally plopped in the middle of nowhere...a kids paradise! It is actually located in the White Sands Missile Range which is another really neat place to go and see the rockets (did that too!) The kids and I spent 4 hours playing in the sand, rolling down the sand, flying down the sand and completely exhausting ourselves climbing up the sand! We were completely covered by the end and so glad we got to come back!!! Our last stop in Alamogordo was McGinney Pistachio Farm,home of the worlds largest pistachio! Here we got to take a tour of the pistachio farm and the vineyard, learn all about the harvesting process and try pistachios right off the trees! Our tour guide was beyond knowledgeable and the kids were fascinated to learn that there are actually male and female trees. We left with a bag full of treats and of course, a photo of the worlds largest pistachio!

Sunday, September 20, 2015


And we are back in Texas! Clearly Texas is home since we can't seem to leave!!! This stop was a place none of us had been...Amarillo! A small Texas town made famous by a few things...a country song, Cadillac Ranch and The Big Texan...the famous steakhouse that is home to the 72oz. steak challenge! Rest assured, we hit these two major landmarks, sang the song and even found an RV Museum that was a hidden gem!  Our RV park was the home of the first photo RV buried in the ground to mimic the famous Cadillacs, complete with the tv still hanging in it! The boys thought this was beyond cool so our next stop was the actual famous landmark...Cadillac Ranch! We pulled up and initially thought "lame". In my head this was gonna be so much cooler than what it actually was. Up close though, I will say its kinda cool. The sheer amount of spraypaint alone on these things is worth an "ooh" and an "ahh". Now let me tell you...3 little boys and a can of spray paint has excitement written all over it. My guys thought being given free reign to just spray paint a car was the coolest thing ever! All in all...a fun stop we can check off our bucket list!

Next stop...the RV Museum. This was an unexpected find that we literally had to tear ourselves away from! It actually started as a private collection and has turned into a free museum that you can go and explore. They had everything from mint condition RV's from the 1930's to the kids favorite...Happy Max from the movie "RV"...our favorite movie well before this trip was created! You were able to go inside all of the RV's and see how they have changed over the years. Talk about a reality wake-up call...we are seriously living in high class quarters compared to early model RV's! The kids and I spent well over an hour exploring this museum and reading all the information we could completely fascinated by it all.

Our final fun activity in Amarillo and one we will never forget was The Big Texan. Craig and my brother have fantasized for 15+ years about eating there one day and taking the 72oz. steak challenge. To date, 55,000 people have taken the challenge and only 9,000 have completed it. How do you not do it when you finally end up there? Especially when you have a fan club of 3 little boys egging you on! I called ahead and signed Craig up for the challenge guaranteeing us front row seats to watch the "show"! The BEST part of this phone call came when the very kind woman named "Mary" offered us free limo service to and from the restaurant...uuummmmmm....YES PLEASE! We opted not to tell the kids about the limo and when a knock on our door came at 6pm, they opened the door to find a limo and driver complete with bull horns on the front and were over the moon excited :) Yes...imagine the visual, an old school limo from the early 90's, painted rusty orange with bull horns arriving in our RV park :) Once we arrived at the restaurant we took a look at what Craig would have to eat in 60 minutes or less...a 72oz steak trimmed perfectly, 3 shrimp, a salad, a roll and a baked potato! We took our seats and the BEST part of the night happened, "our people" were able to live stream this event and watch it right along with us! All of my siblings, their spouses and kids, my parents and our dearest friends got to watch Craig take the challenge! Talk about Friday night fun for the O'Briens!!! Good thing my phone was charged cause the texts were out of control! Craig's meal arrived, the clock started, Craig began eating and the craziest thing happened...all of these complete strangers got up from their tables and started taking Craig's picture! I kid you not, at least 100 people came up to do this. It was the craziest thing I have ever seen...Craig was a one man freak show eating in front of a completely full restaurant of 400+ people. The kids and I were having an absolute ball cheering him on, fielding calls and texts from our live audience and relaying the messages to Craig as well as eating hands down the best filet of our lives! About 50 min in, it happened. Craig looked at me, he looked kind of gray and mouthed "I'm gonna puke" and he did (automatically disqualifying himself unless he chose to eat his barf!) a crazy crowded restaurant with all eyes on him, Craig barfed up his entire dinner (thankfully into a bucket), but nonetheless he barfed for an audience. And then crazy thing #2 happened...the entire place broke into cheering and applause! Apparently puking gets a better reaction than actually finishing in Amarillo and the place was on their feet whistling, cheering, was insane and hilarious! Sadly the restaurant has the live feed on a delay and stops it when someone pukes so to quote my sister "Craig is officially on Kardashian level...he broke the Internet!". I gotta hand it to Craig, he decided to show his boys, nieces and nephews he is not a quitter and he put down the pail and resumed eating until his clock ran out! All said in done, Craig managed to eat the potato, the shrimp, the salad, the roll and 47oz. of steak in 60 min. I'm proud of him for trying, a little grossed out by what he consumed and seriously had one of the funnest nights ever!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


Back when Matt was 4, he out of the blue deemed himself a diehard OU fan...for no reason at all! We had never been to Oklahoma, knew no one who lived there but the little guy owned it and has been a passionate OU follower and Oklahoma as a state fan ever since. It only made sense to have our very first stop leaving Texas on this crazy adventure to be Oklahoma!! Matt was so excited to get here and see all the "fun" Oklahoma has to offer...and fun we found! First stop was the OU campus...what a beautiful campus! I would be perfectly fine with my Moose heading here someday. It is small (1.5 miles from end to end), serene and has old school charm. The people couldn't be friendlier and we all really enjoyed getting to see and learn about OU. Matt was in heaven as we made it our mission to find him lots of new OU apparel (this boy is growing like a weed!), eat in the local hangouts and fully embrace the Oklahoma lifestyle.

The next day was a work day for Craig so the boys and I busted out school and then headed back to campus for the coolest tour...a behind the scenes tour of the National Weather Center. It doesn't get much better for a science lesson in weather than touring the place in tornado alley that tracks it all! More shopping, lots of swimming and mini golf (we stayed in a kids paradise this leg!) and a fun local ice cream place rounded out our stay in Oklahoma City.

An early 5am start got us to our final Oklahoma stay before the kids even woke up...Great Salt Plains State Park. What a true hidden gem this turned out to be! It was a place that in research we couldn't find much information on but everything we did find said "go, go, go!" We had the most beautiful campsite right on the river bank where the dam meets the lake. The kids had pretty much the whole park to themselves and loved spending their days just riding bikes, skateboards and scooters along the riverbank. No don't get me wrong...this was not just a leisurely lake stay...we had real life treasure hunting to attend to! Great Salt Plains State Park is located on what used to be an actual ocean in Oklahoma! At one end of the lake is the spot where the ocean used to be the deepest and has now formed this 7 mile salt flat left over from the drying up of this body of water. These salt deposits form Selenite crystals just below the surface and it is free 6 months out of the year to dig up and keep as many as you want! You literally drive down this dirt road in the middle of a wheat field with no houses for as far as you can see (a true picture of Oklahoma) and all of the sudden it looks like you are at the beach! Seriously the craziest thing you have ever seen! Literally...picture a giant sandbox, buried treasure and 3 little can imagine the fun this place was!?!?! Craig got to come with us early in the morning and see this crazy place for himself. We took him back to work around lunchtime and went digging for round 2! We met the nicest old man that spends his days volunteering at the plains to help people dig. Since we were the only people there on a Wednesday afternoon, he spent the afternoon with us helping the boys score the jackpot of crystals! This truly was the highlight of Oklahoma for me...watching my 3 crazies dig like mad men to find me as many crystals as they could....priceless!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Utter Madness!

So we have gone into this trip with the knowledge that we have never owned and RV, have never pretended we knew the first thing about them and have fully admitted we are learning as we go. I feel like the last few days have gone above and beyond in proving that...tonight I sunk as low as I can possibly go. I feel like after the last few incidents, we have seen the worst and it can only go uphill from here!

For those of you not friends with me on Facebook, let me catch you up. Here are my last few posts...complete with pictures!

 We got up at 5 and drove here to discover that....oh and just for extra kicks the water line under kitchen sink got bumped and detached so when we turned on sink water flooded the kitchen floor

THIS is what happens when you trust the kids telling you they locked the fridge and you make a turn! 
So trying to rush to go 2 exits in 5 minutes before an RV service center closes as a piece of piping on the kitchen sink keeps leaking. Craig makes a wild turn and 18 eggs, a jar of salsa, a jar of pickles (all broken and everywhere!), 2 lbs of grapes rolling throughout RV and various sodas, waters and Gatorade all covered in broken goo!!! After cleaning the mess...we have now missed the service center and realize there is a camping world 10 miles away that closes in 25 min. We decide to try to go there to get the part and follow the navigation on phones to make a uturn. Yep...took us straight to a dead end of a one way road! Only solution...unhook jeep and back the RV all the way down it!!! 
I can't make this stuff up!!! 

OMG...this just happened!!!! (an hour after the fridge explosion!) B is asleep, Matt & Luke are lying in their beds watching TV show and I walk past table...this is what the two dummies left and it clearly slid off table!!!!

(sorry no pics, but since I am the family photographer the camera wasn't being touched!) 
So my worst nightmare came was horrible and I sobbed for 30+ minutes. Craig was at home depot and the grey tanks said full. No biggie, easy. Brian and Matt have done it lots so they are quite capable. I go out to supervise...front tank ✔, all grey water flows into drain no problem. Brian thinks we should do back while we are at it...sure I say. He moves the hose and struggles tightening so asks me to do it. I squat down in front of it to tighten and my special child decides to pull the lever to empty tank, before I have tightened it! The hose flies off and THE BLACK TANK, OUR SEWAGE TANK COMES SPRAYING AT ME LIKE A FIREHOSE!!!! The idiot not only pulled the lever before hose was connected, he pulled the black lever instead of the grey one!!! Yep...I got sprayed by sewage! Needless to say I burst into sobbing, hysterical tears. Brian runs away gagging leaving me there to deal with it. I had to not only be sprayed but reach in and turn off the valve while it was still spraying! Craig pulled up in the midst of this with his eyes huge and thankfully took over the cleanup of outside. 3 fulls scrubs later with Dawn, Irish Spring and cherry blossom soaps I HATE camping, I HATE this stupid trip and I am drowning my sorrows in a large quantity of alcohol right now to hopefully erase this horrid memory! I am not finding it funny yet but will hopefully feel that way eventually!

As you can see, the last 3 days have been a learning curve in this family. The kids have heard words we are not proud of, Craig and I have screamed like maniacs at each other, they have seen me sobbing crying, covered in their own feces and yet we are still going forward. What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger is the motto I am taking...So I figure that by the end of this trip I should either be Hercules or an alcoholic!!!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

A final catch up before we leave....

To say the last 10 days have been absolute whirlwind is a severe understatement! But the insanity is over...the RV is ours, the kids are with us and we are finally starting this much anticipated adventure! I have been horrible about my blog and promise to get better but I have been so crazy-busy I had to let it go for a few days. Here is a recap...

Things we have learned in the first 4 days:
-Little boys peeing while we drive makes for a very decorated bathroom!!!
-The door handle MUST be held when opening from inside or the hydrolic air spring attached will break off and end up sitting on your kitchen counter leaving your door to permanently flap in the wind!
-The washing machine makes the bed joke! It's like a coin operated bed in a seedy hotel! (If you discover this for the first time at 2am after many days of very little sleep, it is extremely funny!)
-Cream colored leather is a really stupid color in an RV designed with kids in mind!
-Coffee, Gatorade and soda will all spill if not in cupholders while driving!
-If the refrigerator doors are not strapped correctly, they will open when you a hit a bump and things will come flying out!
-Trying to charge 5 laptops, 5 phones & 3 tablets while running two a/c's, two tv's and a microwave WILL blow a fuse if you are driving and running off your generator!
-This GIANT RV is actually capable of making a u-turn on a two lane road...lots of baby steps going backwards and forwards! (See story below)
-We have a master light switch rather than turning on/off each light manually! (No joke...this took us 3 days to discover!)
-Having a built in ladder leading to the roof is very enticing to little boys!

These are just some of the lessons in our new reality that we have dealt with and we have literally not even gone anywhere yet!!! Thankfully Craig and I are taking it all with humor and laughing or we would seriously go crazy!

This past Saturday the RV officially became ours. Craig and I spent all day at "RV School" learning how to work this completely foreign thing. By the time they left us to spend the night at their park in it learning to use it, it was dark and getting late. We felt "schooled" enough to leave and go sleep in our hotel. Clearly we belong in the dummy class. We made it as far as the exit gate and realized we both had forgotten to call the insurance company! YEP...we are the responsible ones taking 3 kids on a nationwide adventure!! After a 40 minute phone call, we were tired, not wanting to make the 30 minute drive and decided to just stay. Well....we learned 2 things...the RV can NOT go in reverse when the Jeep is attached to the back and making a u-turn on a two lane road in the dark is easier said than done! 30 minutes later we were back in our bay (backed in I might add!) and all hooked up. I decide at 10 pm to venture out to get us dinner and make it back to the gate and have no gate opener! At this point, security (off duty police officer) has come to see why I am back at a gate I was just at and AGAIN NOT LEAVING! My trying to explain all of this only made me look even more crazy :) About 11:30, we have now eaten, caught up on checklists for RV and  like the two "scholars we are" we realized we had zero bedding, blankets, etc.!!! Y'all I kid you not...after all this we left the RV where it was and drove ourselves to the hotel :)

Monday we finally drove off in our new home on wheels! Houston was our destination to finally pick up our guys and show them their new house! My sister, brother-in-law and their 4 kids were waiting with my kids and parents for us to pull in. Seeing the smiles on our guys faces made the whole exhausting whirlwind of a week all worth it! We got to show off our new digs and take all the kiddos for a ride before we had to say our goodbyes :) Tuesday my brother & sister-in-law brought their 2 kids over and we got to spend time with them before we left as well. My parents came over for the final send off (but not before we put my Dad to work fixing things for us and my Mom filling our freezer!) and we left Houston full of emotions...sad to not actually see our family for a year, grateful for new age technology where we can see each other all the time, excited for the unknown lying ahead of us, terrified for the unknown lying ahead of us, blessed to be able to have this opportunity to do this crazy adventure and so dang happy to have our boys back!

Today we have literally made a full circle in just over a week (no joke, Austin-Dallas-Houston-Austin!) We are back in Austin for one night (to unload the Jeep that is overflowing with all of the stuff I overpacked, a quick last minute Dr. appt and seeing some of our dearest friends one last time before we head out! The RV is as full as it can get, the kids are chomping at the bit to get going and this is my last post "at home", the town I know and love...tomorrow we are officially on our way! Let the adventure begin!!!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

It just got REAL!

What a whirlwind of a few days!!! We got rid of Craig's truck and bought a Jeep Wrangler we can tow behind the RV, we finished putting everything we own into storage, we closed on our house, we loaded the next year of life into a Jeep, Suburban and a small UHaul trailer, made our way to Alvarado, Texas and WE BOUGHT AN RV!!!!

Holy cow...this all suddenly got real. I have been living in crazy, overwhelmed mode for the past month and haven't really processed all of this. Locking our house for the last time is when it all suddenly hit me. The house we built and raised the boys in the prime of their childhood in is gone. The house we brought Luke home from the NICU to, the house they broke multiple bones in doing crazy things, the house with walls, floor & cabinets colored on, the house we had to replace a door in cause they crashed through it...all these memories came flooding back to me and I realized we are actually doing this! We are going from 3400 sqft to 429 sqft BY CHOICE!!!

Yesterday at the RV dealer, we were going through the different models and apparently I had a look of terror on my face. All I can say is they seemed a whole lot bigger when I had a giant house to go back home to. Now...this is it...and you know what...I CAN'T WAIT!!!! Y'all, I am a very lucky girl!! I got a 2016 brand spankin new RV, complete with 2 full bathrooms, a full size residential fridge and a washer/dryer!!! I have a husband that knows camping is so far out of my element of comfort and made sure I got an RV that makes me feel like I am at home (a smaller scale home, but nonetheless, a home) and I am confident I can survive in the wilderness for a year!

Today we had to be back at the dealer and the moment I have been dreading, the one that literally makes my stomach feel like I have raging stomach flu happened...I HAD TO DRIVE THE RV! They pulled it up for us and any excitement I had for seeing a huge bus with my name & a giant SOLD sign on it disappeared. Craig hopped right into the drivers seat excited. I hung out in the back, about as far as I could get, hoping they'd all forget about me. (In my head I was hiding really far reality, how far can you actually go in 429 sq ft?!?!) We get off the freeway and approach a red light and my husband throws it into park, hops out of the drivers seat and says "better hurry, light's about to turn green!" Talk about a real life "I'm so scared I think I might poop my pants moment!" I not only had the pressure of actually doing this, but the added stress of there are cars behind me waiting to go! The comments floating around me from Craig & the salesman were in the lines of "take your ears off of your shoulders and relax", "you're not in a one way tunnel, don't forget you have 2 giant mirrors to be looking at", "watch the trees overhanging on the road so you don't shred the sides" and "you do know this is supposed to be fun" joke y'all, I had to drive with all of this added pressure! and guess what...I DID IT! We may have not reached speeds that are considered normal freeway driving speeds, but I did not hit anything, I successfully made left and right turns and I did not need to change my clothes when we finished!!!! I consider it a success!

There are a few steps left before we actually head out to see America but by this time next week we should be on our way!!!! The jeep is currently being outfitted to be towed behind the RV, we say goodbye to my beloved Suburban this weekend, we go to RV school on Saturday/Sunday to learn how the heck to work all the gadgets and buttons on this thing, we get the Internet up and working so Craig can get a paycheck and then we head to Houston to get our boys and show them their new home!!!! Now that I know that in an emergency I am capable of driving this thing...I am ready to go!