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!)

Friday, March 25, 2016


We had a very low key visit to Wyoming. We will be back in May to see Yellowstone but since it is closed for April we went a different direction. While there might not have been a lot to do in Casper and Green River, there was no lack of indoor swimming pools! The kids and I spent quite a few cold, snowy days playing in nice warm pools in Wyoming. Casper is also home to The National Historic Trails Interpretive Center, quite possibly the coolest realistic history museum I have found so far! The hands-on and virtual experiences that teach you how the pioneers lived had my kids full attention for hours and I cannot give this place enough stars! Highly recommend if you are in the area!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

South Dakota

Brace yourself...South Dakota has a crazy amount of pictures as we had SO MUCH FUN here!!! We started in Sioux Falls...where apparently there are the most beautiful falls! Seriously...we must've looked like total idiots to the locals because all 5 of us were literally dumbfounded by these beautiful, amazing waterfalls!!! Come to find out, they originated in the Ice Age and were formed by the rush of melting glaciers...beautiful falls and a science/history lesson! We actually were so awestruck by the falls, we went back and got Craig to see for himself! The kids and I also spent a day exploring the Butterfly House/Aquarium which ended up giving us the neatest lessons on the ocean forest in Key West we apparently missed while we were there! Guess we need a trip back!!! From there we went to the local children's hands-on science exploratory. What a fun place this was! We happily spent a few hours playing, exploring and learning! Our night was topped off with a visit to what might be my new favorite store...Scheels! It is like Academy on steroids! I freely admit I have an unhealthy love relationship with Academy...well this is bigger and has interactive games/activities/rides to entertain the little people while you shop! A shooting range, bowling lanes, a basketball court and a ferris wheel to name a few!!! I am going to miss this when we leave this part of the country!!!\

Our next stop was a long one...we decided to spend Spring Break somewhere really fun, especially since we had two Birthdays here! Rapid City is home to a crazy amount of fun stuff! It has definitely changed since I visited as a kid!!! Besides the obvious (Mt. Rushmore & Custer State Park), it is like the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg of this part of the country! Unfortunately for us, a good amount of stuff was closed as it was still considered winter, but this means we are for sure going to come back!!! No worries though...there was still more than enough to keep us occupied! Custer State Park was something the kids and Craig were not expecting! You can have someone tell you as many times as they can that there are wild buffalo that walk right up to your car but until you actually experience it you have no idea what you are in for! The kids were literally hanging out of the Jeep in excitement! We saw so many animals including buffalo, many types of deer, bighorn sheep, and our favorite...wild prairie dogs! There were so many you could hear them talking to each other! The kiss and Craig thought it would be a great idea to get and out see if they could catch one...guess who stayed in the car taking pics of this brainiac idea!?!?! Next stop was Mt. Rushmore, Luke's stop! Our little president fanatic was so excited to get here!!! Let me tell did not disappoint! Something about this massive mountain with images of presidents carved into it takes your breath away! We had watched a PBS documentary about it prior and the kids were fascinated to see how this wonder of art was actually built and then seeing how big it is in person left them speechless! Mt. Rushmore has changed since I was a kid and now has this mile long path you can take that literally leads you right up to the base of the carvings. Craig and the boys went out there and the picture I got is a real-life "Where's Waldo?"

Matt and I celebrated our Birthday here and Matt chose our activities for the big day! What fun we had with a visit to an indoor waterpark the night before, followed by a visit to the Reptile Center on our actual Birthday and dinner at a Japanese steakhouse! The reptile center is the Guinness Record Holding Center for most different types of species under one roof. We saw the biggest gator in North America (who looks like a baby dinosaur he's so huge!), the gator from James Bond, birds, owls, snakes, frogs, and so many random things we had never heard of before! Sharing my Birthday with my Matt means I have to look at crazy animals but there's always time for other activities when he is older and not interested in me! I was spoiled by my guys all day from start to finish and Matt had the very best day ever so we can call our Birthday a huge success!!!!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

North Dakota

North Dakota wasn't really more than a "we should go to North Dakota" kind of stop. South Dakota is a crazy fun state with lots to see and do but North Dakota is just kind of North Dakota, a state at the top of America in our minds. We headed to Bismarck, smack in the middle of the state to explore and spend Craig's Birthday! I'll bet he never thought he'd spend a Birthday in Bismarck, ND!?!?!?! Bismarck turned out to be a great little town. We went to the zoo and saw some of the local animals, spent a day swimming, and visited the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center. The kids and I have had on ongoing Lewis & Clark unit going on and this was our final destination in our studies. We even saw their camp and held some actual artifacts the museum has in possession! It was a neat way to end our unit and I feel like I have more knowledge of the Lewis & Clark expedition that I ever dreamed I would (or cared to have...ha!!!!)

Wednesday, March 2, 2016


Nebraska will hold the place in my heart for the state all my people got sick :( Quite an accomplishment to make it this far into the journey without this happening!!! Nothing major, but lots of whining, crabby, snotty, coughing, wheezing boys (Daddy included!) so Mommy did not particularly enjoy this state :) Of the four day we were here, the kids and I only ventured out to explore one time! We spent almost the whole time lying around, watching tv and playing video games and you know was kinda nice!

The coolest realization of the trip came in Nebraska. It made living in an RV and doing this trip all the more worthwhile! While in DC, we got to talk to an astronaut live in space on the International Space Station. The Smithsonian live chats with them everyday and we happened to stumble upon the time when it was happening. It was really neat to talk and see them floating around. The kids all asked questions and we left with the coolest experience under our belts. got cooler! Papa called us and told us that the astronauts were leaving the space station live on tv and to turn it on. Imagine our surprise when Sergey Volkov, the astronaut we chatted with, was one of these guys! We all sat glued to the tv and remembering our chat with him. Talk about once in a lifetime experiences that we would never have had without this trip!!!

Our super fun adventure was to downtown Lincoln where we found the trains and a restaurant full of retro video games! After a few days of playing nurse to these whiners...I happily parked myself in a booth with my book, gave my boys cups full of quarters and let them go at it! Nebraska...success!

Sunday, February 28, 2016


Talk about a slower pace of life and a relaxing stop...Iowa would be this place! Iowa was exactly what you would picture...nothing as far as you can see! I am not kidding, you could see for miles as there is nothing obstructing the view and there was nothing but windmills and farmland. The kids and I learned that 90% of the land in Iowa is farmland...I find that number to be crazy high! I get that it is a farming state, but 90%?!?! That's insane! We anchored ourselves outside of Ames, one of the bigger cities in Iowa and a total college town. We spent a day poking around the city and exploring the college...what a beautiful day we picked! 74 degrees in the middle of Winter in Iowa is unheard of and we got to enjoy just that!

Our only "adventure" in Iowa turned out to be quite the interesting one! I found that there was a kaleidoscope factory in Pocahontas, Iowa...about 90 minutes from where we were. This small town is literally a blink and you missed it kind of place. One main street with about a half dozen shops and businesses. The kids and I ventured off for a day of fun and exploring. Imagine my surprise when Leonard (the builder and 'factory' owner) ended up being a member of Mensa! To say this man was crazy smart is an understatement! He gave the boys and I the most  fascinating Physics, Math and Science lesson for the better part of an hour! He then had the boys make their own kaleidoscopes which made the day even more fun! The BEST part of the day came when Leonard asked the boys if they wanted to do the daily news and weather report for the town. What fun this was! The kids made the report 'live'-on air' and were delighted to get to watch it later on the Internet! After spending almost three hours with Leonard, we hit the local bowling alley for pizza and bowling with the entire place to ourselves! Iowa...for as small and unoccupied as you are you were definitely a success!

Sunday, February 21, 2016


Minneapolis, Minnesota in the dead of Winter...isn't that on everyone's to do list??? The good news is there is plenty of indoor fun to be had in this city :) I remember being impressed with Mall of America as a kid and was so excited to take my own kids there. At first I got "why is a mall so cool", "shopping is lame, who cares about a mall" and various other responses from my boys. Well throw a bone to Mom cause once again I managed to knock the socks off these kids! We walked in and their faces froze, eyes huge as they exclaimed "there is seriously 3 roller coasters in the middle of the mall?!?!" We had so much fun we actually spent 2 full days at the mall! The first day we got passes for the Nickelodeon Theme Park. The boys had a blast enjoying all of the rides, smack in the middle of the day with no one else there but a few toddlers! They literally had entire rides to themselves. Day 2 was spent using my Groupons. (I literally need to be an advertisement for them at this point..."how to travel America using Groupons" could be my show!) I had bought tickets for the Maze of Mirrors which entertained them for a good long while, along with unlimited video game cards at the sports bar (think Dave & Busters or Gameworks). Four, yes four boys, each with an unlimited video game card was like Christmas all over! I happily spent 4 hours shopping all four floors of the most massive mall in America while my people happily played till their eyes were blurry ;)

Another fun find in the middle of Winter was the indoor water park, conveniently right across the street from the mall. They are home to the tallest indoor family raft ride and big surprise my people wouldn't let me miss that fun ;)  The extra fun part of this day came when I became the Mom kids (not just my own) were impressed by. This water park was home to a flow-rider (a surfing machine). My crew is big fans of these, having spent lots of time on them at Schlitterbahn and on cruises we have been on. Imagine my surprise and horror when Luke begged Sweetie Pie to to try it too. Brian and Matt burst out laughing at the thought so that was all motivation I needed! I threw on some shorts, tucked my swimsuit into them (no need to show the innocent people of Minnesota what is lurking under that!) and waddled my way (like the penguin I now resembled!) to the line. After watching multiple people wipe out and go flying, I was seriously reconsidering this plan but my guys were now fully invested in having their Mom try this death trap! I took my turn like a champ...I had water spraying down my top and up my butt, could barely see anything but my wonderful husband laughing and videotaping me, but I managed to actually stay on my board and impress my kids...WIN for Mom!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016


Dear friends of ours are from Wisconsin and have told us about all of the neat things to do there. Top that with all of the specials we have seen on the Travel Channel featuring Wisconsin Dells and the mere fact that they are the home of cheese curds (best food on planet!) and this was a much anticipated stop on our trip for everyone!

I found a killer deal, and by killer I mean seriously unheard price for all of the fun we had in Wisconsin! Fresh off our stay in a hotel for a week, we checked into yet another one! Well the kids and I did. Craig stayed with the RV since it was in the negatives outside...(yes you read that right!!!) and we had to keep it plugged in or chance big problems. Somehow I drew the short straw that entailed late nights in a water park, showering 3 kids at 11pm and fighting over bedtimes, the tv show we watched and "I'm hungry again" while Craig got to return to the RV for peaceful nights of popcorn, movies and a place to himself! He casually strolled in every morning after a good nights sleep while I was in the midst of breakfast, the endless fight over brushing teeth and getting everyone ready!

Mt. Olympus is a kids paradise. They have a 40 slide outdoor waterpark (sadly closed for season), a full outdoor theme park (again closed for season), an indoor waterpark, an indoor theme park and a ski/tubing mountain!!! To say we had fun here is an understatement!!! Unlimited bumper cars was the hit of the indoor theme park, we closed down the waterpark two different nights and the highlight was skiing! For kids that have pretty much tried everything, skiing was the one big thing they haven't done! They were so excited to give it a try (I was dreading it as I knew they were gonna love it and see many cold trips in my future!). Having now had both ankles fully reconstructed, I have left my skiing days in the past and was happily a cheerleader, picture taker, hot chocolate runner and kid lifter all day :)  Craig loves to ski and was so excited to get his guys on the mountain with him. They all took to it immediately. Matt and Luke skiied while Brian snowboarded. You would've thought they had all done it before cause these boys just took off down the mountain! I had to close my eyes in fear by the end of the day as these 3 boys are fearless...Luke particularly terrifies me as not only is he fearless, he is 8 year old stupid! Doesn't even cross his mind that he could get hurt...ugh! These three are gonna make me gray and drunk by the time they leave for college :) They skiied for 8 straight hours and I see some sore little people in our future!

Our last day in Wisconsin Craig had to work so the kids and I made our way back to the mountain for tubing! How Craig keeps managing to weasel his way out of the activities that involve complete exhaustion is beyond me?!?!?! The good news is Mt. Olympus has a tube rope so you can be slightly lazier :) We had an absolute blast flying down their 6 tube runs and the kids even convinced me that tying all our tubes together was a good idea as I flew down the chute backwards with the 3 of them laughing like fools:)

Favorite moment of Wisconsin has got to be the morning after skiing. I have 3 kids beyond unconscious thanks to the full day of skiing. I get a phone call waking me up at 8am from the RV service center 45 minutes away that they can get Craig in at 9:30am. (Let me backtrack for a minute...So after getting RV fixed and leaving it for 6 days, they managed to return it to us with the water pumps not working meaning no running water. We tried stopping to get this addressed on our drive to Wisconsin but the service center had sent their staff home early due to bad weather. We even went as far as calling Forest River for an emergency call that night and they sent us the biggest jok on the planet...took our $100 fee for coming out, looked at RV and said "I can't fix this, I can't access that panel" (I kid you not...these things only happen to us!) We could not all return to RV with this still broke and getting it fixed was somewhat of an emergency.) Back to I get this call and the man says "I couldn't get ahold of your husband" (my first thought was "I;m going to kill him when I do!" I assure this man that I will get ahold of Craig and he will be there with RV. Thirteen phone calls later and 10 text messages later, I have determined that Craig is asleep with his phone off! I literally was ready to kill him at this point as I got to wake up 3 sleeping kids, who are completely exhausted, and drag them into the snowing 6 degree weather to drive 15 minutes to wake up sleeping beauty! Wake up was as hideous as you could imagine...Luke was sobbing, Brian was furious and Matt was glaring at me. I pile the kids into the car, make our way into traffic to FINALLY GET A CALL FROM CRAIG! He is laughing, telling me he is sorry he fell asleep with phone in airplane mode. Yea...cause that makes up for my morning so far! I turn car around, pile kids back into hotel, they climb back into their beds and get all snuggly (I was blessed with excellent sleepers!) only to have my phone ring again! Craig was calling to inform me that he had left his Jeep keys with me when we dropped him off last night and yes, the RV keys were on that ring as well!!! (I cannot make this stuff up!) You guessed it...I got to get kids out of bed for a second time, drag them back into snow and drive the keys to my "dear husband". We finally make it back to the hotel to get dressed at this point and find that we have managed to lock ourselves out of our room. I got to finish my morning with a trip to the lobby, dressed in my pajamas with sneakers, topped off with my uncombed bed head to get a replacement key! Yep...I am living the dream people!!!

Saturday, February 13, 2016


We ended up spending a great deal of time in Indiana, not originally planned :) We started off in Indianapolis and had so much fun! We went to America's largest Children's Museum and spent a whole day exploring the endless floors and rooms. The kids and I found a super fun pool, complete with a rock wall over the water that we couldn't get enough of! Funny thing is we saw walls like this online last year and they were dying to play on one in real life...who knew we'd stumble on it in Indiana?!?! Craig and I took the kids for a tour of NCAA Hall of Champions, an interactive hall of fame museum dedicated to all things NCAA. Yep...add another Hall of Fame to our list for this trip :) Seriously...we have made a whole chunk of trip out of theme parks and halls of fame! We also took the kids on a tour of true It worked out for us that we have a neat connection to this...Aunt Christy. Her Papa is the one and only A.J. Foyt! The boys love this celebrity connection and A.J. is one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet. We so enjoyed getting to spend some time getting to see how this city has so much in his honor!

Next stop in Indiana...South Bend. Just outside of South Bend is a little city known as Elkhart. Elkhart is home of all things RV. 7 of the 10 RV manufacturers are located there, Forest River (our RV) being one of them. We have had an ongoing punch list of repairs we needed (yes, some we caused ourselves...ugh!) and the easiest way to get everything fixed under warranty was to come to their factory. What a giant pain this was...we moved into the Hampton Inn for a week. When you are living and driving in your home, this becomes more of a pain as I literally had to unload everything I thought we might need in a week's time into a hotel room. Top this off with getting a massive snowstorm while we were there and our room was full to the brim with everything from swimsuits to sleds! We made good use of our time in this part of the country (also right on the Michigan border!) with a behind the scenes tour of a chocolate factory, a trip to Notre Dame for Ash Wednesday Mass (such a beautiful church!!!), a visit to the Children's Health Museum for a day of fun learning about all things bodies, a quick stop at the biggest chocolate store and the coolest factory tour yet...our RV manufacturer!!! Seeing our RV built right before our eyes (seriously, it takes 8 hours from chassis to paint room!) was such a cool experience! We even learned where a few things were we didn't know about!!! All said and done, we spent more time in Indiana than we had originally planned but sure had a fun time doing it! Good news is our repairs our done and we are back in our home, happily on our way to our next stop...Wisconsin!

Thursday, February 11, 2016


Michigan was a quick "true visit" as we were literally staying on the border (see Indiana post!) and were able to visit multiple times (grocery store, shops, etc.). The kids and I made it our mission to do something fun in Michigan though and sledding it was! Of course we picked a bitter cold day, complete with snow to sled but still managed to have fun! The local park had a really neat  setup with a small lodge and a giant tubing hill. had to trek your tubes up the hill ropes. Fortunately for me I am raising true Texas gentleman who carried Mom's tube every time for her!!! A fun few hours with only one injury (poor Matt is rockin the nastiest elbow bruise I have seen in a long time!) made Michigan a success!

The biggest bummer came when a major life event happened...I'm talking this is my own personal version of turning 40! I seriously took this harder than any birthday! After 36 years of perfect vision, I had to get glasses.I have been struggling with my eyes for about a month. Seeing as it came out of the blue, I had myself convinced I had MS or a tumor. Good news is I am just insane and spend too much time googling my symptoms...bad news is I not only had to get glasses, I had to get bifocals! How the heck I went from nothing to bifocals is still baffling and I am now sporting glasses...ugh.

Saturday, February 6, 2016


We made it to Chicago! We could not have gotten luckier with the weather...45 degrees in February was more than we hoped for! We started off at Navy Piers for a day of fun! The kids loved being right on the water and had a blast at the maze, fun house and blaster games. We ended Navy Piers with an authentic (and delicious!) Chicago pizza :)

Next stop...the shops on Magnificent Mile. The kids particularly liked the Under Armour store with its interactive games on the top floor. We headed to Wrigley Field next and got to see one of the oldest, neatest stadiums. Seeing all the homes in the neighborhood surrounding the filled with bleachers on their roofs was the hit of this adventure! Our final stop was the Sears tower, now known as the Willis Tower. Craig, Matt and Luke took the elevator to the top of the Skydeck for an incredible and downright scary view of the city! Standing on the glass walkout ledge did not appeal to me or Brian so we safely waved from the ground at them :) Chicago...success!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


We have arrived in St. Louis. Craig has actually been here before so we did more of a middle of the week trip than staying for a weekend for Craig to enjoy. The kids and I spent the first day excited to go to the top of the Arch...did not happen :( Unfortunately for us, they are in the middle of a complete restoration due to be done in April. Tours to the top are not being given right now...such a disappointment. Particularly after we sat in the museum and watched a full 30 minutes on how it was constructed, getting our hopes up! We opted for a fun lunch and then stumbled on the BEST place in downtown..."Sweetie Pies". Luke took to calling me Sweetie Pie before Christmas and it stuck. He has actually not uttered the word "Mom" once. He decided to call Craig "Big D" at the same time. His theory behind this is that if we are out and he needs us, everyone calls their parents Mom & Dad. He seems to think we will know he is calling us by shouting "Sweetie Pie & Big D"! Imagine the delight when he and I looked up and saw the real Sweetie pies...can we say photo op?!?!?!
The kids and I have made an entire homeschool unit out of Lewis & Clark as we keep ending up in places referencing them. St. Louis was the kickoff and the museum they have is fantastic. It comes complete with a replica of their boats and an actual restored camp of theirs. I have never in my life cared much about anything historical...yawn...but this trip is quickly changing my tune with all of the fascinating places I keep taking the kids!

I know I say this a lot but our final stop in St. Louis has got to be one of the neatest places I have ever seen! It literally left me speechless. "The City Museum" can only be described as Pee-Wee's Playhouse x100! I have truly never in my life seen something like it! It was apparently created by an eccentric man with a vision for an adult playground. That vision has turned into what truly must be the most incredible indoor playground in the world. It is housed in an old shoe factory, over 18 stories tall with things to do in every last corner! Everything in it is re-purposed and completely mind blowing. From the 10 story slide made out of an old chute, the ball pit for big people, holes in the floor with secret tunnels to another wing, a human sized hamster wheel, a full cave in the ground and even an airplane in the sky you climb nest to get to...their is literally something for everyone!  I got there right as it opened with the kids thinking we'd get in early and get out early. We literally closed down the place 9 hours later! I kid you not, my 3 boys, with the attention span of fleas, managed to play in a place for 9 hours without once asking what time it was, how much longer and were mad when the place closed! Rude awakening came the next morning when the 3 of them could barely walk! It's not really funny but I couldn't help but laugh as I tried to explain that when you do a variety of physical activities for 9 straight hours without a are going to be sore!


Ohio was a state we didn't really see on this trip as we were just there in June! If you remember...we flew to Cleveland, spent a few days in Sandusky at the BEST theme park in the world...Cedar Point, and saw some relatives close to our hearts in Warren. The one place we didn't make it in June was Cincinnati, and it was the ONLY Ohio stop this trip!

Cincinnati is the new home of Chandelle and Aaron, Craig's sister and our precious nephew. Aaron has been suffering from a variety of complications, all stemming from a transplant years ago that has sadly caused more harm than good. We unfortunately do not get the the opportunity to see them as Aaron's condition is life threatening and any germs we might give him could literally kill him. The last time the kids saw him was before transplant which is heartbreaking for all of us. I had the privilege of getting to spend a weekend with Aaron last year and was excited to get to see my precious little buddy again. The boys were so excited to get to see Aunt Chandelle and Aaron, and were more than happy to accommodate the special precautions necessary in order to spend time with them.

Aaron had a blast with the boys! He unfortunately does not get to spend much time with kids and was so interested in his rowdy cousins. Craig even babysat all the kids for us so I could take Chandelle out for a much deserved night of dinner, drinks and shopping :) While Ohio was very low key and uneventful, it was one of the best memories for this trip and we are so grateful for having the opportunity to make it to Ohio and spend time with Chandelle and Aaron!

Monday, January 25, 2016


What fun we had in Kentucky! We started off in Bowling Green...home of the Corvette tour. This was such a fascinating factory tour and unfortunately I have no pictures as cameras were banned :( I can tell you this though...if you are ever in the remote area, make a point of going here! It was amazing to watch cars be built from start to finish! The robots driving around and building are fascinating for kids and adults to watch. We took a one hour tour and were not the least bit bored.

Kentucky was also where Craig got to live a personal dream and watch his favorite whiskey be made! But sadly his bubble was burst when his dream became a kid filled nightmare! Yes...we had to take the kids along for this factory tour (quality parenting here!!!). Brian and Matt were actually quite interested. Luke on the other hand was plugging his nose and making gagging sounds the entire time. This fun was brought to an all time high when he promptly barfed in the tank room! Yep...big, chunky vomit falling through the grates, dropping about 100 feet to the bottom. The extra fun of this was Craig and I couldn't just leave the chunks that didn't fit through the grates and we got to pick them up and put them in our coat pockets!!! (I swear I cannot make this stuff up!) We spent the rest of the tour reeking of Luke's stomach, our hands freezing cause our pockets were otherwise occupied and waiting as hard as we could for the tasting room, where we could down samples and forget this nightmare had ever happened! On the plus side...we did get to make our own bottle of whiskey, complete from start to finish which will now serve as a permanent reminder of this special day!!!

From Bowling Green we headed to Louisville...home of lots to keep us busy! We took a tour of Louisville Slugger Factory and watched baseball bats start as trees and finish as useable bats...way too cool! We saw the custom bat orders of so many players and even left with our very own bats! Stop 2 in Louisville was Churchill Downs...home of the derby! This was an unexpected win! I knew it would be cool to see the track, but their interactive museum blew us away! Our final stop was mega Caverns...home of a 3 square mile underground dirtbike course. Uummm...this has my peoples names all over it! I opted out...riding bikes in a cave on dirt with bats....yea...I'm good saying I have never done this!!! I dropped them off for fun and took myself and my kindle to Starbucks and an oil change :) Imagine my surprise when I returned to filthy, mud covered people...complete with Craig's pants  being ripped from his groin to his knees! And the best part is they had the time of their lives!!! I say daily and will say it again...I live with morons!
Here is what I texted my Mom and sisters...
"Well Craigs pants are ripped from his nuts to his knee (literally showing his thigh and undies), he swears he tore his nuts in half, Matt has a bruised and swollen wrist, Luke looks like he bathed in mud, cut his lip and his snot is literally brown from the amount of dirt he "ate" and Brian's shoulders are so sore he can barely lift his arms...and they all said they would go back tomorrow if they could!!!"

The BEST part of Kentucky was the blizzard that came though. The kids were in complete heaven with the 14 inches of snow we got! We spent so many days playing outside, sledding, snowboarding and making snowmen. For Texas kids....a 14 inch snowstorm is like the mothership arriving and we made the most of it!

Monday, January 18, 2016


Ahhh Louisana...still one of the filthiest states (in more ways than one) I have been to. Having been to New Orleans a few times, Craig and I were okay not spending a great deal of time there. Top that with we have 3 boys (2 of which are a delightful age with extremely curious minds!), we limited our stay in the famous french quarter to an afternoon, in the daylight :)

The boys were actually quite interested in the amount of street performers everywhere. We stopped many times to watch an impromptu show, concert, etc... We also played true tourists and hopped on a carriage for a tour of the city. Playing catch with Daddy at the park was the highlight for the boys while swinging under big old trees was perfect for me :) No trip could be complete without Cafe Du Monde and we all stuffed ourselves silly. We finished off our day in New Orleans with a visit to the cemeteries (kids were baffled!) and of course...Walmart for glasses repair :)

Friday, January 15, 2016

Alabama & Mississippi

We are making our way along the Gulf Coast, a stretch of America we are familiar with. These two states are going to be combined into one post as we were in both of them a short time and stayed right on the border of the two places. One place we have not made a stop was Orange, Alabama. Having heard it has beaches as beautiful as Destin, plus two new Hilton's...this was a definite we must check out! Boy are we glad we did...this is gonna be a new beach trip for us! Closer than the Florida coast, just as pretty and so much fun stuff to do!!! We spent a day doing our on the beach! My kids have been so spoiled on this trip with school in exotic places and I fear for them struggling in a classroom setting next year. They had better figure it out though cause the homeschool train is nearing an end!

Our second super fun place was a restaurant we had seen signs for multiple times on our trips to Florida...Lambert's Cafe. This super fun, down home cooking place literally chucks rolls the size of softballs across the restaurant. My guys ate their weight in rolls as it was too fun to resist having them pelted at us! On top of rolls, this place comes around with pushcarts of free sides that are mouthwatering yumminess...fried okra, beans, fried potatoes/onions, apples...too many to list. Drinks bigger than Luke's head for kids made this the ultimate hit :) We seriously had to roll ourselves out of this place!

Our final activity was swimming. We do a lot of this in real life and have kept that up on this trip. After years on swimteam, my crew loves to be in the water and does not get bored with it. I try to find a fun pool in every city in the one in Biloxi did not disappoint! We spent the better part of a day on waterslides, a water structure, floating the lazy river, playing basketball and of course...doing our laps :)

Saturday, January 2, 2016


Holy cow...there is so much to tell you about Florida! We spent just over 3 weeks there covering the state in all directions!!! We had so much fun doing so many things we have never experienced before. We spent Christmas in true paradise. Seriously...this is gonna be a long post so stop now if you don't have the time!

Florida started with a visit with The Williby Family. Beth and I met teaching 15 years ago and forged a friendship that is still going strong. We have been through life's ups and down together, had 7 kids between us and still talk on the phone multiple times a week even though we don't actually get to see each other more than every two years or so. Our boys all fine in line like dominos and had the best 2 days playing together!

Stop #2 was a pitstop to break up our drive on the way to the FL Keys. Imagine our surprise when we arrived and it was a 55+ community!!!! Craig was not finding it as amusing as I was...I was hysterical! I clearly had no idea when I booked it and lucky for us they welcomed us with open arms. We were invited to the golf cart Christmas parade and even given the weekly schedule of events to participate in! I went to BINGO and even won $7!!!! When it was time to go, we bid farewell to all our new friends (Albert) and left in true Rose fashion...I somehow managed to not see the water pipes in the ground sticking up and drove the Jeep right over them, causing an eight foot geyser to erupt from the ground in my rearview mirror. All our nice new friends came running out with death glares yelling that I broke the water. Craig was in the RV in front of me and witnessed this whole event in the rear camera. Let me just tell you how well that went over! Fortunately the maintenance man was much much more sympathetic and told us not to worry, he would take over and fix it. I'm guessing I'm still the talk of town as water had to be shut off. Wonder if they will still welcome under age travelers anymore?!?!?!

Stop #3 was the home of Rose Family Christmas...RV style. And man did we do it in style...a private island in the FL Keys where the RV park was the only thing on it and we were looking right at the ocean out our front window! What an amazing way to celebrate making it as far south as we could literally go in our home on wheels. We snorkeled, we fished (Matt caught a nurse shark and hasn't stopped smiling!), we played horseshoes and football, we rode bike, we swam, we (I) laid on the beach with a great book and a margarita and Santa even found us!!! We drove down to Key West one day to explore the tiny island and literally had the BEST week vacation! While I know it seems like we are on a year long vacation, in reality we are living very similar to how we did at home...minus the permanent aspect. I still cook, clean, do laundry and have added tour guide, travel agent and full time teacher to my hat. Craig still works and pays the bills. This week in the Keys we did NONE of it! We acted like we were on a true vacation and enjoyed every minute of it!!! We even finished off our tropical vacation with a night at the Hilton. We used some of our Hilton points to take advantage of all of the super awesome amenities this beautiful resort had to offer and ended our beach vacation in style ;)

Stop #4 was Miami...specifically the RV park at Gator park. You know its a doozey when they tell you at check in to be aware for stray gators...OMG!!! This piece of heaven got even more special when we discovered we were parked right smack next door to "Gator Dan", a 20 year resident and star of the Gator show at the park. gator Dan became even more special when we discovered he had 6 gators living in his RV with him and invited Craig and the boys over to visit!!! UUUmmmmmmm...NO THANKS FOR ME!!!! I happily stayed home, with the door locked tight and had no part of that! Our fun didn't end there...because we were now friends of the park star, we got "extra special" attention during the Gator Show (NOT GOOD ATTENTION!) and were shown all the animals up close and in our faces. Again, 4 of us thought this was great, 1 not so much! It got even better when he handed Luke a gator and Luke came running at me, yelling "Mommy we are gonna get you!" much to the delight of Dan and the whole audience!

Another amazing adventure in Miami was slated for our Matt. We discovered his beloved OU was playing in the Orange Bowl, less than 10 minutes from us on New Years Eve. Mom once again rocks and managed to score tickets for Craig, Brian and Matt! We got even luckier when the kids and I went to South beach the day before the game to ride bikes and stumbled on the ESPN Beach Bash promoting the big game!!! Aunt Key managed to be able to use her magic and score us VIP admission (way to be a Capital One Customer!) and we were literally the very first people in the OU tent! Matt got to get his game day apparel early, the boys got to play all the games and activities and we were literally exiting before the line of over 5000 people was barely getting through security!!! What an unexpected awesome surprise this turned out to be! Gameday was everything Matt could've hoped for (minus the loss for OU!). they had such a fun time and loved their 40 yard line seats! Go Mom! Luke and I celebrated New Years ourselves with a date. We poked around multiple toy stores, had dinner at Pei Wei and ended with 150 token at Chuck E Cheese! A great New Year's Eve for this family!

Stop #5 was just outside of Ft. Meyers to spend time with my family. My Aunt and Uncle (my Dad's brother) live there, and my cousin, her husband and kids were all in town. Keely and I grew up together and unfortunately are no longer able to see each other very often. Getting to spend this time with our family was such a great stop and we had so much fun! The boys lovevd the feeling of being at Gaga & Papa's (probably because my Aunt and Uncle are pretty close molds of my parents!) and this was definitely a great stop!

Stop #6 was Tampa...another amazing stop! First we got to spend time with my cousin Jackie (my Mom's brother's daughter!), her husband and her 3 boys!!! Except hers are itty bitty and oh so sweet! (Unlike my sassy mouth, eye rolling heathens!) She has a 2 year old and 4 month old twins...I was in pure heaven! We got to spend the day playing with babies, enjoyed a great dinner and really had the best time seeing each other. Jackie and I extended the fun when I snuck over for another afternoon of baby holding minus my crazies!!! We are so happy we got to see all these wonderful people we love in Florida and don't see often enough!

Tampa was also home to one of the coolest adventures so far...swimming with manatees! What amazing gentle giants these are! They are vegetarians and have no known predators. They adore people and will swim right up to you, poke you and want you to rub their bellies. Our day started with a 5am wake up call in 49 degree weather...complete with pouring rain. Not the best mood setter for the kids but holy cow did attitudes change! The boys literally had the time of their lives. Getting to swim with these jumbo creatures was a once in a lifetime experience and one we will not forget!

Stop #7 was Clearwater Beach...home to one of our favorite movie(s)...Dolphin Tale and Dolphin Tale 2. We absolutely loved this place. Getting to go to the aquarium and see Hope and Winter, plus touring the facility, meeting many other animals, seeing the prop house for the movie and holding the actual prosthetic that Winter wore was the coolest thing!

Stop #8 was Orlando, our final Florida destination and Craig's bachelor pad for a weekend! The kids and I had a very quick trip to Houston to spend a very quick belated Christmas with Gaga & Papa. Did I mention it was quick?!?! We had a great time seeing Aunts, Uncles and cousins, got to be at Annie's Birthday party, and got spoiled rotten by Gaga & Papa! I even managed to squeeze in a few hours with my two best buddies who spent their day making a very long drive to come see me for just a little bit of time!

We have now finally left Florida feeling refreshed, very blessed and fortunate to have spent time with friends and family we might have not otherwise seen without this RV trip and ready to complete the second half of this crazy adventure!!!!