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!!!!