December 21, 2016

Christmas- RV Style

No, we didn't deck out the RV with blaring lights and drive around town. We took a more modest approach and left the delights of the holidays for the inside of the RV. We hung stockings, a wreath and put up a tree. The boys said "it might not be our best tree, but it's definitely our most creative." I actually like it better than all of our other trees. Below you will find how we prepped for our first Christmas in the RV (of course with a good drink in hand). I'll start off with the drink so you can go make yourselves one while reading this post. Good plan? I think so.

December 18, 2016

Thanksgiving in an RV

RV, Thanksgiving, Turkey, Green Bean Casserole, Cranberry Sauce with Orange Zest, Smoked Ham

This week will be a little different. I'll be posting about our experience with holidays in the RV and how we've celebrated and decorated. Hope you enjoy!

I got an email the day before I planned on grocery shopping for Turkey Day. The email's main article was on How to celebrate Thanksgiving in your RV. They listed 5 ways to get 'er done. As soon as I saw the title I assumed it would be advice on how to manage such a huge meal in SUCH a small space. Uh no! Here are the tips the email listed: cook outside, grill it, cook with a group, have it catered or go out. I was not impressed people, not impressed at all! I decided (with a little push from a good friend) to create a post on what we did to make our Thanksgiving meal a success. Complete with recipes that you will love.

December 14, 2016

Day Trippin' to White Sands

We left Santa Fe and were headed to Tucson, Arizona. We needed an overnight stop to break up the drive and visiting White Sands National Monument totally fit the bill. We found a Harvest Host winery stop but when we arrived we immediately made a u-turn and decided to find another place to park for the night. It looked like an abandoned shed and not so much a winery. I'm not one to judge but think the sign was being held up by a piece of string, too. Yep- not so much. We found an RV park about 10 minutes down the road, parked The Big B, borrowed sleds from the front office and headed to White Sands as we only had a couple hours of daylight left. We were also really thankful that no missile testing was going on that day (that really happens). That would've been a big bummer.

December 11, 2016

Santa Fe

Our first month long stay and I must say that there is a part of me that has a serious itch to get moving. Then there is the other part of me that told Edson I just got my mojo here and we are leaving! I mean... I found my grocery store, I found our weekly story time at La Farge library with Miss Michelle and we found the playgrounds we like to frequent. Funny how you look at things when your home is on wheels. It's hard to get out of developing a routine-- it is just a naturally occurring and comforting thing.

December 7, 2016

Day Trippin' to Albuquerque

Edson had to go back to Virginia to deal with storage issues this past weekend. It wasn't our favorite option but it was the only viable one. That meant the kids and I were riding solo. It also meant that we were headed to Albuquerque to take Daddy to the airport and a day trip was in order. I have to say I was pretty impressed by Albuquerque. It's huge, new and modern. There are a lot of activities and tons of people outdoors. It's not how I remembered. My Dad lived here for a brief stint in my younger years and I visited a few times. All I remember was Sandia Peak. Another thing we passed on due to price this go 'round. I'm starting to see why my parents had one kid. Man these little beings make everything pricey!

Here are the highlights from our day:

December 4, 2016

Day Trippin' to Bandelier & Valles Caldera

These places definitely deserve their own post. They are about an hour and a half outside Santa Fe. They are beautiful and just plain COOL. This post will be short and sweet and full of pictures. A good break from my normal wordy ones.

December 1, 2016

The Giving Tour: The Food Depot

The Food Depot in Santa Fe, NM

This is our last post in the 5-day Giving Tour extravaganza (just made that up). I hope you've enjoyed reading about the places where we've volunteered. Next week we will be back to fun times with posts 2-3 times a week about our recent travels. Now back to The Food Depot:

There wasn't much our family could do with a 2 year old and a warehouse full of food without a danger factor being present. Chris, the Volunteer Coordinator at The Food Depot took care of us anyway. He set us up as a group. We arrived and were given a tour of the facility. Think the Costco of Food Banks. Chris educated all of us on what it is they actually do at the Food Depot and it was extremely helpful and appreciated. Our kids were pumped to put on their hair nets to help and get started on our task.

November 30, 2016

The Giving Tour: Vista del Canon

When looking into places to volunteer in Santa Fe I emailed countless organizations. I got a response from Kirsten at Creativity for Peace. She was incredible! Thank you, Kirsten! She didn't have any opportunities for our family but was able to recommend a ton of places that might have something for us. One of those opportunities was with a sweet family managing a farm in the mountains outside of Santa Fe. We connected with the family and we scheduled a time for a visit.

November 29, 2016

The Giving Tour: Caritas of Austin

Caring for the homelss of Austin, TX
Image found on
We volunteered with Caritas through Little Helping Hands. We arrived in the downtown Austin neighborhood where the streets smelled of urine and homeless men and women lined the sidewalks. Parking the car was a much needed eye-opener for our 3 kids.

November 28, 2016

The Giving Tour: Little Helping Hands

In honor of Giving Tuesday I will be posting a bit more this week. We had Our Best Day Ever post Monday and the rest of the week I will be featuring the organizations we've served during our Giving Tour. We hope to bring awareness to each of their causes and encourage everyone to get out and help in your community. Enjoy!  

I have a special place in my heart for Little Helping Hands. The first organization to take our family of 5 in with open arms is pretty special. Ok, this is me being cheesy but it's true and we appreciate them!

inspiring community service in early childhood
Image courtesy of Little Helping Hands

November 27, 2016

Best Day Ever!

Bouquets of flowers

We had THE BEST. DAY. EVER! Today we volunteered in the morning at The Food Depot packing bags and bags of pinto beans for people in the community.  This is our 2nd go 'round with The Food Depot and this time we had help and packed over 1,000- 1 pound bags of pinto beans! YAY!

As we were leaving The Food Depot something unexpected happened.

November 21, 2016

Day Trippin' in Taos

Balloon taking off at Taos Ballon Festinval, NM

I read about Balloon Rallies in New Mexico long before we arrived. The problem? RV Parks and campgrounds that were anywhere near the big balloon rallies were so expensive we'd have to take out a second mortgage. Ok, not quite but close. Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is the most photographed event in the world so you know it's gotta be good. That being said I was bound and determined to make something work. Enter Taos, New Mexico. The first weekend we arrived in Santa Fe, Taos was hosting a balloon rally. It was nothing like the Albuquerque festival but it was beautiful nonetheless. Taos typically hosts 30-50 balloons in comparison to the 600 that participate in the Albuquerque Fiesta. We didn't care. We saw what we wanted to see. It was quite a drive but well worth it. I only wish we got there a bit earlier to see all of the balloons prepping and setting up for their ascension. We got to the field as the last one was going up. The kids wanted to go up so bad. I looked it up prior to going in hopes of taking them but at $150-$200 a person, that's going to have to wait.

November 17, 2016

Celebrating Our Travels!

Traveling the country is a big deal and we know it. We have no real timeline and no end date. We do know that at some point we will stop for these kiddos and possibly our sanity. That being said, we want to be sure we are celebrating our travels as we go. We aren't talking about going to a gift shop in every place and buying something. Trust me we've had to tell the kids we cannot do that (and yet they still ask at every store): 1. we'd go broke and 2. we don't have room for the stuff.

All that being said, I had to come up with ways on the cheap to celebrate what we are doing. Of course we got the kids involved. Here are my Top 5 Ways to Celebrate Your Travels:

November 13, 2016

RV Tour

2017 Georgetown 364TS pulling a 2014 Ford Flex

Quite a few of you have asked questions about this Big Beast (aka The Big B).

I wanted to take some time to welcome you into our home. So... take off your shoes, grab a cup a' joe or (as I prefer) a glass of wine, kick up your feet, unbutton your pants and get comfy.

November 9, 2016

One Random Place: Carlsbad, NM

Yes, this was real life. This sign kinda sums up Carlsbad, New Mexico (for me, anyways). We had just left Big Bend and all I wanted was a grocery store. A big beautiful fluorescent-lit overcrowded grocery store. We didn't find one of those but we did find a Wal-Mart. We stocked up and spent a gazillion dollars (really, we did) as we were out of everything. Anyway, all I wanted was civilization. We didn't find it in Carlsbad. It was another week of feeling like we were in the middle of nowhere. Sorry, Carlsbad.

November 6, 2016

The Big Bend

Driving to Big Bend was a nail-biter. It was a situation where one would really question if you should just turn around and head back. One might think there is a strong possibility you made a wrong turn and are in the middle of Mexico. You might wonder if you have enough gas, food, water and an emergency radio because you haven't seen any sign of life for 2 hours. Yes, it was that kind of drive. 

November 1, 2016

Dia de los Muertos

Feliz Dia de los Muertos! We celebrated with a day at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Since we've not celebrated the Day of the Dead in the past we really didn't know what to expect. We had checked out a book about it last week so we learned a bit. Typical foods, traditions and things along those lines were covered. The museum did it right. Lots of people dressed up, they had music, crafts, face painting, food, performances and great exhibits. Did I mention it was all free? Right in our price range.

October 31, 2016

Birthdays and Holidays

When we embarked on this adventure we knew things would be different. We knew that we'd need to make our best attempt to make birthdays and holidays as normal as possible. Our plan was to do the things we consider traditions. If the traditions weren't possible because we are on the road then we would alter it and try to make it fun, exciting and different in a good way. We know we will have to 'sell' the idea of altering our traditions big time to these kids. 

October 26, 2016

The Giving Tour

While in Austin we decided we needed something more. I'm sure it sounds silly to most. We felt like our children weren't being grateful and neither were we. We'd been too wrapped up in the hardships of homeschool and getting acclimated. We needed to spend time being grateful, really consciously thinking about it.

We both know that we are truly lucky to be able to make this big adventure happen. We've explained it countless times to the kids, too. It just isn't sinking in: for us or them. We are still way too focused on the hardships. Edson and I both agreed that we needed to do something about it. We want to be sure we all get the most out of this adventure. We started talking about volunteering. It might just be what we all need to get a new sense of life and appreciation. We also know that everywhere we go we will be learning and taking so much from that place. But what about the local community? How can we give back? We will be getting a lot out of each place we go so it's only fair that we do something for the community in return. 

Here's the idea: The Giving Tour. Every place we spend more than a week we do at least one thing to help the community. Our first stay for more than a week was our visit to Austin. We were able to get this idea started there and it was a great experience for all of us. We found an organization that I absolutely adore. It's called Little Helping Hands, based in Austin, TX. The premise behind it is promoting family volunteerism, allowing little ones to get involved and start their love of helping others from a very young age. Their vision is to develop children into community-minded leaders and citizens. We signed up to help at Caritas, a homeless shelter in downtown Austin. There were 4 families there and each family made a large tray of macaroni and cheese, cut up a ton of fruit for a big salad and cookies for dessert. The organizer made sure to let us know that each tray would feed about 25 people. She also let us know that hundreds of people come through those doors Monday-Friday for meals, That meant that what we made would only be a portion of one of the meals they serve to those in need. WOW! - they need a lot of help. Big bonus: we got to rock some kick ass hair nets. 

We are on a road towards a greater appreciation for the things we've been fortunate enough to do in this life. The Giving Tour means so much to me and I really hope it turns into something. I have always wanted to instill compassion and a strong desire to help and care for others in my children. I'm pretty sure we all want that. We all want to teach our children to be grateful for what they have. I mean who wants a spoiled brat? Ummm... No one I know. 

Little Helping Hands was an incredible organization and I would love to replicate it everywhere across the country. I've always looked for ways for our family to get involved. Believe it or not it's not always easy with a family with young kids. Organizations, in my experience at least, prefer to have older kids and adults to help and not deal with the little ones running rampant. I can't say I blame them. Even when looking for a place to volunteer in Austin I emailed and called at least 10 places. Little Helping Hands was the only place to even get back to me and honestly gave us a ton of things we could do with our young family. They've really got things down to a science. 

I have big dreams for what we lovingly call The Giving Tour. Honestly, I always have big dreams and ideas for everything-- its whether or not I figure out how to make it work is another thing. The goal is for my family to really make a difference in the communities we spend a significant amount of time in. Considering we are slowing down that will hopefully happen more often now (although I'm having a hard time grasping the idea of 'slowing down'). It's a mutually beneficial relationship. The community takes us in for some time, we learn new things, see new places and then we help by giving back-- it's simple really. 

The larger idea comes when I think this could turn into something incredible for high school kids. I think 10th-12th graders would be ideal. We could start The Giving Tour with those kids and we would travel around the country, they give back, and see new places (all in an RV). And no, I'm not talking about our family of 5 travelling with the these high school kids but an educator or someone in a leadership role. Obviously, a year trip would be a bit out of the question, but a few weeks to a month would be do-able doing a region at a time. We could work with local organizations and really get something amazing things to happen. This country has so much for kids to experience and so many ways to get involved. I am confident it would be life changing. I remember going to South Africa when I was in high school and the experiences I had helped shaped who I am today. That is, a travelling blogger with hopes to create something big for my family and others; instilling a sense of appreciation, adventure and compassion. Big goals. Must. Take. One. Step. At A Time. 

Have ideas on how we can get The Giving Tour started with high school kids in your area? Know of a few great organizations we could work with? We are staying in Santa Fe for a month and it's our first lengthy stay so we are busy looking for volunteer opportunities. We will be sure to post more and we will be adding a new menu option in the coming weeks so we can feature some of the organizations we work with while on this journey. 

Cheers to living a grateful life!

(Update: Be sure to visit HERE to find more pictures, information and links to all the organizations we've been helping. There are A LOT of hair nets involved. Thought that might entice you. :)) 

October 21, 2016

San Antonio, Texas

We are realizing if we want to see as much as possible we need to stay at a central locale and be willing to drive up to a few hours. That was the case with San Antonio. It took about an hour and a half to get there which in our car is one movie and TA-DA we arrived. It also means we can't stay too long because Cola (our diggity dog) is back at the RV.

We did all the tourist-y stuff. We hit up the Alamo and even bought the severely overpriced photo package at a whopping $26. It was worth it though as it was the first time I'd seen a picture of everyone looking and smiling all at the same time. Now if I can just find them in this RV. I have no idea how we seem to lose things in this little space. Don't be surprised if that image is what you all get in holiday card form this year.

Anyway, it was a great day. The Alamo was first: full of history and lots to learn. We then walked the entirety of the Riverwalk (seemed like it anyway) and stopped in La Villita, a little historic shopping village and the River Theatre. We ate lunch at a Mexican place, I ate my weight in chips and salsa, heard some mariachi and called it a day. I'll let the pictures do the talking on this one. I figure I need to give you a break from the lengthy term paper posts every once in a while and well, it was a day trip. 

Love this face. Cayenne and I had some time to kill while the boys read everything so we did some photos and exploring of our own.

Niko's hair. It will have it's own zip code soon. Cool guy.
River Theatre

E just wanted to eat. Zero interest in that mariachi band. 
On to Jellystone in Fredericksburg, TX for some fun with Yogi Bear! We've got some celebrating to do.

October 17, 2016

Austin, Texas

To be fair, I've only heard ya'll once. We spent the last two weeks near Austin, Texas and being as though it's the 'WEIRD' part of Texas I'm not surprised we didn't hear it more. That being said, those of you that know me would also know that I can appreciate some good ole' down home weirdness.

We stayed at Bastrop State Park about 50 minutes outside Austin. That meant it wasn't the easiest of drives to get into the city. We did attempt to stay closer but parks close to the city were jam packed because of ACL (Austin City Limits) which is a huge music festival. Nevertheless, we still made the trek in 4 or so times and sucked every ounce of Austin out of the city each day we did. You know I don't want to miss a single thing. Of course the drive in meant gas and a lot of it so we did try to steer towards the el' cheapo route of things to do/see if you know what I mean.

Below are my favorites:

Hope Outdoor Gallery: We came here the first day we got to the city. We started driving without a plan and this was before we realized just how far it was. It was already late in the day so we just decided to do a driving tour. We hit up Hope Outdoor Gallery for some graffiti. I mean what else do tourists do in Austin, TX but go see some reallllllly cool graffiti?! Just kidding, I didn't necessarily think that was normal when sightseeing but that's why I thought it was so incredible about it.

Austin, TX

Austin, TX

Austin, TX

Austin, TX

SoCo Area:  One walkable street. Cool funky shops. Friendly people. Browsing Acceptable. Right. Up. My. Alley. Nuff said.
Austin, TX
Our first cactus. Had to snap a pic with it!

What's a trip to TX without a boot shop?!

Zilker Park: Every area of this place just made me want more of it. From Barton Springs Pool to Zilker Botanical Gardens to the awesome playground. I could've gone back every day and been satisfied. I would totally want to live near it.

Zilker Botanical Gardens has an amazing storytime! They read a story at the entrance and then they take everyone on a walk through the gardens stopping to read books along the way. It was beautiful!

She is craving "friends" and sat and spoke to everyone she saw. 
The train at Zilker Park- super cheap and a great way to see more of the park.

The random guy serenading us on the train route. Pretty cool!
Barton Springs Pool- Freezing, but awesome. The view of the city in the background pretty cool.

Beauitful Barton Springs Pool

Austin Nature and Science Center: Free, beautiful and buzzing with excitement. Literally, buzzing. They have a swarm of honeybees in house. It was super cool. My favorite was the time we spent in the dino dig. My kids could've stayed their digging up dinos all day.

The Thinkery: Amazeballs. Reno yelled to me while running off to another exhibit, "This. Is. The. Best. Place. Ever!!!!!!!" Folks, I don't take that lightly. The kid has something to complain about every time we go anywhere. All of our kids loved it. Shoot. I loved it, too. They have a giant lite brite room. What 1980s kid wouldn't think that is the coolest thing EVER? They also have a ginormous playground, a painting area, wax creation area, rocket making, battery making, water play, kitchen and much much more! The place is incredibly pricey at $10 per person with discounts for members, but they have a community night every Wednesday that is free from 4-8pm. DING DING DING! We were in! They are smart-- that community night made me want to be a member.

Round Rock Chalk Walk: So this isn't IN Austin but we found an event where artists use chalk as their medium and paint on the sidewalks in the downtown area of Round Rock (north of Austin). It was something different to do and a new place outside of Austin to explore that still has reasonably priced housing (we are always on the lookout). We could tell that most of the people there lived in the community and it was just a nice feel. A sense of community is definitely something I'm missing while on the road. There were vendors everywhere of all sorts with live music, food trucks, the artwork, of course and just a fun Friday night out. Woot woot. We don't get many of those. Little Miss C also got her face painted. She went from thinking she was a superstar and posing to full on karate. A police officer even stopped us to tell us she should be the entertainment for the night. Too funny!


McKinney Falls State Park: This is where we originally wanted to stay when coming to Austin. It too was completely booked. We decided to go for a few hours. We hiked to both falls and really got to ooh and aah over it's natural beauty. It was the first time Edson had an Ahhh moment. You know the moment, right? When you sit down on the side of a rock, look over at some natural beauty with your calm family in tow and at just the right moment you let out a sigh and a big "Ahhhhh." It was the first time I'd seen E be like 'Ok, this is why we did all this craziness." That made me happy.

Trying to save this girl from going over! She wanted to jump right in!
Cayenne's BUTT CHEEKS. So proud.
Those were my favorites in/around Austin. My favorite memory from this leg of the trip one might ask? We were roasting marshmallows one night while at Bastrop State Park. We were all done and apparently Reno had taken bites of a couple marshmallows and stuck them together like "butt cheeks". Well Cayenne wanted to do the same. I told her we'd have more tomorrow and she wasn't accepting that. She spent the next 30 minutes screaming "I WANT BUTT CHEEKS!" and crying hysterically. From that day on we now lovingly call two marshmallows stuck together "butt cheeks". Note: This mama didn't cave and give her one. She had to get over it and have one the next night.

We did do a lot more than I listed above as this was the place we've spent the most time thus far on our big adventure. I decided not to highlight those because they weren't necessarily my fav. We took the Rest in Peace Tour at the Capitol building. It was a tour only given in October around all the people that have died there, ghost stories and such that the boys enjoyed. They even recognized people in  paintings from the Texas history we've been reading about which was neat (and I gave myself a pat on the back). We went to Jacob's Well, too. I honestly wasn't super impressed with that one. I would've preferred to visit Hamilton Pool Preserve but it wasn't along the route when we were headed out so we'll save that for next time.

An old water fountain at the Capitol building.
They recognized Santa Anna from the Battle at the Alamo

We left Bastrop/Austin on October 7th so I've got some catching up to do. See you in the next post!