March 31, 2016


Note to self:

Be more prepared.

I'd like to think I am pretty organized. Yep- not when I am moving cross country.

Our kids ended up sleeping over with friends 2 nights in a row before we actually left Virginia. Thank GOODNESS for them! We had packed our bed and wanted to continue packing so we slept in the boys bunk beds with no sheets. Jailbird style. Because-- did I mention? I packed those, too. Why we didn't phone a friend? Not. A. Clue. I'm going to attribute the stupidity to stress and a lack of sleep.

Moral of the story? I was a packing maniac and should've planned for the lack of beds/bedding/clothes. I needed a suitcase, similar to a hospital bag when prepping for baby's arrival for moving week. Clothes and toiletries for all. That was all packed, too! Pretty sure we wore the same clothes for 3 days. At least we all had toothbrushes.  Phew! Luckily, a few friends stopped by before we left and armed us with snacks. They all got eaten. Every single one.

The drive down went well. Considering the last time we drove to Florida Cayenne had a stomach bug. We are talking about throw up all in her car seat and diarrhea everywhere. Not sure how she got it or where she got it but it started far enough into our trip that there was no turning back. Let's just say we haven't been back to FL in a year and a half and probably because we were just plain traumatized.

Pulling this big ass uhaul was no joke. Pretty sure we were over the weight limit but we had no choice. We had one container going to storage in MD until we figure out what we are doing with our lives and the all other stuff was coming with us. There was a lot of prioritizing. We stopped pretty much every 3-4 hours for gas. It was insane. We got 12 mpg when pulling that bad boy so to say it was slowing us down was an understatement. In fact, it was so slow we stopped for the night at a pet-friendly hotel in South Carolina. We headed out early the next morning after breakfast but not before stopping at Wally World for dog food. Because?? I wasn't prepared and had forgotten to buy more dog food before we left!

We made it to FL in one piece. Cayenne was sleeping when we high-fived at the Florida state line but when we stopped to get our free cup of OJ she woke up. I told her we were in Florida and the first thing she said while trying to get out of her seat was "BAVINGSUIT!" She cracked us up! She wanted to get her bathing suit on as soon as we hit Florida. Can you blame her?

Free OJ!

Many hours later as Florida is the frickin' longest flatest state ever... we arrived at my Mom's house. The kids got out of the car and immediately headed to the pool. The boys put their feet in and Cayenne literally dunked her whole body (fully-clothed) by sitting on the first step. They weren't messing around with the idea of finding their bavingsuits (misspelling intended). Who knows where this mama packed them.

And so the unpacking begins...

March 24, 2016

Ode to Burke, VA

An Ode to Burke, Virginia

White picket fences, smiling hellos, you were the perfect place for our family to grow
It's just that we've realized now it is time to go
A new adventure, a journey towards the unknown
We can only hope someone will throw us a bone

All three kids began their lives here
Because of that we consumed lots of beer*
Amazing neighbors and really great friends
We've questioned our decision to make it all end

Good Ole' Burke Viriginy, you are the epitome of suburbia
Community pools and walking paths at every turn
High home costs that leave you with no money to burn

The over-involved nature of this place 
Has made me get wrinkles on my face
Everyone's kids are into everything
Every kid plays sports and an instrument
Oh wait- that's not it!
Don't forget self defense and swim team
It really just makes me want to scream
We have to split up and cart them around
Saying "I'll see you later, I'm activity-bound!"

We are off to try a more laid back life
One where are pockets are full and my husband gets to see his wife
In spite of it all we always had a ball
We'll miss you NOVA
Don't forget to call

I look in the rear view with tears in my eyes
And all we can do is wave GOOD BYE!
PEACE OUT is what we say when we turn and drive away
Burke, Virginia... We WILL be back again someday!

* Beer was not consumed in the making of this blog post

A few of our last pics...

March 22, 2016

Adios Cortes Family!

Our friends hosted a going away party for us and it was WONDERFUL! I cried like a baby, but it was still amazing.  It was a semi-surprise. I knew something was going on but didn't know who would be involved, where it was, etc. Being the planner that I am I interrogated a number of suspects to try and find out information.

Friends and neighbors gathered to wish us well. There was a ton of food, music and good people. I mean you really can't ask for more. The icing on the cake came when our dear friend, Bernard (pronounced Buuuuuuhhh-nuuuuud) stood up to speak. We believe he was nominated due to his smart use of quotes and British accent. He talked about friendship and family and what we meant to them. Cynthia and Jorge Castro also stood up and spoke about friendship and gave us well wishes on our brave new adventure and told us to enjoy each other and our time together. Diyas, one of our neighbors stood up to say he was happy that when we used to all be outside watching the kids when they were younger I would be the 'mean' one that would call the night. It was hilarious and a great laugh to wrap things up. Countless others told us that they would've stood up to speak if it weren't for the insane amount of tears and lack of coherent speech that would've ensued. Thank goodness they didn't. I would've been swimming in salty tears.

The kiddos

Rayan's guilty face is amazing!
Oshi and Jen

My cutie Cai hitting up the dessert table for cookies and uvas (grapes)

My Ma and Miss Margie 

Payam and the kiddos

Hopi (baby-toting), Drana, Edson, Jorge and Evan

There were lots of laughs, too!


They presented us a frame everyone signed with a pic of our house

The only one looking is me (and I am bright red from all the tears!)

All photos courtesy of Mr. James Cowgill :)

Niko and Reno have grown up in this house and this neighborhood. This place and these people have been a HUGE part of our lives. To say we were incredibly touched by the party is an understatement. It meant so much to us and I only wish we had more pictures (before the tears began I should point out). It meant so much so that Edson stood up to say thank you to everyone and tell them all how much they've meant to us. These people became our family when we started here alone. They will continue to be family even when we are gone.People keep telling us they are happy for us because at least we will be around family. It's a funny thing to me because we've created a family in Northern VA.

I'd like to say we will come back to live, but I don't know if we will and if we did I know it wouldn't be the same. I'm going to hold onto the memories. There are LOTS of good ones.


March 21, 2016

Make New Friends But Keep the Old...

It is CRAZY how many of my friends ended up in Northern Virginia. I moved up here having one person. I now have 3 close friends from FL that live here. We have close friends that even moved over from the UK (and live on our street!) and we've made a lot of other wonderful friends over the past 12 years. One might ask: Why are you leaving all that?!

Don't get it twisted here folks, I have my doubts regularly. It is going to be so hard to leave this place. I've cried often (often as in daily at this point) when going through all the donations, stuff to sell and the boxes that will go to storage and to FL. We are downsizing a lot. We can't take everything. The tears I've cried are good tears. I have fond memories of this place and always will. It's hard to take apart a home you've put together just how you want it. The hardest for me is the baby's room. The hubs reminds me it's all stuff- they are just things. I will rebuild the perfect room again.

We are leaving because we need to. After one of my seriously overwhelmed sessions my husband asked me "Would yo be happy if we stayed another 10 years?" My response: Ummm no. This is a calling. It's something we have to do. One of our neighbors and friends said it best when she said "it seems like you are following an inner instinct." She is right. We can always come back.

Do you have a calling? Some inner voice telling you that you are supposed to be doing something else?

My friends: I say DO IT! Follow your heart and make your dreams come true no matter your circumstance. Things won't necessarily be easy along the way (I can attest to that) but we are hoping that the end goal makes it all worth it. A true sense of accomplishment. There will always be people you will miss when you move onto different things. The people that matter most will always be in touch in one way or another. It can be days, months or even years before you reconnect but those good friendships will have a way of feeling like you are right back where you left off. Can you tell I keep repeating the above in my head? Welcome to my self-talk.

More to come amigos. A few notes on what's been happening in our world:
  • Getting shot records, physicals, doc records for the kiddos school registration
  • Signing kids up for sports in FL
  • Finding FREE boxes- CVS, Vitamin Shoppe were my best bets
  • Organizing and Donating
  • Signing paperwork with United Mayflower
  • Packing!
  • Researching Uhaul options for the stuff we will need while in FL and looking into shipping E's car so we can ride together and avoid the 2 car drive down
  • Getting application process going with Property Management company and potential renters
  • Ordering new fridge! Setting up delivery
  • Painting downstairs
  • Taking stuff off walls, filling holes
  • Giving away everything-- it really does seem like EVERYTHING! 
I am a mess...

It's going to get better, right?! Our house isn't ours anymore. It's been taken over by the packing junk monsters. I need a seat, next to a pool with a cocktail in hand. Eyes on the prize here people. 

Image Courtesy of

March 18, 2016


Now that we are leaving we wanted to do something with the kiddos- one last hoorah! Off to Philly for an overnight adventure. We let the kids skip school and left early on Friday morning and came back Saturday eve. It was a whirlwind but it was worth it.

We hit the road at 9am (1. because we wanted to miss rush hour and 2. we were really slow getting outta there!) and got to Philly around noon. We went straight to my favorite restaurant, El Vez. We are talking big drinks, lots of guac, pimped out bikes rotating above the bar and a photo booth. What more could a girl ask for?!
Cayenne and her suitcase
Cayenne ready for a road trip!

"El Vez" restaurant in Philadelphia, PA
El Vez (and yes, this is the best pic from many)

"El Vez" restaurant in Philadelphia, PA

Wall decor at El Vez restaurant in Philadelphia, PA

"El Vez" restaurant in Philadelphia, PA

"El Vez" restaurant in Philadelphia, PA

"El Vez" restaurant in Philadelphia, PA
The photo booth session in El Vez. Even Cayenne is sticking her tongue out!

After lunch we headed to The Franklin Institute. I am NOT a museum person. I would rather eat chalk. In this instance it was interesting and fun for the whole fam. Am I getting paid to advertise for the Franklin Institute? NO. But I wish I was. It is super interactive, hands on and modern. We are used to the old buildings in DC. We were literally kicked out of the museum when it closed and we missed a whole entire level of the place.

Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, PA

Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, PA

Reno is always pumped about hotels so it was fun when we pulled up at Le Meridien that was right near the City Hall building. We hung out there for a while as the boys were ready to put their feet up and get cozy. Not this mama! We got some recommendations from the Concierge who told us about Frankford Ave. First Fridays. She also told us about the standard bowling alley and blah blah blah. We went the new and unusual route. We headed to dinner first at another restaurant she recommended that was 'kid-friendly'. HA! We walked in with our 3 kids to what looked like a strip joint as it didn't have any windows just glass brick out front. We made our way past the bar to an area where we asked for a table for 5. Oh yeah- did I mention it was Friday? We must not get out much as the wait was 30 minutes. There was no seating anywhere so our family of 5 parked ourselves near a ledge by the bar and got a couple beers and a few kids-cups. Niko proceeded to get teary-eyed because all he wanted to do was sit down. We had a beer and then realized we weren't hungry and left.

Philadelphia Cty Hall

The view from our hotel room at Le Meridien

We went to Little Baby's Ice Cream on Frankford Ave. They were auctioning off ice cream- it was nuts! It was jam-packed and people were buying things like Prosciutto Fig Ice Cream for $40 a pint. I made my best mom face, told Cayenne to make her best cutie pie face, told Reno to hold on and we made our way to the counter to get our own ice cream (not the auction stuff)/ We got Chocolate Salt Malt, Oatmeal Raisin and Rose Pistachio. The store is right next to Pizza Brain so we ordered a pizza to go. As we waited we ate our ice cream for dinner. Yep- that's how we roll. Dessert for dinner.

Counter at Little Baby's Ice Cream on Frankford Ave
When we finally got to the counter. The line for bidding was crazy!

Pizza Brain in Philadelphia, PA
Pizza Brain- full of Ninja Turtle memorabilia and other rando stuff.

We did a drive by the Rocky Steps and headed back to Le Meridian to eat our pizza. YUM!

Saturday morning we got up, walked to Reading Market and ate our way through the place. My favorite was the grilled cheese stand. You have to go!

Reading Terminal Market Philadelphia, PA

Reading Terminal Market Philadelphia, PA

Reading Terminal Market Philadelphia, PA
Reading Terminal Market Philadelphia, PA

The Philly Flower Show was next on the agenda and conveniently located across the street from Reading Market. I've heard so much about the flower market and I really do love flowers. So when I found out that it was opening weekend I knew we had to go (much to my kids dismay). It was beautiful. It was beautiful and way-overcrowded. We started at the butterfly area for a $3 per person upcharge but it was nice. I don't think I'd go again. Maybe sans kids and during the day during the week to hopefully avoid some of the crowds. Anywho, we left outta there after Reno was in constant complaint mode that his feet hurt from walking so much. PUUUUHHHLEAAASE! He got a lecture.

Philadelphia Flower Show

Philadelphia Flower Show

Philadelphia Flower Show

Philly is the 'City of Brotherly Love' and we felt it this trip. Everyone we met or even ran into was so nice, warm and welcoming. I almost got a ticket while sitting in the car waiting for the boys to get cheesesteaks on South Street but ended up talking to the woman for 30 minutes. We talked about kids and relationships the whole time. She even ended the conversation with "Ok, I think you've convinced me." She was referring to me convincing her to have kids! OH boy-- I should've had her sign a disclaimer that I am not liable for any BS those kids put you through.

Our last road trip from Northern VA. Here's to many more in other locations!

March 8, 2016

A Tangled Web We Weave

It's amazing. I've written how many posts? Umm like 4. People have come from everywhere to tell me about their experiences and I've ultimately found some really cool stuff, inspiring people and awesome programs. People I know on facebook have messaged me telling me their story or the story of people they know who have left the crazy life behind in search of something new.

Picture of snow capped mountains
Image courtesy of

I decided it was worth writing about. If you consider yourself an adventurer (or yearn to be one like me) then check these things out. It's worth it.


It talks about the power of positive words.

My Wander Year

This is for people looking to spend a year abroad even families! You better believe I immediately jumped on this opportunity when I saw it. The minimum age requirement is 8 so little girl makes it a bit impossible for that. I corresponded with them a bit and they are looking to do shorter programs with no age requirements in the near future. I subsequently wrote them a short novel about how I can help and that what they were doing was my passion. I couldn't help myself. No response from them. Oh well! We are starting our own adventure but will keep an eye on this for sure.

Fulltime Families

A high school friend told me about her family doing this a couple years ago. They sold their 2500 sq.ft. house and moved into a 250 sq.ft. RV. She has 2 kids (just had the 2nd one) and has one small storage unit that they will get rid of once the baby is older. I can't even imagine! I'm going through our 1200 sq.ft house and it's insane!

All I can say is Amazeballs. Hope this inspires you!