Little Travelers

If you have talked to me for any length of time, the following subject usually comes up because it’s another one of my constant “going against the grain” soap boxes — MOVIES/TV.  Do y’all agree movies now aren’t like they use to be?? (or that’s what I always think until the other night when Goonies was on and I watched a little bit of it and remembered it was my favorite growing up and now I see it wasn’t that moral either.)

Anyway, the ratings just seem different.  G movies now seem PG.  And PG-13 seems R.  I’ve chalked a lot of it up to my new parent/adult perspective on things, but coupled with the fact that my kids seem really sensitive to scary loud things (wow that describes me)  I try to be careful and conservative.  There are a few sources I go to to find out whether a movie is good for our family or not.  I LOVE this website:

This is another one that’s good (lists appropriate ages for books as well):

I am constantly searching for videos, movies, dvd’s that are content approved, age appropriate and entertaining– tough combo.  We dont watch much TV because, so far, there’s been no need for exposure to unnecessary commercials and, well– all the other stuff….  I am, however, fully aware that this will change over time, as the kids get older, but for now my philosophy has been “you can always open the door wider but you can never close it once it’s open”  or something like that….

I am writing this entire post, mainly to tell to tell you about the following.  My kids were in a wedding a few years ago and after it was over the mother of the bride sent a DVD to us in the mail as a fun surprise for the kids.  I am attaching a link here so you can read about these adorable, educational, captivating, inspiring little movies.  We love them!  All the kids are mesmerised by them.

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At a loss for words

I dont even know what to call this post.  ‘At a loss for words’ covers it.  Which of course can’t be true, because here I am finding words to describe it– I’m never at a loss for words y’all but that’s just a good way of sayin “WOW” I can’t believe we made it.

The trip we recently embarked upon was just one of those things you do.  Just put your head down and do.  Start it, do it, finish it.  A little like giving birth-except I am not sure which one I could ever do again– move across country with a large family or give birth.  I am definitely not one of those people that gets all worked up about stuff before hand.  Maybe I don’t have time, maybe it’s the way I cope or deal but I don’t think much about things before they happen and then the time arrives and I have to think about it and whoa– you know the kind– if you had thought about it before hand you might not have wanted to do it.  That’s pretty much what this was.

In a previous post about our travel plans, I wrote that we would leave our house on a Monday, drive to my parents’ house and stay the night, get up and drive all day Tuesday, stay at a random hotel somewhere about halfway between San Antonio and Gainesville, get up the next morning, drive the rest of the way, arrive at our friends’ house-that also have four kids, stay the night there, and then wake up Thursday and head to our ‘new’ house to meet the movers early in the morning, unload and hopefully be set up by that night so that we could sleep here.  (I must put new in quotes for reasons we will get to later).

Well it all went down just like that.  With so much drama mixed in it gives me pause.  To relive it hurts- with a smile.

Monday morning:

Now is the perfect time to mention that the day we moved, the heat index in San Antonio registered at 106 degrees.  These guys were dripping sweat all over our couches and I just couldn’t bear it.  Yes, I felt sorry for them, but couldn’t help shuttering at the fact that our furniture was getting drenched with pints of a salty liquid that did not even come from members of my own family.  Foul.  Now you are never going to want to sit on our couches or chairs when you visit.  But this stuff is just what happens in a move I guess.  Actually, I really don’t know because this is the first time we have ever had movers.

At 5pm the kids and I arrived at my parents house, just after I squeezed in a hair cut for all of the kids.  At the hair cut  place I discover that one of the kids has lice.  (I wont reveal a name here to protect dignity.)  Ok, now before you go freakin out like we dont have clean kids–it’s actually really common now, especially in kids that spend a lot of time outside or go to camp….  So $50 later we have the stuff that is suppose to work and spend the next two hours administering treatment.  Nevermind the fact that we are moving the next day and have two cats staying in my mom’s laundry room that need to be let out on leashes to pee and poop.  I am not making this stuff up.

My mother went outside with one of the kids to help with the pottying of the cats– whatever that means.  Cats don’t potty on leashes or on command.  The first cat pulled out of her leash and it seemed like she was going to run away.  She hissed and freaked, but slowly came back, after way too much calling her name quietly, and then let us catch her.  We then decided that we would get them a liter box and liter — even though they have been trained to go outside for a year. I wasn’t sure if they would go back to liter.  But like a good baby goes from boob to bottle they did it.

Tuesday we woke up and loaded the cars: Florida or bust baby.

We drove ten hours and stopped somewhere in Alabama to stay the night.  During the trip, my cell phone battery was dying and since Big A was behind me in his car, this was a problem.  We had no idea where we were going to stop and couldn’t contact each other.  Here is the best part.  During the midst of that, we drove through two hours of torrential down pouring rain.  How is it even possible to be in rain for two hours!?    I will tell you.  Later that night Big A’s dad calls to check on us because he had seen where a tropical depression had been hovering over the area we were to travel.  I just typed tropical depression.  I was so tense and sore after clenching that long I couldn’t move my body when we stopped.  Of course the road warriors in the back were oblivious because the tootsie rolls and movies were flowing.  If you are wondering, all the kids were in my car.  Big A had the cats.  Still not sure if this was fair, but Big A assures me it was.

Once we got to the hotel, it was still pouring rain, we unloaded suitcases and pets but still hadn’t had dinner.  So here was the brilliant plan we came up with to not have to get back in the car or the rain:

By the way, this is always Big A’s go to plan.  Whatever, I can’t accuse.  What parent doesn’t use pizza for every back up plan?

Apparently, these two didn’t care as much about eating.

We had two rooms and two bathrooms at this hotel, and we snuck the cats in through a side door and they occupied one of the bathrooms with a liter box in the bath tub.  Nice.  I’ll never tell the name of the hotel, some of you might rat us out.  Woke up the next morning, emptied the liter box, cleaned up as much as possible, ate continental breakfast, and got back on the road.

We arrived to town around 2pm and got the keys to the house. These are the first moments of the kids checking it all out. Straight to the back yard.

We stayed at the house for awhile and tried to figure out where furniture was going to go and who had which room, then went on to stay with our friends for the night.  Always the gracious hosts, we ate a delicious and healthy dinner that didn’t come out of a bag or can and all the kids played for awhile.  I didn’t get as many photos as I would have liked, but there was a game of wall ball, American girl slumber party, and a table set for 12.  Here’s what our room looked like just before bed.

Thursday morning we shared our traditional breakfast of Dunkin Doughuts and huge coffees then set off early for the house.

Trucks arriving at the house.  (Did you think there was only 1?)  I’ll never say “we don’t have that much” again.

All the kids helped unload and unpack… interesting…

But we let em have a break every once in awhile…. this is the “veranda” off the dining room but immediately became a race track.

It was brought to my attention that this is a wheel chair ramp but fortunately for  us, not yet.  You can only imagine what we are using it for:

Most fun place in the house.  Game room.

First meal in the house.

First night in the pool.


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First day of school (two weeks ago)

Well, we are finally to the point I have some time to sit at my computer for an update- not really but I’m carving it out anyway.  Using the word ‘settled’ would be slightly more definitive than I am ready to say but we are getting closer every day … and might I say truly loving it!

These are photos of the kids first day back to school. I’ll start there because I have in my mind to do a lengthy post of the entire process of traveling and moving, which might prove to be therapeutic for me and a bit of simple documentation, since I am pretty sure I have a built-in mechanism that is going to block it out forever just for the sheer preservation of my sanity and the extension of my life expectancy.

4th grader!  Wow- she has her own locker and dresses out for P.E.  I’ve told some of you this, but the other day she asked me if she was a “tween”.  I immediately googled the word to find her an answer and discovered that a “tween” is between the ages of 9-12 so it’s official– we have a tween!  A blurry tween– why cant I focus on the subject? ugh– might be the other three talking and goofing off behind me– who knows.

2nd grader!  If I could stop time she’d never be a tween.

Jr. Kinder.  Nothing to say here except– GOOF BALL- with a fetish for silly bands.

3 yr old – two days a week and melt in your mouth adorableness. Definitely misses his brother when he’s at school.  He’s not sure what to do home alone with me… and truth be told, I’m not sure what to do home alone with him.

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It’s Moving Day

The movers arrive in a few hours and most everything is packed.

You know that flood of emotions that overtakes you when you are embarking on a new journey?  When all of your senses are stimulated, your adrenaline hits a level that almost exceeds what your body can handle, your questions are all unanswered?  Have you ever been there?  I relish those times, revel in them.  I want to swim in a sea of endless emotions– crazy huh?  It’s when my soul does it’s most searching and my mind does it’s most racing.  The challenge sits before me and I dont have any idea how to get it done, but I know that it will happen somehow.  Do you push yourself outside of your comfort zone and try something new?  Do you go after the things that challenge you?  Do you risk it all for something you feel led to do?  I want to, but find myself trying to play it safe a lot of the time… it’s more comfortable there.

There’s a quote I heard once that always comes back to me at times like this.  Beth Moore said it.  “God usually has you in one of three stages:  about to go into the fire, coming out of the fire, or smack dab in the middle of the fire.”  Always refining, always changing, always molding you.

We leave our house tonight to stay with my parents for one night.  Tomorrow we will be up early and head out.  Two days of driving, watching movies, eating out of ice chests and gas stations, somehow with two cats in tow.  Thursday we move into our rental house.  Friday is open house at the kids’ school, Monday they start school and it’s Big A’s first day of work.

See, like I said, most everything is packed…..

4 out of 10 loads of laundry.

Uh huh, this room is nearly done.

Big A calls this his “bike shop”.  Bike Shop post to follow….


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I Love Moving

After all, it is all in your perspective right?  Isn’t everything?  (Figured out last night, we have moved, 6 times in 13 years.)   I just keep repeating the above phrase in my head over and over again, like the Little Engine That Could, I love move-ing, I love move-ing, I love move-ing, and slowly but surely I get there.  Not every part mind you.  But the following is a brief list of things I love about moving:

-you have to be totally creative in the last few days with what you eat, what you can live with/without, and how you pack things.

-as discussed in an earlier post, it helps you get rid of things you don’t need or use.

-it’s a fresh start in every way.

-new people to meet, new home to decorate, new plants to grow.

Speaking of perspective, people have been asking how the kids feel about our move, if they are excited, etc. and it got me thinking (dangerous I know).  Kids are such a product of what we say and how we feel.  That seems like an overwhelming responsibility sometimes, but the things you say to kids/within earshot of kids really are important–your words matter.  Are you positive or negative, encouraging or critical, happy or sad, energetic or lazy, relaxed or uptight, focused on others or yourself, complimentary or insulting, compassionate or unaware?  Whatever your answers are to these questions, your kids are picking up on it like little sponges.  Don’t let that scare or intimidate you–use it– find time every day to be positive, encouraging, happy, energetic, relaxed, complimentary, compassionate, others-focused.

This move is the perfect example–first of all, the kids are totally pumped.  We’ve never once given them any reason to be anything but… it’s all in the presentation baby.  It is true, that at the beginning of child rearing I hoped or should I say, had my mind set, that our kids would have this highly consistent upbringing.  One school, one house, one church– where they could take root and really feel secure.  Clearly, life has taken a different turn and we are just trying to embrace it.  Because of our moves, I hope the kids have learned to be flexible, adaptable, new friend makin, road trippers who have also visited so many cool places, seen things they might not have seen, and been exposed to some different cultures. And now we are moving on to be an orange tree growin, beach lovin, east coast travelin, all the while God servin family.  Life is good.  Embrace all of it’s goodness.  God’s goodness.

Yesterday I asked my kids what they think I talk to them most about each day or what I am always trying to teach them– I told them their answer could exclude things about God since I already knew they would think I’d string em up by their toenails if they didn’t say that. They said “being creative”.  Ok “making healthy choices”, but then being creative.   Oooo — I just get that all over giddy/jittery feeling when I say the word.  Creativity is important and  sometimes really hard to foster in kids with all the bells and whistles out there for them.  But it is worth your time and effort.  Creativity is a whole other subject we must save for another post….

But with move day quickly approaching, most of our belongings are tucked into boxes just waiting to be unwrapped and used again.  So, the kids have been forced to find other ways to entertain themselves and be creative.  It has been incredibly entertaining for me to capture some of their ideas on camera.  Check these out:

This is an animal shelter (created on empty bookshelves) with a nice selection of dogs for sale.  These dogs are well taken care of and loved by the staff.

In the next room we have even more dogs available for adoption.

Including a “newborn nursery”.

There are also hamsters or possibly mice if you prefer.

Hermit crab– who gets a cage of water with grass all to himself.

A liter of pugs maybe– I’m told they refuse to be seperated.

Who wouldn’t want to take this little cutie home?

In case you couldn’t tell that’s on the female side of things.  In the male corner we have this– there isn’t enough video feed in the world to record the amount of hours of basketball they’ve been playing in the loft so I got shots of other things that are mixed in from time to time:

A classic, jumping on the trampoline with the hose.

Pop beads — which always turns into a game of toss.

So sad  I didn’t get an action photo, but the components are here.  See the bench in the picture, how the arm is curved?  Well, it supposedly makes an excellent race track.  They have sent every form of car down “the track” no less than 200 times.  Then they started to try and make it into the colander each time.  I really dug the sounds of this game all day…. I love moving.

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Have you ever…

made a timeline of God’s faithfulness in your life?   On paper.  Can you account for the ways he has come through for you over the years?  He always does.  He says He will. It’s a promise.

Have you ever stepped out in faith and watched God perform a miracle in your life?  He is doing it in mine and I can’t keep quiet about it.

We got an offer on our house!  Had you been a fly on the wall in our home the last couple of months you would know what a testament to God’s faithfulness this is.  With the market the way it is, the size/price of our home, and our timeline, the odds seemed against it.  But not with the Creator of the universe on our side.  Truly, and Big A will confirm this, I said it would go down this way the whole time–the final hours– keepin ya right on the edge of your seat just watchin.   I love that.  The challenge of patience and timing and waiting.  Of course, we had to be prepared for the challenges and lessons that could come if the house didn’t sell…. but not this time.

This time I guess what we were suppose to learn, is that he wants us to break even in the whole deal.  Like a reset button.  Nothing over and nothing under.  Just a wash.  Fine by me.  Big A, that’s another story.  But supposedly I “live in La-La Land when it comes to finances” so we must just deal with things differently.  Basically, we are going to take a big ol’ hit on the house….

Most of you know Big A and I have made the decision to move our family back to Florida.  I haven’t talked about it much because there are so many conflicting opinions swirling out there.  While this decision seemed crazy to most, it seemed perfectly reasonable to us.  I didn’t say financially savvy, clear cut and obvious, or supported by the masses, just reasonable.  It was by far the most difficult decision we have ever had to make (which is probably saying we haven’t been faced with much).  And yet, the reasons to go far out weighed reasons to stay.  I could type for days about all of our thoughts, discussions, reasons, ideas, philosophies and everything else that went into it, but the bottom line is this: we wanted to do what is best for our family.  You can’t put a price on it.  Not a prestigious job, a good or bad housing market, the hassle of moving cross country, the amount of pride you must swallow, fear, disappointment from others,  nothing can stop it.  Doing what is best for our marriage, kids, and family unit trumps it all.   There have been times in the past when I have asked what God wants me to do in this situation or that one. It was about two years ago He blew me away with this:  God is not waiting for us to make a good or bad decision with our lives.  He isn’t saying you chose the wrong thing or the right thing to do.  Where you choose to live and be cannot be right or wrong; a sin or not.  He simply wants you to serve Him with your life every day every way and wherever you are doing that (which can be anywhere) it can’t be wrong.   I needed this revelation from Him.  It has changed the way I make decisions completely.

Also, I have heard many things over the years, about how to make a decision, that have been helpful.  Taken individually each method could be selfish or misunderstood.  Added together and used in combination these suggestions have been helpful:  No decision you make is that final or that big.  You can always change if you need to.  If your decision did not effect anyone else, no one else cared, no one would be mad or hurt what would you decide then?  How will you feel in 5, 10, 20 years?  Ooooo those are all good right?  Just little thought provoking questions….

More tangible reasons to move:

God opened a door in Florida — twice.  We listened the 2nd time. Revelation 3:8 says: “I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.”

Big A works too much and commutes too far.  Anywhere we live in town would present a similar situation.  His work became all-consuming of his time and thoughts.  No time for anything else during the week– except sleep.  We hope our decision sends a primary message to our kids, that they are more important to us than a job or money or inconvenience– however simple that may sound– the older girls get that.

We want to live in a smaller and slower-paced town where activities, friends, and  life are easier to get to.

Spending time with our kids is really important right now, and living there will give us more opportunity to do so.

Nothing can replace the time we have had to spend with friends and family here.  We have been able to reconnect with, visit, and host friends and family.  We have learned so much about ourselves and had lots of wonderful experiences that have made us who we are.  We wouldn’t change one thing.  This is how it all had to be.  I am grateful for all of it.

God opened a door for us. And since we’ve decided to go through it, yes scared and uncertain, He has “slicked the streets”.  Each phone call, each set of paper work, each hoop to be jumped through, He has had a hand in.  This is not to say that if we face an obstacle the opportunity is not of God.  I am just testifying to what he has done so far…. and I pray that He keeps us ever-challenged, never complacent and open to his plan, however uncomfortable it may be– it’s always exciting.  Big A has already said not to even look at him or talk to him about moving for 15 years.  I guess my dream of being medical missionaries in Africa is going to have to wait a little longer.  I’m patient– NOT.


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Beaver Creek, CO

We are back from our family vacation to Beaver Creek, CO.  It seems like every time we venture out and try a new place we end up loving it even more than the place before.  Maybe that’s because I haven’t been alot of places but for a while I thought we’d never find a better place than Disney (dont get me wrong I am the biggest Disney nerd there is and it is fantastic for young families-old families too) but then we tried the Destin Beach area and fell in love with that too.

(Adam and I had been to Beaver Creek, but it was before kids so a whole new perspective this time around.) Come to think of it, this is our first real family vacation that included a plane trip, hotel and just the six of us.  We wanted to wait until the youngest was 3 to attempt a mountain vacay.  With no pack-n-play, diapers, or strollers anything is possible right?

If you can get to Beaver Creek in the summer with kids you’ve just gotta do it!   It is the most amazing place.  I tried to breathe deep the creativity of our God the entire time and that was overwhelming enough.  But on top of that it’s SO kid friendly.  Around every corner is another fountain, park, trail, or interesting outdoor activity.  I am going to try to highlite some the best parts, but truly the whole experience rocked!!

Hiking– so incredible!  Promise the one in the popsicle shirt thought so too.  This was called the 5 senses trail– each stop had a sign that told you what sense to look for-really fun.

Discovery Loop

Bungee Trampoline– they wanted to do this everyday.

White water raft trip down the Colorado River

Bocce Ball Court.  Guess whose chillin on the couches?

Ice skating in the village at night.  We did bathe every day, even tho this makes it look like we didn’t.

Playground at our hotel

No we did not go snow mobiling– saving that for a couple more years, but dont think the boys didn’t beg.

Horseback Riding to Beano’s Cabin for dinner

Beano’s Cabin


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Trail Mix (G.O.R.P)

We are headed to Beaver Creek, CO in a few days and it got me thinking about trail mix.  This delightful little snack has an unbelievable amount of real estate in my pantry.  I love it because there are so many creative things you can do with it.  It travels anywhere.  It keeps for a long time.  It’s healthy– usually– but it doesn’t have to be.  It can be given as a gift for just about any occasion: new house, new baby, Christmas, Thanksgiving, hospital visits, school lunches and party treats.  You can almost always have the ingredients on hand to make some.  It’s so quick, it’s so yummy and it’s so personalizeable.  (My college age cousin loves to raid our pantry and use whatever we can find to whip up a batch to take back to school with him.)  Plus, there are adorable ways to wrap it- put it in a clear treat bag, tie with cute ribbon, add a love tag and viola– fabulous homemade gift.  I love the endlessness of possibilities.  Ahhhhhhh……

It is quite the topic of conversation in our house too.  For some reason we have had lots of experiences in our married life that relate back to trail mix and some seriously funny inside stories to go with it.  One of the funniest ones Big A and I love to talk about is this and I am not embellishing it.

Several years ago we were at Disney Worlds’ Magic Kingdom.  (some of the most fun we’ve ever had is watching other families who have traveled from everywhere “Do Disney”).  So we are sitting and waiting in a little cove waiting for Belle’s Story Time to begin and this mom and dad beside us whip out what we now call “Disney Trail Mix.”  Please believe this.  Disney Trail Mix consists of:  mini snickers bars, chocolate chip teddy grahams, peanut m&m’s, and fruit loops.  I am dead serious. All mixed together in a tupperware.   Some of you are saying, “Ya? So?”

Some people call trail mix G.O.R.P.  Is that only in the East?  Growing up in Texas, I never heard G.O.R.P. in my life.  But I found out it stands for Good Ole Raisins and Peanuts.  Just a little but of trivia for those of you who never knew and/or never cared to know that.  I’m probably the only one who didn’t know it though.

Here are some ingredients you can keep stocked in your pantry for making trail mix anytime:

Any kind of nut you like:  cashew, almond, walnut, peanut, pistachio, macadamia

Sunflower seeds or roasted pumpkin seeds

Any dried fruit you like:  raisins, cranberries, cherries, apricots, apples.  The grocery store is full of great options now.


Chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, cinnamon chips, white chocolate chips



Mini Fig Newtons, marshmallows, corn nuts, potato stix, popcorn, mini vanilla wafers, graham sticks….

Pretty much any ingredient that is bite size.

This is my favorite combo.  Took it with us to the hospital everytime.  Salted cashews, sunflower seeds, semi sweet choco chips, dried cranberries.  Yum!

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Have you ever heard of Biotin?  It is an amazing little vitamin (in the vitamin B category) that I started taking a couple of years ago– it promotes the growth of hair and nails.  I’ve got a seriously weak hair and nail gene so this was a huge discovery.  The fact that I was born with thin hair coupled with the fact that after each baby I was practically bald six months after delivery due to hair loss, makes this a miracle pill in my book.

By the way, do you take vitamins?  I didn’t use to but now I do and here is what I’ve narrowed it down to for me.  (surely there will be additions as the years go on) Do tell what you take and why?

1 women’s multi

2 fiber

1 biotin

2 calcium

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Blogging everyday is like a full time job…

and I ain’t gettin paid.

So, I didn’t realize that doing a post every day was going to be an absolute whip.  Took a wee little break (sorry  more like two weeks).  Probably not going to post every day like I originally thought, but I am going to get to it as often as I can.  Leaving today to find a house for us to rent in FL, so hopefully I’ll get back to it on Monday.  Stay tuned…..

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