Sunday, November 29, 2009

Lazy Days and Nature Walks

We are definitely enjoying the nature walks and lazy days.  Especially down by the river.  I really loved the seven months we traveled and saw all new things.  And I'm really loving being back in a place that feels like "home" to us because we spent so much time here last winter.

Living the life in warm and sunny Florida!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Good Day Sunshine

One of the things I love most about Florida is the sun.  We are settling into our "winter" routine and enjoying being here again.  I am really loving all of the sunshine after being in cloudy and rainy weather.

It was a bit cold today though.  Not too cold to wear shorts while playing pickle ball and hiking by the river.  But cold enough that at dusk, I could see my breath in the air.  We built a campfire to keep us warm and at some point it was still too cold to be outside.  I'm not complaining though.  As long as the sun shines and I can be outside, I'm a happy girl.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy (Another) Thanksgiving!

We drove down to Fort Lauderdale to spend the day with our kids.  We have missed them so much.  We were so happy to see Ambir.  We were sad that we did not see Aric and Ashleigh today.  We had a great time together, with those of us who were there.

There is nothing I am more grateful for on this earth than my family.  While I've struggled at times to figure out the kind of Mom I want to be and then doing it, I have never struggled with loving these beautiful, amazing people.  They have been one of the biggest inspirations of my life.  I love taking pictures of them because I do love them so much.

It's nice that they are old enough to not fight for the most part, so I can enjoy them enjoying each other.

And since I was feeling sad over not seeing my grandkids today, I took a ton of pictures of the grandpups instead.  The newest baby is Ambir's puppy Cairo and he's a doll.

Seriously, this is the most adorable face I've seen in awhile:

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you who we did not get to spend today with.  We love you all.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Gratitude is a beautiful thing.  I've been full of thoughts of gratitude all month long. Today I realized what a strange thing it can be though.  We did a Skype chat with one of our Reach the World classrooms. And I left with such overwhelming gratitude for the opportunity, I had to blog while I am still full of the emotions that it filled me with.

Picture it.  Here we are sitting in sunny and warm Florida...hanging out in our lounge chairs next to the palm trees.  Living a leisurely and good life. On the other end is a fourth grade classroom. In Harlem.  Living...well, I don't know how, because I've never been to Harlem. But I'm guessing it is not so warm and maybe not so lazy of a pace. 

That's not the point though. Because it's not like we were sitting around feeling sorry for them because we are in Florida and they are in Harlem.  We've traveled enough to know that every place is interesting and has it's pros and cons.  So it's not pity moving us to be here.  In fact, we were not really sitting around feeling anything but excited to do this.  We want to give this classroom full of wonderful little people whatever it is they might ask of us during the chat. Stories, information, maybe just a chance to talk to someone living somewhere else.
On the other hand, we are not so naive that we aren't aware that they may in fact lead a harder in some ways life than we currently are.  We realize just being in school might be a daily challenge.  Getting good grades and having great attendance might be something that presses heavily on them and is a giant victory when they do succeed in reaching those goals.  We trust like most children, they are warriors in their own ways.
But none of this is on our minds at this moment.  Mostly I am just filled with excitement that I get to do this chat with them.  And I'm wondering how Austin will do with it all.  The point is, I am completely self absorbed really.  Just full of myself wondering what I can give and hoping it is enough and so grateful to have the opportunity.
The point is, I'm not thinking at all about what this might mean to them.

Then the beauties and cuties file in and we see them on the webcam.  They are awesome. Bright and shining faces and all.  Nervous grins so we are waving at them to ease them (and ourselves).  The teacher says how excited they've been to meet us. That they showed up on Monday waiting to chat. (We had to cancel and reschedule due to our travel plans) And then she says...they dressed up so they'd look their best for you.  I look and see that they are in fact dressed up.  In their Sunday best.  To meet us.

At which point I lost it. I mean, started crying right on the spot.  Had to step away from the webcam to pull myself together. These amazing people were so excited to meet *us* that they dressed up to look their best for it???  Seriously???  Oh, my.  I didn't quite know what to do with that except stop and revel in the wonder of it.
These lovelies were extending such a precious gift of gratitude to us.  Wow.  It's a rare moment in life when you realize equally mutual gratitude is happening right at that very moment.  I mean I've been on one side or the other many times and it's a good thing to be on either side.  But to have both of you be so filled with gratitude and sharing it in this communal way.  It's a deeply spiritual thing.  It changes you.  It is something words can't quite capture.

I was just showing up to do a chat on our travels.  I had no idea such a beautiful gift would be given to me.  Incredible!  What a wonderful, and oh so fitting way to head into Thanksgiving.

Thank you, Ms. Johnson's class.  I can't wait to meet you in person.  It is a given I will cry even harder then.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pickle Ball, Music, Pickle Ball, Music

We arrived at Thousand Trails here so early they were still playing pickle ball.  We've went months now without playing pickle ball with anyone else, except Daryl and Diana.  I ask Austin if he wants to go play.  He says he is too tired.  He'll wait until tomorrow.  That lasted all of about five minutes at which point he saw someone he knew, then he was out of the truck and over to the courts.  Since then his day has been pickle ball, jam sessions, pickle ball, jam sessions and a bit of sleep in between.  We had to plan dinner around tonight's jam session.  I think he's fallen back into his "winter routine" just fine.

It always throws me off a bit to not have to entertain him 24/7.  But I think I'll adjust in time.

Living the life in Florida!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Gasburg VA to Wauchula FL

We were going to drive down to Florida nice and slow.  We were going to split it up into three legs, and stay a few days on two of those legs.  We hopped in the car today planning to land in South Carolina.  About an hour away from the campground, I decided we could try to just drive straight through.  Out of the sixteen months of travel, I can only recall one other time we did that.  I jokingly said traveling with Daryl and Diana must be rubbing off on us.

So we drove fourteen hours straight through to Wauchula, Florida.  Arrived somewhere past 2 am.  Boondocked next to some interesting neighbors whose dogs woke me up about 5 am.  Felt like crud due to both the stupidity of driving that long and lack of sleep.  I still could have kissed the ground when we woke up the next morning and stepped outside.  Not that I'm so fond of the ground here...but it was WARM.  I'm happy.

Just a few shots of the guys during our long drive.  I was playing with my speedlight trying to remember how to use it now that Nathan has it working again.  So I kept snapping pictures of them.  It wasn't until later that I realized they don't even bat an eye when I snap pictures of them.  It's kind of scary.

Living the life in WARM Florida!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Gloucester VA to Gasburg VA

Yesterday we left the Chesapeake Thousand Trails resort to head a short distance to Gasburg, VA.  We didn't want a long driving day because of going to DC the day before and we wanted to see what the resort here was like.  We stayed at Lake Gaston Resort which is a ROD resort.  This was one of the nicest resorts we've stayed at so far.

It was similar to Chesapeake in that it had water and the gorgeous fall colors.  It was very different in one special to Austin way-it had an incredible family center.  He was able to bowl and play racquetball
with Dad right at the resort.  Ask him about the big goose egg on his forehead and he'll happily tell you his sports injury story.  Then he'll tell you how he hurt his Dad too.  Great male bonding times!

Actually, he'll probably tell you about the prime rib dinner he ate here that so impressed him, he is counting down the days until his birthday dinner where he wants prime rib again.  Speaking of impressive, I have to brag on Nathan for a few minutes.  He took the shots in this post and I think they are fabulous!  I used to say we took entirely different shots when we had a camera in our hand but I've noticed our styles are beginning to merge a bit.  Guess that is what happens when you live this.close.together.

He still does zero photo editing, so I grab all of his shots and do with them what I want.  Pretty generous of him, huh?  We really had a great time at this resort, even though we were only there for two nights/one day.  We will come back in the spring and spend a longer time here then.

Coco loves to walk so much that it's a treat to watch her.  She just wants to be outside all the time, most likely because she was used to having a doggie door and a backyard before.  Since we just joined the rest of the world and watched the movie "Up", we find this particular move hysterical:

She is so obsessed with...Squirrel!  Living the life in lovely Virginia.

Friday, November 20, 2009

DC with Friends

Yesterday we drove to Washington DC to hook up with some friends.  We met up with Wendy and Kristie and their children.  I met Wendy in Orlando last year, but this was the first time I met Kristie in person.  It is always so neat to me to meet online friends in person.  She was such a sweetie. 

I also love watching kids who are fully engaged in life.  Fearless and bold and daring and soaking it all up.  So it was a real treat to me all the way.  DC was just icing on the cake.  I wish I had more pictures to share, but since my speedlight broke, I am still trying to figure out how to take pictures when it is gray and drizzly and when we are indoors and it is dark.  If you have any tips, I'm all ears.

Here are the few I did snap:

We hit the Museum of Air and Space, which was very nice:
Afterwards, we went to Capital Hill to eat at the Good Stuff Eatery where I had the best hamburger I've ever tasted.  It was very touching to see DC at night.
I wish we could have had a longer visit because I would have loved more time with Wendy and Kristie.  We are definitely going to plan a longer visit next time.  Thanks Wendy and Kristie for making our day so great.

Over the Top Blogs

Thank you to Tonya,  from Live the Adventure for this cool award.  She is someone I hope to meet sometime IRL because she strikes me as being someone I'd adore.  She is a fellow road warrior and homeschooling Mom.  I enjoy both of her blogs. I also enjoyed adding some new blogs to my blog roll from seeing who she gave the award to, and the blogs she received it from.

In order to accept, I have to answer the following questions and pass the award to six other bloggers that I think have an Over the Top blog.

I didn't realize these were supposed to be one word answers, so I edited them to do it right.

1.Where is your cell phone: Car
2. Your hair: Brown
3. Your mother: Unique
4. Your father: Unique
5. Your favorite food: Mexican
6. Your dream from last night: Cooking 
7. Your favorite drink: Sweet
8. Your dream/goal: Travel
9. What room are you in: Truck
10. What is your hobby: Photography
11. What is your fear: Bats
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years:Traveling
13. Where were you last night: DC
14. Something you are not: Patient
15. Muffins: Chocolate
16. Wish List items: Nikon D90
17. Where did you grow up: Texas/Michigan
18. Last thing you did: Krispy Kreme
19. What are you wearing: Sweatpants
20. Your TV: off
21. Your pets:Cats
22. Your friends: Priceless!
23. Your life: Fulfilling
24. Your mood: Excited
25. Missing someone: Family
26. Vehicle: Truck
27. Something you're not wearing: Socks
28. Your favorite store: Thrifts
29. Your favorite color: Red
30. When's the last time you laughed: Today
31. When's the last time you cried: This week
32. Your best friend: Nathan
33. One place you go over and over: Target
34. One person who emails me regularly: Eileen
35. Favorite place to eat? Home

Now the hard part: the 6 blogs that I am giving the award to because they are Over the Top Blogs.

 1. Has to be my friend Laurie over at Roadways.  I'm a bit biased because I've met her in person and know how truly fabulous she is, but I think her blog is awesome.  The photography alone makes it worth the visit.  She is a former family on the roader that is now (hopefully temporarily) plunked down in gorgeous Canada.  She writes beautifully, most likely because she lives beautifully.

2. Is one of the coolest Mom's blogs I read : Where the FuhKai?  It is another full time family (I see a theme here) and the Mom is Vicki.  Again, amazing photography and just the most interesting capture of their life.  Before we went on the road, I read her blog and time and time again thought, oh yeah...I could live that way.  She had me so much more excited about living this way than I already was.

3. A blog written by Deanna and the name is as neat as she is: The Well-Groomed Hippie.  Deanna is in an online group I'm in and it would take a book to tell you all the reasons I think she is a really interesting person.  So I'll just give you two: she loves NOLA and her hubby likes to dress up like a pirate.  'Nuff said.

4.  My next blog is from another online friend, Donna.  Her blog Random Thoughts of a Fiery Woman is just what it says it is.  I don't really have to explain why I love the blog, do I?  I mean, who wouldn't love hearing the thoughts of a Fiery Woman?   She's smart and she's so compassionate.  As I sit writing this, I think she is rescuing a dog.  It doesn't get any cooler than that, my friends.

5. Jacidawn is a personal favorite and again, I'm biased because I've met Jaci in person.  I adore Jaci.  She is one of my all time favorite online friends.  I love her photography and her writing.  She shares her life that now includes the two cutest grandhildren-outside of my own of course, and Murphy who I think is related to Marley.  Someday I hope she writes a book about Murphy.  I hope that book becomes as popular as the one about Marley.  Read her blog and you'll understand. 

6.  Last, but definitely not least is my friend Melanie's blog, Pressing Forward.   Out of everyone on the list, I've known her the longest.  I met her online and then was able to meet her in person this year.  She is truly lovely.  She is a military wife and is currently going it alone and she shares about that in raw and honest ways.  She's a hoot on top of that.  Read her blog and laugh.  Then send her hugs for being one of our country's heroes in her own way.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Can't Get Enough of This

I just can't get enough of this:


Monday, November 16, 2009

Fall in Her Glorious Splendor

Maybe it is because we have missed so many years of this, but I am completely enamored by the fall colors.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

She's Got the Sweetest Little Baby Face

Little Miss Lana is growing up, and she is losing the kitten face some.  She's still so cute though, that I think she still has a baby face.

Not only is she the cutest thing, she is so helpful.  She is willing to join in and lend a paw wherever she can.

Don't tell the other pets, but she is my favorite by far.  This week, at least.

Well, apparently the boy and the dog are jealous over this post, so I have to add a few shots of them too.

The dog is awesome too.  She is by far the most affectionate of all our pets.  She gives slobbery kisses all day long.

Now Mimi is so cool, she isn't even jealous that I said Lana is my current favorite.  Mimi just sits in the corner and rolls her eyes at all of us.  Which makes me extra fond of her the days I am trying to get something done and the other two are wanting attention.  They are all pretty fabulous in their own ways.  Just like people.

Living the life in Virginia!

The Mariners' Museum in Newport News, VA

Today we all visited this wonderful museum together.  We have visited a lot of museums and we all agreed that this was one of the best ones so far.  We learned about the Virginia and the Monitor, the first two iron warships that were used in the Civil War.  We watched three top notch movies and even saw models of both ships.  We had a great time here!

We went out to eat afterward, and the kids were treated to some magic tricks that were pretty impressive.

We are wrapping up our time together, for this trip at least, and I am feeling a bit sad over that.  I just love having them along with us when we do travel.  Makes it so much more fun for us.

Living the life in Virginia!