thank you for coming along the journey with us thus far…I know I have neglected to keep y’all updated these past few weeks… since we landed in our “winter spot” it has been a whirlwind” of action…
We first got to “South Florida” and began mad preparations for our much awaited Anniversary celebration with Family and Friends, which we have shared already about… after a beautiful weekend
we went headlong in a flurry of preparations to make another significant transition to move into our new motorhome.. for those of y’all that had seen our home on wheels or were aware of what we had, its known as a fifth wheel (we had one for close to 5.5 years)… but after much prayer and hours..hours of research and YouTube watching and dragging the kids to see many floor plans – we felt compelled that for our family and our new FullTime life that a motorhome (the one you drive and tow a small vehicle) made more sense… we took the plunge and went to Tampa… and in a crazy two-day transition moved all our belongings (which still amaze us how much stuff you can still have in 420 sq. ft. and settled in…
of course, it would not be the beginning of fall/winter without the lovely cold season which hit us pretty severely…so we empathize with all y’all out there that are not feeling so well this season…. then, of course, all prep for all the holidays hit the fan… Thanksgiving went by (I think I ate turkey…) and now we are solar ready (in my hubby’s dream that we can be independent for more extended road travel as we head west next year)…
but amidst all this… we have had amazing times to spent with family… not just get-togethers but just hangout day-in and day-out time with family… or doing little traditions like our yearly gingerbread house decorating… even getting in some local sites…
though it feels like time has flown by we feel blessed by the quality time we have spent with our loved ones…so we will keep you posted as we start to travel again after the New Year and more crazy adventures begin…
please remember if you want to love on those that most need it this holiday season check out Justice and Mercy International Gift page (JMI Christmas Store)they have wonderful ideas on how to bless others!!!
If you would indulge us… for this story we’ll be taking a little detour on our adventures… as we feel honored and blessed to have reached the milestone of our 25th wedding anniversary this past month (October 2018)…
We took the opportunity to set time aside and celebrate with as many family and friends as we could… though we wished we could have gather with all of our loved ones to celebrate the blessing that Lord has given us in our lives…
The setting was beautiful…the food was amazing and the company were a wonderful blessing…
Debbie & Scott Heath
Keith & Ella (his princess!!)
Merari & Familia!! 🙂
Merari and Siblingsss!!!!!
Madelyn, Jonathan & Carolyn
Jonathan, Renee and Keith (Siblings)
Eliel & Mercy and Kids
Titi Mary and Kids
Getting a little love!!
Jonathan & Carolyn
Silly time at the Photo Booth
Janice, Joyce, David and Madelyn
Eliel, Mercy, Merari and Keith
Grandma & Kids
Merari, Anhthu, Jacob, Naam and Keith
Egberto, Carmen (Mami & Papi) Keith and I
Carmen, Yoly, Egberto, Merari
Escudero Clan (and Beniquez too!!!)
Rafael, Yoly and Didy
Madelyn (mom) Joyce (Aunt) Merari & Keith
Eliel and Keith (probably discussing cars!!
yes.. we were silly too!!
Couples were too cute!!
Girl time with cousins!!
Handsome couple (Mary and Armando)
David and Janice & Carolyn and Dick
So here is wonderful collection of pictures… and if you can stand it a little sappiness… a few words that I share with our family and friends…
“Thank you all for coming to celebrate with us on this special day…As I look back to what has led to us here… I think back as a little girl to the many hours I poured over books of fairy princesses and their wonderful loves… I dreamed and made castles in the sky about what I would wish for one day… I was also blessed with a wonderful example of what a loving, kind and generous “husband figure” in my father and what a great marriage looks like in both of my parents…with all of this I had made a great “recipe” to what I thought I would have in a husband and marriage, but God always knows best and He has a way in putting His touch in what is best for us… and that first came when my life took a sudden and what I thought of at the time– a life changing event that I wasn’t sure I could ever get over…my parents in their infinite wisdom and sacrifice wanted to better both my and my brother’s life (since my sister’s were already gone from home) and choose to “move us” to Florida. And through that life-changing event my life and Keith’s came to a crossroads…
many of you know this long story… So I won’t bore you with ALL the details… But way before we ever thought it was possible that we could ever “like” each other, we met in the halls of Junior High (yes kids …my kids,cringe, I said Junior High)… I certainly had no intention of liking a “lanky ,freckle boy”, but as my wise mother always told me, “never say never, cause you will inadvertently get more of it than you would like (this is of course a loose translation from Spanish – I will spare you)… of course she was right…cause I have gotten plenty of that boy…
As we progress through school so did our “friendship” by the time we had reached the 11th grade we had become close friends and well by the 12th-grade our “feelings” hadblossom into something more… Though we were both hesitant to share with each other… I do however love to share how (since we did have classes together) specifically History, I found unique that our chairs were always aligned by the time I made it to class in order that we could sit right next to each other… I was honored and thrilled when Keith asked me to the Senior Prom… I truly did feel like Cinderella going to the ball…
I wish I could say we have lived a “fairytale-like” life just like they write in books, but in reality, our story has had bumps and bend all along the road… some would even say even quite “an adventure”…yet, I like our story much, much better.Because we started our lives together so young, we have seen the best of each other and maybe the not so best..
We have gotten the privilege of growing up and maturing along the way, of not only falling in love with each over and over again but discovering and falling in love with our Lord and Savior together… which has made us into a better reflection of the people we ever hoped to be…
We have been given the privilege to parent three wonderfully unique children. Whom each has a special path and purpose in life and ours, each one has brought us joy and purpose beyond what we could have ever imaged.
We live each day to bring glory to our Lord and to serve and love each other and our family and those He sets in our path… I never imagined as a little girl who dreamed of fairy tale princes that in the end, I would also get my very best friend and love of my life in the deal too… I am so proud of the man I get to call my husband.I love you more than words can say… Here to the rest of what our adventure will bring”
So often when we share about our adventures, people love to hear about the places and things we see…yet they also find it amazing at how we live our daily lives in less than 420 square feet…
Women in particular wonder at the daily activities, such as cooking and laundry… I know probably not the most interesting to many but I thought I would take stab at least at one of those today… FOOD… since in my house it is almost as important as God…
Food is a form of LOVE in our family… so eating well and “maybe” fancy it’s part of our regular routine… with a family of five… we try not to eat out too much cause well (with two teenagers and one upcoming preteen) well our bank account would be bankrupt … so we attempt to eat at home most days…
You would be surprised in a “small” kitchen we make almost everything that a “gourmet” kitchen would do, with a little creativity maybe you too would think how to do some fun stuff in your kitchen…
Salmon in Dijon Marinade (Ready to Bake)
Cuban Ropa Vieja Steak Meal
End Result “Ropa Vieja” Steak
Tomato Salad with Crusty Parmesan Croutons
Here is the breakdown of equipment that I utilize: currently I have a gas oven (27 in.) 3 burner stove (that would be more realistic 2 useable burners at a time), 1 convection microwave (that truth be told – have used once as an oven – but I am getting more comfortable using as we speak!!) and a countertop convection toaster oven (Breville – yes total product placement- Love it!!- it’s my second one!!)
Step 1 – Stuffed Cinnamon Roll French Toast
Cinnamon Roll French Toast
Eggsw/Avocado Tomatoes, Yellow Kiwi’s
So a little trick that I do all the time for baking in the oven – its layers- yes I have “cookie cooling rack” that I add on top of my baking sheet in order to have a dual rack in the oven and get two things to bake at the same time ( I also added a baking stone in the oven in order to make sure I have even baking)…Having tools that serve multi-purpose also come very handy…I am not an outdoor grilling person… But my family still enjoys the burger and other grilled food… So I invested in a 5-in-1 griddle… I can grill, and use it to also make our favorite breakfast food like pancake and waffle with a quick switch of the insert plates… and if we want to grill a sandwich or panini’s we can have does too ( have you ever had a grilled guava and cheese sandwich if you haven’t let me tell you don’t know what you are missing yet…in our family that is a favorite.. 🙂
Almond Butter Honey Pancakes
So as you can see with a little bit of thought and (some help from Pinterest) to keep your recipes interesting you are able to eat healthy, fun and exciting meals even in a “small” kitchen space… so the sky is the limit for your palate and your bellies… Von Appetite from the McFarland 5…
So we made it to the six-month mark of officially living in the RV…though we didn’t start our full-time travel until the summer…we began our “tiny full-time living” life back in March… and well we made it to the six-month mark… I am happy to announce … still have a husband, 3 kids, and 2 dogs… everyone still has all body parts… and on most days everyone still “mostly” happily enjoys each others company…
For us that is a big accomplishment … when we lived in the brick and mortar home… I don’t think we laugh as much as we have in the past 6 months (or maybe cry too)… we definitely get into each others business A LOT MORE… and we definitely do get annoyed at each other… we experience every day highs and lows with each other…we are also learning slowly but surely, to make ways to give each other more GRACE… and to step outside of our own comfort zones in order to find what is “normal” for others in our family…
Routines still get work and reworked in order to bring comfort and growth to each of us…I look at each of the kids and see new areas in which strengths and also weakness have been brought out by this new life experience… and continue to pray how the Lord will mold and stretch them into the adults that He foreseen… cause I definitely don’t have a clue… I am just going along for the ride… but I am glad I get to see it up close and personal … (well at least most days…Coffee and a whole lot of Jesus help too!!!)
Here is to see what the next six months will bring…
When we started on this journey… one of our heart desires was to be a vessel of service for the Lord… James 1:27 says “Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”… we are thrilled and so humble to share that we’ll be partnering with Justice & Mercy International. To share their ministries as we travel and hope to spread the word about their work.
Justice & Mercy International (JMI) is a faith-based, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that exists to make justice personal for the poor, the orphaned and the forgotten of the world.
The children and families JMI serves are incredibly vulnerable. Impoverished and powerless, they contend daily with the threats of human traffickers, substandard education, hunger, and treacherous living conditions. JMI staff, sponsors, and volunteers work together to offer hope and help to the most vulnerable.
Photo Courtesy JMI
Photo Courtesy JMI
Photo Courtesy JMI
Photo Courtesy JMI
Photo Courtesy JMI
Photo Courtesy JMI
As we travel we hope that churches and those we meet along the way will open to hearing about this great ministry and would come along and partner with them. We encourage you our family and friends to click the link and read more about them and if you feel lead join us in sponsoring this great ministry… And pray for us that God would open many ways in order for us to serve His great commission…
The family has had the privilege of settling our feet and relaxing for little over a month in the warm breezy of Galveston Island, TX… though we had heard many things about this beach town… we were both pleasantly surprised by not only by the beauty of it but the richness in its history …
However, has been most surprising is how resilient this town truly is. Though not the only area that is hard hit with storms in current history… Galveston has had its share of disasters (starting with a monumental devastating Hurricane of 1900 – which if you are not familiar with, almost wiped out the town – in one night over 6,000 people died and a majority of the buildings were destroyed or damaged and more recently Hurricane Ike)… but out of those tragedies just like a phoenix rising out of its ashes so did Galveston… and rally and build a seawall which now surrounds the beachfront and has become an attraction in itself, as well as protection…so many places can be seen which rebuild time and time again… while others, well I guess there are so many times you can rebuild… yet you can sense the essence of the town and their resilience …
Seawall – Galveston
Seawall – Galveston
Seawall – Galveston
While we played at “tourist” we got to explore sites as the: Moody Mansion, Rosenberg Library (which is the oldest public library in Texas…sigh it is so beautiful and the historical section a dream for any bookworm!!!)…but we also looked into more “local history” such as Bryan Museum (which originally was a children’s orphanage and its history in the island) now host one of the largest collection of South West history in the U.S. … we also took a look into a more “trade history” such as Ocean Star Offshore Rig Museum and Galveston Railroad Museum… you can’t be in Galveston without taking in the beauty of its waterways …and a lazy Sunday afternoon on a Dolphin sightseeing tour was definitely a treat to see all the beauty and got treated to lovely frolicking dolphins playing along the boat… (BTW – if you are wondering how we manage all these outings, check out “Galveston Island Pass” where you are able to get these great local sites for 40% off their entry fee) yes I do LOVE a bargain!!!
During this trip we “kill-two-birds-with one stone”… our oldest son got his license permit (a dream come true for him) not so much for his mama… (sigh why do they grow up so fast) … and he also visited his #1 choice for university (coming up in the near future) Texas A&M!!
And now we off to our next destination…adventure awaits just around the next bend…
Dallas in the summer…how do you describe it… yes some told it would be hot…but when you happen experience a record high heat summer(in its record) …well it’s like trying to walk outside yet it feels like your face is baking in the sun… (ok maybe not that bad) but pretty close… we stop in the Dallas area to see family and to start our “official” domicile legalities to be Texan!! And we are proud to say that after a dramatic day at DMV …we now are legally Texas residents… Yes y’all we “be legit”!!! All joking aside, it was great to reconnect with family, to see the kids rekindled their relationship with grandparents, aunt and uncle, and sweet cousins…
In between the melting heat, we got to squeeze in sites…At the Dallas World Aquarium, taste the local treats in places like Frisco and Historic McKinney.. seems like donuts are their own type of “cult” in this area of the state since they are in every corner… and some are quite tasty… but we are still working on that so we’ll let you know when we finish eating all the samples… :)!!!
Between all the road constructions and everything being “Texas size” only took us a few weeks to get use all the crazy road patterns… just in time get out of town… but not quite out of Texas… (but that is another chapter…)
We are still visiting local churches and excited to share about JMI to whom ever is willing to listen… if you have not had a chance to check their latest blog… please do so.. and if you feel led to lend a helping hand in that ministry..please listen to that prompt!!!
Have you ever heard the saying it takes the “faith of a mustard seed to move mountains”… sometimes something that started seemingly small can evolve into a world on its own… If you have never experience Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, I would recommend it at least a one in a lifetime trip…The Mountains are breathtaking and rivers and waterfalls… Though what draws people (probably the most) is one attraction. Dollywood. I was sort of dragged, kicking and screaming to this attraction (which I will admit) I thought would be corny, and over the top…which it was at times, but I also have to admit I have never been to a theme park that was as clean and the worker as friendly as they were there… So here is a bit about Dollywood… it started as a one ride wonder in the 60’s (a coal train “Klondike Katie” – through the Smokies), which by the way you can still catch today (if you are willing to do the 30-40 minute wait)…after several owners and name changes and a “few additions” Ms. Dolly Parton was asked to join the “show” and partner up with the park, which lend its current name and southern charm of Dollywood… since then it has become one of the top 50 most visited theme parks in the world…you got to admit that a little bit of “southern charm” goes long way…This entire area was built around something that seemed so small, yet after being there for over a week the bustling and the busyness of the town shows the faith that it took to get that little town in the middle of the Smokies to grow and thrive can move mountains…
In between breath-taking, majestic views and architecture marvels come along those “little moments” which really make up every day…along the way so far we have been able to stop and talk with so many of our “neighbors” in the long lost art of the impromptu conversations of just “saying hi“…visited the local churches and enjoyed fellowship with others that we’ll enjoy eternity with…Heard others heart’s desires in their life-mission and how they are taking their families on similar journeys…We’re blessed in potluck get together that were put together “on the fly“, instead of penciled in a too busy of a schedule.
A joy has been the life moments that I get to witness in my very own family… when father and son grow closer together for mutual interests, for one it’s lifelong passion and the other a new found “obsession”…
Other “little” things along the way are just the everyday things that make life interesting…dealing with sweltering heat.. puppy getting into stuff he ought not and having emergency vet visit “sigh”… getting the bumps out of the road and redrawing our ideas of what things look like…
Like this becoming your new “home office”…
Yet our kids spend more time doing things like this…
Rather than …well you get the idea…you fill in the blank…So we’ll take “all” the things that come along the way…the good with well sometimes not so fun… It’s okay as our good Lord reminds us:
“His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.” Lam. 3:22b-23
Oh, the lives of the rich and famous of the turn of the century sure make me laugh… they spend their summer cooling themselves briefly in places such as Newport, RI. Where they built for themselves “Cottages by the Sea”. This Gilded Age Era was more than we can ever imagine, and will never be again… but I can assure you than the beauties that they left behind make for certain an entertaining and if anything a lesson on what extravagance and ostentatious living was like.. I love the quote from Oscar Wilde which says:
“Have nothing in your house that has not given pleasure to the man who made it and is not a pleasure to those who use it. Have nothing in your hoses that useful or beautiful.”
So many of this houses tell a story of sadness, for many of their owners after spending so much didn’t enjoy them as many passed away, had broken marriages, or suffered family tragedies…But I am not going to lie I did enjoy their beauty and sharing with the kids…
Kitchen @ The Breakers
Isaac Bell House
Tea House @ The Breakers
RoseCliff (Many Famous movies have been filmed in this ballroom)