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The truth and nothing but the truth!

We have been on the road for almost 2 months now. Eight weeks and three days to be exact. Some days it seems like we’ve been doing this forever and other days I walk out of this motorhome door bewildered. We’ve spent our time in nine states so far- Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington, South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska and a corner of Minnesota.

I have had friends write me and say, yeah, but I want to know the truth. I want to know what’s really going on behind this blog of yours. The truth? I’ve been giving it to you. If you know me, you know I am not one to sugarcoat things. I am absolutely ok with being vulnerable.

On the other hand I am a pretty positive and flexible person (as much as a Type A first born woman can be) who can acclimate to most surroundings and happenings that come my way. I think this comes from the sporadic lifestyle I lived for years moving around for modeling. Then, I marry an NHL guy and life continued to be on the move forcing me into embracing changes I really didn’t want to make. I’m pretty good at regulating my positivity and happiness and quickly getting myself out of any funk I may find myself in. With that being said…

The truth is….

This is my master bedroom by day. There is nothing Pinterest worthy about it whatsoever. It also sometimes serves as my laundry room and storage unit for the kids beds and bedding. I just try to look past it all because it could make me nuts if I didn’t.

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We have been having as much fun as you have seen on here. I keep us moving. I keep us adventurous and exploring. We had a lot of downtime in Coeur d’Alene, ID because two of the boys were in a hockey camp taking up most of our family time there. I actually enjoyed the downtime as we have been on the go ever since we pulled out of our driveway on June 2. I’m not sure what this camping lifestyle is doing to me. Hmmm..

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I have only threatened to drive this rig back to Paradise Valley one time in the 4000 miles we’ve traveled. Not bad out of 8 weeks on the road in a small amount of living space with four children and a husband. Thank goodness there are no pets in this equation. We are good with the 6 breathing beings we have here. In my head I do sometimes question our sanity and if we can actually keep this up. I don’t really voice it though because I feel it’s like using the word divorce during your worst marital spat. You just can’t do it. Once you put the negative out there, it’s hard to take it back.

I have had times of missing my normal California summertime routine. Tradition is a hard thing to break. We have been spending our summers in Orange County for the past 11 years. We love everything about our place there and I miss seeing our friends and the white sand beaches.

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Just a little shout out to our neighborhood beach in Dana Point, California.

Speaking of the white sand, I am not really a lake girl. We have been around a lot of lakes lately and they honestly make me miss California. Sorry lake folk. They are pretty to look at, but boy that lake “sand” can be downright gross. I left the downtown Coeur d’Alene beach with a dirty film all over me. Ick.

This lifestyle is definitely not for the weak or weary. Breaking down and setting up “home” takes a lot of work. There are a lot of things to remember and do each time we set up shop. Keith has to unhook and hook back up the car at every stop, as well as our electric, sewer and water. There are so many things to unpack and pack back up each time. I think this is the toughest part. There’s some days I simply don’t feel like doing all of it but you have no choice, so you just get ‘er done.

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Our living quarters by day….

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and tight quarters by night…This is a morning shot so not sure what happened to everyone’s sheets in the night, but we do have them!

Remember our kids are going on 13 and 11 so they are pretty independent making this a huge reason why we are doing this trip now. I see families at the campgrounds with toddlers and I feel so thankful that I am just dealing with tweens and their moods and messiness. They are actually pretty helpful overall. We had one family lunch pow wow when we were in West Glacier. This is a lot of together time so of course we are going to get on one another’s nerves at times. Everyone was getting snippy with each other that day, so we went around the lunch table airing our grievances with one another and then came back around to say what we were enjoying about each other. We were laughing and there were even tears. But, it was real and it helped diffuse all of us.

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But, the truth is what you see here on the blog. It just all comes with a lot of planning, flexibility and adaptability behind the scenes. Eight weeks down. Twenty some to go. Gulp. Will we make it all the way around the US like we have planned? I think so. I hope so. God willing. But, only time will tell.

 Our Route for the next month 

Aug. 1-Aug. 3

St. Louis, MO

Aug. 4-7

Louisville, KY

Aug. 8-10

Indianapolis, IN

August 10-13

Cincinnati, OH

August 14-17

Mackinaw Island, MI

August 19-20

Niagara Falls, NY

August 21-22

Lake Placid, NY

 

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What’s your camping comfort zone?

I am not comfortable in a tent. Or at least I don’t think I am. I’m not sure if I’ve really ever overnighted in one though. Possibly as a child a couple of times in Indiana, but the memories have all faded, if they were ever really a reality. As an adult, tent camping honestly just doesn’t look that fun to me. In Ally B (our motorhome) I have all the amenities of home packed into this small space we now call home. I’m pretty sure I could not do this happily otherwise.

I’m learning about this camping lifestyle as I go. Remember our family had not camped together a day in our existence before this trip. I am a lover of travel in general and on my carry on luggage for flights I used to have a luggage tag that said “I love not camping.” True story. Now I’m traveling from campground to campground across the US for 7 months. Go figure. Although I would say we’re not exactly “camping” in the way that I always envisioned camping to be. In a tent. Sleeping on the ground. Using public restrooms or going in the woods. I still walk by the tent set ups and I’m baffled. It’s just not in me. For today anyway, it’s not in my camping comfort zone.

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Especially as the rain pours here in West Glacier, Montana. I am very happy to have my comfy couches and heat blowing, as I make myself a cup of coffee in our Nespresso machine on the counter. I’m definitely spoiled out here in the wilderness. No denying that. I absolutely commend those who know how to pitch a tent for sure. I seriously want to clap for those people when I walk by. It’s kind of how I feel about Moms with quadruplets. You are better than me Sister! There’s always people in life that help you remember just how good you have it. Those tent campers definitely keep things in perspective for me. My hat’s off to you. If you need a warm retreat, I’m your girl. Look me up.

The one thing we all have in common out here though is our love of being surrounded by nature and the ease of walking out all of our front doors into the same beautiful space. Our environments can be changed whenever we’re called to move on. Overall, campers are really easy going, friendly, social people. We have met so many fun people along the road already. Some will most likely even be lifelong friends. We ran into the same family at our first three campgrounds of the trip and had a lot of fun connecting with them. They’ve now booked a spot for a few days to meet back up with us in Coeur d’Alene, ID next week. No matter how we find ourselves camping, we’re all out here doing life together. Pretty cool stuff if you ask this girl but I’m going to stick to my house on wheels for now.

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Hiking is good for the heart and soul of your family

Did you know that June is designated as Great Outdoors Month each year through a Presidential Proclamation? How perfect is this as we enjoyed Utah’s beauty last week and are now experiencing the wonders of Wyoming.

President Obama’s past proclamation stated, “Great Outdoors Month is a time for all Americans to share in the natural splendor of which we are all proud inheritors. Whether camping, fishing, rock climbing, or playing in a neighborhood park, nature offers each of us the opportunity to get active, explore, and strengthen our bonds with family and friends. This month, let us celebrate our natural heritage by experiencing it together.”

On this trip, we are doing a lot of hiking as a family. Hiking is a challenge for our bodies and a sanctuary for our spirits. A beautiful hike through one of America’s National Parks absolutely cleanses your soul. We all can be consumed with electronic media and gadgets that sometimes we can forget to just put them aside and take the time to get out and explore. Being in a National Park reminds you what a beautiful country we live in!

What you can gain from a Family Hike…

1. Perseverance

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Hiking around the hoodoos at Bryce Canyon

I am a climb to the top of the mountain kind of girl. In all areas of my life, I like having a specific goal to accomplish, so hiking is the perfect activity for me. What goes up, must come down. You have no choice in this. I love seeing my kids persevere through times when they are weary and think they can’t go on. Hiking is a perfect way to show them they can push through and make it to the top or the end of the trail, if they are determined enough!

2. Endurance

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At the top of Weeping Rock in Zion National Park

It’s always motivating to keep going when you are hot, tired or feeling weak when you see little kids and much older adults pushing through on the same hike. If they can do it, you most certainly can! I love the friendliness of fellow hikers greeting and motivating one another while enduring the same trail.

3. An appreciation for our country

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Picnicking on the lawn outside Zion’s Lodge.

There is nothing like being in nature. I wouldn’t consider myself “outdoorsy” necessarily but  since moving to Arizona I have grown to love hiking. I have seen majestic views, interesting landscapes and wildlife that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. I didn’t realize how many international tourists come to our country just to see the beauty of our National Parks, that just doesn’t exist anywhere else!

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4. Affordable entertainment

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Hiking The Narrows in Zion National Park

After we hiked The Narrows in Zion, our daughter said that must’ve been really expensive! She couldn’t believe that doing such an amazing thing as a family was actually free! (Or just the cost of our National Park Annual Pass of $80). We pack our lunches when we hike too, so we can stop at our convenience and enjoy a little picnic along the way. Entertaining kids during the summertime can be very costly for large families, so spending quality time in our Nation’s parks is a really inexpensive way to have fun quality time together.

5. Physical Strength 

Staying healthy and physically fit should be a priority for every family. No matter where you are there are always a variety of trails and hikes to choose from depending on what your family is up for. It’s important to keep active as a family and hiking together is a perfect way to stay physically fit. Some days you may feel like doing a leisurely path while other days you may be up for a more strenuous climb. Whatever your abilities, there is a trail for you!

6. Knowledge

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A lot of trails have signs telling about the plants and landscape surrounding you. National Parks also have visitors centers and museums that you can further learn the history of the area as well. The NPS Junior Ranger program is an excellent way to motivate kids to learn through a workbook that needs to be completed and signed off by a Park Ranger in order to get each park badge. It’s a fun and free thing for the kids to collect!

7. Quality Time Together

We have enjoyed many laughs and conversations together along the trails. Getting out in nature helps you forget about any stress and opens up opportunity for casual connecting with your loved ones! Take time this month to get outside and celebrate Great Outdoors Month with your family!

 

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Don’t Worry About a Thing…here at Lake Powell

“Don’t worry about a thing ‘cause every little thing is going to be alright….”  A young guy sporting only his swim trunks and a guitar belted out the popular Bob Marley song on the banks of Lake Powell and his words were a complete blessing to me. His singing, along with the majestic scenery, in front of me brought a peace over me and I instantly dubbed this tune our family theme song for this trip!

Yesterday we took off on our big journey across the US. Our first stop is two nights at Lake Powell in Page, Arizona. Overall we had a perfect first day, with a few minor inconveniences. How breathtaking is this spot?

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When I heard those lyrics that he was singing at sunset tonight it set the tone of the trip for me. He was exactly right, little things are going to happen throughout this entire trip, but brush those off and focus on the big picture.

Lake Powell scenery

We left our home a couple hours later than we had hoped to yesterday morning. This put us further in to the heat of the day which meant pulling over on the side of the hilly northern Arizona freeways to calm our RV (otherwise known as Ally B) down so she didn’t totally overheat. Ally B is pulling quite the load as you can see, so no one complained about giving her little breaks to regroup her composure, even though we had to do it quite a bit.

Our load

Our trusty built in GPS didn’t turn out to be so trusty after all, taking us 40 miles off track when we encountered a detour just outside of Page and leading us to a residential area instead of our RV Park. Thank goodness we easily recovered both times with our cell phones and Mapquest.

The kids were so excited to get the bikes off the back of the car and get to exploring the campground while we set up shop for our first time ever. They were gone a matter of 15 minutes before one of them had popped a tire. We headed down to check out the lake and daughter’s bike tire pops. Then, one of the last bikes standing had a pedal fall off. Three down, one to go. We even took these things in to the bike shop at home to have them serviced and all ready to go!

We then realized that our dinghy was dead as well. Good thing we didn’t need our car really anyway last night as we didn’t plan to go anywhere. We called our Roadside Assistance and they were out in 20 minutes to get the Buick running again.

We will learn from these little mishaps which will test us along the way. We will learn to roll with the punches and not get upset about the little things because every little thing is going to be alright!! And how can it not be???

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In the Spirit of Excelsior!

I am a big believer in personal excellence. I preach it to my kids every day. It means doing our daily best and striving to be our best person at all times. Taking time to work hard and strive to reach the heights that we were all created to reach. It doesn’t necessarily mean straight A’s in school or tallied wins on our sports teams. It is much deeper than that.

I wasn’t very familiar with the latin term excelsior until Friday night. Excelsior is a Latin adjective meaning “higher” or “loftier”, with a poetic meaning of “ever upward”. The speaker at Keith’s High School Hall of Fame induction ceremony used the word over and over until it felt familiar. Excelsior embodies the motto of Keith’s alma mater at Mount St. Charles Academy in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. After listening to the President’s inspiring words, I only wish I would’ve been a part of that community!

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How great that our kids and all of Keith’s nieces and nephews could be there to share these honors!

We spent last week in Keith’s hometown, with all of his family, to attend two different Hall of Fame induction ceremonies for him. The first one being the Rhode Island Interscholastic Hall of Fame followed a couple days later by his high school Hall of Fame presentation. Keith’s high school principal and athletic director both came up to me to reminisce how Keith was always so kind and courteous and that they were always impressed with his character at 17 years old.

Absolutely my husband has admirable hockey accolades, but the thing that has always impressed me from the day I met him is his gentle, humble character. I watched Keith always greet and hold conversations with the cleaning crew and behind the scenes staff at the United Center after his games with the Blackhawks. The guys who parked his car at the arenas and cleaned up his locker stall were his friends. He would even give rides to the homeless guy waiting for him after practice.

Yes, Keith played in more than 1,000 games in his 17 year NHL career. Before that he was a standout defenseman at his high school and the University of Maine, as well as an Olympian. But, how awesome that when people spoke of him this week, they spoke of who he was as a person and how that impressed them more. I know it made me proud and made me want to continue to do my best to instill the spirit of excelsior in our children. This is what will truly sustain them in life and set them apart like their father.

Commit to excellence and you will bring excellence to the world around you. Congratulations to Keith and all who were inducted into these Hall of Fames alongside him!

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All of the Carney crew together to celebrate Keith’s induction into the RIIL Hall of Fame!

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One way to intentionally get outdoors!

I’m a sucker for any National Awareness Day or cause. As a big believer in intentionality, these Days simply bring attention to something to be mindful of. I like the thought of people everywhere banding together to do something positive across the nation. Last month we celebrated Earth Day, Giving Day and Donate Life Day.

May is Bike Month

 

May is National Bike Month and today specifically National Ride Your Bike to School Day! I excitedly mentioned to the kids that today was going to be National Ride Your Bike to School Day. I pictured us up early, having a healthy breakfast and then riding the boys a couple of miles to the middle school on a beautiful Arizona morning.

Instead, the boys looked at me blankly with a “Really? Do we have to?” OK maybe it sounded cuter than the reality would be. They do have trouble getting up at 6:15 to get everything done and head out the door to the bus stop at 7ish. I do make them wear helmets when they ride, so I guess that wouldn’t be good for the hairdo either. Our school district isn’t actually honoring the day, so I guess I’ll let them off the hook.

Daughter Morgan on the other hand was really into the idea, most likely because she walks across the street every day anyway. Riding her bike would be an easy novelty, so looks like she’ll represent.

Bike and Roll Chicago

We actually just rented bikes in downtown Chicago right after Easter. The kids were so excited to ride along the waterfront paths of Lake Michigan, but bummed that they couldn’t actually pedal down Michigan Avenue!

Millineum Park bike rentals

Bike and Roll rentals is located at the northern tip of Millennium Park. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to ride through the Park, so you are limited to head east to the lake paths. This really is easy and way less stressful than having to navigate city traffic for sure. Just being on a bike brings a sense of freedom to children no matter where you are!

Riding Along Lake Michigan

Riding Bikes in Chicago

In honor of National Bike Month, maybe we can be more intentional in dusting the cobwebs off the spokes, pumping up the tires and heading out when it really is a good time for us! I know we’re going to get a lot of bike time when we head off on this camping adventure for sure.

Are any of you celebrating National Bike to School Day today?

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Just Me on A Monday

I’m wide awake. Ugh. It’s 4 a.m. Arizona time on a Monday. The problem is I have just spent the past week on the east coast so my west coast self is obviously feeling the three hour time difference. Time to steep one of those tea bags that I snagged from the hotel I guess and get writing.

This weekend I found my people. Strong, confident, intelligent, beautiful fellow writer Moms. I found them in Atlanta at a blogger convention of all places. I wasn’t really sure why I was led to book this Mom 2.0 Summit conference across the country but I’m so glad I did. I mean I only just started this blog a few months ago. Who am I to be there?

Most of the amazing women I was surrounded by are blogging veterans and have been storytelling online for many years while I have a handful of posts to my name thus far. I definitely don’t have the accolades or the followers that my new girlfriends there do yet, but I know I was exactly where I was supposed to be this weekend. I am now even in the tweeting world. Whoa.

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With a few of my new blogging and brand rep friends
at Mom 2.0 Summit!

I am still feeling the blisters on the bottoms of my feet and the scratchiness in my throat from the hours of dancing and singing completely sober at the Whirlpool sponsored after party of the Iris Awards at the Buckhead Theater Saturday night. It was a beautiful room full of dressed up Mamas (and a few blogger Dads) just letting loose, being themselves and enjoying life. The weekend felt magical and I’m still coming down from the inspiration from it all!

Starting this blog has been a long time coming. I’ve talked with a big blogger friend turned editor of OC Family Magazine Suzanne Broughton for years about getting started. But, the timing has never been right to jump in and honestly I was too overwhelmed with where to begin. Heading off on this family journey around the US absolutely called for a blog. And as much as I’m excited to journal our road trip, I’m more excited to just let you into Me and all of my complexities and simplicities through my new online space.

I have always been a writer per say. I communicated with my mother growing up by writing her notes if there was something conflictive I had to say. The written word has always just been my comfort. Back in the day, I wrote for a few newspapers and magazines in Indiana and did editing as well. I didn’t end up achieving the journalism degree I had set out for though, as I landed myself in the world of modeling.

Following through with going to this convention was really out of my comfort zone. As much as I wanted to do it, I was fighting my feelings of inadequacy and the unknown. It’s not easy for me to put myself out there like that as I didn’t know one person to cling to. But, I’ve also lived enough to know that courage can take you a lot of places that fear cannot. So off I went.

Through the powers of social media, I connected myself with an awesome group of girls on my same flight from Raleigh, NC to Atlanta. They have all been friends for awhile but took me under their wing right away. I couldn’t be more grateful. I soon felt confident that divine intervention had placed me once again exactly where I was meant to be. I had found my people and I couldn’t be happier.

I haven’t written on here in awhile, because honestly there just hasn’t been a lot of trip stuff to tell you about. Things are starting to feel stressful the closer we get to departure day, I do know that. But, after going to Mom 2.0 Summit I decided this blog is going to be exactly what it’s domain states.. Amy Carney and all of my complexities and simplicities. I get to ride my bike to next year’s Mom 2.0. How exciting is that!

Happy Monday friends! Make it a great week!

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Arizona Gives Day!

Tomorrow, April 9, is Arizona Gives Day! It’s a good reminder for us to look at what exactly are we giving to those around us. It’s a day to go online and connect with causes you care about and make a tax-deductible donation. The donation stays local and helps nonprofits provide much needed services and support for people in the state of Arizona.

Serving others is at the heart of our family through the giving of our time, talents and treasures. Maybe we help the less fortunate or maybe we just help a neighbor or friend.  It is extremely important that our children experience the regular gift of helping out and serving those around us on a regular basis without receiving anything in return.

IMG_4093St. Vincent dePaul is a recipient of all of our 3 T’s! We have volunteered as a family at St. Vincent dePaul’s family dining room for a couple of years now. Every third Wednesday of each month, we put everything aside to drive downtown to work a few hours together. It is a special place for all involved and it’s one of the few places that let children as young as nine get in on the action!

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Our kids have worked the bathroom, served on the salad bar line and have waited tables taking orders and delivering the meals to the families there. But, their favorite thing to do is work in the amazing Dream Center for the kids. Here they assist with art projects, help with homework and play games with the children. It is such a special place and we are proud to be a part of it!

I don’t want my kids to grow up thinking that serving others is about acquiring hours for a local school group that they are a part of. I want it to be a part of who they are and what our family just does.

Evaluate where your family is putting their time, talents and treasures! To whomever much is given, of him will much be required; and to whom much was entrusted, of him more will be asked. Luke 12:48

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Intentionally Simplifying….

I love this time of year. Our Arizona weather is just perfect; the kids competitive sports are over (or should be, ahem… soccer…. that’s for another post) and my husband’s hockey job is coming to an end after yet another season. Our evenings and weekends tend to be more relaxed making time for bike rides around the neighborhood, board games and the occasional little league baseball game and practice. We all welcome this simpler pace.

Simplifying is one of the main reasons we are pushing pause on our normal existence. People either think we’re out of our minds for wanting to do this cross country RV trip as a family or others say they are envious and would love to do it. Many tell me stories of how they traveled around the US every summer hitting different spots with their families growing up. Family travel builds connections. It says to each member you are important and worth investing in.

I’m aware that what we’re about to do is not feasible for most people financially or time wise. I am fully aware of the blessings we have been bestowed in order to pull this off. I don’t take any of that for granted. I thank the Lord every single day.

But, if we’re being honest… how many people would really do this trip if they could? One friend called it very courageous and that’s stuck with me. I think she’s right. What we’re about to do definitely takes courage on many levels.

Right now, I relish my Mondays because after hectic weekends alone with the kids, my house and time is quiet once everyone is off to school. I can actually think straight. I know a lot of us, whether we stay home with the kids or not, relish that time when the kids go off to school and we’re alone with ourselves. There’s not going to be a lot of quiet time in 43 feet of living space with 6 people up in it for close to a year. Whoa. There will be a lot of prayers going up for patience I’m sure.

Let’s look at it this way. What if you found out you only had a week left to live, or a month or even a year? Would you be so worried about sending the kids off to school every day? Would you still race around to all the sports practices, games and lessons? Or would you drop it all and do what you’ve always wanted to do with them, whatever that may be for you?

See this is how I look at this trip. Do I really want to be home (road) schooling per say? Not exactly. Like I said, selfishly I enjoy those quiet hours of each day that are mine and that the kids are actually being taught by licensed individuals. But, I will have many quiet hours ahead of me. With four kids born within 18 months, our home is going to get quiet fast.

Parenting in the day to day can feel monotonous. Take time to think about the heart of your family and what you want your kids to take away when they grow up and move to the next phase of life. Think about simplifying your family routine. I say stop the madness even just for a little while. Push pause. I don’t think you will regret it.

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An End to an Era – Goodbye My Black Suburban

I woke up with a pit in my stomach this morning. Only two months left to get everything in order for this big trip. Keith left today and will be driving our new rig back from Florida with our dear friend Craig. Why am I not excited? I mean, I have spent the past few days giddy buying new plasticware, hiking gear and whatnots for the trip.

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A typical Suburban Saturday……….Loaded with hockey, soccer, basketball and baseball gear!

Yesterday I said farewell to my everyday companion for the past 12 years. My trusty black Chevy Suburban. We had to trade it in to get a new towable car, I guess the term is a dinghy. I haven’t even seen the new guy yet. He’s still at the dealer being detailed. I’m told it’s a Buick something or other. Our new (to us) dear dinghy. Good luck holding up to our beloved Suburban of days gone by. You have a tough act to follow Mr. Buick.

Our Suburban had definitely seen it’s days. Food was smashed into every crevice of the thing and remnants of melted crayon could be seen all over too. Scratches and dents marked the entire outside. The tan leather seats were turning grey and the smell was getting harder to mask with Bounty sheets under the seats. I even got so tired of having to drive it during the school days, that I bought myself my own little fiat as an escape.

That SUV was a part of the family though. Too reliable to discard. It took every beating we gave it and kept coming back for more. That suburban housed 4 carseats for years. Not to mention the many strollers to hockey bags. But, it’s gone. And I know he had to go in the name of new adventure, but I’m missing him today.mom and boys carseats

Thanks for the memories. You were swell ‘ol Black Suburban of mine. You will be missed but not forgotten. I will probably need a new version of you when we get back to the mundane. The hockey bags will be calling for you again….