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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?

Lake Powell scenery 2

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???

Wahweap CampgroundKeith grilling

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Are you all ready?

 

Are you all ready? It’s the big question that everybody has for me these days and I honestly don’t know how to answer that. Can you truly ever feel “ready” to embark on a trip around the United States in a motorhome with four kids for seven months? I’m coming to the realization that the answer is no.

We pull out of our Arizona driveway in one week. We’ll head the six hours up to Lake Powell for our first stop. Our RV spots are all booked for two months and we have some basic ideas of what we might do in each area, so that’s “ready” I guess.

Our motorhome has been making its rounds to various mechanics and handymen ever since Keith drove it back from Florida. She needed a new windshield, the suspension fixed, a propane tank installed in the “basement,” towing contraptions put on, Direct TV satellite installed and today it is still with the handyman doing small touch ups on the inside.

So not one thing has actually made it’s way inside the motorhome yet. She hasn’t actually stayed put long enough for me to get in there and do anything. Piles are stacked up all over the house and garage awaiting delivery into their new home on wheels. There’s the plasticware pile in the kitchen. The kids clothes in the guest room. The road school pile of books, history movies, audio books and even Rosetta Stone’s spanish DVDs in the laundry room. I’m starting to feel prepared, but I’m not sure if I’ll ever actually be ready.

I keep telling myself, whatever gets packed will be sufficient and what we find we’re missing we can just pick up along the way. Normally, I pride myself on my packing skills and my ability to usually remember everything we might possibly need. But, this trip is quite different. I don’t really know exactly what we’re going to need and my Type A self doesn’t like that feeling. We’ve never camped per say and I really have to be mindful of what I’m bringing as to not weigh down the coach.

I’m a little overwhelmed with the feeding people portion of this adventure too. I assume I will fall into some great routine between my crockpot and the grill. In the meantime, I’ve loaded up on Herbalife shakes and bars for now to get us through until I can navigate my way around that little strip of a kitchen.

The road schooling part can take me to a place of anxiety quickly too. I want to have some solid plan for the kids, but yet I want to free us all from the burden of too much schooling. I will do some math program online, but honestly school just let out and I’m not there yet. Although, when these kids want to sit and watch tv and play on electronics during every drive, it’s going to make us nuts, so I know I need an educational plan. I’ll work on it.

I’m a little baffled by what to bring clothing wise as well. We really have to be minimal in this area which is exciting, yet tough at the same time. We do have a little washer and dryer in our motorhome, so I should be able to wash whenever we are parked.

I’m letting go. What will be will be. What I forget to pack, Walmart will most likely carry. So, I guess the answer is yes, I’m almost ready!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why KOA?

I am so excited to be partnering with Kampgrounds of America (KOA) for our RV adventure around the USA. We will be staying at several of their campgrounds along our journey starting with Salt Lake City June 9-12. KOA provides a more upscale experience than what you would normally think of in a camping environment. You’re not exactly roughing it at their locations, which is ideal for our family.

KOA is the world’s largest system of open-to-the-public family campgrounds with close to 500 locations throughout the US and Canada. Even if you aren’t a seasoned camper, I’m sure you are familiar with their popular logoed yellow signage. KOA is known for it’s family-friendly atmosphere while adhering to excellent standards at all of their sites.

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The ease of booking with KOA has truly been fantastic. Their beautiful, easy to navigate website has been a dream to find locations and special offers as well as fun tips. They also offer a Value Kard Reward program that you can join for just $27. As a VKR member you get a 10% discount on all daily registration fees and earn points with each stay, which can later be redeemed for rewards and additional savings. Members also receive valuable exclusive offers, so I highly recommend joining this program!

I also have KOA’s free App on all of my devices, which will be very beneficial while continuing to book future locations from the road. The new App features a campground finder; integrated online navigation system and driving directions as well as up to date special offers and an alert system to inform campers about road closures, storms or other emergencies.

KOA is an obvious choice for our family as their individually owned campgrounds feature a variety of amenities. Most locations offer free Wi-Fi, a KOA store and various activities to keep us all happy and entertained. I equate it with camping’s version of a cruise ship! Scavenger hunts, crafts and inflatables keep kids busy, while there are wine tastings or other events scheduled for some adult fun.

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Not only are KOA’s perfect for RVers, but over half of their locations also have deluxe cabins which sleep four to eight people and feature bathrooms, comfortable beds and sometimes kitchens. This is a perfect choice for those families who don’t own an RV but still want a comfortable camping experience. Nearly all KOA’s offer a wide selection of spacious tent sites with picnic tables, water hook ups and fire pits, as well as clean restrooms and showers nearby.

If camping is on your summer radar, be sure to check out KOA and all that they have to offer. Get to booking though, because their locations fill up fast!

 

 

 

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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!

at RIIS

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!

Carney Family

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

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All aboard for National Train Day!

 

Planes, TRAINS and automobiles. I’m definitely on my share of planes and for sure in my automobile, but on a train? Never, until last week. Today is National Train Day. Local Amtrak and other train related venues are hosting special events all across the country today, May 10.

Unknown_1I can’t really say that I sought out my train ride last week as my first means of travel from Charleston, SC to Raleigh, NC. But, I admit I really enjoyed myself. As a busy Mom of four, riding alone on Amtrak felt about as equal to a day at the spa minus the massage. Quiet time away to read, think, write and even rest my eyes for a bit. Another bonus is that I could plug my laptop in right next to me and surf the internet  with free wifi along the entire route. All as someone whisks me through the Carolinas and I didn’t have to pay attention to anything going on around me except for when it’s approached my stop.

When I realized that there are no direct flights from Charleston to Raleigh, I needed to come up with another plan to get to see my family there. I was not going to fly to New York to come back down to the Carolinas. So, I thought there must be a train I can take and got on amtrak.com to find out for just $66 I could be there in 6 hours. Sold.

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I never think of taking a train for my travel, except when I’m in Europe. It just never occurs to me and realistically it probably isn’t convenient most of the time from Arizona. Normally when I travel, I am in a hurry to get to where I’m going quickly, by plane. But, I can’t tell you the last time that I had an empty seat next to me on a flight like on my train ride. And I certainly can’t charge my electronics and get free wifi when I’m in the air. On Amtrak there are no seatbelt signs, no stressful security lines and I was free to move about my quiet car as I needed to at all times. I am thankful that I chose Amtrak for my travel. I relished it’s simplicity and will definitely do this again.

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Relaxing during my short layover in Wilson, NC

Check out your local Amtrak for a special event near you. Also, up to two children 2-12 may accompany each adult at half the regular adult rail fare normally.

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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.

Iris Awards

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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He did it.

He did it. Long overdue in my wifely opinion, but it’s done. It’s out there and now what?

Keith told the Chicago Blackhawks yesterday that he needed a year leave to take this RV trip around the USA with our family. Yikes. We don’t know what this means for his future with the team or our future in general. But, he made a very bold move for our family and you’ve got to respect his commitment to making this trip happen.

It is definitely not easy to say farewell to a job like his. The Blackhawks are an amazing organization to be a part of and our whole family loves Chicago. Keith and I met in the Windy City when he was playing for the team, so Chicago is near and dear to us.

Keith’s job sounds very “sexy” too but, it is a job that has put him on a plane almost every weekend for 7 months the past three hockey seasons. His role as Player Development Coach/Scout has him seeing many young defenseman in college or juniors in Canada. These are guys that are already drafted by the Blackhawks, but not yet signed. It is Keith’s job to go evaluate these players and help Chicago make the decision on who they should sign and who they should release. It has been fun for Keith working in his field for sure. He sees guys every weekend that he has played with or known during his lifetime in hockey.

But, weekends are busy around here. With the kids in competitive travel sports, we are either flying or driving around Arizona to games and tournaments each and every weekend. Keith’s job has left me scrambling to set up carpools and ways to just make it through most of them. He has missed a lot. It’s part of life but it’s part of the reason he wants to take a break from it too. These kids are growing up and it’s going fast.

I am proud of him for making this bold move for himself and our family. None of us knows what this means for us longterm or his future with the Blackhawks for now. They will discuss it and let him know. Does it mean that he will have to look for a whole new job when we get home or will they let him come back after? Will it mean that a move is in our future in order for him to take a different position in the Chicago organization? Who knows? We can’t dwell on what’s to come, but only the fact that we are all sacrificing and committing to each other to make this dream a reality. To be continued…

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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.