Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Our Year of Adventures on the Road!!!

I am SO sorry to all of you who have asked me to post sooner!! I know it has been MANY MONTHS since my last post, but I am just now finding the time to write a summary of our adventures being a full-time family on the road for a year! The past couple of months we have been busy settling into our new community and ministry. We have visited with lots of family & friends, celebrated birthdays (Alan turned the big 4-0!) and the boys are getting involved with our church, a local homeschool group, soccer, and library programs! One weird thing that happened - in February,  I ended up getting Bell's Palsy (temporary paralysis on the left side of my face). The symptoms lasted for about a month.  I am just relieved it was temporary and did not last longer than that!

Overall,  everything is going really well! The boys are making new friends as well as enjoying quality time with old ones.  Alan is loving his new ministry! We are so blessed to be serving at such an amazing church here in Texas. It is exciting to see God working through His people!

So- finally...here is the review I promised!!! Just to start, here are some fun facts and adventures by the numbers:

* We visited/traveled through 28 states and Ontario, Canada!

* We were on the road full-time in our RV for 13 months.

* We traveled a total of 12,270 miles in our RV and 22, 769 miles in our mini-van exploring the states we camped in. That's a total of 35,039 traveling miles!!!!

* We stayed in 57 different RV campgrounds/state parks.

* We visited an estimated 35-36 different churches.

* The boys participated in 13 different Junior Ranger Programs with the National Park Service.

* We ate ice cream in EVERY state and another country (Canada)!

* We visited with family, reconnected with old friends, and made lots of new ones!

* We enjoyed serving with the National Center for Biblical Parenting doing seminars all along the east coast.

* We saved all kinds of money during our travels when we joined 9+ grocery/convenience store clubs (that we can remember..ha!) and 5 camping memberships!

* The boys took turns buying a postcard from every museum/state capitol/national park we visited:

Our year on the road was full of amazing adventures, museums, parks, campfires, s'mores, miles, history, firsts, laughs, family time, nature, new friends, and memories of a lifetime.  We are forever grateful for this wonderful opportunity God gave us!  When I first started to narrow down the thousands of pictures from our adventures to post a slideshow on the blog, I still ended up with almost 500 photos!!!! I decided that was WAY too long! (I figure even our family would not want to sit around to watch a 35 minute slide show!)  I tried to get it down to around 300 or so, which was really hard for me to do. So...here is the 20 minute slide show :) ...for anyone who wants to see, click the link below to view our year of adventures:

****UPDATE**** We fixed the video so that everyone can see it now (It was password protected before, but now you can view it! Just click the link below:

Blessings to you and yours,

Jill and the boys:)

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Our Big Announcement!!

When our journey as a full-time family on the road began in November of 2012, we didn't know how long we would travel or exactly where we would end up.  We have prayed for God to show us His will for our family and over the past few months, He has revealed His plans to us.  The past 13 months have been amazing, challenging, fun, crazy, wonderful, exciting, and...well... the list goes on. As a family, we all have learned so much not only about the history and cultures of the United States, but about each other as well.  We have experienced the joys of spending quality time with each other, reuniting with family & friends, meeting new people at our NCBP seminars, churches, and RV park campgrounds.  We have also experienced some challenges as we adjusted to a very small living space, explored and got lost in new surroundings, had feelings of loneliness as we missed family & friends, and had a few funny mishaps on the road.  I would like to say that I never doubted or had a bad attitude along the way, but that would not be completely honest.  There were moments that I really struggled and had my doubts. Then, there were the times I just marveled at how God brought all of His plans together for us to experience this amazing journey together as a family.  We have grown in so many ways...ways that we didn't even realize that we needed to grown in!

So- as many of you may already know, our new adventure is that we have settled down...permanently! Alan has accepted a position as the Children's Pastor at a wonderful church here in Texas.  We have seen God's perfect timing throughout this process, and we are SO thankful! Our new church family has been very welcoming to all of us.  We are so excited for our new ministry opportunity!

We decided to find an apartment to call home for awhile to give us time to settle into our new community and get to know the area before we purchase a "sticks and bricks" home.  We managed to move and get almost everything settled in time for Christmas.  It has been so wonderful!! We also believe that it is time to sell our "home on wheels" as well. So- if you have been following our blog this past year, and we have actually inspired you to do something totally crazy (like sell/donate everything and travel the U.S. in an RV while homeschooling your children)...have we got THE RV for you!!!!!:)  Here is a link to the listing for more info/photos:Houston Craigs List

I am working on another post that will summarize some fun facts of our travels...number of states...miles...parks, etc. But- until then, I leave you with some fun pictures of the boys when we first walked into our new apartment home...

We were all SO excited to actually have room to spread out and do "FLOOR ANGELS"!!!!!

A few of the boys even kissed the ground! HA!

I have to admit...I sure do appreciate a lot of little things a WHOLE lot more now...my OWN washer and dryer in the apartment, a dishwasher, my very own bathroom (Yes- Alan and I share it, but that is OK because...I have my very own bathroom sink!!!!) Ahh...the finer things in life:)

Blessings to you and yours!!

Jill and the boys:)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Celebrating the Holidays...

To catch up on the blog, this post is about our celebration of the holidays this fall...from Halloween fun, Thanksgiving, to Christmas and a little surprise too:)

We had a nice stay at the Bay Landing Thousand Trails RV campground this fall. While we were there, we enjoyed attending a local church (FBC of Bridgeport).  They were very welcoming and we all made new friends.  The boys enjoyed the children's programs, and I had the chance to attend a ladies Bible study on Tuesday nights as well. (I loved the girl time and I made some dear friends too!)

In October, we had fun carving pumpkins...

Oh my! Scary faces!!!

 Here are my boys smiling all nice and sweet for the camera...

...and then it was time for the  SCARY face picture!

Pretty cool pumpkins, huh?

On Halloween, we stopped by Alan's cousin's house for a short visit with her family, take a few photos, and go trick-or-treating in the neighborhood.  I played the part of Lois Lane, and I was accompanied by my super heroes...Clark Kent, Superman, the Hulk, Batman and Robin! I felt very safe with this crew:)

Trick or Treat fun...

After a short trip around the neighborhood, we took the boys to the fall festival at church.  There were tons of games, candy, and fun!

I LOVED this lady's costume in the photo below!! She dressed up as "Flo" from the Progressive Insurance commercials!!

All of the boys enjoyed the cupcake walk...

For the Thanksgiving holiday we spent the week visiting with my Mom and my sister's family.  They flew out all the way from California!  We were SO excited...the boys were thrilled to see their California cousins!!  

We also had a great visit with our dear, close friend, Mary Ellen...

The week involved lots of playing and being silly...

The kids made a fort out of a fallen tree in the backyard...

We spent lots of time building puzzles and playing games...

There was also lots of time outside playing "keep away", "monkey in the middle", "spud" and just tossing around the ball...

What a good looking bunch! (We missed you Calvert Cousins!)

OK--yes...you can be silly now:)

On Thanksgiving day, we drove up to meet some of Alan's extended family for lunch...

Many enjoyed the family tradition of playing "42"

Caleb enjoyed playing "hard to get" with cousin Alyssa:)

It was a fun time for young and old!

We drove back to have a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner at my Mom's house that evening. Yes- we had TWO turkey meals that day! Talk about being STUFFED!:)

After Thanksgiving, we headed south to the Thousand Trails campground in Willis, Texas.  We spent some time visiting with friends in the area and decorating for Christmas.

We can still have a Christmas tree while living in an RV...it just has to be a lot smaller!! Ha! Decorating the tree sure takes a lot less time though!

Happy Campers!
We drove up north to visit our extended family again and to celebrate an early Christmas together.   We enjoyed a visit with my Mom, and some time with Alan's family.  

Do you notice something funny in this picture above? That is not a fancy crown that Alan is "wearing"! We didn't realize that the tree behind him was just the right height to look like he was wearing a fancy gold headdress! HA!
The Haigoods (Alan's brother and family)
The Franks (Alan's sister and family)
Alan's Parents
Before we started our annual Christmas party games and gift exchange, it was time to read the Bible story of Jesus' birth. Every year, the youngest grandchild gets to read the story.  It was Caleb's turn, so with some help from Mommy, he read from a children's Bible story book. He did a GREAT job!

Then time for some silly reindeer games!

After our weekend with family in North Texas, we headed back down near Houston. This is the surprise I mentioned at the beginning of the blog post:)  We actually did not spend Christmas in the RV this year! We have some AMAZING news about where God has led our family!  I will save the details about that for the next post :)

I hope you all had a very blessed and Merry Christmas!

Blessings to you and yours,

Jill and the boys:)