Thanksgiving Blessings and Our Weekend

I have really enjoyed building holiday traditions with my 3 boys.  Some of them we have had since they were little, others are fairly new and change as they are getting older.  This year was our first Thanksgiving in Arizona.  I have to say, this first holiday since the move really sank in the reality that we are not home.  I am really missing my family and while it’s not the same, I still wanted to live in the moment and embrace our first holiday here. 

We are super blessed to have my brother and sister-in-law here so we were not alone.  And thanks to today’s technology we were able to skype and face time with family back home.

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It was a little strange to have sunny and 70 degree weather for Thanksgiving, but…..that’s Arizona!

After an awesome meal of turkey and all the trimmings, we headed out to the movies to see Catching Fire (awesome movie!).  That has become a tradition as our boys have gotten older and they really enjoy it.

Then we headed home to pack the RV and 4 wheelers to head out to the Dunes (CA) in the morning.

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The Sand Dunes 2013

I cannot even describe how many people were there?!  But it was so much fun and the weather was great.  We went riding, roasted marshmallows, made a TON of stove top popcorn, dug holes in the sand, watches a few movies and laughed!

Traveling on the way home, we blew not one but TWO tires…within a few hours of each other.  The first one we put the spare on.  When the second blew, it actually caught fire and then, thankfully, went out. 

Check it out!

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Thank goodness Clark is a good driver and knew how to handle it.  It was pretty scary.  After that, we had to all pile in my brother in laws RV to drive the last hour home.

Kind of a crazy end to a fabulous weekend!

How was your Thanksgiving?  Did you go anywhere?  Were you missing home and family like me?  What traditions do you have?

We Moved into a House!

When I found out we were staying in Arizona I immediately started searching for a house.  We have chosen to rent for this year and look to buy something next year.  After a couple of weeks of calling on houses I liked only to find out they had just been rented, I finally found one we love.  The boys came with me to look at almost all of them because I wanted them to have a say in where we lived and because I really value their opinion.  My oldest actually was very helpful because he has such a logical mind. 

The things we like most about our house are:

* one bedroom has a private bath and can be used for a guest room

* open concept for the kitchen, dining and family room

* fairly new appliances and upgrades like RO water

* community pool, hot tub, playground, sport court and tennis courts

* next to the elementary school that I wanted Caden to go to

* a few blocks from the high school Connor and Carter will attend

* close to hubby’s work

* close to family

Here are the pictures we took before we moved in…..

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Moving from a 37 foot 5th wheel to a 1900 sq ft house feels huge!  However, I would definitely say that our perspective of space is different than it was a year ago.  We are all liking more space for sure!  The boys have been playing hide and seek and having nerf gun wars. lol  Plus there is a community pool 2 blocks away.

When we moved in we did not have ANY furniture other than our camping chairs.  lol  Since then we have gotten a great leather couch from craigslist and basic desks from IKEA for our school and work space. Surprisingly, we have plenty of things from what we brought with us in the 5th wheel.  We have all discovered we really like living minimally and simply!  We do have a few things in a storage unit back in Oregon which we will get and bring back in July.  Until then we are fine with our mattresses on the floor and our couch and camping chairs.

It will be fun to decorate it and I will be sure to share pictures when I do!

xoxo,

Claire

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Where in the US are we now? Plus BIG News!

We have been traveling in our 5th wheel for 7 months now, touring the US.  [more about that in a post to come soon!] We have had so many questions from friends, family and fellow travelers as to where we are and what will be next for our family. 

So…. where in the US are we are now?

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We have been in Arizona for the past 3 months enjoying good weather and Clark’s brother and family.  Our original plan was to continue moving to the East Coast this month.  But our plans have changed!

While we have been here, my husband has been working with his brother at his RV business and he was offered the chance to stay. Clark loves it here with his brother and I love the warmer weather and the sun for sure. In working out just what that job would mean, we had to make the decision to stay here during the busy sales months.

After much prayer …..

We are officially moving to Arizona!

After living in and traveling in a small space, we are excited about settling into a house again.  This is a BIG change for all of us, especially the boys.  I appreciate everyone’s prayers for us in the transition. 

I will keep you updated when we find a place!

xoxo,

Claire

My Favorite Packing Tips

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This is a repost from one of my most popular pins on Pinterest.

I leave tomorrow for my first blogging conference!  BlissDom 2013 in Grapevine, Texas.  Three days to network and take classes on writing, photography and business.  I am so excited to meet up with a few of my favorite blogger  friends and meet new ones.  As I was starting to pack last night, I remembered this post and read it again to remember my tips.  lol

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I recently got back from a dreamy girls’ spa trip.  You can read about that HERE.

Four glorious days in sunny Mexico to lay by a pool with a good book. 

To make our travels easier we decided to not check in any luggage and

bring a carry-on bag.

Wait?!  What?!  ONE SMALL BAG??

Yep!  We made it happen and now I get to share with you all.

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Here are My Favorite Packing Tips.

1.  Choose clothes that will mix and match. 

I chose neutral bottoms with more colorful and fun tops.  Same for the shoes…

white and black sandals were all I needed to match my outfits.  To decide what to bring,

I lay everything out on my bed to see how they go together.  I always seem to start with

more than I need and then narrow it down from there.

2.  Roll your clothes, instead of folding. 

Then place in suitcase starting with the largest to smallest pieces.  I had heard this

before, but this was the first time I actually did it.  I could not believe what a difference it made! 

It really did take up less space.

3.  Wear your ‘bulky’ clothes on the plane. 

Even though we were going to a sunny place, we wanted our tennis shoes so we could workout

{ok…maybe just go for a pretty walk before breakfast}.  So we wore our jeans, tennis shoes and

sweater/sweatshirt on the plane.  Saves a lot of room!

4.  Bring and use all those ‘sample’ toiletries products you have saved. 

I keep a small stash of these for when I travel.  They meet the airline guidelines for liquid sizes and

take up less space than my big bottle stuff.  

5.  Pack a plastic bag to bring home the dirty clothes in,

but be sure to roll them too.

 

There you have it!  5 EASY steps to hopefully make packing your bag a little easier.

This trip was to a sunny place and swim suits, shorts & flip flops do not take up a lot of space.

However, this Friday I am going to a business conference and I am attempting the same thing.

One carry-on bag.  Wish me luck!

Do you have any other tips on packing?  Please share!  I am always looking to improve this.

 

claire

Sand Dunes + a Birthday Party

This past Saturday was my middle son’s 14th birthday!  I keep telling my boys to stop growing and getting older but they don’t listen to me.  lol  Seriously, though, the time just seems to fly.  I can clearly remember this sweet little 4 year old riding on the vacuum like it was yesterday.   We are currently in Arizona visiting family and we took a trip out to the sand dunes at the border of CA for a weekend of riding toys.  So.much.fun.!

Here are a few pictures of our weekend trip….

This is Carter, the birthday boy, helping pack up my brother in law’s toys and super excited!

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This is my brother in law and my niece going riding in the razor.

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This is hubby and my two other boys in the rhino.

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Here is the birthday boy driving the rhino.  He loved driving!

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Hubby was just as excited as Carter about the weekend.  He has been missing his days of motorcycle riding.  Good to have a big brother with all the gear!

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This is our 5th wheel and where we camped.  There is no hook ups so we ran off our battery and generator.

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Here is my brother and sister in law’s motor home.  They have a trailer to pull the sand toys on.

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The dune hills are steep!  A few of us decided to hike it one day.  Such a good work out!  The view is just gorgeous…isn’t it?

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My youngest boy, Caden ran down to the bottom first and then hiked back up.  We all did this a couple of times.

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I love this picture!  The colors and the sky is just amazing!

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So beautiful isn’t it??  Have you ever gone riding in the sand?  This was my first time in the four wheelers.  The last time I went was 20 years ago when hubby and I were dating!  We rode his dirt bike.  The boys had a great time and it was especially fun going with family.  We had a campfire with s’mores both nights and Carter requested ice cream pie for his birthday ‘cake’.

Happy 14th Birthday, Carter!  I love you and am so proud of you.

claire

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Family Hike: Carlsbad Caverns

Our family loves to hike. 

Recently during our travels, we went to the famous Carlsbad Caverns located in

White’s City, New Mexico.

Here is a view of the natural entrance to the cave. 

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The cave is home to hundreds of thousands bats that fly out every sunset to find food.  Thankfully, we went when they had migrated to Mexico for the winter.  The boys, however, were disappointed.

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This is Clark and I at the mouth of the cave.  It is a 1.2 mile long switchback trail to get down to the bottom.

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You can see the start of the switchback trail here. It is not strenuous, just steep.  Our 9 year old was able to do it easily.  We also saw people of all ages on the trail.  However, if you have knee issues, etc. they do have an elevator that will take you down to the bottom if you need.

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Most of the path was really open, but there were a few spots like this one.

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Down at the bottom we toured the Big Room. 

It is one of the two self guided cave tours and is 1.5 miles long.  The path is flat and somewhat lit. 

We did bring a few flashlights that were helpful, but not necessary.

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The view of the inside of the cave was incredible!  

Over time, moisture and water have created these stalagmites and stalactites.

It was breathtaking to view how nature had created this over time.

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My best hiking tip is to bring water and wear good shoes.

Our boys each have a small Camelback so they can carry their own water.  This has worked super well for us and is definitely worth the cost if you hike several times a year.  They wear it as a back pack and it has a straw tube to drink from.  It eliminates water bottles (and mom carrying them).

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{ the blue backpack is a Camelback }

We all loved the cave hike, especially the boys!  My youngest told hubby and I thank you for bringing him here twice.  He’s too cute. 

If you go, White’s Cave has an RV park, campground and hotel all located within 10 miles of the cave entrance.  The town also has a Water Park that looked super fun for kids (and adults, too) if you are there in season.

What about you?  Do you like to hike?  Do you hike with your kids?  Where have you been?

claire

Fall Pumpkin Patch

I love going to the pumpkin patch every fall.  While visiting with friends in Kansas, we were able to go together to a really fun one!

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Aren’t these pumpkins gorgeous?  I love the different fall colors.

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Here is my oldest son in the corn maze. 

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They had sling shots and some cool guns to shoot mini pumpkins with.  This was the boys favorite part.

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The zipline was also fun.

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Because we live in such a small space right now, this pumpkin was too big for us this year!  We decided to get a couple of mini ones instead.

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Do you go to the pumpkin patch every year too?  What’s your kids favorite part?

Happy fall!

Claire

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Our First Week of School

As you may know, our family is taking this year to tour the US in our 5th wheel.  The second most asked question we get is…’What about school?’  We are blessed to be in a school district that has an online school and they are willing to work with our unique family situation!  So we get to Live the Adventure and our kids still get teachers and coursework all via the web.  I don’t have to come up with curriculum and the boys can keep up for when they come back next year.  How cool is that? 

Since it is a new experience for us and the school, it took a little longer to get them set up officially for school.  So….we started our own little 2 hour school day to get us through the first 3 days.

Here is what it looked like:

9am: PE …bike riding

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Playing catch and playground

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10am: Reading

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10:30am: Driver’s Ed. for our oldest

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Math Review for the other two

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11am: done for the day.

Not very much, but it eased us into a school routine. They now have access to their online classes and are working on assignments.  Time will tell how many hours a day they need.  To start they worked 3 hours a day for 4 days and they are farther than they would be back at school!  They are loving it so far.

What do you do for school?  How did the first week go?

Have a great day,

Claire

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Our Weekend in Arizona

We visited family in Mesa, AZ last week.  It is HOT there!  Up to 110 degrees! 

We drove from New Mexico and being from Oregon, the land really is different here.  You can read more about our family travels on our WeeRV blog.

[Warning:  LOTS of pictures in this post!]

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The boys keep entertained on their electronics. They are really good travelers.

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We swam a LOT at Uncle Pete and Aunt Elissa’s house but only at night because it was so hot during the day. They are all so competitive!  Clark and the boys tried to throw around some ‘Leighton power’ like they usually do…BUT then realized Pete and Haley are Leighton’s too.  LOL

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Isn’t Caden cute?!  They all slept so good at night after hours of swimming.

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The sunsets are so gorgeous here.

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The boys raced with Uncle Pete and cousin Haley on the Wii.

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Here is Haley with her dog, Tia.  So cute!  Haley was 8 the last time we saw her.  She has grown so much and is now 10.

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The boys and Clark visited Uncle Pete’s RV biz everyday.  They loved it there!

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Clark was able to repair our air conditioning in the truck.

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I love this picture of Clark and his brother, Pete. Clark is younger by 3 years and taller….Pete tried standing on his toes.  lol  Makes me wonder about my 3 boys and if the younger will be taller than the older?

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This giant bear is in the office right when you walk in!  Pete won it for Haley and he seems to have moved in.

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The bear is Oregon Beaver colors and Connor refused to get in the picture!  lol  He is a total Oregon Duck fan…as you can see from his shirt.

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Uncle Pete’s office.  Where the magic happens…  Aunt Elissa’s office is next door.  They work as a team.

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Haley does competitions with her horse.  She is really good and loves it!  Here is a picture of her after she won.  Isn’t that picture amazing?

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Here is a picture of the kids all together…after swimming of course!

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…..and here they tried to get the dogs in the picture.  lol It didn’t work out too well.

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Here is Elissa and Me.

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Saying goodbye to Aunt Elissa….we will be back in the winter!

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I was able to get a pedicure and go shopping with Elissa and Haley.  Haley needed school clothes and I was shopping for my upcoming Las Vegas trip for the Annual Shaklee Global Conference.

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The girls’ clothing section was full of 80’s fashion!  Such a flashback to high school!

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But the boys favorite thing about our visit was being able to ride in the razer and drive the golf cart!

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Claire

Family Trip Highlights

Happy Monday!  How was your weekend?  Do you spend it getting projects done or playing?  We did a little of both.  We are currently in Albuquerque, New Mexico enjoying the high desert weather.  Sooooo much cooler than Texas right now.

On Sunday we visited a great church here with some rockin’ worship and after we went to Old Town Albuquerque to explore.

Here I am with my handsome hubby.  I love how this pic turned out! 

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The Rattlesnake Museum was pretty cool.  The boy really loved this!  Look how tall Connor is next to me?!  He has been having some serious growing pains this past week.  And, of course, my little ham….Caden.  He rarely smiles for the camera.  He would rather make funny faces.

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We found a Magic Shop and the owner was really fun!  We bought a few tricks and the boys have all been practicing. (family & friends… be ready for a skype magic show soon)

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I thought this entrance to a shopping area was pretty.  The grape vine is real!

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Next week we head to Arizona.

So how was your weekend?  What did you do?

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See you over there!

Claire