Thursday, May 31, 2012

Days of Logan

Jill's Journal: Goodness gracious, I believe it’s been a whole week since I’ve had a picture of our new niece/cousin on here and I just can’t resist adding one (or two or three) more. Baby Logan is such a content and sweet little one and Kristi and Adam are so adept at this parenting gig that you’d never believe they’re only 11 days in. As for us, we’ve been so blessed to see this little lady every single day of her young life so far…oh my, it’s going to be hard to leave next week!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A few recent photos...

I was going through a few different folders on my computer earlier today and felt like sharing a few photos I've taken recently.   I'm really enjoying the new camera.

I ran up on this trailer over the pass and enjoyed the sight.
Palm Springs at the 10, looking West.

Drove around most of the day after Kristi's baby, looking for a shot like this. 
Something about this shot, and the lines, and colors - I really love it.

Calling this one 'Beppe's Glass'.

Madelyn, clearly, perched on a fence rail watching another girl ride horse.

I showed a few from this series before, but like this one too.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Avila Valley Barn

Jill's Journal: I can’t even guess how many orchards/farms/pick-your-own fruit and vegetables/fresh produce-type places I’ve taken our girls to over the years, first in Kentucky (we had three favorites around Lexington) and now stretching from Maine to California. It’s been a lot. And they never seem to tire of them. When the farms include a petting zoo, such as the one at Avila Valley Barn near San Luis Obispo, well, it’s double the fun.

We started with a wagon ride around the farm, which has been here since the 1980s.

The girls absolutely loved the live music, best enjoyed with an ice cream cone, of course.

We came home with strawberries, raspberries, cherries, and honey, but naturally the animals were the biggest hit. For $0.25 apiece, each kid got a large bag of lettuce, watermelon rinds, etc. to feed to the animals. Can’t beat that.

God bless places like Avila Valley Barn. Not only are they wonderful places for a family to spend an afternoon and pick up delicious fresh produce, but they also help satiate little want-to-be farm girls’ hearts. :)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Horseback Riding Lessons

Jill's Journal: It’s been well-established our girls are crazy about horses. It must be in the genes. They -- particularly Erika -- simply love every manner of equine. Their Grandpa knows this and, as a bit of a cowboy himself, is only too happy to encourage it. With our few weeks stopped here on the Central Coast, Kristi very kindly arranged for the girls to take horseback riding lessons from a riding buddy of hers. Grandpa and Beppy stepped in to pay for the lessons as a present for the girls and I think it just may have been the best gift anyone has ever given them. They’ve counted down the days/hours/minutes to each lesson and loved their time on horseback. Now, of course, they think they need ponies! Erika has been plotting for months how to fit one into (yes, into) the RV and somehow I don’t think this experience has dimmed that dream in the slightest. :)

Thank you so much, Grandpa and Beppy!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Oh, New Jersey

Jill's Journal:
I promised some news a little over a week ago…and then little Miss Logan made her appearance and our news just didn’t seem so important. But an email this weekend (thanks Diana!) reminded me I was holding out, so here goes…

Last time we were in New Jersey as a family (nearly two years ago), I may have said some unkind things about the Garden State. It’s no secret it’s not our favorite place. In fact, I think there’s about 49 other states and several other countries we’d rather spend time in than New Jersey. Ouch.

But, as the old adage goes, be careful what you say…because sometimes it comes back to bite you.

While we are in no way ready to give up this RVing lifestyle or settle down, traveling is expensive and Rob’s employer has been trying to lure him to New Jersey for quite some time. When they offered a raise along with extra vacation time to sweeten the pot, we had no choice but to think about it and, after much negotiation, decided to go for it.

I don’t know how long we’ll be there, but we’ve decided to commit. Yes, we are moving to New Jersey in approximately two months. Oh, that’s hard to say! We’ve had so many wonderful adventures in our two years on the road and plan to have many more. In fact, we’ll just do this a little differently. Rather than moving every week or two or three like we’ve been doing, we’ll have an official base to travel from as Rob will be in the office during the week. Other than that, we don’t plan to slow down too much and won’t have to with so many amazing places in very close proximity.

The area of New Jersey we’ll be in is lovely. It’s rural and near the northern end of the Jersey Shore, but inland. With Manhattan being only a little over an hour away in one direction and Philadelphia being about the same distance in the other direction, there’s so much to explore right there (not to mention the rest of the entire East Coast and wonderful New England). We’ll have plenty to keep us busy for quite some time.

Yes, having a new baby played into this decision a little bit, but not much. The girls are craving lessons (Erika and Victoria are dreaming of horseback riding and Madelyn desperately wants to do ballet or gymnastics) and pets (ponies and kittens). While they love our lifestyle (and so do we!), we thought it wouldn’t hurt to give them a taste of regular life for a while.

So, New Jersey, here we come. Well, in a couple of months anyway. In the meantime, we’re going to soak up these last precious weeks with family, enjoy our new niece, “finish” our journey around California, and have a last “hurrah” in Las Vegas. And then? Well, we’ll see where life takes us from our base in New Jersey.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Laugh for the Day

Jill's Journal: It’s been all about babies around here lately, so I suppose it was only a matter of time before Victoria picked up an “Understanding Birth” magazine at Kristi and Adam’s house. We don’t know what she saw in there, but isn’t that expression on her face priceless?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Logan Admiration Society

Jill's Journal: While I promise this little spot in cyberspace won’t be solely spent in basking in the Logan glow forever, that little sweetie is the focus of our days right now. Here’s the two grandmothers meeting their new granddaughter for the very first time, about three hours or so after she was born. What a special moment.

And the next day, our girls finally got to meet their one and only cousin.

Madelyn, who has always had a soft spot for babies, is head over heels in love.

It’s safe to say they’re all pretty smitten.

Even Erika, with all her talk about wanting to be an only child, would very much like her little cousin to just move right in with us.

Beppy, Kristi, and Logan…three generations of special ladies.

Grandpa has had so much fun with his older three granddaughters that he was kind of hoping for another one. He got his wish! Four granddaughters for Grandpa and Beppy…that always makes me think of my Grandma (the girls’ Great Grandma June and my Dad’s mother), who had four sons and would have been over the moon at the prospect of her son having four granddaughters. I can just see the smile on her face if she were still with us today.

What a cutie! Yeah, we’re definitely all smitten. And Rob and I are so proud to finally be an uncle and an aunt! :)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Jill's Journal: It is my privilege to introduce the precious and perfect Logan Grace, newborn daughter of Kristi and Adam. This beautiful little baby made her grand entrance into the world on Sunday morning after putting her mama, my incredible sister, through a long and arduous labor. True to family form, Kristi did it all without any pain medication and was a complete rock star (us Dutch girls are tough!).

In one of the three greatest honors of my life (the others are being married to my wonderful husband and being entrusted by God to take care of three amazing little girls), Kristi and Adam allowed me to be present at Logan’s birth from start to finish. It was miraculous and phenomenal and magical…and I’m not ashamed to say tears streamed down my face as I was witness to her first breaths and saw Kristi and Adam become parents. I will madly love that little girl –and her parents– until the day I die.

Welcome to the world, precious Logan Grace. You are so loved.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Norman - the (now) bike-riding dog

So now we've seen it on youtube.  We spotted him in a National Geographic Kids magazine while we were in Solvang (I need to find that pic).  He was in the Rose Parade.  He's had numerous television appearances, even anchoring a newscast (I've seen the video, just can't find the link).  Jill even wrote a post about Norman when we stayed in Carson City last fall.  Clearly, the dog is a hit, with a facebook page, and now a viral sensation as I've now spotted posts about him on a blog I follow and had three facebook friends post the video.  Well done Norman, and Karen, and Chris.  Well done indeed.

In our post, Norman was just getting started on the bike and was mostly a curiosity in the campground.  Our kids played with their kids, and it was actually one of the more memorable interactions with fellow campers that we've run into.  They are now off the trail and living in South Carolina, I think, but kudos to them for taking a year to let Chris (Dad) wind-down from stress, explore the country, homeschool as needed, and live the lifestyle of full-timers.  Their blog was fun to follow.

I love seeing these types of posts on other blogs.  It makes me wonder - who have we influenced (if anyone)?  When I respond to "Where are you from?" with "Well, we started in Lexington, KY, but we full-time now, so this week we're from (here).  Next week we'll be from (there), and for the next month we'll call (whereever) home."  People pretty much have only two reactions - "That's really cool.", or... "oh." (meaning they think we are insane).   Chris and Karen thought we were cool, and insane.  They wanted to do what we do, but did it on a limited timeframe, and so they never fully embraced the lifestyle this is.  Plus, they were blessed with Norman, and his talents, only weeks into their journey.  They had a lot going on with their travels, and a novelty like Norman can change the focus of your trip.

Honestly, I hope to meet up with that family again.  Clear-as-day I remember how odd, and fortunate, the pairing was in Carson City - them not understanding why we would stay at a campground, even with so much area to discover, for more than 4 days, and us, not understanding why a family, on the road like us, would want to push so hard - especially when they had no real schedule.

It all comes down to different lifestyles.  Different goals.  AND... different timetables.  I respect what Chris, Karen, Norman, and the kids set-out to do, accomplished, and have now.  They were great people to meet and will always be a part of our journey - and I, WE, love to see their dreams come true with NormantheBriard(.com).  We wish them the greatest of successes.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A couple of busy days...

So - I know that Jill alluded to a note "tomorrow" a couple of days ago, but things around here have been pretty busy since that post. I know she's planning on picking everything up again tomorrow.

I wanted to post a quick picture and let everyone know that we hadn't forgotten about the blog.

This is Jill reading her favorite bedtime book, "The Going to Bed Book", by Boynton. We read it a lot, and the girls enjoy it - they have it memorized, I think. Erika has her own book that she's reading (right) -- about Secretariat, and since she gets to stay up a little later, she likes to step away from the book for bed to get a little more time with her own story.

I'm always glad to capture real moments. This was a good one.  Back to Jill blogging tomorrow...

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Stork

Jill's Journal: No, Kristi and Adam’s little one hasn’t arrived yet…but while we’re patiently waiting, it’s high time to share that the stork will be paying us a visit as well. Yes, that’s right; we’re very, very happily expecting! We’re halfway through the pregnancy and so pleased and relieved to report all is well. RV for 5 will just have to become RV for 6. :)

(And because Rob and I never seem to undertake just one major life-changing thing at a time, I’ll share some more big news tomorrow.)

Humorously, two of our three girls are absolutely thrilled about a new addition while the other has mixed feelings. One might think it would be our youngest who wouldn’t want her position as the baby usurped, but no, it is Erika, our oldest, who is equally excited and trepidatious about adding another member to the family. Why? Well, as much as she loves her sisters, she still dreams of being an only child and having Rob and me all to herself!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

4000 pictures

I turned a milestone this afternoon - photo number 4000 with the new camera. I've had an idea in mind since we got to this park, and today I was finally able to take a couple of shots at it.   Nothing spectacular, still pretty tho. ;)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Walk on the Beach

Jill's Journal: Kristi and I took the kids and Cobin the Dog to Cayucos for a nice walk on the beach and quickly found, to our utter amazement, that it’s easier to take a dog to the beach than it is kids. Who knew? One by one, the girls face-planted into the water (or the sand) until they were all caked with sand and salt water. They quickly became, as Madelyn put it, “Cold and miserable.” The dog, on the other hand, was merely a little damp but happy to the end (and I guarantee Kristi was finished cleaning him up in a fraction of the time it took me to clean up the girls). Hmmm.

Friday, May 11, 2012

A 90th Birthday

Jill's Journal: It’s a long, long trek from Paso Robles to Northridge in the L.A.-area, about three hours and 40 minutes each way, to be exact, but it’s not every day the girls’ only surviving Great Grandma turns 90.

We spent the special day yesterday with this sweet and feisty lady, even talking her into donning a birthday tiara for a few brief moments. It was so fun to see her enjoy the girls, her only great grandchildren, who seem to innately know they must be on their very best behavior at her house.

Ninety years old. That’s nothing to sneeze at. Great Grandma Lili has certainly earned a few birthday Oreos (her favorite cookie). Every time we’ve visited, she has made absolutely certain the girls shared a few Oreos with her and this day was no exception. She jokingly said she wants them to remember her for her Oreos…I think they will!