Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Staying Hydrated In Mexico!

On Monday I shared about how I geek out observing people's household systems. I also shared a story about a gate and how it impacted me many years ago, causing me to never look at my garage opener the same. 

As promised, today I thought that I would give you a little glimpse into how we have been doing laundry, preparing meals and staying hydrated here in Mexico. Tip: I'll also show you where we purchased our water bottles for the kids...they have been working out great!

Let's start with laundry.

The first thing to note is how incredibly hot it is here. I haven't been keeping track of the temperatures but with the heat and humidity you basically sweat simply by breathing. Needless to say that everything on your body ends up needing to be washed at the end of the day. Showers are a daily thing around here...more on that in a minute.

We found a place in the hallway to collect dirty clothes. Typically this tub is overflowing and has a pile just as big on the floor next to it, never ceasing to go away. We arrived two weeks ago and learned that the washing machine has only been working when doing small loads. Anything larger than a small load causes the machine to get off balance and go jumping around the tile floor sounding like a little earthquake. Sam's dad is super handy and spent a day trying to fix it only to discover that it only got worse. So then he had to put everything back to how it was before so that at least we could continue to do small loads. 

Like the saying goes, How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

That being the case, the machine has been running almost constantly with nine people in the house going through clothes so quickly. Here it isn't as easy as calling a repairman to come look at your washing machine. Today Sam and his dad carried the washing machine out to the truck and drove it to a town about 45 minutes away, to a repair store...only to be told that they won't have the part for over a week! 

Once the clothes are washed we hang them up on the lines outside. They are just coming out of the really dry season here. You can see how some of the palm tree branches are yellow. Rainy season is beginning which will cause the branches to eventually turn green again. We watch outside for when the clouds start turning dark and then we go pull the clothes in before the rain comes each day. 

The rain is a wonderful gift because along with it usually comes a breeze that helps to cool down the house. On a daily basis all of the windows in the house get closed just after sunrise. Then they are all opened up again in the evening and box fans are attached to some of the windows to help circulate air. 

The heat and humidity is so intense that you really can't fall asleep very well unless the fan is directly hitting you. Below the girls are doing some reading in the morning. Because air flow and keeping the windows open is more important than keeping the curtains closed and sunlight out, the kids are generally awake earlier than normal and will read until we let them know it's time to get up. 

Shortly after we arrived someone gave Sam's parents a crate FULL of plantains! There were so many that we were eating them for days and days. Nobody could get enough of them, they were SO good! 

We would usually peel them, slice them and then fry them in the frying pan for a minute or two on each side. They would get a nice glaze/crunch on the outside and be like warm pudding on the inside! Below you can see a plate full of them in the middle of the table. They went great with breakfast, lunch or dinner. On this occasion, a fresh stack of corn tortillas (bought just down the street) went great with lunch too. 

Staying hydrated is really important as well as purifying the water before you drink it. They have certain containers that are filled by a slow drip of water that comes out of a filter by the kitchen sink. Then drops are added to each container to purify the water and kill amoebas and bacteria that aren't caught by the filter. Once the containers have sat for a certain amount of time with the drops in them the water is ready to be used. We use that water for drinking, brushing teeth, cooking, etc.

Here Sam is switching out the water jug so that we can have clean water to drink. 

Before we traveled down to Mexico we did some research on water bottles for kids (and read a ton of reviews!) We went with the ones on Amazon here and couldn't be happier! 

These water bottles have helped a TON in keeping everyone hydrated! And after a month's time (and traveling all over the place with them) they have held up super well and don't spill (Every mothers dream come true).

They are easy for the kids to use...just press a button. And they are really easy to clean since it is only the top piece (that screws off) and bottom bottle. They are BPA free & dishwasher safe too (although we have yet to find a dishwasher other than our kids to do them). The kids have dropped them many times and the only thing that has happened a few times is that the white trim piece has popped off. (It is super easy to pop right back on.) 

The cooler bag I snagged at Aldi, I think. You can find bags like that at lots of different places though. We use the bag to tote all seven water bottles and then usually keep some additional larger bottles of water in the van for refilling. 

Besides staying hydrated, everyone generally cools off before bed by hopping in the shower. The shower here always fascinated me. It is completely open to the rest of the bathroom. Everything is at an angle so that the water flows toward the drain. Then at the end of every shower you take that squeegee stick in the corner and pull all of the water that splashed onto the tile towards the drain. I like it...less shower walls to clean, I'd say! :-)

When we first arrived and the kids were getting used to taking cold showers there was definitely some screaming and crying. However, it is amazing how your body adjusts. After a week or so of heat, hopping in the cold shower doesn't even phase them now. :-)

I hope you enjoyed this little tour of how some of the essentials are covered here.

Monday, July 4, 2016

The Gate That Changed My Perspective

Yesterday marked 4 weeks since we loaded up our crew and headed to Mexico for our summer adventure! Almost two weeks ago we landed at our main destination (24 hours SOUTH of the border) in a town near the west coast that Sam grew up in. After being on the road for weeks we were excited to settle in for a bit as we unpacked our tubs from the van (I shared about our tub system on Instagram) and will call this place home for the next six weeks. We are thrilled to be staying with Sam's parents while we are here.

I'm a strange kind of gal where things like laundry processes and how people do household chores, as well as the how to's of covering basic necessities TOTALLY intrigue me. I love seeing how people do things in their home and seeing what their systems are. Put me in another country to see the ins and outs of someone's home and I am completely fascinated and feel like I am on cloud nine (I told you...I am a strange kind of gal).

If it piques your interest, even the slightest bit, I thought that today and Wednesday I would give you a glimpse into how some basic things are covered here. Disclaimer: being exposed to some of the processes here has definitely shifted my way of thinking over the years, it has changed my heart and perspective and certainly may affect yours too.

On my very first trip here, back when Sam and I were dating, this one object below had one of the biggest impacts on me. 

That would be the front gate. It allows you to come and go from the house with a vehicle. In the states, we would call that our garage door. Typically the process that we are used to having, when we open or shut our garage door, is lifting our hand up to our visor and pressing a single button. 

Here, there are just a few more steps that you have to take in order to open up the gate and remove your vehicle. 

For example if you were leaving the house you would need to... 

Step 1) Tie up the guard dog. (Don't be we have told the kids over and over and OVER again...He is NOT a pet. If you try to play with him...he may just bite your arm!) 

Step 2) Unlock and unlatch the gate.

Step 3) Open the doors and secure each gate with wooden sticks (the sticks go a certain way to secure the doors from flying shut if a gust of wind were to come...I almost learned the hard way when I had them on the wrong sides...thankfully the van wasn't backing out yet when the one side slammed shut).

Step 4) Have someone spot for you so that you can safely back out on to the narrow road. If you are alone, hold your breath and back out slowly hoping that your rear doesn't get kissed by any speeding motorcycles or taxis.)

Step 5) Remove the wooden sticks and shut the gates.

Step 6) Latch and lock the gates.

Step 7) Release the guard dog.

Step 8) Walk out the small door that locks behind you and get in your vehicle to drive away.

As you can see there are just a few more steps to coming and going here than we are typically use too.

And that is the process that they go through every time they leave and every time they come home.

Our garage door back in Minnesota broke once. 

I complained about it. 

And then almost immediately I remembered what my in-laws do every single time they come or go from their house and I promptly stopped complaining.

What you see has the power to change your perspective and cause you to be abundantly grateful for something that you never considered such a big deal did for me.

On Wednesday I'll give you a glimpse into laundry, meals and how 
we have been staying hydrated and cool here in Mexico.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Tips For Visiting Magnolia Market + Garden!

If you frequent HGTV, then no doubt you are VERY familiar with the hit show Fixer Upper. In fact, it might even be your favorite show! #shiplap #demoday #magnolia #joannagaines #whocouldforgetchip!

Perhaps for the first time in your entire life you have been dreaming of going to Waco, Texas. And who can blame you! #silos #thegardens #barnraising #littleshoponbosque #livegoats

This Spring our family was making plans for our biggest road trip yet, that would begin in early June 2016 taking us all the way from Minnesota to many places in Mexico. I saw that Texas was a big part of our route and quickly realized that we would be passing right through Waco, Texas! We added Waco as one of our pit stops and the rest is history...well kind of. 

I remember the whole time prior to the trip wondering...

How much time should we plan our visit to Waco for? 

Where should we stay? 

Will there be crowds? 

Now after experiencing and LOVING our pit stop in Waco, I thought I would pass along what we experienced to help others who might be planning an upcoming visit!

There was a debate between Sam and I about how much time was needed for our stop to tour Magnolia Market + Garden. I said, "a whole day!" Sam said, "let's plan for four hours." 

In the end, we were there for just over one hour.

We actually drove into Waco late on Monday night. We had reserved a hotel through Orbitz at Quality Inn & Suites. The hotel room was tight and had some interesting lingering smells. But since we were only there to sleep and would be checking out early the next morning...the inexpensive price had been worth it to us...the complimentary breakfast didn't hurt either. ;-)

In the morning after everyone was fueled by breakfast we headed over to Magnolia (601 Webster Waco, Texas). The hotel wasn't more than 8 minutes away. I was actually surprised to see how big Waco was. I had pictured it as a small town, but with the beautiful Bailor University campus right there, as well as a whole host of other shops and restaurants it didn't feel like small town at all.

We had checked out the website (full of helpful information...for instance that the grounds are closed on Sundays.) The summer hours had everything opening at 9am. We arrived shortly after 9:30am. Coming up to the area there were a handful of parking lots with signs marked $10. The lots were pretty empty so we knew that we might have hit a really good time to visit. We drove just a little over a block away and were able to find free street parking.

As we walked up to the corner, right away we saw the new bakery that will be opening soon. They are still in the middle of construction and were working on laying the patio and doing landscape around that area.

There was a tour bus just ahead of us that was letting off a large group of people. We mixed in among them, holding the kids' hands, and were greeted by many friendly faces of employees as we entered the grounds.

Our first stop was Magnolia Market. We were able to go right in. The store had many people walking around, but thankfully there wasn't a line to get in.

From watching the show I had always pictured the market being located right inside the silos. And I had always wondered how exactly they remodeled and did that. But in fact, the market is located in a large white building across from the silos. You can see the side of the large white building pictured here. The silos are located to the left.

As you come into the Market you are greeted again by many friendly employees. They were passing out bags to collect items in for shopping. I asked at the desk if the bags were for sale but unfortunately they weren't. The Market immediately makes you feel like you could re-create one of the living rooms from Fixer Upper with all of the things to choose from. I didn't take many pictures of the Market so that you could see it all for yourself. There were lots of large wooden signs with thoughtful and welcoming sayings...

And there was a fun wall of metal signs created by Jimmy Don.

I kept brainstorming a wall at my house that I could put something up on, but nothing came to mind so I just kept soaking it all in envisioning decorating someone else's home. In the end, I walked away only purchasing a mug for the coffee bar and a t-shirt...#shiplap, of course. ;-)

Heading out of the Market we headed over to the lawn area. The kids ran straight to the large wooden swings. We saw the barn that was just built to offer some extra shade and picnic tables for guests.

The boys found the balls and frisbees.

It was definitely a hot day and I wanted to complete our tour before everyone started melting. So next we headed over to the garden area. Heading that way we passed the entrance to the many food trucks lining the back of the property. Since we had just enjoyed the breakfast at the hotel we kept walking to the gardens but it did look like there were many great choices to pick from!

The gardens were beautiful and I really liked how various things were labeled so that you could see exactly what was growing.

The brand new Magnolia Seed + Supply shop was open. It is air conditioned and offered a nice cool break from the outside. However, the shop itself is very small. So basically what you picture below was the width of the shop and then back maybe 12 or 14 feet. It only took a few minutes to walk through. 

The shop had different seeds and garden supplies in it and then also had a cute display of things you could purchase to create a fairy garden (you could buy the items right there, so no need to go back through the Market to pay.) I definitely enjoyed walking through the shop but if there had been a long line and I was short on time, this is one place that I would probably skip.

There were multiple fairy gardens outside that were fun to look at. 

One of the kids favorite parts was seeing the two goats next to the seed + supply store. One of the goats was named, Marigold. :-)

Our final stop was to find the Mangolia sign to document our trip. It was actually on the back corner of the Market building outside of the main entrance. Thankfully there was a curb for people to stand on who have taller husbands...

And for five kiddos to jump off of to get out some extra energy before they head back on the road. :-)

We did make one last stop before heading out of Waco since the kids had done so well walking around the grounds...and and dad just wanted an excuse to grab ice cream on a hot Texas day. So we swung by Heritage Creamery right as it was opening at 11am.

We were the only ones in the shop and the kids got to taste test some flavors before choosing one.

All in all, our pit stop to Waco, Texas was an absolutely wonderful experience!

Walking the grounds you get all the feels of what the Gaines family and the show, Fixer Upper is all about. We were eager to get back on the road and continue our road trip, so our tour ended there. However we will most likely be driving back through Texas in late August and have already talked about stopping in again to see the Bakery if it is open and to drive around and see some of the other landmarks from the show. (You can find a map on the website that shows you where to drive to see the old shop on Bosque street and Harp Design Co., etc.) 

So to answer some of the questions that I had prior to visiting...

How much time should we plan our visit to Waco for? 

We were able to tour the market and gardens in 1 hour with no lines. 

Where should we stay? 

We found a hotel that worked well through Orbitz that was 8 minutes away. Another fun option would be finding a place through Airbnb. We actually found a home that was remodeled on the show, that was available to stay at. However, it didn't seem kid friendly for our crew and because we were just swinging by we went with a more affordable option that also had free breakfast. :-) 

Will there be crowds? 

That is the million dollar question. :-) There were no lines on the day that we visited, which was a Tuesday morning right after the store opened. We did hear some local people say that during Spring Break there were lines 3 hours long. So I guess I would suggest visiting on a weekday morning if you can to try and beat any crowds and bring water to keep everyone hydrated in case you do run into lines or if you plan to stay longer and enjoy playing on the grounds.


Saturday, June 4, 2016

My Last Trip To Target Before We Hit The Road

I made my last trip to Target earlier this week before our crew of seven embarks on the biggest road trip of our lives.

And then I went once more. 

And then again, once more.

We have now passed the window of time to be able to order anything else from Amazon Prime in order to have it shipped here in the free two day window and receive it on time. 

Boxes on our front door have been a regular thing over these past few weeks. 

Sam was showing a friend our dining room yesterday and said, "Apparently we are packing as if there are no stores in Mexico." 

It annoyed me at first. 

But then...well, let me tell you the rest first. 

Our living room is filled with all of the random things that need to go somewhere. I've been sorting and organizing for weeks. Things have been cleared out of closets and bedrooms and stair mailboxes to make a welcoming space for our guests. And all of the things that haven't been given a place to go yet have filled the living room. I've considered burning it all. I'm convinced me wouldn't miss a thing.

Our dining room is filled with all of the things that somehow by the end of today will be packed into our 12 passenger van. I'm thankful that we are driving and don't have to think of suitcases and carry-ons and weight limits. Yet I'm also curious to see just how all of these THINGS are going to fit into the van with seven living, breathing bodies fitting in there as well. (More bins for clothes are tucked behind the table.)

We have a system. Because systems is what Sam and I do best.

"What do we really need?" has been a phrase that I have considered often over these past few weeks. I don't want to run out of this...or that. How much of that will we really need anyway? Ugghh, why have I not kept better track of how much toothpaste we go through each month. And that is when the breakdown happened. 

The complete breakdown.

I think it was actually when I was considering my new favorite water bottle. And the fact that I was considering purchasing another one before we left because I like it so much. What happens if I set it down somewhere and forget it, the thought ran through my mind. I won't be able to order another one and have it shipped to my house in two days? Should I bring 2 pairs of sunglasses? They break so easily you know.

Or maybe it was actually when I was looking around considering all of the things in our house and wondering how in the world they ended up here and who let them stay. 

And through it all I have five little ones asking more than five questions each to which mommy wants to say, "I do not know!" to every single one. And when it seemed as if we had so much time to prepare we got down to just two days left. Which means that yesterday before Sam took the kids to their last day of school I walked down the hall, slammed our bedroom door shut and said, 


Hours later I was cleaning up some dishes in the kitchen because that was all that I could reconcile needed to be done...the dishes. Sam had returned and he was showing a friend our dining room and said, "Apparently we are packing as if there are no stores in Mexico." 

I was annoyed. 

And then I wasn't. 

Because he was right.

And I knew that the issue went deeper than that for me.

One of our stops next week includes meeting Laura, the girl that we have been supporting for the past eight years through Compassion International after experiencing three miscarriages. Those three pregnancies all had some significance around May 13th. So when we opened up that computer screen one day to look for a child in Mexico that we could begin supporting, I almost cried when out of the seven children on that screen one of them had a birthday on May 13th

We have been writing to Laura for years. She is twelve now. The same age as our oldest daughter. Four years ago, after our daughter came to live with us, she began writing to Laura. On one of my last trips to Target this week I picked out some things for Laura to fill a backpack. It was easy to pick things out knowing what our oldest daughter likes. The pink soccer ball didn't fit in the bag. That is ok, I thought. We can still bring it along. Something about picturing my five kids and Laura kicking around that soccer ball in Mexico brought tears to my eyes. 

We wanted to bring a gift for Laura's family too. Kitchen tools were suggested by Compassion. But then Sam called the woman that is going to be leading us down to the area where Laura lives and he confirmed his guess that the family most likely cooks with clay pots over an open wood fire. Our plastic utensils at Target won't be much help to them. So we decided to wait and purchase a gift for the family in Mexico. Then we can pick up something helpful in one of the markets along the way. 

I still feel conflicted. Conflicted over how I got to this point. Why things seem to be so important and why so much time has been given to organizing and planning for said things. Whether I end up burning the contents of our living room or leaving half of the items that are currently in our dining room behind...I do not know. What I do know is that in this moment...this very moment. Is that I crave just to live. Just to be. To focus on my children instead of being fearful that I left something behind. To look out the window and experience the various landscapes instead of deciding if some physical item in my possession is worth holding on to. To hold Sam's hand as we watch the kids run. And even if my Spanish is far from being conversational I'm really looking forward to simply standing next to Laura's mom and talking as we watch all of the kids kick a pink soccer ball that might have come from Target.

If I leave my water bottle behind...

If my sunglasses get broke... 

It will be ok.

Everything is going to be, absolutely ok.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

An Organized & Updated Basement Family Room

In just one week we will hit the road for our family's summer adventure. After years of anticipating this trip it is crazy to think that it is almost here! There are piles everywhere...packing is in full force. But there is one space that is in tip top shape. A place for life to flourish, you could say. Why don't you come on in and let me show you around our recently updated family room!

These past few months (ok, year really) we have been tackling different projects down here to create an updated space for our family's needs (our kids current ages are 5, 7, 7, 10 & 12). We also wanted to have a welcoming space for friends to enjoy when they come over. 

Just like people are motivated to finally get to those house projects when they put their house on the market to sell...we were highly motivated to finish up this space with our special guests coming to visit and stay in our home this summer. Our house will be occupied all summer long and we wanted those staying here to feel welcome and to be able to make themselves right at home. 

With all of the life that happens in this space we could see that the walls were in desperate need of a new paint job. However, it was only after the walls began getting repaired and prepped for paint that we realized the reality of life with kids. :-) This picture still cracks me up...such an accurate picture of #lifewithkids

I dug some pictures out of the archives to show you what this space looked like before. One word...dark! It was pretty beige too...beige walls, beige carpet, beige furniture. You can see in the picture below how the basement previously opened up on the left to continue into another area. Here it is blocked off with some shelves when we were using it as a temporary guest room. Before that it was our inviting space for kids and now that we put a permanent wall up it is our permanent guest room

The fireplace was dark and dirty from years of soot. I had been wanting to get my hands on that brick and paint it ever since we moved in four years ago.

Here is what this area looks like now! A bit brighter I would say. :-)

For the main wall color I went with Revere Pewter by Benjamin Moore. It was actually a gray color that I almost used years ago in a different space but then determined that it was too beige and not enough gray for what I wanted in our bathroom. However, it turned out working perfectly in this space because I actually wanted to use a neutral that was more like a gray but went with all of the existing elements...which were beige. :-) (I wrote some tips on selecting the right gray paint here.) 

For the fireplace we didn't want to keep it a wood burning fireplace because of the carpet, wanting it to be a safe and clean space for kids and because there was a huge draft that would come down through the chimney and make this area frigid in the winter. 

We looked into the cost of adding a gas insert and when the price tag was over two thousand dollars we decided to come up with a different solution for now. A piece of wood was installed to keep a draft from coming in and I put some chalkboard paint on it. The brick got multiple fresh coats of white paint and the final result is lovely. The yellow accent wall paint from Target that I actually used in the girls recent bedroom remodel.

Life truly is about enjoying the little things. (Thank you chewbacca mom for that AWESOME reminder.) ;-)

A barn door was installed that now separates the family room and our guest room. With a large opening between the two rooms we still get lots of natural light pouring into the family room. And anytime a movie is playing the door can easily be closed to create a darker space.

The other end of the room used to look like this when we first moved in and were remodeling. 

There had been some closets under the stairs and when we pulled out all of the paneling to have drywall installed we asked our friend Ben if he could turn that space into a little play house for the kids. With a crew of five we figured that it would get a lot of use.

It turned out great. However, ever since (over four years ago) I had been dreaming of adding some cedar shakes to the outside. I even wrote about why that dream was so important to me here. But I was completely overwhelmed on how exactly to do that. It was something that I had seen my dad do in the home that I grew up in but seeing the finished product and seeing how it was done is a whole different thing.

Then this past April my mom and dad were visiting and spent a week hanging out with the kids while Sam and I traveled together to go and speak at a conference. Coming home I was blown away to find THIS surprise. 

The play house was shingled! 

Besides jumping up and down when I saw it, I hardly feel capable of expressing to my dad just how much it meant to me. I'll be forever grateful.

I guess you could say that each item that was placed in this room was done strategically. Each item has a purpose. The couch was set in the best possible layout for the room so we positioned the treadmill next. After having an IKEA shelf unit in our craft room I couldn't imagine a better way to organize all of the games, toys and books in our house. And with five kids we wanted to create a designated space for things like books and games instead of having so many spots all over the house that they were collecting things. 

I was done with finding books ALL over the house. So I decided that having a designated "library" would work best. Now the kids know exactly where the books go when it is time to clean up. It is incredible, ya'll!

The clear containers from IKEA on the bottom aren't my favorite but until they break I didn't want to replace them. Previously I used and wrote about this system for sorting toys that I used when the kids were smaller. It worked ok but was definitely too many bins for the kids to sort through each time that toys needed to be put away. So most times the toys would just go back in any given bin.

With this new system we sorted through staple toys and lessened the amount of bins that we used. One bin contains baby toys for instance.While our youngest is now five and definitely out of the baby stage, this bin definitely comes in handy when we have visitors over with little ones.

A play kitchen and play food seemed pretty classic and universal for a wide range of ages to be entertained with too.

So we made a bin on the shelves designated for "kitchen" stuff. No longer are we trying to separate all of the pieces into multiple categories...just kitchen.

We decided to utilize the rest of the cubes on the IKEA Kallax shelving unit for board games. I love that you can see exactly what is available instead of games being hidden behind a cabinet. However, they still look organized and uniform by stacking them in the cubes. One of my favorite things when it comes to games is still this handy, dandy little basket for putting lost and random game pieces. You can read more about that here.

Besides games we also do have a few tubs that contain various things like Play-Doh, Lincoln Logs, Beading Supplies, Puzzles & Cards. The bins came from Home Depot and the fact that they have lids on them is super handy. We placed them higher up on the shelving unit so that little hands couldn't reach. And since the shelf is anchored to the wall, and each cubby is filled with items, we haven't had any climbing concerns. 

The thing that I like best about this area is being able to organize all of these various items AND having a limit for how many books and games come into the house. The things on these shelves are played with all of the time. The kids can see everything that is available and everything has a place to return it to. If something new comes in, like a new game or book from a birthday or Christmas, then we choose something to give to someone else to keep the flow of blessing going.

Besides having a space for kids to play the other main use of this space is a gathering place for our Saturday night family movie nights. This tradition started right after our family expanded from four to seven

Family movie night is definitely a family favorite and something that our kids look forward to every week!

Our sectional couch was actually the very first piece of furniture that Sam and I purchased after we were married. It wasn't until over a year after we had been married that we got it on a date night back in 2005. 

This thing is comfy and fits a TON of people. 

Our basement still tends to get a bit cooler than the rest of the house so having warm blankets on hand is a must. I've tried storing blankets for a family of seven lots of different ways but never quite successfully...until now! 

Bonus Tip! Use an outdoor deck box for storing large amounts of blankets inside. It works great! I love that everything is contained yet accessible.

Making your house a home really is about filling it with the things that bring you joy. These pictures were a gift from some dear friends. Each picture was personalized and hand created for one of our kids. The kids know how special they are and love showing their friends where their name is hidden in their picture. 

I can't think of a better place that I would rather be than hanging out with our crew on a cold or stormy night...right here.

Enjoy the place that you call home. 

Make it your own. 

Give it a purpose and before you know it...

you'll turn around and find a place for life to flourish!

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