Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The BEST Thing About An Artificial Christmas Tree...

There is something dreamy about picking out a real tree. The adventure, the discovery, the memories of finding that perfect tree and bringing it home together. And oh the smells, those dreamy aromas and fresh scent!

But there is one pretty spectacular perk about having an artificial tree.

It doesn't change in size...






Even if they do.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Priorities, Being Intentional & Our New Favorite Show

Our time together this summer in Mexico was a treasure

As we drew near to the end, I began thinking about what changes I wanted to make once we returned back home. (I love how getting out of your norm can give you a fresh perspective and cause you to reflect on life and priorities and what is most important to you.) I knew that school would be starting, Sam would be back to work, and then suddenly we would be in the full swing of things again.

Have you ever heard someone say, "plan your life or someone else will?" 

I have too. 

However, the hardest thing for me about that phrase is that it always sounded so limiting and confining. As if I have to plan out my whole entire life (when I barely know what is for breakfast the next day) or at the very least...I need to plan out every hour of every day this week in order to not have someone else planning it (or filling it up) for me. 

That never sounded like freedom...and that is coming from a natural born planner!

But I think our trip to Mexico caused me to realize that when I came back home I didn't have to have my WHOLE life planned out. I simply needed to prioritize and be intentional about the most important things to me. And that if those things were planned out, the rest of life could just be.

So I started making a list and one of the things on my list was being intentional about spending time with my kids.

But if spending time with them looks a lot like tracking them down to clean up their room or finish their homework or unload the dishwasher, then I knew that something had to be missing. Sam has talked for years about wanting to do karate again. So he decided that this fall he would look into taking a karate class with all of the kids...just them and daddy. He found a place where they can all take a class together and it makes me smile ever so brightly every time they come home all wearing their matching gis.

But here is the thing. 

If I want to spend some quality time with my kids it isn't going to be doing something active. It is going to involve rest. And while rest and 5 kids might seem like an oxymoron, I have found that it is sometimes achievable. 

In fact, I stumbled across the perfect solution when I purchased this box set of Little House on the Prairie. It was one of the first packages that arrived at our door after our trip. 

And we have loved it!

Maybe it is the fact that we weren't going to be able to binge the entire show because there were 48 (FORTY EIGHT!) discs. So instead we have been forced to savor one episode every week.

Maybe it is the fact that my first thought was that even if it was just the girls and I watching together it would still be some special (and restful!) quality time. And then I discovered that the boys enjoy watching it just as much as the girls do. And ok, even Sam enjoys it, but I keep telling him, "this is MY thing with the kids." :-)

Maybe it is the fact that each episode seems to teach a little life lesson that everyone can grasp, even our five year old.

Maybe it is the fact that they have chickens and do chores and walk to school and savor all of the normal, routine activities of every day life. 

Maybe it constantly reminds me of how special a family bond is and how imperfect we are as human beings. Yet we all have the same daily choice to choose love. 

Maybe it is the fact that friendships are shown growing and developing over time and not just because you met someone, found them on facebook, and now call yourselves, "friends".

Maybe it is the beauty in watching them build their home from the ground up and then watching Caroline put her one, singleporcelain doll on the mantel and seeing the joy that she radiates on a regular basis. Not because of the things that she has but because of the people that she loves.  

So for three months now, one of our new Sunday morning traditions (during our weekly Sabbath) is to stay in pajamas, gather together in the basement, grab blankets, snuggle, mommy grabs coffee and we watch one new episode of Little House on the Prairie...together.

And maybe I just kind of also love that the container is cute and small and...isn't that creative?!? And that it reminds me every day when I walk passed it to get to the laundry room that life is sweet and to keep things simple and to treasure those that you love.

Because everything in life can teach you a lesson. 

Especially if it involves watching an episode of Little House on the Prairie...together.

To purchase a set for your home or as a gift for a loved one this holiday season, go here.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Celebrating 4 Years & Never Saw This Coming...

This blog started exactly four years ago today and exactly four years ago we also finalized our adoption. 

It all happened on the very same day.

In January we will celebrate five years (FIVE?!?) since our oldest three kids first came to live with us. After years of pain, God restored our deepest heartaches and changed our story in a BIG way (you can watch that story here.) I think back to that very first year when we went from having two small children and then instantly jumped ahead to five. It was the hardest most rewarding year of my life. Since then we've had years of diapers and potty training...lessons on sharing and lessons on keeping your hands to yourself and lessons on grace and patience...lots and LOTS of patience

And what once only seemed like a glimpse of hope off in the distance, the day that all of the kids would ALL be in school, well...it suddenly came. For the past three months we have officially had a K, 2nd, 2nd, 4th & 6th grader...that's a lot of parent-teacher conferences coming up next week!

Bottom line...our family has felt 100% complete since the very first day that we became a family of seven. I have absolutely zero desire to expand our family any larger...zero desire to have another baby...zero desire to do any additional laundry.  

I've told my parents numerous times that it is up to my other three siblings to give them more grandchildren. We are sailing towards the finish line (in marathon form with lots of hurdles along the way) as we watch these 5 growing kids continue to grow and become all that God has created them to be. We may or may not be able to quote in less than one second how many more years we have until our youngest graduates from high school. Sure he just started kindergarten.

As I began to glimpse the reality of an empty house with 6 hours a day all to myself, I remember clearly the night some new friends came over to hangout. One of them commented that she had thought that we had six kids. I laughed and said, "Don't give me any more kids than I already have." Of course the next comment made by a friend was that maybe that meant that we should adopt more kids. I smiled politely and thought to myself, Why do the people who have already adopted have to be the ones who adopt all of the children in the world. (Clearly this isn't accurate but it can sometimes feel like that.) I quickly responded with a smile and a wink and said, "We are done. Why don't you three adopt!?!" 


We are DONE!

For the past three months I have been adjusting to this new pace of life. I've gone from a season of doing everything I could to scrape together 1-2 hours of precious alone time each week, when the kids were home 24/7, to now sitting in a clean house that actually stays clean for a WHOLE six hours every single weekday. I know, I know...I had begun to think that that would never be possible post life with kids. 

It turns out that there was more than one silver lining. 

But here is what I also found. 

With lots of time I constantly think about one person...ME.

After almost eight years of being a mom I knew that taking care of myself wasn't a bad thing. I've been able to find new rhythms of waking up before the kids get up to walk for an hour and making time to spend time with God before the day gets going and other things that as a mom with five small children at home seemed very difficult to do before.

I knew that slowing down and actually having time to manage things at home (without the stress of always feeling like I was four steps behind) wasn't a bad thing. It is just that after three months of thinking about how to make your life even better and how to keep your clean house even cleaner, I've felt absolutely miserable. 

Recently Sam came home from a luncheon where he heard Bishop Aaron Charles Blake Sr. share about some of his family's journey into foster care. Sam's eyes filled with tears as he re-told parts of the story to me. Bishop Aaron asked why do we have pastors at church and a worship leader at church and a hospitality coordinator at church but we don't have an orphan care worker? The very next day I was attending the conference where that same man would be sharing once again. As he shared, along with many others, I fought back the tears as my eyes welled up over and over and over again.

And that is where I was reminded again of the verse in James 1:27 that says, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress..." 

And that is when I knew that my warm and comfortable life wasn't the life that "I" wanted at all. 

I want to spend my life pouring into the "least of these." 

I want to spend every last ounce of my life pouring out God's love to a broken world. 

I want to reach the end of my life and know that






of the gifts and talents that God has given me.

At the end of my life, I want to be 100% spent.

I came home from that conference and talked to Sam. I told him that we still have room. That we still have room to squeeze more children around our dining room table and that we still have beds that are empty and could be filled. And that maybe over the past four years God has been stretching us and expanding us and knew that we would find more room

So if I can stop crying and finish up this post... 

Today as we celebrate four years since our adoption was finalized and four years since this blog was birthed, we are also asking God, "What next?" We don't know if opening up our home to more kids means foster care, or foster-to-adopt, or adoption or... 

But today we are simply stepping out of the boat and doing two things. We are opening up our hearts to God and asking for His direction and we are opening up google and typing in our county and the words "foster care." And with the information that we find we are going to call and ask the person on the other end what the next step is to re-apply for our foster care license again and that's where we are going to start.

They say once the adoption bug bites you it's hard to make it stop. I don't quite agree. I'd say that once God breaks your heart for the hurting and lonely children in the world who want nothing more than to be loved and belong to a family...well, it is hard not to find room to fit in as many kids as you can.

I want to thank you guys for being on this journey with us. Perhaps you are in a similar place where you feel God tugging on your heart in this area but you haven't quite felt sure how to start. 

Let's do this together.  

I'll go first.  

But after I call, I'm handing the phone to you next. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Hand out HOPE on Halloween in the Twin Cities!

Halloween is probably my least favorite holiday. I'm way more excited to see Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations filling the stores than some of the scary Halloween stuff. Yet over the years one of the things that I do enjoy about Halloween is connecting with neighbors. I think it is great to have a reason to greet each other and sometimes even getting the chance to say hello for the first time ever! I only wish that there was a longer opportunity to talk and get to know each other. Typically half of my kids are collecting candy at one house and the other half are already to the next before I can even blink an eye. It certainly keeps me on my toes trying to keep up with them and still try to greet a few of our neighbors as we pass quickly by.

On the home front, I'll typically buy some candy (always last minute) to pass out at our house. Sam and I take turns taking the kids around the neighborhood or staying at our house to pass out treats. It has always been an exciting night for the kids but by the end of it I always end up wishing that the fun could somehow continue.

Well, not too long ago, Sam received an email from Feed My Starving Children about a suggestion that they had for Halloween this year. The suggestion was to hand out FMSC's M&M tubes on Halloween & make a difference in the lives of kids everywhere. 

I've written about Feed My Starving Children before (you can click here to read that post). It is one of my favorite organizations! Volunteers can pack food that is then distributed all over the world for hungry kids in need. 

The M&M tubes are available to buy at one of their markets for 10 for $10 (making them $1 a piece which is great!) A child can then enjoy the yummy M&M's inside and then fill the container with quarters to bring back to FMSC if they want. When it is filled with quarters and then delivered back to FMSC the child gets another brand new container filled with chocolate! Even cooler than that though is that a filled container of quarters feeds SIXTY-THREE kids!

As many of you know Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti in a devastating way. FMSC is currently working extra hard to provide extra meals specifically for children in Haiti.

We loved the idea of passing these candies out so much that our neighborhood potluck group decided to buy some M&M's from FMSC and pass them out on Halloween this year. 

We also scheduled and reserved a time slot in a few weeks to gather as a group and pack meals. We printed off the date/time/location on a piece of paper and are going to pass it out with the candies on the 31st! Not only will we have the opportunity to serve but we'll also hopefully have the opportunity to get to know some of our neighbors a little bit better as we serve together. 

It sounds like a win, win to me!

To ensure that you get some, through midnight tonight you can order the containers to pick up at one of the FMSC markets. If you see this post later in the week I would still encourage you to give them a call and see if they have any left. Whether you help feed kids in need by purchasing the candy containers or whether you are able to gather some friends and pack directly...either way it is one GREAT way to spread HOPE this Halloween!


Shopping hours:

Monday – Saturday 10am – 4:30pm and 7pm-9pm 

Aurora Site - FMSC MarketPlace
555 Exchange Court
Aurora, IL 60504

Chanhassen Site - FMSC MarketPlace
18732 Lake Drive East
Chanhassen, MN 55317

Coon Rapids Site - FMSC MarketPlace
401 93rd Ave. NW
Coon Rapids, MN 55433 

Eagan Site - FMSC MarketPlace
990 Lone Oak Rd. Suite 136
Eagan, MN 55121 

Libertyville Site – FMSC MarketPlace
742 East Park Avenue (Hwy 176)
Libertyville, IL 60048
(behind Life Storage, use same parking entrance) 

Mesa Site - FMSC MarketPlace
Mesa Fiesta Building
1345 South Alma School Road
Mesa, AZ 85210 

Schaumburg Site - FMSC MarketPlace
1072 National Parkway
Schaumburg, IL 60173 

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 button...one 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 fooled...as 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 before...it 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 really...mom 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.

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