Fulltime Family

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So, our family has a little announcement.

Okay, so maybe it’s not so little. (And no, I’m not pregnant… how many of y’all thought I was headed in that direction?)

We’re leaving Spain! And that’s not the half of it.

You see, I’ve always done things a little differently and what I’m about to tell you is no exception.

Where do I begin?

Let me just get right down to it…

12 years ago I married my husband and we high tailed out of our small (population less than 2,000) hometown. We moved to Florida and fell in love with the area. Two weeks after I turned 18, we ended up leaving the country and living in Japan for three years. We took a two year break from overseas life and returned to Florida. For these past 5.5 fun-filled years we’ve found ourselves exploring Spain and the world around us with our three globetrotting chicas.

Moving back to America is a big, huge change for us and yes, these last 5.5 years have been amazing and I wouldn’t change a thing but we are oh, so ready for America. Our girls need to see the good ‘ol US of A, y’all. While I can’t wait to see our girls dig their feet in the sugar white sands along the Emerald Coast, my desire to see the world was born the minute I closed the passenger door on our tiny little U-Haul and cruised hand in hand all the way to Florida from Missouri in June 2004. I’m just not ready to settle down.

So, we bought an RV!

Well, a travel trailer. And we’ve decided to become full-timers.

You read that right. Our family of 5 (plus our dog and cat) is going to be living out a 35 foot travel trailer instead of a house.

There’s so much to see in the US and airline tickets just aren’t the same in the states as they are in Europe.

When I initially threw this idea out to my husband he was floored. Who does this? How will it work for our family of five and our pets? Luckily, through research, we’ve found that there are thousands of families all across the US that have taken the plunge into full-time RV life. I’ve loved gleaning information from them and we cannot wait for this next chapter of our life.

Our “launch date” is July 11th and we can’t be more excited.

We hope you’ll continue to follow along as it is sure to be an interesting adventure for us all!

U S A! U S A!

Happy travels, y’all!

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When the Gender Must be Revealed

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This is how we do a gender reveal in our house. Er, well… this is how we do a gender reveal in an Irish Pub run by a Scottish man in Southern Spain.

We first arrange for our very crafty and talented-at-everything friend to decorate and to set up a sweet photo booth.

Look how much fun our friends are.

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A little scratches here and there, but you get the idea that most of our guessing guests guessed we’d have a little niño.

Check out this video to see how we learned about our Spanish-born babe’s gender…

Morocco in a Day

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Before we moved to Southern Spain, I did what any overly excited travel-lover would do; I started researching the travel possibilities that moving to Spain would provide. One of my top travel destinations on my to-do list was Morocco. After researching, I soon made a jaw-dropping discovery; living in the Rota area, the only thing standing between me and my two feet landing on Moroccan soil was a mere 2 hour distance. One hour and 15 minutes by car and a 45-minute ferry ride. Dreams of camels, snake charmers and curry food started dancing in my head. I had to go. And so I did.

Of course I waited until my siblings came to visit. Such a special experience could have only been reserved to share with some of my favorite people in the entire world. Besides, going without them would have triggered years of overwhelming jealousy and never-ending sibling rivalry.

To begin the planning of our day trip, I booked a *tour guide named Jamal. He’s pretty well known within the American community as the go-to tour guide for Tangier. As soon as we exited the ferry from Spain, Jamal was there at the dock waiting for us. Originally, I had planned for a day full of walking. Much to my relief, Jamal had a private driver and a large, clean van for us equipped with A/C. We were able to leave some belongings in the vehicle safely each time we stopped to explore a new place as the driver stayed with the van. The trip was more comfortable for us with two small children and lots of little extras that we ended up not having to carry every step of the way.

After Moroccan security gave our passports a look-see, we were bright-eyed, bushy tailed and on our way to our very own Moroccan adventure.

Mosque in memory of King Mohammed V.

This is a restaurant that we popped in for a quick break. We didn’t eat our lunch there but I’ve known of several Americans that have. Next time I’ll have to try some of their food.

My brother is musically talented in several instruments (drums, guitar, piano and the ukelele). He met with these fellas while in Morocco and we’re all looking forward to when this newly assembled boy band puts out their first record.

In the museum in the Kasbah.

The Kasbah and two chickens out on a stroll.

Overlooking the port of Tangier.

Ah, yes. The snake charmer. An unbelievable experience.

Oh, what a trooper.

Growing up, my sister had a couple of snakes as pets. She loves them.

See?

And then… there were camels.

We went for a camel ride! This happened to be Andrew and Leila’s favorite part of the trip.

This little baby was hanging around enjoying the ocean breeze.

This was my camel for our short camel-riding excursion. We bonded.

A view of Cape Spartel.

After our camel rides, we were hit up a local restaurant for lunch. To start, we had this delicious seafood soup. My sister, brother and myself all had amazing chicken and lamb kebabs. Andrew went straight for the typical moroccan dish, Tajine.

Lunch ended on a high note with this Moroccan Mint Tea, mighty tasty indeed.

After lunch, we got to visit the Church of St. Andrew, an Anglican church built in 1894.

Then, it was off to shop. Here’s a few shots around the market:

Here we are all together basking in the beauty of experiencing Morocco.

*For those of living within traveling distance to Morocco (that means you, Rota), I highly recommend using Jamal as your travel guide. He has really great tours to offer you and is more than willing to work with you on your very own customized tour upon request. Contact Jamal for more info at jamal_chatt@hotmail.com

Ronda

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I love Spain. Seriously, I do. One of those reasons is because of places like Ronda. The location in which we live allows us to hop over to other beautiful towns and experience more culture. Ronda is a town that is only a little over 2 hours away. Ronda has beautiful, beautiful (I said it two times, so you know it must be true) views, good food and the rest is history. For reals, Ronda is full of interesting history. I’d love to tell you all about it but let’s move on to the good stuff.

This was one of the first places we saw (well, after I sort of led us into the wrong direction and got demoted from map-holder/line-leader).

I was trying to take a picture of the white buildings in the background but these two people got in the way of my shot.

I joke, I joke. This was actually my sisters’ favorite day while she was in Spain. It’s not hard to tell why.

This is one of my new favorite photos. My handsome husband holding my precious daughter on his shoulders makes me weak in the knees. Coincidentally, so does me holding my daughter on my shoulders on days full of walking. Another win for me for having a husband who has big, macho muscles.

No Spanish town would be complete without small walkways. Eventually, we came upon the bullring (Plaza de Toros). As soon as we walked in, two real live bulls started having a face-off…

It was too much excitement so we ventured onward…

If any of you Rota folks get the hankerin’ for a little exploring soon, I encourage you to head over to Ronda.

Directions from Rota straight to Plaza de Toros in Ronda can be found here. Print out a guided walking tour here (you can even do the same walk Michele Obama took while she visiting back in 2010). Happy travels!

A Bodega and a sampling of Sevilla

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We’ve lived here for about 15 months now and we finally had our first family visitors come stay with us. I had been counting down the days ever since they bought their airline tickets. My older sister, Whitney and my little brother, Seth flew in together for a fun-filled 9 day Spanish vacation with yours truly. We saw and did a lot, but here’s the skinny on just their first couple of days.

The first day we ventured off to a small bodega hidden in the small alleyways in Jerez de la Frontera called Bodegas Tradicion.

I’ve visited Bodegas Tradicion in the past (there’s a whole heap of information here) and there are several reasons why I chose to go back to this particular one. For starters, when I knocked on the door (after getting lost in the small streets in the city and missing our appointment), the tour guide from our last visit, Sabrina instantly recognized me from more than a year ago and ushered me in excitedly. She remembered my girls and details about my life and I felt like I was catching up with an old friend. The rest of the visit with my sister and brother was much the same feeling;  friendly chatting on top of filling us with plenty of information about sherry.

On top of the regular tour, she showed us where they bottle the sherry.

Sure, these just look like a couple of long necks now, but…

After a little DIY sherry-bottle decorating…

and finally, grabbing the nearest pretty little gal to help you stamp a seal onto it, it’s nearly drinkable. Speaking of drinking…

… we did a little of that, too. We could have stayed at the Bodega all day but it might have ruined their plans for a following appointment or two. So, we kept it moving right along and found a place to settle in for a good lunch in the city center.

Thoughts about this photo: my sister is one of the most photogenic people ever and thanks to the sunlight, it looks as though my little brother appears to have a patch of gray on his head.

Ahh, delicious gazpacho. A cool Spanish dish on a hot afternoon hits the spot and also gives you enough room for churros and chocolate for dessert.

The second day, we drove to Sevilla. Our first stop there was the Catedral de Sevilla. The Sevilla Cathedral is the largest Gothic Cathedral in the world and the third largest church in the world.

Theories have been thrown around, but it is believed that Christopher Columbus’ remains are buried here.

As soon as we stepped out of the cathedral, we were melting in the Spanish sun. I couldn’t bare it considering I’m too much of a lady to perspire. Thankfully we found an entire street filled with cafes and restaurants with mist coming from their umbrellas. We planted ourselves there and gorged ourselves on paella much like any other smart tourists would.

This was my second trip to Sevilla. I’m super blessed because I live only a little more than an hour from this beautiful city.

Things that match: outfits (totally accidental) and our excitement to be in Spain together. Olé!

Grazalema: The Hike

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This past weekend, I got the hankerin’ for a change of scenery. Being Navy, our life usually brings us near the ocean. After almost 8 years of living near the sea, we’ve grown accustomed to beach life. The sand, sun and tan lines are wonderful, of course, but this Missouri girl sometimes misses spending a day in the woods. Living in Spain for over a year, I didn’t realize that we lived only 2 jolly hours away from the mountains. So, we decided to pack up just for a night and head to the mountains for a hike or two.

The drive there offered breathtaking scenery.

Okay, so the views were spectacular as you can tell. However, our American-sized SUV on European roads is one thing, but our American-sized SUV on tiny European mountain roads is a whole nutha story. The roads are built for one car but have two-way traffic. It was a nerve-wracking drive (not just for me, but for my man who put up with my whining the entire drive up the mountain), but totally worth it.

As soon as we could, we set off to find a trail. On a side note, both my husband and I are sporting HealthSource FWB t-shirts from our favorite chiropractors in Florida. Who here thinks that this should be their next billboard?

Babywearing while hiking is for hot Dads only. He melts me.

Aliana is our explorer. She’s the leader of our adventures and seeing new things is totally her element. And so is hiking. Obviously. Look at her. She loved  every single second of it.

The first trail we were on was beautiful, but eventually got too narrow for my liking with two small, precious children. We took off on another nearby trail to see what else we could find.

Turns out, we found a whole lot of sheep hiney trying to soak up what little shade they could to stay cool.

Oh, and the views didn’t disappoint on this trail either.

Turns out a day hiking mountainside with the three people I love most was exactly what I needed. A perfect day indeed.

Embracing a Good Mess

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In my pre-Mom years, when I saw a sticky-fingered, snot-nosed, messy child, I vowed that I would never be that Mom who would ever let that happen. When my oldest, Aliana was a toddler, she was the epitome of a girly girl. She was neat and tidy. I have saved the majority of her clothing (for hand-me downs) due to the fact that her clothes are spotless and stain-free. She had to be talked into using things like finger paint and playdough because she didn’t want to be “icky“. Clearly, her and I, were a match made in heaven as a mother-daughter pair.

And then…

I had Leila…

My sticky-fingered…

… (sometimes) snot-nosed…

… messy, messy, messy child.

Who eventually leveled out her older sister and taught us all to live a little and embrace a good mess every now and again.

Yeah, she steps in every puddle, plays in the dirt, gets a little too friendly with insects from time to time, but, hey, we like her thatta way.

And I can deal with being that Mom, too I guess.