Let the renovation begin…

We LOVE renovating any and all spaces.

Ryan and I both come from families in the construction business, so renovating pretty much runs in our blood. We have made improvements on all four houses we’ve owned, and we completely renovated our last two. Here are before/after glimpses of our current house.

We purchased a new 2019 Forest River Sierra 372LOK fifth wheel. It is so nice. I have told myself not to think about renovating it, to just let it be. But again, renovation runs in our blood. And here we are preparing to start a full on RV renovation.

Our RV has been in storage as we’ve had no space for it at our house and we cannot get it into our driveway. We decided to put in an RV pad in the cheapest way possible, including electrical hook-up.

We have our RV home now.

Let the renovation begin…

San Antonio…

We enjoyed Memorial Day Weekend RVing in San Antonio.

We stayed at Traveler’s World RV Resort. It is on the pricier side, but it is a very well-kept park with nice amenities. And it is in a great location. We are learning that we prefer to stay at lower cost parks with less amenities when we plan to be outside the park most of the time. Amenities are nice if we plan to hang around the park more. You live and you learn, right?

We rolled in, unhooked, leveled the RV, put out the slides and awning, hooked up electrical, sewer and water. THEN we saw that one of our slides was pushing up against the electrical box. We unhooked everything, put the slides back in, hitched back up and moved the RV to a better spot. Then we repeated all of the above and settled into our spot. I believe we will have a better awareness of our slides in the future. You live and you learn, right?

Night one we headed to the River Walk. Keeping 10 children in the narrow walkway and making sure no one fell into the water was not relaxing, by an means, but it was fun. We paired older kids with younger ones holding hands. Ryan held River and I pushed Bravely in a stroller. We took our children on their very first boat ride ever (other than Rhythm in China). They loved it. River, our two year old, was so intrigued by the guide because he kept saying her name. After the boat ride we waited a really long time to have our “party of 12” seated at the Rainforest Cafe. I think we will pre-figure food in the future. You live and you learn, right?

The next day we headed to explore the Natural Bridge Caverns. We really had no idea how this would go. Would our little ones scream in fear? Would River and Bravely like being worn in pouches for that long? I decided I better prepare our littles ones. I showed them a couple pictures and videos and told them how exciting the caverns would be.

And…we all loved it! Every single one of us.

We walked down the equivalent of 18 stories and then back up.

The caverns were truly an underground work of art.

River and Bravely both loved riding in the pouches. Ryan and I got in a great workout as well…sweat and all!

Not one of the kids complained and even little Treasure, age 4, walked all that way down and up with ease.

The Natural Bridge Caverns are definitely worth visiting!

Hydration and a snack were a must-have after all that inclined walking. After a quick google search, we decided to check out Steel City Pops. It was a very big hit!

Little Bravely had her very first lick of something sweet, and she loved it!

Energy renewed, we played outside Steel City Pops for awhile.

Of coarse, we went downtown to check out The Alamo. We held up the lines a bit as our older kids wanted to read every single word on every sign. They soaked up every bit of history they could.

Sunday morning we all slept in, hung out at the RV and had sandwiches for lunch. Then we headed to the 1PM service at City Church Downtown. We love visiting different churches. We really liked this one.

Sunday evening we wanted to do something fun and free, so we went to Pearsall Park. There were a lot of people there, but all our kids had a blast and didn’t mind the crowd.

Monday morning it took us about 2.5 hours to get all of us fed and dressed; move our clothes, groceries and stuff out of our RV into the back of our van; put away our outdoor gear; unhook electric, water and sewer; get the slides in and hitch to the truck. We are looking forward to being able to leave everything in and moving right along to the next place in the future!

Ready to fill our map…

We officially put our map on our RV, and we are ready to fill it! We hope to visit all the states. I’d love to know some of your favorite places to visit, so please comment below or send me a message!

Some of our favorite places we’ve visited outside of Texas, our home state, prior to RVing are Tennessee and California. We have not been to many states, though.

We love a combination of outdoor adventure, museums, entertainment and good food.

We plan to visit most, if not all, the national parks. Have you been to any, and what are you favorites if so?

This month we are headed to San Antonio, TX to visit the Alamo, the River Walk and possibly Sea World. We are looking forward to it!

Help us fill our map! Where should we go?

Organized…

Over the years I have become known as being extremely organized. I like to say that I am freakishly organized.

This is our current laundry room/family closet.

People ask, “Have you always been this organized?” The answer is…NO. My mom and dad would be happy to confirm that for you. I am not joking when I tell you I had a mouse living in my messy closet as a kid.

With the addition of each child, a bit more organization has been added. I’ve learned that the organization of stuff can bring greater freedom and less structure to our time. As odd as it may sound, we are organized but not highly scheduled as far as our time. We are a combination of both organized and very laid back, which does not seem to be a typical combo.

Our children do scatter toys, crafts, bugs (yes – bugs – I swear they are obsessed bug lovers) and all sorts of stuff all over our house every day. If you randomly show up around 10:30AM, you’ll find stuff strewn everywhere. If you show up a little after 11:00AM, you’ll wonder how on earth we keep our house so tidy. We live life and enjoy stuff, and we have a couple times a day where we put everything away. Most everything does have a place where it belongs.

We have this big closet. It’s semi-organized and a chaotic catch-all as well. This is looking really good compared to last week. I’ve been going through all our memory related items such as photo albums, art, birthday cards, first haircuts, etc. I’m organizing it all into separate bins for each child. As I get things situated, we are slowly moving our important keepsakes over to our storage unit.

Side note: This photo was taken on Sunday afternoon. Half of us, including me, jump into our pajamas the second we walk into the door after church. The other half want to wear their cute clothes as long as possible.

We are using all this time while we await a buyer for our house to downsize and prepare as much as possible for the moment when we hit the road and are truly rolling by the dozen.

Bravely gets glasses…

Bravely has crossed her eyes inward, one eye at a time, since birth. Continuing to cross her eyes after passing the typical newborn eye-crossing phase, we decided to get her eyes checked. Turns out she is severely far-sighted and crosses her eyes in attempt to see more clearly.

She got glasses this week. It was so adorable watching her reaction to trying them on for the first time.

It took her a few minutes to adjust to having them on, but she quickly seemed to love being able to see in greater detail.

We can’t get over how cute she looks. And we are loving watching her reaction to seeing people, toys and things better. It’s a very obvious difference.

She seems to love her glasses, and we’ve been surprised that she hardly tries to take them off and that she wears them so well.

More Than Conquerers…

One of my favorite things our kids are involved in is music.

Around age 5 each of our children started piano lessons. One thing lead to another, and now our oldest six play an array of instruments, including piano, guitar, bass, ukulele and drums. Each kid is finding his or her own niche, and we love watching each learn and grow in an individual way.

Our oldest five children formed a band last year called More Than Conquerers. Manning plays acoustic guitar and sings, Rhythm plays bass guitar and sings, Tapestry plays drums, Cherish plays keyboard and sings and Liberty sings. I love hearing them practice, and I love having music flood our house everyday.

Here they are at a recent concert performing “The Anthem”.

Proactively waiting…

We had a contract on our house last month, but it fell through a few days before the option period ended.

Getting the contact initially helped us kick it into high gear, quickly preparing to move from 5,000 square feet into 400(ish) square feet. Our gears have slowed back down a bit, but we are proactively waiting. We hope to get a new contract soon!

We purchased our truck and 5th wheel last August. We’ve had some interesting experiences and learning curves already! The delivery guy ran our 5th wheel into the one next to it while delivering it to our storage space. There went our brand new RV, off to get fixed for the next 2 months. Once we got it back, we thought it’d be nice to pull it into our driveway to load up for our first trip. That didn’t work out very well. Months later, our front yard still has tire ruts.

We really need someone to capture us on video while Ryan is backing the RV into our storage space. The nerves are probably a bit higher due to watching the delivery guy wreck it while doing the same, but yeah…I sound a bit spastic for sure! You could catch me yelling stop when there’s 5 feet of clearance on all sides.

We’ve also had such great experiences taking trips in our RV. The indoor/outdoor living is right up our alley. Thank goodness Ryan is a plumber and easily handles grey tanks, blue tanks, yellow tanks – whatever those things are called! We all just love the overall adventure of RVing!

I know. It is hard to imagine 12 people in an RV. I like space. I love space. And I’m telling you, it works. We do have to very strategically organize each inch of space. I am thoroughly enjoying the challenge, though. I will show you how we are organizing it, where everyone sleeps, how we cook, eat and function. I’ll bring you along for the highs and lows, ins and outs of it all.

About us…

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I’m Kristin. My husband is Ryan. We’ve been married for 13 years. We have 10 children. Our sons, both age 11, are Manning and Rhythm. We adopted Rhythm from China 2 1/2 years ago. Our daughters are Tapestry (age 10), Cherish (age 9), Liberty (age 7), Jubilee (age 6), Mercy (age 5), Treasure (age 3), River (age 2) and Bravely (8 months).

We love adventure and the unknown possibilities of the future. We live in a constant state of transition and change. Rather than look for normalcy in a way that many seem to crave, we embrace this transitional life as our normal. Whether it’s pregnancy, having a new baby, adopting, moving to a new house, traveling or dealing with unexpected and sometimes unwanted issues, we cling to Jesus as our never-changing security. Though we aren’t opposed to and do not judge societal norms, we feel such freedom to venture out of those and to live a life of bold adventure.

If you step into our living room, you’ll find joy and sadness, bickering and forgiving, good moods and cranky moods, laughter and tears all wrapped in a big bundle of peace and love.

At a loss…

I’ve decided to start a blog. Obviously.

I get asked often if I have a blog or YouTube channel or if I am going to start one. For years Facebook and Instagram have been sufficient platforms for me to post all I desire to post online, though, so I never had the desire to do anything other. But as we prepare to sell our house and head out, as a family of 12, on a year(ish) long RV adventure, I decided it was time to take the plunge and start something. I like words and photos more than videos, so a blog it is.

I used to have a blog, 10+ years ago. I felt I had so much to say back then, so much to offer the world around me. The older I’ve grown, the less I feel I know, the less I want my thoughts permanently penned and the less I feel a need or desire to say much of anything. So, I come to you with a loss of words.

What you’ll find here are photos of our everyday life, ones that show more of our happy moments than sad. You’ll read the fun, hard, good and crazy adventures of a large family. I doubt I’ll give much parenting or marriage advice. I parent how I parent and wife how I wife – you do you. I’m no mom or wife idol, and not only do I not think that I know it all – I KNOW I don’t know it all. I think my kids are awesome and precious, so I will unapologetically over-post all sorts of things about them. I have many deep thoughts, and I have no doubt I’ll share some of those here. I, also, have no doubt that I will later disagree with some of my own thoughts. I do get vulnerable and will at times give TMI (too much info). I love Jesus, a lot. He has loved me and brought me out of some of the deepest pits. He will be ribboned throughout every bit of this blog. But you won’t find religion or judgement here. You’ll find hope, laughter, love and life.

I hope I find or brave more words as I go, and that I’ll regain a voice I feel I’ve given up or lost. But I’d rather have few words than lofty ones. I can’t really say what exactly this blog will be, but here it is. Come along if you’d like…