The ramblings of a woman,
wife, & mother, who loves:
Jesus / my man / the three,
learning about parenting /
mamahood / childbirth,
cooking foods healthy /
international / yummy,
pretending to garden /
write / design,
attempting to run /
exercise / lift weights,
enjoying traveling /
camping / adventures,
finding ways to love /
serve / sacrifice for others.

It is not to say she does these things
with style or grace, or even skill.


First Stop: Estes Park

May 26, 2014 - 9:47 AM

Travel Log: 7 October 2011

It was a Friday morning when we packed up and headed west.

First stop: Estes Park, Colorado!

In the days prior, I had successfully emptied our refrigerator, emptied the garbage cans inside and outside, and completely cleaned the interior of our home from top to bottom, inside and out. Call me an extremeist, but before leaving town I cleaned my house to the point that if we all died, going through our possessions would be an easy task. We even finally had our will prepared prior to leaving for California because, friends, deep down inside, I never thought we'd return. 

The kids were all locked and loaded in the car with each kid having a bag that included their own stash of: granola bars, fruit bars, beef jerky, crackers, fruit snacks, water bottle, books, journal, pencils, new toys for each, handheld devices, headphones, and some odds and ends. I also had a Target plastic bag within arm's reach for each child, just in case someone got car sick.

We packed one large suitcase for the kids' clothes, one carry-on sized suitcase for Josh and one for me, Oscar (our espresso maker), schoolbooks' box, Josh's road bike, and backpacks packed with clothes for our 5 car travel days (so we wouldn't have to unpack the large bags at our 4 overnights).

We met dear friends at the gas station in IC and wished them well as they headed for the East Coast and we headed to the West Coast. Deep down inside, I never thought we'd see our friends again.

Halfway through Iowa, about 2 hours in, Miriam threw up all over herself and the car in her far backseat. She didn't reach the Target barf bag for the first vomit, but did for the second. (I'm so thankful for leather seats and we didn't have to get the car detailed like that one time in Thunder Bay, :)!)

Nebraska was its normal uneventful, sleepy self and the kids ate way more of their car snacks than they should have.

Driving through Colorado for the first time with the kids was wonderful! The kids were amazed at even the blowing tumbleweed, which was worthy of multiple videos by them. Once we started heading up the mountain the "ohs!" and "ahs" were constant. Then a, "I saw a baby mountain goat on the rocks!" discussion kept their spirits up for that final push. However, the mountain goat wasn't enough to stop our kids' typical last-half-hour-in-the-car-craziness / oh-my-goodness-get-us-out-of-the-car, but we made it to Estes Park.

First day of driving: 12 hours, 804 miles.

Our good friends in EP were kind enough to have dinner, drinks, and a fire waiting for our arrival. It was wonderful to spend our first night of our big adventure chatting with friends, laughing and talking about life and the future - both the known and the unknown. Spending time at friends' home that first night was a great transition for our Three, too.

We went to bed on a warm, sunny fall day but woke up Saturday morning with snow gently falling and a storm rolling in.

storm rolling in

Even with the cloudy skies - hanging out in flip-flops in snow, eating a good filling breakfast out with our friends, stopping to take countless photos of huge elk herds bedded down in open, snowy fields, and trying to capture in video the beauty of the yellow aspen leaves against the snow covered pine trees... we were completely blown away by the first stop of our big adventure.

When we first got onto the road that Friday morning before and were praying for our big adventure ahead, I could not stop crying - mostly fear but a little excitement - I was convinced we were saying goodbye to everything.

But here we were, onto the second leg/day, and praying for the drive ahead. We survived vomit in the car and were about to drive through a massive snowstorm over the Rocky Mountains, and my heart was pouring over with gratefulness and hope. I had the four most important people in my life with me and I knew we were still never / not alone. "The Lord will never leave you, nor forsake you." Though I was shaky and had made mistakes in the funnel I had been in, God never changed - I was finally starting to see that truth again.

I'm also happy to report, there would be no more vomit for the remainder of our trip. Phew!


Gettin' Schooled

May 22, 2014 - 8:11 AM

One of the reasons we were able to skip town with the Three is because we home educate our children

I have rarely talked openly about our home education process. For so many of those early years when I would mention it, I was met with questions that, although great, had an aura of negativity rather than honest curiosity...

"What about socialization? How will your kids know how to play with other kids?" 

"What is your problem with local public schools? Or teachers? Do you think I'm a bad parent for using public school?"

"How does the state regulate you to make certain your kids are learning the right things? Do you test them? What are their tests scores?"

"Are you some kind of religious nut job? Are you in a cult?"

While I don't mind answering any question (with love and patience and kindness on my part), the constant negativity was too much. From then on, I decided to keep the whole home education thing on the down low. But quite honestly, recent interactions at a networking event gave me hope that the times are changing - so I don't mind sharing what we did now...

And California would be the first time we were going to home educate on the road. This seemed like something of hippies and VW vans, RV living and learning by osmosis. But for me, I wanted to make certain it a valuable trip for the kids' education so I planned out our school year accordingly. Since we would be driving across the country to the west - we studied the westward expansion. In the school months before we left we studied the Louisiana Purchase, Lewis and Clark, the Oregon Trail, etc. Once we got to California, we studied more specific California history, early settlement and the gold rush, as well as studied the art and ecology of California.


From reading books like Naya Nuki to watching documentaries about the redwoods, we took our new knowledge and made it tactile that school year and it was very successful for all the kids. Yes, we did the normal lessons of math (Teaching Textbooks / ABeka) and language arts (Sonlight / A Beka), but our science and history were truly brought to a whole new level.

So, what did I pack?

I was able to put all student books and teacher books (and some art supplies) in one decent sized box that fit perfectly next to Oscar (our espresso maker) in the back of our car. As the years have passed, I have switched between using the kids' backpacks and using my school travel box - each has its perks. With the backpacks there's more storage-room in the back of the car, but with the box, the toys are out of sight while in the car, making more person-room. I prefer my box because since we are staying in random accommodations, our schoolwork has a place to go, it's organized for us, and it keeps things in the houses more tidy. (Which I appreciate! :)!)

I'm really not this micro-managing of a person - making Google slideshows of driving routes and writing my own full-blown science and history curriculums. But taking our education on the road opened a whole new world for me in how we approach our kids' education, modeling it more for them, their world, and their success. 


Worst Day and Best Day

May 20, 2014 - 11:00 AM

This photo is on my living room bookshelf as a reminder of a worst day and best day. 


Look at all those smiling faces!

We had decided to treat Josh's grandparents to a Twins game with the whole Cramer family. (Oh!, how Grandma Elaine LOVES Justin Morneau, even if he now plays for the Rockies, :)!) We met up with his sister and her family of 5 (at the time, :)!) and parked our cars a safe yet close distance to Target Field in downtown Minneapolis. With 4 adults and 6 kids, we made the trek in two packs, the dads with some kids and the moms with some kids, and the kids changed groups continually throughout our walk. 

We reached the final street crossing to Target Field by crossing over the Metro Train Lines just as it had stopped and started unloading cars full of passengers. We crossed tracks and turned left and walked toward the gates to figure out if it was the best one to use and all of a sudden my sister-in-law Maren turns to me and says, "Where's Miriam?"

"Where's Miriam?"

I direct my eyes to Josh, "Where's Miriam?"

"Where's Miriam?!"

"Where's Miriam!!"

I would like to think that my initial response was one of calm, collected, control. But oh no. I was in full blown freak out mode. I began screaming. 



I could barely move from my spot. I was stunned beyond belief. My screams became more panicked. Josh and my brother-in-law Karl took off running in either direction. Maren huddled in a pile with her 3 kids and my two boys and began praying.


A Target Field worker approached me, "Did you lose a child? Calm down. Can you tell me what she was wearing? Calm down."


I can't stop shifting my gaze from left to right and left to right.

*SWOOSH* Karl goes running past in the other direction.

"What is she wearing?"

"She's... um... wearing... MIRIAM!!!!... she's... um... wearing purple leggings and... umm... MIRIAM?!?!?!"

I can see what she was wearing in my mind, but I can't for the life of me get the words to form out of my mouth. Why is this person bothering me with this?

"What is she wearing?"

"She's wearing purple leggings and a cherry dress that's not red... MIRIAM!!!... She's wearing purple leggings and her dress is not with big cherries so it's not red but it's... MIRIAM!!!! She's wearing purple leggings... and a cherry dress that is not red..."

The Target Field Worker is on his walkie talkie.


All I can think is, she's 6, we're downtown in a huge city, there are thousands upon thousands of people here, we're outside the stadium, anyone can hang out here, the train lines are right there... I just kept looking left and right and left and right... screaming her name... hoping to see her run toward me... time completely stopped.

"She's wearing purple leggings... MIRIAM!!"

I have no idea how much time had lapsed.

"We found her," says the Target Field Worker.

"She's wearing purple leggings? And a cherry dress that's not red?"

"We found her. Come this way."

"She's wearing purple leggings?"

"We found her."

They walk me half way around the stadium. I see her. It's really her! I hug her so tight as we both are sobbing uncontrollably. I have no idea of how long she was missing for, but for me, it was an eternity.

It turned out, when we had crossed the train tracks and turned left, Miriam didn't see us turn and kept going straight. She then thought we had gotten ahead of her and she took off running straight ahead, thinking she was catching up with us. Thankfully, Miriam was one of the only people NOT wearing Twins gear and a woman (aka gift from God) easily noticed this crying and running little girl, asked her if she needed help, and took Miriam to a Target Field Worker. Miriam was halfway around the huge stadium when she found her.

"You need to pay closer attention to your kids in a situation like this," says the Target Field Worker.

Well, duh. Each parent thought the other parent had her, we made a mistake. But I am forever grateful for God redeeming our mistake and returning our Miriam to us.

In my crumbling faith at the time, that moment was both the last thing I needed but also the right thing I needed. God was still in the midst of the swirling funnel I was in. He wasn't going to give me more than I could handle. He was still there even if it seemed so faint.

My world got to collapse one more time that summer of 2011. I can't write out that horrific story. But after it happened all I could do was cry out to God, "Something has got to change!"

Both moments remind me of the scene in City Slickers where they are discussing their best days and worst days and Ed describes his best day as his worst day. That was those two days for me. Each day I thought I had lost something so incredibly precious to me and each day those gifts were returned to me. Bad things happen all the time and "happy" endings are not always given, but given these second chances I was not going to give up on life and was going to climb out of the funnel - thanks to an undeserved tether thrown down to me by God.

But this is a travel b/log, why all the drama?

I wanted to set the stage. When we decided to run off to California, skip town with the kids, it wasn't all Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, glam, and frivolity. It was truly a necessary step for where our lives were at the time. Just like how I felt guilty driving our "new" car, I felt guilty thinking about spending 5 weeks in California but just like that car was a gift, this trip to California would be a gift and would be the start to taking us on our family's new lifestyle path that would benefit us all as individuals but more importantly, as a family.


Surviving Spring & Summer

May 19, 2014 - 11:20 AM

I took hardly any photos throughout the beginning of 2011.

As I was spiraling down further and further into the funnel, my creativity waned, my passions waned. I think I did a fairly decent job putting on a good show but my insides were a crumbled mess and I struggled to find joy in the day to day. From being separated from my closest friend to watching my better half take the weight of the world on his shoulders to the raging battle over dairy (or lack there of) etc., my struggles were minor in the grand scheme of all the atrocities in the world but at the time they were overwhelming me.

There were definitely some highs and some lows, and little did I know two of my darkest days were yet to come.


The Wheres and the Hows of Our First Big Adventure.

May 15, 2014 - 2:08 PM

Where do we go? (Oh, where do we go now?)


People for centuries have been running away to California. Why not us, too?

It's sunny in California, we have family there, we had been there often over the years and know the flow, and quite honestly, it was good for our company.

After the sale of the IT business on July 1st, 2011, my husband worked hard to make certain clients knew there were always two separate companies: the IT company and the web and mobile app company. Finally being able to focus on solely on one company, the web and mobile app company, it made sense to go to Silicon Valley and work on networking, go to conferences, and plan out a vision for the next steps of our company. That being the case, we decided to spend part of our time in downtown San Francisco (close to conferences) and part of our time in the suburbs (close to the hubs of many great start-ups).

And where would we stay?

Looking back, it seems silly how many fears I had about using (Vacation Rental By Owner) for that first time in 2011. On VRBO we found an amazing flat (gorgeous and smack dab in downtown SF by the Golden Gate Bridge) and an elaborate suburbia home (complete with heated pool and tiki bar - say what?). Both places we found seemed too-good-to-be-true from their pictures, reviews, and prices - that made me nervous. Plus, we promised the home owners that we had "three well-behaved children." Could we live up to those expectations in such emmaculate homes? Plus, we had to pay for the places in advance. What if they turned out to be scams afterall? I would have to wait until October came to find out our fate, but paying for the rentals made everything about our big adventure very, very real.

And how would we drive there?

At the time we were driving a hand-me-down Dodge Caravan with a bolted shut passenger door and WELL over 220K miles. However, thanks to being debt free for two years, we had been saving the money we had been paying toward our previous debts. Two months before our big adventure, we used our savings to buy a new-to-us Volvo XC90 - V8, AWD, third row seating if needed, decent storage, a place for a bike on top, and not a minivan (no offense, :)!). I had never owned such a nice car in all of my life. After all my life of driving hand-me-downs, this car made me feel incredibly spoiled and, dare I say, guilty - like I shouldn't be allowed to drive such a nice car. Who the hell did I think I was buying such a nice car? Those feelings took a while to conquer, and I'm thankful that my guilt did not overpower my utter thankfulness for that car - which we are still driving, almost 75K miles later today. (And our old minivan? Once again "sold" for the cost of two lattes. :)!)

And how would we get there?

There are many paths to California and my husband had me map out every. single. one. Ok, ok, that's an exaggeration, he didn't make me, but he did suggest I lay out our different route options. So I did, in a Google slide presentation doc. It was actually very helpful laying out all the route options in that methodical way. I was able to think through how many hours and days it would take, figure out places to stay, where to spend more or less time, and in the end it made deciding our path easier. Remember, this was our first big adventure, I didn't know what to expect. I planned more for that first trip than any other subsequent trips. (Hence, why we now know what it's like to run out of gas on I-35. Ha!)


This was it. We had our when - beginning of October until mid-November, we had our where - San Francisco flat and Redwood City house, we had our hows - "new" Volvo and driving across the lonliest highway in America... but it wasn't time yet. Other hiccups had to happen first.


A Long and Winding Road

May 14, 2014 - 12:22 PM

As 2011 began, I remember overhearing a friend say her and the kids were going with her husband on his upcoming business trip. I immediately texted my husband and said, "How about when all this is over, we skip town with the kids?"

He said yes.

However, it was January and we had to survive where life had us at that point until October.

At the time of my last entry on this blog, September 2010, our family was beginning a wild roller coaster ride. Actually, it was more like the funnel ride at a water park, swirling around and around, not knowing when you're going to make that big drop out the bottom. The food our family could eat was changing, the things we had moved for were changing, roles at work were changing, friends were changing, and life was taking a toll on us not only mentally but also physically. I couldn’t bear to write anymore. I didn’t have anything nice to say, so I didn’t say anything at all. 

At that time we confirmed one of our kids had a dairy allergy. It was a struggle throughout that first year trying to remove dairy. It wasn't that it was hard to leave out physically, quite honestly, that was the easy part. The hard part was having to convince a child how to eat properly for them, to have them own their allergy, to have them make wise choices when you're not with them, to trust them to not sneak foods they loved and ate for many years before you found out it was slowly poisoning them. That part sucked. That part took several years to conquer. I am thankful that part is over (for the most part) today.

At that time we learned that our small church family would be merging with a larger church family. While this was very exciting and good for our small church, it was emotionally painful in ways I couldn't even understand at the time. The confusion, the unknown, the expectations, the switching around... I honestly didn't know where we would fit in and, at the same time, wanted to make certain we were the ones making the decision for the best place where our family belonged, not simply going where we were told. 

At that time there was now a need to sell the IT business. For those who have never been involoved in the sale of a business, it is an incredibly complicated event. It is a very secretive affair, requires intense planning and preparation, and precise execution. And even if one takes the utmost care to provide for everyone involved, some will still choose to be unhappy - to the heartache of all the hard work put forth. I am incredibly proud of the amazing work and dedication I saw my husband put into the sale and thankful for its successful completion.

As 2011 began, the secrecy of everything was taking its toll on me emotionally. Dear, dear friendships I had given so much to were now weakened by my inability to speak openly about what I was going through. Emotionally weak, I checked out of close friendships because of the weight on my shoulders and in the process I hurt so many people I loved. A few of the new relationships that were being thrown upon me were not coming easily for me, either. Though I know it was not their intention at all, my emotional instability at the time made me feel like I was met with cruel judgments instead of comfort. However, in the midst of it all, I am thankful that during this time there were friends, both old and new, who reached out and offered shoulders instead of band-aids and grace instead of two-cents, while I was stuck in a selfish funnel unable to give anything in return.

And, as that new year began, we knew we were out of shape. We got a gym membership, enrolled our boys into a swim team, and got our butts to work. My husband's love of cycling was rekindled and the spring brought with it my his first new bike in over 20 years. My "love" of running was finally possible again and I worked hard to relearn to run a (pathetic) 5K. The boys excelled at swimming and our sweet little girl, well, she was happy to play at the pool as much as we'd let her. I’m thankful for that initial gym membership and how it truly put us on the right path for our health. 

"How about when all this is over, we skip town with the kids?"

He said yes. 

We had to survive until October.

And little did we know that this was going to be the beginning of a new way of living for our family.



Welcome! I am glad you're here! If you are new and would like to get caught up on what's going on, check out these quick links to get you started:

About Me and This Blog...

Begin Our Adventures of Fall/Winter 2012 to CA, MN, CO
   Ladies Trip to Napa Valley
   My Parents Rode in a Plane!

Begin Our Adventures of Summer 2012 to MN and CO
   Vacation to the North Shore and Cabin
   Boulder for the Summer
   Life in Boulder

Begin Our Adventures of Winter/Spring 2012 to UT
   The Drive to CO/UT Begins
   Vacation in Moab
   Living in Moab / Denver

Begin Our Adventures of Fall/Winter 2011 to CA
   The Drive to CA Begins
   Living in the SF
   Living in the Suburbs
   Coming Home to IC

Begin Our Adventures of Summer 2010 to Eastern Europe
   Life at Czech English Camp
   Travels in Germany & Austria
   Travels in Czech & Poland


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