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Travel Post One: D.C. with Friends

So I've been home for a couple weeks now and it's been glorious. The first week home we literally did nothing. I didn't plan anything nor did I want to. It was amazing. You really don't realize how awesome just being at home is until you've been gone for months! Now we are back in our routine and life, so I'm finally trying to cull through the endless (so it seems) amount of photos from our trips.

While we were out in D.C. we met with our good friends Becky, Keith and their little one Caleb. We left Vegas when she was pregnant with Caleb and hadn't seen them in almost two years! It was awesome discovering and exploring D.C. with them. Especially knowing we could be stationed out there in a couple years.

Oh and it was nice being able to baby wrangle together. Our boys got along so well and were definitley two peas in a pod. They are three months apart and so funny together.

Becky hadn't been to the American Art Smithsonian so we headed that way and discovered they ahve the most amazing covered tropical oasis in the center. It's enclosed like a greenhouse and it smelled AMAZING. So relaxing and soothing. Just what we needed among the crazy streets of D.C.

Being a military family has it's pro's and con's. But a definitely pro is being able to visit the 'family' you make all over the world. We have so many awesome friends and 'families' it's great to see their lives in the moment and just 'be' with them.

There's a huge possibility we will get stationed out there and it's a little comforting knowing we already have good friends there. It makes a big move like that much less scary. Maybe that's another reason God placed them over there, so they could explore first to show us awesome places when we get there!


Plus we are both photography obsessed, so really...it works out in our favor!



I guess you would call this a follow up to my post yesterday 'Broke'. I went back today where I saw the gentleman with kidney failure and he wasn't there. That didn't deter me from picking up a rain jacket, a liter of water & some snacks for him though. When I see him again I hope to quickly pick up a hot meal for him and give him our gifts. Today at the same intersection I did see another gentleman limping around with a sign. I couldn't read too much of his sign because of traffic but I quickly ran over to jack in the box (not the healthiest, I know) and bought him a sandwich, a drink and fruit. Best I could do with a sleeping babe in the car. It cost me around six dollars. SIX dollars.
Our interaction was short and direct;
"Sir, are you hungry?
Would you like a meal?
-Yes. Is this water?
No, it's juice.
-Okay that's good. Thank you. God bless you."

He didn't share his life or story. I didn't ask. Frankly it's not my place. I've passed by a lot of homeless people growing up in the various places I've been and lived. I've judged. I've shaken my head. I've even pointed fingers. For there is never room to judge another. I've heard remarks from people I know, "Some of 'them' don't even want a job because they make enough panhandling."
You may be right and I've certainly thought that way as well, but you know what? If Jesus pulls at my heart strings to buy someone a meal, I'm going to. I'm done passing by. I'm done thinking negative thoughts about a person I've never met.

Was I afraid today? Sure. Satan likes to push fear in my mind thinking the worst of people and of the what 'could' happens. I was at a very busy intersection during the day brain! If anything were to happen, I'm sure I'd be protected by the various passing people. Regardless, nothing happened and I was able to give someone in need a meal. Maybe even his only meal. I don't know though. I'd like to think I did something great, but really I'm just hoping he gets to tomorrow. The only thing left to do for him is pray.

Pray for a job. Pray for hope. Pray for Jesus' love. Pray for a future. Pray Jesus holds him close.

I am blessed beyond measure and frankly I've been VERY selfish lately. Maybe that's why Jesus has been convicting me to share. He's also been showing me how to be thankful. Maybe this is my perception but I feel like thankfulness seems to come by once a year around a certain turkey day. The whole month on social media is centered about day 'x' of thankfulness. This isn't a BAD thing. It's a good thing we are taking a moment of our day to think about everything we are thankful for. But I do think it's a bad thing when it's forgotten the rest of the eleven months of the year. EVERYDAY should be a day to give thanks. Everyday we should remember how awesomely blessed we are. Another goal I have for my life is to stop thinking about the 'I want' or 'I need' and think about the 'I'm thankful for'.

Life isn't fun if your constantly judging another. I'm not perfect, but I'm trying to be better. I'm not sharing this to show you some 'I'm greater then thou' attitude. I share my heart because I communicate better in writing. Maybe you'll get to know me better, maybe I'll encourage you, maybe I'm just a good read today. I don't know what I am for you today, but I know I am happy today. I am encouraged and thankful Jesus showed me how to love on another person. That's all.

-ana O.



"My kidneys failed and now I'm broke living in my van. Even a penny helps. -thanks."

The words on this sign continue to echo in my head even a couple hours after reading it and driving past the gentleman with the hoodie and hat on to protect himself from the rain.
I've lived in the Seattle area, in Las Vegas and currently living in Boise. I've seen a lot of homeless signs and people. Some nicely dressed, some in rags, some on drugs and even some who may have needed medication, yet not one has impacted my day like this gentleman. I think part of it is because I've seen first hand the brokenness in our health care system and government. Another part of it is because I've felt convicted to help in a way I couldn't figure out until now. I could go on and talk about our broken health care system but that would only go so far. Instead I think I'll talk about my conviction.
Tomorrow I'm going to hopefully return to this man and bring him a hot meal and a rain jacket. I don't care about the cost, because really I have enough and he is clearly in need. Jesus was a light in the darkness, He helped the hungry, the prostitutes and so many more people we tend to stay away from.
Because He knew they needed the most love. He knew they needed hope. The unloved needed love and the hopeless needed hope so Jesus gave it to them. The man I saw tonight is asking for a penny, can you spare him your change? We've all come on hard times, unexpected expenses and death. Life is hard. My life isn't harder then yours and yours isn't harder then mine, it's all just HARD.
It's ironic, as I'm driving away the lyrics from Avicii's "Wake me up" started playing. Specifically,
"I tried carrying the weight of the world
But I only have two hands"

Such a short excerpt from the song, but it was so powerful in my moment of conviction. I know I can't fix this man's life. I know it's impossible to do, but tomorrow I hope I can brighten his day and show him it's okay. I hope to be Jesus to Him. But my ultimate goal is to give him hope. I don't want to be another car driving past at the intersection, I want to turn around and show him love.

I think my goal for myself is to turn around more often. I know I can't do much, but I can keep $5 gift cards in my car and water bottles to pass out when I see someone in need. Maybe rather then looking for change in our 'system' I'll try to make a difference and BE the change. That's my goal for myself. Not for this year, but for always.

-ana O.


Toddler Travel

We did it. Well I did it. Or is it Eli did it? Whatever. Eli AND I traveled across country by ourselves. Literally from one coast to another, with a stop each time. Making for an exhausted momma, a cranky baby/toddler and a whole lot of stuff in tow. But it was ALL worth it. Would I do it again, you ask? Yep. Once a month if I could! But I may be crazy. Here's my list of travel tips and tricks:

1. Be prepared for meltdowns: Your traveling with a babe people. Traveling as an adult is exhausting enough, but being a child and not knowing where you are, what is going on and your routine completely thrown off! You wonder how people ever give you weird looks, put yourself in the kids shoes. Perspective is a wonderful thing. But yes, be prepared for tears. They are GOING to happen, whether a lot or just a little, it's inevitable. So tell yourself, 'it's okay' and take a breath to keep going.

2. Buy your child a plane ticket: Yes it is expensive. Yes kids two and under are free. No this is NOT safe practice. In fact, many kiddos have been thrown out of their mothers arms during take off, landing and even random turbulence. Babies have been hurt (news articles here & here & here). Want to know why the FAA doesn't require you to buy your babe a ticket? Money. They know families wouldn't travel as much if they paid for all their kids. Money rules all (duh). But in all honesty, buying Eli a ticket was probably the smartest thing we did. He sat in his car seat and was MUCH happier. He was familiar with his seat and that was comforting. Cross country with a toddler is HARD. Cross country with a toddler by yourself is even HARDER. I was able to set him down and he slept in his seat. I even snoozed a little myself.
Plus checking your car seat makes it have 'unknown' history, which means a) it's not guaranteed to save your child's life in the event of an accident and b) you don't know how it's been handled. I've seen oxygen machines destroyed by the luggage people. Don't risk your child's life folks.

3. Snacks: You can't bring water in containers through security but you CAN bring snacks. I purchased a whole bunch of the pureed food pouches (which are less messy and MUCH easier then a spoon and jar) which literally saved us multiple times. I also had some fruit and crackers. He was happier and so was I. A lot of airlines don't provide much more then water and pretzels these days, so our bellies were happier and I was also at ease that Eli wasn't eating a whole bunch of crap on our trip.

4. GoGo Babyz: This little gadget made my life SO much easier transporting his car seat during layovers and to/from the plane. I was able to purchase ours off of craigslist, so keep an eye on there before your trip.

Purchase Here
5. Baby Carrier: I could have strapped Eli in his car seat throughout the air port but he was much happier being in my arms. While holding him (by myself) isn't realistic I used our ergo to carry him and have my hands free for our other stuff. You can go through security with baby strapped to you, so no worries there. We have the ergo brand, but there are many others similar as well. He was able to sleep on me throughout the airport and I had my hands free to eat when I needed to.
He's happy, I swear.  Purchase Here. 
6. Simplify: I had a car seat (attached to wheels), diaper bag and Eli inside the ergo. That's it. Everything I needed was in the diaper bag. I didn't bring an extra bag for myself. Inside our diaper bag for travel we had:
-Diapers: 5-6 total (always plan for extra)
-Extra change of clothes for Eli
-iPad/iPhone: loaded with games, books for me and shows for him (Daniel Tiger and Baby Signing Time)
-Charger: duh.
-My lightweight jacket (Eli wore a thick fleece. As you can see in photo above)
-Three toys he hadn't seen in a while

7. Patience: Overall, traveling is exhausting. No matter how much to simplify it, it's not easy. Throw in a kid and being by yourself...whewwwww mama needs a drink! Be prepared for anything and hope for the best. I did quite a bit of praying and talking to myself (people may have viewed me as crazy). Sympathize with other parents and between flights let your little one run around the air port to burn off energy.

Overall, I learned I have a lot more patience then I though. Eli really did better then expected and I've got the travel bug again! Good thing we are leaving again.


From Atlantic to Pacific.

Arlington National Cemetery
'Gee! The traffic is terrific!'
We've been gone for a month. Now we are in town for a week and gone for another month. Welcome to our life. I must say, traveling to the east coast was a lot of fun. We had the opportunity to experience things we've never had the chance to and literally walking through history. Stories for days folks! Until I have time to sit down a really tell you about it, I'll show you in a few photos. 

Our visit with my good friend Becky and her baby nugget will be posted soon.

Capital Building 

Justice Building

Inside the Capital Building (On our private tour)

White House

Lincoln Memorial

Vietnam Memorial

National Zoo

-I will also do a post on traveling with a toddler.


Give it to Him

Society says a stay at home mom cooks.
Changes diapers and wipes up messes.
And must be bored out of their minds with nothing to do....

While most of this may be true, we are also there for our kids emotionally and spiritually. That is the hardest part of being a parent in my opinion. The chores will always be there. The daily cooking to be done. A mess to be cleaned up and carpet to be vacuumed.
What society often forgets about is when they fall, we pick them up. When they are overtired, we rock them to sleep for 20 minutes to calm them down. When they stutter, we encourage them to keep on going. When they are heart broken, we do anything to help put the pieces back together.

Being a mom is tough, it's not all play dates, cocktails and gossip. By the end of the day I am more emotionally and physically drained then after running a race at a meet! To top off the list, I struggle. Society has told me being a mom isn't a job. No, your right I don't pay taxes, fees and I don't see a paycheck biweekly. I wish I did though. I have this urgency to contribute to our family but I can't for the life of me figure out how. Two years left until my bachelors and I've literally cried while looking at majors from schools. Photography, business, international studies, environmental studies...all things very important to me I enjoy doing, but none screams at me. I hate the idea of spending money on a degree I won't use.

So here I am, seven years out of high school with no degree and no clue what to do. Don't get me wrong, I'm not naive, I know a piece of paper doesn't necessarily roll the dough in. You don't need a degree to make it in the world, many entrepreneurs have proved this time and time again. But for me, there is a strong desire to finish.

So while society tells me staying home isn't a job right now, I'd like to tell society to try it.
ana O.