Dreams for all seasons.

Beautiful one day, perfect the next.

A whole world on a single island.

5 Reasons Why Travel is Good for Your Family

Family Adventures

Best of family travel

What is travel? And what is a traveler? What Does Travel Mean To You?

in The stories
Created: 10 May 2016

Sometimes it’s hard to remember that it isn’t all about us.   My dad says, when you are feeling depressed about your own situation the best thing you can do is help someone else.  While I was creating this business I knew I wanted to give a percentage to charity.  However, nothing ever seemed to fit quite right.  I knew it would be good for our mama hearts if the money you were spending went to someone that we could be in direct contact with – not something that most charities facilitate.

Then a fellow blogging mama started posting about sweet little babies she was taking in through the foster system.  Soon after, she took a little newborn under her wing that did not come with the funding of the system.

I started asking her questions and knew this was the sweet babe we could be involved in helping!  
Lyric came to Sam with nothing but a small bag of out-of-season clothes, some that had to be thrown out and  the rest soaked for days because of the overwhelming smell of smoke.  No toys, no warm blankets, no little booties or hand knit hats.  All the things we collect and shower on our babies. Sam and her family have raised Lyric as their own, loving on her daily as well as taking on her steep medical issues.  I would love if you would join in helping show love to Lyric.

5% of all sales go directly to Sam as she cares for little Lyric.

You can keep up to date with Samantha and Lyric here – http://thehandmadedress.blogspot.com/
in The stories
Created: 10 May 2016
A new chapter

 It’s funny how differently life turns out than what you have planned in your head.  Just a few short months ago I had no idea that I would be hand-lettering these prints.  These words of hope that now hang on my walls.

As I sit here about to launch this new site out there for you to read and critique I’m a little nervous.  I have little pieces of my heart and story tied up in each one of the prints.  They were drawn to help me and now you’ll be seeing all the things I need help with!  But this summer, if I’ve learned one thing its this: our story, if we share it, has the power to encourage, inspire and give hope to those around us.

When I first started to put little pieces out there about how I was feeling was was shocked at the emails, texts and messages from friends and family about how they had also been (or were going) though dark times.  So as I continue to add to the shop and send out new prints each month and share more I hope that it helps and encourages you just like it has me.  You can read more about how Lines of Grace came into existence here.  

As I try to streamline and reduce stress I’ll mostly be posting here via Instagram, but, I’ll have flash sales over there that won’t be posted here so make sure to follow along.  You can also share your prints on IG using #linesofgrace for a chance to receive your next month free!

And as a “Whoo, hoo! Let’s launch this scary adventure” sale,  if you sign up for either Happy Mail Society Subscriptions this month, you will receive the print of your choice from the shop! Just leave me a note when you sign up letting me know which one you’d like me to mail to you:)

Thank you for your support as I head out into uncharted waters.  I’d love for you to let me know what you think of the new site.

in The stories
Created: 10 May 2016

Monday morning began early for me when I woke up at 4:00 with what I was pretty sure were real labor pains.  I had been having braxton-hicks for a while but after thirty minutes I knew this was it and woke up Robert.  For hours the contractions got closer together and consistently stronger.  I was well rested and excited that this birth seemed to be going quickly and easily like Cecelia’s.  I was expecting to have a new little one in my arms by noon.

Little One had other plans.

I called my mom around 6:00 and let her know that I was in labor and that things were going quickly.  Then around 7:00 the contractions started slowing down so Rob and the girls and I went for a walk.  Robert reminded me that we didn’t have a girl’s name which sent me into a little bit of a panic.  The walk helped but once I got back home they started to slow down again and we had also settled on a name:)

 By 9:00 Robert and I decided that I was fine and he could go help my dad and brother with a neighbor’s roof.  So I labored in the RV while the girls went with my mom to her house.  Between 9:00 and 12:00 I spent my time on the couch, at my moms and taking her steps two at a time trying to get things going again.

That must have worked, because after doing that about ten times the contractions started to pick back up.  Rob came home around that time too, which was perfect, but I still could tell I had a ways to go.  I labored in the tub for a while and then on the floor with a birthing ball.  The girls came in for a while and would take turns having contractions on the birthing ball:) but they got bored pretty quickly so my friend took them to her house for their nap.

Around 4:00 things started to get all kinds of real.

My sister got there just when I needed her and helped me stay focused.  Robert never left my side and helped keep me from spinning off into the deep end:)  After an hour and half of pushing – the most intense of all my labors – Charlotte was born at 5:31 pm.  As I held her in my arms both Robert and I were shocked that it was a girl – I wanted another girl so badly that I was convinced that it was going to be a boy:)

Then the girls came home and could barely hold themselves still – they were so excited to meet their sister and Arrabella wasn’t at all pleased that she had to go to bed at Grandma’s and couldn’t hold the baby all night long.  Charlotte and I were soon enjoying the first of many herb baths (which I am convinced is one of the reasons I heal quickly after birth) and I was tucked into bed with my tiny new one beside me.

I wasn’t expecting her for two more weeks,

but I was sure glad to have her there!

in The stories
Created: 10 May 2016

Whoa mama,  this week is insane!!!  We are moving into our RV and, goodness, I thought I had gotten rid of so much stuff already but it seems to have grown again.  We are building a pile for Goodwill that will make them quite happy I’m sure.

We are almost finished and it is down to those random bags of “things” and cleaning out the grody cabinets that somehow get ignored until you move :p  I am trying to play the, “I’m eight months pregnant” card in hopes that Robert will clean those for me:)

Here are a few pictures from what is going on and you will see that I have

heavily relied on the “get closer” tip

so that y’all think my new home is neat and clean and organized:)

I wanted to add some living plants to the RV and what better time to create this than in the middle of a move?  I took an old piece of barnwood screwed tins on that I got from IKEA and added two hooks as the end to dry the herbs.  And by “me”, of course, I mean I told Robert what I was thinking and asked him to do it for me:)  He did a great job and I’m in love with it!

This shade is my $4.00 Goodwill find!  Robert revamped one of our lamps that was in the outgoing pile and it now hangs next to our bed.  I love so much that the whole thing only cost us $4.00 and that my husband has awesome wire splicing skills 

This is all piled on my couch right now:  A pillow I just recovered, blue vinyl that was going to cover a bench seat until we decided that it was too big, a picture that is looking for a home and one last door handle that I need to attach.

The following are from my phone:

I was feeling a little overwhelmed yesterday when I got an unexpected package in the mail from a lady I “met” on Instagram.  It really brightened my day and I already have plans to use the material and flower in my decorating.

Speaking of bright… I can’t believe the girls can sleep in the bedroom right now because it is so bright!  Curtains… on my growing to-do list:)

I hope you enjoyed this peek and will leave me a comment to encourage me… I’m a little bonkers trying to do all this with a baby inside of me:)

in The stories
Created: 10 May 2016

We left for Knoxville around ten on Monday morning last week.  While, Robert had practiced driving a few times, this was the real deal and we were both white knuckled for the first few hours:)

Rob literally would duck and hold his breath under bridges and I was sure every time we made a turn we were going to take out a few cars, and when we hits bumps and the RV jerked the truck I knew it was going to come unhooked!  I also had to really work on not getting car sick from the jerking of the trailer.



We stopped at Wal-mart about 2 hours later for lunch and so I could feed the baby.  That led to a quick stop inside for a few things and one hour later we were finally leaving.  We quickly learned that if we were going to enjoy all the driving we are planning on then we can’t stress about rushing to get there.  With two little ones and a newborn we have to take our time!

We got a few snacks at the store and, as a nervous eater, I made a good dent in them right away.  It helped to have something to distract me from the thought of the RV unhooking as we hit bumps and climbed mountains.

We stayed overnight in a really nice campground an hour outside of Roanoke.  The spot was a pull through and level (both big bonusesSmile)  The only problem was the massive  hill we had to drive up to get there and of course the ditch at the bottom of that hill as we were leaving.  Robert did a good job disguising how nervous he was about careening into that ditch until we got to the bottom:)

The next morning we left early and were making good time when the gas peddle slipped a little bit… So into McDonalds to use a little free wi-fi.  We breathed a sign of relief as we realized it was just that we needed more transmission fluid.  An easy fix until we could get it looked at.  We pulled into an empty parking lot and Robert ran into Dollar General to get a funnel…

He wasn’t really happy, or a big Dollar General store fan, when he came out.  But, necessity is the mother of invention and he made it work.


Unlike the first day, we got all three girls to sleep at the same time – that was blissful!!!  It was nice not to have someone crying, or asking for food, or needing a potty break…

The rest of the day went really well, hardly a hitch… until we were 5 minutes from the cabin mom rented for the weddin.  5 MINUTES!  The the transmission started slipping and I was sure that our travels were over before they really even started.  By this time we were way out in the boonies and we couldn’t even pull over.  We saw a sign for a church and decided to stop there.  Longest four minutes ever!

We got out of the car, opened the hood and about two minutes later a neighbor came out asking if we needed help and saying her husband would be out in a minute to help.  Ahh, the friendly south – its nothing like Baltimore that’s for sure!



Out he came bringing his dogs with him, which made the girls really happy.  A church member drove by while we were there and insisted that we go in the cool air and  gave us water and the girls popsicles.

Rob found we had a transmission fluid leak so he put in more fluid, unhooked the rv, test drove the truck  and we were good to go.

Once we got to the cabin, Robert took a friend’s advice and walked the road before attempting to take the 5th wheel.


It’s a good thing because there was no way we could have gotten all the way to the top of that very narrow  and steep mountain driveway.  There was a little turn around spot about halfway up that we thought we could make work.  So we called the owner and a few minutes later she was walking over to help.  Once again a the friendly south to the rescue  not only was she really sweet and helpful she called her grandson (who was working in the hay fields) and he came over and backed out RV half a mile down this driveway for us!  Robert was happy about that and finally understood why I keep telling him I want to move to the south:)

Bella was not happy that Cecelia was getting to go with Daddy so she ran to catch up…

in The stories
Created: 10 May 2016

After nine months of agony, stress and financial angst we found relief and with it a need for a new start.  The huge house that had us so excited, now only held memories of hardship and pain.  We were desperate to get out.  Maybe a little extreme:) but we decided to travel fulltime in RV!

Since then we have been working to sell all our things, buy and remodel a used RV, have another sweet baby :), buy a truck to pull our house and create a business that would support our nomadic ways.


One question we get ALOT is: How do you support your travels? Well, we have a few ways that, combined, make this trip possible:

1. We are part of both WWOOF and Workamper

2. I turned my love of photography into an online class for mamas.  After years struggling with my “unprofessional” camera I finally learned that it doesn’t matter what camera you own… you can still capture the sweet, meaningful moments in your family’s story.  At first I was embarrassed of my camera until I learned it has so much more to do with the foundation and not the camera.

I spent years learning the basics of photography on my own – oh so slowly – because I could never find an unintimidating place to learn.  By combining my hard earned knowledge and my love for teaching,  I created The Snap Academy Workshop - a video class where I teach basic photography principles to help mamas get those meaningful photos.  It is a way for you to feel confident that you too can capture the little moments that tell your story.


3.  Before we lived in an RV we LOVED to go to estate sales, yard sales, church sales, thrift stores… You get the idea:)  Well now that we live in a tiny house our vintage collecting had to come to a stop.  So we found a way to combine that love and another source of income.  We started a vintage resale shop on Instagram where we sell vintage finds and handmade goods:) Check it out here – A Little Vintage Life.  


4.  The Blooming Chef: A few years ago the girls and I started doing cooking shows to show the cousins.  We had so much fun and soon other people wanted to see them.  Since then we turned it into a fun business that we all run together.  You can see all the details here on Bellas site:)


5.  Robert is also available for remodels, construction and maintenance.  He has been working as a contractor for years and this is a great way to work our way around the country:)

I’ll share tips, hints and inspiration and bits about our life weekly here on the blog so be sure to sign up so won’t miss anything exciting=)!

in The stories
Created: 10 May 2016
Video Tour of our House (Before & After)

Oh my goodness what a transformation our RV has taken on!  Just take a look at the before pictures and video before you see the afters –  I think you’ll be shocked:)

The great thing about living in such a small space is that everything you keep has to have a purpose

or be something you love.  

So over the last year of purging and simplifying only the things that we love the most have survived.  It makes for a space that we love to be in – so light, bright and happy.  But first the before pictures – these were the pictures sent to me before we bought it…  and you can see the video tour of the before here.

McCs (2) 
McCs (6)

McCs (7)

McCs (8)

And now the afters.  Oh. my. goodness!  for such a small space this sure was a lot of work!  Painting the cabinets especially, it took way longer that I thought it would – worth it – but so time consuming!





in The stories
Created: 10 May 2016

So you may be wondering why… Why would we sell everything to live in a tiny space?  If you were here I’d have you pull up a chair and I’d pour you a glass of milk and give you some cookies (too bad you’re not here!) and I’d tell you our tale…

Almost one year ago exactly, our little family moved into my sisters house while they moved overseas for three years. We were coming from the tiniest of tiny houses and their’s was…well, lets just say we didn’t even need to use the room upstairs=) My husband had just started his own business, which was going great, and I had just relaunched mine. We were excited and life was good. Until one day and all because of one very heavy filing cabinet. 

Let me pause here to remind you to ALWAYS lift with your knees…anyway… 

While helping my brother-in-law move said cabinet, my husband felt a pop in his back. He tried to ignore it over dinner but by the time we got home he was in extreme pain. Over the next eight months Robert went from fully functioning to such severe back pain that his body was trying to cope by pushing his spine sideways. I was literally living with a crooked old man!

We finally found a specialist that was so good to us and treated Robert holistically, healing the problem, not just the symptoms.  We were so blessed to have worked with him.  Over the next two months as Robert visited him he went from daily excruciating pain to  being able to sit thru dinner, return to work, hold the girls.  We felt like fresh air was blowing thru our lives. 

If you have ever experienced any kind of extended illness or injury in your home I don’t need to tell you it was hard.   Sometimes the stress and worry would be almost palatable.  It is really hard to see someone you love so much in so much pain and not able to do anything about it.  I could see the hurt on Robert’s face when the girls would ask to be held and he had to tell them no.

So all that to say: the last year has put a great strain on our family.

Enter close friends who are traveling full time.  She lets it slip that even though they are a family of 6 living in a tiny space together that they have never been closer.  That their relationships are not strained but actually the opposite.

Now here is how Robert and I go to sleep:

Robert – goes to sleep.

Melissa – lays in bed and thinks every possible thing over until she is exhausted and falls asleep.

Well a few nights of that, as well as finding a site called Fulltime Families,   was all I needed to start trying to win Robert over.  The concept wasn’t completely strange to him because we had both talked about how neat it was when I started following the Janssens on their adventure.

What I wasn’t expecting was how on board he was.  I actually thought he was joking when he said, “Yeah, that sounds like a great idea.  I think it would be great for us.”  It took me asking him once if he was serious before I lost myself in the next few days serching out everyone who had ever done it before and reading every blog post, watching every youtube video…. 

When I finally came back to the land of the living to take care of my family and realized we were both still excited about it and not put out by my rehashing every family’s story to Robert (whether he wanted to hear it or not!) we knew this might be it for us.  Over the next few months we continued to talk about it and brainstorm trying to figure out if this was for us.  Everything we came up with that might be a struggle we thought of ways to get past it.

So now is the really hard part.  Really hard!  The waiting.  The planning is fun but the waiting is…well…I’m learning trying to learn to be happy in the waiting too=)