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We are a family of 5 currently living in Texas (Mike, Care, Pea, Addie & Scarlett). We have three daughters (our first daughter was my "surprise" at 19, Mike adopted her in 2009). I blog to keep my family up to date on our happenings and to document our kids lives.

I am also a photographer. You can find me over at carolynkipper.com. Thanks for stopping by!

September 17, 2014

My birthday was yesterday. The big 3-0!

Which made me start thinking about life in my 30's. I want this decade to be filled with travels and fun and happiness. I've decided to start a "40 countries by 40th bday" bucket list.

I've hit 21 with very little effort on my part, mainly thanks to my parents for lugging us 4 kids around the world with them. My childhood was rich with travel. My childhood passports are filled to the brim. As an adult, I have mainly traveled in the US, as well as Mexico and Canada several times (then France + UK this past summer).

Here is my current travel map:

Here are the countries I have currently visited (marked in red and bolded. Asterisk * means I've lived there) & the countries I want to see before I'm 40 are left in plain text:

1. Canada
2. US *
3. Mexico
4. Puerto Rico
5. Hong Kong
6. Singapore *
7. Indonesia *
8. Fiji
9. Thailand
10. Japan
11. Australia *
12. New Zealand
13. Germany
14. England
15. Austria
16. Switzerland
17. Norway *
18. The Netherlands
19. Canary Islands (counts towards Spain, but not really in Spain)
20. France
21. Denmark
22. Costa Rica
23. Brazil
24. Chile -- will go in January 2015!!!
25.
Panama - will go in January 2015!!
31. Italy
32. Spain (I don't think the Canary Islands should count as Spain)
33. China
34. Vietnam
35. Philippines
35. South Africa
36. Scotland (& Island of Barra)
37. St Lucia
38. Iceland
39. Virgin Islands
40. Aruba
41. Bahamas
42. Saint Maarten
43. Dominican Republic
44. Anguilla
45.


1. Arizona
2. California *
3. Colorado
4. Florida
5. Georgia
6. Hawaii
7. Illinois
8. Indiana
9. Louisiana *
10. Michigan
11. Mississippi
12. Missouri
13. Nevada
14. New Jersey
15. New Mexico
16. New York *
17. Oregon
18. Rhode Island
19. Texas *
20. Virginia
21. Washington *
22. Wisconsin
23. Alabama
24. Utah
25. Tennessee
South Carolina
Pennsylvania
North Carolina
29. New Hampshire
Montana
31. Massachusetts
32. Maine
33. Connecticut
34. Alaska
35. Delaware
35. Idaho
36. Maryland
37. Vermont
38. Wyoming
39.Oklahoma
40.West Virginia



Create Your Own Visited States Map

January 25, 2014

So things are different around here!!

First of all, we moved to Texas!
Second of all, our previous plans to build a house were scrapped, ha!
Last, but not least; we SOLD OUR HOUSE in Washington! Officially closed yesterday. Yes, I'm sad about it. I shed many tears already, but I'm a-okay today.

So to recap. We didn't buy a house here just yet. We definitely aren't building one (I think that's the last thing I wrote on here). Basically the story goes... we moved here for Mike's job, so he said "do what makes you happy!" and I started off on this grand idea of building our dream house. We even had a builder and designs roughly drawn (so much wasted time!!). Then one day just out of the blue, several things started to give me pause. Someone online asked "is this your forever house?" and I was like "umm heck no! why on earth would I want a forever house?!" That sounds so permanent and we for sure do not want to live in Houston forever. Then somebody mentioned getting animals because we would have lots of land and perhaps starting a garden or getting into yardwork, because my weekends would be spent outside... and I dug down deep and reminded myself that I am not an animal person (unless they are at the zoo or in nature), I don't want a pet at all -- sorry if that sounds awful. I am also not a gardening type. In fact, my thumb is probably more black than green.

Well, what do I like? I like being in the middle of it all. Ability to walk places. Lots of stuff to do all the time. I like diversity in values/cultures/people. I like my kids to experience people that are different than us and realize how wonderful that is.  I like to hop in my car and choose an adventure and be there in less than 10 minutes. That's what we did in Washington, because we had everything easily accessible to us... beach, zoo, museums, city, forest, mountains all within a few miles. I wanted that here too.

Well, Houston doesn't have a beach or mountains, but the other stuff it does have. And a lot of it! It's the 4th largest city in the country, there is an endless amount of stuff to see and do.

So what I'm saying is that instead of living about 80 minutes outside of the city and building our dream house in the country, we ended up smack dab in the middle of the city. We are in a smaller house, about 1850 SF versus our old 2750 SF and it's not as pretty as our old one, but it is great. We have had to get rid of a lot of things, which has been cleansing in a way... simplifying life is really really nice. Makes you think twice about buying anything, because then you have to store it somewhere or throw something else away.

I feel like life will be more fun and easy once we are finally settled. We've got my sister 1 mile away. My parents 40 miles away, Mike's job is 3.5 miles away... and everything that we could possibly need/want is within 2 miles of our house. It's truly a dream for me... to be able to walk everywhere if I want to...or not. I'm shocked at myself for being so happy in Houston. It's a city that I used to hate with a passion...yet, I'm already loving it.

Our future plans are to hopefully buy a house in this same location within the next 2 years.

Here are some highlights of our location:

Next door to an awesome park!

Miller Outdoor Theatre hosts free concerts in the park and shows throughout the year

Our new grocery store... I've walked here a few times already with the kids. It is brand new, serves beer and wine on an outdoor patio, hosts concerts and has food trucks in the parking lot. I'm sold!


The live oak trees surrounding Portia's school, as well as the amazing houses are fun to admire everyday.

Hermann park/the zoo/19 museums/ as well as a beautiful huge new rose garden set to open this year! I am most excited about the garden.
Oh and the beach is 45 minutes away!