Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Misphah and Shen. He named it Ebenezar, saying , "Thus far the Lord has helped us." 1 Samuel 7:12

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Lessons I've Learned Hosting Couchsurfers

When I signed up for last spring I had no idea how much it would impact my life.

Without getting into too much info I will say this,
the Germans showed up and were so helpful, interacting with everyone and playing and coloring with Aubry. They helped cook dinner and were an all around a great group to kick off our couchsurfing experience. I a m in almost daily contact with one of the girls.

Next came the old guy from Winter Park who literally slept and showered here. Simple visitor. He was like an old teenager.

The Surfers from Sebring stayed longer than they thought and we really enjoyed meeting adventurous American kids.

Charlotte, the French Girl. We drank wine, we laughed and we built a walkway together. She encouraged me to walk more. "So now you know", she said. I will see her again.

The Campers, aka the AT Hikers. They reminded me of my love for all things outdoors, they rekindled a dream that Steve and I use to dream of hiking the AT in sections, they reminded me of how life slows down around a campfire and that sharing and hard work really make life happier. They reminded me of how nice it is to walk.

And so I leave you with that.
My lessons learned from couchsurfers.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

How God Works

I like seeing God work.
He just works in His own way and timing.

I have seen how some things have morphed and changed over the years.
Like how I had a dream for probably a dozen years to have a home for pregnant teenagers or college age girls.
It would be a place where they could live, super cheap, almost free have free childcare in the home and the support they need to get educated, employed and on their own.

 that hasn't seemed to work out; however, my own home has been host to many a teenage, and millenial age and all age women really!
This last weekend I got to make a new friend from France, it was awesome! I got to work side by side with her, laugh with her, talk with her and school her on some American things, while she schooled me on French things.

My home is home to a different kind of girl than I thought. It's millenial age girls really.
I like that generation, it's my kids generation.

That's just how God works.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Fall is in the Air...

...sort of.
Vaughan and Illana on Lake Eola

I mean I can tell Fall wants to arrive here in Central Florida but I'm afraid it's not quite here yet.
I mean being chilly outside at 5:45am when it's 71 degrees; I mean come on, there was a day when 71 was sweltering hot!

Anyway I wrote the word "fall" on a chalkboard decor sign to maybe bring the season in a little faster.

Any way all this travel blog working has my wrist bothering me- joy!
And all my CrossFit time is making my shoulders s.o.r.e., so life is a constant series of stretches!!

We went to Lake Eola this last weekend with friends and what a blast it was. Review coming from Frugal Travel Mom so stay tuned. 
Speaking of The Frugal Travel Mom, have you looked around there yet? 

Our friends on the swan boats with O-Town as a backdrop. 

In other news, Justin is getting ready to pack up and head west for a few months. I am excited for his cross-country trek, his Cali-livin' (jealous) and the full-filling of a dream of his to live in the woods on his own. If you think of him please pray for him, and me- eeek!!

In my world I am working on self-control.
I wanna crave God more.
I wanna say no to me so I can be filled more and more by His Spirit.
The struggle is in the journey, but the journey is oh so sweet.

Peace, love and maybe fall weather,

Monday, September 14, 2015

September Already

Time really does move along doesn't it.
All is well here at the Span Ranch;
while our feet have been on the ground and in the state our spare rooms have been full.

2 weekends of beach visitors
and then a week of Allen Sowers and his daughter Boo.

The Sowers family are the missionaries in Honduras whose ministry Steve and I partner with as Ambassadors to Honduras with the Foundation for Missions.

I've downloaded Instagram back on my phone as I take that first step back into social media.

It's been a year of no IG, no twitter, no Facebook.
It's been a year of prayer and meditations,
a year of revelation and faith.
It's been a glorious year and sometimes I am a little sad it is not recorded on social media as a remembrance; but then again, I guess it's absence is remembrance enough.

Since you're reading this I want to share with you my travel blog. It's still under construction but you'll be ok with that, so here it is... I am The Frugal Travel Mom.

If you live local I hope you enjoy some of the Central Florida itineraries, and please let me know how it goes.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Summer is Winding Down


Those are the amounts I've spent on groceries over the last 3 weeks.
Add in about 2 additional gallons of milk
and I assure you that is all we've spent on food since returning from Honduras.

I love it.
it's a simple solution for me to save on our food bill;all I do is only eat what I have in the house

After a busy summer of people in and out of our house,
food was left, food was bought and not eaten, food was hidden in the bottom of the freezer.

8 college age boys,
2 college age girls
and 2 single men over 55 made their way through our house over this last summer.

So I opted in this slow time for our company... to eat mostly what we have and budget $0/week for food.
So how did I spend $102 if I had no food budget--
easy- I used other money from other areas to scrape by and keep my grocery spending minimal.

It's forced me to cook more from scratch and at home,
2 things I struggle hard with cooking and cooking--
can't I just pay a cook?

So that's the skinny on the eats around here.

Oh anyone who reads and wants to help me out, I am looking at names for my travel blog.
I've had several in mind, bought a domain but I just don't love it-- this keeps plaguing me.

So which of these do you like? or do you have a 

Budget Family Trip
The Frugal Traveler
Frugal Travel Mom


Thursday, August 13, 2015


our first couchsurfers from Germany

Wow, it's August already.
Can you believe it?
I looked at my chalkpaint covered back door and thought, "I should probably erase the snowflakes I painted on there last winter"
then I realized winter is closer than I care to think,
maybe I'll just leave them.

Steve, Aubry and I returned from a 10 days in Honduras where we served and attended Missionary Kid Camp. I lead craft time, as well as a game during daily game time, Steve set up ropes courses and lead games as well as made town runs for pizza and water, ice and supplies and Aubry attended her first summer camp, sort of.

When I return I reminded of how blessed I am.
I can flush my toilet paper, eat my fruits and veggies with our soaking them in bleach,
my home has hot water, air conditioning, we have reliable, honest health care and so much more.

Honduras is a country in need of reform, in need of finances, opportunity, education and Christ.
I am so thankful I had the opportunity to meet the people, hear the stories and love on last year the birthed locals and this year the transplanted ones.

MK's are a unique breed. From the outside they look and act like you and me,
but they've seen so much,
they've learned to love on a different level
and they band together like a tribe, truly having each others backs
and understanding each others pains, struggles and joys.

When I return I just want to give more and more away.
Returning from any trip reminds me of how little I need to live.

And now, as summer comes to an end we are preparing to say goodbye to the "boys of summer" as they head back to college next week.
My boarding house will close down for the time being, although it seems to always be open for business.

Aubry and I are gathering supplies and ideas for a year of relaxed home school pre-school
and I am preparing to take my travel blog live for all to see and glean travel information and idea from.

How has everyone else been?
I wonder and if you are still reading let me know.

And now... some pictures, cause let's face it, we all prefer pictures!!
the team from Florida that we traveled to Honduras with

Aubry in her camp t-shirt

Aubry playing "gato" with her friend at San Pedro Sula Pizza Hut

a group selfie with our new found friend from Maryland, a bonus team member

Monday, July 27, 2015

Hi Peps

Sorry I have been MIA.
The fact is, I have in fact NOT been MIA,
I have been very present for a lot of life happening.

Several fun things on the calendar with a trip to Honduras with Steve and Aubry is right around the corner. We are taking a team of 6 down to be a blessing and support to a missionary family we have come to enjoy and love.

I have also been working on a travel blog/website.
I want to share all my travel guru info and I want to inspire everyone to get out and take a trip somewhere.

Well, I will leave you with a few pictures of the last few months.
Miss blogging ;)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Vacation Update

So if you had taken me up on my invitation and followed me on my blogging vacation you know that 3 days in I had to give it up.
Blogging while on vacation
not a good mix for me.

One of the things I like about being away from home is the no technology, or no computer aspect of it.

The first few nights of our recent vacation were busy, busy; I blogged about them but eventually the thought of doing anything at the end of the day became too much. So technical difficulties stepped in and I had to say no.

I do plan to blog about the trip and post our itinerary so maybe you can hit the road and trample on some of the same paths and highways we had the honor of trekking.

I'll blog about the trip in more detail on my travel blog but here I'll show some of the high points.

We started our trip in LA, at the beach. Our suits were handy and with hours of being on the west coast we were at the beach.

The reason for the trip was to pack up our niece Dani, attend her graduation and move her to Colorado. 

She graduated with honors, paying her own way with little debt-- I am so proud of her and honored to be part of this journey in whatever little way I could be.

We visited with old friends in SoCal at a park for the afternoon, drove through the San Angeles National Forest, then once all SoCal festivities came to an end we packed up and headed out. Vegas, short bit of Arizona and on to Zion National Parks Kolob Canyons area. Dani continued on to Colorado while Steve, Aubry and I hiked in Zion!! 

After a two hour field trip to Zion we made our way through Utah (surprise state here- Utah is amazing landscape) before putting up for the night in Grand Junction.
Next came coffee at Coffee Trader in Montrose, CO, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Monarch Pass where we played in snow, Colorado Springs and a visit to Focus on the Family Visitor Center; we saw Garden of the Gods and did some mountain town driving in  Manitou Springs.

After a rough start to the day on Tuesday, day 6 of our vacation we left Colorado and Dani behind and headed north to Estes Park, Colorado, a gateway town to Rocky Mountain National Park.

This is when our official vacation and slow down time came. We needed it. The push to get out of town was heavy this year; a growing business that really just exploded this last year the stress was more than we both even realized. Until Tuesday.
But you know when we settle down, look at the facts, reflect on our own wrongs, forgive and move on in grace and love, rough Tuesdays can lead to fabulous Wednesdays, Thursdays and more!

Rocky Mountain National Park did not disappoint.
The grandeur of the Rockies is amazing, no photo or words can really grasp how beautiful this earth that God made is. 

The Colorado portion of our trip consisted of mostly rain, snow and mixed sun and clouds.
This shortened some of our views but it lead to another experience. We had lots of snow to play in, great use of  our rain gear and plenty of indoor pool time! 
But the Rockies. 
The mountains, how my heart longs to stay a long while soaking up their peaceful warmth beauty and altitude.

So that's a brief summary of our "moving" vacation.

Now that we're home, it's nice. 
Our own bed, the dog,
college students home.

Yes, I arrived home on Sunday and woke up Monday morning to the "Summer Boys", bringing the house headcount to 7. 

Welcome to our next adventure!!

Monday, April 27, 2015

You're Invited follow along on our upcoming family vacation to California and Colorado.

It starts this Thursday over at Spanos Family Travels

Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Rainbows, Black Clouds, Unicorns and Ogres

Hi All!
It's been awhile I know.

I miss writing here but life happens and well here I sit.

I wish I could say it has all been rainbows and unicorns around here
and maybe it has
and I've just missed it.

I tend to get in a funk and what seems to be surrounding me are black clouds and ogres.

Something happened this last year,
and it took me awhile to put my finger on what it was, 
what it is.
I'm not sure if I've nailed it, but I think I have.

I've struggled with the season of life I'm in.
Not because it's bad or tough,
but because it is.

Changing seasons can be hard.
Especially when that change is because of circumstances outside my choosing/control/desire.

I kept finding myself saying, "it just wasn't suppose to be this way".

For the last 20 years I had this picture, 
this dream in my mind of what life would be like when I was 40.

I'd have no kids at home.
I'd be working at or toward my new "dream job".
I'd be working outside the home.
Steve and I would have evenings to walk the beach,
weekends to sleep in,
romantic dinners,
I figured about now we would be considering a move back north...
...and the list goes on.

But that's not my reality.
I have a 3-year-old,
a 21-year-old living in back bedroom (a room that has become a ministry bedroom)
and my youngest son is moving back home after a year away at college (he realized commuting to college is cheaper than living there).
My job is the same as it's been for 22 years and looks like it has another 15 to go.
I work inside the home still,
Steve and I rarely walk the beach, if ever,
my weekends certainly do not involve sleeping or
romantic dinners and well let's just say my home is here, south of the Mason-Dixon line in the sunny south.

I've had to let go of some dreams
and really let them die.
They just won't happen in my time frame or happen at all.
I've let them go.

It's only when things die that new life can come;
new dreams can grown.

Perhaps God is in the business of raising some of those dreams back to life,
perhaps He has something new and fresh to grow from the ashes?

Whatever the case, it's been a tough.

A tough changing of seasons- not much looks or feels or is the same around here.

New is happening.
New is good.
I have chosen to embrace the newness,
of course this embracing followed a tough season of depression and negative self-talk. Hashing out my inner most thoughts with God, crying out, soaking my pillow. 

Oh how thankful I am that He is there, ready to listen, take on my pain, catch my tears;
ever so gently and full of mercy He helps me up and on with my life here on planet earth. 

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, from Psalm 103

In some ways I've come full circle.
In the same place I was 22 years ago.
Embarking on a new parenting journey, stepping into a new land, a new place. 
I find myself in a place I didn't dream in my own head
instead a place God has dreamed for me.

I have new opportunities and a growing event planning business
my love of travel is hopefully, Lord willing, taking on some form of a more public platform, visit that blog over here.

Life with a 3-year-old is a blessing, I learn so much from her every day, she reminds me of how fun life is, even when it doesn't go as planned.

How to laugh more,
love more,
play and get dirty more,
embrace the moment, the wind, the birds, the sun, the rain,
oh the rain- we dance in it a lot;

and to stand up and say no, because sometimes a firm hands on the hips, single foot stomp "no" is in order. 

I've learned the joy and the pain of moving children out of the house ----
and the joy and pain of moving others in.

I have learned that it is through living under the same roof with strangers that we learn 
and practice grace 
and mercy 
and love.

So that's where I've been,
cleaning off sticky messes,
peeling my head off soggy pillows,
moving furniture
and trusting and believing God that this new season is worth all the pain, disappointment, letting go and dying.

I am looking at where He's brought me.
The waters that have been parted
and the dry ground I have had the opportunity to walk on.

We've come full circle God and I and this time I can look at my rocks of remembrance and bravely enter this new season.

So while it hasn't been rainbows and unicorns
the black clouds have reminded me of how brilliantly the light of Christ shines with a dark backdrop
and the ogres, well they aren't unicorns but they sure do make me laugh!

enjoy your day and smile

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

January Recap

January came and went quickly.
Here's our month in pictures.

Vaughan and Sarah wanted one last date night before baby #3 and so Steve and I hunkered down for a night with the grands and their niece!

Aubry and I took advantage of a nice, sunny January day in Florida and headed 30 minutes south to hike and check out Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge.

Aubry and I also took an afternoon and evening and headed north to Jacksonville where we learned a lot about that city, including seeing this oak tree!!

If you have been reading this blog for any length of time and you haven't tried Geocaching yet then I'm sorry because you are missing out. We grabbed our friend Sanja and hiked a new loop trail in town with 9 caches!! 

For Christmas I gave Steve a years worth of dates.
Once a month we will be "traveling" to a different place. January had us going to "New England". Steve doesn't know where the date is until the night before when he opens an envelope. This month New England meant the Chowder Fest on Flagler Ave. Who knew you could fill up on chowder 1 ounce at a time!!

I have this new travel blog going on and my son Vaughan and his family took advantage of one of the trips, of course he had been there before, and visited Ravine Gardens State Park. It was a perfect day out before baby #3.

Speaking of baby #3, let me introduce my newest grandchild!! Jackson Timothy, born peacefully at home and delivered by mom and dad.

So that is what the month of January looked like. 
Beyond that I am working to update the travel blog so local Central Floridians can get out and enjoy all our state has to offer as well as build relationships and make memories. I have dreams for this blog to be a blessing and maybe make me some money at some point? God knows and with that I am satisfied.

Thanks for stopping by

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Push for My Travel Blog

I am trying to get all the vacation drafts I have going from throughout the years up on my travel blog.

Please go check it out, let me know what you think
local Central Florida people-
please set a date and go on one of the trips. You'll be glad you did.

Take your kids,
your family,
your mom,
your sick friend,
your sad friend,
your best friend,
your new friend,
your kids friends,
your families friends.
Just go!

Anyway here's my latest post.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

This Could Be About You...

My house is quiet.
All are sleeping,
except me.

As I look around my living/dining/kitchen I began to think of all the people who have graced the inside of these walls.

Of course it all started with the boys in a back room while Steve and I put down all the tile expect like 5 pieces.
The boys grew and soon the Lego table first appeared in the living room during the hurricanes of 2004.
You remember them,

Then entered my friends,
Oh if these walls could talk.
There seemed for several years to be a steady stream of crafty high school girls and their mentors, aka my friends, filling up every bean bag, chair or spot at the bar. 
pre-teen boys shooting stop-motion Lego videos, growing to teenagers where X-box and poker became the new fav.
my grandmother, 
my grandkids,
high school friends,
elementary friends,
Florida friends,
cousins form Indonesia, Alaska, California, Virginia and Maine.

We've had movie nights and Lord of the Ring Marathons,
birthday parties and a bachelorette party (please Lord may I never have to plan one of these again, we should have just got drunk at a bar).

Tons of people have welcomed in a new year here, I know because you signed the guest book!! 

Homeschoolers have carved their first pumpkins here
and the walls were bursting for
2 different graduation parties.

You've watched my kitchen get tore apart,
our lawn be transformed
and I'm sure you can't figure out where the heck I've moved the trash can to now?

For all of you who have done life here at our house,
around my bar or wherever-
Thank You
I am thankful for you.
and please do come again.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Good Playlist Can Be a Gamechanger

Calling all my sisters out there who just don't wanna wake up and do another day.

I would encourage you to get a good positive, Christ-filled playlist together and listen
and dance
and sing
and worship.

My current play list is tobymac
a combo off three albums,
it took three screen shots to get the whole playlist but here it is.
If you are looking for some new tunes may I suggest "Beyond Me", his newest single.

When God uses a song to speak to me, I tend to add it several times to a playlist, that way I get to hear it a bunch!! Obviously I did that with "Beyond Me".

I am really holding to the truth of the line in the song that says,"In over my head, keeps me countin on You"- boy do I feel over my head at times.
Business owner.
Ambassador to Honduras.
Bible study leader.
Some days it all stacks up and I am reminded that all of this is so beyond me.

If life wasn't a challenge then I would have no reason to look to my God and my Savior.
So a little tobymac really helps make those challenges bearable,

So if you need a reminder of what this life is about,
you need a pick me up,
let me encourage you again to a good playlist.

Speaking of, what are your favorite songs for a lift in the mood?

Well, a good playlist always leads to a good roadtrip,
Aubs and I are headed off today for a short day trip with a friend who has found herself in Jacksonville, FL for the week.

Happy Trails

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Simply Travel

I love to travel.
Perhaps it has to do with an upbringing up and down the east coast as my Floridian mother balanced a life in the snowy winters of Maine with sunny Florida getaways in the Spring. 

In the 70's and 80's we drove I-95 from Maine through busy Boston, bumpy New York, mysterious Washington DC until finally that thu-thump, thu-thump, thu-thump of the southern roadways alerted my brain that palm trees, sandy beaches and sunshine were close at hand.

However it happened, it did.
I love to travel.

East coast, Best West coast, across the pond.
Frontier of Honduras, beach of Florida.
Sierra-Nevadas, streets of San Fran.
Wherever I go I just love it.

I get asked a lot to help people plan their travel.
I also get told a lot that travel is out of a families reach.
When I hear that I take it as a challenge to get that family on the road.

Travel does not have to involve planes, trains and automobiles.
It can be as simple as heading out on foot from your front door,
to an inexpensive car day trip in your own state or even own town.

In an attempt to have way to many websites, or blogs as you all call them, I have begun to compile a list and itinerary for some of my favorite trips and places.

My hope and dream for my new travel website/blog is that Spanos Family Travels will encourage you to get out and travel. It'll contain local Central Florida trips, which are great for Floridians as well as those visiting Daytona Beach or Orlando.

Hop over there.
Look around and send me some feedback.
What do you want to see?
Where do you want to go?

I'd love to know.

Friday, January 09, 2015

January is 9 Days In!!

Life has slowed down.
Thanksgiving had northern family in town followed by 5 weeks of extra college kids staying sleeping at the house.

Christmas was very relaxing.

With the years comes change
and this year was the first year in our 21 years of marriage that we did not have any plans for Christmas Eve.

So we did some Christmas shopping at stores that were quiet.
Roads that were NOT packed.
Seems like we were in the minority of those who had places to be on Christmas Eve.
And yes we often wait until Christmas Eve to shop.
And no we aren't stressed out when doing so.
Aubry was unsure of Santa Cow at Chick-fil-A

Over the years we have always made Christmas to be about the birth of Christ.
While some years the tree in filled up and other years it hasn't been
but every year there has been laughing and smiling, napping and relaxing.
This year was no different.

Steve made pancakes,
and 4 generations enjoyed New Hampshire maple syrup, blueberry pancakes and some Trader Joe's Cookie Butter; ok so I was the only one enjoying the cookie butter.

Our annual New Year party was a blast!
I spent 95% of it on the sofa.

I have truly been blessed with a season of relaxing.
Busy, yes, but God has really given me a sense of peace and relaxing.

2015 is upon us and with it some steps in faith on our part.
Our construction business has been experiencing some growing pains and so we are treading with prayer as we seek God on what this growth will look like.

We have an opportunity to purchase a piece of property to build a garage on for our business and so as this dream of ours takes place we again lay it all at the feet of Jesus.

I'll be back in the office with Steve this year, a growing business means more help needed and so my office skills are needed. I am excited but I know it'll be a challenge. 

I just finished a 10-week study called Breaking Free and have been inspired to step out into my calling.
To encourage women to live their best life, to love their husbands and families despite the hardships that come their way.
To encourage missionaries, bring awareness to their ministries, organize mission trips and help with fundraising.
To encourage families and friends to travel. So much fun can happen when people travel, even if it's in their own back yard.

So that's a brief life update.
Oh and I really would love to do some Aubry May Show podcasts but my iphone just can't handle the video, so who knows when that'll happen.

Happy January.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Aubry and Mom Podcast #1

Here are Aubry and I talking about a neat grab we got while at Michael's right before Christmas.

I want to apologize for many things about this video,
but won't.
I've thought about a video podcast for awhile now but
the house wasn't ever clean enough,
my hair was always such a mess
my outfit sketchy... I think you get it.
Sometime you just gotta do it!
so here it is, enjoy.

Cute straws to drink from and then we ended up making a cute backdrop for my nativity in the entry

I hope you all enjoyed!!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...