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The Grove: Austin’s Gathering Place

When you step into one of the two model homes at The Grove, every sound, every worry just disappears.  The Laurel B floor plan boasts over 2300 sq ft, 3 bedrooms, 4 baths and a 2 car garage.  The open kitchen/living room invites you in and you find yourself in peace.  The kitchen has granite countertops, LED lighting, stainless steel appliances, and culinary grade 6 burner gas cooktops.


As you walk up the first flight of stairs, you can see all of the detail that MileStone put into their design of the home.  The master suite greets you on the second floor and when you walk in, you are instantly engulfed in tranquility.  The master closet has a space for everything.  As you walk into the master bathroom, your eyes go directly toward the shower/bath oasis.  The second floor features another bedroom with an ensuite bathroom.


Let’s go up to the 3rd floor.  This floor boasts another living area, bedroom with ensuite bathroom and a patio area made for entertainment.


M Signature by MileStone has thought of every single detail in their homes.  The Grove features single family homes, townhomes, stacked flats and apartments.  Once completed, the neighborhood will have homes, parks, shops, restaurants and office space.  The Grove is located just off of Mopac and 45th Street.


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Just a different season

As I looked over at my husband, we both said “How did we get here?”  We’ve spent almost 16 years raising 3 amazing children.  We have entered into the stage of independence. They’ll sleep in til noon if we let them, they don’t need constant supervision, they make decisions on their own and then ask for advice.  With each kid going in a different direction most weekends, we are finding that we aren’t spending so much time together as a family.  It’s more of a divide and conquer kind of mentality rather than toting all the kids along to EVERYTHING.  One kid is starting a new job next week, another is knee deep in middle school angst and the youngest would play basketball or Fortnite 24 hours a day if he could.

And as I look at the younger moms with little ones, my heart remembers when mine were that young and they depended on me for everything.  Part of me misses those days but I know that those days were hard and sometimes isolating to the outside world.  I was once a young mom with 3 kids under the age of 5, crawling all over me thinking “I will never get another minute alone.”  Now I find myself wanting to spend time with them as much as I can.  I soak up the minutes I have with them in the car.  I want my kids to ask me questions, come to me when they are unsure of something, tell me when they are having trouble with a friend.  I want my kids to know that I am a safe space to come to when they are struggling and know that they won’t “get in trouble”.

And ya’ll, I’m scared.  My anxiety rears its ugly head when my kids want to go off and do something with a friend or if we are traveling and spread out in different cities.  It’s scary.  I start questioning if I have told them all the things they need to know.  Will they talk to a stranger?  Will they venture off on their own without their friends?  Will they fall into peer pressure?  I find myself questioning my abilities as a mom.  All I can hope is that we are raising them to be kind humans and to respect themselves and others.  I’m hopeful for the future.  When that anxiety comes creeping around, I have hope that their future is bright and full of splendid wonder.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

Galatians 6:9

Blake, Sabrina, and Evan
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Las Cruces, New Mexico

As I’m feeling the stresses of starting a new job, the school year ending for the kiddos and the overall stress of being a mom, I knew I needed a couple days away to unwind and relax.  My sister lives in El Paso and Las Cruces is less than an hour drive away.  I booked a flight while Southwest was having a sale and told my sister I was coming!  She booked a couple nights at Hotel Encanto and a plan was hatched.  While researching what to do on our mini vacay, I found the Las Cruces Convention & Visitors Bureau website.  This site has tons of information about Las Cruces including restaurants, events and things to do.  Make sure you visit this site before you go to help plan your trip.

When we arrived in Las Cruces, we checked into our hotel and then headed to the small town of Mesilla to shop and eat.  There were plenty of small shops to wander in and out.  A bookstore, a cute tea store, an olive oil store and lots of gift shops.  We made a stop at NM Vintage Winery and had a red wine and sangria flight and cooled down from the hot sun.


We continued to explore Mesilla and hung out on the square and listened to a live band.  At the suggestion of the Uber driver, we went to La Posta (which is on the Green Chile “Walk of Flame”) for dinner.  We ordered the fajitas and it was delicious!  Very interesting place as it has live birds in cages when you walk in!  It fills up fast so get there early!


The next morning, we ate breakfast at our hotel, omelette for Richelle and a stack of pancakes for me, and we headed out to the Organ Mountains to hike to Dripping Springs.  The hike up the trail is supposed to be easy but if you are out of shape like me and the sun is out…..  Let’s just say we needed to take a few breaks and sit down in the shade.  Once we reached Dripping Springs, it was beautiful and shaded.  The spring wasn’t actually dripping since it is so close to summer but walking around the old Van Patten Mountain Camp was really cool to see.  The hike back down was easy as it was all downhill and we were able to get great pictures.  Make sure you pack plenty of water, wear sunscreen, bring a walking stick and extra bandaids.


We worked up quite an appetite for lunch and it wasn’t even noon yet!  We went to Pecan Grill and Brewery located just across the street and ate a fantastic brunch!  The food was excellent as well as the service!  Richelle had the street tacos and I had the Brewer Bites.  I HAD to get something with green chiles and the garlic fries made a perfect side!  Oh, and everything tasted good with a pitcher of mimosas!  Ask for the orange/pineapple juice combo!



Next up was the Las Cruces Wine Festival!  We were really excited to check out some of New Mexico’s best wines!  After a $45 Uber ride to the fairgrounds (YIKES!) we arrived to a very crowded wine festival.  We were able to sample a few wines but the lines were pretty long, not moving and in the sun.  We found a short line with Frose (frozen rose wine) and bought a glass.  We sat in the shade and watched a painting class which was pretty amusing!  To be honest, I’m not sure if I would recommend going to this if you are in town this particular weekend.  The tickets were $20 each, Uber costs us $90 and we ended up buying 2 glasses of wine each because the lines to taste were so long and mostly in the sun.  So over $150 we spent and walked away with 2 tiny wine glasses and a sunburn.  My recommendation – skip the wine festival and find a nice restaurant that serves local wine.



When we arrived back to our hotel, exhausted and sunburned, we decided to eat at the hotel restaurant again since we had great food for breakfast.  Richelle had a yummy fajita beef salad and I went local again with chalupas.  Once again, it was delicious!


We packed everything we wanted to do in less than 48 hours!  On the way back to El Paso, we stopped for breakfast at Mesilla Valley Kitchen.  While it was tempting to get the Hangover Burrito, we went with the breakfast sandwich and potatos.

Las Cruces was the perfect girls weekend getaway!  We had great food, great wine and enjoyed the town.  We stayed at Hotel Encanto and I would recommend staying there.  They have a great restaurant, a fun bar and it’s beautiful.  It’s close to the mall and many great restaurants.  While we didn’t go to White Sands this time (since we went there with the kids a few months ago) I would recommend checking it out since it is close to Las Cruces.

Oh, and I’m having buyer’s remorse over this cute dress that I didn’t get!  Next time…..


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How to plan for a perfect girls’ getaway!

Ever find yourself tired, uninspired and just need a break from real life?  Me too.  One of the ways I get myself out of this rut is to plan a girls getaway with my girlfriends or my sisters.  It doesn’t have to be big or involve air travel!  It’s about relaxing for a couple days and not worrying about the day to day stresses.  Here is a quick guide on planning your girls trip:

  1.  Look at your calendar.  Choose 2 different dates that work for you.  Chances are higher that your girlfriends can join you on one of those dates.
  2.  Get your girls on the same page!  Initiate the trip!  Send a quick group text message to let them know that you are planning a girls getaway on either date that you chose.  Ask if they have a preference and go with the majority.
  3. Decide on a location.  Want to keep it low-key and drive an hour out of town?  Decide who is driving (usually the person with the biggest car!).  Do you have a little more time and can take a flight?  Try and coordinate flights to sync if you are coming from different areas.
    My tribe: Julie (sister), Andrea (sis-in-law), Richelle (sister) and my mom, Rita. Girls Trip to Los Angeles (January 2018).
  4. Start a private Facebook event for your girls trip.  This way, you can post ideas and travel arrangements so you all have the same info.
  5. Ask each person what top two attractions they definitely want to see.  Then plan around those.  Group them together in location so you can maximize your time during your vacation and plan around them.  Buy a book, read travel blogs or check out Pinterest for ideas on places to visit.
    I found this book at the AWAY store in Austin for our last girls trip to Los Angeles.
  6. Have your own vacation countdown.  Whether it’s on your phone or on your calendar, sometimes the act of counting down to a vacation makes us happy and the time just flies by!
  7. Go!  Have fun!  Relax by the pool or beach!  Go shopping!  Eat good food!  Do something you wouldn’t normally do!  Explore a new city!  Bond with your girlfriends!  After all, that’s what we are here for!  Cultivate those relationships!

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New York City

When my kids turn 11, they get to pick a place to visit with just mom.  This year, Sabrina picked New York City.  At first, I told her no as it was a little out of our price range.  But….  I met a friend from NY on my trip Greece that offered her extra bedroom to us.  And that made it more affordable!  So I watched for airfare deals and found one from Austin to Newark for only $119 each way.  We used United airline miles for the way there and paid for the way back.  We did our research and came up with a list of places we wanted to visit on our trip.  And we managed to squeeze pretty much everything we wanted to do in our 4 days there!

Central Park Zoo.  The perfect size for a fun afternoon!  It was cloudy and actually started to rain a little but we enjoyed our visit!  The best part was the feeding of the sea lions!  They do this a couple times a day so be sure to check out the times before you go.


Staten Island Ferry.  The best way to see the Statue of Liberty for free!  You just hop on and it takes about 25 minutes to get to Staten Island from Manhattan.  Once you get off in Staten Island, you have enough time to grab a snack and it’s back in line to head back to Manhattan.  We got some great pictures while on the ferry!


911 Memorial and Museum.  A must see while in New York.  My daughter wasn’t born at the time of the 911 attacks and I thought it was important that she learns more about this time in our history.  We started off with the movie that the museum recommends that you see first.  It was really informative and it gave my daughter the chance to ask me some questions about that day.


Eataly.  Eataly is located on the third floor of 4 World Trade Center.  We stopped at Eataly to eat dinner after the 911 Memorial and Museum visit.  They have 5 restaurants to choose from!  We opted for a piadina to share and gelato for dessert.   So much good food to choose from!


The Highline.  After dinner, we went walking along The Highline.  The Highline is a public park built on a historic freight rail elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side.  It’s a great place to stroll and check out New York.

Hillsong Church.  Sunday morning we hopped on the subway and headed to Hillsong NYC for the 10 am service.  The music is amazing and the sermon that day was fantastic!

Broadway.  After church, we headed to Times Square to check out a Broadway show.  Sabrina and I researched which shows we wanted to see and had a few in mind that were family friendly.  We ended up seeing Paramour which was a Cirque Du Soleil musical.  After the show, Sabrina got to take a picture with two of the actors!  Check out TKTS for discount tickets for many of the Broadway shows!


Times Square.  Iconic!  Times Square is a great place to people watch and shop!  You must go there at night and during the day if you have time.


The Bronx Zoo.  This was on Sabrina’s list of places we had to visit.  She was watching the Animal Planet series “The Zoo” and wanted to check it out.  We devoted an entire day to the Bronx Zoo.  We took the subway out to the Bronx and got off at Pelham Parkway.  The signs were easy to follow to the zoo.

I highly recommend making a list of all the places you want to visit before you go.  Then group them into locations.  We didn’t plan each day out until we arrived in New York.  We went in April and the weather was cold and rainy when we arrived and hot when we left.  So we saved the Bronx Zoo for our last day since the weather was nicer.

Take the subway!  Much cheaper than a cab and easy to navigate.  Download one of the subway apps on your phone and it tells you exactly which train to take and when to get off and switch.  The subway employees are helpful as well so ask when you purchase your pass.

Have fun shopping!  Go to Bloomingdale’s!  Macys!  Dylan’s Candy Bar!

New York City is a great place to visit!  So much to do!  And eat!  And experience!

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This Next Stage of Motherhood

As my husband and I waved goodbye to our kids while we sat on the lounge chairs drinking sangria, we smiled and looked at each other and said “I thought this day would never come.”  You see, we have 3 kids and for the past 13+ years, we have been attentive to every need and tried our best to make sure no one was seriously injured.  But this vacation was different.  Our 3 kids can now swim like fishes.  The older 2 are responsible and are stepping out on their own.  So we told our 3 children that they could go off at the resort waterpark by themselves, as long as they stuck together.  And guess what???  They did amazing!  They checked back in with us often and did not fight one bit.  We had to snap a selfie to document this moment in our family history:


But it got me thinking….  as a mom, I am in a completely different stage of life than I have been before.  We no longer have playdates or meet our friends at the inflatable jumpy places.  We don’t have to plan our outings around nap time.  We can run out the door to virtually anywhere and not have to pack the diaper bag or extra outfits.  This new lifestyle is so less stressful!

But let’s flip that.  We no longer get invited to playdates or the jumpy places.  I no longer walk my kids into school.  It’s a simple drop off in the morning and pick up in the afternoon.  No getting out of the car to talk to other moms.  And I’ll admit….  I think that I have lost some friends because of this new stage of life that our family is in.  I have to make a conscious effort to hang out with friends again.  And it’s hard!  Schedules are hard!  Pretty much all of my friends have kids around the same age as mine and getting everyone together (or even just the moms!) is hard!  School schedules, work schedules, activity schedules go on for days…..

So all of the moms that I used to see every day and all of the birthday parties the kids would be invited to are now gone.  I can count on one hand my good circle of friends that are in the same stage of life.  AND THAT’S OK!  Because even though we are all busy mamas just trying to raise our kids, I know that each of these ladies would help me with anything I needed in a heartbeat.  So it’s ok.  Going from staying busy with playdates to being purposeful with my friendships is far better.

This stage might not last too long.  Our oldest will be 14 in September and we will officially have 2 children in middle school here in 3 short weeks.  I’m not sure what the next stage of motherhood is but until then, I will enjoy where I’m at.

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I’m back!  From Greece!  Well, actually I got back at the end of October but I’m just now getting around to telling you all about it!  My mom and I had the time of our life!  The flight there was easy enough.  We left Houston in the evening and slept part of the flight.  When we arrived in Athens, we took our shuttle to the hotel where we met most of the other people in the group.  Mom and I ate dinner and went straight to bed.  We were exhausted from the traveling!

Since we went to sleep early, we also woke up early.  Like 4 am early.  And we witnessed our favorite part of the trip, sipping coffee on the rooftop of the hotel and watched the sun rise over Athens.  It was glorious!

We visited the Parthenon in the pouring rain (picture taken right when it started raining!).  It was absolutely magical to visit and bask in the history.

More Greece to come!


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Have Bible, Will Travel

A little over 24 hours from now, I will be headed to Greece.  This week I have been diving deeper into the word and reading my bible during any downtime, trying to prepare myself for this trip.  Our family is in the middle of moving to a new home and the kids will have to adjust with me being gone for 9 days.  You could say it’s a pretty stressful time.  But rooting myself in the word of the Lord and reading constant reminders of how good this life is, has made everything less chaotic and stressful.

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Um hello?

Well, it looks like it’s been a couple months since I have blogged!  Oops! Life has been a little hectic over here at the Leschber household.  Here is the short story of what I have been up to lately:

I quit my job!  I was not happy in the position I was in and the commute was ridiculous.  So the hubby and I sat down, went over our budget and came to the conclusion that I didn’t “need” to work full time in a job that I didn’t enjoy.  I lined up a part time job working retail (I know, I know, a little crazy but I like it) and a subcontract position doing kinship foster care studies.  The money is definitely not like it used to be but I am happy and I have more freedom to spend time with my family.

We decided to move!  Our house was getting too small and now that our oldest is officially a teenager, we knew he had to have his own room.  So we are smack dab in the middle of selling our house and buying another.  We are sad to leave Hutto (where we have lived for the past 12 years) but we are just headed down the road a few miles into Round Rock.  We will be super close to an elementary and middle school.

The move comes at the most inconvenient time.  I have a trip planned for Greece in October and of course we are scheduled to move the couple days leading up to that.  Awesome.  No stress here at all.  Did you hear the sarcasm???   Hopefully life will settle down soon and I can get back to writing.  Until then, want to come over and help me pack???  I’ll pay you with coffee or wine.

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10 Free Family Friendly Things To Do In Austin This Summer!

  1.  Watch the bats at the Congress Avenue bridge
  2. Take a tour of the Capitol Building
  3. Cool off at the Pease Park Splash Pad
  4. Splash around at Lake Plugerville
  5. Take a dip at Blue Hole in Georgetown
  6. Hike up Mount Bonnell
  7. Check out the Umlauf Sculpture Garden (free during the summer)
  8. Tour the Texas Military Forces Museum
  9. Learn about legendary Texans at the Texas State Cemetery
  10. Visit your local library PicCollage