I Love Gadgets, but They Don’t Love Me

I Love Gadgets, but They Don’t Love Me

Sometimes you're in the mood to just read something light and funny.  This is the blog for you!

There’s a lot going on around here this month.  We have lots of travel, lots of celebrations and lots of effort to stay out of the heat.  Last weekend on my way home from Dallas it was 109° and every time I stepped outside it felt like I was heading onto the surface of the sun.  I don’t remember it being this hot the past few years.  But of course it’s possible that I’ve blocked it out.

In an effort to stay cool I have been equipping myself with cooling gadgets and devices.  I like gadgets and new technology.  I can’t always figure them out, but I still like them.  To prove my gadget inadequacy, you need to hear the little fan story.

I bought a small, pen-sized fan at The Container Store last December.  It was in those stocking stuffer bins that you dig through to see if there’s a good gift for that hard to buy for guy but instead find things you want for yourself.

This fan is barely bigger than the AA battery required to run it and I knew it would be perfect for me to carry in my purse over the summer (and on planes or in church or the backseat of any car ‘cuz I get hot everywhere).  When I got it home I took it out of the box and put a battery in it only to discover that the blade moved backwards and wasn’t blowing, but pulling the air.  “Um, this dumb thing doesn’t work at all,” I thought as I tossed it on the foot of the bed and looked through the garbage for the box so I could return it.  Then my husband came in, saw me with my head in the trash and asked what I was doing.  “I have to return that little fan because it doesn’t work so I am looking for the box,” I murmured. He asked what was wrong with it, I told him and he laughed.  I recognized the tone of his laugh.  It’s the one that says, “Oh Lisa, you really are a cute dingbat.”  So I stood up from my trash search in time to see him take the battery out of the fan, flip it over and put it back in the fan.  “No!,” I rolled my eyes,” It will turn on, it’s just going the wrong way!”  That’s my own tone that says, “You men think you can fix everything but you’re not so smart.”  He grinned like the Grinch and held the little fan up to my face and I felt the breeze….his trick had worked!  The blades were going to right way!!!

He still teases me about that, but in my defense I had never heard that a battery could work in either direction.

I also had an issue once with a portable DVD player in which I got my favorite movie (“You’ve Got Mail”) permanently stuck.  I told my kids, “Sorry you can’t use the DVD player anymore.  It won’t open.  I have tried 1,000 times to get that DVD out.”  That’s when my 5 year old took it, pushed the button on the side and it flipped open.  Oh.  I hadn’t seen that button.

At Disney World last May I bought a cute little Minnie Mouse umbrella that I had a devil of a time opening and closing.  I’d have to press it closed by sandwiching the umbrella between my body and a wall and shove against it.  Then to open it I would have to pull it with all my night.  I kept thinking it seemed unusually hard to open & close.  Then one afternoon while waiting in a covered area for the rain to stop I saw a little girl with the same umbrella.  I was thinking about how it must be impossible for her to open when I watched her pull it out, push the little button and pop it open.  I sent my husband a text, “THIS DUMB UMBRELLA HAS A BUTTON ON IT!! LOL!!!”

And don’t even get me started about the hands free faucets in public restrooms.  I have never in my life been able to make one of them turn on.  I am at the mercy of other ladies in the bathroom who are willing to swipe their hand under for me.

I did figure out how to use my small necklace fan.  It hangs around your neck and blows on your face.  That fan, Sonic ice and my bottle of peppermint oil are my summer BFFs.  I will wear that little necklace fan anywhere and everywhere and I don’t care if it makes me look like a sci-fi creature or that it makes a humming sound.  I NEED it.  (although I have thought of trying to bling it up somehow)

In Dallas also went to a used bookstore which, frankly, I generally stay away from.  As soon as I entered I knew it had been a mistake.  I didn’t even get past the second display in the front of the store before I had an armful of books to purchase.  Did I need these books?  No.  But that’s what happens in used bookstores.

I walked out with $60 worth of used books, but no gadgets.  I at least had the wisdom to avoid that section of the store….even though I really wanted this cool looking booklight that I saw out of the corner of my eye.  I felt certain that I would somehow put the batteries in wrong and never hear the end of it.

Have a great week.  Stay cool!

If you like this post, you will also like How to Keep a Simple Summer Menu and 10 of My Favorite Summer Oils

Why I’m Playing Pokémon Go

Why I’m Playing Pokémon Go

If you're not sure wheteher or not to pick up this latest craze, or how to keep it under control, here are some great tips for you!

Yes, we have gotten into the new craze…Pokémon Go.  Before you throw stones and tell me how it was started with evil intent and Christians shouldn’t be spending time on such terrible things, let me fill you in.

I have been looking for things to do with my 3 youngest boys that don’t involve yard work (which we do a lot of) or home repair (it never ends) or school (being the mom and the teacher has its challenges).  I wanted to do something they would enjoy, but didn’t cost much and we could build memories with.  And since lately I have been seeing this Pokémon game being discussed all over the interwebs, I downloaded the app.  Of course, because I am old I didn’t understand anything about it, I had to ask my 15 year old to look at it with me and that was the end of that.  He took over and his 2 younger brothers gathered around him like moths to a flame.

After we got it set up and started it became obvious that it wasn’t something we could do at home.  Living in the country means no PokeStops or Pokémon to catch.  You have to go where the people are.  You have to be active.  So I suggested we go for a drive and see how it all works.  For the next hour and a half we explored our town and met some interesting young people.  And that’s when I fell in love with the game.

I wasn’t actually playing, I was just driving my boys around as they took turn catching and colleting.  And I had such a fab time with them!  Here’s why I am all for the game and why we will keep playing….

  1. We do it together.  It depends on how you play, but since we were all working off of one phone it became a group activity.  They take turns and help each other find things.  They tell me where to go and when to turn and I enjoy being led by my little men.  They get excited together and we have plans to do it as often as possible.
  2. We explore our town.  The PokeStops are places like monuments, murals, churches and city buildings.  We walk around and learn about our town and places we had never really noticed.  It is such fun to find out more about the place we live!
  3. Historical markers!  Some places we have to go are the local historical Markers.  I told the boys that any marker we stop at to get Pokémon we also have to actually READ the marker and discuss it.  We decided to do some more studying later about some of these incredible historical spots!
  4. Meeting new people.  We meet a lot of new people!  I will chat with other Pokémon players while the boys look for Pokémon and I really enjoy meeting some people I would otherwise never have met.  I don’t care if they are a group of young men drinking beer while playing Pokémon or moms with their kids or teen girls with all colors of hairstyles.  It is such a blessing to interact with them, ask for their advice on playing the game and get to know a little about them.  Everyone has been friendly and I hope I will get to see them again!
  5. Adding a new dimension to our travel.  My boys kept talking about how fun it will be to look for Pokémon when we go to Universal Studios in September.  Or the airport.  Or when visiting their sister in Dallas.  I can see that we will get to explore new things about these places too, things we would never have discovered otherwise.
  6. Believe it or not, exercise!  There’s one part of the game where you get rewards for walking….actually walking (or running would work too, but you can’t drive or ride).  So we are going for walks and talking about life while our steps work in the game.  LOVE!

I know there are bad things about this game.  People getting hurt or being careless.  There is probably some wicked intent with the whole Pokémon thing that I am unaware of and, frankly, not worried about.  I do have some requirements that I added to the game to make it family friendly and as long as we stick to those I think it will be a great way for me to spend time with my boys.

  1. We do it together only.  No one will be going off to play alone and they have to take turns.  Once someone catches a Pokémon and goes to a Poke Stop they hand the phone to the next person.  Their turns can vary in length and style, so you have to be patient and a bit selfless.  If your kids aren’t good at this, it’s a perfect way to teach this concept.
  2. Be careful, for goodness sake!  Really, I can see how someone would just step into the street or if you were driving and doing it, man it’s dangerous. Even though I am not looking at the game at all when I am driving, the boys shout out directions to me like, “Turn left NOW” as I am driving in the right lane.  They’re excited and I can’t see what’s happening in the game so it gets hairy.  Just keep your wits, remember what’s most important (staying safe, that’s what) and you’ll be fine.
  3. We have to look around and not just at the phone.  Anytime we are in a spot that is interesting (which is almost everywhere) I take the phone from them and we look around.  We talk about the area, what happens there, why we think it is a PokeStop, etc.  Like I said above, we read all historical markers and study the murals and statues.  There is some amazing stuff out there!
  4. Talk to people.  If we see anyone else playing where we are, the rule is that one of us has to say hello to them and ask them one question, either Pokémon advice or something about themselves.  Smile, be friendly, get to know someone, and shine the love of Christ to others.  This is my favorite of all the rules we made.  🙂
  5. No getting obsessed.  We are an obsessive bunch around here.  We get overly attached to things and can let it control our minds.  We do a lot of Bible memory and make it a habit to focus on what is good, and true and pure.  So when my mom-radar detects a kid getting overly consumed with something that is just fluff and not valuable to their life, I nip it fast.  The boys have been told in no uncertain terms, if they talk too much about Pokémon, or seem like they’ve gotten carried away with it we will stop.  Nada.  No mo.
  6. No spending money! There is no way I am going to spend any money on in app purchases no matter what….we won’t be doing that.  I don’t care if the world’s rarest Pokémon treasure is within our reach if we would only spend 99¢, I’m not doing it.  Got it?  Not my money, not their money, NO money will be spent on this game.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I am really enjoying this.  It’s not just another video game that my boys play and I know little to nothing about.  This is something I can do with them and I have at least a clue what the different parts are and what they’re talking about (although I will never understand it all).  I love listening to them in the backseat strategizing and sharing their victories with each other.  It’s a delight to play this game with my boys and have something we do together.

When I run into town I invite one of the boys to go so they can play alone for a few minutes.  I’ll run my errand then spend 10 minutes or so looking for Pokémon at their direction.  This morning my youngest son and I discovered a park that we didn’t know was there and made plans to go back and play on the playground there when it gets cooler.

If you’ve been on the fence about this or have decided it’s a bad thing to stay away from, I hope you will consider trying it.  Just stick closely to the boundaries you create for it and you’ll have grand time!

Be sure to follow me on Instagram where, of course, I don’t share any Pokémon pictures because I don’t have access to my phone/camera when we are playing….which….if you think about it is another plus.  No one is doing anything except playing and enjoying the outdoors.  But I do share other fun stuff there….. 😉

And if you have any other Pokémon tips we would love to hear them.  Hop over to Facebook and tell us all about it!

If you liked this, you will also like my Mom’s Guide to Universal Studios —>

Sonic Ice Tips and a Great Lip Balm Recipe

Sonic Ice Tips and a Great Lip Balm Recipe

This post contains affiliate links.

I am sorry to tell you, but this begins the portion of the summer when I complain a lot about the heat.  In fact, I don’t understand how I have not sweated off at least 3 pounds by now.  It’s the time of year when your car feels like an oven every time you get into it, even if you were only stopped long enough to run into the minimart for a bag of ice to dump on yourself.  And WHY on earth can’t I ever remember to put the windshield shade up when I stop?!  I walk back out to my car, open the door and the intense heat reminds me that I could have endured only 110° inside the car instead of 125° if only I had put the shade up.

Speaking of heat, I have been keeping stocked up on my beloved Sonic ice.  It’s such a help to keep me cool.  I buy bags of it and put them in my freezer so I have it on hand at all times.  And, because it melts a little then refreezes in a solid piece, I have developed a system for keeping it all loose and perfect.  Here’s how I do it…..

sonic-ice-tips

  1. Buy a bag of ice at Sonic, put it in a cooler in the car and get home as quickly as possible.
  2. Once home, get it out of the car as quick as you can, run if you have to, into the kitchen and cut a small slice in one of the bottom corners of the bag and let all of the water drain in the sink.
  3. Once you have as much water out as possible, put the bag immediately in the freezer.
  4. Set the timer for 15 minutes.
  5. When the timer goes off, get the bag out of the freezer and bang it around on the counter to loosen up all of the small pieces of ice.
  6. Set the time for another 15 minutes.
  7. Repeat step 5.
  8. Now the bag is all frozen and not in a solid piece and you will have beautiful nugget ice all summer!

That may seem extreme, but once you’ve gone to the trouble of buying Sonic ice only to have it freeze into one solid chunk that you have to pound for 20 minutes with a hammer just to get a few slivers off you will see the wisdom of my system.

Since it’s a whole big thing, I usually buy two or three bags of ice at a time so I can do it all at once.  And I like to hide one bag behind the meat so the kids can’t find it.  Shhhh….

Yesterday while the kids went swimming, I decided to do some mixing and concocting.  It was just too hot for me to sit out there with them and I didn’t want to be where I couldn’t hear them, so I found something to do in the kitchen (my kitchen is the nearest room to the pool).  I got out my oils and my supplies and made several kinds of lip balm.  I am a lip balm addict and I love to make my own so I know exactly what’s in it.

My obsession actually started about a year and a half ago when one of my Young Living friends had a son who really needed the oils that had been helping him with his focus and learning at school.  One day the the principle told my friend that her son couldn’t bring his teeny bottle (it was literally the size of a capsule) to school anymore.  She needed to find a way to let him use the oils at school (he had huge improvement in school since using his oils) so put our heads together.  We came up with two things he could do.

First, we got him a guy-style leather bracelet that he could put a drop on each morning before school and wear it all day.  Second, after making sure he could carry a lip balm, we went to work making some that had his oils in it.  Then he just rubbed it on his wrists instead of his lips.  It worked great!!!!

We made up a big batch for him so she had them ready for the whole year.  Then I became obsessed and started making them for myself to use as actual lip balm.  I played around with various recipes until I came up with one I like.  This is super healthy for your lips and is nice and smooth.  Plus I add a little shimmer to it so I can also use it over my lipstick as a gloss.

Lisa’s Favorite Lip Balm (makes 2 tubes)

Materials: Small glass bowl (or glass measuring cup), small pot, hot pad, paper plates¹, empty lip balm containers, metal 1/2 & 1/8 tsp measuring spoons
Ingredients: Shea butter, coconut oil, almond oil, castor oil, beeswax, Vit E, Mica powder (optional), 8 drops of essential oils²

Add to the glass bowl:
½ tsp shea butter
½ tsp coconut oil
½ tsp beeswax
½ tsp almond oil/castor oil/Vit E³
⅛ tsp Mica powder (optional)

Fill the small pot with about 2″ of water and bring to a boil.  Place the glass bowl with the ingredients into the boiling water and stir occasionally with one of the measuring spoons.  Once it’s all melted together, use a hot pad to remove the bowl from the water and add the Mica powder and essential oils.  Stir then pour into the tubes.  Let sit for 24 hours.  Label if desired.

¹Use the paper plates to set your empty tubes on and pour.  This catches the spills and makes it easy to know what you put in each tube, in case you make various batches.

²Let’s talk about the essential oils you can add.  This is the BEST part!  You can mix them up any way you want!  I like to have different kinds ready for what I need.  If I want to relax, I use lavender lip balm, or if I’m needing to support my immune system, I might use Thieves and Tea Tree oils together.  My personal fave is frankincense and lemon.  I like the way they help me feel cheerful and alert and those are both really great for your skin.  Win-Win.

³For the blend, fill half of the measuring spoon with almond oil, then fill almost with castor oil then add a squirt of Vit E

I love a healthy lip.

The better to kiss you with, my dear.

Now that my Sonic ice is all ready for me and my lips have chemical-free protection, I should stop complaining about the heat.  But I won’t.  Because then no one would recognize me.

Have a great week!!!

***If you haven’t gotten your essential oils yet, let’s do this together!  Click HERE to order your Premium Starter Kit today and I’ll send you some of my homemade lip balm!  Plus I’ll send you a great reference book to help you get started and add you to my awesome Facebook group!***

An Ungrateful Children Recipe (for helping them, not making them)

An Ungrateful Children Recipe (for helping them, not making them)

This week we have had a houseful!  And for a mom with 9 kids, that’s saying something.  My 4 nieces and nephews are here for 10 days and one of my teens has 2 friends visiting for the week.  That’s 6 extra people.

Now, you’re probably one of those moms who says things like, “There are 42 children at my house today and I LOVE it!”  I meet those ladies and wonder what God was thinking when He made me.  Because if I had 42 extra people staying at my house for 10 days I would be calling them men in white coats to take me away.  I am not that girl.

It’s not just having company that makes it hard, but my own children are ignored when this much is going on and really no one is getting the attention they need.  So the attitudes slip and the fussiness kicks in.

Look, I get it.  Children need to be seen and heard.  And I WANT to take great care of every one.  But sometimes the person bleeding just gets more attention that the person who is crying because their cookie fell on the ground.  It’s a hard fact of life.

I am really enjoying the family being here and the friends and getting to spend time with them all.  BUT  I hit a wall yesterday where I thought that if I heard one more word of complaint or whine about an injustice I was going to lose my ever lovin’ mind.  Mama doesn’t care for whining and crying about how one child didn’t get the same amount of food or another got told he couldn’t play wii right now.  And when I say no, DO NOT ASK ME WHY.

{{OK Lisa, shake it off}}

Of course, each time we have a situation I have been sitting down and talking sweetly to them about the appropriate way to respond to a problem or God’s way to handle disappointment.  But it’s draining. Then yesterday I thought, “Hey, I have all of these essential oils….I wonder if I could ‘brew up a potion’ that would help.”

I already had the oils all out in my bathroom to make some sprays to take with us for a day at the river.  We would need something for the sun and nature we were going be exposed to.  I made a bottle with Purification and peppermint and another with lavender.  Then I glanced over at the case of oils and saw my little bottle of Gratitude and thought, “Hmmmm…..”

So I mixed up this concoction:

An essential oil concoction that every mom needs!

For the rest of the day yesterday and this morning, I have been carrying the spray bottle in my pocket and pulling it out anytime there’s an attitude problem.  I just give it a little spritz over their head and then have my quiet talk with them.

And if you’re wondering, yes, they all know what it is.  They can read.  And amazingly, it does seem to be helping.  I think it’s a combination of the oils and the unspoken message, “You’re being ungrateful,” that is communicated just by me spraying it.

But they have been smiling and listening better when we have out little talks after I use the spray.  And it smells good, which helps.  And it has the added benefit of helping my own attitude as well.

So I thought I’d share the simple recipe with you.

Ungrateful Children Spray: Fill a 2 oz sprayer bottle about 1/2 full of distilled water.  Add 1 tsp of witch hazel (this preserves it, so if you think you’ll use it quickly you don’t need it).  Add 12 drops of Gratitude, 12 drops of Joy and 4 drops of peppermint.  Shake before using.

Summer Outdoors Spray is 20 drops of Purification and 10 drops of peppermint (but in your Premium Starter Kit!).

Since that’s working so well I made 2 more sprays.  I thought I’d just keep the momentum going.

Exhausted Mom Spray has 15 drops of ErRGee, 10 drops of Motivation and 5 drops of Spearmint.

Worn Out Kids Spray has 10 drops of Harmony, 10 drops of lemon, 5 drops of rosemary and 1 drop of black pepper.

I may get a mad scientist coat and start making these for everything!  Mwahahaha!

If you haven’t gotten your Premium Starter Kit yet, HERE and once you order I’ll send you a great reference book and a bunch of other goodies!  Hooray!

Hop over to Facebook and let us know if you try it!

I am not a physician and these are simply the way my family uses the oils.  For a real medical situation please consult your doctor.  Or if your kids just won’t stop complaining, consider sending them to military school. 

Need Some Encouragement?!

Need Some Encouragement?!

On Monday I announced my new summer camp for moms!  I am so excited about this I could bust!  I’ve been planning and prepping for y’all these past few months and asking God to give me fresh ideas to lift you up and draw you closer to Him.  And in His beautiful, loving way, He gave me so many ideas that I don’t know how I will do all of them.

I want to fill you in a little on what we will be doing for the next 6 weeks.  You will love this…..it will be so easy to keep up with that you will be amazed.  I know how busy we all are, so my goal is to give you a place of refreshment that doesn’t add to your pile of pressure.

  1. First and most important, I have been praying for you.  I’m asking God to send who He wants, who needs encouragement, who is not enjoying their family as much as they want to our camp.  If you’re feeling discouraged or tired or stuck somehow, then this camp is for you!  It will be uplifting and motivating.  You’ll find friends who will cheer you on as you push toward your goal of finding that old you who loved life.

    In fact, last Sunday I went to the Grand Canyon and while my 2 kids that were with me went to make some videos, I sat and prayed for you all.  I spent an hour and a half sitting on a rock, looking over the majesty of the canyon and asking Him to give you peace and comfort and to use me in any way He wanted to bring you joy.

    A great online summer camp for moms!

  2. You will get a weekly email with a video of encouragement and fun.  We will virtually visit exotic places and find time to chill out.  It will take 10 minutes and then you will be left with some fresh ideas for how to enjoy your summer.  Just once a week….not every day.  I want this to fit into your full schedule.  This is time for YOU!

    A great online summer camp for moms!  Get refreshed, be encouraged, enjoy your family!

  3. We will have a Facebook group just for our mom campers.  There you can pop in and out all you want.  Need a shoulder to lean on?  It will be there.  Need some strong, encouraging friends?  They’re there.  Every time I mention on my Facebook page that I am hanging out with my girlfriends I hear from dozens of women who say they don’t have that kind of friend in their life.  THIS is where you will find those people, learn to build friendships that will be a support for you and grow!!!

    A great online summer camp for moms!

  4. Another great part of my summer camp will be the daily (M-F) texts.  These are optional, but it’s going to bless you.  This is a sweet message to start your day with.  You can look at it all day when you need to remember how special you are and that you can be that energized woman God intended you to be!

    A great online summer camp just for moms!!!  Register now!

  5. Prizes!  Oh yeah, we will have a weekly Thursday night “bonfire” in the Facebook group where I have lined up special guests, prizes and lots of fun!!!  You don’t want to miss this!!!

    A wonderful online summer camp just for moms!!!  Register now!!!

My friends, go get registered for summer camp.  And if you have friends who could use some lifting up, send them over too!  The more the merrier!

All women are welcome!!!

An Exciting Summer Camp for MOMS!!!

An Exciting Summer Camp for MOMS!!!

I am SO excited to announce that I have put together a GREAT Summer Camp for Moms!

summer-camp04

Now, before you run to the storage and start digging around for your old backpack and sleeping bag…..hold on!  This camp is going to take place online.  Yep, that’s right.  You get to sleep in your own bed and have all the air-conditioning you want.  But at the same time, you’ll be making new friends, getting camp-style encouragement and being refreshed.  We moms need a break too!

From July 4-August 12 we will be hanging out together and getting uplifted.  When you sign up for Mom’s Summer Camp….aka Camp Gimmeabreak…you’ll be added to our camp Facebook group where we will have daily morning encouragement, pray for each other, share healthy encouragement and even have a weekly bonfire with special guests.  Every Monday you will get an email with a video from me, a list of ideas for making your week shine and some tips for building great summer memories!  We will be going through my book, “Mama Needs a Do-Over“, so be sure to pick that up before camp starts next week!

Before you start to think, “This might be too much for me to do….I have a FULL schedule already!” let me assure you that I understand!  These are full days for all of us, so I am making sure that there are no hard assignments or overwhelming actions that will keep you from getting through camp.  This is exactly what you need….a few weeks of summer fun just for MOM!

So, how do you sign up?!  Well it’s super simple!  Just click HEREto get started!  Tell all of your friends and spread the word…this is gonna be a great way to escape the summer blahs!

summer-camp03

And I have a LOT of surprises up my sleeve for this time we will spend together.  You DO NOT want to miss a second of it!

See you around the campfire!

 

How to Keep a Simple Summer Menu

How to Keep a Simple Summer Menu

summer-menu01

Do you stick to a tight schedule in the summer or do you keep it foot loose and fancy free?  Me, I’m a little of both.  When there’s a lot going on I keep it tight, carefully planning how we will manage the time away from home and still keep the house clean and food on the table.  But if we aren’t traveling or keeping appointments I’m all “Get up whenever you want and feed yourself.”  It’s those times I will lounge around like a movie star who has nothing to do but ask the servants for more ice.

Over on the Tommy Nelson blog I’ve shared my 5 Tips for Keeping a Summer Schedule.  It’s how I manage things when we have a lot going on.  Like right now, I am getting ready to be gone all next week to Utah (Young Living Convention here I come!) and I am using all of the tips from that post!  Since two of my older kids are going with me and my husband will be home with the younger boys, there’s a lot of meal planning and organizing to do.

But the week after that I am planning on doing n-o-t-h-i-n-g.  This means we will be lounging and not cleaning or cooking if I can help it.  We do have to survive though, so I have a list of staples that we keep around for those weeks when Mom needs a break and the kids just want to swim, eat, swim, repeat.  With these things in the pantry it’s super easy to put together meals with very little cleanup.

summer-menu02

Here’s what I will have on hand:
corn chips (I buy big boxes of them at Costco or Sam’s Club…actually I buy a lot of this there)
refried beans
tomato sauce
rice
almonds

elbow macaroni (including a gluten-free option)
shredded cheese (again, a huge bag)
rice or almond milk
yogurt
eggs

bread (GF bread for those who need it)
bone broth (I make it and it’s ready to eat for any snack or meal)
carrot sticks
lettuce
apples
bananas
berries

onions
popsicles (I’ve been making NingXia Red popsicles that are amazing!)
ground beef, cooked and seasoned
chicken, cooked and seasoned and cut up or shredded
hot dogs
buns
corn tortillas

I also keep the makings for my Taco Soup around so we can throw that together.  I know it’s not really soup weather, but its so easy to make and very satisfying.  We can just heat & eat it when we are hungry.

With this list of ingredients we can make: nachos, burritos, macaroni with chicken, macaroni with cheese, hot dogs, cereal, smoothies, simple salad, simple soup, chicken & rice, chicken sandwiches, sloppy joes, burgers, eggs and toast, and many other random experiments.  Now, this is assuming there are already spices and oils in the pantry.

For instance, I can shred lettuce, chop carrots and almonds to sprinkle over the lettuce, drizzle with whatever dressing we have in the fridge and it’s an easy salad.  Or mix the seasoned ground beef with a little cooked onion, tomato sauce and whatever spices we have and serve over rice (Do you have a rice steamer?  Um, you need one!).  Really, we just wing it.  As long as there’s protein and produce at every meal we’re good.

It’s not a super healthy menu, but quick and easy for the kids.  When I am not laying around ignoring my responsibilities we have a healthier menu.  But everyone loves this style of casual eating….I just lay out some things on the list, cut up some veggies or fruit and they make their own concoctions.

Oh, and don’t forget the paper plates!  That is KEY to an easy summer menu.  I keep them in the cabinet right next to the real plates so they’re easy to grab.

As for drinks, we are water all the way.  We very rarely have anything else so drinks are not on my shopping list.  But once in a while I’ll buy soft drinks to have around for a family movie night or when we have friends over.  I keep the soft drinks hidden away in the extra fridge so the kids don’t really notice them, otherwise they’d be gone before the end of the day I bought them..

Whether you have a crazy summer schedule or laid back lazy days, or like me, a little of both, getting organized will go a long way toward a smooth and enjoyable time.

Stay cool my friend!

If you have more summer menu tips, hop over to Facebook and share them with us!  We’d all love to hear!

The Best Memories Are Made When Things Go Wrong

The Best Memories Are Made When Things Go Wrong

How can I sum up a whirlwind weekend of travel and mishaps?  In three words: hot, draining and delightful.

Last summer our oldest daughter moved to Dallas last to live with my amazing sister-in-law and this past weekend she was moving out of their house and into a house shared with 2 other girls.  But she needed bedroom furniture.  Simple things, a bed, dresser, desk and a few odds and ends.

I was finally going to be able to prove to my husband that my obsession with keeping furniture piled up in our storage building is worth it.

So last Thursday I rummaged around in there and found what we needed, except a bed which I have no extras of, and loaded it all into our 15-passenger van.  We’ve had this van since the dawn of time and it’s got some wear and tear.  But since it was supposed to rain, we decided to use it to carry the furniture so we didn’t have to figure out tarps, etc.  We removed 3 of the 4 benches and everything fit with a little room to spare.

In order to tell this story, you have to know that something weird started happening with our van a couple of weeks ago.  We suspect it has something to do with all of the rain we’ve been having, but who knows really.  That’s just our theory.  First one of the side doors wouldn’t open from the outside.  The handle did nothing.  So we had to reach in from the front door and pull the latch from the inside.  OK, not super convenient, but we can do that.  Then one of the back doors did the same thing.  So now we had to crawl to the back and open that from the inside too.  A bit less convenient, but onward and upward, as they say.

On Saturday morning we got up early to make the 5.5 hour drive to Dallas only to discover that the side door wouldn’t open at all.  Not from the inside or the outside.  So NOW we all have to get in and out of the van through the front doors and CLIMB to the back.  Nice.  Can you say “Redneck”?

But it got worse.  Hang on.

We got to Dallas, unloaded at the new place (climbing in through the front door and crawling over all of the furniture to the back to open the door from the inside), then went to my daughter’s boyfriend’s parents house to pick up a box spring they were loaning her.  “Hi, nice to meet you, thanks for letting us borrow this.  Hang on while I get my 13 year old to crawl through the driver’s door to the back of the van so we can load it up.”  On the way back to my daughter’s house we stopped at Sam’s Club to get a mattress….same story.  He kept cheerfully crawling over the furniture to open the back door for us.

When we got back to the house to deliver the bed, my son did his thing, headed to the back of the van to open the door, and guess what.  Yep.  The door wouldn’t open at all.  We stood there stunned.  I mean, really?  WE HAVE A BED BACK THERE!!!

My daughter’s boyfriend made his way inside to the back of the van and worked on it with nothing but YouTube videos and a paint can opener.  The girls had NO tools.  While he did that, my boys and I removed what we could through the front doors, even getting the mattress out.  But there was no way we could get the box springs out.  After an hour we gave up on the back door and started trying the side door.  That took another half hour and I was beginning to think I was going to have to go buy a box spring, strap it to the top of my daughter’s car and just keep the boyfriend’s parent’s box spring forever in the back of my van.

Finally, after another 20 minutes, my other daughter got her tiny hand up in the side door mechanism and clicked it open.  SWEET RELIEF!

Since we have never been able to it again, we think it was just a God-thing.  He had mercy on us before we all fainted from heat strokes.

We took the bed out, made triple sure we didn’t need to have the door open anymore and went to close the door only to discover it wouldn’t close.  Um, this might be a bigger problem.

I will spare you the rest of the details except to say that we did finally get it closed about 40 minutes later, went to get food and collapsed.

The next day we evaluated what more she needed to get her room organized and decided she needed some shelves.  So I headed to IKEA (only 20 minutes away….dreamy!) and I wish you had seen us in the IKEA parking lot pushing huge boxes through the front window into the back of the van.  I know people were wondering why we didn’t just open the back door and set it in.

But we do like an adventure and as much trouble as it all was, memories were made and everybody had a great time.  Well, maybe not the boyfriend whose legs cramped from sitting on the floor in the back of the van for an hour.  But he never complained.

I started to feel like I needed to repay him somehow.  Then I remembered that I am essentially giving him my firstborn child, so I got over it.

We hung around until around 3:00 Sunday assembling IKEA furniture (I bought tools while I was out as a contribution to the girl’s house) and enjoying being together.  Oh, and did I forget to mention that the A/C in my daughter’s new place was out?  Uh huh.  I have had my quota of heat for the summer.

When we got back home Sunday night, I was retelling the whole adventure to my husband, who sat quietly and listened to me unfold the details all about the heat and the bed and the van doors and feeling faint a few times.  I told him about my daughter’s little room and how we figured out the best arrangement and got her all settled.  I apologized for spending more money on her furniture than we had planned.  When I finally stopped talking he just smiled at me and said, “You loved every minute of it, didn’t you?”

Yep, I sure did.

8 Summer Vacation Helpful Tips AND a Terrific SHOE Giveaway!!!

8 Summer Vacation Helpful Tips AND a Terrific SHOE Giveaway!!!

This post contains affiliate links.

Have you made any summer vacation plans?  I know many of you are going to be packing up and heading somewhere this summer.  I have several trips planned myself that I am super excited about!

I get so many questions asking for Disney advice or airplane tips, since I have been so many times now.  You might notice, however, that no one asks me for camping tips.  I’m not a camper since I’m a big fan of air-conditioning and indoor showers.

If you're traveling this summer, here are some great tips for travel PLUS a favorite travel shoe giveaway!

 

Anyway, I love sharing what I have learned from my experience of traveling, especially from my Disney and Universal trips.  Traveling to Disney or anywhere you’ll be walking all day long, high activity and crowds is a whole different kind of vacation.  You walk so much that your feet need extra care, the heat is a problem and sometimes people cry.  Or is that just me?

I’ve discovered products that help make traveling easier and simple tips to smooth out the bumps.  And there are always bumps.  That’s my first tip….

7 great tips for summer travel, product recommendations PLUS a favorite travel show giveaway!

  1. Expect there to be problems.  No matter how well you plan your trip, there will be kinks along the way.  Tires go flat, lines get long, rain pours, people get sick, it can’t be helped.  That’s part of it, the messiness.  That’s what adds the flavor to the memories.A couple of years ago we went to Disney World with 11 people: James, me and 9 kids (although a few of them were over 18, we still call them kids).  It was 3 hotel rooms, 33 meals every day, no one replying to text messages, not knowing where half of them were most of the time, etc.  After a couple of days I had a Mom-meltdown and started crying in the lobby of our resort, like bawling.  The kids stood around me like I was a display in a freak show, not knowing what to do.  Should they pet me or walk away and pretend not to know me?  We laughed about it later, it was pretty funny.  On another day we were so late for our dinner reservation that we had to wait until about 9PM to eat.  We sat on the sidewalk outside the restaurant like beggars, waiting to get some food tossed out to us.  Those things weren’t part of our plan, but honestly, they are some of the funniest memories.  Make the best of those hard times and let them add to the fun! (the crying wasn’t fun, but even in the middle of it I could see the humor of how ridiculous I looked)
  2. Relax.  Active trips can make you forget to just relax.  Parents all around you will be begging their screaming children to stop crying.  Bribery (“Want an ice cream cone?!”), empty threats (“If you don’t stop that we are going to leave.”) and throwing their hands up in exasperated defeat is what you will witness everywhere you turn.  You don’t have to be one of those parents.  If you’re feeling overwhelmed by it all, take a step back and relax.  Sit down with your kids (this is MUCH better than having a meltdown in a resort lobby) and chill for a minute.  Yes, you might miss something, but in the end you will be better for it.  There’s always plenty to do on these trips, so if you miss a Fast Pass just let it go or try to get another one.  If you don’t make it to a show because you were resting, so be it.  You will enjoy your trip so much more if you slow down.
  3. Eat well.  This is tough, but if you eat well you’ll have a much better time if you eat as healthy as possible!  Even if you’re dining out for every meal, you can stick close to lean protein and veggies as much as possible.  Instead of giving the kids a bunch of sugary treats, stick with fruit, water, hummus, veggie sticks, etc.  You can find these on the snack plan at Disney or you can bring them with you.  Here’s a post about how I went to Disney without eating sugar!
  4. Wear comfortable shoes.  Before my last trip to Disney a few weeks ago I was on a mission to find shoes that would keep my feet from hurting after walking over 20,000 steps every day for 7 days.  I don’t ask for much….comfortable, water proof, and look really cute.  I went out three times and looked for shoes.  I could wear sneakers, but it’s really miserable once they get wet and it almost always rains in Florida.  I could wear my Birks, but they tend to hurt my feet after a few thousand steps and they also don’t do well in water since they’re leather.  I tried everything from Chacos to Crocs and nothing worked.  I love my Otz shoes, which is what I wore the past few trips, but they get ruined in the rain and I didn’t want to lose another pair.

    I was just about to give up when I found the perfect shoe.  I saw it on my way out of my last store, giving up all hope.  I’m pretty sure a sunbeam was shining right on them so I couldn’t miss it….a sign from God that this was the answer to my search.  They’re made by Oofos.  They had all of my requirements….comfy, cute and waterproof!  And believe me, I tested them thoroughly by wearing them for my entire trip and my feet never hurt at all!  I am not kidding, they gave my the arch support I need.  It feels like you’re walking on a cushion.  In fact, I am so amazed by them then whenever I run into anyone on the street or in the grocery store I make them try mine on so they can experience it for themselves.  Trust me, you want these shoes and they come in both between the toes (this is what I wore) or as strap over the foot (this is what my husband wore).I’m going to be wearing them all summer! (read all the way down to see how you can WIN a pair of these!)

  5. Stay cool!  Like I said above, I like air-conditioning.  But this is summer and it gets hot.  You have to be outside in the heat sometime.  So I found this great way to stay cool.  Or cool-er.  I used to carry a small fan with me and hold it up to my face when I got hot, but then some friends on Facebook told me about this little beauty!  It’s a fan you wear around your neck and it blows on your face.  Oh. My. Heaven!  I ordered two and I don’t care that it makes me look like I have on a medical alert necklace, I will be wearing it all summer!  I even added something extra to mine by putting a piece of sticky felt to the top and now I can add a drop of my favorite essential oil.  It blows the aroma right up to my face, which is perfect!!!  I’m going back to Orlando in September for Universal and this personal fan will be my BFF.7 great tips for your summer vacation with product recommendations AND a giveaway of the perfect vacation shoes!
  6. Stay hydrated.  Water, water and more water!  I decided to get a holder for my water bottle so it’s easy to access without my needing to hold it all the time.  I like my camelback backpack, but you can’t add essential oils to the water pouch on that.  You have to use glass or stainless steel when you’re adding oils, and I prefer stainless since it’s lightweight and not breakable.  I got this bottle holder that makes your water available to you hands free!  I wore it crossbody and even rode the rides with it still on with no problem.  You can buy the companion water bottle, but I found that a plastic bottle fits in it and so does the stainless steel bottle I already own.  I’m going to get a few more for the kids before we go to Universal in September so they can carry their own.7 great vacation tips with product recommendations AND a giveaway of the perfect pair of vacation shoes!
  7. You know I have to add my beloved essential oils to this list.  I can’t make a helpful travel list without including my oils.  They bless me so much on all of my travels both for the plane and through the exhausting days.  I carry around with me peppermint, PanAway, StressAway and Thieves (usually more but these are my must haves).  Those are all in the Premium Starter Kit that I am always talking about.  Plus I take a diffuser for the hotel room which is fantastic for eliminating odors and germs.  I make sure to have lemon, lavender and Purification with me for the room diffuser (also in the kit).  Using the oils while traveling helps me deal with the inevitable problems I mentioned in #1.
  8. Prayer.  I saved the best for last.  Places like Disney and Universal are incredible family trips, but there is a lot of pressure around any vacation.  What to pack, how to pay for it, what activities to do (because you can’t possible do it all), how to get there, keeping the kids (and Mom) happy, being patient with other travelers and the workers who are not always in a good mood are only a few of the hard things that we need help with.  Put on the armor of God be “prayed up” every day and throughout the day.   There is so much peace in His care….prayer is a vacation MUST!

Now…..you will LOVE this so be glad you read all the way to the end!  I reached out to the folks and Oofos and told them how much I loved my shoes and they offered to let me give away a pair to TWO of you!  HOW COOL IS THAT?!  You have got to enter as many times as you can to improve your chances of winning!  And if you don’t win, I urge you to go find where they sell them in your area and try them.  Or just believe me and order a pair for yourself right now!

7 great tips for summer travel PLUS a giveaway of my favorite pair of sandals for travel!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

All in all, vacations are a blessing, but tiring and challenging.  These 8 things will help you no matter where you’re going and what you’re doing when you get there.  But especially if you’re planning a trip that is demanding, you’ll want to gear up and say those prayers!

And yes, I realize the picture says 7 things and the list has 8.  I didn’t realize it until after I had published and I was going to make a new graphic, but then I thought, “Nah.  My people don’t care about that,” and I moved on.  See?  There’s always a mess.

Have a great summer vacation!

If you liked this, you will also love “10 Ways to Lighten a Traveler’s Load” and “9 Things You Must Have at Disney“!

How I Went to Disney and Didn’t Eat Sugar

How I Went to Disney and Didn’t Eat Sugar

This post contains affiliate links.

I just got home from a marvelous, magical Disney vacation.  My husband and I went for a week….no kids.  My BFF and her husband went also, but we only hung out together a few times, mostly it was just my husband and I.  Disney isn’t just for kids, my friend.  There’s a LOT to do for grownups.

We went to Disney with just the two of us, no kids, no worries.

There’s also a lot to eat.  Like, a LOT.  We did the Disney Dining Plan, which means each day we had one sit down restaurant meal, one quick service meal and one snack.  Both daily meals come with a drink, entrée and dessert.  I am telling you, if you’re not careful you can spend the whole time just rolling around like a over-inflated tire feeling ill from overeating.

I made a promise to myself a couple of months ago to remove sugar from my diet.  Well, I actually removed a LOT of things, but sugar is one that I determined not to add back in even when I was on vacation.  This, when you are getting three desserts per day, is not an easy task!  But I did it…..I went the entire week without eating sugar.  I told myself that I could have one sugar dessert the entire trip, which I chose carefully.  I had an ice cream cone on the last day of our vacation at my favorite ice cream shop in Disney Springs, Ghirardelli.  That’s it.

I went to Disney World without eating sugar.  Here's why I did it and how I made it work!

If you’re wondering how I did it….I want to tell you.  But first let me express WHY this made my vacation so much better than any Disney trip I have taken before.

  1. I never got a post-sugar crash.  That lovely high you feel when eating a sweet treat, there’s always a crash that comes after.  But because I didn’t eat the sugar, I didn’t have any big lows.  That was really nice.  It definitely helped me keep my energy levels up and at Disney you need a lot of energy, even when you’re there with only slow-poke grownups.
  2. My good mood was easy!  I tend to get very grumpy when I eat a lot of sugar.  I kept that in mind as I made my food choices because I was enjoying my easy, joyful moods and I knew if I ate much sugar I would start to struggle to stay cheerful.  I still had a few of my normal ups and downs, but overall I found it SO much easier to get over things and relax.
  3. I didn’t gain 10 pounds.  I did gain a little, I mean, it’s not like I fasted!  Since I cut wheat, dairy, corn, potatoes and more out of my diet a few months ago, I knew I wouldn’t be able to stay away from all of that.  I was definitely eating things that my body wasn’t used to.  I tried to order salad as much as possible, but occasionally I’d just get a burger.  I would eat the meat without the bun or only a little of the fries.  I never felt stuffed (except for this one steak meal that I ate like a pig).  I did gain a little weight from the trip, but nothing like the times when I have just had a sugar-free-for-all.
  4. I proved something to myself.  Honestly, I am not super strong when it comes to staying away from sweets.  I definitely have issues.  I kept telling myself that I could do it and thinking about how great I would feel knowing I did this very hard thing.

You can have a great time at Disney and not eay any sugar!!!  Here's how and why!

Interestingly, it got easier as the trip went along and as I found ways to get around the treats that came with my daily plan.  Here are the things I did to avoid the sugar and not feel deprived.  I mean, everywhere you look there’s someone eating a Mickey shaped ice cream bar or an apple on a stick covered in candy.  I had to make sure I was feeling treated and enjoying some snacks without the sugar.

  1. I read through the dining plan and discovered that for the quick meals it’s not actually “1 drink, 1 entrée, 1 dessert”.  It’s an entrée with 2 “snacks”.  In other words, you can substitute the dessert for anything that restaurant considers a snack!  So I would get my entrée with 2 water bottles.  I’d drink one with my meal and have the extra water to carry around the park with me afterward.  A couple of my restaurants had sparkling water so I would get that as my drink for a carbonated treat.
  2. I found snacks that weren’t sugary.  There are not a lot of non-sugar snacks, but they are around if you keep your eye out.  At some kiosks/restaurants you can get fruit, popcorn, pretzels, hummus cups, even a bagel or hot tea.  Also, the gift shops have candy that you can use as a snack option and so I used the snacks I had left on my account (I only used a few of my snacks credits the entire time) to get fun treats to bring home to the kids.  There’s a beautiful candy shop at the front of Magic Kingdom where you can get some darling take home gifts with your snack credits.
  3. I carried snacks with me.  Disney doesn’t care if you bring food into the parks, so don’t be nervous about it.  You don’t have to bury them under feminine products for the bag check.  It’s totally fine to bring snacks in.  So I carried nuts and my little GF-sugar-free crackers and ate them when I felt a need for an energy boost.
  4. I drank a LOT of water.  Did you know that any place they serve drinks will give you a free cup of ice water?  I made sure to keep myself hydrated.  The free cups are really small so I would just ask for 2 or 3.  That helped me not get as many cravings.  I carried a small stainless steel bottle that I could pour the ice water in and add a few drops of essential oils (like Slique, lemon or peppermint) and that felt like a cool treat!

    In choosing a water bottle, here are some things to look for (THIS is the one I use).  Trust Aunt Lisa, I learned from my mistakes.  You want your bottle to be insulated.  A non-insulated one will sweat and make the things in your pack get all wet and ruin your little package of Bandaids and your receipts, which your CPA husband might want, hypothetically.  You’ll need it to have an easy to use lid so you can take a sip while you’re walking in case the people you’re with won’t slow down even if you’re painfully thirsty.  Lastly, I ordered some of THESE holders so you don’t even have to put it in your pack if you don’t want to.  We will be using these for all the boys in September when we go to Universal!

  5. Speaking of adding oils to water, I carried 5 of them with me to the parks every day.  My Young Living oils make me feel like a princess.  I know it’s silly, but if you’re at Disney you are supposed to feel like a princess even if you’re in your 50s. They don’t talk much about it in the movies, but Cinderella had to get old at some point, right?  I mean, what does “happily ever after mean if not turning 50 and gaining weight?!  My oils are such a blessing and they are so precious to me because I can feel God’s love for me through them that it makes me feel spoiled to have them.  Here’s what I carried: peppermint, StressAway, lime, PanAway and FUN.  (yes, there’s an oil called FUN!)
Disney World is a place I use my oils a LOT!  Here are some tips for what to bring and also how to avoid sugar while you're there!

Now, I did have my one sugar treat on the last day and I have to say, it didn’t live up to my week long anticipation.  It tasted good, but after I ate it I wished I hadn’t.  It is such a momentary pleasure with long term consequences.  I felt sluggish for a while after that and didn’t want any more sugar.  So, when I ever go back I won’t even do that.  I will just enjoy the other great foods and leave the sugar to the whining kids and exhausted parents.

I want to encourage you that if you have removed sugar from your diet you can keep it up even on vacation!  It is well worth the effort.  Oh, and don’t feel sorry for my kids who stayed home while their parents went to Disney World.  We took them last November and they get to go to Universal Studios later this year.  They’re perfectly fine.

If you liked this you will also like, “9 Things you MUST Have at Disney” and my “Not-So-Scientific Experiment” about why I stopped eating sugar.

Thanks for stopping by!