The Rain is Good for Everything but My Hair and the Ceiling at Belk

The Rain is Good for Everything but My Hair and the Ceiling at Belk

Rain!  We finally got rain after months of dryness.  There were cracks in our yard so big I was worried that one of the chickens might fall right in.  And the horses have been wandering around in the dusty field scavenging for anything worth eating.

So yesterday when we got stuck in town after church, unable to drive because I couldn’t see out the windshield with the rain pounding down, we rejoiced.  I had the 3 younger boys with me.  They needed shoes so I decided to take them to get some before I head out of town this week to go to the Focused Conference.  It turned out to be a good thing because one of my sons has apparently been torturing his poor feet.

We got to Payless and I suggested we measure his feet on that metal thing (which I Googled and found it’s called a Brannock device).  It turned out that he needs a size 6 1/2 shoe but he’s been wearing size 4 1/2.  In my defense, he only mentioned that he thinks he needs new shoes a couple of weeks ago.  How am I supposed to know your toes are squished if you don’t tell me?!  Yesterday I asked him, “Have your feet been hurting?!”  He said, “No ma’am.  I just noticed recently that my toes are kind of pushed toward the end of my shoe.”  Yep, we homeschool.

I got him a couple of pair and promised to pick up another pair soon, but Payless was kinda low on their stock.  My other 2 boys also each got a new pair of shoes whether they need them or not because the mom-guilt rolled over onto them.

It was after we left Payless that we decided to pull over where it was safe since the rain was obstructing my view.  I may not notice tight shoes, but I can tell when you can’t see the road.  We started off just sitting in a parking lot, then decided to pull around to a Belk that was nearby and kill time there instead of just sitting in the car looking for nearby Pokémon.

One of the boys needed some shirts so I told him to grab what he liked off of the clearance rack and go try them on while the rest of us waited outside the dressing room.  Just as we were getting bored we heard a crash!  Water had started pouring in through the ceiling about 30 feet from us.  And when I say pouring I mean it was like a waterfall.  One of the ceiling tiles had crashed to the ground and that let the water out from where it must have been trapped and the downpour started.  Employees came running from all directions and started trying to save the clothing racks and were putting large trashcans under the waterfall.  I couldn’t see how that was going to help for long considering one of those giant cans (the kind you put your trash out on the street in) was already halfway full of water before 5 minutes had passed.

My boys thought the whole thing was cool and asked if they could go watch.  I let them as long as they stayed way back and out of the way of the mad rush to move every rack from the men’s section into aisles all over the store.  I don’t know what those poor Belk employees walked into this morning considering it rained all night long.  But I’m thinking I should go look for some discounts on water-soaked men’s clothes.

It finally let up enough for us to leave and drive home so off we went with our new shoes and shirts.

I really should have known it was going to rain that day because I decided for the first time all summer to blow dry and style my hair.  Isn’t that basically the same as doing an Indian dance around a fire sending smoke signals?

I styled my hair because I got it cut last week and I have to tell you, it was a relief.  For some unknown reason the gal I have gone to for years messed up my hair terribly on my last visit and I had been contemplating finding someone else.  I put it off until my hair looked so bad I had to either get it cut or start wearing hats.

I finally decided to go back and have a serious talk with her about the hack job she gave me last time.  I told her all about the mess and she was very apologetic and we made a plan to grow out the bad cut and she did some transitional things for now.  So my hair is happier, but I will be really glad when it’s all grown out and I can move on to other problems.  Like finding an eyeliner that doesn’t smudge.

I also had her color it.  I have been doing it myself for about a year and I like the results, but I wanted to have her do an ombre thing at the bottom so I went ahead and had her cover the gray roots while she was at it.  It looks really pretty, not too old, not too young.  It’s the Baby Bear of hair color.

But I think I will be letting it dry naturally for a while instead of styling it.  It’s supposed to be raining here all week and also in Virginia, where I will be all weekend.  If you see me there, expect curls.  Or curls may be an exaggeration.  Expect frizzy waves.

Have a great week!

Clearly We Need to Eat Out More Often

Clearly We Need to Eat Out More Often

It was such a sweet weekend….filled with family time together, crafting and snacking.  I mean, what’s a better way to spend a couple of days?

Generally James and I have a date every Friday night, but this past Friday we decided to invite the 4 boys who were home to go with us.  It was a last minute decision since all of the older kids were gone and it was only going to be the 6 of us.  For a big family, having only 4 kids to take with you means you can drive a normal-ish sized car and eat at a normal-ish sized table so we thought it would be a fun thing to do.

I told the boys, “Hey, y’all go get your shoes on and come to dinner with us!”

I thought they would be all excited but instead they looked at me like I had invited them to go to the moon with me.  “But Mom, what’s going on?  Is there something happening?”  “Did you forget to cook dinner?” “What’s the occasion?”  One of them even asked me, “Are you about to tell us something bad?”

Gee, I didn’t realize going out to dinner would be such a shock to them.  Clearly we have given our children the impression that it only happens when there is a serious reason for it.  Like a birthday or announcing terrible news.

Once they warmed up to the idea and accepted that it was just for fun, we had a blast.  Over burgers and salad we talked about our upcoming trip to Universal and what they’ve been doing lately and a little about politics, geography, whatever crossed our minds.  We ate and ate and then drove around looking for PokeStops for a while.  Perfect evening.

On Saturday I got the urge to create something and since I had borrowed my BFF’s Cricut machine for the weekend I got the boys to help me design some t-shirts for us all to wear to Universal.  I like having matching shirts in crowded places and since the theme of the event we are attending is super-heroes, I wanted something to celebrate that and also share our faith.  We came up with a design and went to Hobby Lobby to pick up the supplies.

We had packed a lunch to take with us (dinner the night before was all the money I was willing to spend on eating out for the weekend) and no one remembered to pack napkins.  So we ate our lunch on Kleenex from the car, which didn’t work as well as we had hoped considering we brought Cheetos and cheese cubes (not me, I had sliced veggies which weren’t any better for our napkin needs).  I finally got tired of fighting with my Kleenex and decided to drive through Sonic and get us all a drink and some napkins.  I pulled up and ordered, “2 medium Root Beers, 1 medium Coke, a large cup of ice (that was for me) and a handful of napkins.”  I’m sure that didn’t seem odd to the Sonic employee at all.  No food, just the napkins please.  But, of course, the boys were thrilled to get the rare soda.  I’m surprised they didn’t start asking me again if someone was dying and I was just sugaring them up for before I dropped the news on them.

I spent the rest of the afternoon making t-shirts in the kitchen and being the audience for a bunch of magic tricks my boys made up.  That was fun.  Cut some vinyl, iron-on the transfer, pick a card, any card, just a card.  For 2 hours we did this until I couldn’t take it anymore.  The magic tricks were slowing down my t-shirt making.  So I said, “Hey boys….why don’t y’all go swimming?”  They replied that they would rather do more magic tricks, at which point I offered to buy them some ice cream if they would leave the room for an hour.

It worked.  They swam, ate ice cream and I got an hour to myself.

I finished the 6 shirts and they are so much fun I had to show you….

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I also made some numbers for the new mailbox we put up last week….

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Cute, right?

I’m gonna have to borrow her machine again soon and do some more crafting.  I have a Cricut, but it’s an old model and it doesn’t do nearly as much as hers does.  I can use mine in a pinch, but being able to use the app to do all your designing and just sending it to the machine via Bluetooth is th’bomb.

Sunday was lovely….just quiet family and games and snacks and finishing up my Cricut crafts before I had to give the machine back.  And naps…..oh the deliciousness of a Sunday nap.

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I hope you have a great week and find some quiet time to spend with your family before the summer passes you by.  Maybe take the kids out to dinner and teach them some magic tricks.  If you do that though….be sure to have some bribery ice cream in the freezer in case it gets to be too much.

See ya!

If you liked this you might also like my Mom’s Guide to Universal Studios.

From Sea to Shining Sea

From Sea to Shining Sea

Hello my friends!!!

It’s been a while since I caught you up on what’s been going on around here.  I’ve been home for almost a week now from my big trip to Utah for the Young Living International Grand Convention.  I went with 2 of my grown kids who also love the oils and we had a grand old time.  Since there were three of us, we decided it would be more economical to drive.  To Salt Lake City.  From San Antonio, Texas.

I don’t know what I was thinking.  It seemed like a good idea when we were looking at the cost of flying, but on the seventh hour of the second day I wondered what on earth had come over me when making that decision.  My back side is still protesting when I go to get in my car.  I feel like I drove form one side of the country to the other.

The long drive was really pretty easy though, so I shouldn’t complain.  My children that were with me are adults so they don’t require any sort of entertainment or stops for diaper changes and snacks.  I met several ladies at the convention who had driven further than I did with babies and toddlers in the car.  My hat is off to them….I have nothing to say after that.  Frankly I was harder to travel with than my kids, with my constant need for Sonic ice and freezing air blowing on me.  At one point my daughter was in the passenger seat next to me wrapped in a blanket and shivering…..it was 100° outside.  It was 60° inside.

But convention was AMAZING!  I shared a lot of live videos on Facebook showing the new products and how I kept my anxiety in check.  Hop over there and you can see the beauty of where we were and how much fun we had.  I learned lots and fell even more in love with what this company does for its members and the people in the communities where the farms are.  I so wish you had been able to hear all of the beautiful stories of service….that’s where my heart is!

On the way back we decided to take a detour and drive south to see the Grand Canyon.  I had not seen it since I was about 13 years old and my kids have never been there, so it was a real treat!  Of course, it was so majestic that it took our breath away and we took a zillion pictures.  I spent about an hour and a half just staring at it and praying while my kids made videos and went walking down the trails a little ways.  Even though it kind of ended up adding a whole day to our trip it was totally worth it.  Now I want to take my other kids there….especially the 4 youngest who are still in school.  I feel a homeschool road trip coming on!

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Once I got home it took me 5 days to unpack.  I was worn out and spent the first day resting.  Then ever so slowly I started putting things away.  First my suitcase got unpacked, but it was all kind of piled in the bathroom.  The next day I put those things away either where they belong or in the washer.  I tucked all of my oils and supplements back in their places and started finding places for all of the new products and junk I bought.  By junk I meant things I am sending to my new members….I absolutely LOVE to send them gifts!  And I found a bunch of good ones at the convention from various oily vendors.  There were books and cases and gadgets and bottles.

Why oh why do I love those empty bottles?!  I think it’s that they’re nothing but possibility.  I can fill it with anything I want and create.

By the weekend it was all cleaned up just in time for one of my boys’ birthday, which meant a trip to the city with him and a couple of brothers.  We saw “Finding Dory” which they liked, but I thought was pretty much the same as “Finding Nemo”.  I wasn’t that impressed, but who cares?  They had fun and it was a clean movie, so that’s a win-win in my book.  It is way too much to ask for me to enjoy it too.  Then we shopped for his birthday presents and I got home that night and fell into bed.

One of these weeks I’m gonna do nothing at all.  No parties, no shopping, no cleaning, no nuthin’.  Don’t you ever feel like you just need to stop so you can miss some things and want them again?  I need to miss people.  And grocery shopping….if it is ever possible to miss grocery shopping.  I think I could go the rest of my life without grocery shopping and never miss it.

For the fourth we had friends over.  These are some of our best friends and we generally spend all holidays together.  There’s never an end to the things we talk about, from the state of the church today to food from the 70s.  The flow of conversation is always interesting, although in the end we really never settle any of the world’s problems.

This next week it gets even busier for me because my nieces and nephews arrive tomorrow to spend 10 days with us.  We are really looking forward to seeing them and spending time together, but I am trying to find ways to fill the days and wear everyone out.  My theory is that if they’re exhausted then they won’t complain about missing their parents or not having their own beds.  I have a feeling, however, that I will be the only one who gets truly exhausted.

Have a great week!  See you in the funny papers.

There’s still time to register for my Moms’ Summer Camp!!! Hop over and join us!!  You’ll love it.  🙂

A Little Mom Time

A Little Mom Time

Moms need breaks sometimes. If you're feeling bad about resting, it's time for you to get over that!

Well? How was your weekend?

It was pretty quiet around here.  It was supposed to be busy, but things got cancelled and changed and it turned out to be kinda slow, which was so nice.

On Saturday it was just me and my younger three boys at home, so I told them that if they got all of their chores done quickly they could have the afternoon free.  The only requirement for their free time was that at least an hour of it had to be doing something outside.

I could hear them plotting while they swept and folded the clothes.  By the time we were all done with chores they had a whole plan in motion.  Their plan included sword fights, super heroes, eating nachos and playing wii.  That was perfect for me because my plan included ignoring them for the afternoon while I caught up on my reading.  I have two books that I am in the middle of, one fiction and one non-fiction.  There are always two because sometimes I’m in the mood for educating myself and other times I’m in the mood to get swept away in a great story.  This day it was fiction.

I settled in my bedroom and read my delicious book.  When the day was over I was feeling pretty refreshed.  I mean, what’s more relaxing than a clean house and happy kids who are playing together?  Nothing, I tell you, nothing.

On Sunday we visited a new church for the second time.  The whole finding-a-church thing is so hard.  You visit one for a few weeks, realize it’s really not the right fit for you and you move on.  Sometimes it’s obvious why the place is not right for you and sometimes it’s just a sense after much prayer and discussion.  We have had several great churches in our past that we loved and loved the people, but since we moved here many years ago that connection really hasn’t happened.  We’ve attended some for years, but not had that sense of belonging.  I’m not sure why God has kept us in this dry place, but we have continued the search and are not giving up.

After we got home yesterday it was the best part of my week….Sunday nap.  I mean to tell you my Sunday nap is critical to my well being the rest of the week.  I slept for 2 hours and woke up wondering where I was.  After a second I rolled over and just laid there…oh yeah, it’s Sunday.  It’s really the only day I can just let myself wake up slowly without someone waiting for me to help them or asking me a question.  There was nothing pressing, no work to do, no kids needing me for anything.

If you’re feeling jealous over my Saturday reading and Sunday napping, hear me when I tell you that these things were impossible for me for about 20 years.  With 9 kids and homeschooling and living on a hobby farm, there’s never been much time for rest.  So this is a new season and you will get there too.  When the babies are little it seems so far away, then you blink and you’re there wishing for them to be little again.  But not too little….’cuz that nap was pretty awesome.

This week it’s gonna be me bracing myself for the oncoming heat wave.  The temps are rising steadily and are expected to be 90 by the weekend.  That’s nothin’ compared to what’s ahead, but still too hot for this A/C loving mama.

Have a great Monday and hop over to Facebook to say hello!

Sweating and Crowds…Two of My Least Favorite Things

Sweating and Crowds…Two of My Least Favorite Things

Oh summer.  I have a love-hate relationship with it.  On one hand, it’s relaxed and the daily swim parties we have are so wonderful.  On the other hand I sweat so much that I walk around looking like I’ve been digging ditches in 100° temps wearing a leather suit.  That’s the hate part.  Oh, and the fact that every time you open your car door it feels like you’re being pushed into a kiln.  Otherwise summer is great.

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Right now, however, our issue is rain.  Rain and rain and more rain.  It’s a good thing I bought so many ponchos and umbrellas at Disney because they came in handy this past weekend.  It’s funny though, how normal a rain poncho looks on you at Disney World and how unusual it look around town.  I was the only person rockin’ one at Walmart.  People should get with it.  With a poncho my purse was protected from the rain, I stayed totally dry and my hands were free.  Umbrellas are nice, but ponchos are th’BOMB!  At one point I was using BOTH!  MmHmm.  I am a trend setter.

We are winding down a little bit with our school work.  We will have light lessons all summer, but the pool beckons us and we have no choice but to go out there every morning after breakfast and play silly games and splash around.  Every year the kids make up a game or two that keeps them challenged all through swim season.  There will be a complicated point system and bragging rights and usually a grand prize of some sort.  I never really understand these games, so I spend my time on the other side of the pool on my float pretending I’m alone.

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This week I need to get the swimsuits out and checked.  We always think we have what we need left from last year, then a boy goes to get dressed for the first swim and has nothing but too small shorts with stretched out elastic.  And all of us girls always need at least one new thing, which requires creativity and perseverance.  Since we don’t wear typical swim clothes and don’t have $120/person to spend, it takes time.  But we always find something.  I’m generally surprised where I find things, like for the past couple of years Costco had swim skirts that we could use!

Another changes for summer is how often I go to the big city.  During the rest of the year I will go to the city about every 2 weeks.  I like to poke around and maybe see a movie, hit Costco, Whole Foods and a few other places.  But in the summer with the crowds and school kids out in ganglike groups, I go less than once a month.  I do not enjoy a crowd therefore I avoid them at all costs.  Unless it’s at Disney World, then I just go knowing there will be 10,000 other people to deal with and I try to take crowd breaks as much as possible.

Speaking of crowds, I am gearing up for a super-exciting road trip to the Young Living International Grand Convention in June.  I love, love Salt Lake City!  I have been there several times and it’s so beautiful I can’t stand it.  But since I am going with 10,000 of my closest friends, it will be crowded, so I have to get mentally ready for it.  I use a LOT of White Angelica when I have to be in a crowded situation.  It’s what I like to call, “My Introvert Oil.”  It helps me feel a sense of safety and, oh I don’t know how else to say it except that it helps me deal with the negative energy of other people.  I love that stuff.

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This coming week we are cleaning up the yard from the storms and emptying the boys’ lockers to get the prepped for a lighter school load.  I’ll be checking swimsuit needs and doing a Coscto run for June.  Oh!  And making sure I have a poncho in every vehicle….because I enjoy being different.  And dry.

Have a good one!

Doth Thou Feelest Ready for Summer?

Doth Thou Feelest Ready for Summer?

There's always a slew of things to do before the summer.  Like, put away the stuff still out from last summer.

Are you getting ready for summer?  With school winding down and vacations being planned and the heat coming upon us it’s prep time.  I am trying to clean the house and the spiff up the porch and our pool is getting the care it needs to be ready for daily swimming and splashing that happens all summer around here.  At some point I guess I need to see if everyone’s last year’s swimsuits still fit and/or have any elastic left.

My summer is already looking full on the calendar.  I am traveling a couple of times each month plus we have nieces and nephews visiting for half of July.  I am really looking forward to their visit….they are so precious!  I am going to plan all kinds of fun times while they’re here.  Pennington Summer Camp complete with NingXia red popsicles and diffusing peppermint.  My 7 year old nephew might not realize how awesome this is, but he’s getting it anyway.

This past weekend I made a quick trip to Dallas with my husband for the Republican Convention and to visit my oldest daughter.  When I got home on Friday night, being in my summer prep mode, I started to unpack and then wondered about the suitcase…..to put it away or not to put it away…..that is the question.  Really, it always comes down to Shakespeare, doesn’t it?  Once more unto the breach, dear friends and all that.  Yeah, I don’t know what I’m saying.  It’s possible that the suitcase now sitting in my bedroom with no purpose but proving that I am too lazy to carry it to the storage building then go get it back out in three weeks has gone to my brain.

I did clean my bedroom on Saturday.  I was alone with my 3 youngest boys all day so we decided (well, I decided and they went along with it since I promised them a junk food dinner) to have a bedroom cleaning marathon.  We made lists on our giant white board of tasks in each room then set a timer and blasted fun music while we worked.  After the timers went off we all checked each other’s progress.  We got a lot done that way.  List, work as fast as we could to the music, timers going off, check, repeat.  3 rooms cleaned.  Now we only have the rest of the house to do.

Their reward was going to the dollar store for food.  I let them each pick a frozen dinner and chips.  Don’t judge me.  A mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do.  I’ll feed them veggies all week to make up for it.

I am also getting my wardrobe ready for the heat wave that’s about to hit.  I haven’t heard any weathermen saying there’s a heat wave coming, it’s just that I live in Texas and there’s no avoiding it.  I am also making sure all of our fans are working and I have freezer space for bags of Sonic ice.  I read recently that it’s healthiest to only drink room temperature water.  While this may be ideal and maybe I will shoot for that in the mornings and evenings, I can’t do it in the mid-day-summer-temps.  My survival depends on crushed ice.

I am also hoping to get the yard cleaned up before summer, but that may be overshooting our abilities since all my bigger kids have jobs, are in theater performances and doing extra activities that keep them out of the house.  It takes a village to run this operation and half my villagers are running around all times of the day and night.  Although one day last week my girls got the urge to clean out the pantry which absolutely made me giddy until I saw the mountain of “extra” food covering the kitchen table.  “We weren’t sure what to do with this stuff,” they said.  Um…..great.  Now I have a pile of expired soup and half used boxes of dry milk to feel guilty about.  #thestruggleisreal

Maybe if I promise someone another dollar store TV dinner with Nacho Cheese Doritos they will just throw it all away without asking me and I can pretend I never saw it.

Yes, I teach parenting tips.

And now I shall leave you with this thought, “Goodnight!  Goodnight!  Parting is such sweet sorrow.  That I shall say goodnight ’til it be morrow.”

Come join me on Facebooketh for more sweet delight!

We’re Ba-ack!

We’re Ba-ack!

I am back from vacation and not so raring to go.  In fact I slept until 9 this morning, which is very unusual for me!

My husband and I got home yesterday after a week at Walt Disney World.  We went with another couple, my BFF Sara and her husband, and had an action packed Mom & Dad vacay.  It was wonderful!  We planned to just go slow and enjoy the days instead of the rushing around like we do when the kids are with us.  We didn’t spend the whole week together as couples, but more just on and off got together.  James and I slept in almost every morning, went to bed around 10:00 all but one night, ate way too much food and strolled around holding hands.  That makes it sound like I should be well rested, but even with all of that sleep I got in over 20,000 steps each day and lots of sun, which always wears me out.  Plus we had to rise before 4:00 am yesterday to make our flight.  So I am preeeetty tired.

I am going to share some tips for Disney travel later this week, so today I will just tell you some of the more personal stuff.  James and I do enjoy ourselves and we like to get silly.  I like to dance with the street music and I don’t care what it looks like.  And he has no problem acting like a junior high boy trying to beat my score in Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (it’s a target shooting competition ride).  In fact, he was so intensely shooting that he couldn’t open up his hand for 10 minutes after the ride was over.  I may have had the lower score, but at least I could use my fingers afterward!  Who’s the smartie now, huh?

Husband vs Wife

We did get some rain while we were there. One night after dinner with our friends, we left the restaurant to discover that it was absolutely pouring.  There was so much rain that the streets of Hollywood Studios were flooded. I made a run for the next overhang and when I got there I discovered that none of my group was with me.  I didn’t know where they were, but I was concerned about my phone getting wet, so I dashed into a shop to buy myself a poncho (I had left the one I brought with me back at the resort) and when I finally caught up with my husband he had gotten himself one too.  Now we each had TWO ponchos.  But, of course when we went out the next day to Disney Springs (it’s a great shopping area) and it started to rain and we didn’t have the ponchos AGAIN.  So, we are now also the owners of new Disney umbrellas.

You can bet after that we carried the ponchos and umbrellas everywhere with us and, of course, it never rained again.

This is a great time of year to go because it’s the Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot.  The grounds are INCREDIBLE!  I loved walking around and looking at the beauty of it all.

Epcot Flower and Garden Festival is amazing!

One challenge for me while I was there was my sunglasses.  It was very sunny, but you’re in and out in and out of the sun.  Even on a single ride you’re in the sun and then in a tunnel, then in the full sun again.  My eyes are very sensitive and if I don’t have sunglasses on I will get a headache within minutes.  I tried keeping them in my pockets or on a chain, but I still continually lost them.  By lost I mean they were on my person somewhere, I just wasn’t sure where.  One morning at a bus stop we dumped everything out of my backpack trying to find them.  We discussed missing the bus and running back to our room OR me just buying a cheap pair at the park.  That’s when James saw them buried under my hair on the top of my head.  Another day I actually went into a shop to buy some because I had been searching my pack, hair, etc for 15 minutes with no luck.  Then I brushed against a counter and felt them in the left pocket of my dress.  I didn’t even know that dress had a left pocket.  When I strike it rich I am going to hire someone to walk behind me with a pillow to carry my sunglasses on.

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One thing we did that was really fun and I would recommend it to anyone is the Marceline to Magic Kingdom Tour.  It was affordable and we got to learn all kinds of fascinating facts about Walt and how the park was made.  It was definitely a highlight for us.  You have to call to sign up for it.  We also did something called Early Morning Magic that was great!  If you’re going to Disney, you will want to look into the tours and extra options to make your trip so much better!

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We got home on Sunday and after spending a few hours with the kids, I slept.  And slept.  And slept.

That brings me to today, which is so full that I am thinking of going back to sleep.  But I can’t because I am only home for three days and then I am off to the Republican Convention in Texas.  I’ll be pulling out my super-mom cape in an effort to get everything done that I need to do.

I hope you have a fantastic week!

Never Underestimate the Power of Almond Flour

Never Underestimate the Power of Almond Flour

Yesterday I enjoyed an afternoon snack of almond butter on a slice of coconut bread.  As I was nibbling on my healthy creation I realized that some alien must have taken over my body.  In just 4 weeks I have completely changed my eating habits and I am not hating it or dreading every meal.  I know…it’s a surprise to me too!  Sure, I wrote a whole book that is selling in bookstores all over the country, but that pales in comparison with how hard it was to eliminate sugar (including fruit or any other sweet thing) for an entire month.

Hi.  I’m Lisa and I’m a sugar addict. {Hi Lisa!}

Plus, since April 16th, in addition to sugars, I have also been off of all grains, starchy veggies, dairy and basically anything with a flavor other than bitter.  I’ve eaten things like spinach soup (which made me feel like Popeye), more asparagus, kale, cauliflower, green beans and broccoli than I care to measure.  I got to have 2 eggs each day and you have NO IDEA how much I looked forward to those!  Plus I could eat a small amount of avocado, which in my opinion, was sent straight from heaven.  But then, what to eat it with?  Lettuce?  Mmmmm.

I’ve been aiming at getting rid of the candida (aka yeast) in my body.  And let me tell you….I can FEEL the difference!  The fog brain, rashes, bloaty feeling and fatigue are almost gone.  Although I am still a clutz.  Some of this is just the joy of being me!  I have also noticed a huge change in my moods.  I’m not on the edge of irritability anymore.  That has been my family’s favorite outcome of my new eating habits.  Myself, I am enjoying feeling better.  Oh, and I have lost a few pounds, but honestly that has not been my focus at all.  It’s just stevia-sweetened, dairy-free icing on the grain-free cake!

This diet started with a 7-day cleanse, then you move on to phase 2 which is a little more lenient (but just a LITTLE).  The cleanse phase is meant to really flush out the yeast and now that I have done it, I am onto a gentler approach which lets me have a bit more variety.

Yesterday, as my first day of the second phase, I got to add things like lean meat, nuts and yogurt back to my diet and believe me….I have been pretty excited about it.  I never knew that I could get so exuberant over almonds and chicken, but you should have seen me bound out of bed and rush to the kitchen for something besides eggs….I almost knocked down a few children.  I can now have more protein and vegetables, plus small amounts of nuts, seeds and coconut.  In fact, I spent some time over the weekend experimenting in the kitchen with flours made from these and getting my heart set on that yummy coconut bread with almond butter I told you about.

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Believe me, it took me this entire month to get into that head space where I like this food.  I love me some junk food and chocolate anything.  The very idea that I would look forward to sugar-free-grain-free-dairy-free pastry makes me hardly recognize myself.  But feeling so much better has me actually looking forward to it.

Now, you should know that I am pretty much the worst in the kitchen.  I never get anything to turn out the way they promise in a recipe.  I can’t even get a boxed cake mix to turn out right.  So I am not the girl to be making alternative foods.  If my white flour bread turns out like bricks, you imagine what my coconut flour stevia bread would be like!

I want you to know how bad I am at cooking because I made some crackers that turned out great!  It’s solid proof that anyone can make these.  They were easy and yummy and I can see a LOT of uses for them.  I admit they aren’t cheap to make.  They require almond flour, which is expensive.  But I got mine at Costco and it’s still cheaper than buying gluten-free crackers and it has the added benefit of knowing exactly what’s in them!  (plus I also can’t have rice which is what most GF crackers are made of)

You can find the cracker recipe HERE at Elana’s Pantry (she has a ton of great recipes!).  I didn’t put the pepper in mine like she did, but I added some garlic powder instead.  I’m gonna try adding some essential oils next time like rosemary, ginger or maybe orange with cinnamon.  These crackers have the consistency of shortbread but don’t have much flavor which makes them perfect for going salty OR sweet.  A little cinnamon cracker with some almond butter on top sounds yummy!

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In addition to these I made coconut bread that didn’t turn out as cute to look at, but it tasted pretty good.  It was very dense and crumbly, but was less crumbly on day 2, which is a hopeful sign.  Maybe it just needed to sit for a while.  It’s definitely nice to have something bready to eat.  I toasted a piece with a little butter which made it crunchier.  Just one small slice is satisfying.  I’m going to slice it up and freeze it for the weeks ahead.

In fact, I am going on vacation soon and need to find healthy snacks that will be easy for travel.  I think the crackers will be perfect!  Since most of my veggies require cooking and/or refrigeration I won’t be able to take those with me (I am flying and won’t have a fridge in my hotel room).  So I will have to just do the best I can in getting plenty of vegetables.  I’m not going to stress about it, but I am going to work to try a few more travel-friendly healthy snacks.

There are 2 other things (besides weird snacks) that have gotten me through this month of change.  God and my essential oils.  In that order.

This is not something I could ever do on my own.  I have been looking to God to give me the strength.  So each time I have felt the need to eat something that’s not on my diet, I ask Him, “Lord, please show me what it is in me that is craving sugar/wheat/etc right now.  Fill that empty space with your Holy Spirit and show me how to satisfy that desire with your love.”  I think of it as glorifying Him and honoring His promise that I am extremely valuable.  I don’t want to make this past month sound like it’s been easy, but it has been fulfilling in unexpected ways and I know He is giving me the strength!

Second, I’ve been leaning on my essential oils to help me through, as I get used to the new Lisa who doesn’t eat sugar or grains.

Here are some ways I have used oils for the past month:
– put a few drops of Slique in my water to make it taste great and to help with cravings
– use any citrus oil in the diffuser to boost my mood and cheer me up
– Melaleuca and oregano on the bottom of my feet to support my body as I flush out the yeast
– Joy and bergamot on my wrists and behind my ears to help encourage good moods
– Life 5 and Essentialzyme are the Young Living supplements I have added since making these diet changes

Of course, I use other oils daily and as needed.  I wish I could have you all over to just sit and talk about how we use the oils here…it’s been incredible for our family!  If you’ve been thinking of trying them, click HERE to get your kit and I’ll send you some extra fun goodies including a terrific starter guide!!!

I’d love for you to join me and we can take back our health together!

This week I will be trying a few other new recipes and I’ll let you know how it goes.  It may sound crazy, but I am hoping to keep it pretty simple and not be spending all of my time in the kitchen.  I don’t love cooking, but I can see that I am going to have to find a new rhythm to my food prep.  That’s OK.  If anyone can find shortcuts it will be ME!

Have a wonderfully healthy week!

Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I share more of my food adventures!

Weddings & Water & Wrecks….OH MY!

Weddings & Water & Wrecks….OH MY!

I expected this past weekend to be long, but I had no idea it would be like a piece of taffy being stretched, and stretched and s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d.  It just wore me out.

We had 2 weddings to attend, each in different towns.  “OK,” I told myself, “You can do this, you just have to be prepared.”  I got the clothes ready in advance and made sure the car was gassed up and cleaned out.  Meals ready – check.  Plans for the kids that need rides – check.  Hard working husband taken care of – check. (he couldn’t go to any weddings because he’s a CPA and it was tax season weekend)

My 5 youngest kids and I headed early Saturday morning to Austin (2.5 hours away) for the wedding of one of my son Jacob’s best friends.  This is a precious family and I was looking forward to what I knew would be a Christ-centered ceremony.  It was absolutely lovely and I was glad we went.  But as an introvert, I find those things hard, mainly the reception.  I didn’t really know anyone and wasn’t likely to start up a new relationship, so I sat there at my table being mostly anti-social.  I did chat with a few people here and there, but overall I kind of felt out of place.  I wondered as I looked around the room if that happens to everyone or if I am the only person who often feels like a bird in the wrong cage.  What do you do in those situations?  Do you just walk up and talk to people?  Do you pretend to be busy feeding your kids?  Do you sit like a wallflower not talking?  I don’t expect answers to these questions.  I’m just pondering out loud.  Introvert problems.

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We left the reception and headed to have dinner with my daughter who lives in the same town.  We had a nice time with her and just as we were wrapping up and getting ready to drive the 2.5 hours home I got a call.  My oldest son Jacob (who had taken his own car to the wedding and stayed after to hang out with his friends) had been in an accident.  He wasn’t hurt and the woman in the other car was fine, but his vehicle was not drivable.

Now, this kind of thing shakes a mama to the core.  I had that angry/terrified/panic/relief feeling that sends adrenaline through your system and turns you into a mother bear.  “Get in the car kids…drop the burger and let’s go!! Jacob needs us!”  We left the restaurant, dropped my daughter off at her apartment and headed back to the area where the accident had taken place (near the wedding venue).

When I saw my son I may have hugged him a little too hard and hung on too long.

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Once I saw that he was OK I felt a little better.  We said our goodbyes (again) to the wedding party and made the long drive home in the dark, trying to forget the traumatic end to what was otherwise a lovely day.  We made it home and I was so tired, but still pretty wired from the excitement, so it took me a couple of hours to fall asleep.  If not for my oils I probably would have been awake all night.

Then it was Sunday and another wedding.  This time it was the son of one my MY best friends and in the opposite direction of the Saturday wedding.  We all decided earlier in the week that only two of us would go, the younger kids really don’t know this family well and we knew we would be wiped out from the day before.  My daughter and I would attend alone and enjoy some togetherness.  We ran a few errands in the city then headed to the wedding venue in the late afternoon, which was a bit out in the country.  We got about 6 miles away when it started to rain.  Hard.  Like, I can’t see the road at all kind of rain.

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I slowed to about 20 mph and inched my way to the location.  Each time we contemplated just pulling over and waiting it out the rain would let up enough that we could see a little better.  Finally, after a few scary low water crossings we made it.  Whew!  Next problem: we had to park about 50 yards from the building and we had no umbrella.  We sat in the car trying to decide what to do.  Do we sit and hope it lets up or do we make a run for it?  We ran.

And I am not kidding you, we may as well have jumped in the river.  We were soaked down to our panties, hair was stuck to our heads, my makeup was smearing all down my face.  Have you ever been to a wedding with no eyebrows?  ‘Cuz I have and it’s not pretty.

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I want to say here that earlier in the day when it was time to get ready to go I started to blow my hair dry and had a sense not to, so I left it curly and more natural.  I am taking this as a sign that I really do hear God’s voice…..I just wish I’d been listening when He was telling me to make sure we had an umbrella in the car.

Wedding #2 was gorgeous, even the rain pounding on the roof as they said their vows made it seem a little magical.  What wasn’t magical was the sound of my dress dripping on the floor beneath my seat.  I was still soaking wet 3 hours later when we got back to our house.  The drive home was no picnic either….hail and storms pounding on my car in the dark.  My knuckles are still white.

Even though it was sweet and scary and sometimes humiliating, nothing that happened this weekend was really about me.  I was simply an observer in all of it, which was nice.  I got to just smile and sit and drip quietly.  Everyone else that attended these weddings also has their own story and this is only mine.  I like to remind myself of that when I lose perspective and feel like complaining about not knowing anyone or looking like a drowned cat.

This next week it’s predicted to keep raining and I think I will just stay inside and recover from my harrowing wedding weekend.  And maybe hug all my kids a little extra hard, just to be on the safe side.

Have a good one!

Have You Hugged the Sun Lately?

Have You Hugged the Sun Lately?

Oh my stars the weather here has been amazing!  I literally just go stand outside a few times a day and hold my arms out like the sun might actually give me a hug.  I don’t worry about what the neighbors will think as the drive past me standing in my driveway like a sun worshipper; they think we’re weird anyway.  I stretch my arms out and close my eyes to just soak in the perfection, because I know that in a New York minute it will all be over and I’ll be sweltering for the next 5 months.

Spring is my favorite.  When you step out the front door the day just greets you with cheerful excitement.  Sunshine!  Birds!  Flowers!!  And I’m not even an overly cheerful person, so it must be amazing for really happy people.

The change in weather means it’s time to switch the clothes around.  I went through my closet and moved the cold weather clothes to the top where they won’t be easy to access.  And the light, breathy clothing has taken up residence in the prime spot….right in front of me when I walk in to choose an outfit.  There’s no reason for me to need the heavier items now.  I get hot when it’s 60° outside.  I won’t need a sweater again until at least November.

While my clothing needs are taken care of, I do need to find myself a new pair of sunglasses.  My current pair is about 8 years old and showing signs of wear and tear.  Actually, I have been searching for a new pair for the past couple of years.  I am too picky about this, especially since I change everything else so frequently your head would spin.  I switch purses at least every week, I like to wear different shoes each day, I try new hairstyles, new jewelry, I even got a new wedding band that I’ve been wearing for the past year just because I like a change….but my sunglasses I’ve been wearing since 2007.  I don’t even understand myself sometimes.

I don’t want a cheap pair because they slip down and really aren’t pretty.  I want pretty.  But I also refuse to pay $300 for a pair of sunglasses.  I mean, can that be right?  Of course, if you divide up the average amount of time I will likely wear them that’s actually only $3.16/month.  Hey, I like that math!

It will be a while before I have time to go sunglasses shopping again.  We stay pretty busy in the spring.  This coming weekend we have several weddings to attend, so we will be driving around from town to town for three days.  It just occurred to me yesterday that I don’t have a wedding gift for any of these couples.  I looked at their registries and nothing popped out at me so I guess it’s the old cash gift.  People like cash….just go get yourself what you want.  I may toss in a bottle of a favorite essential oil for my own enjoyment, maybe lavender or Stress Away.  In fact, if you’re looking for a great gift idea for me, that’s pretty much what I’d want, a bottle of Young Living essential oil and some cash.  There, now I’ve talked myself into the greatest wedding gift I can think of.

I read somewhere that a popular wedding gift is a KitchenAid Stand Mixer.  Say What?!  Who spends that much money on a wedding gifts?  Probably the same people buying $300 sunglasses.  I’m more of a $25 in a money shaped envelope with a funny joke in it kind of person.

I’ll toss in a sunny day hug for good measure.

Have a great weekend!