Oldies but Goodies

Oldies but Goodies

This week I am locked away working on my next book.  It turns out that I write better when I don’t have to do 8 loads of laundry a day or have to grade a dozen math papers.  So I have gone into hiding for a few days to get the first draft finished.  I’ll be back next week, but while I am away I thought I’d remind you of a few older projects in case you’re in the mood for something fun to do.

  1. We just finished moving kids’ bedroom around and the boy’s Lego shelves are being overhauled.  I thought I’d show you these giant Legos I made a few years ago that we put on the shelves to add a bit of a break from the bright colors and plastic.

    How to make a fun extra for the kids room.  Lego decorating.

  2. Also last week I was adding some pumpkins to the front porch and I was enjoying the fun of my painted houndstooth rug and I thought I’d share it with you in case you want to paint one for yourself! 

    How to paint a houndstooth rug! -- The Pennington Point

  3. The last big thing we worked on last weekend was cleaning out the kids’ school lockers.  Several years ago I found these old lockers at a flea market and because they were bright yellow the price was low.  No one wanted yellow lockers!  But a few cans of white spray paint later and they were perfect in my living room.  My school kids actually keep their school books in there and the extra lockers hold Wii games and extra school books.

I am always up to a something around the house and I am hoping to do some new arranging over the next few weeks in the living areas.  But don’t tell James.  I like to surprise him.

Be sure to stop by your favorite bookseller and pick up my book “Mama Needs a Do-Over” if you haven’t already!
Have a great week!  Happy fall!
Somebody Bring Me Some Calgon!

Somebody Bring Me Some Calgon!

OK, it’s official.  I am so done with my husband being gone.  I already knew he was the solid one in the relationship, but after a week without him I am more sure than ever that he is the glue and I am all of the random pieces.  The mere sight of one more broken appliance will put me over the edge.

I don’t know how single parents do it.  Or military parents…seriously, you all have my mad respect.

It’s like the whole house goes into some kind of other dimension and the boys don’t get their chores done and as sweet as the girls are, they have been kind of out-of-it for the past several days. And after last week’s M-word situation, I was not sure I was the best person to be leading these troops.  I am fairly sure my 8 year old would have been a better option considering I walked around afraid of my own shadow all week.

Somebody get me the biggest box of Calgon you can find.

Despite being as jumpy as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs, I decided to do something bold and get up Saturday morning to take the whole crew down to the city to participate in a protest at the nearest Planned Parenthood.  These rallies were taking place all around the country and we all felt we should be there.

I say it was bold because….

1. I was husbandless so that meant I was completely responsible for this crew and I think we can all see how that is going.  James and I used to attend these allies fairly often when the kids were little and I remember a few of them getting pretty ugly.

2. The Van.

I was going to have to crank up the old 15-passenger van.  And when I say crank, that’s pretty close to what it’s like.  This old thing has so many miles on it that it could be in the Guinness Book of World Records.  I don’t know how it is still working.  None of us like to drive it, it putters along, the A/C doesn’t work, it smells bad, it rattles like an old roller coaster and worst of all it gets about 2.7 miles to the gallon.

We only use it for emergency family outings, and even then we look into the price of a rental car first.

But I had to use it because we outnumbered the seats in my car and James left the minivan at the airport.  So we found the crank and off we went.

The event was very well organized and besides being so hot you could fry an egg on our foreheads, it went well.  The 600+ people there were peaceful and very upbeat about raising awareness of what is really going on inside that facility.  We saw lots of friends there and were blessed to have been a part of it.

Family participation in a rally

Afterwards I decided to run a few errands.  It’s not often we all go to the city together, it being over an hour away and us having to drive what basically equates to the Beverly Hillbillies’ vehicle to get there.  So we ate lunch then picked up some clothes for the boys.  We are going to Orlando in a few weeks for an awesome blogging event at Universal Studios called Family Forward and the boys needed shorts.  I also decided to get myself a hat, which I am not sure about yet.  Hats don’t like me very much.

We were all worn out from standing in the heat for 2 hours then shopping afterwards, so we drove home in the old van and collapsed.  Later that night we all ate dinner in my bedroom and watched the Duck Dynasty wedding, which was adorable and I cried through almost the whole show.  I love their style (except for the scraggly beards and head bandanas) and the values were so sweet.  Lord, bless them.

After church on Sunday we came home and worked on a video trailer we are making for my book that comes out NEXT WEEK!!!

It’s so close y’all!  Have you ordered yours yet?!

My 12 year old is the director and we had a great afternoon together shooting it.  My daughter Hope did all of the artwork and it’s the cutest thing since Princess Charlotte.  We are wrapping it up this week and you’ll be the first to see it!

working on a book trailer as a family

I fell asleep on Sunday night before the kids even knew I was out. They were all still awake and I just had to trust that they wouldn’t have any loud parties or burn anything because I would have slept through it all.  Mama was DONE.

This week is full of more book promotions and trying to keep my sanity.  Which basically describes my life in a nutshell.

Have a good one!

What’s Your Irrational Fear?

What’s Your Irrational Fear?

James goes out of town each August and it seems like every time something happens.  Last year the A/C went out, the year before that we sprung a leak under the sink.  This year, however, takes the cake.


It happened yesterday morning.  Every day I get out of bed at 6:30, usually groggy and half asleep, and I shuffle into the bathroom, go potty, put on my oils and change clothes for my morning workout.  Well yesterday for some reason I don’t remember, I got undressed first THEN went to the potty.  That is important to the story….you’ll see in a sec.

I was sitting there paying no attention to anything, I don’t even think my eyes were open, when I heard a shuffle and opened my eyes to see a…..I can’t say the word…..starts with M and rhymes with house…..come running out of my shower, rustling the shower curtain, and into the sink area of the bathroom.  Yes.  It was about 8″ from my bare feet.

Scream is not a big enough word for what I did.

Let’s see, how can I describe it?  It was more like a shriek-screech-panic-freakout (“s-s-p-f” for short)

I jumped up from the potty and took off, through the bedroom and down the hallway yelling for a kid to come help me and flipping on lights as I ran.  Just as one of the kids called out from their bed to ask what was going on I realized that I was stark naked.  As a jaybird.

I kind of figured that having your mom screaming through the house when you’re sound asleep is damaging enough without having to see her naked body.  I mean, is it actually possible to scrub your eyeballs?

So while continuing the “s-s-p-f,” I grabbed a blanket to wrap around myself.  The kids started sleepily wandering out of their rooms to see what was happening.  My daughter, who isn’t the least bit scared of the you-know-what, offered to check my bathroom.  She looked all around with a flashlight then declared the room clear.  So using my daughter as a shield, I went back in my bathroom and quickly got dressed.  Then I doused myself in essential oils so I could calm down enough to tie my shoes.

“I’m going for my walk,” I told her in what was mostly a whiny, crying voice, “Do you think you and your brother could try to catch it while I’m gone?”

She agreed to try and actually (and this is where, if she hadn’t been born at home I might have wondered if she had been switched at birth) seemed kind of excited by the challenge.

I got in a good run, adrenaline will do that to you, I couldn’t have walked slowly if I’d wanted to.  Then when I got home I sat down on the front porch and texted inside the house.

“Well?  Is it safe to come in?  I’m scared.”

She let me know that it was completely safe and the you-know-what had been caught and disposed of.

Turns out she had seen it run into another bedroom and let one of our barn cats in there.  Voila!  Problem solved.  One of my girlfriends suggested offering the cat a can of salmon as a reward, but I felt like an hour in the air-conditioning and a you-know-what to play with was reward enough.

The rest of the day I was so jumpy I actually got spooked when a feather blew in front of my leg while I was standing in the backyard.  Every time our new puppy came into the room where I was I’d do a mini “s-s-p-f” again.  My nerves are shot.

I’m not sure how I will make it through the rest of the weekend knowing sometimes these things have friends and family and maybe this was just the frontman of the operation.  I did put every diffuser I own to work, including setting one on the floor of the hallway.  I read that you-know-whats hate peppermint and ravintsara, so I have them diffusing in every room.  I’d douse myself in them if I could.


I mentioned my extreme fear on Facebook and asked what other people’s irrational fears were and many of them said the same as mine, but there were also a lot of folks terrified of spiders, snakes and roaches.  Yep, these are my people.

Now that I have slept for an entire night after the trauma, I think I may actually survive.  But I will confess to standing on my potty this morning tossing empty vitamin bottles into the shower to spook any other little friends out.  After about 5 minutes of nothing happening except for my discovering that I keep way too many empty bottles, I went about my morning normally.  Still shaken, but normal.

And I am planning on an uneventful weekend.

Unless….of course…..a feather drifts past me again.


Puppies & Parades

Puppies & Parades

Well, we have a new family member and it will come as a surprise to many of you who know me to be not-so-much-of-a-dog-person.  I mean, I like dogs, I have one outside that I love to death, but I don’t feel a need to make googly eyes at them or think of them as people.

All that to say, yes, we got a puppy.  It just kind of happened (it was definitely a God-thing) and now we are all in love with him.  He is so little and fun and playful and happy and just what we needed around here.

I wub him.


He’s very wiggly and hard to photograph.  So the best I could do was press him against my face to keep him still for a flash of a second.  Immediately after we snapped that photo he dashed off to chase a piece of knotted rope.

We had a nice Fourth of July weekend.  It started early on Saturday morning as some of the kids and I went to a nearby town to be in a parade.  We rode in/walked with a float for the local pregnancy center and handed out candy and toys to the kids in the crowd.  I didn’t make it the whole time because I wore the wrong shoes and my feet were killing me.  But my kids stayed on the float ’til the end while I watched from the sidelines for the last half.


After the parade was over I was so tired, I guess from the heat of the day, that I went home and pretty much slept until it was time to watch fireworks.  It was just a plain old American Saturday.

The next day was just like every other Sunday.  1. Church 2. Lunch 3. Nap

That’s it.

Sunday at its best

James and I have been trying to squeeze out some alone time on Sunday evenings so we locked ourselves in the bedroom and ate dinner and talked.  It was nice, but too short.  With so much going on this summer we need to really make the time to stay connected.  I was so tired that I think I fell asleep once while he was talking.  I tried to hide it, but snorting myself awake probably gave me away.  There’s just no casual way to recover from that kind of faux pas.

This week I will be putting together some promos for my book that’s coming out in September and I am actually now writing my next book to release in 2016.  God has surely blessed me to allow me to be used for His glory in this way.  I give Him all the credit!

I want to close this Monday weekend update with a bit of the message from yesterday’s sermon on 1 Peter 5:6-9…

We can expect that the devil is prowling around just watching for an opportunity to devour us.  The only sure repellant of that hungry lion is a person who is FIRM in the FAITH!  Hang onto your faith, spend time in the Word, keep your weapon sharp and be watchful.  The victory belongs to the Lord!

Have a great week!

10 of My Favorite Summer Oils!

10 of My Favorite Summer Oils!

This past Tuesday I taught a local class about using essential oils for the summer.  Since we aren’t all geographically connected, I wanted to share here too.  I’d hate for you all to miss this great information!  It must be set free!

These are the oils and products that I focused on for the class….my favorite summer products.  There are a ton more.  OK, basically ALL of them on the product list are great.  I love my oils.

10 great ways to make your summer better with essential oils!

1. Lavender.  Lavender is great all seasons of the year, but is especially for summer because it promotes both healthy skin and relaxing.  So when my kids have been swimming all day I can kill 2 birds with one stone by putting some diluted lavender (or there’s a lavender lotion that’s wonderful!) on their skin which also settles them down from the excitement of the day.  Then they go to sleep.  Sweet sleep….you are our friend.

2. Citrus Oils….all of them!  Lemon, Orange, Tangerine, Grapefruit, Lime, Citrus Fresh….they are all so summery and refreshing!  I put one of these in my diffuser almost every morning to wake us all UP and get us going (sometimes I mix a few together!).  Even though we do have a slower pace in the summer, we prob’ly need to wake up at some point.  (Be careful putting citrus oils on your skin if you are going in the sun.  I like to keep them in the diffuser for a pick-me-up but I keep them off of my skin in the summer).

3. Peppermint.  Yep, this is my GO-TO travel oil.  I need to make a label for my bottle that says, “Don’t leave home without me!”  It’s great for digestive health and mental alertness.  With so much traveling all summer….get yourself an extra bottle of peppermint for the road!

4. Valor II.  Yes, I said it!  Young Living heard my cries and made a new Valor that will be more readily available.  I love Valor so much that I am chomping at the bit to get the new Valor II into my anxious little hands.  I ordered it on Monday and you can be sure I will be telling you all about it.  I’m pretty sure Valor is a gift of the angels. Go order Valor II NOW!  You’ll thank me later.

(Look all the way to the bottom of this post to see how you can WIN a bottle of this new oil!!!)

5. Bergamot + Fun.  These 2 oils have become my 2015 fave summer combo.  I always need to chill out and remember to enjoy my time with my family after a long, hard year.  Bergamot helps with lots of things, but I’ve used it to deal with grief (it can be any loss…we grieve lots of things) and Fun is from the new Infused 7 Kit (but you can also get it separately) and I put it on my wrist every morning to help remind me to have a little FUN amidst the work of life.  Try them….you’ll like them!

A great summer essential oil combination!  Diffuse, wear, bathe....it's fab!

6. Purification.  What Thieves is to winter, Purification is to summer.  If you learn anything from me today, let it be to get yourself a bottle of Purification!  Put it in the diffuser outside when you’re sitting around after the sun starts to set.  Put in in the diffuser inside when the kids get stinky.  Dab it on yourself and anyone else who is standing near you if you’re going outside.  I keep it in a spray bottle with some water and just s-p-r-i-t-z everyone.  The main ingredient: Citronella.

7. PanAway. I don’t know about you, but we tend to be extra active in the summer.  We run a lot and play outdoor games and even a game of ping pong played with passion can make your muscles wonder what’s going on.  I keep PanAway nearby so we can keep our active muscles happy.   (by the way, PanAway, along with 10 other oils comes with the Premium Starter Kit!)

3 great oils in the Premium Starter Kit that you NEED for summer!

8. K&B.  This is not an essential oil, but one of Young Living’s other A-MAZing support products.  I generally struggle to stay hydrated in the summer and my bladder and kidneys need support through the heat and it enhances your body’s efforts to maintain fluid balance.  So I keep this amazing little tincture on hand at all times.  Just add a dropperful to your water.  It’s not delicious, but isn’t so bad that it’s hard to get down.  I’m a weenie when it comes to bad tasting stuff and I don’t mind it.

A great way to keep your kidneys and bladder healthy! #summer #essentialoils

9. Melaleuca (aka Tea Tree).  Again….it’s multi-purpose.  Keep the counters clean, deodorize the bathroom and dab around areas on the skin that you need to keep extra clean.  If you’re not sure what oils to use, you can’t go wrong with Melaleuca.

10.  Finally, my gentle giant, Envision.  I discovered this oil when Valor went out of stock and it has turned out to be so helpful!  I often need a little nudge in the clear-head-be-inspired department and this baby has blessed me.  I like it so much that I got a second bottle to keep in my car or purse.  When I am out and about during the day I put a drop in my hand and rub it on my neck like a perfume.  It has a lighter scent than many oils and it is what I’ll be diffusing later in the summer while we make plans for the next school year.

If you're looking for a new oil to try....make it this one!

Well I hope this list gave you some new ideas for ways to use your Young Living oils for the summer!  If you have a favorite that I didn’t list, be sure to tell us all about it in the comments.  We can all learn from each other!

And if you’re ready to get started using Young Living oils I would LOVE to be your support!  I have a whole team that I work with and we will help you along so you’re not lost.  When you join with the purchase of a Premium Starter Kit I will send you a great reference book and some extra goodies to get you going.  You will LOVE your oils!!!


By the way, I am not a doctor or an expert in anything but raising my family and share these tips using only my personal experience.  If you have a medical need, please see your own medical professional for advice. 

Come win Young Living's newest fantastic product!  Valor II!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
All of the images in this post are there for you to Pin and share on social media!  I’d love for you to use them to help spread the word about these great products but please keep them intact, including my watermark!

I’m a Very, Very Good Driver

I’m a Very, Very Good Driver

I never, ever got smart enough to prepare for this phase of my parenting journey.  I have apparently moved into the “always-in-the-car” season of my life, and along with it I am noticing a widening of my backside and very pale skin.  I suppose it is because I sit and eat snacks all the livelong day without actually getting any sun as I drive my children all over Timbucktoo.


I have made 6 trips to the city in the past few days with 3 more trips before Friday, plus driving to the next small town 30 minutes away in the other direction every single day this week while I wait for 3 hours for my little guys to do a summer camp.  My car and I deserve a prize….perhaps in the form of a large cup of Sonic ice followed by a nap.

Over the past few months as these plans all came together, each child requesting to take this class or attend that camp, it seemed doable.  But I didn’t coordinate schedules while I was saying YES and before I knew it we were going so many different directions that we need a military strategist to organize it all.  The older kids and I have to have a meeting every night to figure out who will drive where in what car with which child the next day.

In the middle of all of that activity James and I had our 29th anniversary to celebrate.  We decided to kill two birds with one stone and go out to a nice dinner on Saturday night in the city since we had to pick up a couple of the kids there at 10:00pm anyway.  It’s been a long time since we went out on a Saturday night since I would rather have a root canal than stand in a crowded restaurant for an hour waiting for a table.

But we had a surprisingly good time despite our table being 8″ from the diners next to us and not being able to hear what each other was saying the whole time.


After dinner we still had a couple of hours to kill so we took a stroll down to the bookstore and wandered around in there for a while looking at books.  Our shopping adventures go something like this (after 29 years together we have this down):
Me: Hey!  This looks like a great book!  Let’s buy it!
Him: We don’t need any more books.
Me: But this would be so good for the kids and look….here’s another one we need! {I begin to collect a large pile of books in my arms as I walk through the store}
Him: Lisa, we really don’t need those books and we are watching our budget, remember?
Me: OK, I will sit here in this chair looking through every book and choose 2 to put back.  Will that make you feel better?  If we only buy 8 books instead of 10?
Him: No.
Me: OK, how about this….I will choose 2 to put back and then I will pick a few more that I can get cheaper on Amazon and….hey look!  There’s another one that we NEED!

On and on it goes.  Me finding things we “need” (you know…for the kids!) and him telling me what we really need is to stay on budget.  In the end we bought 2 books and a game.  The game was for him.

It was always what would happen in the end.  It never changes, but we MUST go through the motions.

One super-duper cool thing that happened while we were at the bookstore is James decided to see if my book was on their computer and it was!  Right there with a description and preorder info.  I took a picture, of course!  Who cares if it’s a dork move?  My book is for sale at Barnes & Noble for goodness sake!


But it doesn’t really change anything in my life.  I still have to drive my kids to their activities all week while figuring out when I will be able to get to the grocery store and if I don’t get some sun people will assume I have an illness.  Being a published author is cool, but I’m still just Mom.

Have a great week!

Which is Worse…Traffic Jams or Easter Egg Hunts?

Which is Worse…Traffic Jams or Easter Egg Hunts?

Am I the only one who is shocked that it is April?  And that Easter is behind us?  In fact, I’m still warming up to the idea that it’s 2015.  My mind says “2007” over and over.  Frozen in time.  I relate strongly to the song lyric, “Tonight I’m gonna party like it’s 1999,” not because I’m a partier, but because I refuse to accept that we have actually survived Y2K.

I also wrangle with the fact that it took me 2 hours last Friday to drive one mile.  My friend Sara and I got up at 5:30 in the am and drove the 3 hours to Round Top, TX where the world’s best junk was waiting for us.  It was a gorgeous drive with Texas wildflowers flanking the freeway and spiced nuts from Buc-ees.

In case you’ve never been to Texas, I urge you to add “stop at Buc-ees” to your list of must do items when you come here.  It may look like just a truck stop on the outside, but inside it’s a little slice o’ Texas heaven.

After almost three hours, we got a couple of miles from our destination when we hit a trail of cars on the rural highway.  It was dead stopped….occasionally inching forward.  Sure the bluebonnets are amazing, but we didn’t need to see them each individually.


I kid you not.  I know I tend to exaggerate, but this is 100% true….we took TWO HOURS to drive ONE MILE.  Several times we discussed turning around and leaving, but we had already driven 3 hours to get there so we stuck it out.

By the time we finally got to a parking space and started shopping the flea market we had a great time.  We didn’t consider that it would take us about hour and a half to get back out at the end of the day, so all in all we spent about three times as much time sitting in the car as we did shopping.  But I bought a beat up old shutter with some slats missing, so of course…it was all worth it.

We found out later through Instagram that the whole Duck Dynasty cast was there plus some HGTV people.  That plus it being a nice Friday probably caused the crowd.  I have been to Round Top many times and never hit traffic like that.  Cuh-razy!

On Saturday morning I was good and tired from flea marketing and several of my older kids were going to an all day photo-meet-up.  So I decided to skip the kitchen work I had planned (I am getting close to finishing!) and just rest.  It was just what I needed.  I literally slept, woke up and watched a mystery movie, went back to sleep, repeat steps one and two.

So I have nothing to report to you about Saturday except that a huge box of books came from my publisher and I am having trouble deciding which ones to read first.  So many of them look good!  So good, in fact, that I am thinking of just passing them along to y’all after I read them.  I want to share the goodness.  I’m thinking I’ll just read a few then do a simple giveaway.  I could never choose one of y’all over the rest, so a random draw is the way to go.


On Sunday, after church, we had a little egg hunt for the kids.  On Saturday night I filled some plastic eggs with candy and wrote the kids names on them so they would all get the same amount.  I used a sharpie to write the names and draw some little pictures on each egg.  The older/adult kids each got 2 eggs….one with candy and another with money.  The under 18 crowd got 10 eggs each filled with candy.  Like, lots of candy.


Since pretty much the only other time all year they get candy is for Christmas, it’s a treat and they love it.

Our Sunday afternoon egg hunt turned ugly when, after searching for nearly 2 hours we still couldn’t find 2 of the eggs.  I had been the one to hide them and I was super careful to make it pretty easy, except for my 23 year old son who I tried to make practically impossible because, well, it was fun for me.  But he found his after about 20 minutes and the other kids all found theirs until we were down to 2 eggs missing.  I wanted to give up and just call it done, but the boys whose eggs were missing were highly driven to find them.

Another half hour and we found one of them.  The other kids each kind of went in the house and it was down to me, James and two boys.

Finally I stopped looking and went inside.  As far as I know they are still out there looking.

This week ahead is full.  In addition to the last touches to the kitchen, I will be running errands for James (tax season….CPA….lots of errands) and I am taking the boys to some thrift stores to find new jackets.  On Easter we made the annual sad discovery that nothing fits them.  So off we go to look for clothes that other people don’t want anymore.  Then on Thursday I have 2 ortho appointments and that night I am speaking to a women’s group.  Then on Friday, maybe, if I play my cards right, I will get y’all some finished kitchen pictures.

Don’t hold your breath though.  I don’t want to be held responsible for anyone dying.

Have a good one!  And remember….it’s April 2015.  You’re welcome.

9 Things You MUST Have at Disney!

9 Things You MUST Have at Disney!

This post contains affiliate links.

Last November our family took a dream trip to Disneyworld.  It was just as magical as they say…except for the part where James and I had to keep up with 9 young people with varied levels of energy and interest.  He and I were like ships in the night….I knew he was in the vicinity but we rarely saw each other.

So we decided that since we never do anything for our anniversaries or take romantic trips, we would go back together…just the two of us.  And believe it or not, we have actually made plans and put down a deposit to go this spring!

I learned some things while we were there last time that will definitely help us have a great time this next trip and I thought I’d share some of my best tips with you!

Planning a Disney trip?  This is a must have list from a mom of 9!

1. Camelbak – I tend to get dehydrated very easily.  And I am a little bit (OK a lot) picky about my water.  I like bottled.  No tap water.  No drinking fountains.  And I am ultimately lazy and don’t want to carry a water bottle around with me.  So I got myself a Camelbak and I LOVED it!  I would fill it with a few water bottles and some ice, then I had cold water for hours.  PLUS it held my other needs…money, lip balm, tissues, etc.

2. Pockets! – Since I only wear skirts and dresses, I don’t often have pockets.  But I found some great tops that have big pockets and MAN did I use them!  It was so great to slip my sunglasses into my pocket when I needed to take them off and hold something for my kids.  I came home with pockets full of smashed pennies.

3. Comfy shoes – according to my UP band, I walked an average of 17,000 steps a day.  We were on.the.move!  So I wore my OTZ Shoes every day and seriously, my feet never hurt at all.  Whatever shoes you are comfortable in…WEAR THEM!

4. Smart Phone – well, I never go anywhere without it anyway, and of course we took all of our photos with it, but I was doubly glad to have it with me because the app, My Disney Experience, was a lifesaver!  It kept up with our fast passes, dinner reservations, maps, wait times on rides, everything we needed!

5. Ziploc bags – speaking of phones, I kept a Ziploc Snack Bags in my pack to stick my phone in when we went on water rides.  I never worried about it getting wet!  And I carried a few extra that came in handy many times.  Someone didn’t have their retainer case (although that probably won’t happen when it’s just James and I), leftover food from dinner, a kid wanted to keep something they found…over and over it was nifty to have a few small Ziplocs with me.

6. Dining Plan – no, seriously, I will never go there again without getting the dining plan!  We had a fancy dinner reservation each day and ate places we would never have gotten into, much less been wiling to spend the money while we were there.  We got a second, quick meal each day which was amazing and then one snack, which I mostly ate frozen lemonade and plan to eat lots more of it when we go back.  It was so great for the kids because they had their meals on their Magic Bands and could just get food when they wanted without asking permission.  Brilliant Disney.  Brilliant.

7. No jewelry – Yes, I love my jewelry.  But this is not the place to wear it; I only wore my UP Band (which I don’t think of as jewelry).  I didn’t even wear a wedding ring.  You really want to be as free of extras as possible, especially anything that would be upsetting to lose!  Sure, carry a Ziploc bag, but leave the earrings at home.

8. Free time – on our last trip it was go-go-go from sunup to sundown.  James and I, being old and all, plan to slow it down significantly.  Yes, we may miss a ride or two but the slower pace will undoubtedly help us enjoy it more.  You can’t see it all anyway, believe me.  We tried.

9. Thieves Mints – I kept these in my pack and handed them out often, to whoever I was with (we were split up a lot).  It not only kept our breath fresh, but the Thieves helped keep our immune systems strong.

That’s my simple list of how I plan to make my future trip to Disney as magical (and easy) as I possibly can!

Do you have any Disney tips to share?

By the way, all of our Disney arrangements were made by my friend Amy at Polka Dots & Wishes and she was incredible!  I didn’t hesitate to ask her to plan our next trip for James and I….if you reach out to her to plan your trip, be sure to tell her I sent you!

The Most Magical Place on Earth

The Most Magical Place on Earth

I was quiet on the blog last week because my family went on vacation….to Disney World!


It was a dream come true kind of trip.  We had been planning it for about 6 months and even though we didn’t know it then, the timing was amazing.  We all needed a break from the difficulties going on at home.


It’s more proof that God knows what is ahead for us and sets His plans into motion to take care of us. 

With so many of us there, it was hard to stay together so we ended up splitting up most of the time and meeting all together for dinner each day.  We tried to stay connected, but you know how it goes.


We did manage to ride a few rides all together.


We would divide into groups and I ended up spending most of my time with the two youngest boys.


It was fun just to ride whatever they wanted and see the shows they were interested in.  We rode the train around Magic Kingdom and the carousel and everything the older kids had no interest in.


But don’t think I had a slow paced time.  I love the roller coasters and occasionally I would sneak off with the fast action crew for some thrill rides.  The more loops and twists and turns the better in my opinion. (the girl on the end is a sweet friend who went with us)


We would use our fast passes then run right back around to wait in line to ride the ride again.  Fun, Fun and more Fun.

Speaking of fast passes, I want to shout out how amazing our Disney travel agent was.  Amy, from Polka Dots N’ Wishes planned the whole thing for us and got us a great deal!  Plus she gave us tips for things we would never have discovered on our own.  I was thrilled with their service and will use them to plan another trip again for SURE!  If you’re going to Disney, contact them and let them know I sent you.


It’s so great to be in a place where you look normal wearing costumes.  But my Minnie Mouse ears were hurting my head, so the next day I made my own.  I may start wearing my hair like that all the time.


We met quite a few celebrities….including the biggest celebrity of all.


I even made friends with a Lego muscle man.  He’s a little angry, but he’s still cute.


While it was an amazing trip and I would do it all again, I am hoping to go back again with just James and I.  It seems weird at first to think of going without our kids, but then we realized we were spending the entire time doing what everyone else wanted, taking people to the bathroom, looking for lost hats, finding people to trade pins with, etc.  It’s what a parent does and we were totally glad to do it.  But it also sounds nice to do whole thing at our own pace.  So we are thinking of calling Amy and having her set up a “Mommy and Daddy only” kind of trip.  (ignore the black man in the photo with me – it’s from a ride – just pretend that’s James)


And another great thing about the trip….it was our Christmas gift to the family.  So my Christmas shopping is done except for a few friend and teacher gifts which I have already ordered.  Booyah!!!

Have a very merry week!


The Ups and the Downs

The Ups and the Downs

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So many of you have been asking me about how things are going with our daughter that left home.  I appreciate it very much!  I haven’t given an update because there’s really nothing to tell.  She is still gone and we haven’t had much communication with her.

What I can tell you about is how we are pulling ourselves together at home.  We have been making an effort to find our new normal without her.  It has been really hard and we all miss her terribly, but I have learned a lot about how to deal with grief throughout the past month.  And one thing I know, as hard as it is to accept, is that I can’t stop my own life because of someone else’s choices.  (That doesn’t lessen the heartbreak, but it does help with feeling permission to move forward.)

I have been reading books that people have suggested to me.  Two that have really helped are A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows through Loss and Surviving One Bad Year: 7 Spiritual Strategies to Lead You to a New Beginning.  Both of them have deeply touched on what I have been going through and helped me get not only perspective, but gather strength from knowing that other people have felt what I am feeling.

The 10 of us at home have definitely drawn closer as we work to stay in communication with each other and how we are individually handling it.  Each of the kids will come to me at different times and want to talk about it.  They will be hurting or confused and we will just chat about it until they feel hopeful again.  There is always a lesson to be learned.

I definitely have days when I feel like I can hardly breathe and just cry for no reason.  Like, hard crying.  I know that’s part of the process.   Oh, those crazy stages of grief.  I swing from one to the other over and over…sometimes I go through the first four all in one day.

Then I will have 3-4 easier days.  The weather is nice and the kids will be doing OK and I will feel closer to God as I spend time in His Word.  I will think it’s going to be OK.  And honestly, I do know that it will be OK.  I really never doubt that.  Then I will think about how long that might take and I will suddenly swing back into grief again.

OK God, I am so over this rOlLeR cOAstEr.

From a practical perspective, we have made ourselves try to close the giant hole that she left and find ways to either take over her roles or learn how to do without them.

You always know it’s going to happen….that your kids will leave.  In fact, you really want to see your kids go off and make their lives out there in the big ol’ world.  But in that knowledge, you have some comfort that you will know where they are and what they are doing and what they want for themselves.  And if you really get your dreams you are able to help them a little.  You also, under normal circumstances, have some time to prepare for their leaving.  Three months of prepping for college or wedding or moving into their own place gives you time to make the transition.

But we had nothing.  Not even a goodbye.

I think it’s natural that we need time to recover from that.

But I have said it before and I will keep saying it as loud as I can…..GOD IS GOOD!  I trust Him, I love Him, I walk with Him.

And if He has me on this roller coaster for a reason, I can accept that.  The ups make me thankful and the downs make me pray harder.