9 Things You MUST Have at Disney!

9 Things You MUST Have at Disney!

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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!

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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 us from getting sick (seems like I heard something recently about people getting sick at Disney?).  ;P

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!

Where to Find TRUE Encouragament

Where to Find TRUE Encouragament

I’ve been working, working, getting ready for the Summit, which means a lot of time spent reading the Bible as I prepare for a couple of sessions I am teaching.  And a lot more time praying.  Praying for wisdom, praying for each woman in attendance, praying for the hotel servers…..so many things to lift up to the throne of grace!

What amazes me is how uplifted I am from all of it.  Even though I am not reading for my own needs, He uses it to minister intimately to me.  Even though I am not asking for help for my own trials, He blesses me through my prayers and gives me encouragement.

His grace and mercy and wisdom covers ALL of that and MORE!

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So I had to share the encouragement with you on YouTube.

 

My friends, dig into His Word!  Spend time in prayer!  Let Him pour the living water into your thirsty spirit.

One last thought I want to share is to be careful that you look for the kind of encouragement that God supplies and not from people who will just say what makes you feel good.  People will fail you.  People can mislead you.  But God never can!  Be willing to hear the absolute truth and not just what justifies your own ideas and wants.  That is the only way to really find joy and peace.

Have a beautiful day!!!

Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel

Moms Need a Night Off!

Moms Need a Night Off!

This week’s YouTube video is about a subject near and dear to my heart….taking a break!

I have shared this with many groups when I speak and I always get a food of emails afterward asking me questions about how it works.  I go into some of it in the video and in this older post, but I want to answer a few more questions.

 

Q: How do you get your husband to agree?
A: You shouldn’t try to manipulate him, but simply lay out the idea.  The more you can make it easy for him the better it will work.  We don’t want to overwhelm the poor guy.  Have the house cleaned up and the kids in a good mood.  Don’t try to control what happens while you’re gone…this is their time.  When you get home, don’t complain if it’s messy or he did something “wrong”.

Q: But I don’t trust anyone else to take care of my kids.
A: Mom, your kids will be fine for a few hours without you.  In fact….it is GOOD for them and for Dad to spend time together without you.  Ask God to help you let go of trying to control everything.  It’s not healthy!  To quote the most annoying song of 2014, “Let it go!  Let it go!….”

Q: What if I have a nursing baby?
A: Sometimes I would take the baby with me, sometimes I would nurse then leave for a couple of hours, sometimes I would stay home and lock myself in my bedroom.  You can still get a break when you’re nursing.  In fact, I remember several times I used my night off to SLEEP!

Q: My kids won’t leave me alone in my room!
A: You can teach your kids not to bother you when you need a break.  The trick is not to answer them when they call or give in to their manipulation.  Your husband (or whoever is helping) is perfectly capable of taking care of that they need.  You could even practice it for 10 minutes during the day for a week or so to make sure they get the concept.

Q: What kinds of things do you do?
A: Honestly, my favorite thing is to go in my bathroom and have time for personal care.  I scrub my face, straighten the bathroom and bedroom, clip my fingernails, condition my hair, etc.  That is how my bathroom stays clean and I get my grooming time in.  I listen to praise music or podcasts and get my soul taken care of at the same time.

 

All moms need a break and this is a great post with tons of encouragement and ideas!

If you have other questions leave them in the comments and I’ll try to help!

Are You Feeling Overwhelmed?

Are You Feeling Overwhelmed?

Some practical, godly tips for women who are struggling with depression, hopelessness and feeling overwhelmed.  #parenting #forwomen #christian

Feeling overwhelmed is something everyone experiences….some of us more than others.

I get hundreds of emails and messages from women who are overwhelmed, struggling with depression and feeling hopeless.  I wish I could have each of you over for an iced tea with Sonic ice and some real fellowship.

I’m here to share some hope with you.  This week’s YouTube video has 3 tips for what to do when you’re feeling overwhelmed and depressed.  I can’t take away your problems, but I can tell you what works for me when I feel that ugly old hopelessness creeping in.

Before you go…..I want to leave you with even more encouragement from the One who CAN take away your problems….

Matthew 19:26 “But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

2 Timothy 1:7 “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

John 13:1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.”

Psalm 28:7 “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.”

Psalm 142:3 “When I am overwhelmed, you alone know the way I should turn.”

Psalm 61:2 ” From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

I am praying for you…even if I don’t know you, God does.

Do You Have a Dream?

Do You Have a Dream?

I have been about to BUST to tell you my big news.  But I waited, because patience is a virtue.  Also because I am a person who holds in information in case it doesn’t actually happen.  A little insight into my sad, sad personality.

If you’ve been around here for any length of time you know that I have dreamed of writing a book.  In fact, I did write a short one last year and planned to turn it into an ebook.  It was in the works when God, in His beautiful way, flipped that plan upside down and used that ebook to get the attention of a literary agent and then a publisher.

And now that all Ts and Is have been crossed and dotted I can tell you…..I am writing a real book.  One you can hold in your hand and buy in a store.  Even as I type it out I have to pinch myself.

I thought about waiting a while longer to tell y’all.  It was a favor to you really.  So you don’t have to keep yourself from asking me constantly, “Are you REALLY writing a book? Because I haven’t seen it anywhere!”  It turns out that the process takes much longer than I ever thought….in my case about a year….before it will actually be on a shelf.  But you all are amazing and kind so I overcame my hesitation.

My book will come out next fall, in 2015.

However, I have discovered that it is next to impossible to keep up with 3-4 blog posts a week AND write a whole book.  I simply can’t do it without ignoring my kids and all efforts to eat healthy.  So until my December first deadline I will be posting just once or twice a week and occasionally re-posting some content that you might not have seen before.  I am also considering letting my girls write for The Pennington Point once in a while.

I didn’t ever dream this would be a reality….honestly I am blown away by God’s grace.  He has been my guide and comfort all along the way.

If you get anything from my big announcement let it be this: Whatever He planted in your heart long ago, He will lead you to that.  It will probably not happen the way you expect or even look the way you thought it should, but don’t ever stop going for that goal.  I have dreamed of this since I was a child and here I am….about to turn 50 (another thing I can’t believe when I type it out) and it is just now happening. Never give up!!!!

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My book doesn’t have an official title yet, but it is all about joy and gratitude and giving thanks in all things.  I promise you will love it.  As soon as I finish writing it.  And we design a cover.  And all of the other details that I can’t even think about or I start to hyperventilate.

It will be based on my most popular post called,20 Ways to Reset When the Kids Are Having a Hard Day.”  It’s a beautiful, freeing concept that I have a lot more to say about plus tons of very funny stories to share with you!

Our whole family is blessed by what God is doing through this.  Despite my pitiful fear of shouting it from the rooftops.

What’s your dream?! 

 

Fence Building is Not My Strength

Fence Building is Not My Strength

I am still on my cleaning and organizing frenzy.  In fact, it’s gotten worse since James is out of town for the week.  I always get a lot done when he’s gone because I can throw away whatever I want without him following after me looking in the cans and pulling stuff back out.

He can’t help it.  He comes from a long line of collectors.  His grandmother had a perpetual garage sale.  She would go to other people’s garage sales and bring the stuff home, double the price and sell it at her garage sale.  Me, I inherited a passion for just throwing away things we don’t need anymore.  I’m pretty sure God was laughing through our entire childhoods knowing He was going to put us together.

We have gotten so much done this week that I am going to give the kids today and tomorrow off.  I plan to start a full school schedule on Monday and I think they need a short break before that happens.  Man cannot live on organization alone.

Also when James goes out of town we tend to have more than our normal share of small emergencies.  On Tuesday morning just as he was leaving our horse got out and ran down the road.  After we chased him back in, the fence had to be mended where he got out.  It’s times like these when I wonder why I ever had the dream of a “little farm house with animals”.

I may be able to build a cabinet, but fence repair is one of my weak areas.  Instead of spending hours doing it right, the kids and I spent 15 minutes wiring bits and pieces of different fence panels together and propped them up with a rusty T post.  Yep, classy.

Then the next day I had a tooth situation.  I have a crown that has been bothering me, but I have put off going to have it looked at.  So of course it waited until James was gone to kick up a fuss.  It started bleeding and throbbing and I couldn’t get it to stop.  Of course, at 10:00 at night.

So I called my dentist the next morning and because of school about to start he can’t see me for a couple of weeks.  OK then.  Although I was a little nervous about it, I looked through all of my essential oil books, pulled out what oils I had and started swishing.  I have clove oil, which I’ve also been putting right on the gums around the tooth and it has been incredible.  It has completely stopped the pain and the other oils I am swishing with (Thieves, Melaleuca and lavender) are going to, I am confident, keep it from getting infected until I go to the dentist.

Now as long as we can make it through two more days without anything on the house falling apart we are home free.  Once James gets back nothing will happen.  That’s how it always goes.

Have a great weekend!

 

 

I Shoulda Looked for a Watering Hole

I Shoulda Looked for a Watering Hole

In case you missed it last year (or the year before that) this is when I start to complain about the heat.  You would think that I have an affection for it after living in Texas my whole life, but no.  I despise it with a passion.  Them’s strong words but it’s how I feel.

Last Thursday James whisked me away for a romantic getaway.  And when I say romantic I mean 2 days with 5,000 other homeschoolers and a guest bed at my aunt’s house.  It was more about keeping up with a full schedule and less about roses with candlelight dinners.  But we do have the 4 hour car ride to look back on with fondness, if you like long, intense discussions about how we can be better parents and what to do about making a budget for next year.

One thing I struggle with when I travel in the summer is getting dehydrated.  I try to be careful, but there’s something about it that throws me off and by the time we were back home on Saturday night I was in pain.  My old-lady bladder was irritated and a headache was looming.

Getting dehydrated is no laughing matter (even though this blog post is funny!)

This is not my first experience with dehydration.  It happens to me several times every summer.  I know what you’re thinking, “Why doesn’t she just drink enough water?!”  I really wish I knew the answer to this question.

I expected my usual few days of recovery, so I flipped through my essential oils reference book to see if I there was an oil I might try.  Turned out that I had several of the oils suggested….just one of the many advantages of having a good stock.  I put one drop each of lemongrass, Thieves, spearmint and chamomile into a carrier oil and rubbed it over my bladder. Then I rubbed EndoFlex over my kidneys and drank 1/2 cup of NingXia Red followed by 8 oz. of water.  I felt better in about 5 minutes….no kidding!  In the past when this happens I feel awful all night and have trouble sleeping because of it.  I did the whole protocol again before I went to bed.  I didn’t want to risk it flaring up in the middle of the night and missing my much needed beauty sleep.

It really is a blessing to have remedies for these kinds of issues.  When small things come up I always see if I have an oil that can help me get through it more quickly.  In this case it knocked it right out and I was extra careful all day Sunday to be sure I drank enough water.  Maybe someday I will think about it BEFORE I leave for my trip and avoid it altogether.

Today is the fifth morning in a row that I have to get up and go out early.  It’s been a challenge to find time for exercise.  On Thursday I went for an evening walk instead of morning and on Friday I dropped James off at the convention we were attending and I went for a jog around the mall next door.  This morning I did a quick TTapp DVD and I will try to go for a bike ride later.  I have learned that there is always something I can do, even if it’s just jogging in place for 10 minutes or crunches on the floor.

If I, the laziest person in Texas, can do it then so can you!  I am rooting you on from my air-conditioned bedroom with a tall glass of Sonic ice in my hand.

Have a great week & stay cool!

Sweating is Not My Thing

Sweating is Not My Thing

We have been working in the yard for the past few days getting ready for a big party tomorrow.  Two of the girls are graduating so we are having a small ceremony with family and close friends.

I don’t like yard work.  I am not one of those people who enjoys sweating and getting my hands in the dirt.  I hear people talk about how satisfying it is to get their hands dirty and all I think is, “Yuck.  Haven’t they heard that cleanliness is next to godliness?!”

I also don’t like tomatoes.  Just a random bit of info that I thought you might need to understand that I don’t care for yardwork.  It seems like people who love that also really like to grow tomatoes.  That’s just my assessment from the other side of the glass.  By that I mean inside the house where the air-conditioning is.

What DOES interest me is having a beautiful yard.  So sometimes I do actually have to sweat and get dirty for that to happen.  Thankfully I have a full crew so our family rallies together like a little machine and gets the job done.  Then we jump in the pool.  Because lounging in the cool water does interest me.

An as an update on our green swamp, it is crystal clear and staying that way.  I used the advice from a website called Trouble Free Pools. It took me a while to get the hang of it, but now it’s going fine.  It has been freeing to be able to do this myself without the help of the expensive pool store chemicals.

Back to the graduation prep, there’s also plenty of inside work to be done.  Bathrooms have to be cleaned and stocked, tablecloths have to be ironed and someone has to cut a watermelon half into a Pinterest worthy fruit bowl.

Being a true Texas gal, I am ordering bar-b-que from a local place that slow cooks it all night into a melt-in-your-mouth slice of heaven.  The whole meal is going to be gluten-free in honor of the 2 graduates who both are GF.  It’s been a challenge, but I’m up for it.

I decided on an ice cream bar instead of cake.  This morning I’m having one of the kids scoop ice cream into small mason jars so it will be ready to just pull out and serve.  No bowls and scoops and drippy messes.  Seriously y’all.  I am making it as easy on myself as possible short of hiring servers and landscapers.  Which I tried to talk James into but he insisted it wasn’t in the budget.

He and I don’t see things the same way.  I see a whole week’s worth of exhausting work ahead and he sees coming out of his office on Friday night to a beautiful yard and prepared food.  But then, I see the money in the bank account as just magically appearing, and I don’t think he sees it like that at all.

I am looking forward to hanging out with my people and laughing about the old days.  There’s nothing like an evening with the people who knew you when you were 12 to keep a girl humble.  It will come as no surprise to any of them that I don’t like to sweat.  When I was in the second grade I insisted on signing up for girl’s softball then cried through the entire first game because it was hot.

It’s gonna be fun.

Have a happy fourth!

Let There Be Light!

Let There Be Light!

Some weekends are the lazy kind where you sit around and wonder what to do with yourselves.  Like when James and I were first married and we would hear people say they were really busy and wonder what they meant.  Because all we had to do was dust under the bentwood rocker and decide what movie to rent for the weekend.

Then came kids.  And home ownership.  And several home businesses and now we wonder why we ever thought this would be easy.

This past weekend was not a lazy weekend.  We spent our time divided between managing this old house that doesn’t fair well through thunderstorms and catching up on some much delayed home improvement projects….one of which was my Mother’s Day present circa 2010.

Yes, approximately 4 years ago I had this genius idea.  I bought some wire baskets at a flea market and brought them home to make dining room light fixtures with.  On the way home from that same flea market I stopped at IKEA and purchased all of the hardware for this random project.  We have literally had everything we needed to build these lights for FOUR YEARS, yet never did it.

Why?

Because for some reason I am not “allowed” to play with electricity so I had to wait for James to have time to do it.  What’s the man been doing for four years?  Oh yeah….going to law school.  What. Ever.

I asked several times if I could just try doing it myself.  But my reputation for electrical projects goes to the dogs every winter when we have to post a sign on the microwave reminding anyone using it to make sure the heater is off before heating food.  It’s the small matter of an outlet I installed myself when I was remodeling the kitchen.  It works great…unless you try to turn on anything else that’s on the same circuit when the microwave is running.  This only becomes obvious when we use the little space heater in the dining room.  Cook.  Pop.  No microwave.  No heat.

I argue that for most of the year we don’t need heat so it is perfectly fine.  What’s the big deal?

BUT James said no.  So finally he finished school, the Bar Exam and all of the other little tests and applications required to become an attorney and now he can focus on what’s important.  My dining room lights.

He and Jacob took down the old light and installed an outlet in the ceiling.  This was my idea since my IKEA parts had plugs.  What rule says you have to hardwire your lights?

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We clipped the bottoms out of the baskets and my daughter Faith made little cardboard circles to fill in the open middle.  Then we just popped the IKEA lights in them.  Jacob built me some simple boxes from old wood from our backyard wood pile and we drilled holes in the boxes for the lights to go through.  Patience made me some cord covers from old curtains.  It really was a family affair.

Then we hung them (it sounds so easy when I sum it up in 4 little words, but it took us several hours)….at last we have decent light on both sides of the dining room and I couldn’t be happier.  It was worth waiting 4 years.

Make lights from wire baskets

A future project is getting rid of the popcorn ceiling….ick!

Here’s a view of the second light on the other side of the room….

Make lights from wire baskets

We also spent Saturday taking photos for our upcoming summer home tour that includes a whole slew of other amazing, creative bloggers.  So stay tuned for that!

And now we’re back to repairing water damaged parts of the house like the roof of the back deck that caved in yesterday and the pool, which has turned green from the rain.  If you’ve always dreamed of buying an old farmhouse and fixing it up, this is what it’s like.  Not exactly the dream, but still pretty great.

Have a wonderful last week of May.  Stay dry!

For more info on how we made the lights head over to Hometalk and see how we did it!

My Full Work Force and Sore Muscles

My Full Work Force and Sore Muscles

My family gave me the best gift ever for Mother’s Day…..a whole day of work, no questions asked.  They’d just do whatever I wanted.

When they offered this, I probably should have just smiled a sweet southern thank you and let them off the hook.  But I am not that kind of girl.  Oh no.  I made a to-do list the size of War and Peace.  Nothing makes this mamma happier than getting some projects done and the house squeaky clean.

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But I have to back up a couple of days to last Thursday night when James and I decided to do something so out of our comfort zone that we might not survive it.  We did the first day of a 6 week program designed to tone your body.  Yes, tone.  Why we decided to do this, I have no idea.  We are not those people who walk around looking all healthy and fit and make other people swoon.  That’s just not us.  And our muscles have cried out in rebellion to the whole idea, leaving us limping and wincing every time we sit.  And you don’t even want to know what kind of howls were happening when we had to climb into our big van yesterday morning to get to church.  Getting into that thing is like climbing one of those rock walls….I always wish I had a harness for safety when I grab onto the handle and heave myself up.

Now fast forward back to Saturday morning when James got up at 6:30 to work outside with the boys because one of the things on my list was cleaning out the beds surrounding the guest house.  These beds looked like something a haunted mansion would have around its perimeter.  Scary, dead and who know what lurks beneath.  And it was only made worse by the frightening wincing noises James made every time he bent to pull a weed.  I felt a little sorry for him, but not enough to tell him to stop.

Busy people were working all over the place.  It’s times like these when having a whole passel of kids pays off.  There were children from the back field to the front porch fulfilling my every wish.  We got a ton of work done and I was so, so happy.  The porch is all clean, deck railing repaired, guest house beds all cleaned up, inside spiffy clean, some shelves rearranged, and so much more!

For fun, here’s a flashback to 4 years ago when the kids all helped me build the deck around the pool….the same deck we spent time repairing rails on this past weekend.  You can click on the picture to read that post.

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Sunday we went to church then they took me out to lunch for Mother’s Day.  We only eat out once a year or so considering it costs $125+ and we have to wait an hour for a table big enough.  So that was a treat for sure!  Afterward we went home and hung out for a while then I took the best nap….oh so good!  In the evening I went for a walk with some of the kids and ended the day by watching my least favorite team get eliminated on The Amazing Race.  I can’t think of anything more perfect.

This week I have a full schedule, but since it all involves some version of not leaving Texas or flying on an airplane I am a happy camper.

Especially considering I am now safe to limp to the guest house without fear of being eaten attacked by a dead plant.