Come to the Summit!

Come to the Summit!

Are you thinking yet about what to do after the Christmas excitement is over?!  ‘Cuz only weeks after the hustle and bustle of Christmas and the new year is the best thing this side of the Mississippi.  The Homeschool Moms’ Winter Summit.  It’s a boatload of encouragement, refreshment and renewal!

 

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If you’re wondering what it is, here are some recaps of past Summits from different attendees:

And here you can see for yourself what attending The Summit looks like.

And now, for the first time ever, there is a way to attend The Summit FOR FREE! Here’s how:

  • Round up 5 friends who have never been.
  • Print off 3 of these registration forms.
  • Fill in the info for yourself and your 5 friends.
  • Collect the money and write one check to cover the registration for those 5. (YOURS IS FREE!)
  • Mail to:

Winter Summit
c/o Roxanne Parks
2612 Meadow View Road
Edmond, OK 73013

Now, you might be thinking, “I don’t have 5 homeschooling friends, but I would love to meet some like minded ladies!” We would love to have you at The Summit, and to help you get there we are offering a $10 discount code. When you register, simply apply the code “Pennington10“.

Okay, who’s ready to win a $50 Amazon gift card??? Anyone can enter and there are multiple ways, so be sure to increase your chances by visiting each blogger who will be attending The Summit!

AND as a special bonus, one lucky winner will receive the cost of their registration refunded in a drawing on January 1st!

Simply, leave a comment on this post to enter. Then, hop on over to the the other participating blogs to enter there, too. You will be given one entry per blog, for a maximum of 5 entries. One winner will be randomly chosen on Wednesday, December 17 to receive the $50 Amazon gift card.

See you at The Summit!

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!

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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.

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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.

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We did manage to ride a few rides all together.

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

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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)

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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!

 

Facing My Fears

Facing My Fears

Well, I finally turned in my first draft of my book.  It’s been one of those, “Be careful what you wish for” kinds of things.

I have always dreamed of writing a book.  And when I read books it seems so easy.  It’s also easy to sit in my recliner and watch the winter Olympics.  But not so easy to actually do.

It’s been more like an act of service than a living the dream.  But still very satisfying.

Last weekend while the girls and I were at the coast we decided to walk out on the dock across from our house.  It looked so nice from the balcony.  But when I stepped up to it I froze in fear.  It was a very long plank of worn wood with nothing to hold onto.  And by hold onto I mean grip with all my might until my finger ache.

As we started to cross, the girls were chatting it up behind me just skipping and enjoying the ocean.  “No talking. please,” I said,  “I need total concentration so I don’t die.”

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I inched my way across, not letting myself look at anything but the board directly in front of me.  “Don’t look up….don’t look around….” I kept telling myself. When I was a kid I had an extreme fear of water.  A few years of swim lessons helped, but I still can’t breathe when I watch a movie about someone underwater.  I would be the only person in the world to die from holding my breath in a theater while watching “Dolphin Tale 2.”

My friend who owned the house later told me, “If it helps, the water there is only about three feet deep.”

Nope.  That doesn’t help at all.

I made it across the dock, spent time on the pier with the girls watching the birds and talking about life and God’s goodness and then {cue horror music} I had to get back across.  I let the girls go first and after they were all the way across I just did it….one step at a time.  There’s definitely a metaphor for life in there somewhere.

Speaking of dread, today when I hit the send button on my book I felt that same irrational fear of death.  Why?  You can’t die from a bad book.  Wait, can you?

Wait.  Not that my book is bad.  I hope I hope.

Fear is a funny thing.  It doesn’t have to make sense.  God knew that we all would struggle with this.  I read somewhere that fear is mentioned over 365 times in the Bible.  Wowsa!  No denying that we are to fear not by leaning on Him!

Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

I am learning a lot lately about what I am afraid of and how much I need to put my faith in God and God alone.  I walked all the way across that dock and back again.  I was so proud of myself and my girls clapped for me.  They knew I was petrified and it was a huge blessing to show them that I could do something that really scared me.

Although let’s not get crazy…..I still don’t know if I could have done it if anyone was talking to me.

 

Time and Texts….Oh the Mystery

Time and Texts….Oh the Mystery

I can’t believe how quickly October is flying past.  While it will be remembered as one of the worst times in my life, it is also God’s mercy that I look back and realize that weeks have slipped by without my noticing.

When that happens I always think of those newborn baby days that seem soooo long then you realize your baby is 6 weeks old and you can’t imagine how that is possible.  Time is a weird thing, huh?

This past weekend I took my three girls to the beach for a weekend of encouragement and refreshment.  We had been planning it for a couple of months and while we missed our sister, it was a wonderful time for the four of us.  We watched DVDs from the True Woman Conference and talked about what God is doing in each of our lives.  I loved hearing how each girl was being blessed by the teachings and what they were learning.

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One of the conference sessions was about the history of feminism and it was so funny to hear the different perspectives from the four of us.  For my girls it was a fascinating history lesson but for me it was a flood of memories.  I remember hearing “I am Woman Hear Me Roar” over and over on the radio.  I remember Virginia Slims telling women that they deserve their own, thinner cigarette.  I used to roll up strips of paper and pretend I was smoking…..”I deserve this,” I would think as I took a long, pretend draw on my symbol of adulthood.  Oh how things have changed!

But the main focus of the conference was about putting our eyes on God and not ourselves.  Embracing who we were created to be instead of fighting for our freedoms.  It was amazing and the timing couldn’t have been better.  All four of us walked away with a sense of knowing that we are safe in the arms of a loving Father who leads us with a wisdom that we can’t fully understand.

And to watch it all with the ocean waves splashing in our view……that made it perfect.

God knew exactly what we all needed.

Of course.

My boys were at home fending for themselves (aka eating nachos and playing wii) and texting me constantly.  “Hola Mamacita” and “Where is the ketchup?” kind of texts.  One of my boys really loves to text with me, but he doesn’t really get text etiquette.  He will say something to me, “What are you doing right now?” and I won’t see it or reply right away.  After about three seconds he will text again, “Hello????!!!!”  But if I am driving or running or sleeping I still won’t see it.  So three more seconds, “???????????????!” and so it goes for 20+ more texts from him.

But in typical homeschool mom fashion it has led me to mentally develop a class on texting, phone calls and other social interaction.

Bam!

Some challenges are much easier than others.

This week I am frantically finishing up the last of my book to send it to my editor for feedback.  All of this family drama has put me behind, but God knew this was coming and He has given me this extra week to say what He wants to say in the book.  I only THINK I am writing it.

Have a great week and may God minister to your heart the way He has mine over the past few days.

Be sure to follow me on Facebook for more encouragement!

 

 

I Don’t Care If I Look Like a Hillbilly If It’s Free

I Don’t Care If I Look Like a Hillbilly If It’s Free

The big event here has been the new family member we have welcomed into our home, also known as my iPhone6.  It came to live with us last Friday and has pretty much taken all of my attention since it had to be practically nursed into usefulness.

Being technically challenged, getting my new phone to act exactly like my old phone only better feels impossible.  But I do have the advantage of having several teens who think it’s SO fun to teach their old mom new things.  If they didn’t know I would punish them with brussel sprouts for dinner they would probably pat me on the head while transferring my contacts.

Another issue besides the technology obstacle was the case/cover.  Those cases cost upwards of $30 and no way am I going to spend that much unless I completely love it.  So I decided that I would make myself a cover until they come out with one I want.  I got a plastic bubble envelope and some washi tape and made one.  It is actually working pretty well for a free, temporary solution.

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Sure I look like a Hillbilly.  I’m OK with that.

In other news, I am leaving this week to spend a few fun-filled days in Nashville with my peeps at Thomas Nelson.  I’ve been writing for them for over a year now and I am so, so excited to meet these friends I have made online.  It’s amazing how close you can get to someone you have only communicated with through Facebook and email.  Well, of course, we’ve also built a relationship around Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter.  ;)

You will like my latest post there all about how to keep it together when your kids can’t.

I got out my suitcase yesterday and started planning what to take.  Now that I am exercising in the mornings I have a harder time trying to squeeze everything in a small carry on.  The running shoes alone take up half of the space and even though I shove underwear and hairbrushes in them, it is hard to make myself sacrifice an extra pair of adorable wedges.  The price you pay for health and wellness shouldn’t involve a choice between ugly shoes and your favorite sandals.

Having so many trips between now and mid-November, I will be planting my suitcase on the trunk at the foot of my bed and leaving it there during the week, refilling it, then whisking away again.  Normally I would be worried about getting too tired, but I am all oiled up and ready.

What are you up to this week?  Anything fun happening?!

 

 

Five Women and a Flat Tire

Five Women and a Flat Tire

Because I can’t let a drama go by untold, I have to share with you the flat tire incident from Tuesday night.

My friend Sara and I took two of my daughters to the city to pick up their friend from the airport.  We shopped and we ate and we went to Costco….you know.  City stuff.

We stayed all day and into the night for a meeting hosted by Young Living.  We dropped the girls at the mall (a first for us!) and Sara and I met another friend and went to the meeting where we stood in the back of a very crowded room. It was loud (people wouldn’t stop talking to each other) and hot.  So we decided to slip out and visit for a while instead.  Sitting and talking is always better than standing and sweating, at least in my book.

After a nice visit we left to pick up the girls, make a couple of quick stops and then head toward home.  We were looking forward the extra hour’s drive to talk a little more.  Really, it’s all about getting our words out for the day.

We were having great fellowship when it happened.  We had a full fledged blow out going 75 MPH.  I wasn’t speeding, that’s the speed limit on the highway here….about 30 miles down the road it changes to 80.  Tell your kids.  It can count as a geography lesson for the day.  “Which state has 80 MPH speed limits?”

It was after 10 at night, so dark doesn’t describe it.  More like pitch black.  Well, except for the Mack trucks and SUVs racing past at 75 miles per hour creating flashes of scary light.  And our cell phones which we were using to find things we dropped in the weeds.

Now I think the last time I had a flat tire I was in college.  I drove a Cutlass Supreme and the spare was where all spares belong, in the trunk under a flap of carpet.  It seems that all of the improvement over the past 30 years had led to a move from the trunk to who-knows-where.  Turns out my spare is up UNDER the van and the way you release it is through a hole between the driver’s seat and front passenger seat.

You know, I have always wondered what that 2″ circle of plastic was for.  Now I know it’s to fit a long socket thingy that looks nothing like the picture in the manual to unscrew a mystery spare tire holder that, unless you are lying flat on the ground under the van, you can’t get it out.

Nice.

I might also mention that we had to unload our entire van full of groceries and various other items onto the side of the road to get to the tire changing tools.   We looked like modern day Clampetts minus the gun and dog.

After half an hour of figuring out the spare tire situation a sheriff pulled up behind us.  He was so nice and he actually ended up changing the tire for us.  Of course, we had already done all of the hard work in locating the spare through the mysterious hole in the floor.

An hour or so later, we loaded the groceries, luggage, shopping bags and 5 tired ladies back into the van and agonizingly drove only 55MPH all the way home.  The sheriff had explained to me that you can’t go faster than that on a spare.  We finally made it home around 11, which in Lisa time means WAY past bed time.

The next morning I asked my oldest son if he would take the van to the tire place and get it all fixed back to the way it was before any of this ever happened., which he did.  I do realize that sounds like I don’t do any work, but keep in mind I spent 20 years raising him.  Not dealing with tire cleanup is is my reward for years of diapering and nose wiping and hurting my back pulling him in a wagon.

Have a great weekend!

Oh…..and be sure to check out this week’s YouTube video!  In it I talk about not letting your emotions control you (a concept I used on Tuesday night for sure!)

 

I’m Keyless

I’m Keyless

The conference this past weekend was a great family activity.  The kids especially loved seeing their friends and hanging out at the conference hotel until 2AM Saturday night playing games and singing.  I do not especially like staying up until 2 in the morning since it makes for a very grumpy mom, so I was in bed by 10:00.  Oh the joy of having kids who can drive themselves home.

We heard a lot of great speakers and ate a lot of hamburgers.  I got salad with chicken, of course, but the kids ate their weight in burgers.  For some reason they didn’t want to go home and eat leftovers when their friends were all going to Fuddrucker’s.  I agree really….the fellowship is the best part of these conferences!  But I’ve eaten enough Fuddrucker’s to last me a year.

We also had a family staying at our house so that meant people coming and going all day long.  I tried to run back and forth between home and hotel so my older kids could just enjoy the weekend.  It would have been nice to spend more time at the conference, but laundry waits for no man.  We invited different families over for meals during the weekend also, so that really kept things hopping.

On Sunday there was a church service to wrap up the conference and our whole family went, but I wasn’t feeling great so I decided to leave right after the service with the little boys and go on home, letting the rest of the family linger and say their goodbyes.

Here’s where I should tell you that I don’t carry a house key.  I really never need one because there’s always either someone at home or a pre-arranged hidden key (don’t bother looking for it….it’s a very complicated hiding process).  But I didn’t think about it yesterday so when I got home I realized I was locked out.

This is not the first time it’s happened.  And before you tell me how simple it would be for me to just GET A KEY, we have tried that.  But every time I go make myself a key something happens to it, someone borrows it, I forget it….the list of keylessness issues goes on and on.

I have thought before of getting one of those keyless entry locks, but two things stop me.  1. They cost like $100 and 2. They are ugly.

I may go back to trying to carry a house key.  But I think we can all see how that will go.

I did manage to get into the house.  I won’t tell you how, but just know it involved a metal bowl and some gardening shears.

One thing I especially loved about the weekend was that the rains brought cooler weather.  It was in the 80s all weekend which pretty much equals heaven in this part of Texas in September.  There’s nothing like a 100+ degree drought to make you glad for the teeniest bit of cool moisture.

We are looking forward to a quiet-ish week of normal-ish activity.

What do you have going on?!

Boys Can Be very Helpful

Boys Can Be very Helpful

It has been a full few days with furniture rearranging and friends and dental appointments.  I may need a whole day’s nap to recover.

Last Saturday my girls decided to go out for some thrift store shopping, so I was left alone with the 4 younger boys.  It was either going to turn into a Lego-fest or I could use their future man muscles for the greater good, so I decided to have them help me rearrange some furniture.  I promised them the whole afternoon to themselves if they would help me.

I needed to use some of the junk I bought recently so we brought it in the house to figure out where to put it.  While we were at it we cleaned under the couches and dusted everything.  The amount of dust in this house could fill a king sized mattress.

I had an old fridge (don’t ask me why I bought this….it just spoke to me) and a worn section of fence to put somewhere.  So I would point, “Let’s try it over here” and we kept moving things until we got it how I liked it.  This is not only an opportunity to help Mom, but a lesson in future husbandness.

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We put the old fridge in the corner and hung our metal letters over it.  We are keeping blankets in the fridge.  The irony is not lost.

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I moved one of the couches back to make the room seem bigger.  I used old footstools behind it to keep it from pushing back against the window.

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Over the other couch I hung a fence section.  I like putting something extra big over that couch.  It makes the low ceiling feel taller.

Using junk to fix up a room!

When James saw the fence he immediately said, “You paid money for that?!  We probably have everything you need to make one in our trash wood pile!”  Yes, but for $10 this one is done.

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To make room for the fridge I had to remove some things and put the TV on a dresser that was a little short.  Plus I needed a place for the DVD player and Wii.  So I had one of the boys throw a little shelf together with junk wood.  It’s perfect and James is happy we used the wood pile.

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The piano stayed where it was….it just got a little accessory update.

Having the boys help rearrange the furniture!

The rest of the house got picked up and straightened too and we settled into Saturday afternoon all relaxed and ready for the week.

On Sunday after church we drove to Austin for my parent’s 51st anniversary.  We hung out at my sister’s house for a few hours then headed home to get ready for a day full of company the next day.  It was fun to all be together.  With the kids all growing up we don’t go out as a whole family much anymore.  Our 15 passenger van was wondering why we hadn’t taken it out for a joy ride for so long.

Monday was a simple time of friends and burgers on the grill and kids running around making too much noise.  Everyone left by 9PM because I had to get up early the next day for a dentist appointment.

I’ve been dealing with some tooth issues for a couple of weeks, so I had been anxiously waiting this day.  He thinks he figured out the problem and I am, hopefully, on my way to a pain free mouth again.  Dental problems stink.  That’s all I have to say about that.

Let’s talk about junk and furniture again.  It’s a much happier subject!

This next weekend our family will be going to the Forge Conference.  It’s great teaching, wholesome families and great fellowship.  I’m looking forward to it!  If you decide to attend please find me and say hello!!!

Have a great day!

 

Who Says I Can’t Pull Off a Surprise?!

Who Says I Can’t Pull Off a Surprise?!

I am writing my Monday post on Tuesday because, well, I’m tired and it was a long weekend.

I remember in college I could stay up all night for a week then recover with a nap and some cold pizza.  Now I require three days of sleep and chicken soup (without the noodles) to get over staying up until midnight.  Which I did on Saturday night.  You would think I’d learn not to do that but I was hanging out with some of the most amazing women and I decided it was worth the sacrifice of being coherent for the next week.

On Friday I drove 8 hours to Oklahoma City for my husband’s law school graduation ceremony.  I didn’t tell y’all I was going because I didn’t tell him.  It was a huge surprise.  It’s not that I don’t trust you all and I am sure you would have kept my secret, but I couldn’t risk it.  My 9 children already knew about it and just keeping them from spilling the beans was all I could manage.

I rented a zippy little red car and drove myself to Oklahoma.  Considering a 15 passenger van has been my mode of transportation for the past dozen years I felt like I had been released from some kind of prison.  I was all in and out of parking spaces like I hadn’t a care in the world.

James was so, so surprised and it was fun to pull it off with my son.  The graduation ceremony was beautiful and I am so glad I went.  It was better than any church service I have been to in a long time.  On Friday night after the first part of the ceremony each graduate took a turn sitting in a chair while the faculty prayed over them.  How often do you see THAT at a law school graduation?!

On Saturday after the actual graduation I went to a meeting with the Winter Summit planning team.  I hope y’all will go to the Summit in January either in Texas or Oklahoma!  It’s going to be an incredible weekend of refreshment and encouragement.  You do not want to miss it!!

Then on Sunday came the dreaded 8 hour drive home.  It was rough.  I got about 2 hours down the road and it felt like I couldn’t drive any more.  I kept stopping and walking around then I’d drive another hour or 2.  Stop.  Walk.  Repeat.

I finally got home around 6:00 PM and was so glad to see my family that I fell asleep.

Have a great week!

Be sure to follow me on Facebook!

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!