The Summit is Like a Big Wad of Toilet Paper

The Summit is Like a Big Wad of Toilet Paper

The Summit….it’s like a big wad of toilet paper.

I mean that in the best kind of way!

Haven’t you been in a public restroom stall and you reach beneath the gray plastic holder hanging on the wall that’s supposed to contain a roll of toilet paper the diameter of an old 33LP (kids, that’s what we used to listen to music on before CDs or ipods were invented) only to discover that there is NO paper?!  There’s someone in the next stall so you tap-tap-tap on the wall and ask timidly, “Um, do you mind giving me some toilet paper?  There’s none over here.”

You hear the rattling of the roll rotating in the plastic holder and from under the divider comes her hand with 2 squares of tissue.  NOOOO!  I NEED MORE!!!!  But you just take it and do the best you can.

This is how so much of our interaction with others goes.  We are right there, next to each other, sharing space and time.  But our relationship is unsatisfactory.  “Hi, how are you?” “Fine, how are you?” “Fine.”  It’s two-squares, not sharing, not caring emptiness.

But then there’s that occasional time when, miraculously, from under the stall wall comes a giant wad of toilet paper so plentiful that you can probably leave enough extra for the next unfortunate soul who comes in.  Thanks to this stranger you have everything you need….she really understood and gave you all she could.

That’s what the Summit is like.  The women there give it all, love, joy, hurt, concern, sympathy, truth, grace.  The masks come off, we share our hearts, we are honest and open, we see each other and for the first time in a long time we feel understood.

Personally, I am terrible at chit chat.  I go to these big events or church or a party and I want to get in a corner with someone and dig into life and its messiness.  I want to laugh hard and cry the ugly cry and pray together and really, I mean really, care about each other.  But people don’t do that.  They hide.  We stay in our comfort zones and think we are safe.  But the truth is, it’s an illusion.  Let’s be real!  Let’s give grace!  I’ll share my toilet paper with you when you need it and make sure you have enough to give to someone else!

Ain’t nobody got time to drip dry.

OK, maybe this analogy is going a bit too far.

But I want you to really get a sense of what happens at the Summit so you will go next year and experience it for yourself!  We worship, we pray together, we let the walls down, we share our pain, we find healing, we get ready to go home changed.  Women last weekend testified that they had been able, for the first time, to let go of bitterness, confess secret sin, fall back in love with their husbands, feel equipped to mother their children, on and on each story humbled me over and over.

There’s a lot of laughing too.  I mean a lot!  In fact, my friends and I did a skit called, “Mrs. Homeschool Universe” and we took it to the extreme.  I can’t tell you the whole thing, but here we are finding out what the winner gets and when we heard that part of our prize was a whole week of uninterrupted showers we pretty much started to cry.

Those other 3 gals in the skit are the funniest people!  I had to keep from cracking up at their every word.

And they each are sharing on their blogs about their Summit experiences from last weekend.  Don’t miss their posts!  I’ll bet none of them even mention toilet paper, so they will be much more interesting.

Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschooler shared her “Top 10 Experiences of the Homeschool Moms’ Winter Summit
Heather at Joyful Socks Mom gives her “Why Finding My Tribe at Winter Summit Makes All the Difference” (Heather’s site is down right now, so check back!)
Connie at Smockity Frocks is sharing about “Winter Summit 2016 ~ Homeschool Moms’ Retreat

I also got to have two of my daughters with me, which was a double blessing!  They came to help serve the moms and I was just so happy to spend some of this time with them!

Aren’t they gorgeous?  Yes, I am blessed.  (and they both have blogs, J. Grace Pennington and The Epic Place)

Next year the Summit will be in Oklahoma Jan 20-21 and in Texas Feb 3-4.  Go register NOW!  You’ll get the best prices AND you can just put it on the calendar and start inviting your friends.  Like one gal told us all during a time of sharing, “I will never miss the Summit again if I can help it.”  She already registered for next year.  What’s stopping YOU?!

And be sure to book your room!  This year the hotel filled up and some of the gals had to stay at a different hotel.  The price is great, the rooms are all suites with plenty of space for at least 3 ladies and that keeps the cost low.

If you have a Summit story to share, hop over to my Facebook page and spread the news!

A Little Bit o’ Books and a Little Bit o’ Travel

A Little Bit o’ Books and a Little Bit o’ Travel

This post contains affiliate links.

I can’t tell you how happy I am to be back to a normal-ish routine.  The Christmas decorations are down and we are doing our simple Monday-Bible study, Tuesday-Church, etc.  No more big parties coming up or gifts left to buy.  I love Christmas, but I also love me some simple, easy going days.

With the Summit coming up this weekend in Oklahoma and in Texas just 2 weeks later, I do have some travel stuff to work on and my talks to nail down.  I’ll be sharing ideas from my book, “Mama Needs a Do-Over: Simple Steps to Turning a Hard Day Around”  If you can’t make it to the Summit, you could get the book.  My friend Roxanne will be speaking there too and her book is awesome.  It’s called, “Are You Enough?: Encouragement for the Overwhelmed & Exhausted Homeschool Mom.”  You’ll LOVE her!

Here are Roxanne and I from last year’s Summit pajama party.  I am telling you…we all have a great time!

Since I have a long drive this weekend, I am getting some audiobooks ready for the trip.  I really love a good book and audio is the way to go when you’re traveling!  I listen to everything from fiction to marketing and leadership guides.  As long as it doesn’t put me to sleep we’re OK.  I once got a book that was read in such a monotone that I started to snore before he got through the introduction.  It may have been a good book, but I will never know because I couldn’t stay awake.

Speaking of narrating audiobooks (see how I did that segue?), my oldest daughter is using her gift as a great narrator and she has a book that just came out (she didn’t write the book, she only narrated it) that is a sweet story.  I listened to it a couple of weeks ago and I am still thinking about it; I love those kinds of books….that stay with you.  It’s a good, clean, encouraging read.  It’s called “The River Girl’s Song: Texas Women of Spirit.”  I hope you’ll consider supporting this talented author and her ever-so-talented narrator.

In other news, I have been cleaning out my bedroom in sections.  I did one of the dressers over the weekend that serves as my official junk drawers.  There was everything in these drawers from people’s business cards to clothespins.  I had a couple of spoons in one (shhhh….don’t tell me kids!) and I found 3 USB drives (I wondered where those were!).  It’s always nice to have this kind of job done.  I tend to shove things in these drawers until I am forced to look for something which requires pulling everything out and wondering why I kept half of it.  Good times.

I think when I get back from the Summit I will tackle the cabinet/desk otherwise known as the Black Hole.  Who knows….I may actually find my camera one of these days.  It’s been lost for 2 years.  Of course, if I do find it I won’t find the charger or memory cards with it because that would be way too easy.

I also like putting things back where they belong and getting rid of the messes.  It’s so nice to know that if I opened one of the cleaned out drawers right now I would be able to locate anything.  It’s the best feeling to know where your unnecessary junk is.

I hope you have a mah-velous week filled with normal-ish days and a little bit of organizing.  And don’t forget to register for the Summit!!!  You don’t want to miss this.  You NEED it!

Have a good one!

Let’s continue the conversation on Facebook!

Do NOT Miss This!

Do NOT Miss This!

The one thing I look most forward to all year is coming up in a few weeks!  The Homeschool Moms’ Winter Summit is everything I need to refill my tank, my worn out mom tank.

I am talking about hundreds of other women in the same place you are….tired, needing encouragement, many in struggling marriages and with hopelessness.  Even though I am a total introvert, I love this event and wouldn’t miss it unless God dropped a 2 ton steel beam in my driveway so I couldn’t get out.  And if it helps, there are lots of prizes all weekend.

The first time I went a few years ago in Oklahoma I was not sure what I was getting into.  I had been invited and decided to check it out.  It was a long drive, 8 hours, but I felt it was something I should do.  I can’t tell you why now….it was instinct.  And the first night I was like, “What IS this thing?!”  There were women from all walks of life, some dressed up, some dressed down, some in heels and others in denim jumpers with sneakers.  There was a sense of excitement and peace at the same time.

Then one by one onstage women in costume marched across being described by the announcer, there was Debbie Drowning and Peggy Perfect and Sara Sporty and Helen Hanging-On.  They were funny, but tapped into deep issues we all face as moms.  After that there was worship and I was hooked.  Women being real, speakers encouraging us, praise and laughter?!?!  SIGN ME UP!

It was that same year I grabbed the founder and told her I had to be a part of this.  I wanted to bring it to Texas and do whatever I could to help.  And here we are now about to host the third Summit in Texas!!!  Hallelujah, isn’t God amazing?!?!

This year we are doing a few new things, including a blogger dinner and time of fellowship.  Connie from Smockity Frocks, Kris from Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers and I will all be there.  We want to meet you and spend time ministering to each other.  You can sign up for the dinner when you register. (the blogger dinner is only in Texas, but I will also be at the Oklahoma event!)

And at the Texas Summit we will also be doing a panel answering your questions.  Are you struggling with something?  Do you wonder how other moms do it all?  Have you reached the end of your rope?  Well, bring on the questions and we will do our best to answer them and let you know you’re not alone.  You can head over to my Facebook page and leave a question there.  We will answer some of your questions here too, so if you can’t come to the Summit, please go ahead and ask anything.

I hope you will consider attending the Summit.  I’d love to see you at either one, but the Texas Summit is near to my heart and I am hoping to bring a bunch of you with me!  And don’t tell me it’s too far because I drive 8 hours each year to go to the one in Oklahoma and I would fly anywhere in the USA to be there.

If you are worried because you don’t know anyone else going then I have a couple of solutions for you.  First, bring a friend (or 2 or 3)!  This is a great girlfriend trip.  Share a room and ride together and have a grand adventure!  Or, if that doesn’t work out you can consider me your friend to hang around with.  Even though I will be moving around a lot, I will make sure you meet some of the other amazing women there and help plug you in.

I have a $10 off code you can use, so be sure you plug that in when you register!  It’s PENNINGTON10

Here is my recap of the 2014 Summit.  You really don’t want to miss this.

Come join us!  January 22-23 in Oklahoma and February 5-6 in TEXAS!!!

 

10 Last Minute Gift Ideas

10 Last Minute Gift Ideas

Here are a few last minute gift ideas for those of you who have waited too long…

  1. Hickory Farms – You can usually pick up a package of sausage and cheese for someone in the grocery store.
  2. Books – It’s too late to order from Amazon, but the bookstores are still open.  Several of you have messaged me asking where you can get my book….it’s available in Barnes & Noble plus most Christian bookstores have it!
  3. Candy – Look around on Pinterest and there are tons of adorable ideas for ways to present candy as a gift.
  4. Printed image – If you want to order something just print the image of it and roll it into a paper towel tube and wrap it.  In fact, this would be a great way to present a Young Living Premium Starter Kit.  😉
  5. Gift cards – they are everywhere now, even the hardware store and the post office!
  6. Stocking – buy an actual sock and fill it with small goodies.  That’s fun!
  7. Shop your house – If you own a book that you love or a mug that is your fave, give it to someone as a love gift.
  8. Coupons – The old fallback, make a coupon for a movie together (your treat!) or lunch or to do something you know they would love.
  9. A weekend away – If you’re buying for a tired mom, consider gifting her a much needed weekend away at the Homeschool Moms’ Winter Summit!  (use my code: PENNINGTON10 for $10 off!)
  10. A donation – There is no shortage of needs around the world and making a donation instead of a gift is a blessing all around!

I hope you get everything wrapped up and can stop to enjoy the time with family and friends.  Merry Christmas!

Come over to Facebook to keep the conversation going!

Come to the Summit! (plus a note to your husband)

Come to the Summit! (plus a note to your husband)

Well?  Have you made up your mind or not?  It’s time to just jump on in and register for the Homeschool Moms’ Winter Summit.

Look, I know it’s hard to get away and we can feel guilty spending time for ourselves and we wonder how the family will survive without us for a few days.  But this, my friend, is what you need to fill your tank.

Moms get worn out, burned out, tuned out….. we NEED a break!  And it is OK!!  You can’t just go-go-go without stopping and being refreshed with energy and enthusiasm and God’s love.

And the best part is that you will get all of that AND MORE at the Homeschool Mom’s Winter Summit!  It takes place in Norman, OK January 22-23 and again in San Marcos, TX February 5-6.  The speakers, the prayer time, the worship, the laughter (OH so much laughter!) will all feed your soul and lift your heart.

The speakers will cover everything from marriage to motherhood to mere survival.  These are moms in the trenches just like us and they’ll minister you to all weekend while you hang out with your friends (and make NEW friends!).  Then we laugh.  And laugh.  And laugh.

It is my personal mission to make sure no one is there without a friend, so if you don’t know anyone come sit by ME!  I WANT to know you!  I want to spend time together.  You WILL NOT be bothering me!!!!!!

Please, don’t let doubt and fear or lack of funds keep you from this event.  If you have to travel, make it happen.  If you have to farm your kids out for a couple of days…. do it!  For the Texas event, Kris from Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers is traveling across several states to come!  And Connie from Smockity Frocks will be there too!  And many, many other amazing women…. including YOU, I hope!

Use the code: PENNINGTON10 to get $10 off your registration fee.  And hop over to Facebook to let me know you’re going!  I will be glad to answer any questions you have and do what I can to help you get there.

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I promise friends, this is WORTH it!  Ask for it for Christmas!!! If you share a hotel room with 3 other ladies (these are all suites and they’re HUGE!) it’s only $60 for both nights (not counting tax which might literally double that ‘cuz hotel tax makes me crazy and I can’t even get on that soapbox).  Let’s do a little math….

$109  (Registration)
– $10  (using my discount code: PENNINGTON10)
+$10  (to attend the blogger dinner if you’re in Texas)
+$60  (hotel)
+$25  (various food and miscellaneous)
= $194

For $200 plus the cost of getting there you get all of your food, nice hotel, time with friends, meet new amazing people, get prayed with, get loved on, hear wisdom, laugh ’til your sides hurt….GIRLFRIEND WHAT IS STOPPING YOU?!?!

(OK, now I want to talk to your husbands so just turn your computer over to him right now or screenshot this part and text it to him: Guys, my husband wants you to know how much going to the Summit refreshes me.  He makes sure I get there every year because I come home happier, more in love with him, more excited about the kids and feeling like I can handle what I have to face every day.  He wants to encourage YOU to send your wife to the Summit.)

Back to you friends….please come.  I want to help, I want to pray for you, I want to be a part of making your life better.

Summit or BUST!

Catch me on Facebook for more fun!

Getting Back to Normal (Kind of)

Getting Back to Normal (Kind of)

I am sitting in a hotel room in a small Texas town with my computer.  I am supposed to be catching up on emails and blog posts, but instead I am shopping all of the Cyber Monday sales.  I can’t help it.  I need these great deals to fill all of the stockings I have to fill on Christmas morning!

I am in this hotel because I drove 6 hours to Dallas yesterday and didn’t want to drive all the way back home late at night.  I am not good at night driving and now that it gets dark at 6:00 I start falling asleep by 8.  So I stopped about 1/3 of the way home and spent the night.  I was in Dallas to see my niece’s play and take my oldest daughter back after she spent Thanksgiving with us.  Another of my girls went along to spend the week there, so the drive was a fun fest of chatting and singing and planning.  I mostly love to listen to them talk to each other.  It’s amazing to have adult kids who really love each other and I just soaked in the sweetness.

I feel like I am still recovering from our Thanksgiving, which was wonderful!  We had 4 families over and there was so much food that I am still full.  We emptied out the living room to add 2 extra tables and everyone brought their favorite dishes and we stuffed ourselves.  There was so much pie that it was slightly shameful.  We could have opened a diner with as much pie as that.  After the food was put away we played games and that is where the magic happened.  We laughed so hard I had sore muscles around my rib cage.  There is nothing better than a day with good food and great friends!  I hope that your holiday was just as wonderful!

We did go Black Friday shopping which turned out to be not so great deals, but a good time anyway.  I had 2 of my girls with me, my 16 year old son and his friend.  We ran around the mall and Target, saw “Mockingjay – Part 2” and ate Chickfila.  I think we spent a grand total of $25 on deals, but it wasn’t about buying.  It was really about the time spent together.

Once we got home from shopping and ate some leftovers, I was worn out.  I laid in my bed at 8:15 and Levi (my 8 year old) came to talk to me.  He scootched under the covers next to me and started to tell me some of his ideas about a book he wants to write and how I can help him with his Disney collection and on and on.  But I was so tired that I kept falling asleep.  He would hear me snore a little and push my shoulder, “Mommy!  You fell asleep again!”.  I tried to stay awake and he kept talking until finally I must have fallen so hard that he gave up because I woke up at midnight with the lights on and he was gone.  Poor kid.  I will make it up to him with a good listening session one night this week.

I am so happy that it’s Monday and we can get back to school and normal activity.  Or as normal as it gets when you have to boil all of your water like you’re living in circa 1807.  Our hot water heater died and we are struggling to figure out what we want to do.  The plumber has been working with us to figure out if we should change over to an instant hot water system or replace the tank.  I don’t really care as long as I can get this settled within the next few days.  When an appliance goes out on Thanksgiving week you really get to discover what you’re truly thankful for.

AND since they say things happen in threes, I am praying this is the last of our appliance deaths for a while.

I need to get back to my cyber shopping before I have to check out of my room.  Have a great week, friends!

Home from Vacation and Straight to Thanksgiving

Home from Vacation and Straight to Thanksgiving

I should be starting this morning with enthusiasm.  I have grocery shopping and Bible study, answering emails and getting the house ready for Thanksgiving all to do this morning.  But instead I am drinking hot tea in my jammies and considering a 10AM nap.

Our family was on vacation last week and now I am so worn out from all of the running around and eating and keeping up with active boys that I need a break from my break.

We went to Disney World.  It was wonderful and magical, but I got so tired that by the time we pulled in the driveway on Saturday night at 10:00 I wasn’t sure if I could make the walk from the van to the house.  Yesterday I stayed in bed until noon while watching trash TV.  After that I dragged myself to my recliner and stared at the walls, not even trying to get anything done.  I slept almost the entire day and I still don’t feel caught up on rest.

I’d like to stay in my post-Disney stupor today too, but life won’t let me.  We are having a houseful of people here for Thanksgiving, which is such a wonderful blessing!  Since I love my friends, I can’t just lie around wishing the holiday elves would bake the pies and find room in the fridge for all this food.  I have to actually get up.

This morning while I was unpacking my suitcase and putting away the vacation memories, I decided not to put my hair supplies away just yet.  You see, I got a little obsessed with doing fun things with my hair for Disney.  I created a different style for each themed park and it was so much fun that I am thinking of doing some more things with my hair for the holidays.  Maybe a Christmas tree or some kind of fountain.

Here are the styles I did last week.  I got so much interest in them on social media that I will do individual tutorials for them over the next few weeks.  I just need time to recover first.

Right now I have a week filled with baking and shopping and cleaning and hopefully getting some rest before I have to get up at 4:00 on Black Friday to take my teens shopping.  In preparation for Thanksgiving Day, I made a Pin board with some great tips, games and recipes.  This will help me when I get to the store and forget what I was planning to cook.  If you have a great Thanksgiving recipe, I hope you’ll share it with us over on Facebook! I need all the help I can get.

We will be moving all of the furniture out of our living room to make space for a few more tables on Thanksgiving.  I am not sure where the sofa is going to go, I may be crawling over it for the next 4 days.  Hopefully I can still get a few naps in while we get ready for our guests to arrive!

Happy Thanksgiving week my friends!

 

Sometimes I Wanna Be Amish, but I Don’t Want to Make Quilts

Sometimes I Wanna Be Amish, but I Don’t Want to Make Quilts

All I can say about the past 2 weeks of my life is wow, wow, wow.

Between the book release then a trip to Orlando and a conference last weekend…..it is entirely possible that I am going to die of overexposure to fun and goodness.  Is that possible?  Like, I am actually craving housework and salad.

On the day the book came out, I drove around to a bunch of bookstores and left little notes in some of the books.  It was such fun to see my book in the stores.

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The next day I flew to Orlando with 4 of my kids for 5 days of fun at Universal Studios.  The thing I struggle with the most when life gets so busy is sticking with my health plans.  I had such a great restart to my diet a month ago and planned to spend my entire time at Universal Studios Orlando eating healthy.  I had a suitcase full of healthy snacks and was armed for the battle.  In the parks I planned to eat bunless burgers with lots of veggies, stay away from sugar, etc.  But by the third night after days of running around and keeping up with the kids, I fell into bed at 11PM with some Oreos and half of a leftover giant pretzel.  Epic fail.

But you know what?  It’s not permanent.  I can just turn it around again.  This is my carousel ride of life.  Take good care of myself, down again, do a better job next time, fall off, eventually I will be more on the ups than the downs and that’s OK with me.  I am trying.

Last weekend our pastor preached about a time that is coming when there will be no more pain or diet problems or sin dragging us down.  We will be free of all of that and right now we can believe that to help get us through the hard times.  Oh boy I can’t wait for that day!

1 Peter 3:6-7 “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

I am back to work this week with book writing and my Young Living oils team and a normal diet that consist of less Oreos and more lettuce.  I am also thrilled to be back to my little road for my morning walks instead of hotels and theme park workouts.

Speaking of theme parks, in case I didn’t say it, we had a fantastic time at Universal Studios and Universal Islands of Adventure.  My kids that went with me all agreed that it will go down in our memory as one of our best vacations ever.  I really had no idea how wonderful the whole place was and will definitely go back!  Just give me a few months to recover.

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After arriving home from Orlando we had one day to prepare for the Forge conference where we had a vendor booth and ladies’ luncheon happening.  The luncheon went so well (thanks to my BFF Sara) that I am going to pray about doing it again next year.  It was a lot of work, but such a sweet time of love and fellowship!

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As much as I enjoyed getting all dressed up for the past couple of weeks and being out amongst the English, my wanna-be-Amish side is kicking in and I am ready for some home time.  I won’t be doing any canning or quilting, but I will be mopping some floors and hanging laundry on the line.  I am looking for simplicity and time with just my family.

We are also cleaning out bedroom for one of my great “shifts.”  It happens every year or two.  The kid’s needs change and we have to move bedrooms around.  It’s also a good time to rid ourselves of the junk that seems to accumulate.  We will attack it one room at a time until everyone is settled into new digs.

I am glad to be mostly home again and just enjoying some normalcy.  Grocery trips and Bible studies and homeschool and house cleaning are the name of the game.  I don’t travel again for a month and I plan to embrace every second of this time!

I hope you are falling into your routine of back to school.  Doesn’t it feel good to be back on schedule?!

Have a great week!

Continue the conversation on Facebook….

 

76 Trombones and a Universal Weekend

76 Trombones and a Universal Weekend

Yesterday I somehow got the song, “76 Trombones” stuck in my head and now I am going to have to find myself a support group for people who are tortured by Broadway.  Add to it the fact that I only know the first 2 lines and after that I go into a mumbling sort of hum that makes my brain try to reach back into 4th grade when I may or may not have actually known the words.

And that, my friends, pretty much sums up the way my brain works.  All day everyday.  A song pops into my head for no particular reason, I can’t stop humming it until I am singing it at the top of my lungs around the house except with the wrong words.

This will be SO.MUCH.FUN for the 65 new friends plus their families that get to spend the weekend with me over Labor Day.  Some of my kids and I are heading to Orlando next week where we get to build memories and enjoy meeting some super-cool people.

We’ll be attending the Family Forward Universal Orlando Adventure and it will be a blast!  I know we will have a great time not because of the inevitable rain leftover from Hurricane Erika or the plethora of other Broadway melodies swimming around in my head, but because it is sponsored by some companies that will bring the beauty out of any moment!

This brilliant event is intended to bring bloggers together WITH their families and focuses on not only fun, but working as a team and doing community service.  I can’t wait to see all we will learn together about the Children’s Miracle Network and how to really make the most of our families’ service to others.

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Second, we will be staying at…..wait for it….the gorgeous Loews Royal Pacific Resort where I will not only be enjoying the beautiful views, but I may just make the visit complete for other fellow exercisers in the fitness center as I uncontrollably hum songs from The Music Man while on the treadmill.  You’re welcome Loews guests.

My kids will be so proud.

And ashamed.

Which is possibly going to be my favorite part of the whole trip.

We are excited about visiting Universal Studios and seeing what they’ve got going on.  I have been doing my research (aka Pinterest) and learning about Beer Butter and the need for ponchos and how to manage the ride lines.  Of course I have already planned what essential oils to have onhand and how to keep my big thighs from causing a heap o’trouble (which let’s face it, happens when you’re a big girl doing a lot of walking in a humid environment).

And with 4 of the kids going along, we have planned the whole budget for the trip and each of us knows the entire agenda from the moment we leave for the airport until we pull back in the driveway 6 days later.  Sometimes I like to surprise the kids with things when we travel, but this time I thought they would enjoy it more if they got to make most of their own decisions and have control over their spending.  For the few meals that are not provided with the event, I gave them each a budget.  They can spend it any way they want.  And they worked last weekend rebuilding our back deck to earn money for any extras or souvenirs.

My goal for this time we are spending together is to let them make their own decisions, learn, meet new people and oh yes…..do a few promotions for my book, Mama Needs a Do-Over: Simple Steps to Turning a Hard Day Around, which is being released the day before we go!  Be sure to order your copy!

And if you have any great Universal Studios tips head over to my Facebook page and continue the conversation.

Lastly, please accept my apology for sticking “76 Trombones” in your brain.  Hopefully the adorable Ronnie Howard image from the movie below makes up for the annoying wordless song.

Ain't he cute?!

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!