Candidates and a Good Cleaning

Candidates and a Good Cleaning

Fall weekends are the B-E-S-T!  Especially since I do so much travelling this time of year.  Every minute at home is like a blast of fresh air.

I spent Friday recovering from my long journey to Alabama and beyond.  I feel like I drove the length of the world all by myself.  It was lovely.  I like alone time.  I used that time to catch up on some courses I am taking (listening to the lessons at least) and I listened to a couple of audiobooks when my brain went to mush from learning.

This old mind ain’t what it used to be.

I just adore a good audiobook and they’re so hard to find.  You can never tell if the narrator is going to be good (I just can’t stick with a bad narrator) or if the story is something that will make you better.  That’s my requirement….that a story improves my life in some way.  I want it to help me be stronger, wiser, gentler, humbler (is that a word?), something that is worth spending 9-13 hours of my life on.

And one of the books I listened to was so, so good I just HAD to tell you about it.  But before I do, I want to warn you that there is some swearing in it.  It’s not a lot, but if that’s a deal breaker for you then skip it.  That being said, it was so sweet and filled with great characters.  It’s a light, simple story.  Not deep or action packed.  It’s character based and that’s my thang.  I love, love a well developed character.  The book is called, “A Man Called Ove.” (pronounced Ooo-vuh)  I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a sweet, feel good read.

While I loved every second of my listening time and Beauty School and visiting with my amazing friends, home is where the heart is.  And my heart was sooo happy to be back with my family.  As soon as I walked in the door I just wanted to hug people for an hour.

And what’s a teenage boy’s favorite thing?  Yep….extended hugs from Mom.

Once I got unpacked and caught up with the home front, it was time to start scrubbing.  Nothing says, “Mom’s HOME!” like a day of house cleaning.  On Saturday morning I made a long list….like the one Santa makes on a big scroll and releases with drama in front of the elves.  Bathrooms, behind the appliances, pantry shelves, under the beds….I meant business.

After we divided up the jobs, we went to work.  I may have heard one of the boys singing a song from Cinderella while he was sweeping out the fireplace.  These people have a flair for the dramatic.

When your kids sing songs from Cinderella as they do their chores....

After a few hours the house was clean and we rested.  There’s really nothing like knowing the floor is spotless under the refrigerator to make one feel like taking a long nap.  It gives you that all-is-well-with-the-world feeling.  I slept like a baby.  Only not one of my babies because they never slept very well.  I slept more like a new mom whose husband has taken the baby in another room for the night.

Sunday we went to church and the sermon was so good….very convicting.  I love those kinds of sermons, that dig deep into my heart and shine a light on some ugly stuff I keep hidden.  This week’s topic was humility and all I can say is, “ouch”.  I came home with some stuff stirring around in my mind and decided to take a walk and let it all settle in.

God’s been doing some sweet things through the difficulty of the past couple of years and I can feel some of the ice around my heart melting away.  A good, hard hitting, Biblical message always helps.  I know He loves me too much to let me stay stagnate in my mess for too long.

That led to some good talks in the evening about humility and forgiveness and being Christ-focused.  Between that and the clean house, I felt prepared for the week ahead.

My boys and I got back to school Monday morning and the lesson in our government class was about what makes a good leader.  Since they’ve been watching the debates, this led to some interesting conversations.  “Mom, why don’t our 2 candidates seem to care about this?” and “How has America gotten so far away from these principles?”

How have we gotten so far off track?

I didn’t have good answers for their questions.  Sin.  Greed.  Selfishness.  It’s a tough one to put your finger on.  But I was able to share about how we are never in control anyway.  We just do the best we know how then we leave the rest in God’s hands.  These candidates may not be what we used to think of as good leaders, but God knows what He is doing.

This is one of the hard lessons I’ve been learning, to trust God no matter what the circumstances are.  Everywhere I turn there it is again….God says to lay it all down.  It’s not about me.  Or what I can do.  Or my own strength.  It’s about trusting Him and letting go.

So there.  Your deep thought for the week.  My brain is worn out from all this thinking and now I need another one of those Daddy-takes-over kind of naps.

Life on the Road for Young Living Beauty School

Life on the Road for Young Living Beauty School

As you may know, I travel a lot.  Like, once a month or so.  Travel is something I always wanted to do, but when the kids were little and my husband was someone else’s employee, I just couldn’t do it.  I didn’t mind.  I just tucked the wish way back in my mind and let it sit there.

Then a few years ago God started opening up opportunities for me to take small trips here and there.  I’d be asked to speak at a conference or have a training meeting to go to.  By that time my hubs was self-employeed in an office on our property so that made it easier.  I got to meet new people (some of whom are my dearest friends now), learn a lot, explore places I never thought I’d go.  It’s been incredible!

I am so blessed that God gave me that little wish I had tucked away.

This past weekend I went to Alabama to learn and connect and boy did I ever!  I mean my brain is so full that if I wasn’t feeling so purdy it might just explode.  I went to Young Living Beauty School.  I’d been wanting to go for a few years and it just never worked out until now.

Honestly, the Young Living facial care line has always been low on my list of things to use.  I love the oils and use them daily, sometimes hourly.  I adore the supplements and the NingXia Red and I couldn’t even put into words how those have all changed my life.  But the beauty products….I just didn’t know much about them.

But now I do.  I can’t wait to order the ones that I especially liked and use them for a few weeks and tell y’all all about them.  But I want to try them for a while so I can be sure that they’re as amazing as I think they are.  It’ll take me some time since, you know, Christmas coming and all.

We got a case with all of the beauty products in it and we spent time learning how to use them all.

Learning how to use all of the Young Living beauty products!

And if that wasn’t enough, I decided to drive myself to Alabama.  From Texas.  As in 17 hours all by myself.  That may not sound like heaven to you, but to me it was an absolute masterpiece of silence mixed with the occasional burst of praise songs at full volume.  I could sing as loud as I wanted and no one complained.

My kids at home are enjoying some space too.  Mom being gone means less pressure to get those beds made before breakfast and getting to watch a movie every night.  I also bought a cartload of snacks before I left so they’re probably on some kind of sugar high every afternoon.  Good times.

We went over all of their school assignments and I have been calling them every day to check on them.  I think they’re enjoying telling me what they’ve been doing over the phone.  I know I am enjoying hearing their sweet voices.  They sound so smart and grown up though.  Mommy doesn’t like that.

At Beauty School I got to hang out with some pretty incredible people and hear their stories and learn from them.  My roomies (there were 4 of us renting an AirBnB) arrived on Friday with all kinds of oils and soaps and diffusers and within an hour we had this old, musty house smelling like a spa.  We showed each other our favorite bath products and I pummeled one of them with early morning questions about her supplement regimen.

Learning how to use all of the Young Living skin care products!

These gals don’t use any chemical cleaners, so they travel fully equipped.  I mean they brought their own sheets ‘cuz they didn’t want the washing machine detergent on their skin.  These gals are crazier than I am!  All I did was spray down the sheets that were already there with a blend of Thieves cleaner and lavender that I brought with me in a little bottle.  I practically felt normal next to them.

I like feeling normal.  It happens so rarely.

While you’re reading this I am on my long drive back home.  I am gonna make a few pit stops to visit some other friends, so I will be more like a tortoise than a hare.  But I’ll get there and hug my precious babies and they’ll be sad because the movie marathon will have to end and they will have to make their bed again.

Such is life.

Have a great week!

First Day of School Happiness

First Day of School Happiness

I am so happy to be back to normal life this morning!  We are starting school today and after a full month of doing nothing but entertaining ourselves and not cleaning the house, I am ready.

A week ago we were in Florida running around at Universal Studios, then came straight home to a houseful of company.  Before we left for Universal I tried to get it all clean so when we got home the guest beds would be ready and all I’d have to do is wipe off the bathroom mirrors and go to the grocery store.  But somehow that theory never actually works and there seemed to be more work than we could do to get ready for our weekend.

We spent last Wednesday putting away our suitcases and scrubbing the bathrooms and restocking the pantry.  I think the washer and dryer ran all day and night so we would be ready for our friends to come and stay for the weekend.  I also knew a little secret, which was that our oldest daughter was going to come down and surprise everyone.  So I had to discreetly have a bed ready for her too.  It wasn’t easy….I am not good at that kind of sneakiness.

I can barely get Christmas presents into the house without being discovered.  I try to do little surprises for the kids all the time, like buy their favorite drink to surprise them with for Friday movies only to find them sipping on them one afternoon because they found them in the back of the fridge.  Or I get up really early to make a special breakfast and wake people up with my clanging around in the kitchen.  So last Wednesday when my boys kept asking me why I needed extra sheets I got panicked and almost blew the secret about a dozen times.

The main reason we had so much company was because there was a conference happening here in our little town and we offered our house as a place to stay for some families.  So we were piled up and overflowing and I loved it.

I attended the conference as much as I could, but I had to do some catching up on work at home so I kept slipping back and trying to get some work done.  There are definitely disadvantages to having the event in our own town.  I ended up only being there about half the time.  But even with only hearing some of the talks at the conference I was really uplifted and encouraged.  There’s really nothing like being around other like-minded Christians to fill your tank.

One session was about being content with what God has given you and it was especially encouraging to me.  It was not only a great message, but the speaker was a young man who is a close friend of my son and that made it even sweeter.  To see these boys grow up and develop wisdom from their personal relationship with the Lord melts my heart.  The message of trusting God and understanding His sovereignty washed over me and I was so thankful for the words.  One thing the speaker said that I wrote in my notes was, “The world tells us that to be content we must get away from what makes us uncomfortable.  But Paul clearly teaches us that we must be content with wherever we are.”  Good stuff.

It was just what I needed as I move from the carefree times of the summer into full time school with my boys.  It won’t be easy to get us all up at the crack of dawn and stick to our school year schedule.  We kinda like sleeping late and not cleaning the house and going to theme parks.

So now we are back to our fall schedule and daily routine of school in the mornings and I will do my personal work in the afternoons which includes grading papers for the next day.  Having homeschooled for over 20 years, I know that I have to keep up with grading their work every day or I fall so far behind that I can’t catch up.  It’s like laundry.  Miss a couple of days and you have an overwhelming mountain to deal with.

I won’t be taking any of those “first day of school” pictures though.  It’s just not my thing and I tell you that in case you didn’t do it either and you’re feeling guilty.  Let it go, my friend.  Life’s too short to sweat that stuff.  Do what you can and release the rest to the list of things you didn’t really need anyway.

Have a great week!

Be sure you’re following me on Facebook!  🙂

A Universally Good Time!

A Universally Good Time!

This post contains affiliate links.

Are you as overwhelmed as I am by all of the activity surrounding this time of year?  School starting, summer ending, new afternoon and evening schedules and so many new things popping up on the calendar!

We took our end of summer trip to Universal Studios last week and I have been home for about 24 hours.  The suitcases are half unpacked and the laundry is half done and I am half asleep.  I took 2 naps yesterday between straightening and chatting with my kids and today I have a gob-ton of stuff to do because we have company coming for the weekend.

Our trip to Universal Studios was amazing.  I can’t imagine how it could have been any better.  We took VIP tours of the parks, getting all kinds of education on how things were done behind the scenes (I love that stuff!).  We spent an afternoon in a lazy river and ate at some incredible restaurants.  I mean the best food you ever ate kind of food.

a great family fun time at Universal Studios!

I did make one mistake that cost me $44.95 + $12 + tax.  I only took one pair of shoes.  I know, it is completely against my character not to have at least 3 pair with me at all times and I have learned my lesson.  But I was traveling with an airline that has very limited luggage guidelines and I had to keep it as light as possible.  My Oofos (which you can read more about HERE) served me well on my last 2 trips to Orlando with all of the walking so I decided to just take one pair and wear it the whole time.

But then I got a bug bite on the top of my right foot where the strap goes.  Even though I had my essential oils and they helped the bite not itch or bother me, they couldn’t move the bite to another location and the strap rubbed on it until it turned into a blister.  And suddenly what had been a comfortable pair of shoes became a torture device.  No amount of bandaids or medical gauze would help because everything I taped to the spot kept falling off in less than 5 minutes.  I went through an entire $8.50 box of hotel bandaids in under an hour.

At that point I realized I would need to either buy a new pair of shoes or rent a scooter and ride around all day.  I opted for the shoes.  So I went into a gift shop and bought myself a pair of Crocs that I don’t need because I have a pair of Crocs at home that I rarely wear.  I got a “guy” color so that I could give them to one of my boys after the trip.

I also bought myself a $12 pair of socks because I was worried that the crocs would rub the blister and I’d need a barrier.  I also thought the socks would help the bandaid stay on.  And it worked.  I looked like a dork-mom, but my foot was fine after that.  Believe me, if I could have worn the sock with my Oofos I would have.  But I tried it and the shoes kept falling off because the thong-toe-thingy kept fighting with the socks.

And now boys and girls, here’s the lesson from this experience: Always have 2 different pair of shoes when you travel.

If I had taken my Otz I could have saved money and kept my feet from hurting today.  I will be in extreme arch support shoes for weeks trying to recover from the lack of arch support in my new pair of Crocs.

But since that was really the only problem we had the entire time, it was nothing.  A speck on the globe of amazement and fun.

There were 6 of us on the trip, so after the first day we divided into 2 groups of 3 so we could have some quality time together and the boys could do more of what they each wanted.  I loved that because it gave me time to chat with each guy (I was the only girl) and do exactly whatever they wanted without juggling so many other ideas.  If you have a large family, take it from me… things alone with 1-2 kids at a time.  It’s the best!

a great family fun time at Universal Studios with Honey Bunches of Oats!

One day I spent time riding the less intense rides with these 2 boys and exploring the Jurassic Park discovery zone.

There are plenty of fun photo ops at Universal Studios!

And another day I snuck over to Disney with these two and we had a great time, despite the rain! (in fact, the rain made it less crowded so we didn’t mind at all)

A little rain means lighter crowds!

Once we got home it was back to reality and getting the house ready for friends to come stay with us this weekend.  I’m looking forward to the fellowship, but if I don’t get to the grocery store this morning my friends will starve.  We ate up everything before we left and there is nothing but scraps in the pantry.

I am also getting the school books out and going through them to get our new school schedule ironed out before we start next Monday.  It doesn’t matter that I have been homeschooling for over 20 years…..there’s always something new to figure out.

Here’s to new seasons and normal schedules!  Have a great weekend.

The Last Adventure of the Summer

The Last Adventure of the Summer

While everyone else is going back to school we are on a trip once more, heading to Florida for our big family adventure.  Six of us are going for some serious Harry Potter discoveries and riding some crazy coasters.  I can’t wait to experience the Rip Ride Rockit.  I didn’t get to ride it last year because no one was with me to watch the boys who didn’t want to ride it, so I hung back while my older kids rode.  This year my hubs (aka: roller coaster hater) will be with us so I can coaster to my heart’s content.

The boys are so excited about this trip that it’s been non-stop Universal talk for weeks.  Since April we have had a countdown display on the school white board and every morning they change the number.  When it got to single digits they started hopping around the house like little minions.  We have been watching YouTube videos of the rides at Universal in preparation for our trip.  This one is our favorite (warning: there’s one bad word).

I spent the past weekend getting the house clean and food prepped.  I don’t want to come home to a messy house because I know I will be exhausted after this grand adventure.  Plus we are having a houseful of company only 3 days after we get home so we are trying to get the extra beds ready and floors swept.  The sweet things in life are simply endless.  I am so blessed with travel and a home and friends to share it all with!

Today we are packing.  I have a whole list of what we will be taking in my Mom’s Guide to Universal.  Since I am trying to keep the costs as low cost as possible, we are trying to pack in small duffle bags instead of suitcases so we don’t have the extra charge of checking a bag.  It’s a challenge!  But by golly we are going to make it happen if it means wearing the same clothes for 6 days in a row.  Mama can rinse and dry in the hotel bathroom if necessary.  😉

Pack light and just wash the clothes at your hotel.

I have also been trying to get all of the ipods and ipads ready.  Apparently they all need new games and movies before we go.  I remember when our entertainment on trips was my dad calling out what to look for out the station wagon window and the first to see it got a nickel.  I’m pretty sure he had us looking for mountains in the desert just to keep us quiet.  But now they’ve got all kinds of entertainment and earbuds and self-contained activities and frankly, I am fine with that.  Saves me some nickels.  And my sanity.

Speaking of packing, I have learned the art of the roll.  I can’t believe how much space it saves in the suitcase when you roll your clothes.  I’m sure there’s some complicated math out there to explain it, but I am just rolling and accepting it.  No reason to fill my brain with math when there’s important stuff like where the Pokestops are or which oils to carry around with me at the park.

We will also see the BlueMan Group while we are there.  Last year we went to their show and, if I am being totally honest, I thought it was kind of dumb.  My daughter and I kept looking at each other and rolling our eyes.  But then we would look down the row and the 3 boys who were with us were laughing so hard I thought they would bust a gut.  It’s definitely a Three Stooges kind of humor.  There’s a dividing line in our house between who thinks the stooges are funny and who doesn’t.  I think the BlueMan Group will cause that same division.  So I will go to their show again for the sake of seeing my boys laugh so hard they nearly fall out of their seats.  In fact, I may just watch my guys instead of the blue guys.


So that’s what’s going on here.  School starts the day after we return, so we plan to enjoy every last second of not doing any book work.  I am gonna need a countdown on the board to the next time I get to take a long, hard nap.  And it better not be a double digit number.

Have a great week!!!


If you liked this you will also like A Mom’s Guide to Universal, part 2 and 10 Ways to Lighten a Traveler’s Load.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great week!

I Love Gadgets, but They Don’t Love Me

I Love Gadgets, but They Don’t Love Me

Sometimes you're in the mood to just read something light and funny.  This is the blog for you!

There’s a lot going on around here this month.  We have lots of travel, lots of celebrations and lots of effort to stay out of the heat.  Last weekend on my way home from Dallas it was 109° and every time I stepped outside it felt like I was heading onto the surface of the sun.  I don’t remember it being this hot the past few years.  But of course it’s possible that I’ve blocked it out.

In an effort to stay cool I have been equipping myself with cooling gadgets and devices.  I like gadgets and new technology.  I can’t always figure them out, but I still like them.  To prove my gadget inadequacy, you need to hear the little fan story.

I bought a small, pen-sized fan at The Container Store last December.  It was in those stocking stuffer bins that you dig through to see if there’s a good gift for that hard to buy for guy but instead find things you want for yourself.

This fan is barely bigger than the AA battery required to run it and I knew it would be perfect for me to carry in my purse over the summer (and on planes or in church or the backseat of any car ‘cuz I get hot everywhere).  When I got it home I took it out of the box and put a battery in it only to discover that the blade moved backwards and wasn’t blowing, but pulling the air.  “Um, this dumb thing doesn’t work at all,” I thought as I tossed it on the foot of the bed and looked through the garbage for the box so I could return it.  Then my husband came in, saw me with my head in the trash and asked what I was doing.  “I have to return that little fan because it doesn’t work so I am looking for the box,” I murmured. He asked what was wrong with it, I told him and he laughed.  I recognized the tone of his laugh.  It’s the one that says, “Oh Lisa, you really are a cute dingbat.”  So I stood up from my trash search in time to see him take the battery out of the fan, flip it over and put it back in the fan.  “No!,” I rolled my eyes,” It will turn on, it’s just going the wrong way!”  That’s my own tone that says, “You men think you can fix everything but you’re not so smart.”  He grinned like the Grinch and held the little fan up to my face and I felt the breeze….his trick had worked!  The blades were going to right way!!!

He still teases me about that, but in my defense I had never heard that a battery could work in either direction.

I also had an issue once with a portable DVD player in which I got my favorite movie (“You’ve Got Mail”) permanently stuck.  I told my kids, “Sorry you can’t use the DVD player anymore.  It won’t open.  I have tried 1,000 times to get that DVD out.”  That’s when my 5 year old took it, pushed the button on the side and it flipped open.  Oh.  I hadn’t seen that button.

At Disney World last May I bought a cute little Minnie Mouse umbrella that I had a devil of a time opening and closing.  I’d have to press it closed by sandwiching the umbrella between my body and a wall and shove against it.  Then to open it I would have to pull it with all my night.  I kept thinking it seemed unusually hard to open & close.  Then one afternoon while waiting in a covered area for the rain to stop I saw a little girl with the same umbrella.  I was thinking about how it must be impossible for her to open when I watched her pull it out, push the little button and pop it open.  I sent my husband a text, “THIS DUMB UMBRELLA HAS A BUTTON ON IT!! LOL!!!”

And don’t even get me started about the hands free faucets in public restrooms.  I have never in my life been able to make one of them turn on.  I am at the mercy of other ladies in the bathroom who are willing to swipe their hand under for me.

I did figure out how to use my small necklace fan.  It hangs around your neck and blows on your face.  That fan, Sonic ice and my bottle of peppermint oil are my summer BFFs.  I will wear that little necklace fan anywhere and everywhere and I don’t care if it makes me look like a sci-fi creature or that it makes a humming sound.  I NEED it.  (although I have thought of trying to bling it up somehow)

In Dallas also went to a used bookstore which, frankly, I generally stay away from.  As soon as I entered I knew it had been a mistake.  I didn’t even get past the second display in the front of the store before I had an armful of books to purchase.  Did I need these books?  No.  But that’s what happens in used bookstores.

I walked out with $60 worth of used books, but no gadgets.  I at least had the wisdom to avoid that section of the store….even though I really wanted this cool looking booklight that I saw out of the corner of my eye.  I felt certain that I would somehow put the batteries in wrong and never hear the end of it.

Have a great week.  Stay cool!

If you like this post, you will also like How to Keep a Simple Summer Menu and 10 of My Favorite Summer Oils

Clearly We Need to Eat Out More Often

Clearly We Need to Eat Out More Often

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Cute, right?

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

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


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

See ya!

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

Why I’m Playing Pokémon Go

Why I’m Playing Pokémon Go

If you're not sure wheteher or not to pick up this latest craze, or how to keep it under control, here are some great tips for you!

Yes, we have gotten into the new craze…Pokémon Go.  Before you throw stones and tell me how it was started with evil intent and Christians shouldn’t be spending time on such terrible things, let me fill you in.

I have been looking for things to do with my 3 youngest boys that don’t involve yard work (which we do a lot of) or home repair (it never ends) or school (being the mom and the teacher has its challenges).  I wanted to do something they would enjoy, but didn’t cost much and we could build memories with.  And since lately I have been seeing this Pokémon game being discussed all over the interwebs, I downloaded the app.  Of course, because I am old I didn’t understand anything about it, I had to ask my 15 year old to look at it with me and that was the end of that.  He took over and his 2 younger brothers gathered around him like moths to a flame.

After we got it set up and started it became obvious that it wasn’t something we could do at home.  Living in the country means no PokeStops or Pokémon to catch.  You have to go where the people are.  You have to be active.  So I suggested we go for a drive and see how it all works.  For the next hour and a half we explored our town and met some interesting young people.  And that’s when I fell in love with the game.

I wasn’t actually playing, I was just driving my boys around as they took turn catching and colleting.  And I had such a fab time with them!  Here’s why I am all for the game and why we will keep playing….

  1. We do it together.  It depends on how you play, but since we were all working off of one phone it became a group activity.  They take turns and help each other find things.  They tell me where to go and when to turn and I enjoy being led by my little men.  They get excited together and we have plans to do it as often as possible.
  2. We explore our town.  The PokeStops are places like monuments, murals, churches and city buildings.  We walk around and learn about our town and places we had never really noticed.  It is such fun to find out more about the place we live!
  3. Historical markers!  Some places we have to go are the local historical Markers.  I told the boys that any marker we stop at to get Pokémon we also have to actually READ the marker and discuss it.  We decided to do some more studying later about some of these incredible historical spots!
  4. Meeting new people.  We meet a lot of new people!  I will chat with other Pokémon players while the boys look for Pokémon and I really enjoy meeting some people I would otherwise never have met.  I don’t care if they are a group of young men drinking beer while playing Pokémon or moms with their kids or teen girls with all colors of hairstyles.  It is such a blessing to interact with them, ask for their advice on playing the game and get to know a little about them.  Everyone has been friendly and I hope I will get to see them again!
  5. Adding a new dimension to our travel.  My boys kept talking about how fun it will be to look for Pokémon when we go to Universal Studios in September.  Or the airport.  Or when visiting their sister in Dallas.  I can see that we will get to explore new things about these places too, things we would never have discovered otherwise.
  6. Believe it or not, exercise!  There’s one part of the game where you get rewards for walking….actually walking (or running would work too, but you can’t drive or ride).  So we are going for walks and talking about life while our steps work in the game.  LOVE!

I know there are bad things about this game.  People getting hurt or being careless.  There is probably some wicked intent with the whole Pokémon thing that I am unaware of and, frankly, not worried about.  I do have some requirements that I added to the game to make it family friendly and as long as we stick to those I think it will be a great way for me to spend time with my boys.

  1. We do it together only.  No one will be going off to play alone and they have to take turns.  Once someone catches a Pokémon and goes to a Poke Stop they hand the phone to the next person.  Their turns can vary in length and style, so you have to be patient and a bit selfless.  If your kids aren’t good at this, it’s a perfect way to teach this concept.
  2. Be careful, for goodness sake!  Really, I can see how someone would just step into the street or if you were driving and doing it, man it’s dangerous. Even though I am not looking at the game at all when I am driving, the boys shout out directions to me like, “Turn left NOW” as I am driving in the right lane.  They’re excited and I can’t see what’s happening in the game so it gets hairy.  Just keep your wits, remember what’s most important (staying safe, that’s what) and you’ll be fine.
  3. We have to look around and not just at the phone.  Anytime we are in a spot that is interesting (which is almost everywhere) I take the phone from them and we look around.  We talk about the area, what happens there, why we think it is a PokeStop, etc.  Like I said above, we read all historical markers and study the murals and statues.  There is some amazing stuff out there!
  4. Talk to people.  If we see anyone else playing where we are, the rule is that one of us has to say hello to them and ask them one question, either Pokémon advice or something about themselves.  Smile, be friendly, get to know someone, and shine the love of Christ to others.  This is my favorite of all the rules we made.  🙂
  5. No getting obsessed.  We are an obsessive bunch around here.  We get overly attached to things and can let it control our minds.  We do a lot of Bible memory and make it a habit to focus on what is good, and true and pure.  So when my mom-radar detects a kid getting overly consumed with something that is just fluff and not valuable to their life, I nip it fast.  The boys have been told in no uncertain terms, if they talk too much about Pokémon, or seem like they’ve gotten carried away with it we will stop.  Nada.  No mo.
  6. No spending money! There is no way I am going to spend any money on in app purchases no matter what….we won’t be doing that.  I don’t care if the world’s rarest Pokémon treasure is within our reach if we would only spend 99¢, I’m not doing it.  Got it?  Not my money, not their money, NO money will be spent on this game.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I am really enjoying this.  It’s not just another video game that my boys play and I know little to nothing about.  This is something I can do with them and I have at least a clue what the different parts are and what they’re talking about (although I will never understand it all).  I love listening to them in the backseat strategizing and sharing their victories with each other.  It’s a delight to play this game with my boys and have something we do together.

When I run into town I invite one of the boys to go so they can play alone for a few minutes.  I’ll run my errand then spend 10 minutes or so looking for Pokémon at their direction.  This morning my youngest son and I discovered a park that we didn’t know was there and made plans to go back and play on the playground there when it gets cooler.

If you’ve been on the fence about this or have decided it’s a bad thing to stay away from, I hope you will consider trying it.  Just stick closely to the boundaries you create for it and you’ll have grand time!

Be sure to follow me on Instagram where, of course, I don’t share any Pokémon pictures because I don’t have access to my phone/camera when we are playing….which….if you think about it is another plus.  No one is doing anything except playing and enjoying the outdoors.  But I do share other fun stuff there….. 😉

And if you have any other Pokémon tips we would love to hear them.  Hop over to Facebook and tell us all about it!

If you liked this, you will also like my Mom’s Guide to Universal Studios —>

A Mom’s Guide to Universal Studios, Pt 2

A Mom’s Guide to Universal Studios, Pt 2

This post contains affiliate links.

Recently I shared my mom tips for what you need to do when you go to Universal in part 1.  Universal is so much fun and you don’t want a little lack of preparedness to spoil it.  With just a teeny bit of thinking ahead, your time at these parks can be stupendous!

I had so many things to share to make your trip better that I divided it into two parts.  Part one is things to DO and part two is things to TAKE (or not take).  And if you’re wondering how I figured all of this out, it’s been from experience.  Last year when we went to Universal I actually made notes on my phone of things I would do differently if I ever got to go back and what I wished I had known in advance.  We had an amazing time there and I really hope you will consider going there with your family!

And when you do, this is a list of things you will want to take with you when you go!


Mom’s List of What to Take to Universal Studios

  1. Take ONLY what you NEED! I love to use a cinch bag because they weigh nothing and are so easy to slip on and off.  I carry in it only what I absolutely must have.  Resist the urge to take big, heavy things.  You just don’t need them and these parks are very active.  There isn’t a lot of moseying along the street.  It’s rush, rush, ride, ride, go, go and you’re going to need to stay energized.  I will reduce the size of some things, like sunscreen.  Instead of bringing the whole bottle, put a big squirt in a small ziptop bag and just carry that.  Instead of regular bottles of my essential oils, I put a few drops into a teeny bottles.
  2. Prepare for rain.  When we were there last year it rained every day for a little while.  We didn’t slow down, but put on our ponchos and kept going.  We were prepared with not only ponchos, but waterproof shoes and ziptop bags for our phones.  I’m not all fancy with special gear to keep phones dry….a ziploc bag does just fine.  In fact, in the rain I am a fan of the poncho/teeny umbrella combo.  You’ll stay almost completely dry.  Speaking of bags, they will inspect your bags when you enter.  Actually, they do it outside of the City Walk area before you even get to the parks.  It’s no big deal, I just wanted you to be prepared.
  3. Keep your temps down.  We went over Labor Day weekend and it was H-O-T.  So it’s vital you make sure to stay as cool as you can.  Besides drinking water, you can use a fan.  I’m a big fan of fans.  I wear this one around my neck and sometimes also carry a small misting fan in my pack.  Another thing I carry is a Frog Togg.  These are cooling rags and they are amazing for cooling you down and there’s also a cooling headband that I am going to try for this year.  I cut my Frog Togg into smaller pieces so I didn’t have to keep a whole big one in my pack.  Universal also has a misting station across from the Incredible Hulk Coaster and misting fans all around the park.  You can ask for ice water at any of the drink locations for free.
  4. Comfy shoes.   Here’s the thing with shoes….they have to be more than just comfortable.  Comfort is vital….you need shoes that you can walk around in all day and then again the next day without hurting your feet.  But there are other needs too.  Like they need to dry quickly.  Like I said in #2, you will likely get rained on.  There are rides that get your feet wet.  Walking around in squishy, wet shoes is misery.  Also, you want lightweight shoes.  This is a hard day and you don’t want to add any extra weight to what you’re carrying around. I love my Oofos.  They fit every one of those needs plus they’re cute.
  5. Have power.  You will want to take pictures and be able to be reached, so be sure you have ways to charge your phone.  I like to carry a retractable power cord and light power pack.  I have never regretted having these with me.  If you don’t need it you can help someone else who needs a charge!  (although I take so many pics that I have always needed it!)
  6. Sunshade.  The sun will suck the energy right out of you! So I always take a hat and wear it when I am going to be without shade for long.  THIS HAT is the one I carry because it’s affordable and rolls up for easy packing.  I also use a chemical-free sunscreen and I put a little bit in a ziptop bag (like I said in #1) and carry just that amount with me each day.
  7. Earbuds.  I always have a pair of earbuds (or two) with me for a couple of reasons.  First, the day at Universal is a lot of activity and can be over-stimulating for the kids.  So I like to let them relax and listen to music or play a game occasionally to help them regroup.  Second, they help on the rides if anyone in your group is sensitive to loud noises.  I will give them to my kids (not plugged into anything, just the earbuds alone) to wear through a loud ride.  My 9 year old will ask for them because he doesn’t like the noise.  THESE wireless buds are great for that!
  8. Essential oils.  Come on, you knew I was gonna say it!  I lean heavily on my oils when we are at any long-day activity.  I put them into small bottles so my load is still light, but I always have them with me.  I wouldn’t go to Universal Studios without peppermint, PanAway, Lavender, StressAway, or FUN.  And you will definitely want to have NingXia Nitro for when you really hit an energy slump!
  9. Leave the jewelry at home.  I am a jewelry girl, but this is not the place for it.  I don’t wear any jewelry to the theme parks except my silicone wedding band.  I tried not wearing a wedding band at all, but it bothered me not to have it on.  I kept suddenly panicking that I lost it (even though I didn’t wear it in the first place).  So I got a silicone band and it doesn’t interfere with the fun and keeps me from freaking out that I lost my real one.
  10. Credit card.  Obviously you will need money here and there after you get into the park.  I never carry cash, I only take a card that I can use just for this trip.  I call the credit card company in advance to let them know I will be traveling and I make sure there’s no balance on it (unless it’s a bank card in which case make sure there is money in there).  I keep it tucked somewhere on my person (like a Secret Stash Pocket or a passport holder) so it’s not in my pack where I can lose it.  I will also keep my resort room key in there.
  11. Moleskin and blister balm.  I never got any blisters while I was there, but one of my boys did and oh man, was I glad I had this stuff ready to use.  I like this moleskin because it’s a little thinner than what you can buy locally.  And it comes in strips, unlike others that you have to cut (and I don’t want to travel with scissors).  If you haven’t used moleskin, it’s like an extra layer of “skin” that you put over your sore place to stop it from rubbing on your shoe.  Also, if you tend to get blisters, use Blister Balm as a preventative.  Rub it on before you get a blister to keep from getting one and if you still have a problem you can also use it on the blister.  I’d also have some lavender to put on as well, maybe applying it at night and again with the balm to promote healthy skin.
  12. Cotton clothing and limited makeup.  You really want to be comfy and cool!  Of course we like to look good, but honestly I don’t worry too much about that when I am going to be out all day in the sun with my family riding rides and trying to keep up with their energy.  I have a few linen dresses that I like to wear, but whatever you are comfortable in is what to take with you!  As for makeup, I don’t wear anything except for drawing on my eyebrows because that’s what my comfort level is.  Sure, I’d rather look glamorous all of the time, but frankly it would sweat off in the first 2 hours and then I would look like a freakish comic book character, so I skip it.  For my eyebrows (I have no eyebrows so I really like to always wear that) I use Too Faced Bullet Proof Brows because it stays on all day no matter what I do and it looks natural.  It’s one that I just put on in the morning and don’t have to worry about it again.

What do you need to take to the theme park?! Here's a tried and true list by a mom of 9 for all moms!

All in all this is a really fun and binding day with your family!  The more you can prepare in advance, the easier it will be for you to be able to relax and enjoy your time in the rides and with the fam.  Think it all through and have FUN!!!!  Each of these products I mention above are ones that I personally bought, tried and use myself….and I have tried a lot that didn’t work so I have done the legwork for you.

I just know you will have a mah-velous time on your trip to Universal Studios!  Of course, these tips will work for any theme park and even other family trips.  With just a little advanced preparation you can have a blast!

Don’t miss Part 1 of A Mom’s Guide to Universal Studios where I share the things you MUST do while you’re there!

And if you have issues with big thighs and chafing, be sure to check out “I Got Big Thighs and I Cannot Lie”