Posted in family adventure, Uncategorized

Family RV Adventure 2017, Part One

We have dreamed, talked and planned for nearly 17 years for an RV trip out west!  My husband is the adventurer, I am the cautious planner.  Since we began homeschooling 7 years ago, we hoped to have the flexibility to travel more.  Life gets in the way sometimes.  Providing for a family, running 3 small businesses, and other commitments and schedules seem to take precedence over adventure.

We are walking through several changes in our family and business.

My husband became a pastor.

Our oldest will go back into public high school in August.

We hired a fabulous office manager, who takes over the business, scheduling and other duties so that my husband can take a break!  We are immensely thankful that the Lord provided her!

Over the winter, when we made the decision for our oldest to re-enter public school, we decided to take the trip!

Say “Yes” to the adventure!

Go for it!

We began to look at our options! Our dream had been to travel across the country in an RV.

We don’t own an RV!

We decided to pursue purchasing one, though.  We explored our options, looked at different models of campers and RV’s.  After weighing the possibilities, we came to the conclusion that we simply do not have the time to use a camper or RV on a regular basis.  Definitely not enough to justify the cost.

The next option we considered was to drive in our van and stay in hotels and lodges.

Somehow, this just doesn’t seem like as much of an adventure for us.  I looked into cost and functionality for this option. We have 6 people in our family, so lugging the necessities for a long road trip in a Honda Odyssey didn’t seem like the best option.

Another problem, my husband wanted to camp.  Who goes to the National parks and doesn’t camp?

Truth be told, I don’t love camping.  I camp because my family loves to camp.  Camping with 6 people for 2 weeks out of a mini van wasn’t working for me!

The last option was to rent an RV.  We didn’t know of anyone that had taken this option.  I did a search of rental RV outlets and found one closest to us.  The one we found was Cruise America.

I had calculated the cost of staying in hotels and lodges.

We had ruled out purchasing our own RV.

This rental option was the last hope…for me anyway!  This was the compromise we needed, because my husband was set on camping.  I was determined not to camp out of  a minivan!

We booked a 30 foot RV, which would sleep 7 and began planning the trip!

It’s not easy planning a road trip to places you  know nothing about!

Booking campgrounds not knowing if their bath house was acceptable.

I mapped out the trip!

Our older boys wanted to visit the Four Corners Monument.  So, we planned to stop there first.

The second stop would be the Grand Canyon.

Then, we would visit Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, the Young Living Lavender farm in Mona, Utah (my treat for the trip), Arches National Park and, finally, Canyonlands National Park.

I booked campgrounds for each of the main stays on our trip, leaving the traveling days open.  We had no idea how far we would travel each day, so booking a campground for travel days was impossible.

We left for our adventure on Monday morning, May 22.  We left Georgia, drove through Alabama, Mississippi into Tennessee and Arkansas.

My navigational skills are bad! Just really bad!  I struggle navigating even with GPS. So, late…late Monday night, we decided to stop in Oklahoma at a KOA in Checotah.

Using my phone, I navigated us right into downtown Checotah (the home of Carrie Underwood).  It’s a cute town.

My husband is the map reading, navigational expert of the family and decided I was leading us astray.  The almost 15 year old agreed.  We were on the wrong exit.

We turned around, heading back for the interstate.  As we approached a low-lit gas station, we see blue lights behind us.

The nice officer pulled us over to inform us that we had no tail lights.

He never asked for license or insurance.

He simply suggested we ride with flashers on until we could remedy the problem and let us continue.

The teenager navigated us to the Checotah KOA.

We settled in around 10:30 pm. This KOA was near the interstate but remote and quiet.

KOA’s are a fantastic option for traveling.  Most even have small cabins available for rent for those traveling without a camper.  The bath houses, probably the most important part of a camping trip for me, are almost always clean and well-kept!

The next morning, we got on the road bright and early.  Our next stop would be the KOA in downtown Albuquerque, New Mexico.  I would love to visit Albuquerque again.  It is a beautiful town.

20170524_080844
Flowers in the campground in Albuquerque, NM

 

 

The third day of our trip, we would visit the Four Corners Monument and arrive at the Grand Canyon.  This drive, from Albuquerque, was extremely remote. I couldn’t help but think what it would be like to live in this area of our beautiful country, so far from an actual town.  Many houses are far from even the closest neighbor.

20170524_142704_001-1
One of the many rock formations on the drive to the Four Corners Monument.
20170524_182540
Passing the time with My Little Pony. Our three options for watching movies in the RV didn’t work. We would need a good wi-fi to download an app on the laptop to watch a movie.

20170524_174640

We finally made it to the Four Corners.

Native Americans sell items like necklaces, magnets, dream catchers and t shirts around the monument.

Of course, the boys had to plank in four states at once.

Our next stop, the Grand Canyon.  This is our third day of driving and close to 1600 miles.

We arrived near sunset at the Grand Canyon, South Rim.

20170524_184901

These young elk were grazing very near the entrance gate.

We purchased a one-year pass to the National Parks for $80.  The cost just to enter the Grand Canyon would have been $30. The pass is a great value, considering that we were visiting 6 National Parks on this trip.

Normally, the ranger should have asked for an identification with the purchase, but she was distracted by a man exiting his car just ahead of us to take a selfie with the elk.

We continued on to the first view point.  Sunset was an amazing time to be introduced to these views!!

20170524_185520-1

cropped-20170524_190252.jpg
Amazing sunset!

After a time of amazement and awe at God’s beautiful, spectacular creation, we continued on to the campground inside the park.

We arrived at approximately 10:30 pm.  The lady at check-in asked for photo identification, aka drivers license, from my husband to verify the reservation.

He came back to the RV, where we were waiting patiently.

He didn’t have his drivers license.

Not in his wallet.

Not in his pocket.

Not…anywhere!

We scoured the RV, suitcases, everywhere!

Was it stolen?

Did he leave it at another campground or at a gas station?

None of those seemed to be the answer.

Who drives across the country without a drivers license?  I had prayed a lot over this trip, for safety, that no one would fall off a cliff, that we would have safe travels, that no one would get sick, the normal “mom” things to pray.  Now, I was praying for my husband to be able to drive us around Utah and back to Georgia without his drivers license.

No one had asked for his identification, not even the nice officer in Checotah, Oklahoma a few days before!

Thankfully!

This was the end of our third day!

The next day, day four, we explore the Grand Canyon and move on to Zion National Park.

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized, wellness, Young Living

Young Living

Hello friends!!!

I tried lots of brands of essential oils before learning about Young Living!  I was on a search for replacements for the products we were currently using from the store.  Products that contained dyes and harmful toxins that I wanted away from!  I bought the oils at the health food store and grocery store and online retailers.  They smelled ok…a bit like a perfume.

Now I know why!  They basically are perfume oils…adulterated and mixed with fillers.  I saw no results…just a pleasant smell! Essential oils are not all the same!

FB_IMG_1489582092948

I would never walk into that store in the mall and think I was purchasing a pure product that I could use for supporting my body systems. I will not trust any other company with my family’s wellness!!

When a friend told me about Young Living, I started to wonder what the difference was between those store oils and the YL ones.  Before I jumped in, I wanted to know what the big deal was.

I researched, and it was a HUGE deal!

I was very impressed with the quality promise and the integrity of the company!  This section of the website can give you an inside look at why Young Living’s oils are superior quality and provide superior support to every body system!  Check it out!  I am excited to visit a Young Living farm in the next few weeks!  Check back for an overload of pics and info on my family’s visit!!!

https://www.youngliving.com/en_US/discover/seed-to-seal

seed-to-seal-infographic

I was even more impressed by the  results I found in YL’s oils.

FB_IMG_1487855494155

FB_IMG_1486590836920

Young Living offers a Premium Starter Kit that includes the following essential oils!

Diffusing is just one way to use essential oils.  Young Living has a dietary line of oils called a Vitality Line. Essential oils can also be applied topically! The Premium Starter kit comes with a diffuser for using essential oils aromatically.

Screenshot_2017-04-25-16-20-40-1.pngyoung-livingdiffusercomparechart.png

These 11 oils are so versatile!  There are thousands of uses, and these are the ones I use the most in my daily life!  We diffuse in every bedroom at night because restful sleep is essential! We have 4 kids and love to have them wake up in a good mood!!

Every home needs these oils to ditch the many toxic products we are so accustomed to using!

A few products I would suggest adding on to the Premium Starter kit include:

yl thieves cleaner

Essential Rewards has been a huge blessing to us!  We earn points each month (equal to dollars in oils).  This allows us to choose which oils to get for FREE!!!!  It’s simple! By purchasing a minimum of $50 per month, you earn lots of free products and bonuses!  You choose the products in your monthly shipment! You choose the ship date!

fb_img_1486556997672

Click the link below to get started! By joining Young Living with a wholesale membership, you pay the wholesale price of 24% off retail.  You can log in to your YL account and restock and try new oils, and they ship to your home.  You are only required to purchase $50 per year to keep your account active!!

I am so excited to have you join my oily family! This kit is the only product Young Living offers at half price!! The value is over $340. The Premium Starter kit is only $160.

https://www.youngliving.com/vo/#/signup/new-start?sponsorid=2318518&enrollerid=2318518&isocountrycode=US&culture=en-US&type=member

If you have three friends purchase their Premium Starter Kit using your referral,  Young Living will send you a check for $50 per person. This basically pays for your kit!  Young Living has a very generous compensation plan!

 

Happy oiling friends!!

Mandy

Posted in healthy eating, Uncategorized

Should I J.E.R.F.? Can I really Whole 30?

Ah! Healthy eating!  That is a serious goal of mine!!!  Since starting our label reading journey years ago (see previous post entitled “Reading Labels”), healthy eating has been in the back of my mind!  We already avoid food dyes (red-40 for example) like the plague. We don’t drink sodas.    I used to eat Little Debbie brownies for breakfast.  I have made progress.  But, I am still not where I need to be!

I did a short South Beach diet (12 days) a few years ago, sometime after Ella was born! I lost weight and felt great!  But, then, the real world kicked in, and chocolate came back into my life!  I like the idea behind South Beach, but the concepts weren’t quite right! I can’t eat sweet potatoes or fruit, but I can eat lunch meat?  That just didn’t work for me!

Months ago, my super-crunchy and knowledgeable-in-many-subjects friend, Jill, announced that she and her husband were doing a Whole 30.  She lists herself somewhere in internet world as Jill the J.E.R.F. (Just eat real food).  She is that friend that will, knowing you are trying to eat “right,” ask you what that is you are eating, as you scarf down some cheddar and sour cream chips at lunch on homeschool day! I love that about her!  I have had the privilege of eating at her home a few times.  Delicious, jerfy food!  Baked sweet potatoes with caramelized onion, goat cheese and b-b-q chicken on top.  I have recreated that one several times at home!

Whole 30 intrigued me! J.E.R.F-ing intrigued me, too!  Fast forward too many months, I am mentally preparing myself for a Whole 30.  Thirty days of eating real food!  Nothing processed; nothing created to be like processed.  There is no peanut butter allowed (not too sure about this one–I haven’t met an almond butter I like—I am planning to make my own in the Vitamix). Store bought ketchup, ranch dressing, and butter are out of the question!  I love butter!

It’s time, though!  It’s time I practice what I preach and lose a few pounds!  I want this to be a time of life change.  I love chocolate and sweets! But, it’s no secret that sweets are destructive!  I bit the bullet and ordered the Whole 30 cookbooks today! As stubborn as those in my family history are, I should be able to use that will power for good!

Have you done a Whole 30? Are you a J. E. R. F.?  I would love to know your tricks for staying the course!!!

Check out:

http://whole30.com/

There are tons of Whole 30 facebook groups!  Check them out!

Books I purchased:

Our society is too sick to deny that our food is one culprit!  I will update soon!!! Wanna join me?

 

Posted in family adventure, fashion, Uncategorized

Shopping, Modesty and New Adventures

New adventures!  Exciting, challenging and scary all at the same time!  My sweet little family has several new adventures coming our way!  I like to call them “adventures” instead of “changes”….sounds a little more fun, don’t you think?  I will share more on the adventures later!

Yesterday was a rainy Spring day, so soccer and baseball practices were both cancelled! It’s a rare occasion that we have nothing to do on a Monday night! In the text from my handsome husband announcing the cancellations, he asks if I would like to go on a date! Of course I would!!!

We took the kids to my parents! We had a delicious supper for our first stop!

Second stop…the mall! Our little local mall doesn’t have the greatest selection of stores, but it works for times sake!

My husband needed to pick up a few clothing items for these new upcoming adventures!

Of course, he went straight to the men’s section! I, without any children tagging along, did not pass up the opportunity to shop a little for myself!

I have a love-hate relationship with shopping!  I see so many cute, sassy items that catch my eye! But, upon further inspection or after trying on, I realize why the “hate” part of the love-hate relationship comes into play!

Modesty is a controversial topic! What I deem modest for me may be totally different for another!  The problem I see with modesty is that many people don’t give it a consideration.  I see moms dressing their teen daughters provocatively and then fussing for them to cover up!  I have 3 sons and a young daughter! She is 4. I have always had a heart for modesty and felt uncomfortable with certain clothing items.  I pray that starting early with her will give her a heart to honor God with her body!  God doesn’t expect perfection.  He doesn’t expect us to dress like the Amish!  He does tell us in His word to be respectful of others, to honor Him with all that we do!

Shopping Issue #1 from last night’s trip!

Lace is a huge trend this year.  It is EVERYWHERE!!! I didn’t find a single trendy, lacy shirt that I could wear without a tank top underneath (remember our town’s tiny selection)! It’s hot in the summer! Who wants to wear layers in the summer in Georgia? The lace either shows the stomach (ain’t no mama of 4 got time for that) or the bra straps!

Shopping Issue #2 from last night’s trip!

Cleavage! Hello!  Low cut shirts and tie front shirts and off the shoulder shirts and maxi dresses with plunging necklines and spaghetti strap tops! The prints are cute! The styles are adorable! But, nowhere in the stores did I see any options to cover the cash and prizes!

Shopping Issue #3

This is one that comes up in conversation in our home.  Leggings! Leggings are all the rage! You have surely seen the woman!  Middle-aged, over weight! Wearing leggings with a  too-short top!  We all have!  But, overweight or not, middle-aged or not, 100 pounds or 300 pounds, leggings show all the cash and prizes and leave no mystery to what we have to offer!  Please, for the sake of people with eyes, wear a longer top over your leggings!  At least finger tips, y’all!  This presents another issue because it can be difficult to find a shirt long enough to match the adorable floral printed leggings that you bought from your friends facebook pop up!  I get it! It’s worth the time, though! That same company that you bought your leggings from surely sells a top long enough!

There are options to help us look presentable, covered up and fashionable at the same time! I have searched the world over for ways to wear the low cut cute maxis and tops without giving away all my secrets!

One product I love is the Half-tee!

Half-tees! Half tees are like a tank top but stop below the bust!  These are modest without the added heat of a full tank!

Tank HALFTEE (Modal)

Another favorite is the skinny tee!  This version has a higher neckline without looking too high!

http://www.qvc.com/skinnytees-Seamless-Scoop-Neck-Layering-Tank.product.A291480.html?sc=SRCH

The way we dress tells the world so much about us!  If we dress in a way to attract attention, that attention may not always be good!  I believe that a revealing outfit tells the people around us that we don’t value ourselves and our identity in Christ enough to be accepted without drawing all the attention to our body parts!

Modesty starts at the store not the morning you are getting dressed! Plan ahead to dress well and respectfully! What are your thoughts?

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Family Ties and New Adventures

Eleven years ago, my husband answered God’s call to the ministry.  We had no idea what this would look like for our family!

He accepted a Children’s Ministry position at a small church far out in the country. We left both our home churches, the ones we grew up in, for this new adventure!

Our first visit to West Union was for the Easter egg hunt in 2006.

We went to Sunday School for the first time and met Mrs. Louise. She was the teacher for the preschool class. We had 2 kids in this class, so this was where I stayed. I never left. I have helped Mrs. Louise in this class for 11 years. She and her husband, K. M., are now like family to us and our children.
10424317_10205157668955737_2604167005641706018_n

This sweet little, white sided church is over 150 years old and has a rich history of family!  Each year, the church has a homecoming service, which the older members call, “First Sunday,” as it is always the first Sunday in August.

Families journey back to West Union,sometimes from as far away as Virginia, Florida, and New York,  for a chance to worship where their family once did. Some have family members from several generations buried at the church cemetery. Some remember coming as a child to the country to church. Everyone seems to have a family connection to West Union.  Each person has a grandparent, great-grandparent, aunt or uncle that once attended.

During the homecoming service, Mr. Robert King is in charge of introductions, and usually adds in a joke or two.  West Union doesn’t do the typical gospel-singing group.  He and his family have been a part of West Union for more than 50 years.  Each family introduces themselves giving the names and sometimes the family history relating to West Union. West Union seems to have been a bustling area in its time and now is difficult to find, even with GPS!  Mr. Robert often adds a funny detail about the family, as he knows each one!

This service is very special as the small country church often hosts 150+ people on First Sunday.

This family history always seemed to relate to everyone except for us. We come from a different town, didn’t seem to have family ties!

Until recently.

My dad’s cousin visited him during an illness a few months ago.  The conversations they had led to the information that changed our perspective of West Union.

My grandmother’s (Eleanor Wright Cannon) grandparents lived in the community that surrounds West Union. My great, great grandparents (John L.(Squire) Camp and Chloe Robinette Camp) are buried in the church cemetery, which has graves dating back to the Civil War.  John passed away in 1922, and Chloe passed away in 1925.  This means that my Mamaw likely attended funeral services and graveside services at this little church that we have called home for so long!

This conversation between my dad and his cousin also led me to a man with more family history. He sent pictures of other family members.

I would love to have a few more days with my grandparents to chat about the memories they have of times I will never know about!

Our memories are so special of our time at this sweet little church. It is, essentially, our home church. We, Justin and I, both grew up in different churches. West Union is the church where we grew as a family, the only church our children have attended, where our marriage grew through working on many projects together.

Vacation Bible School each summer.
13558728_10208108700489681_6559142865600698090_o
The Cecil Futch Memorial Wild Game Dinner for several years in the Spring.
The Fall Festival.
The kids Christmas program.
All sweet memories that allowed us to build the skill of working together.

This Easter is also special. This will be our last Easter egg hunt at West Union. We definitely see God’s hand in many coincidences over the past months. One is that we started this ministry journey at West Union at Easter. Our time at West Union will now end at Easter.

Justin answered God’s call to the ministry years ago.

He is now transitioning from Children and Youth Pastor at West Union to Pastor at Antioch Baptist. This is an exciting time for our family. With this excitement comes uncertainty. I have never been a pastors wife. My children are comfortable and know everyone’s name at West Union. Learning the many new friends names at Antioch will prove to be a task. There are so many friendly faces. We have worshipped with the sweet people at Antioch for 3 services and know that this is where God is leading. He has answered our prayers and made it obvious that we are to take this step! He is good! All the time!!!

Please keep our family in your prayers as we enter a new season and as we strive to keep old relationships in tact while making new friends and church family! We are excited to see what God has in store for us, Antioch and West Union!!!!  He is always working!!!

Posted in homeschool, Uncategorized

What does classical education mean for us?

We have homeschooled for seven years!

Most people have ideas about what they think homeschooling means.

Are we a cult? Do we think we know better than public schoolers? Do we watch movies all day? Do we sleep late sometimes?

NO! NO! and NO! and Yes, of course the kids sleep in!  You don’t wake a sleeping baby!

We are a bunch of mostly crunchy moms who love our children and feel called to do this home education thing. We enjoy our CC day because that means adult conversation!

For us, homeschooling means freedom!  Boys have energy!  Homeschooling allows them the freedom to learn in different ways than public school does!

We have been a part of a Classical Conversations community for six years.  Classical education simply means memorizing tons of information in the early years to create a bank of knowledge for later years.

The younger children learn facts in seven subjects over 24 weeks each year.  The subjects include geography, English grammar, math, history, science, Latin and timeline!

CC includes 3 cycles of information covered over three years, so my kids are learning World History for two years and U.S. history for one year.  We meet as a community once a week!

Math stays the same each year.  The memorization includes skip counting to the 15’s and measurements and formulas.

Luke is a 2nd grader.  He started CC Foundations before he was actually in a class. He was two years old when we started with the older boys.  He sat in class with me though.  CC has moms in class with the kids.  Class is led by a parent tutor, mom is always considered the teacher (because we homeschool).  He played with cars in the floor and absorbed the information covered during class.  He entered an official class when h was 4.  This is his fourth year in a Foundations class.

As time has passed for us, I have noticed more and more the value of Classical Conversations.  This year, he is beginning to transition to multiplication in math.  He knows the multiplication tables through skip counting like the back of his hand!  He is breezing through what could be a very difficult transition from addition and subtraction to multiplication. I can only imagine how the information they have absorbed from the 7 subjects will enhance their learning!

My kids love CC day. So do I! Ella will be in a class next year. Samuel is currently in Challenge 1! Dillon will enter Challenge A after completing 6 years of Foundations and 2.5 years of Essentials!

Look for a future post on Essentials!  Intense English grammar and writing!

Posted in ditch and switch, Uncategorized, wellness

Morning and Nighttime Routine

Skincare has not always been a priority for me!  I don’t wear tons of makeup, and I have always washed my face at night.  Actually establishing a routine of caring for my skin issues did not seem important!  Having babies, running a business from our home and having a husband in the ministry make for a tired moma!

A few years ago, I began to notice “issues” with my skin.  I had a few troublesome spots and breakouts have been an issue for me for many years!!

I am still not overly disciplined, which is an area I am working on in many areas in my life! I have 4 kids and some days, I just don’t make the time for myself.

20170130_091815.jpg

My skincare routine is pretty simple. At night, I remove my makeup and wash my face.  I am not entirely happy with the product I currently use.  It has some questionable ingredients.  I will do a seperate post when I settle on one I love!

The blue bottle in the background is spray consisting of witch hazel, frankincense and lavender.  I spray this on a clean face at night.

Next, I apply eye cream.  I use Young Living Wolfberry eye cream. A tiny bit goes a long way! My under eye area has dramatically improved since I started using Wolfberry. I have no burning sensation (which I have had with other eye creams), and there is no residue, so I use this eye cream in the morning also.

Without fail, even when I am ready to crash, Frankincense comes next. My skin feels amazing since I implemented this step. I put about two drops on my fingertips. Then, I slather this all over my face.  Even when it feels like the Frank is gone, I continue to pat it around my face. I may use a drop here and there on areas that need it. I do this morning and night!! Some days, I add Lavender into the mix on my fingertips with the Frank.

The bottle you see with a gold label is organic Argan oil by Pura dor.  I purchase this from Amazon.  This can be used along with the Frank and Lavender. I use it as a carrier oil for other essential oils as well.

On occasion, I use Young Living Boswelia Wrinkle cream.  This is a thicker cream and contains Frankincense. Again, as with all of Young Living products, a tiny bit goes a long way!  The consistency of this cream makes it great for nighttime.

Young Living Satin Facial Scrub is a minty, gentle scrub, which I use two times a week in the morning shower.

Finally, my routine is not complete without Progessence Plus serum.  This product is for women, specifically over 35.  It makes me feel like a nice person every single day of the month. This goes on my wrists in the morning or early afternoon.  My experience with Progessence may be a bit different than some.  If I use Progessence at night, I am restless.  So, mornings or before 2 pm work best for me.  Many people feel sleepy if they use Progessence in the morning.  The beautiful thing about essential oils is that they adapt to our unique, individual needs!!!

What skincare do you love?  What non toxic brands do you use?