Crosssing Bridges

We have all heard the saying, “Becareful for the bridges you burn.” or like repeated in the song, Then What,  “Whatcha gonna do when you can’t turn back to the bridges you burn, then what, oooooo, then what!?” It really is a good saying, to teach people to be careful for what they say and do to people and the way we leave jobs etc. We always want to keep as many doors and friendships open as we can. But I think this has a way of limiting as well.

Isn’t it funny though, how often we use them as a metaphor? I think a bridge is a great one to use for the beginning of the year, for aren’t we all starting a new journey to get to the other side of who we aspire to be. My favorite metaphor is the bridge illustration they use to explain how Jesus is our way to have everlasting life with God.

I love the latter of course as my oldest has recently accepted Jesus Christ into his heart and is going to make an outward profession of his faith through baptism this month!!! Guys I have been waiting for this moment for so long for the little dude. Im excited to be able to be a part of his spiritual walk. To help them all kind of understand the meaning of the bridge illustration the children and I act out a skit of our lives as we are walking through cross walks and discuss the dangers (the cars) of not accepting Jesus, and then we finally accept Jesus and make it across to the other side safely, to live an everlasting life with God.

We love to look at pictures of bridges and think about what the other side looks like, what the end destination will be. I think that we don’t always have to look to the other side of the bridge as the destination we need to be at. Instead we need to look at the bridge itself and all the parts to truly understand how to make a strong and steady bridge. A bridge that is functional and can serve it’s purpose; one that we can actually cross. So what’s the metaphor? We are the bridge, with all it’s different parts that we need to correctly build so we can live that overall well balanced life.

The bridge has the support, the span, and the foundation. It takes all three in order to build a bridge, and they must be properly built to have a strong one. We obv need strong support, this is the part that props up the bridge, these are our friends, our family, our community. These are the people we run to when we need help, and people you al know we can’t go very far when we try to do things alone. We enlisted a group of people to be our friends for a reason, so utilize them, they are our support. The foundation as discussed before is Jesus our Lord. He’s our structure that transfers the weight of the structure (bridge) into the ground.

Jesus is the way, the truth, the life, no one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6

The foundation plays a crucial part as well. What about that span? Do you think it is important? You have your support and foundation the span is just the walk across it’s the easy part. Right? I feel like this tends to get overlooked. The span is indeed the distance between the two structures, however the span is a significant factor in finding out the strength and size needed of the appropriate beam as it determines the maximum bending moment and deflection. Do you see what I’m getting at? We have to know who we are and who we want to be but while we are “walking the span” in our journey we need to evaluate ourselves; do we have the support we need when times are hard, do we have the mental capacity and emotional wellness to overcome heavy ‘loads’ in our life? Do we know what our breaking point is? How much of something can you handle and not handle in order to keep you in your zone or happy state? Is your body, a machine, getting all the nutrition it needs to be able to function properly and do its job? Let’s take it back a little bit, the it’s a significant factor in finding out the strength needed….isn’t it funny how they say “It is within yourself that you will find the strength you need.”

People, I want you to search within each of your very own spans, test your foundation, try, fail, put on a whole bunch of weight, and see what your true strength is. I hope that you push yourself in a way that you can’t help but run into your inner strength. See your true potential and believe in yourself. for those who have experienced the hardships and walk around carrying your heavy loads, look at how strong your bridge is! Look at how strong you are!!!

God is faithful and will not let you be tested beyond your strength – 1 Corinthians 10:13

God knew you can carry it bc he believes in you, so believe in yourself too! Now let’s go and build bridges with purpose for our lives, and where it’s possible, direct your efforts into strengthening all ‘parts’ of your bridge and most importantly-> crossing the bridges in our life that we fear the most. I hope to see you on the other side✌🏻 if you’re brave, comment below what may be a bridge in your life, are you at the beginning, are you focusing on the structure right now, or the foundation? Or are you rocking out already enjoying the walk across? 👍🏻

Happy New Year

Can you believe it’s a new year?! It’s so crazy!! I’m so lucky to have been able to end my year with my family I love so, with awesome friends, and to surrounded by nothing but happiness.

Saying Goodbye to my 20s

I know it’s a new year and most people will be talking of all the things they hope for in the new year. Believe me I have plenty hopes and goals for the year, but for me I feel like I’m saying goodbye to my 20s for the first time. Finally… I have been 30 for 4 mo now!! To me that’s just crazy!!! Lol time flies by sooooo fast!!! Speaking of time it means we have a whole new year, with endless possibilities, new goals, powerful mindsets and plans of actions are being set in motion.

With all these awesome things happening I decided to take a look back first. Upon doing so I realized once the new year starts I will permanently be stepping out of my 20s. Although I’ve been 30 for 4 mo I’ve spent most of my year in my 29s. This makes me a little sad, I guess the reality of the situation has finally set in. Womp womp womp. Lol

If you know me I don’t like to look at things negatively so, I’m going to say goodbye to my 20s the best way I can, and that’s leaving the negative and bringing all the awesomeness to the new year with me. So that means some goodbyes have to be made.

My final Goodbyes:

I’m saying goodbye to the girl who knew it all.

* I’m taking the dreamer

Saying goodbye to the girl who tried too hard to impress

* Keeping the girl who believes in who she is.

Saying goodbye to the girl who was ready to leave her home, find her place by forcing herself to stay away.

* Taking the girl who loves making a home.

Saying goodbye to the girl who said my ways are the right ways. No one will tell me anything diff {oh how fun 20 was}

* Keeping the girl who sincerely cares, listens and understands

Saying goodbye to the girl who ran from her problems

* Keeping the girl who knows how to fight and overcome

Lessons learned

Oh 20s you have been fun!! You have treated me beyond well and have taken me through some hardships, roller coasters, and whirlwinds. Many of lessons were learned from you. Boy did we go through a lot; 5 preganancies 4 kids, buried two babies, went through 3 different career paths, changed school twice, and finally graduated with 1 degree and 1 cert. Whoosh baby go Nados!!! all that schooling taught me knowledge is very important, growth, and dedication is crucial to have any success. I see so many people winging it bc they landed something good out of high school, but degrees seriously are the bees nees if you want to elevate yourself.

Tried to force love just to be cheated on, thought I found love just to be left, and gave up on life just to find out that real genuine love was and will always be the answer.

All of this in one decade just seems hard to believe.

I’ve learned so much in the past ten years alone I can’t be anything but grateful. I wouldn’t change a thing bc it has made me who I am today. I would like to say I would change wasted tears and carrying around other people’s guilt, concerns, and labels on my shoulders but then I wouldnt be who I am today. I’m left then with appreciation, For all the people who helped me be where I am. To the people who poured time and energy into me to help me be successful all because you believed in me even when I didn’t.To all the people who saw something in me and gave me a glimpse of hope, who gave me a soft push,

I even say, ‘Hats off’ to the people who discouraged me, turned their backs on me, judged me, and told me I was handling situations wrong. and even ones who pulled and dragged me down. I have learned all so much from u.

This is how I feel about all u..🤷‍♀️🤷‍♀️ I’ll just keep smiling, brushing off those small words, I’m making 2019 my B!

Boy do I owe a lot to the people who listened to me dream. To the people who told me I could do anything I set my mind to! To the people who taught me the power of pen, putting things down, writing my goals and to see myself grabbing them.

20s you’ve taught me a lot, farewell and hello to being 30 in a whole new year 🥂 to new beginnings! Happy new year everyone- oh heck why not- Say goodbye to all the negative and may all you have the most beautiful blessings come your way this year!!!! Most importantly grow peeps, learn more, strive for greatness and know anything is yours if you will it!!!

-Ashly Williams, walking into 2019 like a queen!!! 👸👸

How to Plan a Disney Vacation

Booking a Disney trip was so exciting for our family!! With every move I made I got that much more excited about going. Before I planned the Disney trip I read so much info. Anything and everything on the Disney tips + FAQs + Everything you need to know on Disney.com. I read several Disney blogs and mom blogs on what worked best for them. I was ready!! I complied my list of things I needed and was ready to start planning. I got everything I needed that would make my trip easier like the apps and notifications from Disney said to do and for more what you need to have for Disney read about it here.

I wanted to be well prepared and make sure I didn’t forget anything. But once I started scheduling and planning there wasn’t much out there to help with that. There wasn’t best rides for AM, or things to do before noon. Of course it’s not that easy bc there’s so much to do to keep you busy throughout the day. So ultimately it’s your choice.

However there were things that helped make our trip a breeze and quite simple. So I wanted to share them with you all to help when you plan a Disney trip. Hopefully it can make your scheduling hurdles a little easier. The five things below will help you when you book your trip, schedule your fast passes and help create you’re plan of action, and make your flying travels a little easier.

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1. Do everything through the app.My Disney Experience has everything you need + more. Yes you can go to Disneyworld.disney.go.com and make an account, register, and buy tickets there. Be set to go. But with the app you can do everything!! Book hotel, book reservations, link your hotel so you can see bus schedules, food menus, and even unlock and lock your hotel door. You know for those times you head out for ice and you forget to wear your magic band. All the parks schedules, character showings, times for shows, and maps are available through app. It even has map access to follow step by step to get you to attractions or restaurants you want to find. My favorite is it stores all your photos you take during your trip as well!! Plus you can link your flight times on there so you can get picked up with the Disney Magic Express! {Which I discuss later}

Hear it from me, it’s kind of a pain to do everything on Disneyworld.Disney.go and then have to link everything afterwards on the app. So just do it all there and make it easy for yourself so you don’t have to try and keep up with all the confirmation codes. {Trust me.}These are the times when you need to take advantage of technology. I promise the app came in handy sooo much for us. Plus once you get to the hotel they ask you to book a few reservations for food and spa times through the app anyways so you have to have it.

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2. Book your hotel early and it should be the first thing you book before everything else!!! I booked our Disney tickets first because i wanted to make sure I got those out of the way, then signed up on the app, and then was ready to make reservations and realized I couldnt. I made the mistake of doing it out of order. You may be asking does it matter and yes it does!!!! When you book your hotel first it allows you to make reservations and access to schedule fast passes and food reservations as early as 60 days before your trip! Which I promise you, is very important, taking us to the next point.

3. Get fast passes— these are crucial for maintaining sanity throughout Disney. I seriously cant stress this enough. They make it seem like it’s no big deal everywhere when you read about them, but guys, it’s a fast pass to the rides!! Let me say it again, it’s a fast pass. Meaning you quickly pass all the other people and the line to go ahead and get on the ride of your choice without a wait! You can schedule up to three a day but once you use the three you can schedule two more to use during that day. These made our Disney day a breeze. I can’t imagine waiting in the lines for over an hour for a 2-5 minute ride. The longest time we had to wait for a ride was 12 minutes. That was because there was a hiccup in the ride and they had to fix it putting wait times on both lines.below I discuss two reasons why fast passes are awesome and how to best utilize them:

-Spread out your fast passes – I mean this point in two different ways. Let’s dig in. When using your fast passes to select your adventures don’t cram them back to back. I did at first thinking; well we will use these up and then have access to book more and we can keep having a magical day. On Disney it says after you use the three you can keep booking for more. It sounds great! We were hooked. Then I started looking the following week after I scheduled ours and so many of the fast pass options were gone for several rides, character meetings, and light shows. I was bummed because I thought well we are going to miss out on so many adventures. Especially like the ones on Pandora and animal kingdom. Then something magical happened the next day. There was availability on two of the rides I wanted so I went ahead and canceled previous reservations and made those and decided well everyday I want to use a fast pass in am, then afternoon, and one at night. So I rescheduled everything. I wanted to make sure I utilized the fast pass access throughout the day since the access to reserve was dwindling away. Like I said I didnt book my hotel first so I had to wait until the 30 days before to start reserving with fast pass and a lot was not available. Food reservations had tight windows left, and on the busier parks like Magical Kingsom there was no ability to book fast pass for anything after the 25 day mark. Not to forget to mention we booked our trip during the busiest week at Disney out of the whole year. So we were fighting for access with a lot of people.

-Now my second grand idea that worked out beyond great!! If you have multiple members of your family like we do. Then use it to your advantage. Schedule a ride with the whole family in am. Because you do want to use up your three to get the access to book more. Keep in mind though every other fast pass holder is trying to do the same and a lot of things won’t be available past 12 but most of magical kingdom didn’t have anything available two weeks out so this is why I’m saying do it this way. After you scheduled a ride that is suitable for everyone then use momma and son for one fast pass access and if the ride allows other kids to ride then say “we will swap” or if y’all all can go then say “we are trying to add the other family members on all but it’s not letting us.” If your bands aren’t working but two family members are, they always let you in!!! Everytime! It was awesome!! So I was so happy that I took a chance and scheduled it that way because I was able to reserve up to 6 things prior that way. I booked greetings without waiting, rides for all of us, and while the girls went and napped I had rides reserved just for our big guy. Then when we all gathered back, he shows for us all to enjoy together without any waits. Guys I’m telling you it worked! Then, come to find out, you only get the chance to use fast passes two more times after you use your three so it’s not unlimited like I thought. So I was so glad I did it this way vs the original plan bc we would have had some uncomfortable wait times that no one was ready to have.

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4. Buy the early bird tickets to Toy Story Land. Just do it. We had access to the Hollywood Studios an hour and half early!!!! We got there with an hour to spend but it was still worth it. When you buy the early bird tickets it comes with a complimentary breakfast that is only given to the early birders and it was probably one of the best breakfasts that we had the entire time. You have a choice between several hot meals choices and there is a smorgish board of fruits, pastries, and cereal options. They allow you to eat there all the way until 10 AM. If you really want to you can get there right at 7:30, eat, ride, then eat again. That was our original plan but like I said we didn’t get there until 8. After we ate, we had 30 mins to enjoy Toy Story Land, and it was worth every penny. Not only was it the park we all were really looking forward to because we have watched it on TV every commercial break, but it is an oversized Toy Story Land! Are you kidding me who wouldn’t love it! In all seriousness it was the only park we saw that had workers waiting with a 65 minute wait sign before the park even opened up. They knew that park would have the most visitors, and they were right, within 10 mins of opening the park the Slinky Dog Ride had a 75 minute wait. After we utilized the 30 mins of no waits, we were able to wait a short 10 mins for character experiences and boom we were done with that park just as soon as they opened. It still is one of our favorite experiences because while the bigs rode the Slinky Dog, we rode the Alien Ride. My youngest was able to ride it twice without waits and she had a blast on it. We rode all these and still had our reserved fast passes to use. It was an amazing day!

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5. Take advantage of the Disney Magic Express + all its perks. The express not only takes you to and from the airport which makes everything so much easier, but it also will take your checked luggage for you! I saw so many people trying to haul their kids, plus their suitcases through the airport, through the express line, and through the hotel and check in. Now if you want to be champs and keep it all with you go right ahead. But our children wonder around and want to see all the cool and magical things before their eyes if they aren’t in the stroller. With three kids theee suitcases, stroller, like 5 carry on bags it just wouldn’t have been easy for us. Plus all that in one small line, no thanks. It was such a breeze going through the line without all the luggage and check in was ice bc we didn’t have to manage all the extra items. Once we got to our hotel we went to eat, look at all the animals and when we got back tinkerbell made the delivery. It was only a 1.5 wait to get out things once we got there so it wasn’t that bad.

I hope these five tips help you in planning your magical trip. There is so much to think about, and things that no one tells you about, so I do hope these help a little. and know the hassle of traveling takes a toll on anyone especially a family with littles. So anything that makes your trip easier and more efficient I want to try and help. That way all you have to worry about, is the magic that awaits for you. If this helped you in your magical adventures then please comment below, thanks for your stopping by and have a magical day.

Mickey Mouse Magic

Parenting Styles

I read this article off of the bulletin at my church and I just thought it was such a good read I wanted to share. It discusses parenting techniques and brings up the question of what kind of parent you are. It seems straight to the point, but sometimes things just need to be so clear and straightforward for us to fully understand and just take it in. When I read this, it reminded me of some of the information we got when we went through our Parent/Child Dedication in May. It is great to keep feeding our minds and souls with knowledge that helps push us to be the parents we desire.

The following was written by Walt Mueller in an article called Prioritizing Faith:

Research identified three approaches to parenting.

Parenting by Default

This is the path of least resistance. In this approach, parents do whatever comes naturally as influenced by cultural norms and traditions. The objective is to keep everyone happy without allowing parenting to dominate other aspects of their parents life.

Trial and Error Parenting

Parents see themselves as amateurs, believe that there are no guidelines to follow, and you just set out to do your best. Atleast you gave it your best right? 😏

Revolutionary Parenting

This is the least common approach, and these parents take God’s word on life and family at face value, and apply those words faithfully and consistently. This results in deep and real faith-based transformation in the lives of children.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock” Matthew 7:24

Parents how are you parenting?

Did that make you think of your parenting style? I have to admit I have caught myself living in trial and error parenting throughout my journey. Especially the first 4 months with every child I feel like it’s completely trial and error. With learning the babies schedule, moods, sleep patterns all for it to change every 3 months the first year.

My first year of parenting was with a special needs child with everything being strategically done. Heavily scheduled and hard core to do list. The list of medications and alarms for “services” to be done went on and on. So, with me each child that I’ve had I’ve had to tone it down a bit. Each child has taught me to be relaxed, take it easy, get loose with parenting. It took me three years to let go of the “schedule” concept. I lived strictly off of schedules then literally one day I woke up and realized who cares if they are late for their naps by 10 minutes. My husband and I got in so many little tidbits because the first two years I fought over following the schedule to a T, then I switched on him out of no where and he was like ughhhhh arent we supposed to be doing this, or this. Then he was like all these years I’ve been attacked almost instantly for this and now you’re completely flipping the script on me. Quite confusing right? {

I just realized though that I put my focus on all the wrong things. Yes I want structure, I want my kid to feel secured based off of routine, love, trust, stability, etc. but most importantly I do want my children to know and love God.

In a book I read over the summer, “A Mom after a God’s Own Heart: 10 ways to love your child by Elizabeth George, she speaks on this topic with such devotion and motovation that it inspires you to want to be better. To set up to be a parent that leads your child towards a life filled with love and devotion to God. If. you want to read further on ways I have been moved to motivate mothers to raise up her parenting skills. 

She asks almost the same thought provoking question:

What do you consider to be the target of all that you do for your kids? What is the purpose and aim of your parenting? Take a look at your life and your priorities. What are you intent on teaching your children? How to tie their shoelaces? Tehchniques in brishing and flossing? Good manners? How to catch, kick, or hit a ball? How to make an A? How to play an instrument? Respect for others and for property? The most could go on and on. But as good and as necessary as these issues and activities are in your kids’ lives, what you must be asking your heart is, Am I making sure I tell them about Jesus?

The good news is, if this isn’t our thinking, we can change it!!! We always have time to influence our child, the sooner the better. More good news—> it’s never too late!! Start now, commit and succeed at it!! That’s what I’m always saying. I loved reading this book over the summer because Elizabeth explains it in a way that even if you haven’t done this and your kids are grown, we always have time and a chance to start. There’s always time to find ways to lead your children.

I have begun to be that mom that doesn’t take success in all the things I’ve checked off of my list. Okay wait I said that wrong, of course I do!! I wrote achieved by the things I do, what I’m trying to say is that I don’t get bummed out and beat myself up anymore over the things that I didn’t get done that day. If my house is dirty, I’m not losing sleep over it anymore. If the dishes didn’t get done and I fell asleep upstairs with the kids when I was putting them to bed, I’m not jumping out of bed anymore to rush and get them done. I’m starting to beat my anxieties of mommy guilt and I know you can too!! With one simple thought concept that just brings everything into perspective:

“Today, if I don’t get anything else done, I must teach my children about my Lord Jesus.” – Elizabeth George.

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I wrote this down to remind me of it every day. So I don’t fret over all those other parent worries and concerns. Don’t get me wrong I’ll alway worrry about my kids; Are they handling situations correctly, being kind, putting others above themselves, making good choices, thinking first, do they feel loved enough, am I setting them up for success etc etc etc etc. You know that list that tends to go on and on.

Lately, I have been reading statements from moms who recently had a child pass due to the teen suicide epidemic. Moms that believed they were doing everything right. They are 100% relatable woman, with every word being something I understand and completely agree with. It sends me into the “over-thinker Mommy abyss”. Thinking of ways to teach them coping strategies, working through obstacles, and raising resilient kids.

Truth is, it doesn’t matter how much I pour into them if they don’t know God, they are going to have all kinds of vices, people and other places to try and find their acceptance, and love from. I can’t control their choices they want to make, but I can pray that God stays present and help them learn how to listen for His voice, and to trust the Holy Spirits guidance.

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

I hope this brings motivation and some peace in knowing that it’s okay if you have a long list of to dos. If you have said one thing today about God/ Jesus to your child today that helps them grow in their relationship, well done good and faithful servant! WELL DONE!

Now, let’s ignore all those negative voices, distractions, and unimportant objectives. Take a new AIM that points your children towards God and give yourself a pat on the back. Everything else will fall in place at the right time.

Faithful parenting is challenging work, but it is truly a “labor of love” and certainly a choice that reaps the greatest blessings of all to a parents heart.

Making Fig Preserve

Being from the south I can’t believe this is the first time I have ever made my own preserves, but I have to admit I feel so clean, healthy, amazing, and excited for making this I just had to share with y’all. It’s so easy and takes about five minutes of work from you.

Before I go into details of how to make some awesome Fig Jam, I wanted to share the fun we all had!!!

The kids enjoyed being with their new friend and riding around on the gator! Farm life is the life!! I can’t wait until we get our own land! This is such an amazing experience, I never had this opportunity as a kid so I just feel beyond blessed to experience this with my children. It was the first time as a family we were able use our pickings that we got off the “farm” into something else to eat. We have picked peaches off our neighbors tree before and have ate them but never created something out of our pickings. Well we picked pomegranates and figs at our friends family “vineyard” and learned all about how to pull figs and pomegranates off the vines.

The girls were running back and forth looking through the fig trees to find the best ones to eat! The taste of the fig when they come off are seriously the sweetest!! Soooooo sweet!! Honestly everything straight off the tree taste amazing but I have never even seen a fig straight off the tree before so I felt like a kid trick or treating putting my treats in my basket. Do you know what a fig looks like? Because I didn’t until this week!

Enjoying the organic breakfast has been the most amazing experience of it all because we can’t wait to eat what we worked so hard gathering and creating. This experience just tugged at my heart because I hope my littles remember this experience with us. The picking, the outdoor adventure side of it. Then the coming home and cleaning of the fruit, and pulling the seeds out of the pomegranates was so fun!! The texture of the seeds not only gives he kiddos a great tactile experience but the joys of sneaking a few seeds feels like you’re licking a spoon clean after making the cake mixing. The smiles, laughter, and happiness I will remember forever.

Health Benefits of Figs

Sugar, fiber, and rich in minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and iron. On top of all those minerals they have antioxidants Vitamin A, E, and K. All of these contribute to overall health and wellness and is a great substitute if your children are missing out on these vitamins and minerals from not eating certain foods.

Figs also have prebiotics which nourish and tone the intestines by supporting the good bacteria in your gut which improves digestion. Again they are high in fiber so they are a great snack that gives you that fullness feeling and reduces hunger and cravings.

Ingredients:

1lb of figs

1.5 cups granulated sugar

1.5 water

5 thinly sliced lemons

How to make it:

1. Rinse figs, pull stems off and then put figs in a bowl of cool water.

2. Put water and sugar in a pot and boil. Wait ten minutes.

3. Cut figs in half while waiting.

3.At about the ten minute mark the water becomes clear and thicker. This is when you add the rinsed off and cut up figs + lemon slices.

4. Bring to a high boil.

5. Hard boil for one minute

6. Simmer for 30 minutes.

7. Remove from heat

8. Blend and put in mason jars.

These ingredients created two small jars so we didn’t have to hard boil the jars and lids because we weren’t preserving them for an extended period of time. However if you’re tripling the amount due to the amount of figs you have then after you put them in jar make sure you boil jars and hope you enjoy it later!!! 🍁🍐🍁

Obstacle Course | Kids Fit 4 Life

Indoor obstacle course for children

When thinking about ways to keep children healthy and fit, its quite simple really.

Keep them active!!

During the summer time it’s even more crucial to get them out and about. Summertime builds character, builds confidence, and is a great place to build routines and try regimens.

Unfortunately summertime is when kids get sedentary because they are stuck inside watching tv and playing video games for most of summer. They gain weight because they snack more often than eat healthy meals. According to NHANES, the national childhood obesity rate is 18.5% affecting 13.7 million children!! The prevalence being 13.9% of 2-5 year olds, 18.4% among 6-11 year olds, and 20.6% among 12-19 year olds.

As you can see it varies with age and gets higher with age. Kids need to have healthy habits enstilled in them earlier so they grow up thinking it’s the way and nothing else. They need to grow up with the tools and information so they have a fighting chance against childhood obesity. It’s a serious problem in the United States and it’s putting children and adolescents at high risk for poor health. The sad part, is low income and low educated households are the ones that suffer the most. The poor choices they use, as in unhealthy choices, are due to low income. “Healthy food is just too expensive” or “Buying a dollar cheeseburger is cheaper and easier.”

Truth is though if you buy a happy meal every day for a week, besides your belly hurting, your wallet hurts in the end as well. You’re better off buying a $5.78 1.4lb package of beef stew meat at Target mixed with potatoes, squash, carrots, broccoli, and your own blended mix of sauces and can feed all of your family up to 5 (like ours) for supper + lunch and dinner the next day. Meanwhile giving your family nutritious caloric intake. Dollar for dollar buying your own food and making it at home will always be the cheaper route than buying cheap, unhealthy greasy fast food any day. So then why, why is this the problem?

I can go on and on about unhealthy choices made for the younger generation. My early years as a personal trainer I wanted to specialize in children’s fitness and health. I used to help hold little boot camps at schools for elementary school aged children. Our mindset is anything added to their routine was better than not doing anything at all.

Which is why I want to share with you a great indoor obstacle course you can set up for your children to keep them active. This took me less than 2 mins to set up and they played on it for an hour. Now this course isn’t limited to inside but it’s a great way to keep the littles active for a long time without dying of heat. Now, you don’t need to have all this equipment to be able to set up an obstacle course for kids. When I look at Pinterest I find all kind of courses made out of cups and pool noodles. All you have to do is have the mindset and drive to want to help your LOs and you can come up with all kind of fun ways for your kids to stay active.

Now that all the kiddos are back in school they are ready for their little bodies to get to moving once they get home. I wanted to create an environment just for that. I hope these help you get inspired to find ways to keep your kids active. If you’re like me though and don’t want to do all the searching then here’s some ideas.

Fitness obstacle course for children:

I set this one up with 7 stations. Now when setting up a course for kids you can set one thing up, have them do an exercise then set up another. Repeat. It doesn’t have to be this extravagant.

We just bought the water limbo sprayer and I though before we took it outside it would be a great way to start the course! The kids love it inside more than they do outside with the sprayer. It’s a hit.

The equipment:

Foam Mats

Stepping stones

Cheese Mat

Mini Trampoline

Mats

Sit n Spin

The course:

I had them limbo, then roll down the cheese mat with a forward roll, head to the grey mat and do another forward roll.

Walk on the stepping blocks with alternating feet for Ayden who’s 6 and any way Aliyna, who’s 3 wanted to walk through it she could.

Then I had them go to the kiddie mats I got at Walmart on sale. They are the mats that are made to sleep on in preschool. But I love them because they have extra cushion. I had them crab crawl on the outside of the mat for Big A and Aliyna just crab walk down and this was a little bit of a challenge for her. I was shocked because when I was learning to do my handstands we started with crab walk for 5 mins a day. I think the challenge for her was to get her little arms and feet spread far enough apart.

then I had them jump for 30 seconds and immediately go spin themselves around for 30 seconds. This little course was a hit and now everyday after school they are racing into the gym to let loose.

I hope you and your LOs are staying fit, making healthy choices, and have fun doing both. 🏃🏼‍♂️🏃🏼‍♀️

~~whisper~~ “if you build it, they will come to play.”

A Weekend Getaway | Road Trip Across West Texas

Go Across West Texas + Big Bend  in One Weekend

Are you trying to squeeze in a quick vacation before school starts like we did? I really wanted to take our kids somewhere before school started this year. After all, this is Ayden’s first year at school full time! I’m starting to have those anxious thoughts that moms have about school starting and school is still a week away!

I hate the idea of not having the freedom to just go when ever I want, or wherever I want. Until now, I could just take the kiddos on any lil day trip or weekend getaway starting on a Wed or Thursday and go. Now, this option for us is out of the question starting next week. It’s lame, makes me angry and all kinds of different emotions and thoughts that I can’t explain.

This alone made it very important for me to get us away on a lil mini vacation that wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg, and I wanted adventure so the kids could remember.

Josh and I discussed that this would be the first vacation that our 6 year old would probably remember for the rest of his life. We can recall as far back as 5, some little moments, but definitely anything big that happened from 6 and up we remember. With that thought in my head I really wanted to go to Disney, but due to the short time with Ayden this summer we just couldn’t swing that trip. Somewhere tropical? Well, we weren’t mentally, financially, or emotionally prepared for a trip like that with the kids. Besides, you can’t go somewhere like that with three kids for a weekend and expect to enjoy it when most of the trip you’re flying there and back.

I wanted our trip to count, be meaningful, connect us, and to add adventure and dreams to our lives before we all go through this new chapter of our lives. My hubster asked me one night, how bout we just take an RV somewhere? I was ecstatic! I was all in and put together this fun and adventurous road trip for us. We left on Wed night and came back on Saturday night. If you’re trying to get a way for a weekend that’s quick, easy and cheep– this is the trip for you!!!

If you’re interested in what we used to help make the trip easier see this guide of Five things to take for kids on road trips.

The RV

We rented a RV from our favorite place, American Dream Vacations. We’ve rented a RV 5 times now from them and each time the RV’s get better and better. We’ve considered investing in one and keeping it there with them because their service and upkeep has been great for us. If there was ever a problem they were fast to make it right or credit us if they couldn’t solve the problem. They have 24/7 helpline and are always willing to help us out when we need them.

Alpine, Texas FREE

We chose Alpine for our first stop on our way to Big Bend. This stop was 7 hours from Austin, Tx and was a great stopping point for sleep. It was a great way to kick off our adventurous outdoorsy trip. We took I-10 the whole way.

We stayed at Lost Alaskan RV Park and I’m not even going to lie, to wake up with the mountains around us, was so refreshing! This was seriously one of the best RV parks I have ever seen. They had tent set ups, tiny homes to rent, and spots for your own + all the accommodations for RV travelers. The kids swam first thing in the AM and played on the playscape and I could’t get over the views. Let alone everyone there we met had traveled our trip countless times, shared great trips, and had awesome stickers, and memorabilia that kept our interest peaked.

Hike Hancock Hill

Our first adventure in Alpine was to hike Hancock Hill at Sul Ross University. We pulled into gate 4 and parked  right in front of the museum but to get right next to the trail, you can park at the uppermost parking lot by Mountainside Dormitory. Three students carried “The Desk” in 1981, with a notebook left inside so all who comes can sign it, and leave a little part of themselves behind. The desk is the endpoint after a 20 minute hike. Once you pull in head towards the …building and the path is right there. It looks like ummm, should we do it, there’s no signs, or navigation guides so you have to take a chance but it is the only path there. Once on the path it does split so it’s easy to get confused but all the info I read said go directly up the hill to the big pile of rocks. Along the way we did see a message letting us know we were going the right way.

Well, sadly we never found the desk. I started to see little hints along the way, like some rocks being painted with white spots along the path, but they got farther and few in between. Once we were at top the path had many splits. So we never made it to the desk although online it says, once you get up the hill the desk is easily to find. We got to the top after a 20 minute hike with the kids, looked around, walked for five minutes down one path, and saw multiple paths and had no idea which way to go from there. So, unfortunately that was a bummer, but we didn’t let it affect any of us. The two big kids made it all the way to the top on their own, even after our 3 year old kept telling herself that her legs were too tired. Then would take a drink of water and say to herself, “You got this! You can do it!.” We were so proud of them. They were so excited to be on top that they were screaming.

There was an awesome pile of rocks on the top that they got to climb on and see the whole town from up there. All of alpine and it’s small quirky character was visible. I will admit if you are taking kids with you it’s doable, but the weather at this time of the year might be a little much for the kids. We got super lucky, or as I called it the whole time, a blessing from God, because there was a rain storm happening literally right next to us, but never got to us. Josh was a little concerned because it was lightening but literally the storm stayed in the town like it was stuck in between all the mountains. The breeze made the climb so bearable, and easy to deal with. It even sprinkled a few times and it was so nice!! The views here were quite beautiful, the scenery was amazing and I’ve never been high enough on foot to see a whole small town right in front of my eyes.

Parenting Tip: Frozen water

If you’re going on any hikes with littles, freeze bottles of water and grab a few to take with you. The kids are in love with the frozen waters, and it takes about 20 – 30 minutes to start thawing out. Right when you’re ready for replenishment the cold water is ready.

Musuem of Big Bend

The museum was easy to go to next, as it is at the University. So, this spot is definitely a twofer. I think this slot was great for the kids becuase not only did they see the history of the area we were going to visit but they saw a preview of where we were headed. So it made them Uber excited to get to big bend.

The museum had some really cool interactive models for the kids with lots of buttons to push. It was a highlight. Plus the interactive videos along the way made the tour a little more interesting.

Marfa, Texas- FREE

Marfa was a 35 minute drive from alpine so it’s a great next stop during the day while traveling with kiddos. We went specifically to see the Marfa Lights. It’s something to see because it’s a very mysterious and unexplained activity. Unfortunately, like the desk, we didn’t see the lights. It was cloudy and rainy so we were told that most likely we wouldn’t see them. However we tried anyways and it was a fun adventure for the kids and us because we pulled out our night goggles and explored. And what kids don’t like being night explorers? They all said they saw lights, and other people around us said they saw them but I have no idea what they saw because Josh and I never saw anything.

Prada Store. Another great photo op in Maria is the cute little Prada store.

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The Capri

If you do go to quirky Marfa, then you need to stop at The Capri! It has an eclectic relaxing and quaint vibe going on. With the hammocks, and fire pits buried in a garden it was a lucky find for sure. Marfa’s restaurants close at 5:00 pm so you have to be careful not to miss out on the good food. We got lucky because this place didn’t open up until 5:30. However if you have picky eaters this is not the stop for you. The only option they had for the kids was Duck Liver. Luckily, it was sweet and the kids mopped it up, along with their Mexican Street Corn. Of course we had to end the meal with some yummy ice cream.

Marathon, Texas- FREE

On the way to big bend leaving Marfa we drove through a town called Marathon and got to stop at the little Target store. This was my favorite because I am obsessed with target lol. So to find a store that I could take with me in my pocket, I was in love!!! Plus the views!!

It had a cool post to leave your logos, your message, or your stamp behind!!

McDonald’s Observatory

We didn’t make it to this destination, although we really wanted to but after the hike and the museum we would have only had about 30 – 45 minutes to be there. So we opted for a nice restaurant instead.

If you schedule enough time then this is a must stop!! Joshua was a little bummed because we weren’t going but even he knew it requires the appropriate amount of time. But just look—>  HOW COOL IT IS

Big Bend National Park $33

After a full morning of driving we made it! The kids were excited. We watched the mountains go by and get bigger and bigger. Our favorite game we played was I spy and the littles loved when we got the chance to spy a Sand Tornado. We drove by several and the kids had the same reaction every time.

The entrance fee is $33, but it was for a whole week pass so that’s not that bad at all.  I recommend to grab all the literature from the park guide when you pay, because it was completely different literature than what we found at travel guide places, RV Park, or the Museum. I had originally planned for us to hike two trails, The Lost Mine Trail, and the Chisos Basin Trail. The Lost Mine Trail is a 4.6 mile hike, and the Chisos Basin Trail is a 2.5 mile hike. Just remember while you are out there you are the only one who knows you’re limits and you have to always remain flexible. When we arrived the map that we received had two colored paths on it and one was red saying no big trucks or RVs could pass on those roads, well both our trails where Red Trails.  Which both hikes we planned where on those. So we did the safe kid friendly touristy route without hikes and there was still plently to keep our day full + without wearing out the kiddos, It was actually a relief becuase our youngest started getting a heat rash, so being able to go right back to the RV every 20 minute after a small  adventures was perfect for her. I mean honestly, if you have kids, the RV at Big Bend was a nice retreat to have.

Discovery Fossil Exhibit

First Stop–Dinosaur Bones!! When we had to quickly change our POA I was super nervous, but the fear quickly went away once I saw this attraction on the map. It’s easy to miss when driving by so keep your eyes open for the one sign that points to it. It also says no RV turnaround but we went down there and parked with plenty of room. However yes, if the Park is full of tourist then no, we couldn’t have fit, but considering it is the the 8th least visited national park, I doubt you will have anything to worry about. We spent about 3 hours there and we only saw maybe 4 other cars pull up.

To think we almost parked our RV on the side of the main road and walked down a mile. WHEW, so glad my husband is a risk taker.

Overlook Hill (View)

At the exhibit up just right of the Discovery Exhibit there is an awesome Overlook Hill with a stunning view of big bend! We got so lucky to come across this view. The climb up is made for visitors with stairs and a smooth sidewalk leading up to it making it very kid friendly, but keep your kids near because there are no rails. The winds up here were strong and felt amazing. It was very refreshing!! We all felt close to God, imagined that’s what it would be like to be birds  and just took in the scenery.

The Exhibit

This was another unexpected treat considering we only planned our trip 15 mins before. Again the views!!! I mean views for mom, fossils for Dads and Kids, it’s perfect!! The fossils were really cool too, it was filled with things I’ve  never seen before. It had three huge rooms of fossils that were found there at big bend with signs of information and facts of everything. We saw the huge (bird fossil) that was highly spoken about at the museum, and the kids got to play with the Dino heads and were amazed at their teeth. I personally loved the last room as I saw countless fossils of water creatures were the coolest. Give me a sec while my inner geek …

Moms, another cool spot for kiddos!!!  Joshua and I both made constant comments on how we were shocked how great the breeze felt. The breeze and our frozen water was perfect combo. This exhibit had several photo ops but by this point kiddos weren’t having nothing with me, it was all about the Dino’s.

DID YOU KNOW:

That horses came from this little guy. 😮😮

Adventure Hike

Ayden wanted to go exxxplooooore, “the unknown lands” as he calls it. We let him choose a place that he wanted to see, and  found a cool little grotto/cave to play around in that was right next to the exhibit. I wasn’t too nervous about snakes or anything like that, but mind you, the ants here where the biggest ants I’ve ever seen. Then there was the pesky horse flies but other than that we didn’t have too many critters that were bothersome.

The big kids enjoyed the 5 minute hike to the cave and loved climbing through it and on top of it, with yet another beautiful view of Big Bend.

After the kids were done playing around in the cave we walked back and the kids stopped to play in the dirt. They made piles and kept putting little flags in it, so it inspired me to leave our mark behind with rocks. Aliyna and Addie both jumped up screaming “like Moana!” Since they were excited about it we went ahead and did it and the look of sincerity in Aliynas eyes is too much sometimes. Guys you don’t always have to do big things to impact our kids, something so small as stacking rocks and leaving our mark somewhere can define them, and allow their hearts to become full of wander, and adventure. She now knows she’s a voyager that traveled across Texas.

Panther Junction Visitor Center

This is a must if you have kids. I had done research before and this visitor center is one of the 2 in the whole park that has amazing interactive exhibits that provide an overview of geology and natural and cultural histories of the park. It was a  great center for the kids to retreat to for another adventure with AC, and it has water fountains, and restrooms, making it a great stopping point + have fun with all the interactive guides. The visitor center also has a theater, with a park orientation movie shown every 30 minutes, 9:30AM to 4:00 PM.

The visitor center complex includes a Big Bend Natural History Association bookstore, U.S. Post Office, and restrooms. The Panther Path, a self-guided nature trail, begins adjacent to the porch of the visitor center.

The second Visitor Center is Chisos Basin but we didn’t go to that one since that was the one close to the red trail. But it is said that this is the second best visitor center to go to if you have children.

Honestly, if you are doing what we did and don’t want to do big hikes that they have mapped out, just drive around Big Bend and you will see plenty of little mountains that you can climb and get shots with stunning views. Not to mention along the way there’s little drive off spots on the side of the road for pics. My favorite is the one by The Panther Junction Service Station, 200 yards west of the visitor center, its open every day.  It had rocks that we could stand on and take cool family pictures.

This store closes at 6 but the pumps do stay on. If you are traveling with a card then you have nothing to worry about. We were terrified we weren’t going to get gas and were concerned if we could even make it out of the park. So don’t pass up the gas station while you’re there at the park after all it is 800000 acres. If hiking isn’t your thing, then tour the visitor centers there each one showcases different things, but keep in mind each one is atleast 30-45 mins apart.

If you haven’t traveled to Big Bend, try it, it’s beautiful and very doable with kids. I can’t believe it’s one of the least visited spots, it’s beauty alone took my breathe away. I can only imagine if we did complete some of the hikes and got to actually be in the heart of the park. The hikes I read about were beautiful, easy, an hour long, and you would see plyographs along the way. So maybe another time when we have a car we will actually complete these hikes.

We ended our night with eating supper under the stars and sat there viewing the meteor shower with nothing to get in our way. Except the moon, it was a full moon so it cast a ton of luminous light but it didn’t stop us from seeing ten or so long tailed shooting stars. I can only imagine the stars on a night the moon isn’t lighting up the sky. Plus, we saw a weird desert  kvmtm/j jY  ju o98ob9phenomenon that looked like a spaceship casting down a light from above down on to the ground. It gave us the biggest goosies, and I’m not even going to lie, I was afraid to look up and see something that I didn’t want to!! It was nothing though, we looked it up, and turns out the moon reflects light through the desert that creates these eerie lights. We may not have seen the Marfa Lights but we did see the Big Bend Mystery Lights.

Waco, Texas

Josh really wanted to go to Waco first because he couldn’t wait to have some water fun. The slides are worth the drive, giving Waco another attraction than just magnolia silos. With Waco just an hour and half away go for it!! I’m dying to go back so I can do a wall art hunt there!!

BSR Cable Park

BSR Cable Park was an adventure for sure!!! This was our first “water park” adventure with the kids. It has four 50 foot water slides at various levels and a about a 25 foot slide for the kids. A cable Park with ramps and rails for the advanced wake borders, a wave pool for surfers, and a lazy river. The two oldest kiddos loved the water slides. They were a little nervous but overcame their fears and did the slide twice!! They were so brave!!! The lazy river was small and simple for us so it was good for the first time for our family but get there early because people show up fast around noon on the weekends.

This trip can easily be done in three days if you’re just doing BigBend trip. Any of these can be split up into separate weekends. However I think if you do it like we did and just hit up the main attractions along the way, it keeps the trip moving along and helps keep up the morale. I hope you have enjoyed going along with us on our trip, and if you have any questions please feel free to email me.

On the Night Before Kindergarten

As a mom going through this the first time I have one thing to say…WOW!

I can’t believe this day is here. It’s crazy how all the thoughts, emotions, fears, and concerns run crazy in your head but somehow mix with pride, awe, love, and courage that makes this magical mixture of moments.

I’ve realized my son is watching me like a hawk. If I even show the slightest bit of sadness it makes him turn inward and become an introvert. I want him to be excited for this day and to feel encouraged to be himself. I’ve been reading articles left and right from Dr. Laura Markham and they’ve been such great reads with amazing tips for the week before school, and how to prepare your child for kindergarten/ school.

✔️ I’ve been giving all the verbal cues, talking about schedules,

made up a rhyme for us to use everyday when we say goodbye.

✔️ We’ve met the teacher and took a picture with her so we could print it out and he could have it at home so she becomes another friend in our family.

✔️ I’ve been asking him ways he’s going to solve problems when I’m not there.

I’ve done all the things I thought would be necessary to help him with this soft push out into this new journey.

Nothing prepared me for the night before kindergarten though? Nothing prepared me for the uncontrollable crying outburst fighting inside me, meanwhile I’m sitting here filling my kid with motivation. I’ve literally had to tell myself over and over again, think about him, think about him. Now no, I’m not afraid to cry in front of him, he’s seen me cry plenty. I just know if I cry, it will change his view of school. I want him to be nothing but confident, brave, and excited. I know he’s nervous, of course, but I don’t want to feed that wolf inside him.

So I only wanted to talk about ways to build his brain up for tomorrow. So I planned these 5 easy small things to do with Ayden to help him get ready for school tomorrow.

1. Family Appreciation Time. I wanted today to be about reminding him who he is, and what our family values are. I kind of piggybacked a little off of the conversation we had last Friday during our “Tentative Family Meetings.” Click in link if you want to know more about ours, but it’s a great idea not only to talk about family to dos, POAs for any upcoming events, but to focus on our family values and discuss who we are as a family. So tonight during supper I brought them up, and had everyone go around the table and speak appreciation about another. To explain how they appreciate them for… and to state one thing they liked that they did with them during the summer.

2. Read Books

I found these books at target and had the kindergarten fairy drop them off during supper so when he went upstairs to get ready for bed, they were there. Ready to get read and to prepare his little mind for his big day tomorrow. These books were so helpful to put an image of what his future holds. He asked so many questions throughout the book. He talked about how he didn’t want me to cry cause that would make him sad. I’m so glad we discussed that because I was planning on crying in front of him. Now, I know that is not the best way to go about it. He needs that constant encouragement. If I show sadness that big ole heart of his empathizes with me and will get down and hug me, and cry with me. So…NOPE. Don’t want to make that mistake. Here I was thinking it would be sweet and motherly, I couldn’t wait to express the amount of pride through glistening tears rolling down my cheeks.

3. Discussed His New Schedule. They say when practice meets preparedness success happens. I’ve discussed with him many of times how our morning schedule will be, we’ve practicing it all week. Yet, I haven’t once told him about how his day at school will look like. At our Knights United night where we meet the his Teacher I received a daily schedule and I just thought hey, I should tell him this. Ayden is a very detailed-oriented boy. He wants to know everything about everything that he can get out of ya. Typical boy. Little engineering minds, always analyzing the hows and whys. At our wedding he wouldn’t go and meet Mickey and Minnie Mouse characters that we surprised them with until he figured out exactly what they were. He came up to me about five mins after they arrived, and asked, “Mom, those are people right? I remember thinking, what? Spoiler alert! He stated, well mom, I know they are, because I saw Minnie Mouse’s wrist between her glove and suit!” He’s an analyzer for sure and needs to know in order to feel safe, confident, and ready. Just like every kid needs and should feel. I want that for him. Especially when I see what confidence did to him at the the meet and greet.

Ayden has this suit with a vest and a tie. We got it for him on Easter and he didn’t get to wear it because he ended up going to his dads this year. He asked for the loooooongest time to wear it places that it would be like completely unnecessary to wear it to. He finally got to wear it for the Parent/ Child dedication ceremony, a month later but that has been it.

Well I’m cheesy, and I set up a whole photo sesh with him to commemorate this moment. It’s kind of my thing I do with them that’s fun and Ayden usually enjoys it quite well. I asked him to pick out his outfit he wanted to wear and he immediately no holds bar “I want my suit!” I smiled and was stoked because that’s what I was hoping for!! The pics came out great!! I am obsessed with them, he’s so stinking adorable. I don’t know you tell me what do you think?

The best part though is to see him being cocky, confident, poised and literally pushing himself up in a way that I’ve seen a handful of times. I was screaming out loud, I was so happy to be apart of it and to be able to capture it was awesome as well. All that the he exhibits Ted and showed me for the pics, he carried that with him to meet his teacher. Principles and directors were commenting on his outfit, and he was shaking hands, introducing himself, ran up to his teacher practically, and when I asked them to take a picture he instantly sits with her on her lap 😍 my heart is so relieved and in love with him. This is everything I could have hoped for in this moment of time. He even asked to go back because he had to say goodbye to his teacher and give her another hug! This guy was too cute. I saw how he when he feels confident he’s a whole different kid. I’m telling ya, I’m going to do my darnest to always make sure he feels that way. So all he has to focus on is the dreaming. Fear blocks so much growth, I don’t want that for him. That’s why when I saw that schedule I thought it would be best to share it with him. I want my big man to float tomorrow. I cant wait to hear all about what his day was like.

4. Summer Flashback – We counted brave moments where he may have shown fear, nervousness, or disbelief in himself. We pepped talked, changed his thinking, then boom he told himself he could, which led him to success. We did a lot of big things this summer, that challenged him to overcome a lot of fear and doubts. It was awesome to go over them all and then when he started recalling some on his own I couldn’t be any prouder, I could see him breaking out of his shell before my eyes. To see yourself overcoming obstacles despite your fears is a huge stepping stone for kids, heck for everyone. Mindset is everything. Especially for Ayden, he tends to focus on the “I cants” and retreat to sulking, I don’t know why, when all we ever tell him for literally four years now, “To never say I can’t”. We focus on changing that language to “Its hard, I just need a little help, or it’s too difficult right now, but if I keep trying I will succeed.” I mean it’s a daily task to keep this kid believing in himself. So to see himself think about ways he has overcome doubt tonight gave me the goosies!

5. Pray

For him, for his new friends and their families, and for all the teachers. It’s been awesome to see him pray for others above himself. It’s one thing to pray for family members, but now he’s praying for other people he doesn’t even know.

I’ve come across these Prayers to Pray with your child during the first two weeks of school from faith gateway’s newsletters.

I think these five easy things helped prepare him, and get his mindset where it needs to be as he embarks on this new journey. He mentioned being s little nervous vs all last week being he didn’t want to go because he was really nervous. He went to bed excited and with a smile, so I really do feel like these things helped so I wanted to share them. I hope everyone’s first weeks at school goes smooth, with safe travels, and many good stories.

5 Ways To Enjoy Summer For Free

5 Ways to do summer for Free!

Summer is a time of wander. Yes, I said wander not wonder. I think it’s a time to wander outdoors and find mysterious areas. Gain confidence, bravery and enhance our imaginations. OLD or Young, Summer is a time to knock something off your “Bucket List”. It’s a time to shut off the noise, go outside, look at the stars at night, and jump off into anything new,  Outdoors I mean really summer days are meant for the outdoor life, lets not forget to mention how useful outdoors are for children’s mental growth.I like to keep the kids active so finding the right resources that keep me current are important. As always FB is a great place to look for events, but don’t forget to look at local libraries, hospitals, and churches. 

1. Go to your local lake. Find WATER! There are so many options for people who don’t live near a beach. Lake Pflugerville is our go to but there are so many places in Austin to find water. Brushy Creek, Zilker, Barton Springs, Lady Bird Lake, Resevoirs, and creeks. However some of these do charge.

2. Splash Pads.-  Are our kids favorite right now just because of their age, but obviously anything with water makes summer days fun. We love these no only because of the fun, but we make it into some sort of fitness challenge. There are so many splash pads that are free in our local neighborhoods that I never knew were around us until I did a search and found 5 just within .5 miles from us. There are more than you think and they’re FREE!!!!

 

3. Church Events – They always have free and fun ways to keep your children connected to a community that will build them up, and share same beliefs, and show your children how much they are loved. Meanwhile, the kids are having a blast. Backyard Bible Clubs are the best and each church has at least 10+ BYBC going on. We have one that gets hosted every summer right at our community pool area. Last year we did it and I felt recharged, ampted, and excited with the kiddos. To this day we still sing 🎶 grandpa shark doooo doooo doo doo dooo 🎶 lol. The End of the year church events are the best, from socials, meet-ups, to Summerfest. HCBC Summerfest was a blast!!!! There were rockwalls, games, bouncy houses, bubble pools, water catapults, and endless inflatables. I mean honestly it was too much for us to do it all. Besides we enjoyed the bubbles way too much.

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4. Have a picnic. It costs what ever you bring along with you. But this something that you can do anywhere, anyplace, anytime. Something that is easy and gets you all out of the house together.

5. Newspaper Events- If you’re trying to beat the heat, there are many options for you, Local Libraries are always holding awesome craft events, learning events, and have some sort of petting zoos, or fun events for the kids. Coffee Houses, Art museums, Art Crafts,  police departments, and radio stations have many events indoors that provide mental growth. Having local newspapers really are the best resources to help find events. I religiously look at IMPACT a local newspaper, which for me is the Impact for Pflugerville| Austin. that we recieve in the mail, and it always has fun things to do that I don’t find anywhere else!! An added bonus is staying current with your radio stations as well, I follow and subscribed to Spirit 105.9 and they list events that grow you and your family spiritually, from music, seminars, events, and trips.

Library and Hospitals- Libraries host so many informational, educational, and exciting events during the summer. Our local library has had petting zoos, comic cons, camps, book clubs, science camps, stem camps, princess days, reading days, craft days, robotic days, and I can literally go on forever.

Stay current, prepared, and you will create an amazing summer for you and your family without paying a dime. As you are reading this with hopefully sunkissed skin, my hope for you is to enjoy these long  summer days, because soon we will be back in hyper speed. I hope you crank up your speakers as loud as they can go to Luke Bryan’s new song Sunrise, Sunburns, Sunsets…and Repeat dance around and let it become your summer motto. I hope the sun rays, waves and summer winds take you to a place of wonder, adventure, and magic times in your life. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, remember to relax, enjoy the moment, and just take advantage of these long free days that will leave you with a faint dream.

5 Ways to Lead your Children

5 Ways to Lead a Child

Parenting is so much fun. It has its funny moments, silly times, and moments that our children take you by surprise. There are even moments when your child acts out in a way that makes you so proud to be their parents. You don’t know where they got it from or where they saw it. What you don’t realize is that most of the time, they get everything from you.

Do you want more of those moments? Do you want to know how you can help your children through life were they can manage their feelings, emotions, and live an intentional purposeful life? No child is too young to learn to love, to give kindness, and most importantly to feel loved. Children give what they receive and when we pour ourselves into them and fill them with purpose, value, and direction, children will walk through this journey with full tanks. Having a full tank is important for a child because then they won’t search for other avenues to fill their tanks, this is discussed in 5 love languages of Children by Gary Chapman. They will lean on themselves confidently, trust in hope, and remember that you are always there for them. On Mother’s Day we celebrated by joining with our church community and dedicating our selves to be parents that steward over our children. To be parents that lead in a way that fills their hearts up with nothing but the true words of God.

In today’s society our children are fighting for their lives everyday. On all SM there is bullying, degrading, hot or not list etc. In school there is constant emotional bullying, and mental corruption that it makes it very hard for any child to want to push through and enjoy being a child. My sister is 11 and has been bullied for 2 years consistently. Girls that were her friends turned on her, and they just say and do mean things that I can’t even try to imagine why.

It is our role to lead our children in a way that gives them a future. The most important thing I think any child needs in this moment of time, is hope. The belief that there is something bigger and better than the here and now. They need to know that all of this is temporary and that with God, there is so much they can overcome.

Our children are 6, 3, and almost 2. They all faced losing a baby brother this year. Yes, children are resilient, but there are moments were they break down, moments were they wonder about what happened to him after we buried him. They seek comfort knowing he’s in heaven, and that even though it was hard, God has a plan for him, and for all of us. My daughter was putting everything together one time, and she walked up to me and she said, “Mom, you have two babies in heaven?’ I responded accurately telling her yes and what she said  silenced me for a minute. She said,

“Well that’s mean!” 

I snickered a litte and said, “Yes, it’s very mean! and it’s very sad. I get sad thinking about it quite often. Do you think mommy is sad though all the time, or do you see me happy?” She said she sees me happy. I resonded with, ” That’s because I know that both of your brothers are with God, in heaven, and they have nothing to worry about, they are safe, feel loved, and know that we love them very much.” She said, “I’m happy we can visit with them in heaven anytime we want.” I didn’t know how to respond to that one except “yes, we are lucky!” I’ve discussed before how well she’s kept an open relationship with her deceased baby brother, she speaks of playing with him quite often.

I felt though that this was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. I had to speak more of God’s plan for us. So I went further to explain to her, that life will have many moments of sadness and things that happen that are mean. Fortunately though, God carries us through them all. I talked to her about how we all have gotten stronger together, how we pray more together, and how grateful we all have become for one another. Her response was the cutest because she says things backwards sometimes but yet they are so impactful that you can’t help but smile and not correct her. She said, “Mom, I sure am grateful I looooove you.” Boy is she right, I’m very grateful she loves me too. LOL.

Moments don’t always approach us that allow us to straight talk our children, Some families may never go through a hardship that they need to overcome together and use that to allow their faith to grow from. Either way, there are always moments, 3000 waking hours with your child to be exact, moments in the morning and after school, and even after adding up all the extra curricular activities. We have 3000 waking hours. Spend them all wisely. I’ve talked before that we use Parent Cue app to help us with these times. We as parents can lead our children to know and love God in a way that feeds their souls in so many easy ways, and activities that illustrate God. It’s so important for children and their mental health to have spirituality in their lives. To live their lives out in a manner that  isn’t just inward. Their way of living becomes purposeful, god-serving, and intentional giving. So, I’m sharing with you five things we learned from our Parent/Child Dedication to help you lead your children to know, love and serve God.

1. Remember your beautiful Gift

Children are a heritage from the Lord,
    offspring a reward from him.

-Psalm 127:3

Your calling is your assignment, we can all live up to it, because God handpicked each of our children for us. He knew we were the best fit for each of our babies. You can do this mommies, daddies, grandparents! He believes in you. God is hungry for his children, we are all born Children of God, so he is waiting for them to seek him. He so desperately wants them. We can do this by raising our children with a Christ-centered parenting method vs a child-centered parenting method. I’m sure we all struggle with this one. I know I have so many times. Especially because as babies they take up all our time, need us, and our world revolves around their every need. We forget though that once they hit a certain age, to change that. It then carries through, and every need, and every want your child asks for is still given to them. They grow up to be self centered children, that turn into self centered adults. Not thinking of anything or anyone else than themselves. We want our children to grow up caring for others, caring for their world, and caring for what they stand for. You take them from Meism –> Weism.

2. Be Disciples

Biblical Parenting = Disciple your child well. We are the primary leaders. Discipling is all about impressing on them, unfortunately though we have until our children are about 10 to keep impressing on them deep rooted values and morals. Yes, we have the 3000 waking hours to impress them, but once they hit a certain age, they will want to listen to other, friends, and what their activities are will be of importance.

 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

-Deuteronomy 6:4-9

So it’s important to always build a community around your family that represents your values and beliefs as well. Building the team is crucial. That even means the team in the house. If your marriage is rocky your Childs stability will be as well, you need to focus on creating a stable, safe environment that feeds them with love and allows them to see partner parenting. When you have great communication with your spouse you both will raise like minded children. My husband is my team mate, and our little A Team is our main focus, so we want to provide and offer them a stable home that builds strong foundational roots to grow upon. To help build who they are.  If you want to learn more about partner parenting read the blog to see 5 easy ways to build that bond with your husband or wife. 

We have to understand though, with or without your child’s other parent, that it is our main role to dedicate ourselves to our children. We were shown one thing during our Parent/Child Dedication, that we must dedicate ourself  to our children. not rely on their teachers, or their friends, or their school. That we must make the choice to be the one to disciple our children. 

3. Purposeful Parenting. Our purpose and desire is to raise kids who love God with their whole hearts and want him forever. We do this by passing on knowledge and love of God into our children. He wants our children to grow up with hearts for him. We help with this by parenting in RED. 

R-Relationships– Always be aware of the relationships that you are making. Have friends that share the same beliefs so you can raise your child in a community 

E-End in Mind – What you are teaching your children matter for their eternity. I actually liked this one because it sort of gives you permission to relax a little as a parent. It resolves a lot of the fights before they even happen. For instance, if you’re arguing with your child about doing the dishes, and getting on them, and telling them you can’t go to insert here before you finish doing them. You harp and harp and harp until you’re blue in the face. Now, if you change your perspective to focus more on conversations that matter for their eternity then you won’t put so much pressure in those moments that are difficult between your child and you. Does that mean they won’t happen, of course not, just that then your focus won’t be so centered on those minute things. 

D-Destination – The end goal is to raise a loyal, christ-follower, generous, and gracious little being, so when you are purposeful in your actions you too will reap these benefits and everyone around y’all will as well. 

4. Be the Parent God wants me to be.

 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:2

Remember the relationships you are making, and try to pay attention to the teachable moments like the one I discussed earlier. Ask God to daily gibe you wisdom, courage, and strength. especially on those hard days that our kids are going crazy on us. Those are the days you stand up as a Chaos Coordinator and you make it work! Embrace our roles that we are given and take charge of it. We need to make our children a priority!!

We also have to realize something though, that we simply can’t do this without having a close connection with Christ ourselves. We need to know him too. I don’t know about you, but I need to seek him the most when I’m having hard days, for in those moments I’m weak and I want to just close the door and give myself time away, but now with him, I can manage through them. Calm my children down, and we can all work together. Before I would just rage out, but now I want gas

5. Lead by Example. It’s not science it’s factual, children learn what they see. So be the person you want your children to be. There’s no way to raise children to be kind, if you can’t simply be kind to people around you. if you can’t show kindness to your servers, extend grace to people in supermarkets, and on the road. If you can’t work out the relationships in your own life, you simply can’t lead your children. You have to want to be better for you and your children.

And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.

There are always ways to learn how to be better at this role, constant reading, constant growth, constant feeding yourself so you can feed them. But in case you don’t know where to start, and need something to constantly tell yourself to help with leading your littles;

We can do this by following the 3R’s:

R-Reverance for God + his word.

R-Respect, for God’s Authority. God gives you authority over your children.

R-Regard for God’s Way.

Remember these three things to help push yourself to be a great leader. I leave you with hope, hope that you make the choice today to be your child’s disciple, to lead them in a life full of love, hope, and faith. may you all live a life that serves our God, for the better good of this world. For we all desperately need kind and loving people to flood this earth. I challenge you, step up to God’s Plan for you. Are you ready?

Ephesians 6:3 

So that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.