Family Life · Homestead

Early Arrival Surprise

The baby goats got to come home a little early! They were due to arrive in May, but I begged and pleaded. Finally, the breeder decided let us have them a week early. We picked them up and drove home with two goats in our truck bed.  It was quite the funny experience; however, I realize this is probably a totally normal and boring experience for “actual” farmers. They seem to be adjusting really well to their new home. The first night they cried every time we walked away. Their cries were MUCH louder than I expected. All our neighbors now know when snuck goats into the city limit. Oops!

We put up a temporary shelter for them with some pallets since our mini barn isn’t built yet. (Hopefully, its going up within the next week or so.) Finally, to get them to be quiet, I propped up some things in front of their little shed so they would be totally enclosed. They liked this set up MUCH better and were quiet the rest of their first night. Today, they are playing, munching on all the fresh tall grass in their pen, and looking very happy. Just a few hours after their arrival, they seem to be settling in perfectly!

Homestead

Farm Fence is Up!

The fence was a two day process and measures about 80x80ft. It will house the goats that are coming in May and all the chickens. There is talk about the possibility of a mini horse, but we will see how this goes first. The first day we spent measuring for the fence, digging holes and placing the corner posts, and pounding in each t-post. My dad came to help since we had never put up a farm fence. He brought my boys a four wheeler and that made their day! They’ve already combed some awesome trails through the woods behind our home and spent one entire day “muddin” as we called it when I was growing up in Kentucky! Outdoor life is the best life for a kid (and for grown-ups like me.)

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Day 2 was used to install my repurposed gate and stretch the wire between each corner post. This process is definitely easier with a few extra hands. My oldest son was on the four wheeler controlling the winch to stretch the fence as tight as possible. The fence looks amazing a pretty much disappears into the landscape of our yard. I never knew I could be so excited about a fence! This means it’s almost time for the baby animals to arrive! It’s been a dream to have a little land we could spend our lives on and this place is just that!

This weekend we plan to put in our garden and get the corner posts in the ground for the mini barn going inside the fenced area. Next week, we hope to start on the barn! I’ll post updates as we go along!

Homestead

Mini Backyard Pine Forest

Before

We have so many beautiful pines on our property behind our home, and they were a mess! The kids jumped in, and we spent a couple days cutting out the lower branches and dead limbs. See my husband with the saw in the bottom right photo?

After

It looks like a park back there and its my new favorite spot in the yard. I love when pines umbrella over head giving you the richest forest-y smell in the world!

Beyond the tree line are some gorgeous, VERY OLD trees we wanted to play in. We cleaned it up a bit and found the perfect tree for climbing! Still trying to determine what type of tree it is. Possibly sassafras? The largest sassafras in the world is in Owensboro, KY, which is a short drive from us and thought to be at least 300 years old. So, this one might be a few hundred years old too!

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Below is the future home of the fencing and shed for the baby goats arriving in May!

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If you are curious about our new home here in Indiana, here it is! Also, this is a great photo of the amazing sycamore tree!

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Come back soon for fencing and shed progress for the cute little goats!

Homestead

Baby Goat Shopping

We found the sweetest little goat farm in Christney, Indiana! We loaded up and took a 45 minute drive through the country. (I don’t think I passed another car the entire way.) When we arrived, we were greeted by the sweetest lady who loved her goats like they were her children. We went out behind her barn, she called for them, and they came running through the green pasture and over the hill towards us! My kid’s jaws dropped. All the momma goats used our legs as scratching posts. Babies climbed up to eat our shirts and wanted their ears rubbed! Heart melted! I will take them all please???

We spent a little while with the Nigerian dwarf goats and picked the two babies that wouldn’t leave us alone. We are suckers for baby animals that want our attention. Literally, all hopes of picking ones with specific color patterns went totally out the window. We chose a little blue-eyed, tan and cream baby boy who was the owner’s favorite. She literally had tears in her eyes when we were walking away. This one was my kid’s favorite too. He is super brave and is immediately everyone’s best friend. Little Baby boy number two won me over with his gentle spirit. Can you tell by the picture of me holding him? He is the little brown-eyed, brown and black goat who is very loving and likes human cuddles.

We recently bought a few acres and have always wanted a few small farm animals. This is the beginning or our homestead, AKA petting zoo. The goats will come home to be with us in May. Now, its time to build the fence!

Fence progress photos to come.

Devotionals

With What Dignity do You Treat Them?

 

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Paraphrased from Mother Teresa: Do you love Jesus? Do you really often feel that thirst of Jesus? Do you hear Him saying to you, “Do you love Me in the poorest of the poor?” In the naked one, in the unloved and unwanted one? In the leprosy patient with maggots in their wounds? Those AIDS patients? With what dignity do you treat them? Do you find the suffering Christ in each one? Do you share in their suffering? Don’t forget Jesus said, “You did this to Me.” 

I would say that, for many, it is easy to feel the suffering of Jesus with aborted babies, but do we share in the suffering of those who have chosen to abort? Can you look into their eyes and love them, or are you disgusted by them? It is easy to see a poor and hungry child and feel their pain, but do you suffer with the parent that chose not to work and has brought about their own child’s hunger? Can you treat them as though they are your own kin, inviting them in and sharing a meal with them? Can you respect people that don’t respect you, or themselves, or others? I am sure you feel the pain of the AIDS patients living in third world countries, but do you suffer with the American AIDS patient who contracted the virus through a homosexual relationship?

Jesus begged and pleaded on the cross, He said, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” In His last moments, He was begging us to forgive people. He was deeply moved by the pain and suffering of the people that hung Him on the cross. He had mercy on the souls that were responsible for his murder. Can you imagine? Forgiving the murderer of the son of the Most High?

There are people who do and believe terrible things, and God said to love them anyway. Not just with words but with actual respect and humility. Can you go into their houses, sit down at their tables, and share meals with them? Oh yeah, and also NOT bring up your problem with them?

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

ALL THINGS. Repeat after me: ALL THINGS. The bad things, the unspeakable things, they ALL work together for good. It’s not our job to make all the bad in the world right. Jesus is highly capable of making wrongs right when He chooses. We don’t have to carry the heavy weight of curing the world of all its problems. Am I saying to do nothing? Absolutely not. But, some of us act like we have all the answers and that it is our job to fix the world. It’s not. God never told us to fix the world, but he did tell us to love and help the sinner.

The part of Mother Teresa’s writings that spoke to me the most was the part that asked, “With what dignity do you treat them?” Let’s examine our hearts today to see what kind of dignity we can show to people who believe and act different than us.

Do you:

  • offend people to prove you are right?
  • serve people who are different that you?
  • deeply respect people you think are sinful?
  • need to prove you are right and they are wrong?
  • speak for God?
  • enjoy when they fail?
  • think sinful people are ignorant and bring about their own pain?
  • think that everything you believe makes you superior to others?

We should LOVE deeply, suffer deeply with sinners, and show them great respect. I’m not talking about that “Oh well, I can’t help if someone is offended by my honestly, or if they misinterpreted me.” Nope. Those words are usually used to justify, when you have said something you probably shouldn’t have.

So many people say things like… that person brought it upon themselves, or they deserve what they get, or they wont get my help because all they do is take, take, take. (Aren’t you glad God doesn’t say that about you?! Because He totally could!) We sometimes take the word of God, manipulate it, and use it to justify our harsh judgments and criticisms of others. I do not think that we should speak for God unless we are quoting scripture about love, worth, and healing, for example. God is probably not sharing secret truths with you that He isn’t sharing with other followers. He speaks to us all in different ways, but He will not tell me to hurt someone else with my words, not even if they deserve it. If that happens, it may have not been God speaking. Chances are, it was you.

We are living in a New Testament world. Jesus came to Earth and set an example we are to follow. He did NOT preach hellfire and brimstone. He loved, forgave, and was beyond patient and compassionate. He spoke in great parables that teach us how to be whole and complete in Him! He was an encourager, and He was graceful in all He did. Are you graceful in how you speak to others? Are you graceful when determining what content you will share on social media?

Grace means a courteous goodwill, or a simple elegance. Are you polite? Do you prefer others, even when they love something you hate?

If I know that something I share will rub people the wrong way, I probably shouldn’t post it or say it. Let’s be honest with ourselves, you know it offends people, but you think your RIGHT is the most valuable thing in the room. Your right is not more valuable than the souls you affect. There is a way to get your point across in a more humble way.

Remember God said,

“Then He will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

 

Healthcare

Biden on Healthcare: Who’s Got the Right Idea on U.S. Healthcare Delivery?

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Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden, is promoting a healthcare outline that is similar to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) but attempts to improve upon several of its aspects (Laszewski, 2019). Although the ACA created some improvements in healthcare delivery, such as the expansion of care (more people received access to healthcare) and promotion of public health (global health issues), there were unsuccessful components represented by the skyrocketing premiums and deductibles. Biden outlines expanding Medicaid coverage further by making Medicaid available to all low-income consumers in every state (Laszewski, 2019). A substantial part of the expansion is the plan to remove the cap on individuals and families receiving federal subsidies, so no one pays more than 8.5% of their income on premiums. More people could actually afford their healthcare. Consistent with the ACA, Biden wants to increase budgeting for community health center development, improving upon public health initiatives.

In contrast to the ACA, Biden plans to improve upon the individual health insurance market. According to Laszewski (2019), Biden proposes the development of a public option to be marketed alongside private insurance options, giving Americans three options: Medicaid, private insurance, and public health insurance. Biden’s outline partly builds upon the ACA, making healthcare expansion even broader and further reducing the number of uninsured people. Fan, Yan, Coyte, & Yu (2019) found that public health insurance leads to better health outcomes and long life expectancies. A public health insurance option may level the playing field. Private insurance companies will be forced to compete with public prices, reducing the imbalance of coverage and provider options between people with different socioeconomic statuses (Laszewski, 2019).

Another benefit of Biden’s plan, according to Laszewski (2019), is increasing community health budgeting, which is more consistent with a population health model of care delivery rather than a medical model. Population health focuses on preventative concepts such as nutrition and lifestyle. The medical model is the traditional American way which focuses on treating disease in each individual, rather than preventing it.

HOWEVER, with all of this said, I still have a problem with Joe Biden. I will not vote for him as president of the U.S. because of his views on Planned Parenthood. But, does it not make sense that we work together on healthcare, democrats and republicans, and find a middle ground on changing our healthcare delivery system? I do not think that Biden having a bad concept in his outline (funding Planned Parenthood) means that all his ideas are bad. There are some great ideas here! We are at a standstill in our country. Although some concepts, such as abortion laws, are improving, other aspects of healthcare delivery in the U.S. have stalled. Oh, how I wish our appointed officials could sit down and find a way to move forward.

Margie Huff, RN

ARNP/FNP Student at University of Southern Indiana

References:
Ebel, B., Cassidy, E., Trujillo, M., & Orleans, T. (2019). Organization of care. In J. Knickerman,& B. Elbel (Eds.), Health Care Delivery in the United States (pp. 170-171). Springer Publishing Company
Fan, H., Yan, Q., Coyte, P. C., & Yu, W. (2019). Does public health insurance coverage lead to better health outcomes? Evidence from Chinese adults. Inquiry56. doi:10.1177/0046958019842000
Landry, A., & Erwin, C. (2019). Organization of care. In J. Knickerman, & B. Elbel (Eds.),
Health Care Delivery in the United States (pp. 36-38). Springer Publishing Company
Laszewski, R. (2019). Joe Biden’s health care plan would fix the individual health insurance
system. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/robertlaszewski2/2019/12/22/joe-bidens-health-care-plan-would-fix-the-individual-health-insurance-system/#211d74d51f93
McIntyre, A., & Song, Z. (2019). The US Affordable Care Act: Reflections and directions at the close of a decade. PLoS Medicine16. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002752
National Academies of Sciences (NAS). (2016). Removing barriers to practice and care. In S.H. Altman, A.S. Butler, L. Shern (Eds.), Assessing Progress on the Institute of Medicine
Report the Future of Nursing (pp. 39-56). Washington, DC: National Academies Press. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK350160/
Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP). (2020). Access to health services. Retrieved from https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/Access-to-Health-Services
Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP). (2020). Health related quality of  life and well-being. Retrieved from https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/health-related-quality-of-life-well-being
Pennsylvania Coalition of Nurse Practitioners (PCNP). (2016). Five new studies: Nurse practitioners expand access to health care, lower Costs, improve outcomes. (2016). Retrieved from https://www.pacnp.org/news/277542/Five-New-Studies-Nurse-Practitioners-Expand-Access-to-Health-Care-Lower-Costs-Improve-Outcomes.htm
Russo, P., & Gourevitch, M. (2019). Organization of care. In J. Knickerman, & B. Elbel (Eds.), Health Care Delivery in the United States (pp. 103-107). Springer Publishing Company
Devotionals

Jesus is Thirsty: How can We Help?

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He sends us to the poor in particular. The cup of water you give to the poor, to the sick, the way you lift a dying man, the way you feed a baby, the way in which you teach a child, the way you give medicine to a leper… your attitude and manners toward them – all this is God’s love in the world today. God still loves the world! I want this to be imprinted in your minds: God still loves through you and through me today. Let me see this love of God in your eyes, in your actions, in the way you move about. (Mother Teresa, 2016)

For mothers, fathers, teachers, medical professions, assembly line workers, (the list goes on and on) the cup of water you give is God’s love in the world today. It may be your encouragement, your respect, your kindness, a smile, preferring someone over yourself, the sharing of knowledge, the human touch, a loving embrace, the sacrifice of time or money. It is God’s love pouring from your cup, into the life of someone else.

When Jesus was dying on the cross He said, “I thirst” in John 19:28. What was he referring to as he hung there dying on the cross? Actual water? Maybe. The anguish of a sinful world? Probably that too. Is He still saying “I thirst?” Let’s take a look a scripture.

For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,  I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me. They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Matt 25: 40-45

Jesus is found in the faces of the sick, the dying, the lonely, the lost, the poor, the imprisoned. In third world countries, Jesus still thirst for food and water, for medicine, nutrition, for healing. Directly around you, the needs may appear in a different form, but are just as critical. He is thirsty for love, for human kindness, to be wanted. Jesus is thirsty for souls, for compassion, for devotion. We give Jesus a drink when we give another person that in which they need or desire. By caring for the unwanted, the unloved, the lonely, we are his love in action to people all around us. 

I pray that we can all find it within ourselves to respect humanity, whether or not it deserves it, whether or not it has earned our love; all humanity is Jesus on Earth. That goes for Democrats and Republicans, poor and the rich, uneducated and the educated, the sinful and well (that’s all of us)…  I am not better than you. You are not better than me. You do not know more than me. I do not know more than you. We are all living, breathing, creations of our Heavenly Father, surviving on what little information He shares with us. We each live one day at a time, and hope to help each other along the way to Heaven, where things are much easier.

Reference:
Teresa, M. (2016). Call to mercy: Hearts to love, hands to serve. New York, NY: Image.
Travel

California Coast: Family Road Trip 2018

The California coast….. Oh man, its beauty just can’t be put into words! Of all the places we visited on our 15-day family road trip, this is the one place I dream of returning. We sat in awe at each stop, starring into the glory of it all, almost stunned. There is just so much to explore along this long stretch of windy roads and steep cliffs. You could stop a million times and never grow tired of seeing its sites. God definitely had his good times designing this place!

We began this part of our trip sightseeing in LA, visited the Santa Monica Pier, then began heading north on Hwy 1. Our 1st Stop was El Matador State Beach in Malibu. There are sea caves here! It’s only about about 25 minutes from Santa Monica. Next, we drove to Santa Barbara, 1-hour 45min from Malibu. This is a beautiful, luxurious town. We spent a couple hours walking around the State Street area and drifting along the Stearns Wharf Pier. Our 3rd Stop was Morro Bay, about 2 hours from Santa Barbara. This is an adorable little town. We loved the vibe of this town. There are a lot of shops to visit, awesome local restaurants and the famous Morro Bay Rock. Don’t’ forget to walk out to the big rock! We spent the night here and enjoyed a little down time in this lovely, low key destination.

The next morning, we Drove to Monterey Bay, 3 hours from Morro Bay. With the road construction during the time of our trip, you must drive 3-hours to Monterey Bay on the 101, then back track to the Big Sur area on Hwy 1, instead of driving the entire Hwy 1. There was mud slide causing a section of the road to be completely closed. Once the road construction is finished, you will be able to drive straight up the coast and avoid back tracking. Don’t forget to check the status of the road construction before your trip.

We spent the day at Point Lobos State Park. This park is amazing! If you ask my kids, they say this was their favorite place. They LOVED the tide pools. They could have spent all day climbing the roads and discovering all the amazing creatures hiding among them. Take a lunch in the park and have a picnic! I would suggest not missing this place if you have a few hours to enjoy it. We stayed in Carmel-by-the-Sea that evening which is a beautiful small town between Monterey Bay and Big Sur.

After visiting Point Lobos, we drove south towards the “17-mile Drive” on Hwy 1. Bring a picnic with you. There aren’t many places to stop and eat. This is considered the Big Sur area. You will be heading south or “back-tracking” if there is still road closures on Hwy 1. This is the part of your trip where things get intense and completely breathtaking. The roads are narrow and windy, but we handled it fine with a 15 passenger van. You will want to stop A LOT. Do it! Slow down and enjoy the gorgeous sites. Also, prepare ahead by taking some motion sickness medication if you are prone to it! Some Big Sur destinations that you don’t wont to miss are the Bixby Bridge, McWay Falls, and Julia Pfeiffer State Park Beach. This entire drive may be the most beautiful thing you see in your lifetime. Try to get all the way to Julia Pfeiffer State Park Beach if you can! Then, you will turn around and drive back toward Monterey Bay.

Next, we drove to Santa Cruz  which is about 50 minutes from Monterey Bay. Santa Cruz was our favorite beach town of the trip! Its a very nice, chill town without all the luxury found in Santa Barbara. It was great for kids. We never felt anyone had to behave a certain way. We absolutely loved the Wharf. You get a very close up views of the sea lions! They are so cute and fun to watch! We ended up spending our entire day on the wharf, watching the sea lions & enjoying the Boardwalk. Some other things you may be interested in doing at Santa Cruz are the Natural Bridges State Beach or Ano Nuevo Park. We stayed in Santa Cruz that night before heading off to San Fransisco the next day.

If you are interested in our detailed, day-by-day itinerary from our entire 15-day Road Trip, go here. We visited Nevada, Utah, Arizona and California!

Santa Barbara, CA

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Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

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Carmel-by-the-Sea/Big Sur, CA

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Santa Cruz, CA

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Travel

Coral Pink Sand Dunes: Family Road Trip 2018

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Our family of five visited the Pink Coral Sand Dunes State Park in Kanab, UT on our 15-day Family Road Trip through Nevada, Utah, Arizona and California! It was pretty spectacular! We only spent a few hours here because this was only a stop on our way from Zion National Park to Grand Canyon; however, you could totally plan to stay longer! Immediately upon arrival, my kids took off running and screaming over the sand dunes! The sand really looks more orange than pink, but it is still remarkable. We had never seen anything like this before. It felt as though we were in an Arabian desert!

While we were there, others were driving dune buggies all over the sand. We wished so badly we had known to do this. You cannot rent the inside the park, but you can bring them in and drive them all over the dunes. Let me tell you, they were having a GOOD time and my kids were very envious! If we would have planned to do this, it would have definitely been one of the highlights of the trip. If you can’t rent a dune buggy, at least bring in a board for sand boarding down all the amazing hills!

The park is very easy to from Kanab. You just take a little detour off a main road. You travel down a desolate road for bit and come straight up on the park. There are very nice bathrooms in several locations at the park with water fountains located right outside the bathrooms.

You won’t regret visiting these sand dunes! When you drive into the park, your kids will be dying to jump out and run all over the dunes!

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TIPS: 

  1. Bring water and sunblock.
  2. Rent a dune buggy & trailer for a few hours to bring into the park with you.
  3. Bring a board for sand-boarding.
  4. Bring a dry towel to dust off all the sand after playing in the park.
Travel

Joshua Tree National Park : Family Road Trip 2018

Joshua Tree was definitely one of the most memorable places out of all the places we visited on our 2018 15-day family road trip! If you ask any of my three kids what their favorite parts of the trip were, Joshua Tree is always on the top of the list.

The park is very easy to enter and navigate. There was almost no one else in the park while we were there in June. We had stayed in Kingman, AZ the night prior; therefore, we had a 3 hour and 40 minute drive to the park that morning. We woke up early, stopped at a grocery store for a lunch to pack with us, and arrived at the park before noon.

Being from Tennessee, the landscape was drastically different than anything else we had ever seen. The contrast of the deep blue sky against the shapes and formations of rocks and trees as you look out over the horizon were unbelievable. Interesting little creatures hopped and crawled out of every shrub as we walked through the park. My boys loved finding all sorts of lizards, kangaroo rats, ground squirrels and jackrabbits. My daughter and I let out a couple squeals as lizards ran past our feet! We had hoped to see the bighorn sheep but they were no where to be found during our trip. There were several signs posted that many of them were being treated for a sickness that had spread among them.

First, we found the White Tank Campground and began the hike to Arch Rock. It was a very easy 10 minute hike. This trail is filled with jumbo rocks that my kids enjoyed climbing all over! Their excitement at this point of our trip was over the top! What kid doesn’t love climbing rocks!? But, these rocks are something from another world. It’s the goldmine of rocks for kids!

Next, we headed towards Barker Dam hiking trail. This is an easy, flat trail and is the only area with water in the park. The bighorn sheep are often found here. This is where we saw that amazing landscape I was describing earlier! If you don’t have a lot of time in the park, this trail is a good overview of what the park has to offer. You will find thousands of Joshua trees and cacti, animals of every kind and rocks of every shape and size!

This is a huge park with so much to offer. There are even 9 campgrounds and I’m pretty sure they are all amazing. We definitely wished we had a little longer than one afternoon at Joshua Tree. We only saw a tiny glimpse into its greatness!

That evening, we stayed in Twenty-nine Psalms at Fairfield Inn and Suites. We highly recommend this hotel. They upgraded our room for free and it was a wonderful experience! It is a very nice, new hotel.

We LOVED Joshua Tree National Park. It is definitely one you don’t want to leave off your itinerary if you are going to be anywhere near the park!

For more information on our 15-day family road trip, you can find the information here.

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Travel

Bryce Canyon National Park: Family Road Trip 2018

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Bryce Canyon is truly remarkable. It was the second destination on our 2018 family road trip. Bryce was one of the first places I’ve visited that was so incredibly unique that my eyes couldn’t believe what they were seeing. I heard so many “ooh” and “awes” as my family of five hiked along the trails!

One great thing about the park is that it is easy to get in and out. This is a huge plus considering we spent hours just trying to drive into some of the other parks we visited!

We had visited Zion National Park the day prior and stayed right outside Zion. We woke up early and had a 1 hour and 45minute drive to Bryce. We stopped while traveling to pick up some lunches to pack in the park with us.

I have three kids who were 12, 9 and 6 during the time of our hike. They had no problem hiking the trails at Bryce. Keep in mind that the entire first half of the hike is downhill. You know what that means? The entire hike out is uphill! My husband and I are in our 30s, in good shape, and we admit that it was quite tiring. We stopped several times along the path on the way out, but it is totally doable.

We hiked the Navajo Loop trail. However, the Wall Street portion of the trail is often closed. Therefore, it’s not really a loop. Basically, you hike down into the beautiful amphitheater and back out the same trail. You can combine this trail with the Queen Garden Loop to see more of the park. We had planned to do this but decided not to once we were there. By the time we got to the bottom of Navajo Loop, the kids were a little worn out and the sites begin to look the same. If my kids weren’t with us, we totally would have stayed longer to enjoy the park. But, with three kids, a half day felt appropriate. There is nothing quite like the hoodoos and natural bridges at Bryce Canyon!

We stayed right outside the park at Best Western Ruby’s Inn and I highly recommend this place! It is a very quaint little area which includes a general store and restaurant on site. There is also a little set of stores right across the street that resembles an old western town. We had a lot of fun walking around the area and enjoying all the amenities.

My family really enjoyed the “Bryce Day” of our 15-day trip. Because it is easy to get in and out of Bryce, it wasn’t a whole day’s event. We were able to spend half the day at the park, then go back and enjoy our hotel that evening.

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TIPS:

1. Bring something to cover your head and use sunscreen. It’s hot in the summer and there isn’t much shade anywhere in the park.

2. Bring something to shield your face. When the wind blows, the orange sand can blow up into your face. My daughter used a bandana to tie over her nose and mouth. Sunglasses would also be helpful to cover your eyes.

3. Bring in water and snacks. There isn’t anywhere in the park to eat. However, you can drive outside the park within 30 minutes to find food.

Travel

Zion National Park : Family Road Trip 2018

 

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Zion National Park was the first stop on our 2018 road trip! Our family of five is from TN and this was our first trip out west. We flew into Vegas, picked up our rental and checked in to our hotel. We stayed on the strip to get a little glimpse of the city. However, if you stay there with children, I highly recommend staying in a known-to-be kid friendly hotel. We did have a couple bad experiences trying to guard the eyes of our little ones. However, we loved Excalibur and have also heard great things about Circus Circus.

We woke up early and got on the road the next morning to head straight to Zion. It was about a 2 1/2 drive from Vegas. We stopped midway to pick up a cooler and some lunches to pack into the park. We went during a very busy time but parking wasn’t too bad in the the city of Springdale. You are required to park outside the national park and take a bus in. If you are coming from Springdale, there are several clearly marked stops that will take you into the park and back to your vehicle from the visitor center. Just remember where you parked!

Once the Springdale shuttle drops you off at the visitor center, you must take the park shuttle to get around the park. (Trust me, this is a huge park. It’s the only way!) There are often long lines to get on the park shuttle even though several shuttles are running continuously. Once you are on, there are nine clearly marked stops along the road inside the park. The drive itself is incredible. The park shuttle is not air conditioned, but lots of air flows through as you drive. My biggest suggestion would be to study the map before you arrive to the park. Don’t wait until you get there to figure out what trails you want to do. There isn’t enough time for that! To be honest, the process of getting in and out of the park is quite lengthy. We felt like we were back at Disney World! Don’t be surprised by that. It is completely worth all the work!

You will want plenty of snacks, drinks and a meal if you plan to spend the day there. There are not many places to eat inside the park and it stays quite crowded. Being that we had only one day in the park, we just packed our food with us and had a picnic when we were ready to eat! There are fill stations for water bottles and bathrooms at many of the shuttle stops.

We chose two trails because we only had one day in the park. The first was the famous Narrows! (Make sure you check the weather before doing this one. Flash floods can be dangerous.) You head all the way to the last stop on the park shuttle, stop 9, and begin your hike there. You must get there by taking the easy one-mile Riverwalk trail. (It does not feel like a mile.) At the end of the Riverside Walk, you will dead end into the Narrows! At that point you must get in and begin walking along the river. It was so much fun! You are far down in a canyon with rock as far up as you can see on each side of you. There are several areas where water trickles down the road to form small waterfalls. Sometimes the path is wide and other times it narrows. There will be several areas along the side of the river where you can sit on rock and take a break. Every single turn is breathtaking! The Narrows run for miles and miles. With a family, we just walked as far as we felt like we could, about another mile, then turned around and walked it all back. My kids are 12, 9 and 6 and they all handled the water just fine. We needed to hold the 6-year-old’s hand many times throughout the hike. But, the older ones were dependent the whole time.

Next, we chose to walk the Canyon Overlook Trail. Wow! It was completely different than the Riverside Walk and the Narrows. Canyon Overlook gave us the first wide open views of the gigantic cliffs and canyons. For most of our shuttle ride, Riverwalk and Narrows, we were hidden inside the canyons, looking up to it surrounding us. But, the Canyon Overlook Trail is a completely different perspective! It was a very easy 1-mile trail. It shows you what Zion looks like when the space opens up and gives you a full view of its glory. We all were stunned with every view on this trail.

Once we got back to our vehicle, we choose an amazing Mexican place for dinner right there in the city of Springdale. It is a beautiful small city with many local food choices. Also, there is a glorious view of the Zion’s mountains from every angle in Springdale. Then, we drove about 30 minutes outside Springdale to La Verkin, UT and stayed at a very nice Best Western. My kids love a continental breakfast! You will save a little money on the cost of lodging if you drive outside the park a little ways, and free breakfast is always a plus!

One day in the park wasn’t enough for most people. I’m sure there were so many more beautiful things to uncover and someday we will return! However, having young children, the one day trip felt appropriate. The plan for this road trip was to keep things moving and travel to a new destination each day. The kids were always excited about what exciting adventure the next day would bring!

TIPS:

1. Look at a map and plan your route before you get there.

2. Park in Springdale and ride the shuttle to Zion’s visitor center.

3. Bring a backpack with a drink, snack and a meal.

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Family Life

Frosty Grass

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The best things about Christmas aren’t presents at all.

They are times we see God’s Earth

through love & life & adventure.

Our steps crunch the frosty grass.

The sun cuts the cold air.

Our blood warms with each movement.

Nothing holds us down.

We are free & forgiven.

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Family Life

Happy 2 Estella

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The favorite present: this baby (she hasn’t put it down since the party) We’ve given it baths, changed it’s clothes 1000 times, fed it, and taken it for a walk in her stroller.

 

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I have to admit that my heart is broken, just a little, because she is no longer 1. I have loved every second of 1.

And 2 sounds SO much bigger!!

Have you ever loved anything so much that you didn’t want one part of it to pass by???

That is her in our family…

We all, including her brothers, ooh and awe over her so many times a day.

She melts our hearts with her batting eyes and little twirls.

My favorite part of ALL is her tiny mommy heart.

She keeps her eyes on everyone and everything, making sure things are running smoothly and everyone is obeying.

She doesn’t mind to tell her big brothers to watch for cars or to slow down when things seem dangerous.

What a precious little gift she has been since God brought her into our family!

We love you forever Miss Estella!

Mommy, Daddy, Roman & Jude

Family Life

Brain Injury Adventure Camp

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BIAC serves those with brain injury, special needs and other disabilities.The camp is on 42 acres in Henderson County, KY and is an outdoor site created to provide adventure activities for those with and without disabilities.

The facility is also used for team building and outdoor education.

The camp has low ropes course, fishing ponds, one mile trails, zip lines, therapeutic horseback riding, adaptive trikes, gardening and arts.

BIAC began after David’s cousin, T.K., suffered a traumatic brain injury while snowboarding in Colorado in 2003 at the age of 25. T.K. was in a coma for three months. David’s uncle, Tim, T.K.’s father, never left his side and when therapy ended, Tim continued to encourage and work with his son. Although doctors did not give much hope for life beyond bedridden, T.K. continued to improve. Tim explored opportunities for T.K. to grow physically and mentally and discovered an adventure camp in Colorado. After volunteering at this camp several times, Tim was convinced that such a camp was much needed and would be utilized in the western part of the US.

That began the long road of prayer, work, donations, research and so much more. Today, this is an amazing nonprofit organization that serves people in an awesome way.

We were amazed at the passion and love found within this organization. Most of all, we loved spending time with family we hadn’t seen in a very long time.

You can find more information about BIAC here:

http://www.biacky.org/index.html

 

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Family Life

Daydreams

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I love summer mornings on my mom’s farm.

The air is hollow. We rock on the porch and feel the breeze. We talk and watch them run and play.

Beads of dew on the grass and my pulse slows.

Clouds puff up early and the sun melts them away.

Deer prance in the pasture and God finds His way into my daydreams.

 

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Family Life

Loving Embraces

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Life is moving faster than ever but this time I slow down to see.

Freezing moments of baby smooth skin and loving embraces.

Carefree laughter and a heart full of this very moment.

 

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We embrace what God gives.

Today, it feels like a gift, tomorrow it may not.

What ever the day holds, it is a day given by God, with all things considered.

We believe, hold strong and breathe deep.

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Family Life

Wonderland

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We found a small wonderland behind our fence Monday.

A whole world of mystery right there behind us!

There are umbrellaed trees and a flowing stream.

What a little gift this is!

I believe there will be many more tea parties and expeditions happening there.

 

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Family Life

This is our Place

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Ooltewah, TN

………..

A year ago, I had NO idea I would be here or that I would be anywhere different than where I was for that matter.

So, for all our family and friends, near and far, here you go!

This is where we landed.

It’s our place.

 

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Entryway.

Looking out & Looking in.

Baby Bear wanted a picture.

 

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My favorite room.

Classroom.

This is where we learn & play.

This is where it is just “us” and books and art!

 

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Little parts of the dining room.

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Peeking in the half bath downstairs.

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I am in love with this print my mom and I found antiquing last weekend.

“The Shepherd” 1909

Also, you can see my funky curtains from World Market on the right.

 

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Left: Looking into the kitchen

Right: Looking over our dining room table into the living room.

(Notice how convenient it MIGHT be to put your kids at this table for lunch and turn on a cartoon for them to watch. I mean – only if you were that sort of mom 😉

 

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I finally found something to do with all those old clay jars I had laying around…

 

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I can’t believe I didn’t photograph my pantry.

You can see the first door to the right in this photo. That is it!

It very big and amazing. This is my first actual pantry can you tell?

I love it!

The second door is the laundry room which leads to the two-car garage.

 

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Corner of living room.

Just found this old bookshelf mostly for kids novels and a few of my favorites.

Now that Roman is really reading, I love collecting all the classics for him.

 

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Did I mention how appreciative I am of this laundry room?

It’s right off the kitchen and when I do laundry, (which is much more often now that my washer & dryer are indoors) it smells like warm fluffy lavender all over the house.

 

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Upstairs hallway.

It may be the widest, longest hallway I’ve seen.

Apparently, this is good for nightly kickball tournaments.

 

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I’ll pause here and mention how incredibly blessed my kids are at this moment in time.

This playroom is amazing.

Upstairs Hall again on the right.

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A gigantic walk-in closet in the playroom full of toys.

 

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Plenty of space inside for sleeper sofas, huge outdoor playhouses and wrestling matches.

(Don’t ask me why Roman is wearing Estella’s bib in this photo. I’m pretty sure Jude is feeding Roman pretend baby food.)

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Guest bathroom/Kids brush my teeth space.

(This would be the kids bathroom altogether but it seems that everyone would rather bath in my large jacuzzi tube.)

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Our bedroom.

(I’m reminded of the “Master of the House” song from Les Miserables right now.)

It really is wonderful.

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David made this headboard for me. Isn’t it beautiful?

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Master bath.

Oh why didn’t I remember to pick up candles to fit in those lovely vintage candles stands?

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Do I dare show you our closet?

Well, just a peak… I cleaned it up just for you!

It is truly the size of a small bedroom.

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Roman and Jude’s room.

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Could these boys fit any more stuffed animals in their beds?

By the way, my husband made these headboards too.

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Estella’s room.

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“The Stolen Kiss”

&

“Sitting Pretty”

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Family Life

God is Stronger… by Roman Huff

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(Interpretation)

God is stronger.
God is stronger than anyone else in the universe – like the Hulk or Superman or anyone else you know. God is loving and kind and he is great. I love my God. He died for our sins. I pray all the time. Sometimes I cry because I love Him more than anyone else in the world. Actually, I’m crying right now and praying right now.
The end. From Roman.
Made April Tuesday 9, 2013
 

You can imagine how my heart melted just now when I found these printed words.

Roman, my 6 year old son, typed and printed this with no prompting or assistance.

It isn’t the spelling or grammar that is so stunning.

It is the heartfelt words of my sweet boy who knows the love of Jesus.

He said that these are the lyrics to a song he wrote and wants to sing on the microphone.

I asked him if he really cried and he said “I had one little tear.”

Of all my days as a mommy, today is one of my most happy and thankful so far.

Family Life

Transparency

photo copy 8Wide open skies and warm country air.

Very uncharacteristic of late December in Kentucky but very appreciated.

We ran and played on grandmother’s farm for Christmas this year.

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We finally got our hands on growing baby Violet who is almost 6 months old.

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photo

photo copyCozy & familiar things are good.

They help us to settle down.

………………….

Recent changes have been a little more difficult on me than anticipated.

Cozy & familiar are nothing of the sorts.

As a mother, a sense of security in my children is important.

I want them to feel at home and peaceful within.

I place a lot of value on this because it is important to me.

With our move, as expected, things were turned up-side-down.

They still are and will probably be for a while.

Why have I been struggling so much with that?

…………………..

Isaiah 26:3-4 

You will keep in perfect peace
all who trust in you,
all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
Trust in the Lord always,
for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.

……………………

I have to re-evaluate.

Is my security found in myself?

Does my peace come from control and perfection?

Are my eyes really fixed on the Lord?

I have to ask myself these questions and be transparent with myself.

Did you know we can lie to ourselves?

It’s called denial.

The answers are not what I wanted to hear.

………………………

So, here we go Jesus.

Lesson 500,988,321,764.

I’m having trouble trusting You.

For some crazy reason, I’m finding myself more capable than You, my creator.

This mindset looks like a lot of disappointment and heartbreak for my future.

So, let’s talk about changing it.

Show me how to let go.

I don’t want these frustrating feelings in my heart and now I know why they are there.

I am Yours.

My heart is Yours.

My mind is Yours.

My life is Yours.

My family is Yours.

My days are Yours.

I do not know what is best, You do.

I’m setting my mind on You.

Every moment & every second.

Thanks you Jesus that you love me so much that you show me how to feel better.

……………………

This week at my mom’s house in the country has been a gift.

Did I earn such a gift? Probably not.

But God loves me despite whether or not I’m deserving.