There were so many beautiful flowers and plants at the East Arboretum & Botanical Gardens. Such a diverse display of God's amazing creativity! Vibrant colors and fragrant aromas delighted our senses.
There is a historic farmhouse, the Wofford House, (shown above) on the property. It was not open for us to tour inside, but we really didn't need to, you can see everything through the large windows. They have the home furnished for the appropriate time period and the relics and antiques are really neat. The home has three sections with a large covered breeze way in the middle with wide steps in the front leading to the main entrance. I love these style homes. Seeing the past firsthand is so much fun!
The Arboretum & Botanical Gardens have done a wonderful job creating a playful and colorful environment for children too. Check out this adorable Children's Playhouse and yard. There is also a small castle prop type play area at a different section of the park.
While playing in the Children's Playhouse we noticed it could use a little attention. Many of the corners and window sills had spider webs and dead bugs left over from the winter and early spring months. The boys also discovered some loose chairs legs and loose door handles of the kitchen play set. I decided this would be a perfect opportunity for us to serve.
Talking about the importance of serving and being a blessing wherever we go is a common conversation. Jesus came to Earth to serve, not to be served; He is our model. The next week the boys and I gathered our work gloves, small hand tools and headed back to the Arboretum.
Getting our hands dirty and giving our time is the best way to learn to serve. The boys worked so hard cleaning and "fixing up" the playhouse. They swept, cleaned windows, wiped surfaces, and tighten loose screws and bolts. I know how crucial it is to model what we preach and it is so fun working along side of them. After everything was cleaned and fixed, they wanted to rearrange the furniture, lol!
When the playhouse was complete we headed to the bathrooms to give them some attention too. Caleb cleaned the sinks and mirrors while Wyatt helped me sweep and gather the trash. We all had a great sense of accomplishment and service when done. Then we sat down outside, drank lots of water and enjoyed a snack among the beauty of the Gardens.
Life on the road has certainly been busier and more tiring than I had anticipated, and unfortunately, writing here has been non-existent for the last 5 weeks. I really want to share all that we have been doing, so I am going to try and get caught up with several short posts, starting with this one.
We spent three weeks in a town called Athens, TX. It is a cute, small town about an hour and a half southeast of the DFW metroplex. The National RV Training Academy is located just on the outskirts of Athens and is where my hubby attended his certification courses. He enjoyed the courses very much and has made some new friendships in his classmates and instructors.
There is an RV Park on the same property as the Training Academy, so hubby could walk to class. Most of the RV Park staff are "work camping" and are either taking courses at the Academy, or are spouses of Academy students. Everyone there were so welcoming to us and treated us like family. The boys and I made many new friends too.
As many of you know, I love to meet new people and make new friends. The boys and I ventured out on our own several times. I am learning quick how to maneuver the big dually truck pretty well, only one curb check so far. Lol!
There is a super cute little mail shop in town called Ship Shop. The ladies and one gentleman we worked with there were super friendly and helpful. They also have tons of gift and souvenir items, which the boys had fun looking at while I took care of business.
One of the first days in Athens, I took the boys to the East Texas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. It is a beautiful place and has several different areas to enjoy. The park is on one hundred acres and has hiking trails, beautiful gardens and water features, a 115 ft suspension bridge, a replica of an old schoolhouse, a historic home which was moved on-site, a Veterans Memorial, and a Children's playhouse and yard.
We love to hike and be outdoors. This walking bridge was constructed by volunteers and dedicated to one of the founding board members of the Arboretum. It was super humid that day. We felt like we were in the rainforest. There were all kinds of neat flowers and foliage. The boys had their binoculars and I had the trail map. It had rained the night before, so the ground was a bit soggy, but that didn't stop us.
Hello Friends & Family!
Well after six months of planning and praying, packing and repacking, organizing and storing, we were finally able to hook up the trailer, put the truck in drive and set off on our new adventure of Roadschooling across America!
As many of you know, it has been quite a busy and crazy six months for us, but we couldn't have done it without so many of you. We are so grateful for all the love, help, and support we have received.
Some of you helped us get our home in Colorado ready to sell; demolition-ing, remodeling, painting, packing, cleaning, and loading a ton of stuff into trailers for us to head West. One special friend helped us sell our home...thanks Uncle Lee! Many of you have also been praying and you continue to pray for us...thank you. A few super-awesome friends and family members even hauled trailers down to Arizona for us! Thank you Papa Myers, Uncle Brett, Mr. Nick and Eric...what a blessing you all are to us!
A very, very BIG thanks to both sets of parents for supporting us in this 'out-of-the-box' idea and being so generous to put us up for awhile during our final preparations. Also a very, very BIG thanks to Justin's brother, Eric for all his generosity and support and trailer hauling. You are awesome, Eric!
One of the best things about planning for this adventure has been the forced downsizing of our possessions and determining what really are the "Essentials". Every ounce of weight = fuel cost, so we really, really have to need it or want it in order to take it. It has given all of us a new perspective on material things; we have to stop and really think if something is truly necessary or important.
I didn't realize how much we relied on material things and how consuming our things had become. We have gained a huge sense of freedom living with much less. It also reminds us to be grateful for what we have and not to focus on what we don't.
We actually began living in our RV right after Christmas. This allowed us to get our feet wet to RVing full time. We were able to have four months to move in and get settled prior to departure. Meal planning has also become an even greater necessity! If any of you have some yummy, easy meal recipes please send them our way!
I am excited to share this adventure with you all! Until next time, blessings to you.
It is no cliché, time really does seem to speed up the older you get. This year has been our fastest year yet. May arrived...we literally blinked...and summer is gone. The air is getting crisper and cooler most days and the leaves are beginning to change to their beautiful autumn foliage.
Fall is my 2nd favorite season (used to be my #1 favorite, but a few years ago, Spring took that title..maybe I will share that transition sometime.) I usually look forward to fall, but this year is different. I have been grasping tightly to summer and really don't want to let go just yet.
At the beginning of summer this year, hubby and I felt a strong leading from the Lord that it was time to prepare our family to move to Arizona. I met hubby at college in Arizona and 13 years ago we decided to put roots down in Colorado. It has been a wonderful journey and the Lord has blessed us immensely here. However, our two young boys are growing up fast and we do not get to spend as much time with the grand folks as we would like. Both sets of grand folks (our parents) and one sibling (my brother-in-law) live in Arizona. We also have numerous other extended family members and some close friends that still live in Arizona.
As followers of Christ, we are called to 'trust and obey'...so that is what we are doing. All summer long we have spent working on completing unfinished projects, renovating our home, and started packing our belongings. The construction is almost complete and the home is looking amazing. Every time we finish a project, hubby and I say 'We should have done this years ago'.
It is so crazy how life gets so stinkin' busy and many of us wait until we go to sell our home to finish the projects we have talked and dreamed about. But as my hubby says, "It is what it is." We push through, leaning on the Lord for strength and guidance, the finish line is near.
The trek to Arizona is going to be a BIG one and preparing has been a bit overwhelming. Packing for this move has given me another chance to assess our belongings and contemplate what all we really should keep and take with us. It is a chance to downsize our possessions.
A few years ago, God put on my heart to live a simpler life. Again, in obedience, I am working toward this goal. What does that simpler life look like? For us, it is a life not consumed by material things and controlled by an "out-of-control" schedule.
This move, for us, is just another step toward this simpler life.
I am excited about the adventure ahead of us and I am excited about the new family who will be blessed by this amazing home. Many days I pray that the Lord would be putting all things in proper timing, preparing our hearts for the change, preparing the hearts of the new friends He will put in our path, and for the new church He wants us to be a part of.
I believe change can be hard for most of us. This change would be extremely hard for us if we didn't have faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ. A faith that is built on the rock of His promises will stand firm and never fall. Jesus spoke of this in Matthew 7:24-27. I encourage you to look this passage up for yourselves.
As I write this post, I am also reminded of Proverbs 16:9, which says,
In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. (NIV)
If God is asking you to make a change in your life and you feel resistant, you need not be discouraged or worried, God is faithful to those who trust and obey Him. Lean on Him. Pray continually and take life one day at time.
What is going on in your life? Are you in the midst of change right now? What are you learning from it? Or do you perhaps see a pending change in your life, but you are being resistant to it? Please share in the comments below.
I love a good cup of coffee, but it can get quite expensive. A thrifty thing I am doing now is blending our coffee grounds. I buy an inexpensive brand of coffee in bulk and I buy a more expensive coffee. When I put the coffee grounds in the filter, I use about 60-70% of the inexpensive and about 30-40% of the more expensive coffee. It makes a good tasting cup of coffee at a cheaper cost.
I also used to love a big serving of a flavored creamer in my coffee, but I am reducing the amount of sugar in my diet, so I have stopped buying flavored coffee creamers. I now use half and half or the non-dairy options when they are on sale. These have less sugar and are generally less expensive.
I have noticed a difference in our budget since I have been blending the coffee grounds. I was buying a small, expensive bag of coffee about every 6 days. It was getting so stinkin' expensive. Now the coffee lasts a lot longer and still satisfies my taste buds.
I mentioned earlier that I buy the inexpensive stuff in bulk. We don't buy a super huge bag though. We are Costco members and we used to buy coffee there, but with just two coffee drinkers in the home, we couldn't drink it fast enough before it went stale.
Buying the inexpensive coffee in bulk at Walmart or a grocery store when its on sale works great for us.
Here's to good coffee that won't blow your budget! I hope this helps you be a little "thrifter" today.
Ladies, I have an important question to ask you...
Are you giving your husband the gratitude and praise he desires and needs?
Our daily lives are so busy I think we often forget that a simple thank you or praise can go a long way. Before you start lecturing the screen about how you aren’t appreciated enough and questioning why in the world you should show him respect?!? Let me stop you right there...just hear me out.
I understand that us moms are going non-stop from the minute are feet hit the floor in the morning. And at the end of the day we feel like we gave our all and maybe didn’t receive any recognition. I want to challenge you. What if you start setting the example for appreciation and praise? I believe you just might find yourself being flooded with praise and appreciation before you even know it!
Men are wired differently than us women, but we all need to feel appreciated. Although they may not show it or make it well known, men desperately need praise too. They need to be reminded they are doing a good job and that their hard work is appreciated (whether they work outside the home or are Mr. Mom, they need to know that what they are doing matters). It is not always in our female nature to remember to say thank you “just because”. With our busy schedules it is easy to run day in and day out and unintentionally begin to take each other for granted.
Our world is very competitive and can be extremely stressful on a husband and father. Their self-esteem can be quite low and we don’t even know it until it’s too late. I can’t tell you how many people I meet who are dissatisfied with their jobs and don’t feel like their managers notice the hard work they do. This is especially prevalent with men. I have to tell you, there are a lot of people who are “managers” who shouldn’t be. These people are thrown into the position and they lack the necessary skills to really be a good leader for their team. Two of the necessary skills these poor managers lack is the skill of encouragement and gratitude. They fail to see the importance of giving recognition for a job well done.
This is where we come in, Ladies. We need to help fill that gap. If your hubby isn’t feeling appreciated at work and then he comes home and he doesn’t get any appreciation there either...what do you think that does to him mentality? Over time, I will tell you, this will crush his soul.
Us wives and mothers can also fall in to the trap of ‘nagging’. Whether we have been working outside the home all day or been taking care of the home and children (which is just as hard, if not harder), by the time our husbands get home we are exhausted too. Both husband and wife want to just get a little time alone to unwind, but when the kids are whining because they are hungry and the dog wants to be taken for a walk and the house looks like a bomb went off, it is easy to get overwhelmed and thus the nagging begins.
This is when we need to stop and take a deep breathe…get our minds back on to what is really important. And instead of nagging, start praising.
I encourage you to make a few small changes in your routine to give praise and thanks to your husband and I would bet you will see a change happen quickly.
My husband and I always give each other a kiss before he leaves for work. Even if we have been arguing, it is very important to us. When we say goodbye I also tell him that we (the kids and I) appreciate him working so hard for our family. I usually make his lunch because it is much cheaper and healthier for him to eat a homemade lunch than to buy out all the time. In his lunch, most days, I have started putting a little note with an inspirational scripture verse on it. I try to find scriptures about courage, strength, and/or wisdom. Scriptures to lift him up and provide encouragement. I will usually get a text from him right around lunch time thanking me for the note. Then when my hubby returns home from work, I try greet him happily with a hug and kiss and I tell him that we have missed him and again thank him for working so hard for our family.
After a long day with the kiddos, I have to tell you, it is my inclination to just unload on my hubby as soon as I see him. And when he gets home late, I am usually pretty grumpy. But, I have to remember attitudes are contagious. If I am grumpy and nag on him immediately when he walks through the door, he may be sympathetic at first, but as the night wears on, or if my negative attitude becomes a habit, he is going to react to those emotions and will be negative back towards me, which just fuels the fire.
Instead, strive for a positive and encouraging attitude. Have an "Attitude of Gratitude" as someone wise once said. I am not saying to be fake and act like everything is sunshine and lollipops if you have had a bad day, but make sure that everyday isn’t a bad day. Be critical of your emotions. Was your day really that horrible? Or is there something else going on that can be fixed pretty easily. I have found that often times when I get grumpy it is because I am either hungry, tired, or both! Make sure you are taking care of yourself and you will be able to then take care of others.
If you are continually having bad days, then you need to seriously address this. Pray for guidance and wisdom. Sit down with your spouse and maybe your doctor to see if they have any insight to what is going on. I have found that professional counseling has a lot of great benefits too. And I recently discovered I was extremely deficient in Vitamin D. Once I started taking a daily dose of Vitamin D, my overall mood seemed to improve.
There are things we can do at home on our own to help turn our attitudes around. It makes us feel good to give praise, but it also feels good to get praise. Ever since I have started being more intentional about saying thank you and giving encouragement to my husband I have noticed some changes in him too. I have definitely noticed he says thank you to me a lot more. It is really a great feeling to hear ‘Thanks for making a great dinner’ or ‘You deserve a break, let me take the kids for a bit’ or my fav ’Thanks for being a great Mom/Wife’.
I didn’t sit down and have a heart to heart with my husband about saying thank you. He didn’t come to me and tell me he wasn’t feeling appreciated. I just realized that I wasn’t being intentional about showing him the gratitude and praise he deserves. And by making a few small changes in my daily routine it has been extremely beneficial to the entire household.
Do you believe encouraging your husband is important? If you do...in what ways do you encourage your spouse? Let me know in the comments below.
Grace & Blessings!
Hi! My name is Mandy Jo.
Thanks for visiting my blog! Being a mom in this modern age is a blessing, but no cake walk. So many expectations are imposed on us and it can be overwhelming and often discouraging.