Tuesday, October 23, 2018

WHEN YOUR CHILD WALKS INTO THE ROOM


A while back, I read a parenting article and was challenged by this question: ‘Do your eyes light up when your child walks into the room?’


Gah, I wanted to say "yes!" But honestly, like most busy moms, there have been seasons in our lives that my kids couldn't even see my eyes when they walked in the room because I was doing something like dishes, dinner, talking on the phone or working on my computer. 


But what if I got intentional about less doing and more looking? What if I made sure I was off the computer and waiting for them to get home? What if I blocked out 30 mins to be fully present in those parts of the day. The article said kids perceive how important they are to us by the way we pay attention to them, and that eye contact is key, because it makes our kids feel secure and confident.

So, ever since, I’ve been trying to make eye contact when my kids get home from school or work. When they ask me a question, I'm trying really hard to stop what I’m doing, look ‘em in the eyes and answer. And I don't mean one-word answers so I can get back to what I was doing. I'm talking about open-ended conversations with no end in sight. Sometimes laughter ensues. Other times, a hug is warranted. And I'm realizing it matters. Some days, my 16-yr old, Bailey, comes home from school and we process things for a whole hour. The teen years are hard, sure, but sometimes they just need us to 'see' them.


Lord,
Help me not miss this truth. 
Unrush me. 
Remind me that my people - big and small- perceive how important they are to me by the way I pay attention to them.
Amen




Friday, October 19, 2018

CLEAN UP ON AISLE 2

Image result for grocery store aisle

Have you ever said something to someone and it was unkind? Or snarky? And you knew it. You wished you could take it back, but it was out there in the universe and there was nothing you could do about it.

Did you pretend it didn’t happen, silently commanding everyone else to pretend as well?
Did you point out the things that they did wrong, instead of owning your own actions?
Did you ask them to give you grace, without apologizing or even acknowledging that it hurt them?
I know you, friend. I know many of you by name, and I know how much you love the Lord. I know that you want nothing more than to show who Jesus is through your words and your walk.
And yet I also know me, and over the years I have done all of these. While none of them are reflective of who I really am, it’s reflective of the battle going on inside all of us.
Paul describes it like this:
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.
For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Romans 7:15-24 (NIV)
The battle is real. Our sinful nature is persistently wrestling with the part of us that loves Jesus.
When we avoid the hard work of cleaning up our mess, we leave shrapnel of hurts everywhere. When we avoid it, or try to make someone else responsible for it, we remain stunted in our spiritual growth.
When we do the hard work of cleaning up our messes, it may take time…a long time. We may even need help as we do it. Yet, every time we do the hard work, we step into who we really are. We learn what parts of us need to die so that the rest of us can blossom into abundant life.



Friday, October 12, 2018

THIS IS FORTH WORTH YA'LL


This is Fort Worth, also known as “Cowtown” ...the city of cowboys, cattle and culture. A rather small, big city, brimming with personality and charm.

Families curious about the Old West, should mosey over to the Stockyards National Historic District outside of downtown. There’s something for all ages: barbeque, petting zoo, trail rides, barbeque, snow cones, a maze, chuck wagon rides, barbeque, shopping, selfies with longhorns, gun fights, and oh! and did I mention barbeque?! There’s so much more than what I’ve listed here, but the most significant are the twice daily cattle drives, with well-preserved old buildings serving as the backdrop. Yep, Texas longhorns literally saunter down the street every day to reenact the cattle drives when this was the last stop before going on to Indian Territory in Oklahoma. 


After lunch, we took a short drive over to the Fort Worth Zoo, rated one of the top five zoos in the US. There’s so much going on here, that you could almost call it an amusement park (making it an excellent value destination). In addition to a rock climbing tower and a mini train, little wranglers can romp around an old-fashioned western town, complete with play barn and shooting gallery. As for the animals, they are well taken care of, and it shows in their elevated level of interaction. Be sure to visit the awesome African Savannah exhibit released this year – wow - This 10-acre exhibit is home to a variety of African wildlife and has ample opportunities for interaction, including giraffe feeding and the chance to see the graceful underwater movements of hippos firsthand. Kids will also enjoy peeking at the cool Gharial crocodile species from India and petting cuddlier creatures at the petting zoo. 



If you're a donut lover, don't forget to book-end your day with a visit to Funkytown Donuts, dubbed "the BEST DONUT SHOP IN AMERICA," at least according to the visitors pictured here, who, are experts on donuts. There's definitely a "funky" array of flavors, including vegan and gluten-free options. You’ll go nuts (!) for the slightly earthy flavor of the airy glazed doughnut alone.



I’ve always liked Fort Worth.  There’s just a rustic quality to the whole city that really appeals to me. Even though it’s only a (Texas-sized) stone’s throw from Dallas, it couldn’t be more different.


***

Tips on Staying Comfortable on Your Next Road Trip


As the holidays are ramping up, many of us will be on the road visiting family. Traveling on the road during the holiday season can be stressful and tiring, so you want to make sure you stay energized, alert and comfortable.

There are many important components to staying comfortable on a long road trip. Hydrating, having good posture and stretching frequently can improve the quality of your trip immeasurably. There are also specific things you can do like wearing compression socks, using a tennis ball as a back massager and using peppermint oil to keep you alert.

Take a look at this great guide on tips for staying comfortable on a long road trip from The Zebra. The guide goes into detail on all the ways you can stay comfortable and alert. Also, be sure to check out the infographic below!





Wednesday, October 10, 2018

DISTRACTION FREE JOY

I remember looking at a vintage TIME magazine, 
In the article it featured families on the Jersey shore
Umbrellas and beach blankets, picnics and everyone in swim wear.
Ladies of all shapes and sizes, all smiling.
Playing with their children, swimming in the water.
Their joy and happiness oozing off the shiny pages, candid captures.
I'm fairly certain it was simple and as transparent as it seemed-
Happy face = Happiness being had.
No one was thinking, "thigh gap, muffin top, stretch marks, saggy boobs, things are jiggling"
Now I know times have changed,
But in our hearts we still long for the same things.
Happiness
Pure, uncomplicated, distraction free JOY.
Because our babes don't ever look at us, and think we need to loose 5 pounds.
They want us to jump in the waves, build those sand castles, and chase them across the shore-
So whether it's 
Board shorts and a rash guard, 
One piece, 
String bikini, 
High-waisted bottoms and a top
Find something that floats your boat filled with JOY.
And don't look back.
Because the softness that covers our curves, 
And the lines that run, telling our story-
Are beautiful,
And so are you.



Saturday, October 6, 2018

STATE FAIR TEXAS


It’s one of my favorite times of year! Not only is the weather turning cooler, but there are fairs aplenty. One worthy of telling you about is State Fair of Texas at Fair Park , just two miles east of downtown Dallas. It’s, like, a big(Texas-size) deal.

Fairs might not be a big deal in your state, but in Texas, the State Fair of Texas is like a holiday. Through the promotion of agriculture, education, and community, the State Fair of Texas truly embodies the heart and soul of the Lone Star State.


Did you know some people come to the fair just for the food? I do! I mean, they do! Regardless, we can all agree that a Fletcher’s corn dog is a must - they never taste as good as they do at the state fair. There’s nothing quite like biting into a crunchy, savory, golden corn dog and worth every ticket. But this place goes beyond even that. There is a true madness for fried food concoctions that blows my mind: Deep Fried Fruit Loops, Funnel Cake Bacon Queso Burger, The Tamale Donut, Deep Fried Butter, Smoky Bacon Margarita and Fried Beer.



One must oblige to a photo with the iconic Big Tex – he’s been Photo Bombing since 1952. Tex is the tallest cowboy in the world and he's also a good meeting area if you’re connecting with friends or otherwise lose sight of someone in your party.


The architecture lover in me also took pleasure looking at the Creative Arts Buildings. This is actually the largest collection of Art Deco in the country. Too, there’s a giant butter sculpture with a different theme each year, a photography contest, and many other art contest categories. You can spend a good chunk of time wandering the isles and admiring the creativity the people of Texas have to offer.

All of that being said, still, my favorite part of the fair is the Little Hands on the Farm exhibit. Farm fun for the whole family, including up close personal experiences with the animals, egg collecting, seed planting, tractor pulls, and so much more. Oh, and don't miss the piglets in the birthing barn!




HOW TO SAVE MONEY ON YOUR STATE FAIR VISIT

On Opening Day, fair-goers can grab tickets for only $9 by bringing a full 20 oz. bottle of Dasani water or a full 20 oz. Coca-Cola product to the gate. Make sure these drinks are unopened! Donations benefit the North Texas FoodBank. One donation per person. This discount may not be combined with any other offers

In addition, in honor of Military Appreciation Day, the Fair will be offering free admission to all active military, retired military, and veterans. Spouses of service men and women with a valid Military Spouse ID and accompanying children under the age of 18 also receive free admission. This deal is in partnership with Texas Lottery Commission.

First Responders Day:
The Fair will recognize all first responders and their contributions to the community with a special day honoring their service. The Fair will be offering free admission to all active and retired public law enforcement, firefighters, paramedics, and other emergency service agencies when they present a valid badge or ID from their department or organization. Also, up to three admission tickets will be available for their family members.

Dr. Pepper Half-Price Tuesdays:
Bring an empty Dr. Pepper can and get an admission ticket for only $9. One can per person. This discount may not be combined with any other offers.

Plus, most rides are reduced price on Tuesdays at the Midway. Midway discounts exclude the Thrillway and the Texas Star.

Donation Wednesdays:
Bring four cans of food to the Fair gates as a donation towards the North Texas Food Bank on any Wednesday and receive an admission ticket for only $4. One four-can donation per person. This discount may not be combined with any other offers.

Senior / Thrifty Thursdays:
Every Thursday throughout the Fair, seniors 60 years of age and above can enjoy free entry.
Plus, every Thursday, most food items, including corny dogs, cotton candy, and funnel cakes, are between two to seven coupons. Participating food vendors also offer one of their signature menu items, ranging from mini versions to regular-size items. This will save you almost half the cost on most items. You can check back on the official Thrifty Thursdays page for the full list of specials.


Other ways to save on your visit:

·         Hit the State Fair for half-price any day after 5 pm by bringing an empty Dr Pepper can to the gate. One can per person. This discount may not be combined with any other offers.
·         Ride the DART. Save the hassle of finding a parking spot and take the DART train to Fair Park Station. Day Passes start at $3 per person. Plus, purchase your discounted tickets for up to $2 off to the Fair on your DART GoPASS app. Admission tickets are just $16 and child/senior tickets are $12.
·         Head to Kroger. Kroger offers advance purchase general admission for $16.50 or season passes for $39.
·         Eat McDonald’s. Before you throw away your McDonald’s leftovers, check the tray liner or takeout bag for a $5 off general admission coupon or for half price off a children’s ticket with purchase of a general admission ticket. Coupons can be redeemed any day of the fair allowing one coupon per person.
·         Head to NorthPark Center in Dallas, and purchase advance tickets to the Fair for $15. $4.50 from each ticket will benefit Family Getaway, an organization providing stability and life-changing services to families with children affected by homelessness. Tickets are sold at the NorthPark Concierge located on level one.
·         Purchase tickets online. Buy in advance online and save $1.50 on fair tickets for any day of the week. With this discount, general admission tickets cost $16.50 and child/senior tickets cost $12.50.
·         Get a season pass. If you plan on attending the fair more than a couple times, look into getting a State Fair of Texas season pass. The pass only costs $45 ($65 for a two-pack) and you’ll receive all of the following:
o   One FREE single-day bring-a-friend ticket (valid Monday – Friday only)
o   One FREE State Fair reusable bag (available to the first 8,000 season pass holders who redeem)
o   One FREE Midway Race Game (water, derby, balloon, or roll-a-ball)
o   One 10% OFF coupon for State Fair gear at official merchandise stands
o   Special discounts on Fair food and Midway rides

Are you going to the fair this year with your kids? If so, here’s a look at the daily schedule and ticket price information.


Wednesday, October 3, 2018

TEXAS HILL COUNTRY ROAD TRIP

This near-lifelong native of Houston is increasingly bewitched by the notion of small-town life. Even my current hometown, The Woodlands, is becoming more and more city-like. Not that that’s bad, but it’s just my soul is craving the slower pace of life, charm, and wide-open spaces that only small towns can offer.

The Labor Day U.S. holiday allotted us a long weekend, so it sounded like the perfect time for a short family road trip. It is still excruciatingly hot in September, therefore we set out to find some of the greatest swimming holes Texas has to offer. So, we cranked up the sounds of Head and the Heart, and off we went, out long stretches of highway, with all signs pointing to the town of Wimberley, in the Texas hill country.



If you know me, you know that I love airstreams and that every dilapidated airstream I pass, dumped on the side of road with a ‘for sale’ sign in the window, gets embedded in my daydreams. So obviously, when we stumbled across this airstream on Glamping Hub, it sounded like a fun place to lay our head at night. Leave it to this quirky town close to Austin to offer glamorous camping (glamping) without getting eaten alive by Texas-sized mosquitoes. I might’ve had the chance to tell you more about it if the evening prior to our check-in, the water heater hadn’t busted and turned our plans a bit topsy turvy. Again though, if you know me, then you know I love a good detour – “detours are the best kind of tours” is what I always say. Our backup plan took us to Canyon Road Olive Ranch, an adorable craftsman tiny house on an olive ranch and grape vineyard in Johnson City. In spite of being “tiny,” it delivered all the comforts of home. And way cuter!



Wimberley, dubbed “little bit of Heaven,” emulates what Austin is all about: art, food, design and music without the car traffic, foot traffic, and over-priced parking. The boutique shops downtown feature unique treasures, artwork and furniture by local artisans. One aspect of this town that I love the most, is that there isn’t a Starbuck’s or McDonald’s in sight.

There are places in Texas that Mother Nature doubly anointed with advantage; Jacob’s Well and Blue Hole are certainly on that list. Located in Wimberley, both are naturally surreal and secluded swimming spots surrounded by prodigious boulders and colossal Cypress trees. 

Be sure to schedule your visit online for Blue Hole and/or Jacob’s Well. Upon your arrival, and a short walk from the parking lot to the check-in window, you’ll be met with smiling staffers who, understandably, appear overjoyed to be precisely where they are. They are ever-present, walking the grounds and monitoring the activity (although no lifeguard is on duty).



As Robert Earl Keen said, “The road goes on forever and the party never ends.” Every time I sing that line I can’t help but think of Texas. After all, old farms, back roads, historic markers, and dive bars—all housing equal degrees of character—are quite abundant in the Lonestar State providing endless routes for exploration, and endless opportunities for pit stops. I favor all the above.

There's plenty of small towns across the big honkin’ state of Texas. No matter what direction you go in, you're bound to find some place charming, quirky or that takes your breath away.
If you want to learn more about this great state, turn your real-time travels into a history lesson by downloading the following app:
  • Texas Time Travel Tours: to bring history to life with images, videos, interviews, and visitor info for historical sites across the state.







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