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One Way To Strengthen Your Child This Summer

In a few days, our kids will shut down their technology. All Snapchat streaks must come to an end.

They will bid farewell to their normally scheduled academic and athletic programming and head to the woods.

Our four teenagers will go live amongst strangers and bugs and humidity and uncomfortable beds. I’m going to assume they brush their teeth, put on deodorant and apply sunscreen on some of the days, but I can’t be so sure.

What I know for sure is that these few weeks at summer camp will be some of the most important days spent in their childhood.

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10 Questions to ask yourself in the New Year

Before you jump in and start making your new year resolutions, goals, and dreams for the upcoming year, you must first REVIEW your 2017.

You can’t know where you are unless you take note of where you’ve been.

Reflect on your past year by answering these important questions……

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10 Reasons you should visit Winslow, Arizona

1.  Stay Overnight at LaPosada Hotel
LaPosada entrance

The crown jewel of Winslow is the LaPosada hotel! This amazing piece of historic architecture is known as the last of The Santa Fe’s great railway hotels. It has been beautifully restored and I would love to tell you all of the details of this special place, but I don’t want to spoil your visit.  The grounds are gorgeous and it’s so relaxing to just walk around and take in all of it’s beauty.
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8 National Parks Your Family Needs to Visit Before the Kids Grow Up!

“Hey guys, want to go to the Grand Canyon this weekend?”

“No thanks.”

“That’s too far.”

“I’m so glad I have to work.”

“I’m not doing that.”

Excuses, excuses fly from the mouths of our four teenagers who seem all but done with family adventuring and memory making.

That’s why you do a 7-month family sabbatical around the USA and hit as many National Parks as you can before your kids become teenagers! We had our foursome exactly where we wanted them in 2014 when we wore out our National Park pass traveling 44 states by RV.

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Take a Girlfriend Getaway to Sedona

Girlfriends escape to Sedona now if you’re in need of relaxation and rejuvenation.

My dear friend, Toni, makes it a tradition to visit me from Minnesota during her birthday month of April every year. I wanted to do something special with her this year, and Sedona was an easy, but special place to take her.

How to spend 24 amazing hours in Sedona, Arizona

From Phoenix, Sedona is an easy 2-hour drive north. Take the I-17 north to
the AZ-179 N exit, EXIT 298, toward Sedona.

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GET YOUR HIKE ON

Buy your Red Rock Hiking Passes at the Visitor Center/Ranger Station

This will be your first stop to pick up maps of the area and to get info on any trails to hike in Sedona. You want to buy your Red Rock daily hiking passes here which cost $5 a day. You need a pass for a lot of the trails and definitely at the ones I tell you about here. Make sure you stop at this location coming into Sedona. *Beware of all the places that pose as visitor centers in town, but are really timeshare sales hubs.

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We couldn’t resist posing with no other than Smokey the Bear!

Park at the Bell Rock Pathway Trail Head

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Easy camping rubber band clothesline!

My creative Mother made me this handy clothesline out of rubber bands and we used it all of the time- inside and out!

Want to make your own? Here’s how….

If using regular rubber bands, buy the thicker ones. Don’t get cheap dollar store type.
Use appx. 20-25 bands and make into a chain by looping end to end.

Make 3 chains of equal length. Holding one end of each chain together in your hand loop the end together in a large knot, leaving a grouping of 3 bands at the end for hanging.

Take the loops formed at the end of knot and hang over something such as a knob and begin to form a braid with the 3 strands, stretching braid gently as you go.

When you get down to about the last 6 inches hold the end loops together again and loop into another large knot.

A lot of campgrounds won’t let you hang clothes outside to dry, so this rubber band clothesline worked perfectly inside our RV too.

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Love Goes

I truly thought the book I’ve been reading was called Love Goes. I even told friends they needed to go buy it. Bob Goff’s bestseller is actually titled Love Does. I didn’t even realize that I had switched a letter to make the title my own. Obviously, I believe that Love Goes too. Where does love take you?

Love is why I head to Valladolid, Mexico. I go because I love the people there. I love who I’m there serving with and I love seeing my kids serving alongside me. Love is a good reason to go.

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Our first mission trip to Valladolid back in 2011.

Our family closed out our summer with a week-long mission trip to the Yucatan. Unlike the two other times I have gone on this trip, I had a moment where I questioned my significance. I wondered whether my presence there was really important. Was I truly making an impact? What am I doing on a medical mission trip in a country whose language I can’t fluently speak?

In the past, I led Vacation Bible School in the villages all day long. Sometimes when we are busy, it’s easier to feel like we are making a difference. With such a large group from our church on the trip this time, I was “just” part of the soccer camp crew. I try my best to never question any role I’m given because I do believe that God puts us exactly where he wants us and it’s our job to just follow. One morning I simply felt lost without a real role to cling to. Why am I here?

Immediately the Lord quieted me and whispered, stop and look around you. Take a look at your children and husband. These five amazing people wouldn’t be here serving without you. Relax and take it in. I did and you know what, I was immediately humbled.

My eyes welled up as I walked into the room where my middle triplet was quietly cleaning the feet of local men and women as they entered the diabetes clinic. I never coerced him to go take on that role. I didn’t even know that was where he ended up until I walked in and saw him at work.

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Next, I walked out back of the clinic to see my other sons serving in the hot Mexican sun, testing all the urine of the locals. I refilled my boys’ waters, made them laugh and gave them sunglasses. Pride filled my heart as I watched them work together on this thankless job.

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I then went out front to see my husband tirelessly shoveling and moving gravel. The men were covering the bare land that surrounded the colorful new playground that our church had just built. They were working hard, sweating profusely and forming bonds through their teamwork. I felt pride watching my husband always working to fill any need day in and day out on his first mission trip.

My daughter was constantly loving on the village children. She helped in the diabetes and eye clinics as well as in VBS and soccer camp. She was a roamer and filled whatever need there was at the time. Here she is handing out cookies to the local kids.

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One day I chased the kids up and down and all around the hot playground as they chanted over and over… Jugar! Jugar! All they wanted was for me to play with them. At one point I was so overheated and needed a spot in the shade to cool off. The language barrier between myself and my new friends caused them to follow me to my resting place and surround me. My first thought was, how am I going to be able to cool off? And then they began singing.

I don’t even know what they were singing. I asked one spanish speaking friend to translate it for me and what he told me was beautiful.  The time I couldn’t catch a break was the time that spoke the most to me on the trip. I was loved just for being me and showing up. I sat in awe.

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We may have times in our lives that we question our significance when our roles may not seem important enough. But, sometimes all we need to do is look around and realize that showing up in love may be all that’s required of us.

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Go Geocaching!

Looking for an inexpensive outdoor family activity? 

Geocaching is a modern day treasure hunt that gets the kids outside discovering new places. As a believer in the importance of family playtime, Geocaching is a perfect excuse to have a little fun competition together.

Did you know today May 2 marks the 15th anniversary of this widely growing outdoor recreational activity?

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What exactly is Geocaching? 

It is simply a fun, contemporary take on treasure hunting. Geocaching is the perfect solution for those in search of a family-friendly hobby that’s high on both fun and outdoor activity.

Basically you just search online by location to find hidden containers, called caches, and then share your experiences online. People of all ages are enjoying geocaching all over the world! It sounds easier than it is, but I have to say my kids are much better at finding these than I am!

What do I need to begin Geocaching?

Geocaching is a great activity to get us all outdoors but the kids will also enjoy it because it does take a little technology! Instead of using a treasure map, you will need to have an IPhone or other GPS capable device to locate your treasure. Geocaching is free to begin, but if you enjoy it you will want to purchase the almost $10 App.

Log onto geocaching.com for free access to nearly 2 million cache coordinates. Geocache sites range from easy to challenging, and list their level of difficulty.  If it’s your first time out on the hunt, go after caches that have been logged most recently to ensure that there is actually something still there to find.

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What does this word “cache” mean?

Caches are various containers of all shapes and sizes that usually contain a log to sign and possibly a little treasure. Remember to stash your pockets with trivial trinkets of your own if you plan to take anything as a souvenir. Geocaching etiquette dictates that you leave something behind if you take anything out of the cache! I bought a lot of personalized pencils and sticky hands from Oriental Trading to have on hand at all times. Once you’re done with the geocache, remember to return it exactly where you found it.

Remember the goal, and treasure, of geocaching is the fun of the hunt – not the acquisition of the cache contents.

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What is a Travel bug or Trackable?

Travel bugs are different than trade items. Sometimes called “hitchhikers,” these are often intended to travel the world. They are fine to take as long as you promise to put it in another geocache. Be sure to log the travel bug number online so its owner can trace its travels.

Trackables are always an exciting find! It’s fun to log them and see where all they have been before they reached you. Before heading out on our big adventure around the USA I had some family trackables made with our family photo on them. I had these made by Darick who was fantastic to work with and he has a really fun Geocaching website as well! He’s got free printable logs and lots of other neat things for you, so check it out.

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Are you a Geocaching family? Perhaps you will be now…. Happy treasure hunting and Happy 15 year anniversary Geocaching!

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5 Ways to Celebrate the 45th anniversary of Earth Day!

Most days I take for granted what an amazing physical world we live in. Every April 22, Earth Day reminds us to take care of our planet and be mindful of the footprint we are leaving on our environment. This Earth Day there’s a role for everyone. Small actions do matter and add up to make a world of difference for the planet we all share.

Here are some simple ideas for your family to do their part on Earth Day today!

1. Go on an Earth Dayte to see Disneynature’s Monkey Kingdom movie!

Head to the movie today or tomorrow (April 22 and 23) and a portion of your ticket will support Conservation International programs that protect monkeys and other endangered species, restore forests and support local communities. 

2. Head to a local farmers market and don’t forget to bring your reusable bags!

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If you are in Arizona, check out Wednesday’s Uptown Market

A local farmers market just simply makes me happy. Buying organic produce and sustainable products locally is something we should all be doing when we can!

I have been using reusable bags ever since I lived in Europe many years ago. Europeans all bring their own bags for their shopping and we should get in the habit as well! My favorite reusable bags are my Envirosax. I’ve been using them for years and they’ve held up perfectly. You can throw them in the washing machine and they fold up tiny to carry in your purse!

3. Volunteer your time or join the Nature Conservancy!

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There are many local events going on for you to get involved in. The Nature Conservancy is an amazing resource and you can check for local events right here.

You can be the one to help ensure that nature’s most vulnerable lands and waters are given the care, the love and the protection that they need by becoming a member of the Nature Conservancy or  Adopt an Acre® to help protect natural places you love – like the majestic forests of the Rockies and Central Appalachians or the acres of iconic coastal cypress in the Gulf Coast. With your help, we can ensure that amazing natural treasures like these get the urgent protection and restoration that is critical to their survival.

4. Make Earth Day snack cups and popcorn for your kids!

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These are the cutest things I’ve seen! If only my kids were younger. But, all of you with little ones get on this! I loved this idea from Rebecca Cooper at Simpleasthatblog!

5. Seek out a Recycling Event

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So happy our local Whole Foods is having an electronics recycling event this week! I’ve been holding on to old laptops and video cameras for years. Even donating your clothing to a thrift store is a perfect thing to do today as well!

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Turning 12 Like a Girl…

I’m telling you the angels were singing to me the day the nurse told me during my ultrasound that the baby I was carrying inside me was a GIRL. I could cry now just thinking back to that exact moment. If I had to name one best moment of my life, I think it would be this one. I was a Momma to triplet sons less than a year old at the time. I was just sure one of them was going to be a girl, but they all came out male. Then, unexpectedly expecting a fourth I needed to know if this special surprise was indeed my daughter. And yes, she most certainly was.

She is still the love of my life, but some days I have to really strain to hear those singing angels. But, I couldn’t be more proud of her and who she is today as she turns 12. I was nothing like her at this age, so she is fascinating to me. I was scared of anything and everything. She fears nothing and enjoys all.

Did you see the Always #LikeAGirl Super Bowl commercial or have you seen the campaign? It was my highlight to watching that game. I wanted to jump up and shout, YES girls, YES!! Instead, tears welled up in my eyes, as my sons stared at me in horror. I am all for raising and being a strong, confident woman. I know the Always campaign uses verbs like Run#LikeAGirl or Skate #LikeAGirl, but I want to use adjectives that describe my youngest who is growing up with three brothers ahead of her.

Here are 12 words that embody my daughter, along with my favorite pictures of her from our USA travels, in honor of her 12th birthday today. Turning 12 #LikeAGirl.

Brave

strong

daring
Independent

curious

carefree

fearless

Happy

athletic

silly

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confident