Teaching our Children What the Flag Stands For

A funeral is always an emotional event.  A recent funeral flooded me with such a mixture of emotions.  Sadness for the family, pride in seeing my friend honored for having served his country, and sobering thoughts of how in some ways we are missing the mark with the current young adult generation.

I recently attended the funeral of my friend John.  He was a good man, a man who loved God and loved his family well.  He was also a veteran who had served in the US Navy.  Although it had been many years since his time in the Navy, it was an emotional moment to witness that his service still had value in the eyes of the Navy and our country. It was meaningful to me to see him honored at his funeral.  

I have always considered myself a patriotic person but I realize that the older I get, and the more folks I know who have served in the US military, the more fully I appreciate the sacrifices they have made.  Sacrifices the whole family has made.

There are many ways in which the military is so regimented, so structured, and precise in a way that I haven’t always appreciated. I saw that structure in a different light on this day.  

This wasn’t my first military funeral, but for a whole bunch of reasons I see things a little differently the older I get.  After three shots were fired, I stood captivated as a man and a woman, both in Navy uniform, folded the US flag with such precision and care.  It was a slow process.  A precise process. Such great care was taken.  

When this carefully folded flag was presented to the widow, sincerity and compassion could be seen in the eyes of the presenter. “On behalf of the President of the United States, the United States Navy and a grateful Nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one’s honorable and faithful service.”

Gulp.  Tears.  It really got to me and it was obvious I wasn’t the only one that was affected in this way. 

Many eyes were wet that day. We were sad for my friend who lost her husband. We were sad and concerned for her that she is now the only parent to her adult son with Down syndrome.  We were sad remembering how John had so worried over his wife having to care for him and worried about leaving her on her own.  He was diagnosed soon after Margaret lost her mother after being her caregiver for several years.  Unselfishly, his only concern wasn’t for himself or anything he faced, but for Margaret.   

Although seeing him honored didn’t take away any of that sadness and concern, I was also struck with the reminder that although this friend’s time in the Navy was many years ago; he had willingly put his life at risk for the good of all of us that get to enjoy the safety and freedom that we have in the US.  

I couldn’t help but contrast the care taken on this day, with both sadness and a bit of anger that some callously and purposefully disrespect our flag.  The flag is a symbol; a symbol of our country and our freedom.    A symbol of all that is fought for by those willing to leave their homes and families and risk their very lives for the good of all.  

How is it that some have so little thought of the very thing, our flag, that is treated so carefully by others as a revered symbol?

“And a grateful Nation.”  We must teach our children that our freedoms and our safety aren’t without cost. That freedom isn’t free.  The reverence for our flag and appreciation for our military is learned when we understand the cost.  

I remember a day many years ago now when my husband and kids were watching the Olympics.  My husband stood when the national anthem came on and covered his heart with his right hand.  He did this so that my young children would see him showing reverence for the flag and national anthem being sung.  They were young and impressionable and he spontaneously decided this was a good way to begin to teach them.   To be honest, on that day I thought it seemed a little overboard, a little silly.  I don’t think so anymore.

When I graduated high school I had a general appreciation for our military and our flag.  I do remember that pledging allegiance to the flag all my school years taught me a feeling of respect for what it stood for.  History, for the most part though, felt like a bunch of dates and events that happened a long time ago that didn’t seem all that real to me.

When we homeschooled, we didn’t do history the way I had learned it, with a textbook and dates to memorize.  We read biographies and historical fiction. We also read stories of real people with real families with real struggles making real sacrifices.  For me, this inspired much better understanding of the price paid for the life I am able to live.  I was thankful too that this helped my kids come to a different and deeper understanding much earlier in life than me.

This isn’t a post about homeschooling; my husband attended public school his entire school years and he is one of the most patriotic people I know.  When I asked what had influenced him the most he said: 1) saying the pledge of allegiance at school every day and 2) the example set for him by family members that served in the military.  Those family members knew firsthand that freedom isn’t free.  They showed respect for the fought for symbol of our freedom and safety.  

Whether they go to school or homeschool, we the parents must teach our kids what is most important for them to know.  We teach them the most by our example.  It is humbling and scary to think about that our kids are always watching us.  In all areas of life, what we do matters so much more than what we say.


The Details You’ve Wanted to Know About Walmart Grocery Pickup!

I think I’m in love.  At least greatly infatuated.  

I just tried my first Walmart grocery pick up. I kept hearing about it; you order online and they deliver the groceries to your car when you arrive.  It sounded almost too good to be true.  It’s FREE!  Two of my friends had tried it and had posted on Facebook that it was amazing.

My hubby just had knee replacement surgery 6 days ago and I haven’t left him home alone yet; so this was the perfect time to give it a try. He promised not to get out of his chair while I was gone.  If he absolutely had to go to the bathroom he was to text me when he got up and text when he was safely back in his chair so I would know he hadn’t fallen.   I was gone from home less than an hour including time to stop and get Jessie an icee on the way home!  My grocery order consisted of 22 items.  Amazing!

I placed my order online.  I loved that as I added each new item there was a running total, so at all times I knew how much I had already spent.  In my case, when I placed the order late Sunday night the first available time for pickup was Tuesday, but I had my choice of most any time of the day for pick up.  The first times to fill up for weekdays seemed to be 5:00 and 6:00 pm, right when folks are getting off work.  

I went here for a promo code for $10 off first grocery pickup. $10, what a great coupon!  It looks like that promo code is good through the end of August.

I downloaded the Walmart grocery app.  I had already placed my order on my browser before I realized there was an app.  I received an email that told me my order was received and that I should “check in” to say I was on the way using the app when going to pick up my order.  There is a number you can call if you don’t have a smartphone to use the app.

At the end of the order it asked if there were any items they couldn’t substitute if they didn’t have the exact item.  I didn’t check that there were any they couldn’t substitute but that worried me a little.  When I picked up my order though, there were no substitutions and no deleted items.  The young man who delivered let me know that when I signed for my groceries.

In the email I was given a cutoff time until which I could make additions or changes to my order.   After placing my order, I went back twice to the app to add additional items.  After the initial time that I put my card number in I never had to do it again, it held my card number and it showed up as 3 separate charges/transactions when I checked my bank account online. 

I was very curious that it didn’t mention letting them know when you arrived.  I mean, you could be 15 minutes or 45 minutes away when you’re “on the way”.  Not sure how it was all going to work, I waited for a minutes after I left the house before I checked in so it would be closer to my arrival time.  

When I “checked in” the app asked permission to have my location when the app isn’t in use, so that they could know when I arrived.  As soon as I said yes, it pulled up my location on GPS and let me know I was 14 minutes away and they would have my groceries ready when I arrived!  When I drove up, I looked at the app and it said something like, “You’re here.   We’ll have your groceries right out.”  


All over the parking lot there are orange signs with arrows pointing the way to the pickup area.

It was easy to find and there were 10 spaces marked 1-10 for customers waiting for their delivery.  When I parked there was only one other person waiting. When I left, there was the same car and one other waiting.

I got home about 20-25 minutes after my grocery pickup and my frozen items were still well frozen.  I didn’t purchase any produce or meat but I read online that Walmart is conscious of choosing good produce for their customer because they know a customer might be hesitant to buy produce they didn’t pick for themselves.  I did buy 3 limes, but you don’t have to be very choosy about those.  

I had ordered a 40 lb bucket of cat litter.  Knowing that my husband wouldn’t be able to help me unload groceries I was glad the young man that brought out my groceries had lifted it into the trunk so I only had to lift and carry it once.  Nice bonus.  

For moms with multiple small children, wives with husbands who have had knee replacements, moms who don’t want to say, “Come on, come on” fifty times while in the store, or, “No, we aren’t looking at makeup today.” this is an awesome service.  I foresee this making my life so much easier.  

Sometimes Jessie does just fine going to Walmart but it always takes me much longer than I could shop if I was alone.  Sometimes that’s okay and sometimes it makes me want to pull my already gray hair out.  

Jordan, my oldest who is a physical therapist assistant, was like, “Mom! Don’t do that!”  She  told encouraged me not to use this service all the time.  She worries that I won’t stay active enough.  She sorta implied it would make me lazy.  I told her I would rather spend that time and energy pulling weeds in my garden or planting something, cutting the grass, or doing almost any other thing that would keep me moving and active!

 I really dislike grocery shopping.  I seriously would rather clean house or would choose lots of other home keeping tasks over grocery shopping.  I think that’s because those other things leave you with a visual effect of having accomplished something. 

I asked the young man who brought out my groceries and loaded them in my trunk if he could accept a tip.  He said no he couldn’t, that it was just a part of their service.

I hope this service is here to stay.  Although it seems almost too good to be true that the service is free, it is.  And I love it.   

My girl was happy to get out of the house and happy to be surprised with an icee. Also happy that I didn’t drag her around in the store for an hour 😊. Yeah, terrible photo planning with the huge trash can in the photo. She purchased the fidget spinner with her allowance money. She had been given one, but this was blue, her current favorite color. Those socks y’all. She has her own sense of style.

Hope you all are having a great week!

*Here’s a link to where the pickup service is available

Mama, Are You Battle Weary?

A couple of weeks ago I described myself to a friend as battle weary.  That day, something that I usually could have let roll off my back just really got to me.  It felt like much bigger of an issue than it really was.  In the big scheme of things, it was just a little thing.   But that day I just didn’t cope with it well.  I just felt tired of coping.

I’ve been a mama for almost 23 years now.   And a mama to a child with special needs for almost 16.  I recognized the feeling.   That feeling of sadness that I knew was out of proportion to the event that set it off.  I’ve learned to recognize the feeling and I’ve learned what usually helps me to deal with it.

You’ve heard the phrase, “the straw that broke the camel’s back”.  That’s almost always the kind of thing that throws me over the edge.  A normal everyday stressor that I don’t react to in my normal way.  It may be related to something I’ve been dealing with for a long time or it may be that I feel I’ve been dealing with a lot of things for a long time.

I just kinda snap.

Not on the outside.   Just on the inside.  

You know that post I wrote a while back, about how Down syndrome doesn’t rule our lives anymore?  Well, 95% of the time that’s really how I feel.   Then, bam.

I’m just so tired of trying to figure things out.

Tired of trying to figure out why my child’s hair is falling out.  Well, I know it’s autoimmune but I mean tired of trying to find time and mental energy to research one more thing.  Tired of trying to keep Jessie from calling people more often than they want her to.  Tired of worrying about how much tv/youtube Jessie watches while I tend to my responsibilities.  Tired of trying to figure out what really is important to teach her in our homeschool.  

Tired.  Just tired.  Physically too, but mostly mentally.  Just so tired of fighting for balance in so many areas.  Battle weary.   On those days it all just feels like I’ve been fighting a lot of things for a long time.  And something happens that feels like the straw that broke the camel’s back.  Like for just a short time I can’t fight anymore.  

I have learned that when I feel this way I need to give myself a break.  

I can’t usually take a break physically but I mentally take a break.  I allow myself to not feel guilty about not dealing well with all the things that are competing for my attention.  I allow myself to feel sad about whatever is bothering me. I remind myself that all those things will be there for me to figure out in a few days.  I allow myself to do less than what is my best in all those mentally exhausting areas briefly while I let my brain take a rest.  

Usually, I am better in a day or two.   Then I can think about all those things without wanting to cry.  

I’m back to feeling like Down syndrome is just a thing to adjust to.  And God will guide us through.  He always has and always will.  

Rest is biblical.  Sometimes the need for rest is physical and sometimes the rest we need is mental.  At least for me it is.  Surely I can’t be the only one.

We put such pressure on ourselves to do all the things well.   Is that realistic?  Or healthy?

Mama, when you’re battle weary, allow yourself to take just a little break so that you can be fit to deal with it all again.  Whatever the issues, they didn’t get where they are in a day and they aren’t gonna get resolved in a day.  

Allow yourself to not feel guilty for taking a couple of mental health days, where you might let your kid off the hook for something that really needs to be dealt with.  You will deal with it; just not today.  

Maybe you need to paint a room or do a DIY or craft project?  Maybe you need to binge watch Netflix (for a day not a year :)) and not feel guilty that your kid is watching tv while you’re doing those things.  Or read a book all day and let the kids eat whatever they can get for themselves?  Whatever is your thing, maybe for a couple of days it isn’t selfish; maybe it’s the thing that helps you get back to the place where you can give again.

I may not be ready to tackle all the things in a couple of days, but when I give myself permission to not deal with them temporarily, they usually feel like things I can deal with again soon.

Today I’m good.  But that day a couple of weeks ago is still fresh enough in my memory that I’m crying as I write this.  I’m not going to feel guilty or weak for having that moment of weakness and neither should you.  

You can be strong and not be strong every minute.  All parenting, and even more so special needs parenting, is a marathon, not a sprint.  I’m convinced that letting yourself be weak for a moment so you can regroup can help you be better equipped to get back in the battle another day.

Battle weary mama, I know how you feel and I’m praying for you.  



Learning to be Content With the Home You Have

Do you sometimes find yourself dissatisfied with your home?  There are many areas in our lives that if not careful,  we find ourselves falling into the comparison trap or maybe because we are experiencing genuinely difficult life circumstances, it is really easy to find ourselves feeling discontented.

Without meaning to, we can lose the joy and enjoyment of our home when we focus too much on its imperfections. While we want our home to be the place of rest and comfort, it can be that instead we look around and see a reminder of all that isn’t quite right.  When I was a younger wife and mother sometimes that is what would temporarily happen to me.  I have since learned that I can choose to be joyful and content with the home I have.

For many years now, it has been on my heart that it is important  to learn to be content.  It was important to me in raising my children that they learn to be content too.  Because I feel I could write a book on my journey of learning to be content; for the sake of this blog post not being ridiculously long, I will confine my thoughts on contentment this week to being content with the home you have.

You may hope to live in a better or more nicely furnished home at some point in the future, but for now, until you do, let’s ponder learning to be content in the home you currently have, however small or sparsely furnished it is, or whatever imperfections your home has.

We tend to think of contentment as being something that we feel when circumstances in our life are good.  When all is well.  When we have most of what we want.  But Paul said, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what is it to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” * This last verse has been used out of context so frequently I hesitated to include it.  I don’t think the “everything” refers to anything we might think of, but I think my use is an accurate application.

Even before I was a stay at home mom,  when we were a two income family, we’ve never had lots of money to spend on furnishings, etc.  We went from being two college students, to paying off our car so that when we did have a baby I could stay at home.  While paying off our car we started spending money for doctor bills when we went through a period of infertility issues to try to find out why having a baby wasn’t just happening.

Then we became a one income family.   When I think of what we lived on when we first had just one baby, I wonder how we ever did it.  Of course this was before such expenses as cell phones and wifi.  As the kids got older we chose to prioritize their activities and things we could do together as a family over new furnishings or other things for our home.

For all wives and mothers, but especially for stay at home moms, our home is where we spend a lot of time.  It seems almost instinctual, that desire all women seem to have that makes them want to make their home beautiful. The desire to make our homes comfortable and lovely is, I think, a God-given one, but with all things we have a tendency to excess or to pervert what is intended to be a good and right thing.

This canvas I made is imperfect, but I love the truth of what it says.  There is much about our lives and our homes that are beautiful although imperfect.  Now that I’ve learned how to use fonts online with carbon paper, maybe one day I will redo this with better spacing and lettering.  Till then, I enjoy this reminder of truth.

It’s easy to want what others have and sometimes that makes it harder to be satisfied with what we have.   It doesn’t help that these days we have Instagram and blogs and magazines and books that make us drool over pretty homes and lush yards and we want our homes to look like those.  For the most part, probably even those homes don’t look as perfect as the photo all the time.  I enjoy looking at all of those pretty things for inspiration and ideas for my home; but if we aren’t careful we are temped to spend money we shouldn’t or to feel dissatisfied with our home.

It isn’t wrong to want our homes to be lovely, but what if we don’t have money to spend on renovations, updates and all sorts of pretty things?  Well, then, we are better off if we learn to be content with we have and what we can do.

Because we haven’t had a lot to spend on decorating I have gotten to be a pro at hunting down a good bargain at regular stores, thrift stores; I love chasing down a good bargain!

I’ve even been known to pick up a thing or two beside the road, which my husband really hates.  I’ve tried to tell him it’s an “in” thing to do right now.  Like, they purposefully do it on tv shows!  He still isn’t a fan.  But sometimes you find some fabulous things really cheap or by the side of the road!  I will keep trying to convert him to my way of thinking.

Have you ever seen the movie, “Overboard”? ** I love that movie! It’s one of my favorites.  It was never a big hit at the box office, but it’s just a feel good and funny movie. I’m not one to watch movies over and over, but this one continues to make me laugh.   My sister Debbie and I have both seen it tons of times.  Seriously, if you haven’t seen it, you need to!  It comes on tv pretty regularly.

One thing I think about every single time I see the movie is their home. Without telling you too much if you haven’t seen it,  Goldie Hawn is initially appalled (and rightly so) at the home that Kurt Russell lives in with his boys.  It’s a complete dump.  Seemingly unredeemable without a bulldozer.  But, after Goldie is there a while and puts her womanly charm to work, the house begins to resemble a cozy home.   It is cleaned, she covers the ratty furniture with quilts, and with a little love the house feels like a warm and inviting home.   The house is still old.  All the furnishings are still very old and out of style and yet the home seems cozy and loved.

This is of course a movie; but I think there’s much about that situation that rings true in real life.  The finest of furnishings aren’t required to make our house a home where everyone feels comfortable, welcome and cozy.  A place that people like to be.

No matter where we have lived, I’ve loved making our house feel like “home”.  Though the reasons why have changed over the years, I’ve never had unlimited amounts (or even what many would consider reasonable amounts) of money to furnish and fix up our home.

Ya’ll we don’t live in a tent; we have a nice home.  But like most women, I could make you a list a mile long of all the things I would love to do to update our home, to make it prettier, to make it more comfortable (we need new furniture and a new mattress) and yet I can truthfully say, I love our home.

Learning to be content is something we can learn.   

When I was a younger wife and mother I didn’t realize how it hurt my husband’s feelings when he felt he couldn’t buy us everything we wanted.  I never meant expressing what I wanted for our home to make him feel that way.  I didn’t even know it did for a while. I try to be more careful now about the way I say things.

My husband works hard for our family and is willing to sacrifice things he would enjoy so that I can be at home.  I never want to make him feel what he is doing as a provider isn’t good enough.  I was making him feel that way,  but I didn’t mean to.

The first step in learning to be content is to be genuinely thankful for what we already have.

Several years ago I read  Katie Davis’ blog and later her book, “Kisses From Katie“.  It was in reading Katie’s blog that I was reminded what a luxury it truly is that I can have a hot shower or bath anytime that I want it, and step out onto tile that is reasonably clean (not a dirt floor) and only occasionally do I not have electricity.  I can’t tell you how often I think of this as I step from the hot shower onto a soft, dry rug.  It helps keeps in perspective for me that everything I want for our home is just that: want, not need.

None of the things I want are wrong.  They aren’t even extravagant.  But it is wrong when I allow myself to be discontented (ongoing) instead of thankful and content with what I have.

For the most part I am content, and what is a temptation for me might not be the same as what leads you to feel discontented.  While learning to be content gets easier over time, it isn’t a decision you make and then instantly and permanently feel content with your home.  Here a few things that I find helpful:

  • trying not to concentrate on too many areas of my home at one time (being content to see progress in that one area I’m currently focused on)
  • prioritizing projects or rooms to work on (one at a time)
  • repurposing objects (shopping other rooms in my home) to use them in a new way to freshen things up spending little or no money.  I do this A LOT!
  • accepting that the change I can make will be slow….this one is hardest for me
  • learning to DIY – there are many decorative projects you can make for much less than you can buy them pre-made.
  • reminding myself that although I greatly enjoy decorating my home, none of the things I want are necessities

Ultimately, I don’t think it honors God when I have all I need and yet I’m unsatisfied.  We can choose to have thankful hearts and learn to be patient.  It’s hard at times, but we can do it.

As women, we are probably always going to have that next project or home improvement in mind.  Let’s just set our hearts and minds to be content with what we have along the way.

Being content with the home we have does two good things for us. 1) Our thankfulness for what we have honors God and 2) We don’t lose our joy over something we can’t change at the moment.

Let’s choose to learn to be content.  Let’s choose joy.

I hope you’re having a great week!


*Here’s a link to an article I found that I thought did a good job discussing the context of this much misused Bible verse.

**There is one scene in the beginning of the movie with Goldie Hawn in a revealing swim suit (tv version doesn’t show her whole behind) and later some other women in bikinis.

Even If You Think You Can’t Grow Anything; Everyone Can Grow This

I’ve posted a lot about gardening lately on the blog, on facebook, on Instagram; it’s just that time of year! In Spring and Summer, gardening is just on my mind.   My vegetable garden this year was a bust.  I can’t seem to get the hang of the vegetables, yet.  I won’t write that depressing story today ; but my flowers have been so beautiful and I’ve enjoyed them so much.

Even if you’re one of those people that thinks you can’t grow a thing, I promise, these plants almost can’t be killed.  These have been growing in jars for 10-15 years now.  In the larger jars is pothos.  The smaller jar may be philodendron (has no variegation on the leaves).  The leaves are so small on that one it’s hard to tell.  I’ve grown both types of plants in water the way you see pictured.  They both do well growing this way.

This jar was given to me by someone who had it in their garage and planned to throw it away…30ish years ago. I still love this jar.

The little jar on the right is one of several (different sizes) that I bought at a garage sale many years ago. The seller said they were old pharmacy bottles. I love them,  especially the larger ones. The pitcher was a wedding gift. I’ve been married 29 years 🙂  I’m decluttering everything these days, trying to keep only the things I love.  These are some of the things I love.  
It was quite by accident that I learned they could survive this way.  Both philodendron and pothos have little nodes on them, that when you keep them submerged in water will begin to grow roots.  I was originally planning to root a new plant from the one I already had growing.  Well, I left it there a really long time and the roots started getting really long in the jar.  I googled it and realized, that yes, they could actually live that way.

My kids were much younger when I started these and the plant in soil that I got the cutting from has been long gone, but these in water just can’t be killed.   At times the water has gotten too low and some leaves will turn yellow to alert me.  I pluck the dead leaves off, refill the water  and they’re good to go.

This is an excellent way to enjoy something green growing when you’re in a season of life when time for much gardening is a luxury you don’t have.

Here are some tips if you want to grow philodendron or pothos in this way:

  1. To start the plant, just get a cutting from a friend.  If you don’t have a friend with one, you can buy a new one (Walmart usually carries them) to do this and it will make several jars.  Put in water, making sure the nodes are completely covered, as that’s where the roots will start.
  2. As the water evaporates, refill with water, keeping the water level above the roots growing and the nodes that you want to root in the water.
  3. The roots will eventually grow really long.  Just take the plant to the sink, trim the roots (however much so that the jar isn’t so crowded) with scissors, rinse out your jar and refill it with water.
  4. When the leaves get dusty, just sit the whole jar in the sink and shower it with your kitchen faucet sprayer.  That’s usually when I go ahead and change the water. Let it sit in the sink a few minutes if needed till the leaves are dry enough to put back where you have it displayed.
  5. Over time if you don’t change the water (I forget about them until I see the water start to turn green) algae will start to grow.  Just take the plant out of the water, give it a good shower with your kitchen sprayer in the sink.  Wash your jar and refill with clean water.
  6. I haven’t been doing this, so they can survive without it, but I have known this tip for watering houseplants.  I read that you should let city/chlorinated water sit 24 hours for the chlorine to dissipate and then replace the water in your jars with non-chlorinated water.  I used to keep a gallon jug of water under my kitchen sink for this purpose to water houseplants.  Over time the gallon milk jug would spring a leak (they’ve gotten less sturdy in recent years!) and caused water damage under my sink.  I need to get a sturdier container to save water in, plants really do like it better.
  7. Depending on what kind of water you have, city, well, hard, soft, it can cause a build up on the inside of your jar.   The crystal pitcher pictured has hard water deposits that I cannot get off no matter what I’ve tried, so consider what you want to use OR clean them more often than I do 🙂
  8. Both plants are poisonous, you can read here about it.  It doesn’t sound deadly but could make you sick.  I’ve never had my kids or pets bother mine, but just to be aware.
  9. These do require some light but can survive without a ton.  You can experiment with different locations.  My kitchen table is a great place with lots of light, but my cat is too tempted when it’s there.
  10. I have never fertilized mine, but read that tip when researching for this post. If you’re new to this, don’t stress over it, mine have survived more than 10 years without it.  They have stopped growing bigger the way they used to.  I will start fertilizing and see what happens.  The recommendation I read was for liquid fertilizer (like Miracle Gro, you mix it with water)  every 4-6 weeks.
  11. I read years ago that you after they’ve grown them in water for a really long time they may not transplant well to soil.  I haven’t tried to transplant any and I’m ok with that.  Maybe I will try it though just to see.
  12. Look for pretty jars at thrift stores or garage sales.  Most of my jars have come from garage sales for next to nothing.  I loved glass jars for long before they were a “cool thing” to love.

This is our mantle currently. If your kids are little and you don’t have time for much gardening or anything else….know that one day you’ll have a beautiful picture of your married kid and you’ll have more time for your interests and you’ll have mixed feelings about it all. Enjoy every season. They each have their own beauty. 
Currently I only have one houseplant other than these growing in water and it was given to me.  My efforts at some point switched to outdoor plants.  I do plan to start growing some house plants again soon now that I feel that I can care for them.   I will still want to grow ones that are easy to grow and forgiving.


If you decide to grow some plants in water, or already do, please share your pictures.  Even if its weeks later, share them with me please!

Hope you’re having a great week!


Looking for a Good Book? 8 Books I’ve Read in 2017

I’m always curious to know what my friends are reading, because quite frequently that helps me know what I want to read next.   So, I thought I would share with you what I’ve been reading.  Well, I should say what I’ve been listening to.  As I said here, in this season of life I am really enjoying audiobooks.  Here’s what I’ve been listening to and my thoughts about them.

I recently listened to The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines , narrated by Chip and Joanna Gaines.  Since I’ve watched I think every episode of the show (who hasn’t?) and read about them online, I wondered if much of it would be repeat information.  Nope.  It was almost entirely new information to me.   The book tells how they met and dated and what their life has looked like since they met till now.  It tells how they got started with the show, which is a funny story.  I had wondered how much of their faith story would be in the book, but there isn’t a lot.  They share some circumstances where God clearly moved on their behalf but that is the extent of it.  I loved the book.   It was an easy and enjoyable listening experience and a good story, just what I was looking for.  Chip has a new book coming out soon and I look forward to listening to that too.

The book I most recently listened to was The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self Discovery by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile, narrated by Ian Cron.   I started hearing different folks mention the Enneagram over a period of probably a year when I was listening to podcasts and it piqued my interest. The Enneagram is a method of personality typing, with nine basic types.    Evidently, a lot of the other books on the Enneagram are pretty deep and complicated and multiple sources said start with this book.  There is a podcast by the same name The Road Back to You and I listened to it some before buying the book.  The podcast is hosted by the authors of the book.  The format of the podcast is interviewing guests and talking about their Enneagram type.  I initially enjoyed the podcast but began to find it annoying. The book doesn’t contain any of the aspects that I found annoying about the podcast and I really enjoyed the book.  I am always interested in personality, all the different types of personality testing and typing and  I’m always curious as to why people do what they do, so I found the book interesting.  I think I have figured out my Enneagram type.  I’m not 100% sure, but for those that know something about The Enneagram I’m pretty sure I’m a 9.  You can have a “wing” in other types, and there are aspects of other numbers that are true of me but almost everything about 9 is true of me.  Listening was a good initial way to take in the book, but it would be helpful to have this as a hard copy book for looking back at.

How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind….Dealing with You’re House’s Dirty Little Secrets, written and narrated by Dana K. White, creator of the blog A Slob Comes Clean.  I always resonate with the books whose authors find keeping their house clean and tidy a struggle.  That has certainly always been true for me.  In reading the reviews before I purchased, some reviewers said she keeps repeating, “just do the dishes”, and they felt it was just too much repetition of a simple concept, while others found it extremely helpful that she keeps it super simple. Her method mainly consists of starting first one routine (doing the dishes everyday) and then adding another then another, remembering that no matter how overwhelming things get, to always do the dishes. While I don’t feel my house was ever at the same level hers was, I have always struggled with keeping my house clean and tidy.   I’ve read a ton of organizing and cleaning books over the years and agree with the author that,”…most organizing advice is…written by organized people….but that’s not how my brain works.”  I have found the most helpful books for me have been written by people who really struggle in this area because we have the same faulty thinking, therefore their strategies are most helpful. We have the same thinking patterns in many ways, so her methods of keeping it super simple make a lot of sense to me.  This book isn’t for the person who occasionally can’t keep up; this book is helpful for the person who continually feels overwhelmed, and like me, feels that the house just blows up completely out of control.  For that person, like me, this is a good book.

Different:  The Story of an Outside the Box Kid and the Mom Who Loved Him by Sally Clarkson and Nathan Clarkson. Narrated by Nathan Clarkson, Ruda Sanda, and Virginia Wolf.   I’ve loved and admired Sally Clarkson for many years now.  My first introduction to Sally was when a friend introduced me to  Educating the WholeHearted Child, which greatly influenced me in my homeschooling and parenting.  Sally’s son, Nathan, struggles with OCD, anxiety and ADHD.  I found it both interesting and helpful, hearing the same story from two points of view; the child and the parent’s point of view.  There are parts of the book that I felt were repetitive, I think because Nathan’s struggle has continued for all his life. At first I thought what I perceived as repetitive was a negative point, but by the end of the book I thought it served a good purpose.  It is helpful for other families reading who share the same ongoing struggles, to see that they aren’t alone in not finding a simple medicinal or therapeutic solution.  Nathan continues as an adult to struggle with these same issues but he has matured, has learned methods of coping, and has learned to rely on God for help.  Different is a true story of the power of a godly mother’s never ending love.  Different shows us too, that while their child may continue to have these difficulties, a godly mother’s love DOES influence how a “different” child sees themself, their world and their God.  This book offers hope to the Christian parent who is parenting an “outside the box” kid.

All the Pretty Things by Edie Wadsworth, narrated by Lisa Larson.  I had come across Edie’s blog and had read just a little and didn’t know a lot of her story.  What  I knew about her before reading the book was that she was a doctor, no longer practicing but staying home with her kids, and that she was big into essential oils. Initially, I was intrigued to know more about her for those reasons.  I read the book description when it came up on Audible as “recommended” because of other books I’ve chosen. I was eager to know more of her personal story.  I was drawn into the book right away and finished it very quickly.  All the Pretty Things is a memoir and tells how Edie grew up in poverty with an alcoholic and often absent father.  While we weren’t poor in the same way, there were aspects of her story I could identify with.  One story in particular, where Edie’s sister gets in trouble, reminded me so vividly of a time when my younger brother (who is no longer living) got in trouble because of me.  That story had me squalling like a baby.  This is a good book that can be enjoyed by anyone, but I  think too,  that each listener/reader of this book would take away something entirely different according to their own personal story. I thought about this book for a while after I finished it.  Every reader will be amazed that she achieves her dream of becoming a doctor, and for Christians, there is rejoicing that she finds a relationship with her heavenly Father.

Unstuffed:Decluttering Your Home, Mind &Soul by Ruth Soukup.  Narrated by Windy Lanzl. If you think I read a lot of this type of book, you’re right.  Reading this kind of book helps me stay motivated and gives me the tools to keep making the decisions to live with less stuff, less clutter.  It is an ongoing process. Like  The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo that I read last year, it gives strategies for making decisions that help you let go of having too much stuff.

How to Blog for Profit Without Selling Your Soul by Ruth Soukup.  When I took a blogging course last December, this book was mentioned by several different people as a must read for new bloggers.  I actually read this one in print rather than audiobook, as there are pictures, graphics, etc.  It’s a pretty quick read the first time through but a book you’ll want to continue to go back to as a new blogger.  There are chapters that cover every aspect of blogging:  content, presentation, social media, growing your platform, monetization.  I agree with everyone that recommended the book to me, if you’re starting a blog, you’ll want to read this book.

The Bible.  In this post I shared my reading plan and a tip that has been helping me stick with it.  I’m tickled pink; I’ve reached 27% of my goal of reading the Bible in a year.

If you want to learn more about how to listen to audiobooks for free you can go here to one of my earlier posts.  To get a free trial from Audible, go here.  I listen to what I can for free and get one credit per month from Audible.

I am always looking for the next good book and prefer to read by personal recommendations.  So comment or send me a private message to let me know what I should read next!

Till next week,


Jessie Got an iphone! Pros and Cons, Safety, and Restrictions

Jessie had wanted a phone for a year or two.  It just wasn’t affordable for us to get her a phone and she was always with a trusted adult so she didn’t truly need one.  There had been a few situations that made me  think it would benefit us if she had one, but it wasn’t a necessity.  

 Finally, when I decided it was time for an upgrade for me,  we were able to replace the battery in my old one, an iphone 5c.  By the time we found out that, yes, you can replace an iphone battery, I already had my heart set on the Iphone 7 plus.   Cause, I can see it really well with the larger screen.  The camera also makes it easy for me to take great photos for the blog.  Since she is using a phone we already owned we just pay $20 for her phone line per month. 

I’m sharing our experience here in case it might help someone else.  This isn’t meant to be a how to or even suggesting what you should or shouldn’t do, just sharing what is and isn’t working for us.

Restrictions and Rules for $ and Data Usage

I set up restrictions on the phone so that she can’t make purchases or download apps without me putting in the password. I learned this from a Kindle experience 🙂

Data Usage:  We all share a data plan.  Jessie knows that she can’t play any videos, FaceTime or video chat unless we are on wifi.  It hasn’t been difficult to teach her when we are on wifi.  She knows we are when at home she usually has wifi and if we visit a friend she knows that the first time she has to get hooked up with the password for wifi.

Jessie knows what she is allowed to do when she doesn’t have wifi.  She can use Facebook , play her WWE SuperCard game (minimal data usage on both of those) or watch a downloaded video on Netflix. Only once has she purposely watched a video that wasn’t a download (thankfully, I caught on before it was costly) when she knew she shouldn’t.

If she were to break the rules she would temporarily lose her phone to help her remember.  She LOVES having her phone.  She will do what it takes to keep it.


Facebook:  Jessie doesn’t accept FB friend requests without asking me first.  She had a FB long before she had a phone and has done well at abiding by this rule.  Only once did she not ask first and then she confessed.

Video Chatting:  She does video chat in her room sometimes, mostly for my convenience.  Sometimes she and her friends talk a long time and I’ve said before I kinda crave peace and quiet.  I usually know who she is talking to.  Sometimes when I’m listening from another room and can’t tell who, I will come into the room (like I have laundry or something) or text her to ask her.

I know well the people that she is chatting with, except in one group chat group she has, which I also know to be harmless.  Still, I make sure I am in and out occasionally.  I’m not saying she never will, but she doesn’t currently regularly video chat or FaceTime with any males except brother or daddy.

I randomly and periodically look through her phone and fb messages.   Not really because I suspect any wrong doing, but to see if she is calling adults more frequently than she should and being an annoyance in that way.  Safety isn’t my primary reason, but I like knowing who she is communicating with.  Sometimes when I am getting her hooked up to CPAP and she has just set her phone alarm I will give it a quick glance.

Pros:  Things I Think Are Good About Jessie Having a Phone

There are several ways that having a phone has helped Jessie have greater independence.

Using the phone alarm clock is a big one!  Jessie right away started using her phone for an alarm clock.  We homeschool and we had gone back and forth between me waking her in the mornings or her sleeping until she woke up.  Her using the alarm did several things.

  • She quickly learned it was always AM when during the morning times that she set her alarm for!  We had talked and talked about this.  When she used the alarm for herself it quickly clicked.
  • She felt more grown up.  This helped her more happily take personal responsibility in other areas.
  • On a day when we have nowhere to be, she turns her alarm off and lays in bed and watches a video on her phone for a few minutes as she wakes up.  I don’t have to worry about her falling back asleep like when I would wake her.  Like her mama, when there isn’t a rush to be somewhere she likes to lay in bed a minute and wake up.  Watching a video means she doesn’t fall back asleep.  

When Jessie goes to bed we turn the ringer OFF and ringer volume UP.  This allows her alarm clock to ring and be heard, but no phone calls or texts from earlier rising friends will wake her up.  If I need to text her something to see when she wakes up, it will be there waiting for her without waking her up.                  

This next pro on the list might seem silly to some, but it’s genuinely helpful for us.  Ya’ll know, sometimes it takes SO much to get out the door, especially if you’re going multiple places before you return home.  I’m getting myself ready, gathering things to take, taking the dogs outside multiple times, putting the trash where the big dog can’t get it and kenneling the smaller dog.  Shutting bedroom doors to keep dog out of there while we’re gone.  Making sure the door is shut to the office so the dog can’t get to the litter box….doesn’t that make you feel stressed just reading it?  I’m sure you can relate.  

  • If I’m not sure if Jessie is indeed getting ready or has done the things she needs to do, I can text her to turn off the video or to ask her if she has brushed her teeth etc., or call her to give instructions while I continue to run around like a crazy woman.  Before phone, I was going to her room multiple times sometimes to she if she is on track and remembering everything she needs to do, causing me to run behind in what I needed to do.  Maybe I should have a better system, but this post isn’t about that 🙂
  • When Jessie has woken up in the night and needed me in the bathroom she was able to call me.  She also called me when it was storming.  I usually sleep with her when it storms. Maybe we eventually won’t, but it doesn’t seem a big deal right now to me.  She has gone from sleeping full time with her sister (who got married) to me sleeping with her on Friday nights and when it’s thundering loud enough to wake her over the sound of her box fan.  The benefit to her calling was she never disconnected her CPAP, I just went and crawled in bed with her.  
  • She has friends with DS or other disabilities that she has been able to connect with more and deepen friendships with now that she has a phone.  She uses FaceTime, videochats on FB, and really enjoys doing this with her friends.  Sometimes they are talking to each other and doing other things at the same time.  I can tell that this has enriched her friendships and her life. 
  • We haven’t had a home phone in a couple of years.  When Jessie wakes up I don’t have to worry about leaving a note, or worry if she will find the note or be afraid that she’s alone.  I like to sit in the backyard with my coffee in the mornings.  If she can’t find me she calls or texts; no anxiety for either of us.  Sometimes I will text her while she’s sleeping to let her know I’m outside if she wakes up.  
  • Spelling:  In the past, Jessie texted some with my phone but she texts more now that she has her own.  Texting helps her with spelling, and because it predicts what she’s trying to say, she is able to communicate with words she can’t fully spell without getting too frustrated.  Sometimes she will ask me how to spell something and then after the first letters she will say, “I got it.”
  • We have gone back to writing chores on the white board on the refrigerator.  On her own she came up with the idea that she wanted to take a picture of the list (maybe she’s seen me do this with the grocery list?) and carries it around with her till she’s finished, then comes back and wipes them off the white board.
  • When Jessie particpates in activities away from me or visits with a friend it is easy for me to stay in contact with her or check on her without having to bother the adults in charge.  I can text her to ask if she’s having a good time, let her know when I’m about to pick her up, etc.  Knowing we have a way to reach each other easily gives us both peace of mind.


I can only think of two Cons, but they are significant issues each of them.

  •  Jessie LOVES to talk on the phone and to video chat.  It has been hard to get across to Jessie that adults are busy with work and other things.  I don’t want her to make a nuisance of herself.  Defining how often, during what hours and who she can call has been a major challenge.  Finally, on one occasion our conversation made her cry and on a 2nd occasion she cried and lost her phone for a few hours.  She hasn’t done the same thing since, but it’s still a struggle.
  • Jessie spends a LOT of time on her phone.  If she’s not talking, she’s watching YouTube or TV, playing a game, she even uses it to play music when showering or cleaning her room.  None of the things she does are bad, but it’s hard to have her be willing to do anything without complaining if it involves her being disconnected from her phone for long.   Ahhh… life with teenagers.

Caring for the Phone

We immediately bought Jessie an Otterbox Defender case.  It does a good job of protecting her phone from falls.  Because it is rubbery and not slippery she hasn’t really had an issue with dropping it.  She has a few times gotten a couple of drops of water (after handwashing I think) on the screen inside the case.  I had to remove the case to dry it but the phone was fine, it was just on the surface.

Jessie started carrying a cross body purse to make it easier to keep up with her phone and her money anytime she is away from home without mama.  I think she is less likely to leave it sitting on a shelf when shopping or a restaurant table if she carries her purse.  So far, so good.  She uses her phone a lot so that helps her keep up with it too.  When I’m with her she puts it in my purse when she doesn’t want to carry it.

Well, those are all my many wordy thoughts on how Jessie getting an iphone has impacted our lives.   Hope it’s helpful!

Till next week friends,




Is Bible Journaling Your Jam? 4 Ways to Use Bible Journaling

*this post contains affiliate links, read disclosure here, we appreciate your support*

Bible Journaling has been all the craze for a while now.  Is Bible Journaling something that you love?  

To be honest, it’s not something I’ve tried, but I know many people love Bible Journaling. When I looked at this Bible Journaling Kit I instantly thought of several  people for whom it would be the perfect gift.  People use Bible journaling in a variety of ways and here are 4 ways I think are pretty neat.

For Homeschooling Families, Bible Journaling During Read Aloud Times.

When I was homeschooling my older two that are now grown, the time that we spent together while I read aloud to them was the favorite part of our day for all of us.  We continued to read aloud even when they were teenagers.  Those are still some of my fondest memories.

Sometimes they would color while I read aloud to them.  We had a lot of educational coloring books and they used Prismacolor coloring pencils.  These would be good pencils for journaling in your Bible or notebook as well.  They’re a better quality than Crayola, etc, but come in a range of price.   We chose these Prismacolor Scholar colored pencils for Jessie.  They color well, weren’t super expensive and weren’t so super soft that they break easily.

This would be a great way for homeschooling families to use Bible journaling.  A quiet activity that gives them something to do with their hands during read aloud time.  Or any time you want them to be still and quiet 🙂

Using the Bible Journaling Stencils to Make Cards or for Framing

Jessie loves to make cards.  I keep card stock on hand and she loves to make birthday cards.   She also loves to send cards or letters in the mail.  Outlining and coloring in the Bible verse on the outside of the card would be a great “thinking of you” card for anytime.  It would also help her to memorize scripture without it seeming it being difficult or seeming like “work.”

I could see myself using Bible verse journaling in this way.  I’m not a journaler but I do like to make personalized cards.  It’s been a while since I’ve done it, but I used to enjoy making cards with rubber stamps.  I would also enjoy making a frameable print to use in my home.


Using Bible Journaling to Help Commit Scripture to Memory and Work on Fine Motor Skills

For older children, teens, and adults Bible Journaling would be a fun way to to help cement scripture in our memory.

For my Jessie, who has Down Syndrome, if I can convince her that tracing isn’t too difficult (I will let you know how this goes) it would be a great fine motor activity for her. She has a tendency to want to give up if she can’t do it in a way she thinks is perfect but I would love for to enjoy this and reap the double benefits of learning scripture and fine motor practice.

Stenciling Verses Into a Notebook, Journal, or Planner

If you’re interested in learning more about Bible Journaling or connecting with others with the same interest, you should check out The Holy Mess Bible Journaling Facebook Group.  Sara, the author of Trust In the Lord Bible Journaling kit started this group for everyone to share tips and learn from each other.

This week she is having a sale on her Trust In the Lord Bible Journaling Kit. The regular price  $21 now $18 for a limited time.   On the facebook group she will be giving away one journaling Bible and lots of other goodies.  So, check it out!

Sara also has some free printables and a 5 day email series with even more great info about Bible Journaling to help get you started.

Till next week friends,



Are You Thinking About Cancelling Cable? We Did and Here’s What We Found Out.

I don’t think of us as the “cancelling your cable” types.  We are just used to the convenience of tv anytime we wanted to watch and options that everyone in the family enjoyed.

We were paying a ridiculous amount for our cable and high-speed internet.  A ridiculous amount.  For a couple of years we contemplated cancelling, but just couldn’t quite make ourselves do it.  It all seemed so confusing to evaluate the other options of how to watch tv without cable.  We didn’t have any extra movie channels, and yet we were paying $214.00.

We were paying $139.99 for “bundled services” for cable/tv, voice (home phone) and high-speed internet.   We didn’t even  plug in a phone but they offered a better price for bundled services.  So, technically we were paying for a service we didn’t even use.  In addition we were paying $41.88 for “additional equipment and fees”.  Then still some additional “fees” that totaled $21.40.  

Below is the “additional” equipment and fees we were paying, totaling $41.88.

  • $10 A DVR I loved my DVR and rarely ever watched live tv.  This allowed me to watch my favorite shows when it was convenient for me and not when they aired.
  • $9.95 digital converter box for our bedroom. The tv was 25 years old and original remote didn’t work, so this was a more expensive box than the other adapters.
  • $11.98 for 2 additional digital adapters boxes @ $5.99 each. One of the two was rarely being used.
  • HD fee of $10. Say what?! That was ON TOP of the 139.99 we paid for “bundled services”
  • $10 fee for the modem….we still have to pay this, unless we later opt to buy our own.

For such a long time, a lack of understanding the other options kept us in limbo.  We just couldn’t figure out how it would all work.  Jay especially wanted local channels, the ability to watch the Alabama games on tv and likes to be able to watch Fox News.

Our married daughter Jordan, and her husband Josh were surviving without cable.  Josh was able to help us understand some of the options. They opted to have Sling TV, Hulu and Netflix.  They were able to tell us we for sure would be able to watch Bama games on Sling TV and that with Hulu, most of the current popular shows are available the next day after they air.  Sling TV  has Fox News in some areas but not in ours, just CNN.

Even though we didn’t fully understand all the options, we did it.  We bit the bullet and cancelled cable.   Jay enjoys tv more than I do, so I knew it would affect him the most.  Jessie had been gifted a 3 month subscription to WWE that I knew she would still be able to watch, and that’s her favorite thing to watch besides YouTube, so I knew for now she would be ok.

I was surprised that when I hung up the phone with Comcast (our cable company) I felt a little sick to my stomach.  It seems ridiculous to say now, but it felt like this big scary leap that I was afraid we would regret.

We kept the high-speed internet offered by Comcast, but cancelled the cable and phone. We knew that whatever options we chose we would want the high speed internet in order to be able to stream tv and use wi-fi for other purposes on multiple devices at the same time.

The same day I cancelled cable I subscribed to Hulu.  Most of the current shows we watch are available on Hulu the day after they air.  We were leaning toward going with Sling TV to be able to watch Alabama football, but since it was off-season we decided to wait on that. We already had Netflix and Amazon Prime.  We didn’t remember to use Amazon a lot for tv, that isn’t our primary reason for having it but without cable it added options.

For the next few 3 weeks we streamed tv using the apps for Hulu, Netflix or Amazon only on our phones or the Kindle, which had a little bit larger screen.  I was surprised to see Jay did great the first 2 weeks.  By the 3rd week he was finding the small screen uncomfortable to find a way to watch.

Jay really missed “live” tv that just stayed on and went to the next thing.  He likes to just leave the tv on in the background all the time, and I really can’t take that hour after hour, which is why he watches in the bedroom a lot.  He likes background noise, its ok sometimes, but I really like quiet.

Jessie before bed the other night asked if I “wanted peace and quiet” in the morning.  That was her way of asking if she was going to be able to watch tv in the living room or would have to watch in our bedroom when she woke up 🙂

***This post contains affiliate links, see full disclosure here ***

On the 3rd week when Jay was really starting to get antsy Hulu Live came out.  For us, this seemed pretty much the perfect solution.  We subscribed to it for $39.99 a month.  It has “live” tv, built-in dvr, the sports channels for Bama games and Fox News.  His perfect match.  We still needed to figure out how to make our ancient tv in the bedroom work with it.  Because Hulu Live is brand new, not all the devices that work for other options work yet with it.

Jay ordered a Roku Express from Amazon because he read that works with Hulu.  It does work with Hulu, but not the Hulu Live. We returned the Roku device.

Unbeknownst to Jay, Evan was feeling sorry that his dad couldn’t watch tv comfortably. Evan knew daddy wouldn’t buy himself a new tv and he wanted Jay to have one.  On Sunday afternoon of Memorial Day weekend I went with him to Best Buy where he bought his dad a smart tv.

The super sweet thing about this purchase is that  Evan has been working out of town for a couple of months and sleeping on a futon. He is so tight with his money that he won’t buy himself a bed.  But he bought a tv for his dad.

When we drove up Jay was working on the van with his head under the hood.  Evan quickly went to the front door with the tv while I distracted Jay.  In a minute Evan told Dad he needed help with something and went back to the front door where he was holding Dad’s surprise when he came around the corner.  Evan had bought an open box model so how he rode home with it in his lap was entertaining 🙂


Waiting for Dad to come around the corner. Of course our porch is messy and dirty for the pic. #reallife

Evan had one Chromecast (streaming device) and we bought another.  Chromecast, like most of the other options, plugs into the HDMI input in back of the tv.  Jessie thinks it’s so cool now that she can use the Hulu or YouTube app on her phone and “cast” it to the tv to watch on the big screen.  We really like watching this way.  Jay finds it slightly less convenient but it doesn’t bother me or Jessie at all.  The only time I think about it is if I  get a phone call.  Then, I’m trying to pause the tv so it will be quiet while I answer the phone.   My solution is use the tv remote to mute the tv until I can pause it after answering.

Although in the end although we chose Hulu Live and using Chromecast to stream it, I will share here for you the choices we considered to help you evaluate your options.

Here is my understanding of the tv options we checked out, including Sling, which we ended up not choosing once Hulu LIVE was available.  There are other options we didn’t really explore.  

Streaming Device Options

On any of the streaming options you have to use a device that enables you to stream them on your tv using your wi-fi.  Roku, Amazon Fire TV Stick, and Chromecast seem to be the most popular.  You can go here to see a comparison of all the Roku options.  You can go here for a review/comparison of some of the different streaming device options.

Xbox One works for Sling, Hulu, Netflix and also works for Hulu LIVE, which doesn’t have as many streaming options yet.  Hulu says there will soon be more options for streaming Live.  We went with Chromecast since we chose Hulu Live.  We probably would have gone with one of the options that comes with a remote otherwise.

Evan has an Xbox One, so when he is home on weekends he can use that option in his room but unless you already want one for playing games, it is the most expensive of the options.  All of the other options are less than $100 and some significantly less.

TV Streaming Options

Sling Tv:  they offer a couple of different options and you can try it for 7 days free.  If you pay for 2 months Sling TV you can get a Roku Express device (enables you to stream on your TV) for free.  The Roku Express is currently sold on Amazon for $29.99.  This was what we originally planned to do.  The main thing about Sling was (before Hulu Live) the only option we knew of that was going to get Jay Alabama football and other sports, but Bama football was at the top of the list.  If you don’t care about everything Hulu Live has to offer, but want your sports, Sling is a less expensive option.

  • Sling Orange is $20 and includes 30 channels and streaming on ONE device.  Channels included HGTV, Disney, CNN (no Fox news), ESPN and more.
  • Sling Blue $25 includes  40 + channels Fox (not Fox News in our area but for some areas is offered), NBC, regional Sports, NFL Network and more.  Stream on up to THREE devices
  • IF you subscribe to orange AND blue you can save $5 and stream on up to FOUR devices at the same time.

Hulu- (not Hulu Live) “Watch premium original series, full seasons of hit shows, current episodes, movies and more.”  Like Netflix, they have some original series’.  On Hulu the current most popular shows from a variety of networks are available to view on Hulu the day after they air on live tv.  I mostly dvr’d everything so that didn’t matter to me at all.  When we were considering this option I looked for specific shows and pretty much everything I watch was available on Hulu.  When Jessie’s subscription to WWE runs out, they even have her Monday Night Raw.

  • Hulu you get 30 day free trial then $7.99 per month. One device at a time.
  • Hulu Live Live 7 days free then $39.99 per month . This is the option we chose. For sports enthusiasts they have the sports channels and they have both CNN and Fox News.   You can stream on two devices at the same time for this price.  Comes with 50 hours of cloud DVR. You can pay more to stream on additional devices or add more space on your dvr.  You can click here to see all the channels they offer.

We haven’t received one normal full monthly bill yet for just our Comcast internet, so this could be off by a couple of dollars.  But this is now our current cost of high-speed internet and tv.

$91.76 (79.95. +10.00 modem +tax) high-speed internet
+$39.99 Hulu Live
total $131.75 for a savings of $82.25

I hope our wild ride into ditching cable and finding a less expensive option is helpful to you.  It was confusing to figure out, but we’re so happy now that we’re saving $82 and don’t feel like we’re missing out on anything.  I regret we waited so long.  If you choose any of the streaming devices through Amazon, I would appreciate you using my link.  I will receive a small ad fee at no additional cost to you and I would be grateful.

I wish you the best of luck finding the best value for your family.

Till next week,





How Our Family Navigated Through the Teenage Dating Years

In a recent post I wrote about using the tween years to prepare for the teen years, I explained that waiting to date until an age that is older than what most consider “normal”,  was what we decided was best for our family.  I explain in the original post how that line of thinking came about. After that post I was asked to give more detail about how that looked in our family.

I was asked:

1)  What conclusions I drew from reading the resources I listed

2) What boundaries we had set that were firm

3) What we allowed with guidance

I listed some reasons we thought waiting to date until older in the first post.  If you haven’t read that post you will want to as I won’t repeat it all here and all the resources that influenced our decisions are listed there.

After reading quite a few books, here are some of the conclusions we came to that influenced our dating guidelines.

In addition to the other reasons already stated, we felt like dating is best used strictly for the purpose of finding a spouse, not for having fun.  Our teens had active social lives, but not one on one dates. They did attend prom at our homeschool group with dates, but dating one on one wasn’t the norm.

We encouraged outings in groups and mostly avoiding being alone with the opposite sex for an extended period of time.  There wasn’t a strict rule of never being alone, but they mostly stayed in a group.  It didn’t have to be a large group, this wasn’t a strict thing…the purpose was avoiding romantic relationships, avoiding awkward situations, avoiding unnecessary heartbreak.  Not having to deal with those issues gave them more time and energy for focusing on what we felt more important for this time in their life, their relationship with God, family, good friends, and of course, school 🙂

 We began planting seeds in the tween and early teen years for them to begin making a mental list of exactly what they were looking for in a marriage partner.  Some things on the list are essential: being a Christian, wanting similar things in family life, some basic compatibility issues.  Then listing other things that are nice to have but not absolutely essential.

At 16, you aren’t ready to get married, so if you develop feelings for someone you will likely have a loooong time to date before you are ready to be married.  That just makes it harder to remain physically pure in your relationship until marriage.  If our teens had developed serious feelings for someone, we would have tried to prolong group settings as long as possible until they were closer to an age to really consider getting married.  Unlike many other parents though, I didn’t feel strongly that our kids had to complete college before marriage, but they needed to be able to support themselves financially.

We didn’t set an exact age, but we hoped we could avoid our teens dating until near the end of high school or beginning of college.  

We advised our teens to never go on a date with someone who wasn’t the kind of person you wanted to marry. This doesn’t mean you know IF you want to marry them, just that from what you know about them, you haven’t ruled it out.  At whatever point you know they aren’t a serious candidate, end the dating relationship.  That might be one date, a few or 6 months, but at whatever point you know the two of you aren’t a good match for marriage, STOP dating them.  

Even once they begin to date we thought it was best if they didn’t spend all or almost all of their time alone as a couple. This would be more likely to form emotional attachments more quickly and bring greater temptations.  Once Jordan was dating (she was 18), she did go on “alone” dates and spent time getting to know her dates on her own, but they also spent a LOT of time with our family.  She and Josh (her husband now) also spent time with his family.  She, and we, felt there were advantages to both, making it easier to have serious conversations you’re less likely to have with others around and spending time with both families.

Boundaries We Set That Were Firm

This category will be small.  There weren’t a lot of boundaries that were firm. We were so fortunate that our kids came to see the wisdom of the ways that we advised them.

We wouldn’t have let them date before 16 if they had wanted to.  IF they had dated at that age everything I’m going to tell you about what dating looked like would have been different.

Jordan was 18 and an adult when she dated.  She could have been living away from home at that age.  We took all that into consideration.

We didn’t have a set curfew that was inflexible.  We always knew where our teens were, dating or not. They kept in touch by texting.  (Evan hasn’t dated while he has lived at home.)  Sometimes they were out very late.  I always knew who they were with and what they were doing.

Jay had to work and I was at home so I waited up or dozed on the couch.  I was as exhausted when my kids were teens as I was when they were babies.  If they had broken our trust…..this scenario all would have changed.  They didn’t.  

I will probably open myself up to some criticism here, but Jordan and Josh would fall asleep on the couch early watching a movie and sometimes we would go to bed and leave them there. When they woke up they would talk or watch tv until the wee hours.  Our bedroom door opens to the living room.  At any moment we could (and did) come out of our room directly into the living room.  They were adults.   They got up early for work during the week and couldn’t stay awake when the movie would start.  If we had enforced that he had to go home they would have had little time together.

They didn’t ever stay at either of our homes alone (a few minutes here and there when everyone was coming and going) and that was by their choice as well as well as our recommendation.

The key ingredient here is that Jordan was a believer and she wanted her actions in all areas of life to be pleasing to God.  That’s really what we’re always hoping for as parents isn’t it?  Knowing this, and knowing her personal convictions for purity, in all areas not just physical, enabled us to be more flexible than we might have otherwise been.

It was always our prayer that our kids would one day transfer their respect for our authority over them to God, who is an authority over us as parents too.   I told my kids many times throughout their life that although we had authority over them, that there was a higher authority than their parents.  I always reminded them that I would answer to God for how I parented them and that I took that very seriously.  Over time they came to really respect that.  I feel sure they’ll use that one day with their kids when they have to say no 🙂

What We Allowed With Guidance

When any kid leaves for a date, they COULD tell you anything and in most cases you wouldn’t know if they weren’t truthful.

Because Jordan set standards for herself that we could respect, what we offered Jordan mostly was recommendations.  If she had behaved in a way that went against our conscience as parents answering to God, we would have had to do things differently.

Although she knew we were right, I’m sure Jordan sometimes got tired of being reminded of certain things.  Like being cautious about being alone in situations that were likely to be a great temptation that could cause regret.  She continued to hear it anyway, cause that’s what parents do.  

What dating looked like in our family didn’t look like it does for most of the world, neither did it look exactly like the excellent books I read and recommended in my first post.  I read those books and we prayed for God to guide us.

I hope as you’re thinking and praying over what dating should look like in your home, you won’t be too quick to think it should look exactly like anyone else’s experience.  You’re working with YOUR child’s temperament, with YOUR child’s spiritual maturity and each child truly does require something so different from us as parents.  My 3 kids are night and day different in many respects.

I’m confident that God can and will guide you to the right decisions for YOUR family.  I’m praying that will be so.

Wishing you the best as you navigate your way through dating.   I hope you have less gray hair at the end of it than I do 🙂

Till next week,