The Pennington Point http://thepenningtonpoint.com Mon, 18 Jul 2016 15:37:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.4.4 A Mom’s Guide to Universal Studios, Part 1 http://thepenningtonpoint.com/2016/07/a-moms-guide-to-universal-studios-part-1/ http://thepenningtonpoint.com/2016/07/a-moms-guide-to-universal-studios-part-1/#respond Mon, 18 Jul 2016 14:58:02 +0000 http://thepenningtonpoint.com/?p=13053 This post contains affiliate links.

Last summer I went to Universal Studios Orlando with 4 of my kids.  Ever since then I have been a ginormous fan of that place.  Like, anytime I hear of someone going to Orlando for Disney I say, “Oh!! You HAVE to go to Universal too!!!!!!!!” (there aren’t enough explanation marks, but I didn’t want to get obnoxious).

I am thrilled that this September we are going back and in addition to 4 kids, my husband is going with us (he didn’t go last year).  Honestly, he has heard so much about our trip that I think he couldn’t resist.  We basically have not stopped talking about it.  Every few days we will all be sitting around chatting about nothing in particular and one of us will say, “Hey!  Remember at Universal when ____?!” and the 5 of us who were there will laugh and start to talk about it more and we are all laughing and smiling and those who didn’t go roll their eyes because they are tired of hearing about it.  Yep, good times.

A mom's guide to Universal Studios, Part 1

But even though the Universal parks are awesomely fun and exciting, there are some things you can do to make your visit even better. You need to be prepared.  Not the kids, they don’t need to be prepared.  The kids can just wake up and ride in the back of the minivan to the airport and follow you wherever you go.  But for moms it’s a different story.  We gotta pack and plan meals and make sure everyone in the family has what they need.  It’s a much tougher job than it looks when you’re a kid.

Being a mom of 9, I know how hard it can be to travel with the family.  There is so much to check on at the last minute and so many teeny details that it can make your head spin.  I like to have my ducks in a row as much as possible when going somewhere like Universal because once I get there it makes my time so much more relaxing.  I mean, let’s face it, there WILL be problems.  Someone will lose a toy or drop their ice cream on the ground and you have to handle it.  But you can make it easier on yourself by being prepared for the issues that you know will come up.  That’s why I wrote this list, for the moms.

But as I worked on this list it got so long because I have so many tips, that I decided to break it into two parts.  I mean, we’re moms here.  Ain’t nobody got time to read a 4,000 word blog post.  So part 1 is about what to do while you are there and part 2 is what to take with you.  Easy.

This is part 1 (which you probably already figured out ‘cuz you’re so smart).  There is a LOT that you don’t want to miss and I am making it my mission to help you.

Tips and tricks and things you don't want to miss at Universal Studios written especially with moms in mind. We are the planners and we need some help!

A Mom’s Guide to Universal Studios – What to Do

  1. Use the app.  The Universal Studios app is fantastic for keeping up with wait times, restaurants, showtimes, shop hours and more.  This will save you time when you’re hungry or late (or both).
  2. Study the map.  In the app or on the web you can look at the maps of the parks and surrounding areas.  It’s good to familiarize yourself with where the restrooms are, what rides are close to each other, which are in the front of the parks and the back.  Also, in case it isn’t clear, there are TWO separate parks, Universal Studios and Universal Islands of Adventure.  You could buy a ticket to only one if you want, so do all of your research beforehand.  If you have kids who like maps, give it to them to study.  This makes it so much easier to get around the parks from the beginning.  I’ll be refreshing my memory of the maps as we get closer to our trip.Universal Studios Orlando map
  3. Make a meal budget.  Look over the menus of the various restaurants in the Universal area and see what you like.  Plan how much you can spend and know where you have to go to keep within that amount.  OR you can purchase a dining plan which makes it so easy!  You can also bring your own snacks and water bottles with you if you want.
  4. Understand the locker system.  OK, this took me time to appreciate, but once I got it I really liked it!  On the thrill rides you can’t carry anything, and I mean anything, with you on the ride.  So they provide free lockers at the beginning of the lines for you to store your stuff.  They open and close using your fingerprints, so your items are safe.  The first few times I walked right past the lockers thinking I didn’t want to deal with that.  But stuff easily gets lost on these rides y’all (ask me how I know)!  And once I embraced the locker system I saw how freeing it was!  No more worrying about anything on the ride….just lock it up and be free! In order to remember which locker we used, I made it a habit to go to the very back of the locker area every time instead of stopping at the first available kiosk.  That way I didn’t have to remember the area my locker was in.  And once our things were in a locker (you don’t get to choose your locker number so you have to remember), I would tell all of the kids our locker number and we would make up something to remember it (OK kids, our locker is number 173, like the highway near our house or number 42 like there are 4 wheels on a car and two people can sit in the front).  If I said it out loud we could remember the number when we got out.  Rides that have these lockers are: Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket, Revenge of the Mummy, Men in Black Alien Attack, Escape from the Gringotts, The Incredible Hulk Coaster, The Forbidden Journey (this is my favorite ride) and Dragon Challenge.
  5. Understand the child swap system.  Universal has this FAB way to ride when you have small children.  There is an area at the end of the lines where you can sit and wait with a child.  So mom and dad can go through the line with the kids, then one person rides while the other waits right there in a little room off to the side and when the first person is finished riding they slip into the waiting area and the other can ride.  It’s awesome!
  6. You can also do a bag swap.  So, if you don’t want to use the lockers or you’re carrying something too big to fit in there (please don’t bring big things, it will hinder your fun!) you can do the child swap plan except with bags.  You don’t have to have kids with you to use the child swap area, so just take turns holding your stuff.
  7. Stay hydrated.  Whatever you do, keep the water flowing.  There are plenty of restrooms and places to stop and refill.  I love to carry a bottle holder like this one so it’s easily by my side with my small stainless steel water bottle.  This makes it easy to take a sip frequently and it’s easy to handle on the rides that don’t have lockers.  Stainless steel so I can add my essential oils which help a ton!  I also love this strap that keeps the kids in a stroller from losing their cups!  Buh-rilliant.
  8. Have a “Must-Ride” list.  Before we even left home we read through the list and descriptions of rides and watched some YouTube videos.  We let each person choose one that they absolutely had to ride.  We made sure those rides got done on the first day so we didn’t miss out on them.  Now that we have been there once, it’s going to be even harder to choose because we love them all!!!
  9. Get the Express Pass.  This y’all, made such a huge difference in our time there!  This is a special pass that lets you go through a shorter line on many of the rides (not all of them though).  Because we were staying in one of the gorgeous resorts, we got Universal Express Unlimited Passes AND an extra hour early in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (This is a perk of staying onsite!).  With these passes you can use it all day that you’re staying in a resort.  If you don’t stay at a resort and instead purchase a pass it’s a little different.  Those are called Universal Express Pass which lets you use it one time per ride per day. There are some rides that don’t have Express Pass lanes.  These are: Escape from Gringotts, Hogwarts Express, Twirl ‘N Hurl, the Forbidden Journey, and Pteranodon Flyers.  But don’t worry, the lines in these rides have some really COOL stuff to look at and they keep you entertained.  Well, I’m not sure about that for the Twirl ‘N Hurl because I would never ride that…..I nearly hurl just thinking about it.  Also, if you want to speed up your wait time you can also go through the singles line.  This means you won’t be riding with your people, but filling in blank spaces with other people.  The rides that have single lines are: Escape from Gringotts, Rip Ride Rocket, Men in Black, Revenge of the Mummy, Transformers, Spider-Man, Dr Doom’s Fearfall, and the Forbidden Journey.
  10. Explore outside the parks.  There’s a great shopping, walking, eating, entertainment area right outside of the parks called City Walk.  We really enjoyed walking around there while we were at Universal and plan to go to City Walk several times on our next trip.  I love how close together it all is so there is no waiting for buses or lines.  You can just walk out and stroll around.  We ate dinner a few times at the restaurants in City Walk and the food was outstanding.  You can also walk over to the resorts and check them out, or ride the boats over.  We took some time to explore each of the resorts and that was fun!
  11. Try everything.  There are some things that are totally unique to Universal and if you don’t try them you’ll miss out!

    –Butterbeer – This drink is only available in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (which is at the back of both parks) and you have to at least try it!  Our family had various reviews of it, but we all thought it was very interesting.  A couple of the kids were crazy about it.  You can even get Butterbeer ice cream in Diagon Alley.
    –Pumpkin Juice- We tried this too (we tried everything we could!) and it was also super yummy.
    –Fishy Green Ale- This bizarre looking green drink is interesting.  Actually, I really liked it, but it’s something you have to try for yourself.
    –Using a wand- We went to the wand shop and chose a wand (or did it choose us?) so the boys could experience the extra cool feature in both Harry Potter worlds.  There are places all around that, if you have a wand, you can do a spell.  My mom-tip for this is to go online and study how the wands work because it’s not as easy as I think it should be, especially considering it’s something children will be doing.  It took us a long time to figure out how to make the spells work.  But we will definitely return with wand in hand to do it all again!
    –Moaning Myrtle- Don’t miss a stop in the Public Conveniences in Hogsmeade to hear her moaning.  It’s hilarious.
    –Hogwarts Express- You can move between the two parks by either going out the front entrance and taking a very short walk to the other, OR by riding the train in the back of the parks.  This is an experience all in itself and we rode it several times and never did catch all of the amazing details.  I was so impressed with the train station that I made the picture my computer screen saver.  No, my screen saver is not a picture of my kids, or my puppy, or my front porch that I love, but the train station at Universal.  That’s how cool it is.Things you don't want to miss at Universal Studios! A guide for moms.

  12. Last but not least, have fun!  Just because you’re the super-mom, trip-organizer, kid-catcher, clothes-washer, wand-carrier, meal-planner and stroller-pusher doesn’t mean you can’t have a ton of fun.  Stop and do a few things you want to do.  Ride the rides, explore the parks, have a Butterbeer and relax.  I’m going to ride the Forbidden Journey like a juvenile and swing my legs and get kid-excited.  I’ll try to shoot all of the aliens on Men in Black and skip around through Seussland.  Just because you’re the grown up doesn’t mean you can’t act like a kid.  Let yourself enjoy it, even if that means swapping off with your husband for an hour to yourself to do anything you want.

A mom's guide to Universal Studios, part 1

I really can’t wait to get back to Universal in September and see it all again.  I hope you will put it on your calendar as something you must do soon!

Next week I’ll have part 2….things you must take with you!

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Sonic Ice Tips and a Great Lip Balm Recipe http://thepenningtonpoint.com/2016/07/sonic-ice-tips-and-a-great-lip-balm-recipe/ Mon, 11 Jul 2016 14:09:24 +0000 http://thepenningtonpoint.com/?p=13047 This post contains affiliate links.

I am sorry to tell you, but this begins the portion of the summer when I complain a lot about the heat.  In fact, I don’t understand how I have not sweated off at least 3 pounds by now.  It’s the time of year when your car feels like an oven every time you get into it, even if you were only stopped long enough to run into the minimart for a bag of ice to dump on yourself.  And WHY on earth can’t I ever remember to put the windshield shade up when I stop?!  I walk back out to my car, open the door and the intense heat reminds me that I could have endured only 110° inside the car instead of 125° if only I had put the shade up.

Speaking of heat, I have been keeping stocked up on my beloved Sonic ice.  It’s such a help to keep me cool.  I buy bags of it and put them in my freezer so I have it on hand at all times.  And, because it melts a little then refreezes in a solid piece, I have developed a system for keeping it all loose and perfect.  Here’s how I do it…..

sonic-ice-tips

  1. Buy a bag of ice at Sonic, put it in a cooler in the car and get home as quickly as possible.
  2. Once home, get it out of the car as quick as you can, run if you have to, into the kitchen and cut a small slice in one of the bottom corners of the bag and let all of the water drain in the sink.
  3. Once you have as much water out as possible, put the bag immediately in the freezer.
  4. Set the timer for 15 minutes.
  5. When the timer goes off, get the bag out of the freezer and bang it around on the counter to loosen up all of the small pieces of ice.
  6. Set the time for another 15 minutes.
  7. Repeat step 5.
  8. Now the bag is all frozen and not in a solid piece and you will have beautiful nugget ice all summer!

That may seem extreme, but once you’ve gone to the trouble of buying Sonic ice only to have it freeze into one solid chunk that you have to pound for 20 minutes with a hammer just to get a few slivers off you will see the wisdom of my system.

Since it’s a whole big thing, I usually buy two or three bags of ice at a time so I can do it all at once.  And I like to hide one bag behind the meat so the kids can’t find it.  Shhhh….

Yesterday while the kids went swimming, I decided to do some mixing and concocting.  It was just too hot for me to sit out there with them and I didn’t want to be where I couldn’t hear them, so I found something to do in the kitchen (my kitchen is the nearest room to the pool).  I got out my oils and my supplies and made several kinds of lip balm.  I am a lip balm addict and I love to make my own so I know exactly what’s in it.

My obsession actually started about a year and a half ago when one of my Young Living friends had a son who really needed the oils that had been helping him with his focus and learning at school.  One day the the principle told my friend that her son couldn’t bring his teeny bottle (it was literally the size of a capsule) to school anymore.  She needed to find a way to let him use the oils at school (he had huge improvement in school since using his oils) so put our heads together.  We came up with two things he could do.

First, we got him a guy-style leather bracelet that he could put a drop on each morning before school and wear it all day.  Second, after making sure he could carry a lip balm, we went to work making some that had his oils in it.  Then he just rubbed it on his wrists instead of his lips.  It worked great!!!!

We made up a big batch for him so she had them ready for the whole year.  Then I became obsessed and started making them for myself to use as actual lip balm.  I played around with various recipes until I came up with one I like.  This is super healthy for your lips and is nice and smooth.  Plus I add a little shimmer to it so I can also use it over my lipstick as a gloss.

Lisa’s Favorite Lip Balm (makes 2 tubes)

Materials: Small glass bowl (or glass measuring cup), small pot, hot pad, paper plates¹, empty lip balm containers, metal 1/2 & 1/8 tsp measuring spoons
Ingredients: Shea butter, coconut oil, almond oil, castor oil, beeswax, Vit E, Mica powder (optional), 8 drops of essential oils²

Add to the glass bowl:
½ tsp shea butter
½ tsp coconut oil
½ tsp beeswax
½ tsp almond oil/castor oil/Vit E³
⅛ tsp Mica powder (optional)

Fill the small pot with about 2″ of water and bring to a boil.  Place the glass bowl with the ingredients into the boiling water and stir occasionally with one of the measuring spoons.  Once it’s all melted together, use a hot pad to remove the bowl from the water and add the Mica powder and essential oils.  Stir then pour into the tubes.  Let sit for 24 hours.  Label if desired.

¹Use the paper plates to set your empty tubes on and pour.  This catches the spills and makes it easy to know what you put in each tube, in case you make various batches.

²Let’s talk about the essential oils you can add.  This is the BEST part!  You can mix them up any way you want!  I like to have different kinds ready for what I need.  If I want to relax, I use lavender lip balm, or if I’m needing to support my immune system, I might use Thieves and Tea Tree oils together.  My personal fave is frankincense and lemon.  I like the way they help me feel cheerful and alert and those are both really great for your skin.  Win-Win.

³For the blend, fill half of the measuring spoon with almond oil, then fill almost with castor oil then add a squirt of Vit E

I love a healthy lip.

The better to kiss you with, my dear.

Now that my Sonic ice is all ready for me and my lips have chemical-free protection, I should stop complaining about the heat.  But I won’t.  Because then no one would recognize me.

Have a great week!!!

***If you haven’t gotten your essential oils yet, let’s do this together!  Click HERE to order your Premium Starter Kit today and I’ll send you some of my homemade lip balm!  Plus I’ll send you a great reference book to help you get started and add you to my awesome Facebook group!***

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An Ungrateful Children Recipe (for helping them, not making them) http://thepenningtonpoint.com/2016/07/an-ungrateful-children-recipe-for-helping-them-not-making-them/ Fri, 08 Jul 2016 14:25:25 +0000 http://thepenningtonpoint.com/?p=13039 This week we have had a houseful!  And for a mom with 9 kids, that’s saying something.  My 4 nieces and nephews are here for 10 days and one of my teens has 2 friends visiting for the week.  That’s 6 extra people.

Now, you’re probably one of those moms who says things like, “There are 42 children at my house today and I LOVE it!”  I meet those ladies and wonder what God was thinking when He made me.  Because if I had 42 extra people staying at my house for 10 days I would be calling them men in white coats to take me away.  I am not that girl.

It’s not just having company that makes it hard, but my own children are ignored when this much is going on and really no one is getting the attention they need.  So the attitudes slip and the fussiness kicks in.

Look, I get it.  Children need to be seen and heard.  And I WANT to take great care of every one.  But sometimes the person bleeding just gets more attention that the person who is crying because their cookie fell on the ground.  It’s a hard fact of life.

I am really enjoying the family being here and the friends and getting to spend time with them all.  BUT  I hit a wall yesterday where I thought that if I heard one more word of complaint or whine about an injustice I was going to lose my ever lovin’ mind.  Mama doesn’t care for whining and crying about how one child didn’t get the same amount of food or another got told he couldn’t play wii right now.  And when I say no, DO NOT ASK ME WHY.

{{OK Lisa, shake it off}}

Of course, each time we have a situation I have been sitting down and talking sweetly to them about the appropriate way to respond to a problem or God’s way to handle disappointment.  But it’s draining. Then yesterday I thought, “Hey, I have all of these essential oils….I wonder if I could ‘brew up a potion’ that would help.”

I already had the oils all out in my bathroom to make some sprays to take with us for a day at the river.  We would need something for the sun and nature we were going be exposed to.  I made a bottle with Purification and peppermint and another with lavender.  Then I glanced over at the case of oils and saw my little bottle of Gratitude and thought, “Hmmmm…..”

So I mixed up this concoction:

An essential oil concoction that every mom needs!

For the rest of the day yesterday and this morning, I have been carrying the spray bottle in my pocket and pulling it out anytime there’s an attitude problem.  I just give it a little spritz over their head and then have my quiet talk with them.

And if you’re wondering, yes, they all know what it is.  They can read.  And amazingly, it does seem to be helping.  I think it’s a combination of the oils and the unspoken message, “You’re being ungrateful,” that is communicated just by me spraying it.

But they have been smiling and listening better when we have out little talks after I use the spray.  And it smells good, which helps.  And it has the added benefit of helping my own attitude as well.

So I thought I’d share the simple recipe with you.

Ungrateful Children Spray: Fill a 2 oz sprayer bottle about 1/2 full of distilled water.  Add 1 tsp of witch hazel (this preserves it, so if you think you’ll use it quickly you don’t need it).  Add 12 drops of Gratitude, 12 drops of Joy and 4 drops of peppermint.  Shake before using.

Summer Outdoors Spray is 20 drops of Purification and 10 drops of peppermint (but in your Premium Starter Kit!).

Since that’s working so well I made 2 more sprays.  I thought I’d just keep the momentum going.

Exhausted Mom Spray has 15 drops of ErRGee, 10 drops of Motivation and 5 drops of Spearmint.

Worn Out Kids Spray has 10 drops of Harmony, 10 drops of lemon, 5 drops of rosemary and 1 drop of black pepper.

I may get a mad scientist coat and start making these for everything!  Mwahahaha!

If you haven’t gotten your Premium Starter Kit yet, HERE and once you order I’ll send you a great reference book and a bunch of other goodies!  Hooray!

Hop over to Facebook and let us know if you try it!

I am not a physician and these are simply the way my family uses the oils.  For a real medical situation please consult your doctor.  Or if your kids just won’t stop complaining, consider sending them to military school. 

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From Sea to Shining Sea http://thepenningtonpoint.com/2016/07/from-sea-to-shining-sea/ Tue, 05 Jul 2016 13:08:34 +0000 http://thepenningtonpoint.com/?p=13031 Hello my friends!!!

It’s been a while since I caught you up on what’s been going on around here.  I’ve been home for almost a week now from my big trip to Utah for the Young Living International Grand Convention.  I went with 2 of my grown kids who also love the oils and we had a grand old time.  Since there were three of us, we decided it would be more economical to drive.  To Salt Lake City.  From San Antonio, Texas.

I don’t know what I was thinking.  It seemed like a good idea when we were looking at the cost of flying, but on the seventh hour of the second day I wondered what on earth had come over me when making that decision.  My back side is still protesting when I go to get in my car.  I feel like I drove form one side of the country to the other.

The long drive was really pretty easy though, so I shouldn’t complain.  My children that were with me are adults so they don’t require any sort of entertainment or stops for diaper changes and snacks.  I met several ladies at the convention who had driven further than I did with babies and toddlers in the car.  My hat is off to them….I have nothing to say after that.  Frankly I was harder to travel with than my kids, with my constant need for Sonic ice and freezing air blowing on me.  At one point my daughter was in the passenger seat next to me wrapped in a blanket and shivering…..it was 100° outside.  It was 60° inside.

But convention was AMAZING!  I shared a lot of live videos on Facebook showing the new products and how I kept my anxiety in check.  Hop over there and you can see the beauty of where we were and how much fun we had.  I learned lots and fell even more in love with what this company does for its members and the people in the communities where the farms are.  I so wish you had been able to hear all of the beautiful stories of service….that’s where my heart is!

On the way back we decided to take a detour and drive south to see the Grand Canyon.  I had not seen it since I was about 13 years old and my kids have never been there, so it was a real treat!  Of course, it was so majestic that it took our breath away and we took a zillion pictures.  I spent about an hour and a half just staring at it and praying while my kids made videos and went walking down the trails a little ways.  Even though it kind of ended up adding a whole day to our trip it was totally worth it.  Now I want to take my other kids there….especially the 4 youngest who are still in school.  I feel a homeschool road trip coming on!

canyon07

Once I got home it took me 5 days to unpack.  I was worn out and spent the first day resting.  Then ever so slowly I started putting things away.  First my suitcase got unpacked, but it was all kind of piled in the bathroom.  The next day I put those things away either where they belong or in the washer.  I tucked all of my oils and supplements back in their places and started finding places for all of the new products and junk I bought.  By junk I meant things I am sending to my new members….I absolutely LOVE to send them gifts!  And I found a bunch of good ones at the convention from various oily vendors.  There were books and cases and gadgets and bottles.

Why oh why do I love those empty bottles?!  I think it’s that they’re nothing but possibility.  I can fill it with anything I want and create.

By the weekend it was all cleaned up just in time for one of my boys’ birthday, which meant a trip to the city with him and a couple of brothers.  We saw “Finding Dory” which they liked, but I thought was pretty much the same as “Finding Nemo”.  I wasn’t that impressed, but who cares?  They had fun and it was a clean movie, so that’s a win-win in my book.  It is way too much to ask for me to enjoy it too.  Then we shopped for his birthday presents and I got home that night and fell into bed.

One of these weeks I’m gonna do nothing at all.  No parties, no shopping, no cleaning, no nuthin’.  Don’t you ever feel like you just need to stop so you can miss some things and want them again?  I need to miss people.  And grocery shopping….if it is ever possible to miss grocery shopping.  I think I could go the rest of my life without grocery shopping and never miss it.

For the fourth we had friends over.  These are some of our best friends and we generally spend all holidays together.  There’s never an end to the things we talk about, from the state of the church today to food from the 70s.  The flow of conversation is always interesting, although in the end we really never settle any of the world’s problems.

This next week it gets even busier for me because my nieces and nephews arrive tomorrow to spend 10 days with us.  We are really looking forward to seeing them and spending time together, but I am trying to find ways to fill the days and wear everyone out.  My theory is that if they’re exhausted then they won’t complain about missing their parents or not having their own beds.  I have a feeling, however, that I will be the only one who gets truly exhausted.

Have a great week!  See you in the funny papers.

There’s still time to register for my Moms’ Summer Camp!!! Hop over and join us!!  You’ll love it.  :)

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Need Some Encouragement?! http://thepenningtonpoint.com/2016/07/need-some-encouragement/ Fri, 01 Jul 2016 13:58:28 +0000 http://thepenningtonpoint.com/?p=13022 On Monday I announced my new summer camp for moms!  I am so excited about this I could bust!  I’ve been planning and prepping for y’all these past few months and asking God to give me fresh ideas to lift you up and draw you closer to Him.  And in His beautiful, loving way, He gave me so many ideas that I don’t know how I will do all of them.

I want to fill you in a little on what we will be doing for the next 6 weeks.  You will love this…..it will be so easy to keep up with that you will be amazed.  I know how busy we all are, so my goal is to give you a place of refreshment that doesn’t add to your pile of pressure.

  1. First and most important, I have been praying for you.  I’m asking God to send who He wants, who needs encouragement, who is not enjoying their family as much as they want to our camp.  If you’re feeling discouraged or tired or stuck somehow, then this camp is for you!  It will be uplifting and motivating.  You’ll find friends who will cheer you on as you push toward your goal of finding that old you who loved life.

    In fact, last Sunday I went to the Grand Canyon and while my 2 kids that were with me went to make some videos, I sat and prayed for you all.  I spent an hour and a half sitting on a rock, looking over the majesty of the canyon and asking Him to give you peace and comfort and to use me in any way He wanted to bring you joy.

    A great online summer camp for moms!

  2. You will get a weekly email with a video of encouragement and fun.  We will virtually visit exotic places and find time to chill out.  It will take 10 minutes and then you will be left with some fresh ideas for how to enjoy your summer.  Just once a week….not every day.  I want this to fit into your full schedule.  This is time for YOU!

    A great online summer camp for moms!  Get refreshed, be encouraged, enjoy your family!

  3. We will have a Facebook group just for our mom campers.  There you can pop in and out all you want.  Need a shoulder to lean on?  It will be there.  Need some strong, encouraging friends?  They’re there.  Every time I mention on my Facebook page that I am hanging out with my girlfriends I hear from dozens of women who say they don’t have that kind of friend in their life.  THIS is where you will find those people, learn to build friendships that will be a support for you and grow!!!

    A great online summer camp for moms!

  4. Another great part of my summer camp will be the daily (M-F) texts.  These are optional, but it’s going to bless you.  This is a sweet message to start your day with.  You can look at it all day when you need to remember how special you are and that you can be that energized woman God intended you to be!

    A great online summer camp just for moms!!!  Register now!

  5. Prizes!  Oh yeah, we will have a weekly Thursday night “bonfire” in the Facebook group where I have lined up special guests, prizes and lots of fun!!!  You don’t want to miss this!!!

    A wonderful online summer camp just for moms!!!  Register now!!!

My friends, go get registered for summer camp.  And if you have friends who could use some lifting up, send them over too!  The more the merrier!

All women are welcome!!!

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An Exciting Summer Camp for MOMS!!! http://thepenningtonpoint.com/2016/06/an-exciting-summer-camp-for-moms/ Mon, 27 Jun 2016 14:56:53 +0000 http://thepenningtonpoint.com/?p=13014 I am SO excited to announce that I have put together a GREAT Summer Camp for Moms!

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Now, before you run to the storage and start digging around for your old backpack and sleeping bag…..hold on!  This camp is going to take place online.  Yep, that’s right.  You get to sleep in your own bed and have all the air-conditioning you want.  But at the same time, you’ll be making new friends, getting camp-style encouragement and being refreshed.  We moms need a break too!

From July 4-August 12 we will be hanging out together and getting uplifted.  When you sign up for Mom’s Summer Camp….aka Camp Gimmeabreak…you’ll be added to our camp Facebook group where we will have daily morning encouragement, pray for each other, share healthy encouragement and even have a weekly bonfire with special guests.  Every Monday you will get an email with a video from me, a list of ideas for making your week shine and some tips for building great summer memories!  We will be going through my book, “Mama Needs a Do-Over“, so be sure to pick that up before camp starts next week!

Before you start to think, “This might be too much for me to do….I have a FULL schedule already!” let me assure you that I understand!  These are full days for all of us, so I am making sure that there are no hard assignments or overwhelming actions that will keep you from getting through camp.  This is exactly what you need….a few weeks of summer fun just for MOM!

So, how do you sign up?!  Well it’s super simple!  Just click HEREto get started!  Tell all of your friends and spread the word…this is gonna be a great way to escape the summer blahs!

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And I have a LOT of surprises up my sleeve for this time we will spend together.  You DO NOT want to miss a second of it!

See you around the campfire!

 

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How to Keep a Simple Summer Menu http://thepenningtonpoint.com/2016/06/how-to-keep-a-simple-summer-menu/ Fri, 17 Jun 2016 21:33:22 +0000 http://thepenningtonpoint.com/?p=13006 summer-menu01

Do you stick to a tight schedule in the summer or do you keep it foot loose and fancy free?  Me, I’m a little of both.  When there’s a lot going on I keep it tight, carefully planning how we will manage the time away from home and still keep the house clean and food on the table.  But if we aren’t traveling or keeping appointments I’m all “Get up whenever you want and feed yourself.”  It’s those times I will lounge around like a movie star who has nothing to do but ask the servants for more ice.

Over on the Tommy Nelson blog I’ve shared my 5 Tips for Keeping a Summer Schedule.  It’s how I manage things when we have a lot going on.  Like right now, I am getting ready to be gone all next week to Utah (Young Living Convention here I come!) and I am using all of the tips from that post!  Since two of my older kids are going with me and my husband will be home with the younger boys, there’s a lot of meal planning and organizing to do.

But the week after that I am planning on doing n-o-t-h-i-n-g.  This means we will be lounging and not cleaning or cooking if I can help it.  We do have to survive though, so I have a list of staples that we keep around for those weeks when Mom needs a break and the kids just want to swim, eat, swim, repeat.  With these things in the pantry it’s super easy to put together meals with very little cleanup.

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Here’s what I will have on hand:
corn chips (I buy big boxes of them at Costco or Sam’s Club…actually I buy a lot of this there)
refried beans
tomato sauce
rice
almonds

elbow macaroni (including a gluten-free option)
shredded cheese (again, a huge bag)
rice or almond milk
yogurt
eggs

bread (GF bread for those who need it)
bone broth (I make it and it’s ready to eat for any snack or meal)
carrot sticks
lettuce
apples
bananas
berries

onions
popsicles (I’ve been making NingXia Red popsicles that are amazing!)
ground beef, cooked and seasoned
chicken, cooked and seasoned and cut up or shredded
hot dogs
buns
corn tortillas

I also keep the makings for my Taco Soup around so we can throw that together.  I know it’s not really soup weather, but its so easy to make and very satisfying.  We can just heat & eat it when we are hungry.

With this list of ingredients we can make: nachos, burritos, macaroni with chicken, macaroni with cheese, hot dogs, cereal, smoothies, simple salad, simple soup, chicken & rice, chicken sandwiches, sloppy joes, burgers, eggs and toast, and many other random experiments.  Now, this is assuming there are already spices and oils in the pantry.

For instance, I can shred lettuce, chop carrots and almonds to sprinkle over the lettuce, drizzle with whatever dressing we have in the fridge and it’s an easy salad.  Or mix the seasoned ground beef with a little cooked onion, tomato sauce and whatever spices we have and serve over rice (Do you have a rice steamer?  Um, you need one!).  Really, we just wing it.  As long as there’s protein and produce at every meal we’re good.

It’s not a super healthy menu, but quick and easy for the kids.  When I am not laying around ignoring my responsibilities we have a healthier menu.  But everyone loves this style of casual eating….I just lay out some things on the list, cut up some veggies or fruit and they make their own concoctions.

Oh, and don’t forget the paper plates!  That is KEY to an easy summer menu.  I keep them in the cabinet right next to the real plates so they’re easy to grab.

As for drinks, we are water all the way.  We very rarely have anything else so drinks are not on my shopping list.  But once in a while I’ll buy soft drinks to have around for a family movie night or when we have friends over.  I keep the soft drinks hidden away in the extra fridge so the kids don’t really notice them, otherwise they’d be gone before the end of the day I bought them..

Whether you have a crazy summer schedule or laid back lazy days, or like me, a little of both, getting organized will go a long way toward a smooth and enjoyable time.

Stay cool my friend!

If you have more summer menu tips, hop over to Facebook and share them with us!  We’d all love to hear!

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The Best Memories Are Made When Things Go Wrong http://thepenningtonpoint.com/2016/06/the-best-memories-are-made-when-things-go-wrong/ Tue, 14 Jun 2016 15:17:54 +0000 http://thepenningtonpoint.com/?p=12990 How can I sum up a whirlwind weekend of travel and mishaps?  In three words: hot, draining and delightful.

Last summer our oldest daughter moved to Dallas last to live with my amazing sister-in-law and this past weekend she was moving out of their house and into a house shared with 2 other girls.  But she needed bedroom furniture.  Simple things, a bed, dresser, desk and a few odds and ends.

I was finally going to be able to prove to my husband that my obsession with keeping furniture piled up in our storage building is worth it.

So last Thursday I rummaged around in there and found what we needed, except a bed which I have no extras of, and loaded it all into our 15-passenger van.  We’ve had this van since the dawn of time and it’s got some wear and tear.  But since it was supposed to rain, we decided to use it to carry the furniture so we didn’t have to figure out tarps, etc.  We removed 3 of the 4 benches and everything fit with a little room to spare.

In order to tell this story, you have to know that something weird started happening with our van a couple of weeks ago.  We suspect it has something to do with all of the rain we’ve been having, but who knows really.  That’s just our theory.  First one of the side doors wouldn’t open from the outside.  The handle did nothing.  So we had to reach in from the front door and pull the latch from the inside.  OK, not super convenient, but we can do that.  Then one of the back doors did the same thing.  So now we had to crawl to the back and open that from the inside too.  A bit less convenient, but onward and upward, as they say.

On Saturday morning we got up early to make the 5.5 hour drive to Dallas only to discover that the side door wouldn’t open at all.  Not from the inside or the outside.  So NOW we all have to get in and out of the van through the front doors and CLIMB to the back.  Nice.  Can you say “Redneck”?

But it got worse.  Hang on.

We got to Dallas, unloaded at the new place (climbing in through the front door and crawling over all of the furniture to the back to open the door from the inside), then went to my daughter’s boyfriend’s parents house to pick up a box spring they were loaning her.  “Hi, nice to meet you, thanks for letting us borrow this.  Hang on while I get my 13 year old to crawl through the driver’s door to the back of the van so we can load it up.”  On the way back to my daughter’s house we stopped at Sam’s Club to get a mattress….same story.  He kept cheerfully crawling over the furniture to open the back door for us.

When we got back to the house to deliver the bed, my son did his thing, headed to the back of the van to open the door, and guess what.  Yep.  The door wouldn’t open at all.  We stood there stunned.  I mean, really?  WE HAVE A BED BACK THERE!!!

My daughter’s boyfriend made his way inside to the back of the van and worked on it with nothing but YouTube videos and a paint can opener.  The girls had NO tools.  While he did that, my boys and I removed what we could through the front doors, even getting the mattress out.  But there was no way we could get the box springs out.  After an hour we gave up on the back door and started trying the side door.  That took another half hour and I was beginning to think I was going to have to go buy a box spring, strap it to the top of my daughter’s car and just keep the boyfriend’s parent’s box spring forever in the back of my van.

Finally, after another 20 minutes, my other daughter got her tiny hand up in the side door mechanism and clicked it open.  SWEET RELIEF!

Since we have never been able to it again, we think it was just a God-thing.  He had mercy on us before we all fainted from heat strokes.

We took the bed out, made triple sure we didn’t need to have the door open anymore and went to close the door only to discover it wouldn’t close.  Um, this might be a bigger problem.

I will spare you the rest of the details except to say that we did finally get it closed about 40 minutes later, went to get food and collapsed.

The next day we evaluated what more she needed to get her room organized and decided she needed some shelves.  So I headed to IKEA (only 20 minutes away….dreamy!) and I wish you had seen us in the IKEA parking lot pushing huge boxes through the front window into the back of the van.  I know people were wondering why we didn’t just open the back door and set it in.

But we do like an adventure and as much trouble as it all was, memories were made and everybody had a great time.  Well, maybe not the boyfriend whose legs cramped from sitting on the floor in the back of the van for an hour.  But he never complained.

I started to feel like I needed to repay him somehow.  Then I remembered that I am essentially giving him my firstborn child, so I got over it.

We hung around until around 3:00 Sunday assembling IKEA furniture (I bought tools while I was out as a contribution to the girl’s house) and enjoying being together.  Oh, and did I forget to mention that the A/C in my daughter’s new place was out?  Uh huh.  I have had my quota of heat for the summer.

When we got back home Sunday night, I was retelling the whole adventure to my husband, who sat quietly and listened to me unfold the details all about the heat and the bed and the van doors and feeling faint a few times.  I told him about my daughter’s little room and how we figured out the best arrangement and got her all settled.  I apologized for spending more money on her furniture than we had planned.  When I finally stopped talking he just smiled at me and said, “You loved every minute of it, didn’t you?”

Yep, I sure did.

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A Little Mom Time http://thepenningtonpoint.com/2016/06/a-little-mom-time/ Mon, 06 Jun 2016 13:14:36 +0000 http://thepenningtonpoint.com/?p=12978 Moms need breaks sometimes. If you're feeling bad about resting, it's time for you to get over that!

Well? How was your weekend?

It was pretty quiet around here.  It was supposed to be busy, but things got cancelled and changed and it turned out to be kinda slow, which was so nice.

On Saturday it was just me and my younger three boys at home, so I told them that if they got all of their chores done quickly they could have the afternoon free.  The only requirement for their free time was that at least an hour of it had to be doing something outside.

I could hear them plotting while they swept and folded the clothes.  By the time we were all done with chores they had a whole plan in motion.  Their plan included sword fights, super heroes, eating nachos and playing wii.  That was perfect for me because my plan included ignoring them for the afternoon while I caught up on my reading.  I have two books that I am in the middle of, one fiction and one non-fiction.  There are always two because sometimes I’m in the mood for educating myself and other times I’m in the mood to get swept away in a great story.  This day it was fiction.

I settled in my bedroom and read my delicious book.  When the day was over I was feeling pretty refreshed.  I mean, what’s more relaxing than a clean house and happy kids who are playing together?  Nothing, I tell you, nothing.

On Sunday we visited a new church for the second time.  The whole finding-a-church thing is so hard.  You visit one for a few weeks, realize it’s really not the right fit for you and you move on.  Sometimes it’s obvious why the place is not right for you and sometimes it’s just a sense after much prayer and discussion.  We have had several great churches in our past that we loved and loved the people, but since we moved here many years ago that connection really hasn’t happened.  We’ve attended some for years, but not had that sense of belonging.  I’m not sure why God has kept us in this dry place, but we have continued the search and are not giving up.

After we got home yesterday it was the best part of my week….Sunday nap.  I mean to tell you my Sunday nap is critical to my well being the rest of the week.  I slept for 2 hours and woke up wondering where I was.  After a second I rolled over and just laid there…oh yeah, it’s Sunday.  It’s really the only day I can just let myself wake up slowly without someone waiting for me to help them or asking me a question.  There was nothing pressing, no work to do, no kids needing me for anything.

If you’re feeling jealous over my Saturday reading and Sunday napping, hear me when I tell you that these things were impossible for me for about 20 years.  With 9 kids and homeschooling and living on a hobby farm, there’s never been much time for rest.  So this is a new season and you will get there too.  When the babies are little it seems so far away, then you blink and you’re there wishing for them to be little again.  But not too little….’cuz that nap was pretty awesome.

This week it’s gonna be me bracing myself for the oncoming heat wave.  The temps are rising steadily and are expected to be 90 by the weekend.  That’s nothin’ compared to what’s ahead, but still too hot for this A/C loving mama.

Have a great Monday and hop over to Facebook to say hello!

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8 Summer Vacation Helpful Tips AND a Terrific SHOE Giveaway!!! http://thepenningtonpoint.com/2016/06/summer-vacation/ Thu, 02 Jun 2016 14:43:09 +0000 http://thepenningtonpoint.com/?p=12964 This post contains affiliate links.

Have you made any summer vacation plans?  I know many of you are going to be packing up and heading somewhere this summer.  I have several trips planned myself that I am super excited about!

I get so many questions asking for Disney advice or airplane tips, since I have been so many times now.  You might notice, however, that no one asks me for camping tips.  I’m not a camper since I’m a big fan of air-conditioning and indoor showers.

If you're traveling this summer, here are some great tips for travel PLUS a favorite travel shoe giveaway!

 

Anyway, I love sharing what I have learned from my experience of traveling, especially from my Disney and Universal trips.  Traveling to Disney or anywhere you’ll be walking all day long, high activity and crowds is a whole different kind of vacation.  You walk so much that your feet need extra care, the heat is a problem and sometimes people cry.  Or is that just me?

I’ve discovered products that help make traveling easier and simple tips to smooth out the bumps.  And there are always bumps.  That’s my first tip….

7 great tips for summer travel, product recommendations PLUS a favorite travel show giveaway!

  1. Expect there to be problems.  No matter how well you plan your trip, there will be kinks along the way.  Tires go flat, lines get long, rain pours, people get sick, it can’t be helped.  That’s part of it, the messiness.  That’s what adds the flavor to the memories.A couple of years ago we went to Disney World with 11 people: James, me and 9 kids (although a few of them were over 18, we still call them kids).  It was 3 hotel rooms, 33 meals every day, no one replying to text messages, not knowing where half of them were most of the time, etc.  After a couple of days I had a Mom-meltdown and started crying in the lobby of our resort, like bawling.  The kids stood around me like I was a display in a freak show, not knowing what to do.  Should they pet me or walk away and pretend not to know me?  We laughed about it later, it was pretty funny.  On another day we were so late for our dinner reservation that we had to wait until about 9PM to eat.  We sat on the sidewalk outside the restaurant like beggars, waiting to get some food tossed out to us.  Those things weren’t part of our plan, but honestly, they are some of the funniest memories.  Make the best of those hard times and let them add to the fun! (the crying wasn’t fun, but even in the middle of it I could see the humor of how ridiculous I looked)
  2. Relax.  Active trips can make you forget to just relax.  Parents all around you will be begging their screaming children to stop crying.  Bribery (“Want an ice cream cone?!”), empty threats (“If you don’t stop that we are going to leave.”) and throwing their hands up in exasperated defeat is what you will witness everywhere you turn.  You don’t have to be one of those parents.  If you’re feeling overwhelmed by it all, take a step back and relax.  Sit down with your kids (this is MUCH better than having a meltdown in a resort lobby) and chill for a minute.  Yes, you might miss something, but in the end you will be better for it.  There’s always plenty to do on these trips, so if you miss a Fast Pass just let it go or try to get another one.  If you don’t make it to a show because you were resting, so be it.  You will enjoy your trip so much more if you slow down.
  3. Eat well.  This is tough, but if you eat well you’ll have a much better time if you eat as healthy as possible!  Even if you’re dining out for every meal, you can stick close to lean protein and veggies as much as possible.  Instead of giving the kids a bunch of sugary treats, stick with fruit, water, hummus, veggie sticks, etc.  You can find these on the snack plan at Disney or you can bring them with you.  Here’s a post about how I went to Disney without eating sugar!
  4. Wear comfortable shoes.  Before my last trip to Disney a few weeks ago I was on a mission to find shoes that would keep my feet from hurting after walking over 20,000 steps every day for 7 days.  I don’t ask for much….comfortable, water proof, and look really cute.  I went out three times and looked for shoes.  I could wear sneakers, but it’s really miserable once they get wet and it almost always rains in Florida.  I could wear my Birks, but they tend to hurt my feet after a few thousand steps and they also don’t do well in water since they’re leather.  I tried everything from Chacos to Crocs and nothing worked.  I love my Otz shoes, which is what I wore the past few trips, but they get ruined in the rain and I didn’t want to lose another pair.

    I was just about to give up when I found the perfect shoe.  I saw it on my way out of my last store, giving up all hope.  I’m pretty sure a sunbeam was shining right on them so I couldn’t miss it….a sign from God that this was the answer to my search.  They’re made by Oofos.  They had all of my requirements….comfy, cute and waterproof!  And believe me, I tested them thoroughly by wearing them for my entire trip and my feet never hurt at all!  I am not kidding, they gave my the arch support I need.  It feels like you’re walking on a cushion.  In fact, I am so amazed by them then whenever I run into anyone on the street or in the grocery store I make them try mine on so they can experience it for themselves.  Trust me, you want these shoes and they come in both between the toes (this is what I wore) or as strap over the foot (this is what my husband wore).I’m going to be wearing them all summer! (read all the way down to see how you can WIN a pair of these!)

  5. Stay cool!  Like I said above, I like air-conditioning.  But this is summer and it gets hot.  You have to be outside in the heat sometime.  So I found this great way to stay cool.  Or cool-er.  I used to carry a small fan with me and hold it up to my face when I got hot, but then some friends on Facebook told me about this little beauty!  It’s a fan you wear around your neck and it blows on your face.  Oh. My. Heaven!  I ordered two and I don’t care that it makes me look like I have on a medical alert necklace, I will be wearing it all summer!  I even added something extra to mine by putting a piece of sticky felt to the top and now I can add a drop of my favorite essential oil.  It blows the aroma right up to my face, which is perfect!!!  I’m going back to Orlando in September for Universal and this personal fan will be my BFF.7 great tips for your summer vacation with product recommendations AND a giveaway of the perfect vacation shoes!
  6. Stay hydrated.  Water, water and more water!  I decided to get a holder for my water bottle so it’s easy to access without my needing to hold it all the time.  I like my camelback backpack, but you can’t add essential oils to the water pouch on that.  You have to use glass or stainless steel when you’re adding oils, and I prefer stainless since it’s lightweight and not breakable.  I got this bottle holder that makes your water available to you hands free!  I wore it crossbody and even rode the rides with it still on with no problem.  You can buy the companion water bottle, but I found that a plastic bottle fits in it and so does the stainless steel bottle I already own.  I’m going to get a few more for the kids before we go to Universal in September so they can carry their own.7 great vacation tips with product recommendations AND a giveaway of the perfect pair of vacation shoes!
  7. You know I have to add my beloved essential oils to this list.  I can’t make a helpful travel list without including my oils.  They bless me so much on all of my travels both for the plane and through the exhausting days.  I carry around with me peppermint, PanAway, StressAway and Thieves (usually more but these are my must haves).  Those are all in the Premium Starter Kit that I am always talking about.  Plus I take a diffuser for the hotel room which is fantastic for eliminating odors and germs.  I make sure to have lemon, lavender and Purification with me for the room diffuser (also in the kit).  Using the oils while traveling helps me deal with the inevitable problems I mentioned in #1.
  8. Prayer.  I saved the best for last.  Places like Disney and Universal are incredible family trips, but there is a lot of pressure around any vacation.  What to pack, how to pay for it, what activities to do (because you can’t possible do it all), how to get there, keeping the kids (and Mom) happy, being patient with other travelers and the workers who are not always in a good mood are only a few of the hard things that we need help with.  Put on the armor of God be “prayed up” every day and throughout the day.   There is so much peace in His care….prayer is a vacation MUST!

Now…..you will LOVE this so be glad you read all the way to the end!  I reached out to the folks and Oofos and told them how much I loved my shoes and they offered to let me give away a pair to TWO of you!  HOW COOL IS THAT?!  You have got to enter as many times as you can to improve your chances of winning!  And if you don’t win, I urge you to go find where they sell them in your area and try them.  Or just believe me and order a pair for yourself right now!

7 great tips for summer travel PLUS a giveaway of my favorite pair of sandals for travel!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

All in all, vacations are a blessing, but tiring and challenging.  These 8 things will help you no matter where you’re going and what you’re doing when you get there.  But especially if you’re planning a trip that is demanding, you’ll want to gear up and say those prayers!

And yes, I realize the picture says 7 things and the list has 8.  I didn’t realize it until after I had published and I was going to make a new graphic, but then I thought, “Nah.  My people don’t care about that,” and I moved on.  See?  There’s always a mess.

Have a great summer vacation!

If you liked this, you will also love “10 Ways to Lighten a Traveler’s Load” and “9 Things You Must Have at Disney“!

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