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Camping at Dinosaur Valley State Park

We finally went on a week long camping trip!
Well, almost a week-we were able to book Sunday through Friday, but that was the longest camping we have tried since having kids.  We had been eyeing Dinosaur Valley State Park for awhile, but wanted to repair the Pup before we went so far from home.

We tried to arrive as close to the 2PM check-in as possible so we could pick our spot, but we had to get a new hitch before leaving and the few stops set us back two hours. It was worth stopping though because changing from a 2″ drop to no drop changed how the pup towed so much!

When we checked in, there were plenty of spots left so we asked for a site where our kids would have room to not bother the people next to them. The Ranger said his favorite site was #39 because it was shady and tucked back in the woods a bit. Sometimes we still opt to change sites for one reason or another, but it was PERFECT.

We had room for the kid to run around, set up Croquet and Badminton and just get dirty.
Plus we were a bit more hidden so I could nurse the baby or just read in peace.



Instead of having all three kiddos on the Queen side, L decided she wanted her own bed on the dinette, so we left it like that for most of the trip. Corey did set up the table on Tuesday when we woke to freezing temps and wanted to eat breakfast in the heaters.

We removed the closet from one side when we repaired the front and realized the fridge fit perfectly in that space! That freed up room on the floor so it didn’t feel quite as cramped, but now we need to create some hanging storage for food items to make it easier to keep from falling behind the fridge.

Putting up the hanging cubbies kept the pup much more organized this time, even if just to stow kid’s junk and diapers.

There are 5 different places you can see tracks along the Puluxy that are listed on the trail maps so we decided to start at the Main site since the water was up that week. In fact, four days before our trip started, all the trails were closed because of high water and we almost cancelled our trip. I am glad we waited it out!


Can you see them?!!!
The tracks were still under water but you can clearly see them in the muck.


In our site, we had a wild plum and this other tree that I grew up calling a bee bush or bee tree but no one actually knew the name of it. Perhaps I’ll never know.


My favorite way to camp is with NO cell service, unless of course I am trying to move money around in the bank accounts.


We had to go into town for extra clothing for someone that forgot to pack shorts. This is seriously a theme with us. For our week-long honeymoon, *someone* packed only underwear and dress clothes and had to spend money on clothes.
Yay for Goodwill in Granbury.

Anyway. While we went into town we toured Glen Rose and got a private tour of the Barnard Mill, which we got no photos of.
There was an awesome rock park called Big Rock Park that the kids had a blast climbing over. The giant boulders of stone were next to different park that we didn’t go to because we were getting hungry.


Thursday we visited the Creation Evidence Museum, which is on the same road as the park. During the summer they do excavation but you have to be 13 and older, so I promised my kids that they could spend their 13th birthday digging for bones.

We did not take many photos inside because the phones were full and I wish we would have gone earlier in the day so we could get one more hour it. The video on the 6 days of creation was heavy with science speak so I was geeking out while Finn was saying he was bored and Gunnar wanted to put fossils in his mouth.

We will be returning so we can stay a bit longer and really read all the fossils. They have cats and dinos (which were not supposed to be fossilized together according to evolution and yet they are found in the same layers together) and human prints and a hammer encased in stone.
They have a HUGE replica of the ark that had to be 20 feet long and some pottery from 2000 years ago all upstairs in their Israel exhibit.
It really is a great place to go to see a side of the geologic history that is left out of your public school science lessons. (Or at least left out of mine!)

I REALLY wanted to video our tour for the vlog the kids want to start but we ran out of space in all the things we brought. If we actually follow through with a Youtube channel, we will go back again and video for ya.



The reason we were late getting to the museum was that we spent an hour helping clean out the tracks that had been covered in muck by the river.
The girls and I had gone on one of the Ranger Tours to show the edible plants and the Ranger leading it told us about the clean out happening that afternoon. We decided to just drive down and see if it looked interesting before going to the museum but once we got down in the mud, we were hooked.
The kids took their job very serious, digging out the tracks and brushing off the mud. The stinky sticky mud.



Corey injured his heel when we were setting up, so we were not able to really get in as many hikes as we wanted, which just means we have to go back again!
We did not get to see all the tracks either due to the water being higher so we may plan a summer trip when the water is lower so we can see the Ballroom Site.

If you get a chance, make sure you climb the overlook trail, which overlooks the whole park and then some. It is a bit scary with some of the drop offs and I was glad I didn’t have the baby on my back when the older 3 and I hiked it. Sorry- I forgot my phone so we have no photos, you’ll just have to go camp there yourself.



Why we love Jonathan Park Adventures- a review

*I did not get paid to write this and the opinions are all mine and my kids.


I first learned about Jonathan Park through some other homeschool moms a few years ago. I bought the first series to try it out, just in case we didn’t like it. Because we had been taking a once a week 2 hour round- trip drive for music lessons, we had been dabbling in some of the audio books from the library and the kids had finally learned that they did not need to look at a moving screen to enjoy a story.

From the very first story- we were hooked. I was not sure what I expected, but the quality of voiceovers and the background music completely surpassed our expectations!

The audio series started like one of those intense books that draws you right in and you don’t want the car ride to stop before you find out what happens next.

From the beginning, we are introduced to the main characters and their families, each has a distinct personality that really carries through into your imagination and you really enjoy following along with them, as if they were a new found best friend.

But the best part is not the amazing quality that we experienced, but the amazing amount of creation knowledge my family is getting.

I have always believed and known that God was responsible for the entirety of the world. I never believed in molecules to man evolution or that we have come from apes. My best friend once asked the biology teacher “If we all evolved from apes, then why are there still apes?” That is pretty logical, even for a high schooler.
I was however, unsure about the age of the earth. I mean, from kindergarten, well meaning teachers have always mentioned millions of years here and there, and after twelve years of being told over and over 100 million years, it just sticks in your mind.
I thought that maybe the earth was that old and that God just created for awhile because he was here forever and then when he created the garden, time started there.

And I am not the only Christian that has struggled with balancing science and the bible. But what I have learned is that the bible is in complete agreement with true science.

I realize that the information that I had been getting (In high school, I was taught that Lucy was the missing link, even though that had been proven false nearly a decade before) it was hard to see the truth behind the lies. After school, I watched a few documentaries on isotopes and the age of the earth and became convinced our earth is much younger than evolutionists claim.

As a homeschooler, knew I wanted to teach my kids the creation account that the Bible says is true, but I was not sure how to back it up with science, even though I knew that there had to be scientific evidence for the Creator and creation.

And then my kids and I met the Park and Brennan families.
We have learned about places we can go visit that show evidence for the world wide flood. We learned that there have been dinosaur bones found with blood tissue still soft inside and that jellyfish have been found fossilized, which is impossible over millions and millions of years.

We learned that there are no transitional fossils anywhere and anything that shows it is really just an artists rendering of what evolutionists think they would have looked like because they are still waiting for their theories to show up with some evidence.

Every fossil found is from a fully formed animal variety, not a transition between animals.

There has been so much information we learned about the languages and locations and discovered so many places here in America that we would love to visit and see for ourselves.

When we got to the end of our Volume 1 adventures, I tried finding the rest of the CDs online with no luck. I was hoping that JP was not going to become unavailable like so many other Christian resources do.
A few months ago, I looked once more for the audios and found out that you now can stream it !!! Hooray!

The adventures just keep getting better and better (What happened to Mr. Morgan?!) and I am happy that they offer the ability to download 3 stories at a time so I can listen off data while in the car when we are grocery shopping or traveling to visit family.

We have not used the study guides yet but you can download them from the website and learn with the story. I think we will try the zoo download before we head to the Houston Zoo this spring.

This is what my kids have to say about JP as we call him.


“It is awesome and intense.
I like how in everything they always talk about God, no matter what happens and he is a friend even to his enemies.” -Lily 10

“My favorite part is that there are crazy parts.” –
Finn 5

“My favorite is that Kendall Park was an archeologist and they searched for hidden artifacts and they search as a family. I like that Kendall and Angelia are scuba divers.  -Chloe 7

1992 Palomino Popup updates

I said I was going to keep up with posting about our camping trips, but I haven’t done so well at keeping up with it. So this is going to be a recap on renovations and repairs and where we have camped so far.

We bought our popup for $300 off a guy on Craigslist so we knew it would need some TLC.
We do not have many before photos because it smelled SO BAD so we started taking everything out. We painted the cabinets, recovered the cushions, cleaned the canvas and put in new curtains, following info from The Popup Princess.

IMG_0965This is the maiden voyage to Pedernales Falls State Park in Texas. You can see the curtains and the paint and the tacky LED lighting.
We really only camped for the weekend but the kids enjoyed it and we were able to see how well we all fit.
We also learned that we did not set it up properly by leveling it side to side and front to back, and putting the safety bars on the lift.
But we had a blast, even Chloe who ended up with a black eye the day we left.


Our Next trip ended up being during Spring Break, right after I certified at Birth Boot Camp- see my awesome hoodie. The only place that had availability was
SOUTH LLANO RIVER STATE PARK, 3 hours away. We had not changed anything in the camper since the last time.
We were a bit skeptical as we drove in and parked, but it ended up being the cleanest and neatest place we have camped yet. The last night there it dropped to 32 degrees and I got up in the middle of night to turn down the heater and ended up accidentally turning it off so we were a bit chilly!


When I was almost 3 months pregnant, we camped at LOCKHART STATE PARK, 30 minutes from our house. The hike through the roses is amazing and although we were there to early to swim in the pool, we will be back again.
I was however was hot, miserable and did not sleep well so that was our last camping trip while I was pregnant.
We added fans, new trim and Corey cut and stained a new board for the sink because it pulled out at Llano. I also put contact paper in the drawers and we put some bright orange knobs from Ikea on the cabinets.

A year later, for my Birthday we camped at McKinney Falls. The only thing different was taking bikes and having a 3 month old with us.
Oh, and new tires and rims for the popup.
Because our beds were bowed from being old, I was nervous about them falling out in the middle of the night, so I did not sleep well at all. This site also had NO SHADE and we had no canopy. We ended up calling it quits a day early and heading home.
Do Not Get Site #15 unless you have a canopy or easy up! 


Because our trip in March had been quite warm, I went to Walmart to get solar blankets to put on the bunks to reflect some heat (DIY Popup Gizmos).
I was very glad because our next (and last so far) trip was with my mom and brother and nieces to Guadalupe State Park– in August  and it was 100 degrees out.
We decided to just bite the bullet a few days before and get a portable A/C unit. Best $100 ever! It was 60 degrees in our camper at night and we all needed an extra blanket.
I slept on the twin dinette bed with the baby because I was still nervous about the beds.
Because the King bed needed to be supported, we also added a screen door screen to keep the door shut.


Sadly, on this trip, the king side pulled out the corner of the popup and we had to park it…

until we repaired it!!! 
I had to replace the cushions due to mold after a leak. I used some patio cushions and the curtains Corey didn’t like. FREE IS AWESOME.
Corey rebuilt the entire front end, part of the floor,the entire left quarter panel (?) and the king side bed using two layers of 1/2″ plywood. It is a bit heavier now, but it is so sturdy I can’t wait to sleep on that side! And the best part is that we no longer need the support poles at the bottom.
While we were at it, we laid down some dark vinyl to really update the look.


We will be going camping in just over 5 weeks to Dinosaur Valley State Park and I can’t wait. We plan on replacing the bed on the queen side before we go and getting new heaters in case it is chilly.
One of our goals for the new year was to camp more. We hope to get as many miles out of this Pup as we can this year.

Its time to fully embrace Minimalism

Back in 2013 I posted about the day the contractor came to the house and it was a mess (AKA- not doorbell ready) We lived in an 800 sq ft duplex at the time, so I should have been able to keep a small mess contained.

Except I can’t. I have not been able to get a grasp on my homemaking.
I blamed it on having littles, I blamed it on lack of organization, I blamed it on my lack of habits as a kid.
All of this is true…but it is not the root of the issue. The root is that we had TOO MUCH STUFF.

In 2016 I read the KonMari book while pregnant with G. I knew that there were things I needed to get rid of (aka, declutter) before we added baby 4 to the house so I jumped in with both feet…

And got as far as decluttering papers before I just gave up because I was overwhelmed with trying to declutter by category. I would go looking for pens and see the mess in each room and start trying to clean it up.
I am a visual person so seeing the mess meant I needed to actually deal with it.


There are days that I feel like all I do is clean up the messes my kids have made. I know that part of that is the lack of habit training but also much of it is because they do like I do- get overwhelmed and walk away.

They also have a heart for people, so when they are given trinkets and gifts, they hold onto them for life.

I decided this year I want MORE for our family. More outings, more quality time, more game nights and dinners with friends.
I want to walk through my home and feel at peace. Feel content. Feel clean.
I don’t want to yell at my kids for misplacing things, only to ask them if they know where the keys are- again. I am tired of being stressed out because there are clothes and toys and trash and cups in every room of the house and yet no one knows how they got there. My kids deserve more than a mother that is mad about the messy home. And my friends deserve to be invited over after church for tea without my making an excuse about being busy when really I just am embarrassed by the mess.
When my home is CLEAN, it feels wonderful, but truly most stuff is just shoved somewhere else to clean the common areas.

For the past 2 years, I have been slowly getting rid of things that I assumed were clutter, but honestly I was just getting rid of things here and there that were broken, outgrown, etc. I was maintaining the level of clutter I had.
But the fact that the house always feels out of control means my clutter threshold is much lower than I had been admitting.

We are a family of 6 in a 1260 square ft home. We don’t have the luxury of accumulating stuff.

So I am jumping in to take back my home. Take back my motherhood. Take back my marriage. Take back my time with God. Take back my life.

And to do so, I am getting rid of things that do not add one moment to my day or one day to my life.
I decided to take the  2,018 in 2018 CHALLENGE to really revamp my home.
The kids have been promised ice cream when we hit the first 100 mark and so far, they got more than halfway there in a week!
2,018 things sounds like a ton, but I took pictures of my home how it is right now so I could see how it looks when this is all over and I truly have embraced minimalism in my life.

I also recommend Allie’s Blog if you really have no idea how to start decluttering and taking your home back.
If you are like me, A Slob Comes Clean will rejuvenate how you declutter AND clean.

Getting through Christmas without greed

This post sat in my drafts for 3 years! It still applies today though, we stuck to the 3 gift Christmas so I decided to post since it did, in fact, work out. 


I waited until after Christmas to post this to see if it would actually work out (I don’t like being a hypocrite if I can help it).

This year, we decided to try the 3 Gift Christmas. I can’t remember which blog I read about it on last year, but it was intriguing.

For me and my husband, Christmas memories were always of a tree sitting on top of a mountain of colorful packages. It was exciting! It was wonderful! And it was slightly greedy. Nothing on our Christmas morning was about the birth of Jesus. Nothing was about the reason for the season. It was all about us and the stuff we were getting.

I recall unwrapping boxes and boxes and while everything was super exciting to “get”- as the days inched on, we only ended up playing with or using maybe 1/3 of the gifts we got. Out of all the things my parents spent their money on, there would be maybe 3 things actually stuck around long enough to get their money’s worth out of it.

But it is not just about the money  that was wasted.

My 6 year old is “privileged”. She honestly thinks that every.single.time she goes with her Grammy, that she is entitled to a trip to Target to buy a toy or two. It could be that her love language is Gift getting (Lord help me if it is). Or it could be that Grammy buys her stuff when she is with her, so the assumption has been taught.

Either way, I do not want to train up kids that have the “gimmies”. I don’t want to go into debt to satisfy their need for colorful boxes, and I do not want their love bought. I want them to know that happiness does not come from stuff and they can’t take those made in China toys to heaven with them.

When I discovered the 3 Gift Christmas, it was the Lord giving us an answer to the present present problem.

The idea behind it is that Jesus only got 3 gifts (that are really mentioned) so why should we get more? The 3 gifts represent Gold, which is the item they really really want, Frankincense, which is something that connects them to family and God, and Myrrh, which is a personal item for beauty or health.

For my 6 year old, she got a pair of 100% real sterling and tanzinite earrings, a beginner children’s bible and a scooter for her beloved doll.

The 3 year old got a Veggie tales book set, her very first doll, and a set of pans for her kitchen

The 2 year old boy got a Tonka truck, Duplo blocks and a Fire truck.

We also got them a “together” gift which was a 24 pack of play-doh and filled their stockings with small items, natural candy, headbands,play silks, toothbrushes and replacement things for some of their other toys.

And you know what, they have been playing with every item they got. Because they did not get overwhelmed with stuff and we got them things that they actually wanted, we did not waste money on things just to wrap them, and they did not toss things aside just to play with the 2 things they wanted.

We talked about the 3 gift Christmas beforehand and they were in agreement (at 6 and 3 you don’t really have a choice anyway). They knew that it was only a rule in our household and that they were still going to get items from all the Grandparents anyway, which is another reason for limiting what we gave them.

To make Christmas about fellowshipping, love, and family we once again did the Advent Calendar so each day we did something together.

My kids were more than blessed this year and will continue to be for years to come and we can do that with only 3 things under the tree for each of them.

In the words of The Grinch, “Christmas, it seems is so much more”.

Would you ever consider having a 3 gift Christmas?


Yes, that is right, we got 3″ of snow this week.
It was 80 degrees on Monday and on Thursday the rain turned into snow.
Our local weathermen assured everyone that the models were too happy and there would be limited precipitation that would not stick.


And I think God said “oh really?”



Oh it was so beautiful and unexpected. My mom grew up in Minnesota and she had been telling everyone at work that week that it was going to snow and they laughed until they had to drive home in it!

Creation amazes me.