Surviving Harvey-and ways to help.

Harvey hit the coast of Texas as a Category 4 hurricane, which was the first time since Carla in 1961. The area of Rockport was smashed by the massive and slow moving hurricane, which traveled as far north as Cuero with hurricane force winds.

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(The water rose another 6″ after these photos were)

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We are fortunate to be in Buda TX which was in the Tropical Storm part of Hurricane Harvey, but out of the path of major flooding and destruction, aside from wind damage.
While the coastal areas hit directly suffered terrible damage, the brunt of the calamity was caused by the torrent of rain that quickly fell, and has yet to stop in areas like Houston.

Corey’s family and mine in Pearland has been flooded out of their homes; my family with 1′ of water (and rising as of Monday Evening) and Corey’s cousin  (the ones we went camping with) with a total loss of 5′ of water. Just look on the news to see the amount of people on rooftops. He had other cousins with home damage as well in south Brazoria county- some were halfway submerged and they reached their residence by boat to check.

Corey’s hometown of Sweeny was under such a massive evacuation, even the city workers left. The fire department drove around telling everyone to leave, fearing 3′-10′ of water covering the entire town.

I am grateful for those that have the equipment to volunteer to help out. My brother’s friend drove from Alvin to Houston to help, he may not even make it back home because the flood is rising. Those with boats and large trucks- thank you for being a blessing to strangers. That is humanity. That is being Christ-like, that is love.

Many of us are not able to get there to help, but we can give, we can help those that evacuated and came to our area, wearing nothing but the clothes on their back.

We can all pull together to help. The truth is, we can’t rely on Insurance and FEMA to provide assistance to our neighbors. We do live in a land of excess and more than enough, and right now, some folks lost everything; so “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.”-Luke 3:11

And we can go help with clean up when the flooding settles in the days to come. 

Here is a small list of places you can donate to and volunteer with:

Samaritan’s Purse

Austin Pets Alive   You can donate supplies and money here, and if you really want to help- go adopt a flood friend! Austin Pets Alive took in over 200 pets that would have been euthanized because they were in shelters in the path of Harvey.
SPCA Brazoria County– they currently have over 1000 pets that are in need of support!

Texas Diaper Bank

Homeless Shelters in Houston

Houston Food Bank

Corpus Christi Food Bank

You can also donate blood to a local donation spot.

You can also help out by feeding the volunteers and first responders helping out.
The Cajun Army  has been amazing at rescuing people stuck in their homes.

Or get with a group of folks planning on taking items to local shelters for those that can not get into their homes for the days and weeks to come.
Search GoFund Me or YouCaring for local families that you can help directly.

MOST PEOPLE NEED CASH. 
When we went through Joplin, MO after the terrible tornado, we asked for places to donate clothes and were told that the people had no place to store belongings and they really just needed food and a place to lay down while they rebuilt. Give food, give time, give money, just give!

Where ever you decide to donate, check them out online first to make sure your money will not be whittled down to 10% before being given. Charity Watch is a good place to start. According to Business Insider, these groups get the top ratings for giving, local and abroad.

Many of the convention centers are housing the victims of the flood, they may need volunteers to help with handing out supplies. Comfy clothing, sweats, etc are needed for those that do not have a home to return to.

There are many other ways and places you can give assistance, it does not matter where or how- just that you do…and remember that help will be needed for many weeks, months and years to come.
We will rebuild, we will be OK. 

GOD BLESS TEXAS.

 

 

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River Road Camping with Cousins

This weekend we camped with Corey’s cousin and his family for the first time.
It was a blast! We had so much fun, even having to tent camp 😉

I grew up around River Road and I have never thought about camping there before so it is funny that out of towners introduced us to this side of camping.

I guess having littles for the past 6 years, we never were planning on tubing so we skipped campsites near there-until now anyway.

This was an appropriate way to celebrate this little man turning 6 months old!

Happy Half Birthday G. 

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2PM Coffee Break with homemade marshmallows.

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She didn’t want me taking photos of her sunburn and posting them on Facebook. I reminded her that I was on a Facebook break…so they were going on the blog!

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C decided that she was going to make her own kayak since she was too little for the real ones.

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We actually used the dutch oven this time for an apple pear crisp. It was AMAZING, until we looked for the leftovers only to find the racoons had gotten into it and ate it: RIP crisp.
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I was so happy that we used this after lugging it around for 14 years and I sent this to my dad. Of course his reply was “too many coals on top”. I should have asked him before, but I had ZERO service (which is my favorite way to camp). So it was literally a crisp since the top got a bit burnt. It was just extra “campfirey”.IMG_2214IMG_2216

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Nothing like food roasted over a fire while watching Finn’s “favorite show”- which was the tubers and kayakers getting stuck on the rapids and trying to make it down the river.

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I really truly did not have service, so this is for everyone that thought I was ignoring them all weekend…I sorta was, but I still love y’all.

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Poor Finn was asking when we were going to be home as soon as we left. The site at K&L Campsites was only 40 minutes away from our house, but he was snoring by the halfway mark. I love a good day that wears him out!

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These cutie cousins had such a great time and were already planning their next trip.

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We stayed at the K&L On the River. We had no electric or water and I had to say that I am amazed at the price for that, plus Corey’s cousin paid for early check in, but they still could not set up yet because there were still people in the site. What the reason for allowing people to pay to arrive early is pointless. They also did not give them the reserved site that had water. All told, it was a pretty nice site and the restrooms were cleaner than any state park we have visited, which was impressive. We did not use the showers because you had to pay for use, which we never have experienced because we normally camp at state parks, which has showers for campers. Be prepared to sleep on rocks, there are no tent pads, which is neat because we had 3 tents on the site but does not make for a comfortable sleep (so says my husband who slept on a pallet on the ground.)

We also had the short picnic table so you could not sit on it and get your legs out of it again!

 

 

We’re Starting Baby Led Feeding-Weaning

When I say we, I mean Gunnar.

That is the gist of Baby Led Weaning, or BLW. It is not weaning like we American’s use in the traditional sense though. This is a baby weaning ONTO solids, not off milk. I will still be nursing for at least another year or so. The foods he will be trying are for his practice at chewing (or gumming as he is toothless) and putting food to his mouth and tasting different things.

Food before one is just for fun.

I posted on my BBC blog about things we were going to do different this time but this is one thing I did not discover until just a few months ago when I also decided I was not going to pump and give him a bottle.

Here in the US, the baby food companies have marketed to parents their purees in “stages” starting at 4 months. I am guilty of buying in and giving my kids organic cereal and fruit as soon as they could sit up. Chloe got cereal at 4.5 months because we were in a meeting and I was not comfortable nursing in a room with people…I REGRET it so much because knowing what I know now about the gut, it was way too early and maybe why she has cavities and allergies now. (This was also one of my reasons to not pump).

The basics of BLW is giving them sticks or chip sized portions of softish food and letting them play with it when they are ready.

-6 months old (or within a week like we are) and interested in your food
-Sitting unsupported
-Able to bring food to mouth
-No tongue thrust

You do not put food in their mouth for them, you do not grab it when they gag and you watch them.

BUT WHAT IF THEY CHOKE?

From what I have read, babies have a gag reflex that is at the front of their mouth, where adults have the reflex at the back. This allows them to gag quicker (which looks terrifying) and not choke. Letting them lead how they eat actually allows them to learn how much to take in sooner than putting a spoon of liquid in their mouth that is swallowed no matter what. There is more of a choke risk going from spoon purees to solids than there is starting at solids. But you must watch them because they can break off a large chunk and there are safety guidelines to follow of course.

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We technically started with pears because he grabbed a slice I was eating so I let him lick it. Then I gave him a slice of watermelon which he nommed on.
This steamed bell pepper slice was his first “official” BLW food and he did pretty good with it.
At first, I thought he still had his tongue thrust because he was just licking it. I thought we were going to have to wait a week to try again but then he started sticking it in his mouth and mushing it more. I still don’t think he ate any of it, but that is to be expected.

The next day, I gave him some pear and he mashed that in his mouth as quick as possible.

We are going to go slow because this type of feeding is freaking Corey out and he does not feel Gunnar is ready for “food”. I borrowed the Baby Led Weaning Cookbook from the library so he promised to read it so he can see what to expect since this is so different than us giving a spoonful of mush like we did with the other 3.

The hard part will be watching Finn so he does not give him stuff he is not supposed to eat yet!

Camping at McKinney Falls

We bought our popup camper last year and have been fixing it up and working on organizing it to go on many camping trips.

I plan on documenting our trips as much as I can because I know the kids will grow so fast and these memories will just be memories and forgotten moments at that.

cropped-img_1749.jpgOur spot, #15 was the ONLY site in the entire park that had no trees. You can see that there used to be one but it is long gone. We ended up sunburnt because we have no awning or canopy to get out of the sun.

Lesson learned: Call ahead and request a site with trees.

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We moved Gunnar around to stay in the shade. He was singing to the tree stump here.

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Corey had to wear G the whole time because I pulled a muscle the day before we left!

 

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Exploring the “cave” on one of the paths. Right before this, we discovered a bee hive in a tree and picked up a chunk of discarded honeycomb.

 

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We had to hike down to “Old Baldy”,which is the oldest cypress in the park. This is as far as you can go because recent flooding washed out the rest of the trail so it was closed.

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We met the nicest couple that gave us tips on upgrading from a popup to a hard-side. They also gave the kids this color packet that caused the fire to change colors. Thanks Mitch & Connie from Kilgore (if you ever see this!).

 

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Unfortunately, we either pack too much or still need some organizing…

Christmastime is here…

Well, almost anyway. But while I am baking pies for Thanksgiving and feeling excited about hosting 17 adults and children in my 1200 square foot home, I am thinking about how much God does for us each and every year.

Only one more full day before I put on Christmas music 24/7 and decorate my home in ways that remind me of our Savior’s Birth (even though I know it was not in December- yada yada, I love Jesus anyway)

I am part of the listening team for one of the local stations and they sent 199 Christmas song clips to vote on and what I realized is just how much I am drawn to the classics: Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra around  Christmas. The newer songs on the radio are ok, but they do not spark the sentiments from my Childhood like the “oldies do”. However, in the room listening with me were my kids and they DID like the new Toby Mac Christmas songs and I realized that have a brand new generation to show the world of Mannheim Steamroller and Trans-Siberian Orchestra while we sing along to a new version of Oh Come All Ye Faithful together.

I will always LOVE the classics, but it is exciting to learn new songs along with my kiddos too.

Christmas is all about bringing back memories that are comforting and about making brand new ones for future generations!

We are going to DISNEY WORLD!

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The countdown has begun! My husband and I went for our honeymoon and planned to go every 4 years on our anniversary (leap day wedding).

But things do not always go as planned so we have not been back since 2004! The kids will be 2, 4, 7 when we go which will be such a fun age to enjoy everything AND we will only have to pay for a family of 5 because Finn will not be 3 yet. Frugal Mama Win!

I have been going crazy on Pinterest looking for road trip tips because we will be driving the 16-20 hour  trip to Florida from Texas with 3 kids in the car.

Over the next few months I will be gathering my supplies and crafts and meal ideas for the trip and I only have 6 months to do so.

This is a frugal, healthy, DIY, God worshipping blog after all.

The main categories I will be working on will be:

  • Meals
  • Road Trip Snacks
  • Road Trip Boredom Busters and Mapped Plan
  • DIY Family Tees for Disney
  • Save my $ Disney Gear and Toys
  • and other odds and ends

I already have my container to start storing, I just need to get my ideas in order and start planning what to work on first.

Our kids are so excited to finally get to go to Disney so we will be also incorporating some fun things into our Homeschool year. I am particularly excited to work on mapping before the trip so Lily can tell her siblings where we are and help countdown the time to arrival.

Speaking of time of arrival- Chloe asks me every day if we go to Disney “Tomorrow”, so I made this basic, frugal, easy count down timer for them to visualize.

There are so many on Pinterest but I needed to use what I had on hand and I wanted something that was tactile so my 2 and 4 year old could participate as well. I also like visually being able to take down days so you get more excited as you get closer to the day!

The ears start at 27 WEEKS until Disney World. Once the ears get to 4 weeks, the last ear is glued to the black paper and when they remove that sheet, the one below it starts over at 30 DAYS to go. They keep removing the ears which I glued to crepe paper to make it easy to tear off and I can use the ears again for a road trip craft counter I am going to work on.

6 months seems like so far away but I know the time will go by quickly and I would like to have the craft items done in 5 months so I can just plan the food and packing  the last 4 weeks (or 30 days as the counter goes).

Disney Countdown

What tips do you have for a family to go to Disney World or on any long Road Trip?