Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Happy Birthday Clint!

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This is an old smoker that I painted to look like R2D2 with our children's help.
Clint loved it! He put it in his office at work.

To my love, Clint, on his birthday! I want to sit on that mountain and listen to the sweet whippoorwill sing us "goodnight" again.
My love is deeper than the holler, stronger than the rivers
Higher than the pine trees growin' tall upon the hill
My love is purer than the snowflakes that fall in late December
And honest as a robin on a springtime window sill
And longer than the song of the whippoorwill

Happy Birthday to my one and only forever date! Thank you for all you do for the glory of the Lord and the good of our family! CONGRATULATIONS also on finishing your degree while married, raising seven children, working two jobs, maintaining our home and cars, ministering to others, and much more. I know it was not easy balancing so very much, but you stuck with it and finished it. I am so thankful God gave us to each other. Your friends know you as "C-Dawg" and "Mr. Stud," but I know you as the very best part of me. I will always love you, Clint!!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Smoker Turned into R2D2

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Clint LOVES his birthday present which we gave him a little early. This was a smoker the children and I painted to look like R2D2. It has motion activated droid sounds. Our initials are hidden in the paint. Caleb helped me figure out how to lay it out and put the legs on it. Amanda, Joshua, Bethany, Emily, and Hannah helped me paint it. Brandon bought the motion activated speaker. 

We had the smoker just sitting around and the paint was leftover from other stuff. Brandon didn't have time to paint, so he bought the motion activated sound. Whatever he paid for that is all we have in it. Clint's looking to see how to make it remote controlled. He wants it to move!

I thought he'd want to put it outside on the forest path like we did the minion Bethany and I painted. When I mentioned it, he put his arm around it and said, "You can't put R2 outside, Wendy."

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Motts for Tots Organic Apple Juice #freesample

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Our family is often given free samples and products to try from vendors. We try several new products a week. 

Recently, we were given a generous free sample of Motts for Tots Apple Juice. It was more than enough for everyone in our family of nine to have a glass with some left to share. Mott's for Tots Organic Apple Juice is made with organic apples and starts with 100% juice. Then they add purified water to cut the sugar by 40%. Then essential vitamins are added. This results in a good, clean beverage that tastes great but contains much less sugar. 

I thought our youngest children, Emily and Hannah, would enjoy it the most. While they did love it, Joshua, our 17 year old, is absolutely crazy about it. Since cutting sugar consumption is a good thing for braces, Joshua's orthodontist is happy with Joshua choosing Motts for Tots as his new apple juice too. #freesample

Thursday, May 25, 2017

4x4 Jeep Trail off of Coal Road/ Cold Spring Bald Mountain Trail (FR 162)

The Cold Spring Bald Mountain Trail (FR 162) also known as the Coal Road 4x4 Jeep Trail has access points from the Blue Ridge Parkway Bald Mountain Overlook MP 22.1 and Coal Road. The Blue Ridge Parkway is the top of the trail, and Coal Road is the bottom. 

Here's a link to the trail on Google Maps to help you find it.

I have a lot of young drivers new to 4WDing asking me about this road. Please be patient as I add info for them. My goal is to share something we enjoy and also keep the newbies as safe as possible. 

This trail can be done in a stock Jeep. If you have that clearance and 4WD, you should not have a problem. We did it in a 1999 4WD Suburban which we also use on our farm. 

Conditions change from day to day, year to year. Keep that in mind. The trail is closed in the winter months. The trail is rocky with some muddy and some sandy areas. We have been when the boulders that make up parts of the width of the road were slick with algae. 

When you talk about difficulty, that seems subjective based on experience. We did not find this trail difficult or even moderate. Our trip was after a rain, and there was one mud puddle about as long as our suburban. It was deep enough to cause a few seconds of concern, but Clint got us through it. 

You do get jostled around because it is rocky and uneven. You do need to know about off camber turns, clearance, center of gravity, how 4WD traction works, differentials, etc. 

We took the main trail and did not have any major issues with clearance or with the width of the road. 

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The license plate is a victim of a forest 4WD adventure and 
is on the dashboard in the window.

This link should take you to my album of pictures of the trail. We did not take the alternate trails. We also did not get to stop at the clearing with Green Pond on this trip. We were trying to get through before a thunderstorm and get back to camp before dark. So, I was not able to get pictures of those places. 

There are pit vipers when the weather is warm. Be aware of that if you decide to go behind bushes to use nature as a restroom. I do not like snakes, spiders, or ticks. We simply waited until we had the trail to ourselves and took turns in a clearing right next to the trail with the Suburban blocking the view, just in case. You can hear the trucks coming most of the time.

If you do not stop and stick to the main trail, you can get through the trail in under two and a half hours. We stopped briefly for overlooks, pictures, and to use the restroom. We got through it in just under three. We had been told the minimum time to get through it was six hours. They may have taken alternate trails and/or longer breaks. You need to go as slow as possible and as fast as necessary. Off-roading is hard on a vehicle.

I recommend going up the trail for the first visit for inexperienced drivers. There are a series of switchbacks and some off camber turns. 

The standard recommendation is to go with another person or a group. This is helpful if you break down or get stuck. If you can't go with someone else, go earlier in the day. That ensures someone will come across you before nightfall.

There is really only one place you could benefit from having a spotter to get over a particular set of boulders, but there is an easy drive around for this spot. 

Take vehicle repair tools, a spare tire, snacks, water, and anything else you might pack for a day trip. On this trip, we saw lots of fathers with children, but no other women driving or riding in 4x4s besides me and my daughter. There are local firemen who frequent the trail in their own personal vehicles. They've been on the trail every time we've gone. We've found them to be a jovial, friendly, and helpful bunch.

There are loose rocks, stream fed puddles, hikers, bikers, and other vehicles. There may be tent campers in some of the camping areas.

There are blind curves, and the trail is fairly narrow in spots. You might have to back up a ways to find a place to make room for someone to pass. You might have to patiently crawl along as hikers make their way to a place wide enough you can pass them. We've even seen a couple walking their hyper dogs. Brush is thick and leaves light "pin-striping," but it buffs out. I've been told the alternate trails can leave permanent pin-striping from the rocks.

It CAN be dangerous. We have seen an accident that had the road shut down for a few hours. However, I feel like we are in more danger in heavy 70 mph traffic on the interstate than on this trail. 

I hope this helps someone enjoy the trail! Have fun, and please share a picture of your experience!

When we go again, I hope to have more pictures to add to the album.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Coal Road Bald Mountain 4x4 Jeep Trail

We love traveling in this area and get a lot of questions from the previous posts and images we've shared on social media.  We've also made some pretty good adventure loving friends!

Before we ever tried, we searched the internet quite a while but never found anyone who had even tried this trail in a Suburban. We knew a stock Jeep could do it, so we figured our suburban could too. 

We did it in our '99 Suburban with no issues. I should note here that our driver, my husband, has quite a bit of 4WD experience. That matters.

Our trip was spur of the moment, so we did not go in a group. I can see where a group would be helpful in case of a breakdown. Cell coverage for me was spotty. If you must go alone, do it earlier in the day. That way if you have an issue, someone should come along and be able to offer help. Expect other drivers, mountain bikers, and hikers on this trail. There are spots to camp along the trail. Look for rock campfire rings.

If you are looking for a quiet, relaxing adventure, you probably should go to an off road beach. This road is a lot of rugged fun in a beautiful environment. If you've never driven up a rocky mountain trail before, it can be quite a thrill.

I will be making a post with some tips soon. For now, those interested in driving the trail can view images of parts of the road in my Facebook album

Coal Road Bald Mountain 4x4 Jeep Trail 4WD 4 wheel four wheel off road Shenandoah Blue Ridge Sherando Bald Mountain

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Prayers for Family Friend Needed

Our long time friend, Angie, has Ehlers Danos. She is use to a certain pain level, but she has been hit with a new problem that is taking her to her limit. Angie is hospitalized, but the doctors can't get her pain under control. Will you please pray for her with us? Thank you so much!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Motherhood Can Sometimes Feel Like This Scene

Sometimes I've felt like enacting this scene.
"Help me help you!"

Friday, May 19, 2017

Mindlessly Mothering

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Hannah and Emily came running in the house and breathlessly announced that Hannah had seen a "baby snake" at their bike ramp.

"How long was it?"

She spreads her fingers about 4 inches. Kind of small for a snake, but children aren't always the best judge of measurements. 

"What color was it?"

"Brown with black markings" was her reply.

In my state, that could possibly mean a copperhead or water moccasin, but I've never seen one at our place. These are not reptiles I want near where my children play. However, I've learned to be patient and gather as many facts as I can before responding in my decades of parenting.

"Will you please draw me a picture?"

Hannah drew the picture above, and I knew right away it was a Little Brown Skink which is a harmless creature. They can move so quickly; you can miss seeing their tiny legs and mistake them for a baby snake. 

Skinks are very beneficial to humans. They eat the bugs that destroy our crops and pests that invade our homes. I used this opportunity to teach my youngest two about the role of the skink and the God given responsibility of having dominion and stewardship over the earth. 

Now, I am not fond of slithery things, and I certainly do not not want them touching me. If they surprise me, I'll scream so loud you will hear it from where you sit. I'd be quite happy if I never came across another slithery thing. However, I was not given this job as a mother to teach my children about my preferences or aversions. I am to teach them God's unadulterated truth. So, I can't mindlessly mother. Mothering requires thoughtfulness and careful consideration of what God's Word says.

The truth is that we have been given dominion and stewardship over the earth and the creatures on it. We need to take the job as seriously as we do the other jobs He has given us like parenting, ministry, marriage, career, etc. 

If we react with fear or revulsion to every little creature we see, it can lead us to foolishly destroying the gifts God has given us in creation. Then, we lose the benefits God has in place. 

God says His thoughts and ways are much higher than mine, so I believe the benefits of letting creatures, like the Little Brown Skink, alone extend much further than I can imagine. 

I also believe God will bless us for slowing down in the course of our day to consider Him as we go along and also for choosing kindness over cruelty. 

Genesis 1:28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

A Jungle in the Explorer

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This is how you ride when you stuff two large peach trees in a Ford Explorer that already has a large tool box in the back. Amanda took me shopping and bought me the trees for Mother's Day. Brandon bought me two large apple trees and a peach tree. I ask for fruit trees for my Mother's Day every year with the hope the trees will produce fruit that will bless my children's future families. 

My grandmother grew a large garden and always sent home food, a hug, and a request to visit again with anyone who visited. I look back and see how she had a wonderful, practical ministry to others right in her own home. She started with her own family and worked her way to be a blessing to both friends and strangers. This is what I hope to do from the little spot of earth God has bestowed to us.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to everyone with a loving mother's heart no matter if you have many children or none. This includes those who conceived and lost, those whose child grew and left for Heaven, teachers and social workers who see the hurting child and respond, and fathers who step up to fill both roles. I hope you know your love and concern matters in a child's life, and you are worth your weight in gold!

Friday, May 12, 2017


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This opportunistic female cardinal got into Caleb's quail pen which is a large, walk in hoop house covered in one inch chicken wire. She couldn't remember how to get back out. She was eating the quail food when he saw her! Caleb, who also takes advantage of opportunities, brought her inside for a quick minute so everyone could enjoy the chance to see our state bird up close. Because being afraid isn't fun and our rule is that if we aren't all having fun, it isn't fun, we let her go quickly.

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29-31

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Our Other Nine

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Per our tradition, we gathered as a family on May 7th and remembered our other nine family members. We are thankful the Lord made them known to us even for a short time. We wait patiently with joyful anticipation of the day we will be together.

Texts from our neighbors telling us how much they enjoyed seeing the sky lanterns was a welcomed extra blessing.

I was asked if I was concerned about them being a fire hazard. Here's my reply:

"No. We researched them and chose these for that reason. The ones we buy cost more than others, but they are worth it. These are made in such a way to not start fires. They rise rapidly, go very high up into the sky, have a very limited burn time, and burn completely out while in the air before the biodegradable parts fall harmlessly back to earth. We've been using them for years with no issues. We watch every one until it is finished. They go completely out while they are still very high in the air every single time." 

We also live near a river and the wind takes them to open water. If you are still concerned about fires, you can use them after a rain. 

The ones we purchase are completely biodegradable. 

There were manufacturers using wire for the frames which fell into fields causing concerns for cattle farmers. If those are still being made, I'd avoid them.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Congratulations, Amanda!

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Amanda worked very hard in the job she found about six months ago. She impressed her bosses and earned herself a new position with better pay and benefits! She did this while taking college classes and maintaining an A average, working 12 hour long night shifts, and working overtime when she could pick it up. She is saving for a house which she hopes she can buy within the next year or two. Way to go, Amanda!!