Friday, October 28, 2016

BRAKES Teen Driving Class

Last month I took Billy and his friend to the BRAKES teen driving class. BRAKES stands for Be Responsible and Keep Everyone Safe. It is a free, pro-active defensive driving program. It is geared for teens ages 15-19 who have a learners or drivers license and at least 30 hours driving experience. It is a 4 hour course, and it is worth the time! I felt like the kids learned a lot from it, and got to try out some things they wouldn't normally get to do.

This is not your typical driving school! This class aims to improve the teen's skills and confidence. First we met in a room and they showed the kids some safety videos and talked about safe driving practices. One of the things they taught us was how to adjust your side mirrors. They said everyone has always been taught to adjust their mirrors so that they can see the side of their car in them. But this creates blind spots. He said you should lean over to the side the mirror is on, then you adjust the mirror out and stop when you just cant see the side of your car anymore. This way you don't have any blind spots. You can see everything either in your rear view mirror, or when they move out of the view of it they will pop up in the side mirrors. I have started using my mirror like this, and I must admit it takes some getting used to. it's weird not seeing the side of your car. The instructor made jokes about it. He said "I promise you it's still there! The side of your car isn't going anywhere! You don't have to look at it!" 

Another safety issue is the practice of "hooking". He said women are more likely to do this because they saw their mothers and grandmothers doing this growing up. Hooking is where you turn your arm around and stick it through the steering wheel to grab the top of the wheel and turn. This is dangerous since most cars have airbags nowdays. If the airbag comes out while you have your hand like this it will break your wrist and elbow. If you are caught driving like this by the instructor you are branded a "hooker".  I got caught doing this within 30 seconds of being in the drivers seat. I have really tried to stop , though I still catch myself  doing it sometimes. 

 After the videos and short talk the teens were split into 4 groups and they went outside to start the driving part. We adults had another short talk about the importance of letting the kids drive and practice, and getting in lots of instruction time. It's crazy to think kids have hundreds of hours of instruction in playing sports, but then they only get 30 or 40 hours of instruction driving and are given a license! We went outside to watch the kids and drive. The adults got to participate in 2 of the activities the teens did. There were 4 hands on courses at the one we went to at Atlanta Motor Speedway. 

Accident Avoidance/Slalom- In this course you are driving down a single lane. The lane then splits into 3 lanes. There are lights above each lane. One light will turn green and the other two red. You have to swerve into the lane with the green light without stomping the brakes. They said if you hit the brakes it makes the car harder to control. Then there are a bunch of cones you weave through to make your way back to the start. The parents got to try this one. I did it right on my first try!

Panic Stop- In this one you are driving full speed down a lane towards a cut out cardboard of a kid. When the instructor says Now! you are to lock down the brakes and turn the wheel to avoid the kid. It gives the kids a chance to feel what the brakes feel like locked down, and it shows them that you can steer when the brakes are locked down. I had problems with this one. I was nervous driving towards a kid, even if it was a cardboard cut out. The first time I didn't hit the brakes hard enough to lock them down. The instructor said I babied them. He made me do it again. The second time I did better and locked them down, but forgot to turn the wheel and steer around the kid. At least I didn't hit him!

Skid Recovery- This one was really cool! They have these bald tires that they put on over the regular tires. With the bald tires they have no traction, so when they turn they skid. The instructors taught them how to turn into the skid, and then when they felt the tires grip recover it and turn back the other way. The parents didn't get to do this one, because the tires are very expensive and they said sometimes they can wear out a set in just one day! I did go watch for a while. Most of the kids completely spun out and would go in circles. It made me dizzy watching them! Here's a close up of the bald tires.

Distraction- In this one the kids get to wear "drunk goggles". They put these goggles on and it makes everything look distorted. They have to drive through an obstacle course wearing the goggles while the instructor blares the radio, talks loud, and takes selfies with the driver. This one was hilarious to watch. The kids were creeping around the course so slowly, running over cones and going outside the lanes. 

When the parents aren't taking turns driving, there is a covered area where you can sit and watch. They also provide drinks and snacks. One of the instructors drives the parents around the courses in a large 8 passenger van so you can get an upclose look at what the teens are doing.

After the driving part is over everyone goes back inside and the kids get a certificate. Some insurance companies will give you a discount if you send them a copy of the certificate. The event is sponsored by Kia, so of course we had to get a pic with the Kia Hamsters!

Billy and his friend both really liked the course and said they wanted to do it again. The highlight of the course for Billy was that his instructor was Jerry Nadeau, a former Nascar driver! He got into an accident during a race years ago and suffered a brain injury. He can't race anymore, so now he volunteers his time with BRAKES. Billy was thrilled to meet a real Nascar driver!

If you want more information about the BRAKES class you can check out their website here. They have a schedule so you can see if they are coming to your area. The class is free, but you do have to send in a $100 deposit. The day of the class you can get your deposit back, or you can choose to donate it. BRAKES is a non profit and runs off of donations, so every little bit helps!

Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family

Today I have another book review and a giveaway! I recently received a copy of this book, and it has changed my perspective on parenting! 

In the midst of folding laundry, coordinating carpool schedules, and breaking up fights, many parents get lost. Feeling pressure to do everything “right” and raise up “good” children, it’s easy to lose sight of our ultimate purpose as parents in the quest for practical tips and guaranteed formulas.
In this life-giving book, Paul Tripp offers parents much more than a to-do list. Instead, he presents us with a big-picture view of God’s plan for us as parents. Outlining fourteen foundational principles centered on the gospel, he shows that we need more than the latest parenting strategy or list of techniques. Rather, we need the rescuing grace of God—grace that has the power to shape how we view everything we do as parents.  Freed from the burden of trying to manufacture life-change in our children’s hearts, we can embrace a grand perspective of parenting overflowing with vision, purpose, and joy. 
Being a single parent with no other parent around is hard. There's no one to discuss things with or share the parenting responsibilities with. Sometime's it's overwhelming to think about the fact that turning these kids into well-adjusted responsible adults is all up to me. This book has really given me something to think about, and shown me some things I need to change in my parenting style. The most eye opening principle is the fact that we can't change our kids. We can punish them and try to direct their ways, but the only one who can really change their hearts is God. We need to try and direct their hearts to Him, and then he can change their hearts and behavior.  
You can buy a copy of this book on Amazon
They have the hardcover and the Kindle edition. You and your family will be blessed by this book!
 I love it so much I am giving away a copy to one lucky reader! Enter below for your chance to win! Giveaway ends Nov 2. Winner has 48 hours to respond to the winning email or another winner will be chosen.

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Veggie Tales Devotionals for Boys and Girls

Over the past couple weeks Junior has been reading the new Everyday with God Veggie Tales Devotions for boys. These books come in a girl or boy version. The recommended age is 4-7, but Junior is older and he still likes reading it.

Each book has 365 daily devotionals. They are numbered, but not dated, which I like better. When we have devotionals with dates we can never keep on track! Each entry has a scripture, a short message, a thought for the day, and a prayer for the day. Junior likes them because they are short and don't take long to read. I like that it is something he will read on his own and he is still learning about the Bible!

Some of the topics are: Being Thankful, God is Always With Us, Encouraging Truth, The Necessity of Obeying God, and Learn From Your Mistakes.

The pages are bright, colorful, and decorated with all your favorite Veggie Tales characters. For younger kids this would be a great book to read to them at bedtime. Although there is a boy and girl version, I really think they could be for either. I don't see anything in the boy's version that a girl wouldn't enjoy! It appears that the boy's version just has more boy characters while the girl's has more girl characters. 

With Christmas coming up these book would be a great gift for your kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, or anyone! You can find them on Amazon or at

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Biggest Story DVD and CD review

Recently we were given the opportunity to review The Biggest Story dvd and audio book. The dvd  follows along with the book written by Kevin DeYoung, and the cd is the book read aloud. The story follows the Bible from Genesis through Revelations.

I chose to watch the dvd with the kids so that I could answer any questions they may have. I was impressed with the way the dvd told the entire story of the Bible from creation to Jesus saving us by dying on the cross in a short 30 minutes. The images come from the book, and are richly illustrated with vibrant colors. The cd is great to listen to in the car while running errands or while on a road trip. You can even play it at night while the kids are going to sleep. We really enjoyed this story. It is a great tool to teach children about the Bible or to go more in depth about what they already know!

From the promotions company:

The Animated Short Film: Featuring beautifully animated illustrations adapted from the book, The Biggest Story: The Animated Short Film will captivate children and parents alike as they see how all the classic stories in the Bible connect to Scripture’s overarching message about God’s glorious plan to redeem his rebellious people.

The Audio Book: This audio book of The Biggest Story—written and narrated also by the best-selling author Kevin DeYoung—leads kids and parents alike on an exciting journey through the Bible, connecting the dots from the garden of Eden to Christ's death on the cross to the new heaven and new earth.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

DIY Matching Disney tees!

I don't know why, but for some reason when we go to Disney I LOVE having matching t-shirts. We don't wear matching shirts anywhere else, but at Disney we have matching shirts for everyday we are there. The kids roll their eyes and grumble under their breath, but they know that Disney means matching, and don't even try to get out of it! I think they secretly like it and that's why they don't complain more. Here's us last year in front of the castle in one of our shirts.

Check out the family to the right in the background they have matching shirts too! I just love the pictures when we all match. We even made Mickey tye die shirts. (I'll have a post on how to make them soon!)

For our iron on shirts I always get the awesome disigners (yes it's spelled that way!) on the DIS Boards to design them for me. Go to, and there is a forum called creative disigns. There are disigners on their who personalize shirts for people in their spare time. The best part is, it's free! After getting the designs I print them on iron on paper and then iron them on. I always use the Avery brand transfers. You can get them at Wal-mart, Office Depot, or Staples. I have found they stick on the best and last the longest.
I usually make the shirts a tad big for the kids so we can wear them a couple years. We don't wear them at home, just at Disney so they will last longer. The ones we have now we have worn for our past 2 trips, so we decided to make a few new ones this year, and we will still wear some of the old ones. These are the new ones I made for this year!

Another advantage of having matching shirts is they make it easier to find your kids. We were at the Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground one time and I was trying to find Junior. I asked a cast member "Have you seen...?" and he automatically pointed and said "over there!" I didn't even have to describe him or anything. This could be really helpful if you have small kids who wander or can't talk yet!

Some people thing matching shirts are geeky. I think they are adorable. And as long as I can make the kids wear them, we will be one of those matching families at Disney!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Family Christian Store review and giveaway!

I recently had the pleasure of checking out Family Christian Store's website and their great summer sales they have going on. I loved looking through all the books, music, and more on their website. I found so many books on there that I wanted to read or get for the kids! 
My favorite, which I did end up ordering, is Between Us: A 52 Week Keepsake Devotional Journal for Moms and Daughters. 

"Throughout the year, mothers and daughters can use these 52 devotions to share their thoughts and grow their faith. Written by best-selling author Vicki Courtney, each devotion unpacks a focus Scripture and offers guidance and biblical truth that is relevant to today's tweens. Daughters and moms will find questions to ask each other and to journal about and fun activity ideas as well. As the devos are shared and the journal is passed back and forth from mom to daughter, readers will be building their relationship with each other, strengthening their faith in God, and creating a keepsake to treasure for decades to come."
It doesn't come out until Sept 1, but you can order it now and they will ship it when it is released. Brianna and I can't wait to get it! I love that it is a keepsake! I am looking for something like it for moms and sons. 

I found this for boys. The artwork and graphics in here are awesome! I can't wait for Junior to read it! I think he is going to love it!

The Action Bible presents 215 fast-paced narratives in chronological order, making it easier to follow the Bible's historical flow and reinforcing the build-up to its thrilling climax. The stories in The Action Bible communicate clearly and forcefully to contemporary readers. This compelling blend of clear writing plus dramatic imagery offers an appeal that crosses all age boundaries. 

Internationally recognized artist Sergio Cariello has created attention-holding illustrations marked by rich coloring, dramatic shading and lighting, bold and energetic designs, and emotionally charged figures. Let this epic rendition draw you into all the excitement of the world's most awesome story.

Head on over to Family Christian and check out the great deals they have going on through Aug 25. Their journaling Bibles are 30% off. These are great for taking on road trips! You can also get 50% off all books, dvds, and music, so grab a cd to listen to and a dvd for the kids to watch!

It's not too late for the kids to complete the Family Christian Store summer reading program. Encourage kids 12 years and younger to take their reading to new heights by joining the Summer Reading Club. When they read six books, they'll get a free book of their choice. Jump start their reading now with the Buy 1, Get 1 50% Off sale on all Kids’ Books! The Club is going on now and ends August 25, so get them reading!
Link to learn more:

They also have a new apparel line that just came out called Active Faith.
  "We’re thrilled to be the exclusive retail partner for Active Faith Sports! Formed by a group of Christian athletes, Active Faith offers apparel with Christian-inspired designs and messages, encouraging you to share your faith whether you’re on the court, out for a jog or running errands around town.
·         Pro athletes seen wearing Active Faith apparel include Stephen Curry, Demaryius Thomas, Clayton Kershaw, James Harden and more!
·         Men’s apparel is available now in stores and online. Women’s and youth apparel will be available mid-July." 
You can watch their promotional video here.

The best part about Family Christian is that they are a non profit organization now. When you shop with them your purchases help support ministries worldwide! 

About Family Christian
   Family Christian is a Christian retailer, operating in 250 stores across the country. They are committed to helping you find, grow, share and celebrate your faith through a wide selection of Christian books, music, Bibles, DVDs, gifts and more.
 When you shop with Family Christian, your purchases support their efforts to unite with ministries that are helping children and families in need around the world. 

              Family Christian has generously donated a $25 certificate for one lucky reader to win! Enter below, and don't forget to share with your friends! I hope you had as much fun shopping as I did!
“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Fun with Word Ladders

We've recently found a workbook that the kids love! It's called Word Ladders, and it's a 10 minute a day skill builder.

We first encountered Word Ladders when I picked up a workbook for fifty cents at a curriculum sale. It was for grades 1-2, and they were in 5th, but I thought it would be a good review, and something I could give them to keep them busy when I had to work. The premise is simple: you start out with a word, and then you climb the ladder, adding or removing one or two letters at a time according to the clues.

To my surprise, the kids LOVED it! They did the first couple pages I gave them and begged for more. They finished the first book in a couple weeks, and asked for harder ones. I went online searching and was able to buy more off of Amazon for a good price. This time I got grades 4-6.
Whenever I'm busy and give them work to do on their own they always ask for Word Ladders. I don't know what I will do when they finish all the books and we don't have anymore! Each book has 100 lessons in it, and it helps with spelling, phonics, vocabulary, and more. I'm so glad I found schoolwork that they actually like to do! 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Angell & Phelps Chocolate Factory

On our recent trip to Daytona Beach I heard about a local chocolate factory that gives free tours. We love chocolate, so a free tour with the promise of free chocolate at the end was perfect for us! 
When I think chocolate factory I think big Willy Wonka type factory. Maybe with some oompa loompa's stirring a big chocolate river. But this isn't like that. It's a store located just a few miles from the beach on S Beach St in Daytona. 

While a big chocolate river would have been nice, the store was still pretty awesome. It is packed with every kind of chocolate you can think of. There's a display case where they sell their fudge and fresh made chocolates. They have just about everything you can think of. Chocolate covered pretzels, chocolate covered caramels, chocolate covered cherries, chocolate covered potato chips, chocolate covered coconuts, chocolate covered Oreo's (my favorite!) and more. Their strangest one is chocolate covered bacon. Yes, that's right, bacon! I was intrigued by the idea. We love chocolate, and we love bacon, so putting them together should be perfect right?

The rest of the store is filled with already packaged chocolates. You can buy them by the box, by the bag, or individually. They have milk chocolate made into lots of molds. Race cars, starfish, seashells, dolphins, turtles, flip flops, and lots more beach themed candies. 
The tour runs several times a day. At the side of the store is a long hallway which runs down the side of the kitchen area where they make the chocolates. Through several big glass windows you can watch what they are doing while the tour leader explains everything and gives you the history of the company. We got to see them mixing the chocolate, getting bacon ready for coating, packaging, and making chocolate covered pretzels.
After the tour they have a tray of free samples and you can choose 2. Brianna got a chocolate covered potato chip and a solid milk chocolate. Junior got a chocolate covered pretzel and a solid chocolate. I just got 2 solid chocolates. 

After the tour, we went out front and sampled their fudge and the chocolate covered bacon. I thought this would be really good, but I just didn't like it. Brianna loved it. She ate her piece, my piece, and Junior's piece she liked it so much! I'm just a plain chocolate kind of person. I don't want my chocolate coating anything unless it's Oreo's. I didn't like the chocolate covered pretzels or potato chips either, but the kids loved them. 

We really enjoyed our visit, and we left with a bagful of goodies. If you look in the local coupon books you can find a coupon for 10% off a $10 or more purchase. You can also order their chocolates online and have them shipped to you. They use some kind of new ice packs that keep it from melting but don't sweat so everything doesn't get soggy. The lady explained it during the tour but I was busy watching the pretzels and wasn't paying close attention. 
If you want to check out their assortment of chocolates you can visit their website here. And if you're ever in Daytona you have to stop by for a visit and a taste! 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Six Flags White Water debuts tallest slide

We were invited to Six Flags White Water for the opening of their newest slide, Wahoo Racers. At 60 feet tall, it is the tallest slide of its kind in the world! You slide head first on a foam mat through twisty tunnels, then at the end you shoot out into a lane where you can race up to 5 friends to the finish! You can reach speeds up to 40 feet per second. The trick is to pull up slightly on the front of your mat while you are going down so you are more aerodynamic. Pushing down on the front of the mat will slow you down. 

The tunnels are dark inside but at some points you can see the rainbow colors from the other slides shining through. The kids loved it! 

Wahoo Racer Facts

  • The tallest slide of its kind in the world 
  • A tower standing 60-feet and easily visible from Interstate 75 where the park is located
  • Speeds of up to 40 feet per seconds
  • Six aero-dynamic designed water toboggans for the ultimate competing thrill
  • Replaces the 100 Meter Splash
  • Combines a serpentine toboggan tube slide with a multi style racing lane epic finish
  • Adds six new slides to the Six Flags White Water world-class water slide lineup

Besides the Wahoo Racers we also got to enjoy the rest of the park. The kids LOVED the lazy river. One of the worst things about lazy rivers is that there are never enough tubes. But White Water has solved that problem with these new foam floats. They are like pool noodles, but flat and soft. They still have tubes, but we actually liked these better because they allow you to still be in the water and you don't stick to them like you do the tubes. There were plenty of them to go around. Junior made a bed out of some!

The river also has a little alcove with a waterfall that you can get under to cool off. It seemed to be a big hit with all the kids we saw!

They also have a large wave pool, and every Thursday in June and July they show a dive in movie on a giant 15x30 foot screen. Nothing better than relaxing by the pool and watching a movie, right!

The kids also really liked Lily Pad crossing. There's a long row of giant floating lily pads stretching from one side of the pool to the other. You have to cross them while keeping your balance and holding onto the rope net above you. It's a lot harder than it looks! Lily Pad crossing is located right next to the activity pool so you can relax in the pool while they play. I didn't have my phone on me to take pictures, and the ones I took on our GoPro didn't come out that great. 

White water also has a special play area for toddlers, a treehouse play area for older kids, and about a dozen more slides that the whole family can enjoy. If you want to maximize your ride time and cut down on your wait time you can buy the flash pass, which is like a skip the line pass. It only works on certain rides, and at $35 a person I couldn't afford it, but if you have the money it may be worth it. 
 We really enjoyed our visit and can't wait to go back!
Check out their website for more information on rides, hours, and ticket pricing.

Monday, May 16, 2016

The most amazing vacation ever!

We just got home from the most amazing vacation! Brianna said it was better than Disney World! We spent 3 days at the Tennessee Guest Ranch in Dunlap, TN. It's a working ranch, and you learn to take care of your horse, saddle them, clean up after them, and you get to ride every day! It is owned by Chris and Tammy Young, and they run it as a ministry program. A lot of money goes to supporting an orphanage in Honduras where 600 kids live! The ranch also runs a preparatory academy for middle through high school students. The students live at the ranch and learn all about horses and pre-vet work while completing school.  The kids also spend a month in Honduras doing ministry work at the orphanage. All of the family and kids were very friendly and welcoming. They were ready to help with anything, and really made us feel like family. 

Check in is at 5:00 C.S.T. on the day of your arrival. We arrived and were greeted by our wrangler, Jon. He lives on the ranch with his wife Jenny, who does the cooking, and their son, who is an adorable little bundle of energy. Each family is assigned their own wrangler who takes care of them and assists them during their stay. We got the best because Jon was AWESOME! He was great with the kids, very patient and funny, and like any cowboy he had some very tall tales to share! He even let us in on some national secrets that only a few folks in Dunlap, TN know about! But I can't share them here, if you want to know what they are you have to visit the ranch!
I meant to get a picture of all of us before we left but forgot. Here is Bri with John out on the trail.

Jon took us on a tour of the house and the barn. When they say you are guests here they mean it! Here's the kitchen and the fridge, help yourself. Here's the living room, lots of games, feel free to hang out and play whatever you want. Here's the den, huge tv, lots of horse movies, make yourself at home and watch a movie! Front porch with swings, back deck with chairs, hang out wherever and do whatever you like! Feel free to hang out in the barn and pet the horses and the goats!
 He showed us our room and we got our bags in. We were in the Wrangler Family Suite. The horse theme is everywhere and we loved it right away! Each bed had a carrot on it for our horse, and a cowboy Bible!

This is looking at the room from my bed, which was in a little alcove.

The kids' beds.
my bed

My bed faced a large double window. This was the view out my window! 

The bathroom had the horse theme too!

After putting our bags in our room it was time to meet our horses for our stay! We would be taking care of them and riding them for the next 3 days. Bri got Sonny. I can't remember what kind of horse he is.  She loved him, and said he was perfect. He was small and she could groom and mount him without a stool!

Junior got Maggie. She is a beautiful white horse. Part Arabian and I think the other part was TN Walker. He loved her too. 

I got Socks. She is a TN Walker and she was awesome! She has a very smooth gait. I always heard horseback riding makes you sore, but I was fine. I was a little stiff when I would first get off, but after walking around a couple minutes I would be fine. I don't know if that was just me or because she's such a great horse! I've never really ridden before this so I didn't have much to compare to. 

After meeting the horses we went inside for supper. All the meals here were delicious! Jenny really knows how to cook! Supper was hamburgers with all the fixins, baked beans, potato salad, and brownies and ice cream for dessert. Oh, and the best sweet tea you have ever tasted! My kids drank gallons of it during our stay. They even wanted to put it in their water bottles when we went out on the trail. After supper we played card games with some of the students. They were all so polite and respectful! At around 8:00 every night we had to do a hay and water check. We filled up the horse's hay bin and water buckets. The kids thought this was so much fun I let them do my horse too. 

Rise and shine time was 6:30 every morning.My kids are not early risers at all. But I had no problem getting them up while we were at the ranch. The first day we got coffee and hot chocolate and had a bible study about horses out on the porch. We learned a lot of cool stuff. Then it was time to feed our horses! Each horse had a different diet so we had to learn which oats or grains and what amount to give each one. Junior and Bri loved it and they had no problem remembering what "their" horse ate!
After feeding the horses it was time for us to eat pancakes and eggs. They grind their own wheat at the ranch, and all the bread and pancakes are made fresh. The kids didn't care for the wheat bread but I liked it! Each guest gets their own boot mug and silverware with your horse's name on it. After eating you are responsible for washing your own dishes and putting them back. 

After breakfast it was time to groom and saddle the horses! They show you how to groom the horse, clean their hooves, and tack them up. Junior and Bri have been taking lessons for a few months now so they knew how to do all this. I had watched them do it, so I had a pretty good idea how to groom them, I just wasnt sure about putting on the saddle and the bridle and all that. Jon was great, he showed us everything, and then he stood back and was like ok, do it! I liked that we were responsible for everything. They were always there to help if we needed them, but you did it all yourself. I'm sure if you didn't want to do it they would do it for you, but the kids loved doing it themselves and it's a good lesson in responsibility! 

The first day is spent in the arena learning how to control the horses and make them stop and go. We walked around the arena, did patterns around cones, and even got to trot. The horses were awesome. They listened well and we had no problems with them. Junior and Bri already knew most of what they were doing, and I am apparently a fast learner, because after a delicious lunch of turkey and ham sandwiches we got to go out on the trail! The land all around the ranch is so beautiful. We loved it!

After a couple hours we headed back to the ranch. We had to unsaddle the horses, wash them down, then put them in their stalls and make sure they had hay and water. They were tired they deserved a rest! We also had to clean out the stalls. This was the not fun part. But they did it without complaining! 

We had free time until supper. There were 4 baby goats at the ranch that were just a few weeks old. The kids loved feeding them and petting them. I have to admit, I loved holding them too. They were just too cute!

This one was our favorite. We called her Chocolate. If goats didn't chew up so much stuff I could have seriously taken her home with me!

There are also lots of cats all over. My kids love cats so of course they spent a good amount of time chasing and petting the cats.

Also in our free time we got a roping lesson from Donovan, one of the students. He is a really sweet kid! 

Roping is a lot harder than it looks! For dinner that night they sent us to the Cookie Jar Cafe. (The cost is included in your vacation). It's a restaurant on a nearby farm. There are shelves around the entire restaurant filled with all kinds of cookie jars. The food was amazing! The burgers were homemade and fresh and sooo good! Bri got the chicken tenders and they were huge! She couldn't even eat them all. They also have a small petting zoo on site with a calf, some chickens, and goats. They have a swingset and little bikes for the kids to play on, so if you have a wait you have something to keep the kids entertained. Of course my kids had to be silly!

That night they had a bonfire. One of the students was graduating, and it was a little party for her. We got to hang out and enjoy the fire. 

Sat morning we were up at 6:30 again! We groomed and saddled the horses and left them in their stalls to eat while we packed our saddlebags with lunch and ate breakfast. Breakfast this morning was cooked outside over a fire. I wish I had gotten a picture of the setup, but I didn't. I did get a picture of breakfast though and it was delicious! Eggs, potatoes, bacon, homemade sausage, onions, peppers and cheese! The kids cleaned their plates! One of the dads who was there for the graduation made it with Donovan's help.

After breakfast we hit the trail. We rode all day. I left my phone in the room the whole stay, so I didn't keep up with the time. We rode for about 5 or 6 hours though. The neighboring farms let the ranch use their land to ride on, and in turn the ranch keeps an eye on their cows and makes sure they dont get out, and checks their fences for them. We had an adventure riding through the woods looking for cows. No boring trail rides here! It was awesome. We rode all over the valley. Jon kept us entertained with stories and the history of the valley. We got really good at trotting and Jon taught us how to canter. For lunch we had a picnic at the river, and did another Bible study on horses in the Bible. It was really interesting. We looked for crawdads and collected some rocks for our rock garden back home. 

Saturday night they were having Cowboy Church at the ranch. They do this the second Saturday of every month. The community is invited, and they have free pony rides, supper, and a dance afterwards. The kids from the school sing a few songs and someone preaches a short sermon. 

For some reason these pictures didn't come out that good but these are the kids singing. They were great! After church we had bbq chicken, beans and potato salad for dinner. Dessert was some kind of confection made of layers of graham crackers, chocolate pudding, and vanilla pudding. It was so good! They are sending me the recipe. When I get it I will share!

The kids didn't want to dance but I said no dancing, no riding tomorrow. So they danced and they liked it! We did some line dancing and Junior and I learned how to two-step!

After the dance we had to hay and water the horses before bed. The kids never forgot what time they were supposed to feed or check the horses. 

Sunday morning Memaw (Tammy's mom-she lives there too) made us french toast for breakfast. She is a character! She kept us laughing. You have to sit and talk with her if you visit the ranch! Her french toast is amazing! Ashley and Mr. Chris were our wranglers today. After breakfast we rode to church. It's the cutest little white country church in the valley with the friendliest people. 
I forgot to mention-you need boots to visit the ranch! And not fancy ones either, because they are going to get dirty! Boots are not allowed in the house, so you always leave them out on the porch. It was the same way at church. The kids called it Barefoot Church because we got to go in with no shoes. And the preacher played a guitar! No shoes and a guitar playing preacher! What can be better than that?
Ashley and the kids. It was Pentecost the day we were there so the church was decorated!

Sadly the ride back to the ranch was our last ride. We took the long way, and got in a lot of trotting and cantering. The kids loved going fast! Back at the ranch we unsaddled the horses and groomed them for the last time. We put them in their stalls with fresh hay and water and told them bye. We also had to tell the baby goats bye. We had chili and salad for a late lunch and then it was time to say goodbye to everyone.
Everyone was so friendly and we had so much fun. It was truly something different that we have never done before! And the scenery up there is gorgeous. Brianna said she is going to save all her allowance so that we can come back again. At $5 a week, she is going to be saving for a long time! Hopefully one day we will be able to go back!
If you would like more info on the ranch you can check out their website here. If you don't want to do a full stay they also have day riding programs. They also do one and two week horse camps in the summer that sound like a lot of fun. If you do visit tell them the Baldwin family sent you and we said hi!
For more info on the academy they run go here. It sounds like a really great program!