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Looking Back

Off-Road Adventures: Picnic Date

Special thanks to Pratico for providing a free or discounted sample for review. All opinions are my own based upon personal experiences with the product in our home. This post may contain affiliate links.

Off-road adventures with our Pratico picnic blanket

As a family, we enjoy going out and exploring the desert. On days like yesterday, when it’s in the high 90s, it’s probably not the best of days to head out, but since we have ac in D’s truck, we still went out. This time, unlike when we’ve gone out in the past however many years, it was just D and I. Munchkin needed to work on finishing up the edits on her book as the deadline is looming, so I packed up some water and some snacks for our little off-road trip. I grabbed the new Pratico picnic blanket and off we went.

Enjoying the beautiful rocky desert landscape

It felt a bit odd to be out exploring without our girl, but at the same time, it was fun to have some one-on-one time with D. Some people may find that the desert landscape is boring, but D and I both think it’s beautiful. The rocks around here are quite interesting, and of course, D loves how good they are for bouldering.

Enjoying a picnic by the rocks

It took a little while, but we found an area where the boulders created a shady area where we could get out of the sun. Of course, D had to test out the rocks a little to see if there were any good finger holds for climbing – especially when he saw the chalk from other climbers. I think he was a little bummed that he didn’t have his climbing shoes, chalk bag, and bouldering pad with him. lol! He’s been dealing with a few shoulder issues, so he hasn’t been able to get in a lot of climbing. He misses it.

Perfect boulders for bouldering

I was chuckling as D was so excited about the rocks that I ended up trying to get things set up. When he realized that I was setting up the blanket on my own, he gave me a sheepish grin and helped me out. Boulders tend to call his name. 😉 Of course, I often get side-tracked by taking pictures, so I can related to it.

Picnic blanket features a padded waterproof back and a fleece front

We were pleased with how comfortable the picnic blanket was thanks to the protective waterproof backing, light padding, and flannel top. While it wouldn’t protect against cactus (what does?), it did help with all the small rocks. It was large enough that D was able to completely stretch out on the blanket for a little rest.

Taking a nap on the picnic blanket

As much as I was enjoying the scenery, shade, and company, the heat soon started to get to me, so we hopped back in D’s truck and headed off to explore a bit more – in the comfort of the ac. 😉 Down the bumpy dirt roads we went. Enjoying all the beauty around us and talking. It was a fun impromptu date even if the desert temps were plotting against us.

Fitness Friday: Stress and Tension Relief

Special thanks to HealPT for providing a free or discounted sample of their product for me to test out in my home. All opinions are my own based upon my personal experiences. This post may contain affiliate links.
Tension and stress relief through exercise and at-home physical therapy

Stress… Tension… Aches… Pains… Did you know that exercise can help relieve stress and tension? Exercise produces endorphins, chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers, and promotes a better sleep cycle which, in turn, reduces stress. Naturally, exercise also helps improve your overall physical and mental health and well-being which also reduces stress and tension.

You don’t have to do high-impact, aerobic exercise to get the benefits. Studies have shown that walking will give you some of the benefits. Basically, we need to make sure that we’re moving. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator and parking farther away from the entrance to the store can help add more movement to your day. Gradually increase your activity level to see more stress and health benefits.

Exercise is a wonderful tool for stress and tension relief.

I know that I’ve seen an improvement in my stress levels during some highly stressful times thanks to regular exercise. I periodically suffer from insomnia, and a regular exercise routine has helped me sleep much better. Well, I may get sore from the workouts, the aches and pains that, at times plagued me previously, have slowly gone away.

Even though exercise has helped with stress, I still struggle some with tension. I carry a lot of tension in my neck and shoulders. Depending on what I’ve being doing during the day, I can also have tension in my back. Moist heat packs helps with some of that, but there are times that I just need to work out the knots.

Stress and tension relief with foot roller and porcupine massage ball

When D is around, he’s good about massaging at least some of the knots out of my neck, shoulders, and back, but unfortunately, he’s not always around, and he can’t always get the knots out. Did I mention I have a lot of knots? I have a massager, but it’s honestly not that good at breaking up the knots.

Enter in the porcupine massage ball and foot roller. Don’t be fooled by the name. You can definitely use these massage tools on other parts of the body. For your sake, I did not photograph me using them on my feet even though they work really well for aching feet. I recommend starting with the roller and then moving to the porcupine ball as the porcupine ball is definitely more intense.

The wood foot roller has rubber on the ends, so it doesn’t get damaged when you roll it on the ground. The grooves help provide a deeper massage which helps break up knots. You can control the intensity by how firmly your press against the roller.

The porcupine massage ball looks just like one of my dryer balls, but it’s firm instead of soft. It’s great for a deeper, more intense massage.

Both tools are easy to use on the arms, legs, and feet, but they’re a little difficult to use on your own for the rest of the body. You need to be a little more flexible if you’re going to try to utilize them by yourself. It’s even better if you have someone to help as you’re able to relax a little more.

Of course, exercise is great as is massage, but you also need to make sure that you’re staying hydrated. Your body can’t function optimally unless you take care of it.

How do you reduce stress and tension in your life? Have you found that exercise and massage help reduce stress and tension?

Beat the Heat with a Berry Smoothie Treat

Refreshing berry smoothie to beat the summer heat

Summer is here, and the desert heat has come with it. When the temps hit 105 degrees in the shade today, I knew that we would be wiped after our outing, so I reached for my faithful blender as I knew it was time to make a refreshing, healthy smoothie to help beat the heat.

It’s no secret that I’ve been on a fitness journey the last few months. I’ve been focusing even more on real foods, whole foods, foods that heal and nourish. That’s not to say that I don’t eat some junk, because I do, but it’s not as often as in the past.

Most days, I like to begin the day with a berry smoothie. Ideally, I would use all fresh, organic berries, but that isn’t always possible. For those times when fresh berries aren’t available, I use frozen organic berries. I’m hoping to be able to freeze some farmer’s market berries this year rather than purchasing prepackaged store-bought berries, but we’ll have to see what is available. The drought conditions around here haven’t made things easy for the farmers.

Use the extra berry smoothie to make delicious smoothie popsicles to beat the summer heat.

On hot super hot days, like today, I will not only have a smoothie in the morning, but I’ll also have one around mid-day. Sometimes, I make them in the evenings for the whole family as it’s a light, yet filling, evening snack. If I have any leftover smoothie, I like to turn the smoothie into smoothie popsicles which is another fun way to beat the heat.

While you can use milk (dairy, coconut, almond, rice) or juice in the smoothie, I normally use water as my base as it means that I’m not adding additional sugar and calories from fruit juice or milk. The addition of a banana holds the smoothie together nicely. Depending on the day, I’ll toss in different goodies to increase the nutrients like Moringa Powder. Those extra nutrients are especially important on high energy output days. I can definitely feel it if I forgot to have my “power” smoothie.

Beat the summer heat with berry smoothie treats

If I want a little splurge, I’ll add a little whipped cream on top. Yum! I don’t do that all the time, so it still feels like I treat when I do. If D and Munchkin are also having smoothies, I usually add a little honey to their smoothies as they like them a little sweeter. Of course, it’s always fun to use a cute paper straw to add a little something extra to the presentation.

Beat the Heat with a Berry Smoothie Treat
A refreshing, healthy berry smoothie helps beat the summer heat. Use the extra smoothie mix to make delicious popsicles.
Recipe type: Drinks
  • 1 cup water (or other liquid)
  • 1 cup mixed, organic berries
  • 1 ripe banana
  • Sweetener, optional
  • Whipped cream, optional
  1. Poor water into the blender and add berries. If using frozen berries, pulse the frozen berries and water until they are well combined.
  2. Add banana and blend until thoroughly combined.
  3. Poor into glass. Top with whipped cream, if desired.
If you have any extra, you can either store it in the fridge to drink later, or you can pour it into popsicle molds and freeze to make smoothie popsicles.



Wordless Wednesday: Wildfire

Wildfire season has begun.

The sun sets on day 1 of the lake fire wildfire.

The sun slips behind the mountains with clouds of wildfire smoke in the air.

Looking out over the basin that is filled with wildfire smoke.

The sun sets on day 2 of the lake fire wildfire.

Wildfire Sunset

Last week, I wrote about wildfire safety tips because we were experiencing our first wildfire of the season. This week’s almost Wordless Wednesday post features some of the images taken during the wildfire. It’s always amazing how beauty can come out of disaster and devastation.

Family Life’s Passport 2 Purity Getaway Kit

The Passport 2 Purity Set gives parents the tools they need to create a meaningful getaway to talk about important matters in their child's life. #passport2purity #flyby

Special thanks to FlyBy Promotions for providing a review copy of the Passport 2 Purity materials for us to go over in our home.

13. One of the magical numbers in a child’s life. At 13, they become a teenager, a young adult. It wasn’t long ago that the age of 13 marked the time when a boy became a man. Many cultures mark this day with a celebration as a way to honor the person coming of age. Somewhere along the way, we have lost sight of the importance of celebrating such milestones with our kids. For Munchkin, we made a big deal of her 13th birthday including notes of encouragement from family members and a purity ring from Daddy.

As our children grow up, they are faced with many decisions. It’s our job to help guide them along their path and prepare them for their future. One of the important tasks along the way is talking about sex. It’s one of those topics that many parents shy away from, but it’s certainly not something that we want them learning about first from friends, school, or the media. We want them to learn about it in a way that will stress that sex isn’t something that should be jumped into just because everyone else is doing it.

A special gift to remember this weekend getaway can help make the talk more memorable. #passport2purity #flyby

We have to talk about what???

Will it be comfortable to talk to your kiddo about sex? Most likely, no. Is it important? Yes. You know your child better than anyone else, so you may find that you need to have the talk sooner rather than later. You may also find that having open conversations as the topic comes up will help prepare the way for a more serious talk later. Whatever approach you take, make sure your child knows that you are there to answer any questions that they have about adolescence. Make sure you work on being more relaxed about talking to your child about all topics, even the uncomfortable ones.

Passport 2 Purity helps make the talk about sex, purity, adolescence, relationships, peer pressure… with your child a little easier. In fact, it turns the talk into a weekend of fun and bonding. It gives you a step-by-step guide on how to talk to your kids and includes fun activities to drive the message home. Dennis and Barbara Rainey are your guides throughout this weekend. There are times throughout the weekend when there needs to be separate talks for the boys and girls, so Barbara handles the girl talk while Dennis handles the guy talk.

Make the talk using the Passport 2 Purity materials more special by having a getaway weekend. #passport2purity #flyby

The Getaway Weekend

To make things easier, the program has a schedule all laid out for you. It’s a two day program, so you’ll want to plan accordingly.

Your getaway begins on a Friday evening. It’s recommended that you actually do get away from home, so you can make the weekend something truly special for your child. Not to mention, you’ll be away from the normal distractions that come with staying at home. I don’t know about you, but if we stay at home, I tend to get caught up in tasks that need to be done which means I need to be intentional about setting aside time for quality family time. That’s why it’s often easier to get away as you remove yourself from the daily grind – especially if you leave the electronics behind. That being said, you will be listening to 2 different sessions as well as doing a couple of projects, so you’ll want to make sure you have an mp3 player or cd player available.

On Saturday morning, you’ll complete 2 more sessions including a couple of projects. There is an optional session that is gender specific which you may or may not decide to do depending on how comfortable you are with the information being presented and how it is presented. It’s highly recommended that you do at least talk about the subjects covered as you don’t want your child to deal with it on their own.

Saturday afternoon is free time that is meant to be spent doing something really special with your child based upon their interests.

Saturday evening is spent on session five as well as a project. You’ll be wrapping up your evening with a celebration dinner where, if desired, you’ll present your child with a gift as a keepsake from the weekend. While the weekend is over, there is still more for the child to do when they get back in the form of 25 devotionals. As your child goes through the devotionals, you’ll want to continue to touch base with them and pray with them. Don’t stop talking and bonding just because the weekend has ended.

The Passport 2 Purity Program requires preparation and prayer on the part of the parent. #passport2purity #flyby

Prepare and Pray for Your Child

It’s important to note that this isn’t just a pick up and go type of program. It requires preparation on the part of the parent to make the weekend successful. The Tour Guide is your best friend as it contains check-lists and everything you need to be prepared for the weekend. The most important part of all of this is praying for your child. All of this is great, but it’s all for not if you’re not praying for your child before, during, and after the weekend. There is a really good chance that there will be times throughout the weekend that you and/or your child will be uncomfortable with the topics being covered, but it’s important to continue working your way through the program.

All of the sessions are on cds, but there is also a cd that contains all of the sessions in mp3 format which makes it easy to put the sessions on you phone, tablet, or mp3 player. The student journal has a place for the parents to write a special note to the child as well as a place to put some photos of the parent(s) as they grew up. This program is set up to help open the communication lines between parents and children as it gives them a chance to talk about puberty, sex, purity, relationships…

As a parent, I highly recommend listening to all of the sessions prior to listening to them with your child. You want to know what will be said and not caught off guard. Some topics may be set aside for a later date, or you may find that you need to adjust how the information is being presented. Remember, you know your child best. I personally found that they approached all the topics well, but each child is different, so keep that in mind as you prepare for the weekend.

Parenting is not an easy job, but it is rewarding. This updated Passport 2 Purity program is there to help you have a little easier time with talking about some difficult topics with your growing child. The years between childhood and becoming an adult are not easy for the parent or the child, but it’s important that we’re fully committed to each child to give them the best chance for a successful life.

About the Passport 2 Purity Getaway Kit:

  1. Tour Guide for the parent
  2. Travel Journal for the preteen including 25 follow-up devotions
  3. (8) CDs containing 5 sessions, scripture memory songs and downloadable MP3s:
    • Session 1: Beginning the Journey – Challenges, Traps, and Choices
    • Session 2: Running With The Herd – Friendships and Peer Pressure
    • Session 3: Ready For An Upgrade? – Changes in Him, Changes in Her
    • Session 4: Destination: Lé Pure – Setting Boundaries
    • Session 5: Crossing The Date Line – Seeing Dating Differently

Connect with Family Life on the Family Life Website, Facebook, and Twitter. You can also connect with Dennis Rainey and Barbara Rainey on Twitter.

Want to purchase the kit? You can use the promo code PASSPORT to receive a 25% discount on the PASSPORT2PURITY GETAWAY KIT THIRD EDITION through 8/31/15.