Personalized Roadtrip Giveaway

I love the book and the map.  This is super cool!

USA Road Trip Book Set Giveaway

Welcome to the My USA Road Trip Personalized Storybook Gift Set Giveaway!


Sponsored By: I See Me!

Hosted By: Easter Babe’s Theory

1 Lucky Winner will receive My USA Road Trip Personalized Storybook and colorful Scratch-Off Map

  I See Me Personalized USA Road Trip Dedication   You can personalize this storybook from I See Me! with your child’s name, gender, and state of residence.You can even add a photo of your child’s face and select their hair color and skin tone to be incorporated throughout the illustrations. To make this book even more special, you can include a dedication that will be printed on the first page. Your child will be taken on an exciting adventure through all 50 states. Along their trip, they will learn state names and key monuments. Your child will make some stops throughout the journey to fuel up, surf the waves, and more. They’ll even pass through their home state where they’ll learn about the state bird, flower, and flag. The scratch-off map is perfect to track your real-life travels or follow along with the matching book.   I See Me Personalized USA Road Trip Home State

Read more about this amazing book HERE


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Giveaway Dates: 08/08/2017 11:59PM CST until 08/21/2017 11:59PM CST

This giveaway is in no way endorsed, affiliated, or associated with Facebook, Twitter or any other Social Media Networking Site. This Giveaway is valid in the United States Only and Entrants must be 18+ years of age to enter. This giveaway event will end at 11:59 PM (EST) 8/21/17. The winner will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be drawn. The sponsor is responsible for shipping of the above prize(s). No blog associated with this contest is responsible for prize fulfillment. If you take an entry you must stay following for the entire contest or you will be disqualified.




Cats and Faith – What an Odd Combination

Cats have been on my mind a lot lately.  We took in a stray last year (you can read more about that in my previous posts, A Kitty Cat’s Tale (Pun Intended) and Nine Things to Love About Cats – From a Former Dog Person).

I work at a steel mill, and there are always cats running around.  This year though, there has, we believe, been one very active male.  We had three or four litters of kittens running around.  Before we took in our stray last year, I never would have considered taking one home from work.  For one thing, they are very dirty – a steel mill is a filthy environment.  For another, I just didn’t think that I cared for cats.  We had dogs, and the two just don’t mix.

But, we found, that the cat and dog got along just fine.  Our first cat is black, and I ended up bringing home a white one.  He was so dirty, he looked gray.  Turns out, the cats love each other too.

This new cat is the sweetest.  He purrs constantly.  Perhaps he’s just grateful to have a home, instead of sleeping on concrete and rocks.

In addition, we’ve been making trips outside at work, to look at darling, tiny kittens.  I was also involved in an effort to capture several of them, with the hope of finding them homes.

This will seem a little disjointed, but it will all come together in the end!

Now on to the faith part.  We’ve been attending a new church over the past several months.  I wanted to learn more about the church, and I’ve been struggling with some things, so I asked the Lead Pastor if he would meet with me to talk.

One of the things we talked about was my history with church and faith.  Tonight, I remembered one cat in particular that changed my faith, and not in a good way . . . or was it?

When I was in college, one of my roommates brought a cat to the house we were renting.  I wasn’t thrilled about this, because pets were against the rules.  But, it was a nice enough cat, and I accepted that he was going to be around.

One day, I was talking on the phone (this was before everyone had cell phones . . . it was around 1992 or 1993).  The cat approached me, so I picked him up.  I was holding him near my shoulder and face when he jumped off.  He hit the foot board of a bed (I thought with just his feet) and took off.

I didn’t think too much of it, but later, my roommate noticed that he was bleeding from his gums.  She took the cat to the vet.  I spent a sleepless night praying for this cat to get well, because I knew my roommate blamed me, even though I had done nothing wrong.

While the vet had the cat, she decided to get him fixed.  It turned out, the cat was a hemophiliac and he died.  Even without his injury, he would have likely died from the procedure.  Still, the experience stuck with me, perhaps even longer than I’ve realized.

When God didn’t answer my prayers the way I wanted, I wondered, what is the point in praying?  Is God even listening?

That feeling and doubt stuck with me for years.  While I did not totally reject God, He certainly wasn’t the focus of my life for a very long time.

Now, I realize how immature my thinking was.  To think that God could answer “Yes” to our every request simply doesn’t make any sense if you think about it.  Many times, our requests are just plain selfish.  We don’t look at the big picture, even when some of it is available to us.  But, more often, the big picture includes details that we do not know.  We have to trust that, when the answer is “No”, God knows best.

So, what is the point of praying?  It isn’t just asking for things, or it shouldn’t be.  It includes praise, forgiveness, growth, thankfulness, and yes, sometimes asking for things.  God desires a relationship with us, and that can best be achieved by reading His word, worshiping Him, and praying.  True faith comes when we continue to trust in Him, even when we don’t get what we think we need and want.




Travel and Photography – Treasure Island, Florida

We spent a week on the beach at Treasure Island, Florida, in mid-July. Treasure Island is in the St. Petersburg/Clearwater area.  We had a great time, although it was very hot some days!

If you’re into collecting shells, this is the place for you. The beach was lousy with them early in the morning, when the tide was low.
We spent a day at Busch Gardens in nearby Tampa. We saw many beautifully colorful birds.
The Florida Aquarium in Tampa is very nice, but the Wetlands Exhibit is extraordinary.

I loved this blue-billed duck.
Day at the Beach
Double Rainbow
Full rainbow on the beach. Does it get any better?
There were wild sting rays all around our boat on our fishing trip. It was awesome.
Lovely fishing spot
Beautiful view from our fishing boat.
Baby Dolphin spotted on our Dolphin Watching Cruise.
We don’t see a lot of pelicans in the Midwest, so I love seeing them on vacation.
I didn’t even know pelicans hang out in trees!
We had heard about the magnificent sunsets on the Gulf. Most nights the clouds covered the sun, but it was still beautiful.
The clouds produced an interesting shadow in the sky.

I’ll close with one of my favorite sunset photos.  There may be more details to come about some of our favorite excursions!  I’ve tried not to over-schedule us this summer; yet in the blink of an eye, summer is about over already.








How Can I Use my Gifts to Better Serve God and Others?

God is telling me something.  Over and over.  Does this ever happen to you?  A theme . . . a message that just keeps coming up.  This time, it seems to be at great frequency.

The last couple of Sundays that we’ve attended church, the idea that we should be using our talents to serve God has been the focus.  1 Corinthians 5-31 was discussed, and it is a wonderful illustration of how we all have different talents and abilities . . . spiritual gifts, that we all serve a different purpose as a part of a larger body – the body of Christ.  I wanted to include the entire passage, but it is quite long for a post.

Both weeks, I found myself thinking about my gifts, and how I could be using them better.

People come to me for advice.  I think it’s because I’ve learned to be a good listener, not always jumping to immediately tell them what they should do.  I generally ask them more questions to help them to come to their own conclusions.  When I started college, I thought I wanted to be a therapist.  I took a different direction, and got a Master’s in Industrial/Organizational Psychology.  I/O Psychology is the study of people in the workplace – Human Resources from a research perspective.  Even before the messages at church, I had been thinking about becoming a licensed counselor, even contacting a University about what would be involved with earning another Master’s degree, and obtaining a license.

But, in this world, it seems to always come down to time and money, doesn’t it?  Just two years of school is very expensive these days, even for an online degree.  I work full-time, and we need my income.  Working full-time and going to school with two young kids. . .  I suppose it’s possible, but I would miss too much time with my kids.  That is something I’m just not willing to do.

I could take loans, but is that a road I want to go down, at 45?  I already did that at 22, and it took me 10 years to pay them off.  Do I want to put my family in that situation?  Probably not.

Is that the license I want anyway?  Perhaps Biblical Counseling.  I completed an online inquiry.  They have tried to call a couple of times, but I haven’t answered.  What’s the point?  Nothing has changed.

So, maybe that’s not it.  At least not right now.

Last Sunday, a video was played of an interview with the Worship Team’s drummer.  I can sing.  Maybe I’m supposed to pursue becoming a member of the Worship Team.  But they have so many.  I’m probably not needed.  But, the Pastor had elaborated on 1 Corinthians 12:21: “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ Or again, the head can’t say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!'”

One should not think that other members of the church don’t need us, or we don’t need them.  But, then there’s the anxiety of singing in front of so many people.  Am I good enough?  Can I do it?  Is this where I’m needed?  I just don’t know.

Tuesday morning, I thought maybe it’s the blog.  Maybe I’m already using my writing talent.  But, then why would God be putting this on my heart if I’m already doing it?  I blog about a number of things.  Maybe I’m supposed to devote it totally to faith.

When I lack clarity, I often tell God that I am a knucklehead, and if He’s trying to lead me somewhere, I need Him to spell it out for me.  Then I felt that was a cop-out.  I felt that God was telling me, “I gave you a brain.  I expect you to use it.  Do your part.”  But, still, no answers were forthcoming.

Am I to write a book?  Get a new job?  Volunteer?  Use my gifts where I am right now?

On Tuesday, it came up again.  This time on K-LOVE.  Luis Palau (love him) talked about the same scripture passage.  We don’t have to be Pastors to use our gifts.  We should spread the gospel, no matter our profession.

And again, on Tuesday night.  This time, in a very unexpected place.

I’ve been borrowing a dramatic series from the library, “A Place to Call Home.”  The series takes place in Australia.  The Blighs, a wealthy family, are at the center.  The matriarch, Elizabeth, is quite a nasty character in the beginning.  By the end of Season Two, she has changed her ways.  As she says, a mirror has been held up to her face.

In Season Three she volunteers at a soup kitchen for veterans.  She tries to serve food, but she finds herself ill-equipped in this role.  As she’s leaving the man who runs the program asks, “Shall I put you on the roster?

Elizabeth replies, “I don’t think so, Mr. Goddard.  I don’t think I’m of much use.”

Days later, she arrives as a piano is being delivered, which she arranged.  She begins to play and sing.  One of the men, whose speech was incoherent in the earlier scene, begins to sing.

“I’ve never seen the men so happy.  So . . . engaged.  I’ve told you, of course, I make sure they’re fed.  But, this was living.  They were alive!”

What she did was beautiful.  She was obviously nervous when she started;  she was well outside of her comfort zone.  But she found the courage, and she found a way to use her gifts to make a difference.

I still have not figured out exactly what I am supposed to be doing, but I have faith that it will come.  I’m anxious to find out what lessons I will learn on this journey.





Missed Opportunities

My family and I got back from a Florida beach vacation a few days ago.  We spent a week in the Clearwater/St. Petersburg area.  We saw “Hurricane Simulators” at various tourist sites.  Of course, it’s nothing like a real hurricane.  In fact, a hurricane machine for fun is probably offensive to people who have been through an actual hurricane.  Nevertheless, my son, being a typical 7-year-old boy asked to try it every time we saw one.  I used my stock answer, “Maybe later.”

So around day 4 of our vacation, I finally agreed.  We were at the Florida Aquarium in Tampa.  I’m not sure why I decided to say “yes” at that moment.  Perhaps I figured, what’s another $2 with all of the money we’ve spent on this trip?  (By the way, we had another opportunity the next day while waiting in the extreme, stagnant, humid heat for our dolphin-watching cruise.  This time, I decided to join the kids, and it was glorious.  The coolness of the wind stuck with me for a while, even after leaving the simulator).

I was digging through my camera case, which doubles as my purse while on vacation, for a couple of singles.  I had put one into the machine, and had just found a second when a stranger put a dollar in front of me.  I said, “I’ve got it, but thank you,” as I fed in the second dollar.  He said, “Well, my brother paid for mine.”  I responded, “And I just took away your chance to pay it forward.  I’m sorry.”

He looked a little disappointed, but not annoyed.  He seemed to delight in watching my children’s enjoyment of the simulator.  Everyone did.  There was a small crowd watching, and I heard someone say, “She likes it!” about my daughter.

In retrospect, I wish I had handled the situation differently.  While I was already feeding money into the machine before I understood what he was trying to do, I could have done something to continue the string of paying it forward, instead of abruptly ending it.  I could have offered to join a dollar with his, and we could have given our $2 to someone else in the small crowd.  But, sadly, I didn’t think of it until much later.

I feel a little sad about this missed opportunity.  Of course, I can’t change it now.  But, it does inspire me to look for some chances to pay it forward in the future.


You’ll Always be my Baby

We called my daughter “Baby” for the first three and a half years of her life.  Around that time, she started saying, “I’m not a baby!”  So, I had to start calling her by her real name.  We had called her “Baby” so exclusively that it seemed very strange to use her first name, even though my husband and I chose it, of course.

I grew up with two older brothers.  I was always the baby, in addition to being the only girl.  I suppose it bothered me a little at times, especially because my brothers said that I was spoiled.  I didn’t see it that way, but looking back, I guess I can see their point of view, somewhat.  I was the only one in the family with my own bedroom.  Living in a three-bedroom house, of course it only made sense for my brothers to share a room, and for the only girl to have her own.  But, they got something I didn’t – a sibling of the same gender, which is something I would have liked.  In truth, from as young as I can remember until probably 10 or 11, I would have liked to share a room.  I was always very afraid at night, which I guess is why I baby my 7-year-old son, and lie by him in his bed until he’s asleep.

I remember complaining to my Mom about always being called the baby.  She said it was just because I was the youngest, and that I would always be her baby.  I’ve told my daughter the same thing when I’ve slipped and called her “Baby”.  She’s not buying it.  “I am a big girl!”  I say that her older brother will also always be my baby.  They both will, even when they’re grown.  My son doesn’t mind.

I remember when I was pushing thirty really hard, and my Dad introduced me to someone, saying, “This is my baby.”  By that time, I didn’t mind so much.  Maybe by the time my daughter is thirty, she’ll come around . . .

Summer Road Trip Giveaway

A summer road trip sounds great to me!

I See Me My U.S.A. Road Trip Gift Set Giveaway

Welcome to the I See Me My U.S.A. Road Trip Gift Set Giveaway!

1 Winner will receive I See Me My U.S.A. Road Trip Gift Set.

This is part of our Swinging Into Summer Gift Guide. Stop by and see what else we have for you!

This contest is hosted by the Social Media Gurus Network!

Below is a list of all the bloggers involved in the gift guide.

Michigan Saving and More

Deliciously Savvy

Tales From A Southern Mom

Here We Go Again ready

My Silly Little Gang

Everyday Gizmos Sweeps & Views


Easter Babe’s Theory


Peyton’s Momma

Things That Make People Go Aww


Now let’s get to the sponsor!

I See Me

I See Me My U.S.A. Road Trip Gift Set Giveaway


My U.S.A. Road Trip Gift Set


See the review HERE.



This giveaway is in no way endorsed, affiliated, or associated with Facebook, Twitter or any other Social Media Networking Site.You are not eligible if you have won a prize from the sponsor in the last 12 month. This Giveaway is valid in the United States Only and Entrants must be 18+ years of age to enter. This giveaway event will end at 11:59 PM (EST) 7/20/17. The winners will have 48 hours to email their information back to las93063 at gmail dot com or a new winner will be drawn, you may want to put this email address as safe as it could go to spam. The sponsors are each responsible for shipping of the above prizes. No blog associated with this contests are responsible for prize fulfillment. If you would like to be a sponsor in a giveaway like this please email Laura Smith at las930 (at)gmail (dot) com. If you take an entry you must stay following for the entire contest or you will be disqualified.

Also we all “love it if you like us” on Facebook! If you like our blogs on social media it helps us bring you only the best giveaways and more of them!

Enter below and Good Luck!

I Might be a Redneck

I really like Jeff Foxworthy.  He has more money than I’ll ever see, yet he still seems to be a down-to-earth, God-loving guy, who doesn’t take himself too seriously.

I’m sure you’ve heard the “You Might be a Redneck” jokes.  If you see any of yourself in these jokes, you might be offended.  But, if I remember correctly, Jeff Foxworthy describes a redneck as someone lacking sophistication.  He acknowledges that he, at times, lacks sophistication.

I would not have admitted this some years back, but I, too lack sophistication at times.  I have a fair amount of education, and for a time, I thought that made me pretty hoity-toity.  I thought it made me a little better.  Than what?  The old me?  Rednecks?  The fact that I can’t answer that highlights how silly this attitude is.

I started wondering about the definition of sophistication.  I turned to my old stand-by,  Here is the first definition:  “sophisticated character, ideas, tastes, or ways as the result of education, worldly experience, etc.”

Not really very informative, since it uses the word “sophisticated”.  So, of course, I had to look that up:  “(of a person, ideas, tastes, manners, etc.) altered by education, experience, etc., so as to be worldly-wise; not naive . . .”

Sounds kind of yucky, doesn’t it?  I suppose I have been changed, as most of us have through our experiences.  While I desire wisdom, I’ve known plenty of people who are wise who aren’t very worldly.  Anyway, where is the fun in being sophisticated?  There’s nothing better than a good laughter-induced snort.

My husband and I have taken our kids to the Monster Jam monster truck competition three years in a row.  Full disclosure – we would have paid money not to attend a monster truck show before we had kids.  But, after learning to bring ear muffs for all of us (wow, is it loud), I’ve learned to almost enjoy it.  The kids absolutely love it.

So, yes, I enjoy “You Might be a Redneck” jokes.  So much so, that I recently did a search online to find some for a chuckle.  I found this:  300 Reasons You Might be a Redneck.  I particularly enjoyed #15 “Your wife’s job requires her to wear an orange vest.”  You see, I work at a steel mill. While I don’t wear an orange vest, I have been known to wear a bright yellow one, a hard hat, and steel-toed boots with a metatarsal guard.

Life’s too short for all of the energy sophistication takes.  Check out the list.  Maybe you’ll find an item or two that you can relate to.  Come join the fun and be a redneck, at least for a moment.










I Don’t Care What You Think. Or Do I?

In my late 20’s and early 30’s I struggled with anxiety.  Specifically, I struggled with social anxiety.  While most people care what others think of them, I cared so much it became almost debilitating.  I’ve come so far, it’s a distant memory in many ways.  I’m grateful for that, because, what I do recall is that it was a miserable way to exist.

One of the things I’ve learned through this is that I can’t control other people.  One of the hardest lessons is that I can’t control what other people think of me.

I had to learn to be true to myself and not be such a people-pleaser.  But it has been a journey to find a balance of not letting other people’s opinions rule my life, while also valuing my relationships.  This is something I’m feeling called to write, but it’s so much to sort out, that I decided to make a list of some of the changes I’ve gone through to become more confident and happy.

  • Some of my self-criticism was warranted. 

Besides caring what others thought of me, I was extremely self-critical.  My self-talk was horrible.  I would never talk to anyone else the way I addressed myself in my mind.  I was not kind, caring, compassionate or grace-extending toward myself in any way.

My thoughts about myself were harsh, and often unfair.  On the other hand, I was making a lot of poor choices.  When you lack self-respect, it’s impossible to expect respect from others with any credibility.

I needed to set the bar higher for myself.  While I’ll always have flaws, I have matured in my handling of most situations.

  • It’s necessary to achieve a balance between not letting other people’s opinions rule your life, and still caring about other people’s feelings. 

When I stopped using my emotions to try to control others, I started recognizing when other people were using the same tactic with me.  I had learned to disconnect my thoughts from turmoil and conflict.  I had learned to put it out of my mind, and get on with life.  But sometimes, it may have come at a price.

As I matured, I started to deem people who I thought were less mature as unworthy of my energy.

First of all, just because someone may lack maturity in an area, doesn’t mean they have no wisdom to offer.  Second, all of us handle some situations poorly – no matter how far we have come.  Third, maybe I could use some things I had learned to help other people, instead of writing them off.

I had gone from thinking too little of myself, to thinking too much of myself.  I had to remind myself that not everyone had the same experiences I’d had.  Not everyone had been forced to address some of their bad habits in dealing with others and themselves.

  • Say, “I’m sorry” easily, but only when you mean it.

Have you ever been around people who say, “Sorry” constantly?  I used the wrong word.  “Sorry.”  I dropped something.  “Sorry.”  I walked into the room.  “Sorry.”  It can be annoying because it’s obviously not sincere when it’s said repeatedly.  It’s just a bad habit and an indication of the person not valuing themselves.  It’s annoying, because it’s used inappropriately.

However, it’s more frustrating to be around people who are defensive, and have great difficulty saying they are sorry.  Some people have the philosophy that you always need to win power struggles with your kids, to show them who’s in charge.  But, I think it can send a pretty powerful message to acknowledge you were wrong, and to tell your children you’re sorry, as long as it’s sincere.

Only voice your opinion if it’s helpful. 

I won’t pretend to be perfect at this.  But, I have become better at biting my tongue.  While I can’t say I never participate in gossip, I pass up the opportunity often.  If someone asks for advice, I’ll give a thoughtful opinion.  But, I’m not afraid to tell them that I don’t know what they should do.  I can share my experience with something similar, but that doesn’t mean I know the right choice for them.  Of course, suggesting someone pray on the matter is always good advice!

Value others AND yourself.

Last Sunday, our Pastor talked about Mark 12:30-31 “and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (NASB)

I had heard this scripture many times before.  But, he pointed out something I had overlooked.  God wants us to love our neighbor, but he also wants us to love ourselves.  Never in a prideful way.  But, to me, this means to remember how much He loves us.  We are worthwhile to Him, each one of us.









The Beauty of Living in a Small Town

I kinda, sorta grew up in a small town, and I kinda, sorta live in a small town now.

I say kinda, sorta about where I grew up because, while I did grow up in a small town, it is connected to a metropolitan area of about 500,000 if you add the population of all of the cities that run together.

I say kinda, sorta about where I live now, because the nearest small town is about four miles away.  We aren’t even in a small town.  We are in the country.  I work in another small town, about 16 miles away.

This has been a change for me.  As an adult, I’ve always lived in a fairly populated area.  In fact, my last residence was a condo, so there was someone living literally on the other side of the wall.  We longed for solitude, and we got it.

We have lived here for over four years.  We are in a development, but we were the first to move in.  We had the neighborhood to ourselves for the first six months.  We now have a whopping three neighbors (three houses, to be accurate; so I guess if you count every resident, we have nine neighbors!).

During our first six months, we felt a little vulnerable with no neighbors.  I was grateful to have our mean-looking dog for some protection (she looked mean – we didn’t advertise that she loved everyone, even strangers).

Growing up, my Grandparents lived in the country.  I would laugh about them always wondering about the rare car that came down their road.  “Who’s that?  Oh, it’s Ted.”  It seemed they always knew the car. It was an event, hurrying to the window to see who was driving by.  Because we had so little traffic on our dead end road, we did the exact same thing.  I had fond memories of my Grandmother whenever I would hurry to one of the few windows with a good view of the road yelling, “A car’s coming!  Who’s that?!”

But, we got used to it.  It’s nice and quiet, and now that we have a few neighbors, we feel less isolated.

What I have found interesting has been becoming part of the community that is the small town four miles away, and the small city that is about 10 miles away in the other direction.  I seriously cannot go to Walmart in the small city or the Dollar General in the small town without seeing someone I know.  In a small town, it doesn’t take long to get to know a large percentage of the population, especially if you have school-age and preschool-age kids, who also participate in outside activities.

I started going to the local salon about a year after we moved here, and something happened that could only happen in a small town.   Our diaper bag had gone missing a couple of weeks earlier.  My stylist was asking if I was from the area. I explained where we lived. The stylist at the next chair asked who my husband was. I told her his name. She said, “I cut his hair. Are you missing a diaper bag?” Yep. Small town. Love it.

At around the same time, we attended the Pumpkin Dash in town.  It’s a race for the kids in their Halloween costumes.  Within 10 minutes, we saw at least 10 people we knew.  My son said, “All of my friends are here!”

Honestly, I wasn’t sure I would like this kind of lifestyle.  It’s pretty hard to be inconspicuous, and my introverted nature makes small-talk exhausting for me.  But, the people are genuine and helpful.

Before I had kids, I lived in a city.  Because I worked in HR, I didn’t feel I could hang out with colleagues outside of work.  I had a very hard time making friends there.  Here, I see the same people over and over, so it’s much easier to make a connection.

Small-town life . . . maybe it’s not for everyone, but I love it.