Thank you 2019!

Good evening friends.

In just a couple of days we will be rolling in the year 2020. Folks are making their resolutions and predictions and ready to usher in the new year. While I am right there with them in my preparing for the new year and all the wonderful goals I plan to set, I must first stop and say THANK YOU to 2019.

This year has been full of firsts, rewards and blessings. My oldest started high school. My youngest finished his last year at city league sports.  I celebrated my 6th year with my employer and was blessed with another raise. 

2019 was also the year we celebrated my moms first birthday without her. The 1 year anniversary of her death came in September. I feel like I have never experienced a greater pain in my life then that of losing my mom. I pray that each passing year will offer my family and I more peace in knowing that she is with Jesus and that we will meet again with her one day.

Perhaps the biggest blessing this year was that I became a homeowner! As a single momma raising a teen and pre-teen, home-ownership seemed far away to me. So imagine my surprise when  the owners of this little home I had rented for 9 years offered to sell it to me. I feel completely blessed and overwhelmed with gladness.  I have some big plans for our home and goals to meet in 2020, but I will save that for another post.

Be thankful for what you have in this life. 

Bariatric Surgery Haters

This title may be a little harsh, but I am going to call it what it is...

Ever had a friend or simply knew of someone that all of a sudden lost a lot of weight and you found out later they had weight loss surgery? Sometimes folks are just private and that is perfectly normal. But, other times they don't put it out there due to the fact that some people in this world are down right mean. People are afraid to publicize the fact that they are having surgery to better their health for fear of the haters...

Let me start with the fact that not all obese people are this way due to an eating problem. Many have other medical issues which cause weight gain and make it difficult to lose weight. The struggle is very hard for many people. For some it may be a food addiction that is the reason. People struggle. We as humans just want to be happy/healthy and sometimes we go through things in life and weight comes on and sometimes the next thing we know we are looking in the mirror wondering what in the hell happened to us. We look for answers and we reach out for help.

So to all of you haters that feel its your business to judge those of us who are going through the process to have weight loss surgery or those who have already had it, sit down and shut the hell up.  It does nothing for you. It does not affect you. Clearly you have some issues of your own if you feel the need to meddle in someone else's life. Maybe its time to look in the mirror yourself and see what your problems are..

So do you! Whether you are having the sleeve, the bypass, the lapband or whatever, do what makes you happy!

Retiring in a 5th Wheel

For those of you who surf YouTube much, you surely have come across the Traveling RV family vlogs.  If not, let me explain.. These are folks who usually sell their family home, invest in an RV of some sort and take their family on the road. Many of them home school their children since they are usually not in one place for a long time. They take to the internet and share videos of their adventures capturing many views to get a look into their lives.

Up until recently, I have wanted to retire in a tiny home. It would free me from a mortgage thus leaving me with the funds I need to travel. I have been researching tiny homes and families for a while now and was set that would be for me. Enter the traveling RV lifestyle.

So, how many times do you find yourselves glad to be going home from vacay so you can sleep in "your bed"? Well, imagine if you had your bed with you. Imagine being able to live your traveling dreams out and bring your house with you. I am really fascinated by this idea. In fact, the more I watch these vlogs, the more I find myself consumed by the fact that this is for me. I can imagine traveling to my favorite places, visiting friends I have not seen in a long time and even furthering my research in genealogy. (Yes, genealogy is my hobby) And for about the same price as I would have paid for a tiny home, I could make this a reality.

Haven't seen any of these vlogs? Check out some of my faves:

The Chick's Life - RV Travel
Eat See RV
Enjoy the Journey.Life

What are your thoughts on living full time in an RV? What would be your concerns?  Do you like to travel? Leave your comments below!

Are you a VLOG ADDICT?

If you catch yourself tuning in to vlogs more so than your local news, chances are you are a vlog addict.  I can say with a fair amount of certainty that I am a vlog addict. If you do not know what a vlog is, it is like a blog but instead of writing about your subject, you are videoing it!  Below are some of the most popular vlogs that my family enjoys:

Saving Money
On any given night, especially weekends, I find myself watching vlogs.  Now, I could be out at the movies, shopping or anything else that would cost extra money, but it doesn't cost me anything to watch vlogs. Furthermore, I have learned a variety of frugal ideas from various vlogs! The Frugal Freaks    Lydia Senn (Valuable information!)    Centsible Living with Money Mom

As a family, we enjoy watching other family's. What they do for fun, what they like to cook, where they like to go and so much more. YouTube is filled with lots of family vlogs to choose from that your family is sure to love! Our Tribe of Many (We don't miss an episode! Love this family!)    Large Family Table (We LOVE Jamerrill!!!)     Lydia Senn    Raising Arrows      Phillips Fam Bam (One of our families favorites!)     Homestead Tessie

My son, he loves his gaming, especially Fortnite. Well, there are streaming gamers whose vlogs are not only entertaining but support the gaming industry and you can learn some valuable skills from watching them play your favorite games. Typical Gamer   Preston Playz #typicalgamer #myballito

Cooking, recipes, freezer meals and more! Is this up your alley? Loads of content creators will vlog straight from their kitchen. You will feel like you are in the kitchen cooking with them. They share their recipes, their money saving tips when it comes to meal prep and sometimes you get to go along to the store and shop with them. Jamerrill Stewart Large Family Table  Amy Maryon

We are not a home-school family, but if we were there are plenty of channels dedicated to home-school. Lots of creative ideas to be had.  The Internet has a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips to aid in your home-school adventure. Large Family Table

Budgeting/Money Matters
Lydia Senn
The Frugal Freaks
Debt is Dum

Shopping hauls
Do you enjoy watching what other folks like to buy from the store? Would it help you with meal preps to see other folks groceries as they are unloaded? This is a very popular subject on YouTube! Anything from Dollar Tree hauls, Walmart hauls, DG hauls, Aldi hauls and more.  Many of these are showing how they coupon shop or how they shop for the best deals. A frugal friend would surely learn some good tips from these channels!   Thrifty Tiffany  Penny Pinching Granny

So you see, if you are not familiar with vlogging, you are definitely missing out. So kick back, go to YouTube and start entering your keywords to search whatever you are interested in.

Let me know in the comments some of your favorite channels.

My Gastric Sleeve... The process has begun!

The process is under way.  Now that my insurance has decided to cover weight loss surgery, I have jumped right on board. I had to wait until our new plan year began April 1st.
Once April first rolled around, I was finally able to call and see what all I would need to do to get things rolling.

The first step was that I had to enroll in a Bariatric Resource Group. This entailed me calling them and answering a few common questions, i.e. height/weight/BMI and if I had any issues related to weight. I quickly answered those questions and was told that I met the basic requirements. The customer service representative then advised me that she would need to schedule a phone appt for me to discuss things more in depth. She told me they would schedule this call as it would take about 45 minutes.

Friday, April 5th I was on the phone for more like an hour with the nurse. She asked me questions about my health history, she took down the names and doses of all medications I currently take, we talked about my reason for wanting surgery and then we talked about the surgery itself. There is a great level of commitment on my part for this surgery. I have to be willing to commit to a liquid diet before and after the surgery. There will be certain things I may not be able to eat again. Diet Coke, which has been like a long time best friend will probably be no more. The nurse told me that I would be off work anywhere from 1-2 weeks.

At this point I am super excited. Its definitely the surgery I want to have. I want to be able to move easier, I want to feel better and I want to see my kids grow old.  Several friends have had this surgery at different hospitals with different doctors. I had read about a certain doctor that I wanted to use, a friend had even used him. I was set.

My insurance requires that in order for me to have the surgery, I have to choose a facility that is recognized as a "Center of Excellence". Well friends, in Oklahoma that means you have, wait for it, 2 hospitals to choose from. TWO in the ENTIRE STATE! The COE hospitals are Norman Regional and Integris Baptist. Along with using a COE hospital they have specific surgeons for you to pick from. In my state that is 3. Yep, just 3 surgeons to pick from. I was bummed. The surgeon I had my heart on was not covered and I was not familiar with any of my three choices. I think the nurse must have picked up on my sense of confusion and quickly added, these surgeons we provide coverage to have to meet some pretty high standards. My insurance will not pay for just any surgeon.

So I have picked my choice and as it turns out, another friend had her surgery with this surgeon and she is very happy with her choice and she did great. I am relieve now and overall reminded that I am very grateful that my insurance is even covering it. Some friends have went to Mexico because their insurance doesn't cover it!

My nurse had told me there are various tests that will need to be done prior to surgery. She asked me if I had been on a 6 month weight loss program in the last 2 years. (This is a requirement for surgery) I explained to her that I had been on weight loss meds since August of 2018. She told me she would send me a form for my doctor to fill out and then I need to call the surgeon and make an appointment.

After the phone call was over, I received an email from the nurse with my provider choices and a form for my doctor. I immediately went on the website belonging to the surgeon and was able to watch an online seminar about their facility, the bariatric surgery's they offer and more. After watching the video, there is a packet that I downloaded, I think about 8 pages or so. In the process I also emailed them to let them know I was interested in their facility.

When I got home from work Monday night, I had a voicemail from their office. I quickly called them and they were letting me know about paperwork and I told them I would be filling it out and emailing it to them. So, yesterday I emailed my packet to them. They responded by letting me know that they would be entering my information, getting a hold of my insurance for proof of coverage/deductible info as well as reaching out to my doctor. After this is completed, they will call me to set up my initial visit. I feel overwhelmingly blessed.

So this is where I am at as of today, Wednesday, April 10th, 2019! Stay tuned for the next updated.

Route 66 Day Trip Turns Into Multi-State Adventure!

Our small family finds great pleasure in the little things. So, on a recent Saturday morning when I proposed a road trip from Central through Eastern Oklahoma, along Route 66, my kids were ready to go! The plan was to begin in Stroud and finish up in Miami, OK. and then make the trek back to our home in Central Oklahoma. As with most of our road trips, we changed into our comfy clothes, grabbed a little spending cash and packed some drinks, snacks and the phone charger so we were sure to have our handy dandy GPS and off we went. 

Our first stop was to the Blue Whale in Catoosa. Before we arrived, my daughter had told me she was not going in the whales belly because she was scared it would be rickety or she would fall in the pond. But as you will see below, that changed when we got there. The Blue Whale was built in the 1970's by Hugh Davis as a surprise anniversary gift for his wife Zelta who collected whale figurines. Originally calling it Nature's Acres, Mr. Davis continued to add to the roadside attraction until it eventually included The Fun and Swim Blue Whale and the A.R.K. (Animal Reptile Kingdom). The attraction also featured Hugh's brother-in-law, Indian Chief Wolf-Robe Hunt, a full blooded Acoma Indian, who was famous in his own right for his Indian paintings and as a highly skilled silversmith. Chief Wolf-Robe Hunt once ran the Arrowood Trading post across the highway from the Blue Whale attraction. By 1988, the Davises were not able to continue managing the attraction, so they closed it to the public. Davis died in January 1990, followed by his wife Zelta in 2001. The park soon fell into disrepair, crumbling from neglect and weather. However, after a decade the people of Catoosa and employees of the Hampton Inn launched a fund-raising and volunteer effort to restore the Route 66 landmark. The Blue Whale was restored and repainted to its original brilliant blue.

That's my boy waving through the hole in pic one.. and that is my daughter peering out the slide hole in pic two. Guess she wasn't so scared after all. :)

Our next stop along the famous Route 66 highway was the Belvidere Mansion. The Belvidere is located in Claremore, Rogers County, Oklahoma. Let me preface this part of the story by reminding you that this was a very impromptu trip and we were "flying by the seat of our pants" so to speak. We had never heard of the Belvidere. When we arrived, we were in awe by how beautiful the mansion was. When we entered the mansion, we noticed it was what we thought was a restaurant, but I was quickly assured that there was also the upstairs to tour! The 3rd floor was being occupied by a family preparing for a wedding so we stuck to the 2nd floor and the gift shop. You can see the age by the dark woods, the high ceilings, the claw foot tub in the restroom and just the general appearance will remind you that you have stepped back in time. It reminds me of the home we lived in back in the little town of Sonora, CA.

My kids were busy cracking each other up and I captured this photo of them that I absolutely love. This Victorian gem was built in 1907 by the Bayless Family. This three-story 9,000 sq. ft. home includes a restaurant, intricately tiled foyer, bathroom, and kitchen. The Belvidere's 2nd floor contains two historically furnished living quarters, a bathroom, archive room, and gift shop. The 3rd floor is a spacious 3,200 sq. ft.ballroom, which makes a wonderful destination spot for weddings, or special events, providing a scenic view of the City of Claremore. 
As I would soon find out, our next stop would be my favorite. Unfortunately for me, I took only one
picture. So, for your viewing picture I have found a few more online to share with you. I present you Shepherd's Cross & Heart of the Shepherd. I cannot even tell you in words how much I love this place. And for many reasons! Taken from their Facebook: "The mission of Heart of the Shepherd is to teach people both local to Oklahoma and throughout the world about basic agricultural principles and how agriculture relates to the Bible. Heart of the Shepherd provides Biblically based, agricultural tours as well as providing service to those living in poverty stricken communities."

When we entered the barn, we were warmly greeted by a lady that asked us what we were interested in. I explained to her that we were road tripping along Route 66 and thought we would stop and see her place. She asked how much time we had and I let her know were not on any time constraints. We were quickly whisked away and shown the baby lambs that had just been born around 6 hours ago. She told us we could not touch them

because they were bonding with the mom. Next, we were taken to where they "work the wool" as I will put in laymens terms. I never realized how much work went into those wool sweaters! Now they are all natural. No chemicals going down on that farm. They show you how wool is worked from the lamb to the sweater. WOW! So impressed! They also have a store in the barn that sells products that are grass fed, grass finished, Animal Welfare Approved and Hand Made items. Products include Amish jams, health foods, a broad range of wool products (yarn, batts, felted pelts, beautiful sheep skins, etc.), pasture raised farm fresh meat and diverse crafted items made locally and placed on consignment. The Shop also carries products made in Thailand, Malawi, and Burma; all proceeds from the sales of these items return to the women and children who made them. (LOVE LOVE LOVE this!!) If you happen to be traveling along Route 66 and you see the sign for Shepherds Cross make sure you stop and say hi!

Every now and again we hit a bump in the road. This is what happened here. In our handy dandy travel guide it said "just off Route 66" there was the Cabin Creek Civil War battle site. My son thought that would be cool, and me with my love of history, well I wanted to see it as well. So I turned off and entered the address into my GPS. Just off the road turned into twenty something miles. I figured surely this rich of history would be worth the wait right? Well friends, twenty something miles later, on a dirt road, this is what we got. A patch of land surrounded by barbed wired and a sign. Off to the next site...

Ok, so by this time its getting later in the evening and we are getting hungry. One of the restaurants I actually did read on was this place in Miami called "Waylans Kuku Burger". It sounded like maybe it was a hoppin chain of burger joints back in the 60's and this was the last one standing. I read it looks like a cuckoo clock and actually has a  working cuckoo in the attic.

Here is a picture I found that actually shows the "kuku".. see it about the sunroom? Well, it wasn't out when we were there. Its a smaller restaurant with a home-style variety of food. My kids chose chicken strips and I chose a burger. They really enjoyed their chicken. I was not impressed with the burger. There were a lot of good reviews and some mixed reviews. Could have just been the day.

Here is my pic from our adventure:

So now we have finished dinner. But what I didn't tell you is that on our way to the restaurant, my daughter saw a sign that shows 17 miles to Kansas. Now I have to tell you, my kids have only been in Oklahoma and Missouri. So, she asks, can we go? Then we can say we have been to Kansas! Its little things when your a kid folks. I've traveled through many states and have even lived in Germany. But being a single mom, traveling great distance hasn't always been easy. So yes, we headed to Kansas. And then when we hit Kansas we headed for Missouri. After we arrived in Missouri we decided to go to Arkansas. So my babies can now say they were in 4 states in 1 day! And truthfully, they were. We made memories friends. I would rather travel and have fun with my kiddos than anything else in this world. Stay tuned for more.. this year is going to hold some fun road trips ahead! My kids are 11 and 13 at the moment and I am holding on to every minute I have with them.

By the time we hit Oklahoma, my son was too tired to get out of the car for a pic. 

When Death Came Calling

I had not talked to my sister in about 8 months. There were some issues between her and I and time slipped away from us. I was sitting at my desk at work on Monday September 24, 2018 when my phone rang. The caller ID displayed my sisters name. This can't be good I thought. I picked up the phone and with a questionable tone I said "This is Kimberly"... On the other end, sobbing. Words I could not make out, but I knew something was wrong. My emergency training taught me to remain calm and focused. I told her I could not understand her, asking her to repeat what she said. Then the words came that I never in a million years thought I would hear.."Mom is dead". And that is exactly how I learned that my 68 year old mother had passed away. I remember asking where my father was and my siblings to which she answered. I told her I would be leaving to get my kids from school and we would be on our way to the hospital. Years prior, my mother had 2 strokes. The first was caused from high blood pressure left untreated. It was more a TIA. The second was worse. What the doctors didn't catch on the first one was that mother had sleep apnea and that is what would cause her 2nd stroke. It would be the one that would prohibit her from driving. We also learned that her right carotid artery was blocked and that there was nothing they could do about it. My mother also had diabetes. During the past couple months of her life, she had been struggling with her blood sugar dropping. She would become weak, clammy and would have to immediately have sugar to bring it back up. Well, September 24, 2018 was no different. Or so she thought. She started feeling the same thing, low blood sugar. She called my dad at work, he was 30 minutes away. She told him she needed him to come home. She told him she could not make it to get something sweet because she felt too weak. She never mentioned anything other than feeling clammy and weak like she was going to pass out. And then my dad heard her moan a few times. That would be that last communication he had with my sweet mother. What he thought was blood sugar turned out to be a heart attack according to the hospital. The worst part for me was telling my 13 and then 10 year old that grandma had passed on. Grandma was their world. Little folks don't understand. At 48 years old I held my mothers cold hand as she laid covered in a hospital gown in the emergency room. I didn't cry. I was in shock. I saw all the pain in everyone eyes. I tried to be strong as best I could. I was not ready to say goodbye to my momma. 6 months later and I still am not ready to say goodbye. When you lose a parent it feels like the world dims a bit. Its not as bright and cheerful as it once was. No more calls when you have exciting news to share with mom. She will never see my her grand-kids graduate high school, college, get married or have babies. But they had all of her for the years they have been on this earth. And she loved them beyond measure and they knew it. I am thankful for having had her in my life for 48 years. She taught me so much, most importantly she taught me compassion. She was a blessing.