My Vote

I have to have at least one political post before this monumental election.  I have become quite passionate about politics in recent years.  My apologies if I've annoyed you - not my intent.   I've tried to stay up to date on the issues and educate myself.  It is my responsibility to use my best judgement by educating myself, using my vote, and standing up for what I truly believe is right.

I was excited and revived last week through our Restoring America Conference.  We were blessed with some amazing, motivating speakers like Matt Staver, Rick Santorum, and Mike Huckabee.    They are great men that I admire!  God is using them in a mighty way and I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to hear them speak.  Not one of them preached hate.  They all spoke of love, equality, and true Patriotism.  They all shared the same general message of hope for America.  

Politics and choosing sides is a very personal choice.  There's no perfect candidate, but I have to go with the one that best supports the issues most important to me.  In general, I am socially and economically conservative.  I have voted both Democratic and Republican before, but over the years I have become much more conservative in my beliefs and convictions.  So, let's jump right into some issues.  =)

I've heard some rants from people who won't vote for Romney because he's a Mormon.  We may not be on the same page as far as religion goes, but if you know anything about Mormons, they are hard working people that strive to do their best in everything - at least all the ones I know.  Yes, this is a subjective opinion, but it is what it is!  What I do not tolerate is the hate preached by Obama's (former) pastor?  Yes, he denounced him publicly during the first election (he'd be crazy not to), but for 20+ years prior to running for office, he seemed to be ok with it.  Here's one of many articles:

I don’t want an America that looks like Europe: one that can’t generate enough jobs for its younger workforce, whose immigration policies have created many social ills and whose government-controlled socialized medicine results in less availability of care for all.  This is America, not Europe.

ObamaCare is an impending disaster that threatens our quality and availability of health care.  Do I believe that our current system is great?  No, but I don't believe ObamaCare is the answer.  I've read my share of reports on the math of OC and it is going to be costly.  OC eliminates freedom of choice.  There are just too many issues that need to be fixed before I jump aboard the OC train.  And, why lie about the health plan not being a tax to the people, but pass it through as such?  I have a huge issue with this plan using our money to pay for someone else's abortion.  It goes against my religion and personal convictions.  And, that is unconstitutional!   As a side note, a friend recently put it in pretty simple English that made great sense in regards to the Pre Existing Condition argument.  Is it ok to have no car insurance, have a wreck, and then go purchase insurance to cover it?  What's going to happen next?  You're probably going to get your wreck taken care of and drop the policy shortly thereafter leaving the bill with insurance company.  This is precisely what can happen with ObamaCare.  How's the math working there?  Great for the one that zips out of their responsibility.  Not so great for the rest of us when the insurance continues to rise to make up for everyone else.  Just sayin'!

I feel more secure knowing that my country is safe.  I don't believe we need to cut our defenses.  I understand that Obama would like to see a nuclear weapons free world.  Wouldn't we all?  But, we cannot reduce our defenses if our enemies are not doing the same.  There are a lot of people in this world that don't like us and I'm grateful for our fine military that work so diligently to protect us.  I have a very serious issue with the way the Libya issue was handled, by the way.

Even if I don't homeschool my children for their entire education, I do now.  And, I fully support the parents' right to do so.  I know that both Romney & Ryan are big proponents for home education.  Obama, although he has not (to my knowledge) spoken yay or nay for homeschooling, his actions lead me to believe he's not a supporter.  His support of the ratification of the UN. Convention of the Rights of the Child would limit parental rights in the United States, giving the government more control over children and in particular, their education.  I strongly believe that parents know their child(ren) better than any government official or educator.  I absolutely have my child's best interest at heart and I do not appreciate the government trying to tell me other wise!

There are some issues I just can't budge on.  Anyone that supports abortion can count me out.  It is not about a woman's right to choose.  It's about a child's right to live.  That child living inside her body is not her own.  He has his own genetic make up unique to any other living being.  Her body is simply a vessel in which the child temporarily lives.  Someone has to have a voice for the baby.  It is our basic right - the right to life and the pursuit of happiness.  I met a lady last year that worked for Planned Parenthood (an organization that Obama DOES support) for 27 years.  She was a "salesperson".  Her job was not to provide information so that the women could make informed decisions.  She was there to get repeat customers and encourage women to use abortion as their method of birth control.  The more repeat customers she had, the more money they made.  What she did not tell them were the natural consequences that usually took place - such as the increased chances of Breast Cancer in repeat abortions.  Or, the emotional turmoil that so many women go through for years after they abort.  This information came straight from the woman who played a part in the industry.  It's a sad truth about our society today.

I am not insensitive to those in need, but why are there 46 million people on food stamps, 12+ million with government cell phones, and so many without jobs? What is the incentive to go back to work?  I have a friend that was having a hard time making ends meet, so she had to go on government assistance.  She couldn't afford to go out and get a part time job because it wasn't enough to live on and she'd make too much to get assistance.  She chose to stay home and live off the government.  The system is so broken.  And, the whole redistribution of wealth Robin Hood mentality infuriates me.

I truly believe if the people of this country held to Biblical truths and morals, we would be in a far greater place right now.  As it is, the family unit is being destroyed.  Babies are being murdered by their own mothers in the womb.  Children are being born out of wedlock and many are without a father figure.  Families are being broken up because the sanctity of marriage is not being upheld.  People who work hard to educate themselves and improve their way of life are being penalized, while those that do little to nothing are encouraged to do just that.  God has laid out a pretty simple plan.  Our country held tight to these truths for many years and we prospered because of it.  (Psalm 33:12  Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD.) Until we turn back to our Biblical roots, we are going to continue to struggle.

And, as a side note - All those that think the church should be taxed - seriously?!  Where is the first place people turn to when they're in need?  Our church feeds tens of thousands of people.  We have doctors and nurses that give prenatal care and deliver babies for those that can't afford it (and soooo much more than that).  We have staff that are on call 24/7 for those in need.  We couldn't do that if the government took the church's money.  Leave it alone!  If you don't like what they have to say from the pulpit, don't listen.  If we start taxing the church, we're going to have to tax social agencies, as well.  And, that is not helping anyone - at least not the ones that truly need the help.

The bottom line is:  I do not want more government control.  I do not want the government dictating how I raise my children and spend my money.  I love my country and I want a positive change in another direction.  

Art Fun

Audrey and I had a great time studying Jackson Pollock's art and recreating our own version of Number 6.  We had fun attempting to duplicate his method of painting.  Audrey really enjoyed "dancing" and painting.  She was so cute.  I thought I'd post a few pics I took.

She danced all around the canvas.  =)

Good thing it's washable paint - the back patio is nice & colorful.

The finished product with our sample.

And colorful feet

Adventures in Hiking

The weight loss journey is going well.  I've consistently lost a little each week since I started.  I'm down about 12 pounds in 6 weeks.  Slow and steady wins the race!  Right now I'm mostly doing the Points Plus program through Weight Watchers, but I'm beginning to add in some exercise.  I walked a couple of days last week, as well as an intense hike.  If you want to follow the Weekly Weigh Ins on Mondays, the link is here:

So, about that hike.... If you know my husband well, you know he is an outdoors man.  He enjoys camping, biking, and hiking.  He's been hiking the Appalachian Trail once a month with a group of friends from church.  They're over halfway through the Georgia portion.  He really wants us to hike as a family, so we thought it would be a great idea to go Saturday.  The four of us hiked Blood Mountain, the highest point of the AT in GA.  It was a beautiful day!  The hike was really nice, but it totally kicked my hiney! I had to stop a couple of times because it was so steep.  I was definitely out of my comfort zone!  The girls did awesome!!  They had their little backpacks on and never once asked to go back.  They were both very excited to make it to the top.

Although the hike went really well, the day was not without "adventure".  My wonderful husband grossly underestimated how long the hike would take us - especially with such little legs trying to keep up!  We got a late start anyway because the girls and I had cheer practice that morning.  Derek *may* have thought the hike was just over a mile up.  Um, the hike was more like 2.5 miles up.  Big difference when you're walking straight up mountain rocks!  So, what I thought was going to be a leisurely 2 hour hike turned into an intense 4 1/2 hour hike!  What we didn't bank on was losing sunlight before we made it to the end.  The last 30 minutes or so was rough as we completely lost sight.  But, when we got to water's edge, I think we both got a little worried.  We lost the trail and had come to water - with no flashlight.  No fear - God was totally looking out for us!  In the nearby woods we could see a campfire going.  Derek went over and got help.  We were led by flashlight to the parking area.  We were saved!  I don't doubt that we would have made it there eventually; I'm just not sure how long it would have taken us to find our way.  I'm very grateful there were campers so close, especially since they were the only people we had seen in a long time.

Once we got to the van, took off our boots, got a snack, and tucked the girls in their seats - another  adventure started.  The trail is about an hour and twenty minute drive from our house - forty of which are winding down and around a mountain.  I truly enjoy my husband's adventurous spirit and scenic routes he likes to take, but my body apparently does not.  Add my exhaustion with some motion sickness and you have the perfect makings of a panic attack.  I did not anticipate that happening.  I haven't had anything like that in 12+ years.  But, it is the only explanation I have for what happened on the ride home.  I was struggling to breath.  I lost feeling in my face and lips.  My hands drew up and went numb.  And, my stomach tightened up.  We pulled over about 4 times for me to catch my breath and not get sick.  It was a very frightening experience to say the least.

Despite the mishaps, I say it was a great day!  I look forward to the next time.  Until then, enjoy some pics:

Maddie loved the hike! 

Audrey was such a big girl!


Silly girls!

One of MANY, MANY rock steps.

Are we there yet?

Weekend Update

We just got back from a great weekend celebrating the marriage of my brother and his new bride, Jennifer.  It was a sweet wedding in an adorable little church in the mountains of middle TN.  Of course, it was on the Vols off weekend, but everything was decked out in orange and white.  Maddie did a fabulous job as Flower Girl.  Audrey handed out the programs and bubbles.  Derek was an usher. It was a great time.  I'll share a few pictures from the day.

Daddy's Girls

The sweetest flower girl lovingly watching her Uncle Kyle.

The new Mr. & Mrs.

The girls and their aunt & uncle

Love my family!

We're down to 19 days until our first cheer competition.  I'm not freaking out yet, but we do have a lot of work ahead of us.  But, I'm so proud of how far they've come.  And, they are so stinkin' cute!!

It's Monday, which means it's weigh in day.  Today was another small loss of .6 pounds.  I'm very slowly, but steadily losing.  I will have to be more diligent because I'm ready for a big loss.  My total is 8.5 pounds in 5 weeks.  If I were working harder, I'd have bigger numbers.  That is my goal this week.  I ate under my points today, as well as added in 40 minutes of exercise.  We'll also be hiking this weekend (instead of eating wedding cake!).  Although I'm not seeing the numbers that I want, I know I'm making smarter choices and I feel great about that!

I also want to encourage anyone that is on a weight loss journey to find a friend or group of friends to do it with you.  I know that internal motivation is essential (D!), but some people (like myself) need external motivation and accountability.  I'm incredibly grateful for the group of friends that I have that are on this journey with me.  I'm also very thankful for my sweet husband who is cooking some awesome meals that are healthy and low in points.  =)

Good Times

I haven't posted too much about school lately - though we're moving right along smoothly.  We've had so much fun recently that I wanted to share a few highlights and photos.

First of all, my sweet little cheerleaders are doing fantastic!  I'm really proud of the progress they've made.  We still have a LONG way to go - and I'm a little nervous with our first competition only 26 days away (yikes!).  But, I feel so much better having had a little visit from our choreographer last night as she passed through on her way back to Florida.  She was very impressed with their progress.  Yay!!

I think I've shared that Derek is finishing his PhD in May.  We had to take a less than 24 hours round trip to Knoxville and back last week.  (Sorry, Allie!!!)  We had planned on just the two of us going, but at the very last minute decided the beautiful weather called for a little camping trip.  :)  The girls were beyond excited and had a blast!  On the way home, we took one of Derek's infamous "scenic routes" through Dragon Tail and Fontana Dam.  Here are a few photos from our trip:

Trying to beat the sun going down and get everything put up before dark.

WooHoo!  Which bedroom does Audrey want?

Ballet on a picnic table in the dark?  Well, of course!

Our humble abode for the evening.  Great weather.  Great company!

Fontana Dam - it was beautiful.

Me & the girls

Saturday evening was filled fun, surprises, & a throwback to the 80's.  We helped throw a surprise party - a murder mystery based around a high school reunion.  We used the same school, graduation year, and colors as the birthday girl's high school.  It was amazing!  Hope you get a great laugh with these pics!

Chosen - in all their 80's glory!

Have I told you how much I love my CriCut?  Whipped up this banner myself!

Uh, oh!  David is dead!

That's right... Derek is rocking a mullet.  And, I look like a street walker from 1980.
Too bad I didn't take the pic before the party instead of after - my hair was way higher.  LOL
Oh, no!  Another murder!!  Why does her husband look so happy?  Hmmmm...

The mayor and his wife... the former prom queen & football star.  Look suspicious, don't they?

And, how about the class rock stars?!

And, last but not least.  I'm down a total of 7.8 pounds.  I'm losing very slowly, but at least I'm losing consistently.  I'll take it!!  My goal is to lose 11 more pounds by Thanksgiving.  I can do it!!

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