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some cool adventures in DFW and Beyond that we must share

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National Adoption Month

  have been told one story most of my life that has always brought a tear to my eye. It is the store of how I came to this earth. My mother has wanted children all her life, and she was blessed with a son. She went out one night to gaze at the stars and she made a wish for a daughter, as she reached up to pick one of the millions of stars, she picked my star. From that day forward I was her child. National Adoption Month November is National Adoption Month, and it is the month to celebrate both my brother’s and my adoption. I was chosen out of millions of other little children waiting to be adopted. It was not an easy road for my mother and father. The day I was born was three months too early. The woman who gave birth to me did not want me and had done something terrible to cause early labor. Even after leaving the hospital, my mother and father worked around the clock to make sure I stayed breathing. I am grateful for them, as I know if it were not for them, I would not be here. As I was growing up, I was not an easy child. I had learning disabilities, and I could not speak like other children. My mother was my advocate in all things for my education. I would not be where I am or who I am without my parents. Being Thankful After meeting my biological mother, I see how blessed that I am to have been adopted. I may somewhat look like this woman, but I am not her and that is due to the way I was raised. I have only recently found my biological father and have found two more siblings. I am still unsure of how I feel about this as I lost my father over 10 years ago. Hardships Later Down the Road My mom has said a few times she regrets adopting children so late in life. I try to reassure her that she should have no regrets in adopting me. She worked hard to care for me unlike a younger mother could. She taught me things a younger mother could never have. Yes, there is a hardship now, has been since I was 13 years old and my father fell sick. We had a few good years after he passed away, and now I am caring for her, just like she cared for me. I wouldn’t change this for the world. Those Wishing to Adopt As an adoptee, I have to say I am astounded by the love that you have in your hearts. To love someone else’s child is an amazing thing. I know some of you are waiting years, but don’t ever give up hope while you are looking for your star in the night sky. Keep looking and one day he or she will be there. Sometimes you wish for a newly born star, but sometime the star that is meant for you may be a little older, that star is still for you, and still needs you. Those Waiting to be Adopted I was one of the children adopted from birth, it happens every day. I am reaching out to the older children. Never give up hope, your forever home is just around the corner. I hope to be the mother to one of you one day. To The Adoptees Love and cherish your forever home. I hurt my mother when I was a teenager by saying your not my real mother. That was the most foolish thing I could have ever said to her, as she is more my real mother than if she had carried me for 9 months and given birth to me. Adoptive parents may not have given birth to you, but they have chosen you, given up things to bring you into their home and raise you with a love so fierce. When you get curious and start to find out who your biological family is, don’t forget to lean on your family if things don’t go your way. Don’t get your hopes up when you do find your biological family, as they are not always what they seem. You may have been given up a good reason, or you may have been given up like I was, money. Always keep an open heart.  

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Whats going on at Odysseys With Love

Sorry if it seems we have gone MIA the last few days! It has been a hectic few days over here at the Odysseys Household. I wanted to share with you whats going on with Odysseys With Love. We have a few new things to share and several updates for you.

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Early Morning Risers – Help is on The Way

With the exception of James, my family is not early morning risers. Unless Rhyan decides that she, in fact, does want to wake up early. That means that EVERYONE wakes up early. This is something that I have been battling since Rhyan could get out of her own bed. It isn’t an everyday thing, but it happens too often. Most morning, I prefer to wake up and get at least half a cup of coffee before I hear any other voice around me. This morning was a battle. Rhyan chose to wake up an hour before it was time for me to get ready for the day. I am curled up in my warm bed, getting my much-needed sleep. I went to bed late as I was working and researching our next trip. She came into James and my bedroom talking loudly. “Mommy, I need something!” “It’s time to wake up mommy!” “Mommy, wake up!” After telling her many times to go back to her room and back to bed, or watch TV, something. Anything. This didn’t happen I was up, walking to the coffee pot, to try and make sense of my world. Early Morning Risers Help One morning, while reading through my facebook timeline, I saw the help I needed. The Mella: All-In-One Clock. Mella is a sleep trainer for children. I had to click on the link. I have been too excited about this product since reading about it. Little Hippo has launched their Kickstarter Campaign, and are looking for backers but they have been funded! So what exactly is Mella? It is an all-in-one children’s clock. The sleep trainer part of the clock helps to teach your child when it is time to go to bed and a gentle child-friendly way to start the day. Rhyan has to have background noise when she is sleeping, the Mella has three sleep sounds; rain, white noise, and ocean. Rhyan loved the beach so much and fell asleep quickly while listening to the water, the ocean would be perfect for her. Another thing Rhyan, and a lot of children need to sleep well is a night light. Her lamp is on all the time. The Mella offers five color option to create a soft glow. Rhyan does not need a nap timer, as she stopped taking naps a while ago. The nap timer feature doesn’t have to just be for naps. It is a great option for timeouts. You can use this feature for timed play activities and so much more. Sleep – Play – Wake What I love more than anything about this? It would be Mella’s Sleep, Play, and Wake features. When it is time for Rhyan to go to bed, Mella will go to bed with her. The Mella modern yet, cute. With the sleep sounds and night light. Rhyan will still wake up early in the morning at times. With the Mella, she can tell its ok to get out of bed, but to play quietly in her room. When the alarm clock goes off and the light around Mella turns green, its go time. It is now time to get started with her day. Backing on Kickstarter. Little Hippo and the Mella is fully funded on Kickstarter. I have not backed, yet. I will be sending my pledge in a few days at the $40 or more level. Who wouldn’t want their Limited Edition Mella? They are releasing it in green and it is only available to Kickstarted backers and will not be available once it is sold out. But what I REALLY want for Rhyan’s room is the purple one once they reach their first stretch goal. Other colors available is arctic blue and blush pink. What to back them too? Head to their Kickstarter campaign and get in on the early delivery and so much more.

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The Sandwich Generation

You’re asking yourself what is the Sandwich Generation. The Sandwich Generation is a generation of people (usually in their 30s or 40s) who care for their aging parents while supporting their own children. How does that relate to us at Odysseys With Love? Megan has been caring for her 77-year-old mother for the last few years, and the burden has gotten stronger as time goes on. I struggle to maintain schedules between my mother and also for my young children. This site isn’t just about travel, we have family and love too. Who can be more family that the woman that raised and cared for me? Photography and the Sandwich Generation Billie, Megan’s mother, hates photos of herself. I can understand why. I posted that I had just booked a photoshoot for us, but there is something more. The last family photograph the girls and I took was at JCPenney’s a few years ago. That was just the girls and I and I couldn’t get my mother to participate in it. When I started to book this appointment as a branding style photoshoot I asked our Photographer, Starling Photography, if she was able to make the shoot even for one image, if I could pay the additional sitting fee at the time of our shoot. I am so thankful for her understanding of this. My mother even though she feels she is not photographable, has agreed if she has the strength to make it, she will be in our family portraits. Then asked if I was going to have James in them. Uh, yes, we may not be married, but he is now family. I will have family portraits that we can cherish for years to come, even if this will be the last photograph that we have with her in them. The last photograph we have included my dad, and I was only a few years old. How I Juggle being part of the Sandwich Generation? Lately, mom’s health has been rapidly declining. She has to have help getting to the bathroom. She is not able to fix her own meals. Billie is stuck in the house if I do not help her go somewhere. I help with her medications, and I am an ear when she needs someone to talk to. Then we have the children. Skyler has an issue with her eyes blacking out, a learning disability, and has hit her preteen years. Rhyan, well let’s just say she is still a toddler that thinks she is a mini adult. I am constantly running after one of the three. When I meet James, I started juggling a boyfriend and starting a life with him. Wanderlust is calling. Even with my mom’s health failing, dealing with a toddler and preteen, and a boyfriend. I feel guilty about the wanderlust that has been calling me. “I want adventure in the great wide somewhere, I want it more than I can tell…” Finding Help with the Sandwich Generation Being part of the Sandwich Generation has kept us here local and with only a few short weekend trips away. Jame’s has been understanding of the pressures that have been placed on me. Even when my mother was taken to the hospital the other night, he offered to call off work and come home to help me with the girls. I told him no, that it was alright. I was only around the corner. Like when we went to Padre Island National Seashore, I called my neighbors Bill and Nancy. Nancy even came over to check on the girls while we were at the hospital. It helps that they run BNG’s Barkington Inn, so when we are away even my dog is taken care of. They really are a great couple. So when we are gone, I have a little bit of help. What About Siblings and Help? I have one older brother, but he is no help and has been cut off from my mother. They seem to want nothing to do with each other. I can not ask him to help with her care, and all he will want to do is put her in a home and never visit her. In my opinion that is a fate worse than death. I get it, she can be crude and doesn’t always think before she speaks. But, after everything that she has done for him, and how he has always treated his “family” I do not want nor need him in our lives. I will be caring for her until she is no longer with us. [wp_ad_camp_3] Sandwich Generation and the RV We all know that we are looking at buying an RV. We recently posted about the Jayco and about us visiting the SuperShow. One thing in all these we have not mentioned is the fact that with a motorhome rather than a travel trailer or 5th wheel, we would be able to take my mother with us when we go on adventures. There are several beds in the one that we are looking at. This way, Billie would be comfortable as we travel. She could lay down if needed, sit in the booth or couch if she couldn’t stay laying down. My only fear with this is, can she get in and out of the home on wheels? Where This Blog Helps The blog helps more than most will know. It is my outlet. I love writing and being able to put words down to my thoughts. The second part of this is I want to make money, I would like for the site to at least support itself in the coming years. I read where other bloggers have earned a huge income like those at Its A Lovely Life. If in a few years and my mom is still with us, I would take part of that income and let her choose what she wants to be done when I can no longer care for her medically. I want her to be able to have that choice. How do you cope with being apart of the sandwich generation? Let us know down in the comments.

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Upgrading Our Six Flags Over Texas Passes

Over the weekend we headed out to Six Flags Over Texas. When checking our passes Saturday morning, I noticed that the month of September we had the option of bringing a friend for free, on both Skyler’s and my passes. This meant that we could bring James and Rhyan without it costing us anything more. Â We had one Deluxe Dining Pass and a sports bottle so we would only need a little extra for food for all of us. This was a test run to see if Rhyan could ride anything and if we could all enjoy the day. We have been discussing purchasing a membership for James, but that would mean we would have to get a sitter for Rhyan all the time if she didn’t get one. We needed to make up our minds about upgrading our Six Flags Over Texas Passes from two to the family four pack special.

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10 Easy Ways To Save Money on Utilities

Since we are saving money to buy our first RV, I have been looking at ways to save more money around the house that we already have to stick back for the RV. I found 10 easy ways to save money on our utilities and wanted to share them with you. 10 Easy Ways to Save Money on Utilities Turn things off. This seems like it would be a no-brainer, but most people do not realize how much power we use when we just leave things running. Leaving anything plugged into an outlet will still use electricity, even when it’s not in use. Unplug those chargers. I know it seems like it wouldn’t use much power, but it still sucking electricity. You can also upgrade your outlets to the in-wall outlet chargers too.  Just make sure to unplug the cords when you are done charging. Find Other Ways to Cook. I love my oven, but it sucks when it comes to heat efficiency, especially in the summer months. It heats up the whole house making it hard to keep it cool. I love my crockpot (we have the Ninja cooking system), plan to buy an Anova and who doesn’t love the grill. Avoid Direct Sunlight. I miss my big tree outside the front of my house. It would shade the front of my house, keeping both of the girl’s rooms cool, and my office. Now I have blinds tilted up slightly to let the girls have some natural light come in but, keep their privacy. My office has a lot of curtains to let the light through because I use it as a natural light studio. It’s hard to keep it cool because it is a garage conversion, but I suffer through the heat when I have to. Adjust the tanks on your toilet. When I had to fix my bathroom toilet, I changed out the parts inside also to a system that I can use less water and still flush the toilet. We got the Fluidmaster repair kit. Hang dry your clothes. This is great for the RVers with a washer and dryer too. The dryer is another appliance that sucks at heat efficiency. Get a clothesline and use it in the summer to dry your clothes outside and then in winter, you can set it up inside. Check your fridge and freezer. The fridge should be between 35 and 40 and your freezer between 0 and 4 degrees. When your appliances are full, it also takes less energy to cool the space. Use weather-stripping. Air can leak out of your doors and windows, making it hard for your air conditioner to keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Make sure that you do not see any light coming through, if you get bugs in, or if your seal is falling down. Switch them out. You can buy new seals at any local hardware, or online. Buy a new door bottom and weather-stripping even at places like Amazon. Have Appliances Services. Air conditioners need to be serviced every year and the air filter needs to be switched out every two months. Amazon is great about their subscribe and save, you can sign up for it and save even more money on different products. Filtrete has a great offer. Water Heaters checked for efficiency. How hot is your water heater set to? The water heater is a huge check of your utility bills and if you can set your temperatures down some and not notice a difference, then you can save a bit. We have been looking at changing ours out for a while now to an on-demand system like EcoSmart. These systems have come down significantly over the years in price, but it can be costly to install them. If you’re building a tiny house these are the way to go, even RV’s are going to an on-demand system. Do you really need that? Take a look around your home for things that are plugged in and not being used. Unplug them. It’s the little things that count right? Even a few dollars saved can add up over time. But if you can save money on utilities think of all the trips you can take.    

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How We Earn Money With Swagbucks.

I love using swagbucks to earn money from doing task that only take a few minutes each day and then letting a few other things happen as they happen. I would also love to build a team of others who love earning money and learning even more about it. If you use the link above or click the photo, it will take you to the registration for Swagbucks. It will take you through a short intro into using the site and how to earn what they call SB. 1 SB equals 0.01 in real money. Each task on the site will range in amounts where you can earn a bit of money. So far since I joined I have earned $90.00. That is more money in my pocket than I would have had before using the site. Easy ways to earn on Swagbucks The Daily Poll – This is only 1SB that is an easy earning since you can get it every day. IF you do it daily, you will have $3.65 by the end of the year. The “To Do List” –  The Daily Poll is the First one on there, so you have already completed the first task for your To Do List. If you complete them all, you will earn 4SB on top of what you have already earned that day. That is again $14.60 that you didn’t have before. Search and Earn – We all search the internet at different times for different reasons. I have set my computer to search automatically to search using their search engine. What does this do? Once in a while, you will earn SB with it. I have earned up-to 100SB this way. Now, you won’t earn SB each time you search, but the more you search the better your chance to earn this way. Download the App – I have the app on my cell phone also. Why? I want to be notified when they have codes to earn SB. Sometimes these are on their Facebook page, other times they are hidden on their website. I have earned around 3-4SB a day using these codes. The Daily Goal – On the top of the website you will see you have a daily goal. There are a blue and a red goal each for different amounts. I try to get my blue goal daily. If I can, I also try for my red goal. If you do this daily you can earn bonuses.  

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The Ultimate Geek Gifts Guide

I absolutely can not believe that Christmas is just around four months away now. I started looking for awesome gifts for both James and Skyler when I thought about creating a list of the Ultimate Geek Gifts Guide for the two geeks in my life, I may have snuck in an area or two of things that I would love. What to Jump ahead? I created an index of all the Geek Gifts Guides where you can look by topic. Star Wars Lovers Minecraft Lovers Coffee Time Camera Geeks Science Experiments Survival Gear Funko Pop Toys Build a Micro Computer Star Wars Lovers We know who these are for. I love you James for everything that you have done for us! Minecraft Lovers Skyler loves this game, even though I don’t fully understand it myself. Coffee Time You know this one is for me. Camera Geeks Another one for me 😀 Science Experiments Since Skyler seems to love science, why not find some awesome experiments for her to try out. [wp_ad_camp_2] Survival Gear The survival geek or the prepper will love these items Funko Pop Toys James and I seem to be exchanging these as we can already. Build a Micro Computer I love computers and want to build one of these little Raspberry Pie’s as a media center for us.  

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Work For Hire Chore List Allowance

Megan does not pay an allowance to the girls, but over the last few weeks we have noticed that the oldest, Skyler, has not wanted to complete any chores around the house. After finding out that the credit card that Megan uses has a “Family Account” option that sends a credit card in the family members name, and you transfer money to that card so that it isn’t connected to the main account. Megan created a Chore List Allowance worksheet called “Work For Hire.” Skyler will have to earn her money from now own to be able to spend it how she wishes. She is able to spend it as soon as she has the money transferred, which is on a Tuesday in our household, or save it to be able spend it on something larger. We have notice other parents giving their children other incentives other than monetary gains. Things like screen time, but for Skyler we honestly believe that she will start working around the house without complaining as much if she is actually paid. The Chore List Allowance Downloads   READ SOMETHING ELSE Are You Following Us On Social Media? Facebook Instagram Pinterest Youtube Twitter Google-plus Linkedin Want to download one of my free resources? Join The Tribe and receive the Password once your email and opt-in are confirmed!  Join The Tribe! This form collects information we will use to send you weekly updates, special offers, exclusive newsletter-only content, first look at what is new in the resource library, Monthly Giveaways and so much more! Read Our Privacy Policy I Want In Now! Your In! You have successfully joined our subscriber list. Head over to our Resource Library while you wait for your first email! Make sure to check your spam folder! The confirmation email may have been delivered there. Once you are confirmed, you are eligible to win the monthly giveaway!

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The "D" Word

As most of you know I am a single mother. To top that off, I am the only parent my girls really know. Sure, Skyler knows who her Dad is, and has even communicated with him some. We have a pretty decent relationship. Rhyan however does not know her biological father. It is by his choice. I have never hidden her or kept her away from him.

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