Sunday, October 14, 2018

Don't Defer Decisions

Hello! Thanks for joining me as I work to declutter and simplify our life.

   When it comes to decluttering something I have found very challenging over the years but that I am making good progress in is not to defer decision making. In so many areas of life I can be very decisive and I don't waver all over the place and in fact indecisive people have often been a bigger irritant to me than I care to admit. However as I mull things over and get to know myself better I have realized that I can be very indecisive in some areas. The one that I have struggled with for a long time is figuring out what to order in a fast food line. But as I don't go to fast food very often and it really doesn't matter that much if I take a few more minutes (I let people go in front of me) I don't care about this one. But the other area I do care about.

   Through the years I have really struggled with being indecisive about my stuff. Something comes in the mail and I look at it or maybe I don't truly have time to look it over well and then I set it somewhere to be looked at and considered another time or maybe 10 more times. I have actually gotten way better at this and now I do tend to just chuck stuff in the recycling pretty quickly and I have come to realize I don't even have to open every envelope that comes from a political candidate or some charity asking for money. I don't have to give them any time at all if I don't want to. And I don't have to feel guilty about not doing that.

  So mail has been a big area but other random stuff is even bigger and messier. And this is the area I still struggle with more. In my office especially, with craft supplies particularly. Whenever something doesn't have any easy home that I have set up already it is easy to just keep moving it from place to place and maybe back and forth when I really just need to take the time to figure out it's permanent home (quite possibly away from our house) and not have to keep shifting it, keep feeling guilty about needing to do something about it. I need to stop deferring with my decision making.

  Another area I have struggled with this is dealing with e-mails. An e-mail needs to have some action taken on it but I don't feel like taking the minute required to figure out what action is needed and to do it so I defer it and then I keep noticing it over and over again and quite possibly I keep deferring it. When I do that it just causes me to feel (a little or a lot) stressed about it. It is much simpler if just as often as possible (I know that it isn't possible 100% of the time) I would just make the decision and take the tiny action right now and get it out of my hair and off my mind.

  So if you want to have less clutter either physical or mental than stop deferring decisions. I hope to join you in that!!!

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Listen To Your Kids

Today was another productive day. Not quite a productive as I dreamed of being but still good. :-) How are you all doing? If you also have been working on simplifying and getting rid of clutter I would really love to hear how it is going.

Our big project of the day was Megan's closet. It wasn't horrible but I knew there was quite a bit in there that she didn't like, want or use. So we went to work.
 I am curious how things go in your family when you are going through your children's clothes. We get most of clothes second hand and a lot of Megan's especially are given to us. She has always had plenty of clothes as a result but not always ones she likes a lot. But I have been quite guilty over the years of making her keep a bunch that she never wants to wear. "That would look so cute on you." "You might want that sometime."  "You might need that." As a result Megan has generally always had a stuffed dresser and full closet but complains about not having clothes to wear or things she likes. She also has really struggled at times to keep things clean. She shoves things in her drawers and the drawers usually look quite chaotic. Like this:
  Today I determined to not make Megan keep things just because I wanted them for her. Yes we wanted her to have enough clothes to wear but currently she had way more than she needed and we had plenty of room for decluttering.

We got rid of (mostly ready for donation or taking to the consignment store, some things went in the trash and a pile is ready to be made into rugs) nearly 90 items in these categories:

  • Some didn't fit right. Megan is quite slim and unless the have the elastic inside the waist of the jeans she needs to wear a belt and she doesn't like to do that. So generally she won't wear them.
  • Some were worn out - those are ready for being repurposed into rugs and that was not part of the 90 because they aren't truly ready to head out the door.
  • Others that were worn out did go straight to the trash if I didn't have a good way to repurpose them.
  • Megan thought some were ugly.
  • Megan didn't like the color of some. She tries to avoid pink whenever possible. I haven't always been patient with this but as I am not a big fan of pink myself (and wear it very little) I really should have been.
  • They weren't a comfortable style for her. Socks were heavy in this category. She doesn't like the feel of short socks. She had been given a bunch of nice new short ones but since she doesn't like them they really were just clogging up her drawer. I said that she could get rid of them. Then I tried them on and they fit well and I like that style. Hooray! So those didn't count in the 90 either as they were just moving places.

 I have been frusterated with Megan being a bit of a messy "pack rat" before but when it comes to clothes I discovered that she really isn't very attached. I have been the real problem wanting her to keep many things that she doesn't like. So though I do think kids shouldn't be super picky and if that is all they have to wear and that is all that you can afford then they should wear it with thankfulness but when you have more than enough and your child is happy to get rid of some - far be it from me (now) to make her keep it. With all of our getting rid of things - they fit much better in the drawers!
 Megan wanted me to take a picture of the drawer above. We did our sorting while the weeks clothes were still in the laundry. So after she had removed everything from her pants drawer that she didn't like or want this was the only thing left in her drawer. But that did change after I got some more laundry folded....

Now she has a reasonable amount in her drawer and they are ones that actually fit well and she likes wearing. Wonderful!
 This is our stack of things to get rid of! 90 + items!
 The closet does look better now. It would have looked more sparse but I added more clean clothes in and we put some of her stuff that had made way over to Mara's side back onto her side.

  We did decide that there are a couple of things we still need to get for her (another pair of shoes and a couple of nice sweaters/tops that would go with some of her skirts. Over all we are quite happy with our job well done.

Friday, October 12, 2018

A Resource: The Minimal Mom

Today as I was working at decluttering in my office I had fun watching/listening to some YouTube videos. I found a channel on there that I found super encouraging and motivating and I thought you might enjoy it to: The Minimal Mom. She does a really good job of creating videos, she has lots of good tips and is really upbeat. She has a whole series on dealing with toys which I know can be a challenge. So, if you have some task you can do while listening/watching I recommend checking her out. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Camping - A Way to Try Out Living With Less

 How are you all today? If you also are working on Decluttering and simplifying in your home - how is it going?

 I had another good day of getting some things cleaned up and organized around here and various tasks done. I really am loving being able to stay home more this month. I also like to be on the go sometimes but this month where I am home most of the time has been fun.

But, thinking of going, camping is something we enjoy going and doing. And I think that camping can be a good way to get you thinking about what you really need and what you don't really need in life. It can make you do things creatively and work outside the box. I especially think that back packing or camping when you haul things on bikes or in a canoe are especially helpful as you really have to lighten up but even normal tent camping can teach you things as well. I am not so sure about camper camping as far as the teaching you how to live with less.

  In September we went up North to the annual Jackpine Retreat that our family enjoys going to. I finally uploaded pictures this evening of the last couple of months and wanted to share some on here so this post is partly talking about living on less and partly just telling about the fun we had at Jackpine.

 When camping everybody tends to get a little more creative when it comes to entertainment. We are for the most part away from technology and for the little ones there are not lots of toys so we figure out our own fun - which never seems to be a problem. This camping outing is the highlight of the year for many kids that I know. It was fun to watch my little nieces and nephews (ages 1 and 2) who adored being able to run around outside and play. Sticks and dirt became fun "toys".

Jonathan did bring along his hammock and decided to hang it up super high. That then became entertainment for many for quite a while. It was a challenge to see who could actually get up into it. I tried once and didn't succeed. I was going to try again but it stayed pretty busy and I didn't get around to it.
 Sticks and knives are pretty popular at Jackpine as a lot of carving goes on. The kids arranged a huge jousting match using sticks and swords that they had made. They were quite careful and there were no injuries that I was aware of and they had a wonderful time. All that was needed basically was a few pocketknives to prepare sticks. They did also use some string to mark out the ring. Hours of fun without lots of "things".
 A couple of my nephews that were having a blast just playing around outside. They watchedt he big boys and worked on carving too. Ephraim had a little stick that he used to carve on another stick. Lots of toys are just not really needed.
This Jackpine Retreat is a church retreat that we go to and there are many non-related people that go but we are also blessed to have our family go in large numbers. The picture above is my siblings and I and all our spouses. What fun it is to enjoy camping in God's creation together.

   Anyway I do think that camping can show you that for the most part things aren't the truly important part of life. However we have had some camping trips that have shown me how thankful I am for some things and sometimes I wished I had more of them. When we didn't bring quite enough food (back packing) or enough warm clothes (back packing again) and when the tent leaks and things get wet I do certainly appreciate a solid roof, enough warm and dry clothes and plenty of food. It reminds me of this verse:
But godliness with contentment is great gain.
7For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.
8But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.
9Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. I Timothy 6:6-9

Monday, October 8, 2018

Success Fuels More Success

Thanks for joining me again!

I don't have time to write much just now as I really need to be heading to bed but I thought I would just stop in and report on the day quickly.

    It was a fun day where I set aside a little more time to work on getting rid of clutter and cleaning some things up. I went through our toy cupboard (I hope to devote a post to the subject of toys soon) and an area for storing projects that are in process and a paper drawer in the kitchen. I also sorted through other random things that I was putting away or noticing around the house. I am not sure what my total items to have gotten rid of today was but I think it was at least 50.

  I have noticed when I get going and decluttering and things go well then I really just would like to keep going and working on it. The success of doing the job well makes me to want more success. It is  fun. I hope if you are working on getting rid of things as well that you also are finding that to be true. And if you are having trouble getting started I hope this will be a little encouragement just to go for it.

   Decluttering is kind of amusing when you start thinking about it as you go along. It is a good time to laugh at yourself and wonder why you saved a overflowing bag full of holey socks or all the papers from your dogs vet visits. What funny things have you found as you declutter?

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Don't Buy It

October 7th. Thanks for joining me for another post on Decluttering and Simplifying!

  I feel like perhaps I have talked about the idea of not buying to much and perhaps any frequent reader might be tired of it. But I think it is a super important concept when it comes to having less clutter in our homes and simplifying.

 Now, I do buy things from time to time and I am sure you will need to as well. However I think almost every American (me included) could buy a lot less, especially of non-consumable items. If we watch any TV, check our mail, look in a newspaper, look at a sign, listen to the radio or go online we are inundated with the idea that we need something that we don't have. But we need to question that very hard. Let's not allow ourselves to be influenced by what others think we need but rather just practically look at what we truly do need.

  Here are some ways that I have found helpful for buying less:

  • Try to space out your shopping trips as long as you can. The less often you are in the store the less you will be tempted to buy something. Also, you can save time by shopping less often.
  • Don't go to second hand stores or garage sales unless you have something that you actually need and are specifically looking for.
  • When you think you need something, for instance a couple of weeks ago our crock-pot broke and I think I want to get another one, wait a while before you replace it (whatever it is). See if you have any out of the box ways to do without it. Maybe something will actually work just as well or even better. I don't really think that will happen with the crockpot but I know when the thermos that I used to make yogurt in went bad I actually figured out a different way to make yogurt that I like better now.
  • I have found it very helpful in the past to have times when I try to go without buying anything for a month or months. I really like these challenges, they stretch me and help me to think more creatively and I find them fun. I know that isn't true for everybody but ff you are like me that might be fun for you.
  • Give thanks to God over and over again for what you do have. This is really helpful for making you feel more contented. When you are contented you don't usually feel like you need a lot more.
  Do you have any tips that have helped you to buy less? I would love to hear!

What Did Jesus Say About "Stuff"?

  Hello! Welcome to day number 6 (except I missed number 5 so really it is just my 5th day of writing - I may go back and make that day up - we shall see!) of my series on Decluttering and simplifying.

 When we decided to memorize the Sermon on the Mount a few years back I really enjoyed my time of digging deeper into it and really meditating on it. I guess I had read it many times before but I hadn't thought about it so much. Really dwelling on it left me with some pretty deep convictions that I hadn't held before. One of those really had to do with what we own. I believe Jesus teaches pretty strongly that we should hold what we own pretty lightly. That we should not be attached to it. I think this is a pretty big thing to grasp mentally that will help us as we try to simplify and get rid of clutter in our homes.

  Here are some of the verses that I found convicting on the subject of "stuff":

" You have heard that it was said, Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth." But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you." Matthew 5:38-42

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and ruse destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:19-21

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow or reap or store away in barns and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 

  And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how    God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is throw in to the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you or little faith? So do not worry, saying what shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or What shall we wear? For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow but let tomorrow worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:25-34 

I hope these verses are encouraging and convicting for you as well.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Can You Be a Minimalist and a Prepper?

Welcome back to my 31 days of Decluttering and Simplifying at Proverbs 31 Living!

So as I have been working on my journey that is leading somewhat towards minimalism I have pondered much over my other leaning which is towards being a prepper. And I wonder how well those two things actually mesh. I think many would say that they don't at all. I somewhat disagree. Now it does depend on how you define these two things. I haven't actually looked either one up in the dictionary but I have found that generally they can mean a wide range of ideas but I think these are fairly basic definitions:

  • A Minimalist: Someone who tries to avoid living with a lot of excess stuff that doesn't have a good purpose or add a lot of value to their life. They see the beauty in simplicity and having less. They really try to live a contented life. Their focus is not on material possessions.
  • A Prepper: Someone who works to be prepared for the future. Especially to be prepared should a disaster of some kind occur. They seek to be "self" sufficient as much as possible and be prepared to go without electricity or grocery stores and things of that kind if necessary.

 So, I am seeking both of those ideals. I don't think they need to be mutually exclusive. I believe that people for hundreds and hundreds of years have basically been minimalists and preppers. The pioneers carried all of their possessions in a covered wagon (Who today- even among minimalists could actually do that???) and yet they were prepared to go without shopping, possibly for years.

   Granted, our lives are different today and though I love to study that old history I am still super thankful for the time that we live but I think we can still live carefully like both a minimalist and a prepper.

  I probably will always have a lot more food storage than your typical minimalist (but I will be super careful to make sure it is truly being used - we aren't just storing things indefinitely for some big disaster).

  I will also try to have a lot of knowledge in my head and skills learned that can be used so that I will be prepared and henceforth I may have a little less stuff in some areas than your typical prepper.

  That works for me. I am curious to hear what you think on this topic. Are you a minimalist or a prepper or neither one or are you trying to be both, like me?

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Give Yourself Permission to Just Do Part

Thanks for joining me again for my 31 days of Decluttering and Simplifying at Proverbs 31 Living!

I just wanted to share a quick tip that has helped me in this journey....

 Often decluttering can seem overwhelming if we have an area that is pretty bad. You wonder where to even begin. If I do begin how am I going to get stopped again? Do I really have time for this? Maybe I should just forget about this project and do something simpler???

  Something that I have found helpful when I face situations like that is to allow myself to just say I will do part of it. I am not telling myself I am going to do the whole project right now. No. I am just going to do something.

Here are some different methods I sometimes use:

  I set a timer (for say 30 minutes) and I work as hard and fast as I can during that time and when that time is up I am free to be done for the day. I do find that I often will get into the job and not really want to quit when the timer goes of. If I truly have more time that is wonderful I can just keep going but sometimes I need to move on and do something else. That is okay, at least I got started and I got something done.

  I set a goal. I tell myself I only need to work at this until I find 10 items to get rid of. Again I will often get into it and keep going but even if I only got rid of 10 items that day progress was still made.

  I break it up into smaller portions. For those big overwhelming projects another thing that I have often done is to break it up into segments. Often there are shelves, boxes or baskets that are part of the big section, I can plan on doing one of those segments and then leave the rest for another day.

Those methods all work for me to help me to get going on tackling the big projects. I hope they might be helpful for you as well!

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

The "Why" to Decluttering and Simplifying

Day 2 in my 31 days of Decluttering and Simplifying at Proverbs 31 Living.

Today I wanted to talk about why I want and have been working getting rid of clutter and simplifying my/our life. I decided that I would keep it personal - not go into reasons that you might want to do it but rather stick with why I am doing it and perhaps it will resonate with you as well.

 1. My top reason for doing ANYTHING: I want to glorify God. If I can do nothing else in life at all but I can give glory to God then that is worth it. Whatever I do I want it to be so that He can have first place in my life and I can use my time for Him. So that is where having less comes in - I want to free myself from as many unnecessary distractions as possible so that I can focus on following Jesus. I don't want unnecessary things to take up my time that could have been better spent in some other way. I feel like that has been an issue in my life at times. That I have had to worry to much about things (finding a home for them, trying to keep my home clean and tidy around them, just being distracted by them) and I really want to get away from that.

2. To have less stress and bad attitudes. Our family for the most part (I haven't noticed this as much in the girls as I have in Ken, myself and the boys) tend to be more stressed and struggle with bad attitudes when our house is messy and full of clutter. This provides a temptation to have ungodly attitudes. I would prefer to prevent that as much as possible. By having less stuff it is easier to keep it in it's place.

3. To save us time. We have a lot of things we like to do in life. We don't want to spend more time than necessary trying to getting things to fit in the spots we have for them. I don't want to spend a lot of time sorting through my clothes trying to find something that I think that I will look nice in. I want to narrow my choices so that I don't need to make so many of them and can be more efficient in these non-important areas.

4. So we are not wasteful. I have found when we have a lot of stuff we tend to lose track of it. Sometimes we even cannot find or don't even realize we have something we need and we go out and buy something like it. We try not to do that but it can happen. So that is a goal of mine too - that we would truly be able to use the things we have and not needlessly consume more.

5. To promote contentedness. I have found that when we are not so heavily into consuming, when we take time to enjoy what we have then we don't feel the need for more so often and are more contented.

6. So we can be a blessing to others. In our decluttering and simplifying I hope to be able to share what we don't need with others. I also hope to free up time to be able to give of my time more generously to others.

So, those are the reasons that I can think of right now for decluttering and simplifying. I may think of more and share them later but that will do for now.

 If you are decluttering and simplifying in your life I would love to hear your "why".

Monday, October 1, 2018

31 Days of Decluttering and Simplifying

 I have been doing a lot of thinking lately on the idea of minimalism and living with less. Though I have a long way to go before most people will start labeling me a minimalist (I have gotten that label maybe once so far and it was by somebody who is very, very far from being a minimalist) I have made a lot of progress in the area of having less clutter and mess. And I still have a long way to go. Last year I carefully got rid of 25 items every week. I have been working on doing that this year as well.

  I am signing up to join the 31 days blogging challenge and I will be writing about Decluttering and simplifying. If that is something that interests you - perhaps you are doing it too or maybe you would like to- then I would love to have  you join me.

  Lord willing I will be sharing posts about-
  • The "Why" to simplifying and decluttering.
  • Personal stories
  • Tips and tricks that are working for me.
  • Tools and resources to help us.
  • The end goal.
  • Encouragement from God's word.
  • Motivating links

So this month I am varying from my normal goal of 25 items a week and instead am trying out the idea of getting rid of as many items as the day is. For example 1 item today and 16 on the 16th and 30 on the 30th and so forth.  I am also going to really be working on cleaning on digital clutter so I thought maybe I would do that same thing but backwards. So I need to clean out/delete 31 things today and then less each day as the month goes on. Let me know if this might be something that you are working on too!

Lord willing we will visit again tomorrow!

If you would like to see what a bunch of other bloggers are writing about this October (the 31 days series) you can check that out here.

Also, so that you can see my series more easily here are some links:

October 2- The "Why" to decluttering and simplifying.
October 3- Give yourself permission to just do part.
October 4- Can you be a minimalist and a "Prepper"?
October 5-
October 6- What did Jesus say about "Stuff"?
October 7- Don't Buy It.
October 8- Success Fuels More Success
October 9- Camping - A Way To Try Out Living With Less
October 10
October 11
October 12- Resource: A Minimal Mom
October 13
October 14

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Traveling Down the Mississippi

At the beginning of August our family took a road trip following the Mississippi river down to the end (or very close to the end anyway). It was part of our longer trip to take Mara down to Texas, we just thought it would be fun to follow the Mississippi since we live on it and also as we were wanting to visit friends in Louisiana.

   A few days before we left we went to the headwaters of the Mississippi at Itasca State Park (it is around an hours drive from our place). The Mississippi flows our of Lake Itasca and the picture above shows Megan sitting at the place the lake goes into the river.

It gets narrow fairly quickly. The picture above is one I took earlier this summer when Ken's sister and family were visiting and it shows a bit better how narrow it is and shallow as well.

 Our family decided to record "The River" by Garth Brooks and then video portions of it as we went down the Mississippi. Aaron and Megan did a duet on the first verse so they were the ones to try out being videoed first. It was an interesting experience to do it out in public like that. We were actually super blessed to find hardly anybody there the evening we went. That is super unusual but very nice for us.

This walking bridge is one of the next places to see the "Mighty Mississippi" Mara and Thomas were stopping to admire it. That Sunday we also had fun going on a bike ride and having a picnic up at Itasca. It is a beautiful park to visit.

I thought it might be nice to include a Map of the Mississippi. Itasca is where it starts then it goes through some wood lands, swamp lands and various beautiful areas before coming to Bemidji/Lake Bemidji and then on to our place on the Northern Most part of the Mississippi.
Image result for map of the mississippi river

After we had left the park and drove aways the road went across the Mississippi again. I love how little it is here and the beautiful mist over the low land.

We also stopped at Coffee Pot Landing that day. It is a nice little campground (free) that can be driven into and can also be used by canoers/kayakers.

This is the walking bridge at that campground.

Megan and Aaron were again the ones that were being videoed when we were in Bemidji (the First City on the Mississippi- and our lovely town.
We had them record on the bike bridge that goes over the river in the little section between Lake Irving and Lake Bemidji. Aaron can be a stinker when it comes to posing for pictures.

This is our favorite view of the Mississippi because it happens to be our our backdoor. It is much wider here because we have a dam not far beyond us. After the dam it does get a bit narrower again. We left home August 3 at about 3 pm (after Ken did some final work at his office and I did flowers for a wedding that my sister Keren delivered for me the next day).
Here we are, ready to travel.

We "followed" the Mississippi on our trip but not always super directly. We skipped the Grand Rapids area and headed down to Brainerd instead. This is what the Mississippi looks like there. (Both directions- photo above and below)

 We got to Minneapolis as the sun was starting to set and a rain storm was on the horizon. Finding parking for a big RV is challenging but we managed that and then we were quickly search for the best place to record quickly. We found a super pretty picturesque spot but getting the right angle to show the cool bridge and the Mississippi was a challenge.
And then there was the debate on whether it was better to be on the top of the bridge of have it in the back ground. Up on it were more people which made many of us self-conscious. In the end we did it both places and up on top was as the rain started to fall. Then we had to dash instruments and all back to the RV.

 After that the rain really pelted down. Ken got to experience driving an RV through a city in a very heavy rain storm. I tried to take a picture the next time we crossed the Mississippi but between night time and rain the picture was simply black. :-)

We drove down into Iowa while it was still dark.

 We spent the night at a city park in the town of Waukon, IA. It was an inexpensive place to camp but also a pretty neat park. It was big and pretty, easy to drive in and hook up, had a place to dump and a shower house (not the cleanest ever but not horrible), a bunch of different cool and interesting playgrounds, disc golf and a swimming pool with a slide.

Shortly after leaving Waukon in the morning we came to the little picturesque town of Marquette. It was on the banks of the Mississippi. It had cliffs, cute shops and looked like it would have been a fun place to stop.

Then a mile or so down the road (that had the Mississippi on one side and cliffs on the other) we came to the cute little town of McGregor. That area is totally a place I would like to go back to. In McGregor there was a street musician playing, a yellow piano sitting in the park waiting to be played and it just looked like a really fun place to be.

And then right next to McGregor is Pike's Peak (the Iowa version) that overlooks the Mississippi. It was the highest place that we found to look over the Mississippi and it was a really neat view. We totally enjoyed our stop there.
And I did not really get a good picture of it. Ken and I were the ones being recorded at that stop so I didn't have a chance to take many pictures of it.
After that we crossed the bridge over into Wisconsin. We had decided that we would go into every state that borders the Mississippi as we drove down. The land that is closer is still Iowa but Wisconsin was on the other side.

A little later we went back into Iowa and in Davenport we checked out the river walk. It was a pretty place to stop. There were various touristy things close by that could have been fun to explore if we had more time. But we didn't see any ice cream there and that was kind of on our minds so we kept moving.
Here is Ken our faithful driver for the majority of the trip. I am so thankful for him!
Mid-day the kids figured out there was an icecream shop not very far of the route and they thought we should stop. It sold Chocolate Shop icecream which is the same specialty ice cream sold at the ice cream shop that Jonathan works at (and where Mara used to work). We went to "Smilees" in Iowa. Megan and Aaron got these funky double cones which allowed you to have a smaller portion of 2 different types of icecream for the same price as a single scoop in a bigger cone. When we were stopping to get ice cream the GPS had given me directions (I was driving at the time) to go one way but I missed that road and ended up going to the next exit for that town and that ended up being right where the ice cream shop was. We saved a lot of time going that way and I was very thank-ful for God working that out. :-)

We also stopped at Fort Madison, Iowa. There was this old fort there that would have been a lot of fun to explore but there was some big event going on there and our time was pretty limited as we were trying to get to St. Louis before dark. So we ended up not going in. The Mississippi is really nice and big at this point!

Our next stop was Lover's Leap in Hannibal, Missouri.  This was an interesting experience. First off when we were headed to it we had to turn on this fairly narrow and very steep little road to go up to it. We are in the big RV and as we head up Ken realizes that we don't have any idea of what the parking was like at the top and whether we would even have a good place to turn around. Oh well! Thankfully there was a parking area - not huge but big enough and so all was well.

  This place has a legend of a native american couple that were from enemy tribes but were in love and wanted to be together. Their tribes didn't like that and were pursuing them or something like that and as they tried to escape I believe they perished on this cliff. I am not quite sure if that was how the story went but it was something like that. :-)

  This was, in my opinion, our most embarrassing stop. As I have mentioned everywhere we stopped along the Mississippi we were videoing footage to go along with a song that we had previously recorded at home. But in each video we would sing and sometimes play (we didn't always use the instruments) along with the music so that it would look like we had recorded it in that spot. When we got to Lover's Leap there were quite a few people already there - that can feel a little awkward. At this spot we were needing to do an instrumental section of the song. We hadn't worried that much about tuning mostly because we were in a hurry and hadn't thought to do that and because the sound wasn't being recorded and so it didn't really matter. Well when we got out and started to play here we discovered our instruments were quite out of tune, a crowd had gathered around to watch and Ken had said we had like 10 minutes to get done and out of there so we just did it. I am quite sure I look completely pained in the video and probably red as a beet. :-)
Crossing the Mississippi between MO and IL.

We wanted to make it to the St. Louis Arch by sunset and we were very nearly late but we made it. Our recording caught the tail end of the sun but it was gorgeous. We actually drove across to the other side so that we could have both the Mississippi and the Arch in the same picture. There was a cool platform in a little park (that you had to take these back roads to get to) over there so we could have a very nice view. As Ken and I had been planning our trip we did a lot of research and looking around online to figure out where we could get the best pictures. It was kind of fun. This photo was taken at the Malcom W. Martin Memorial Park in East Saint Louis, Illinois.

 Ken had reserved a campsite for us Columbus-Belmont State Park in Kentucky for that night so we still had quite a bit of traveling left after this. So far we were eating all of our meals in the RV. I had pre-made a frozen several things so that I could just stick them in the oven to bake. We also did a few other simple things. That definitely saved us quite a bit of time and money. It was a unique challenge to prepare meals as we headed down the road. So that evening we ate and then many of us went to sleep as we traveled on. Ken and Jonathan were the only ones that stayed awake the whole time and they were full of stories of interesting roads in Kentucky. We were going down a state highway but Ken is sure that if he would have met anybody on it that somebody would have had to go into the ditch. Thankfully when traveling around midnight/1 am the road was deserted and we had what Ken thought was more like a bike trail to ourselves.

  The state park was lovely! I would have enjoyed staying there more. There were very nice and clean amenities, it wasn't very expensive, it was beautiful, full of history and right on the Mississippi river. It had been the site of a long civil war battle.

Megan and Aaron were up in time on Sunday morning to look around a little bit and play a little bluegrass in Kentucky (it just seemed appropriate). 
We were able to go record in the park. It was lovely.

We went up on a bluff there to see the Mississippi and I realize now that I didn't get any good pictures of the Mississippi while we were there. We do have some in our video though so we can see them eventually. :-)

Our next stop was to go to the Church of Christ in West Dyersburg, TN. We were a little late and that was a little challenging because there building was very full. I think we found the only section of empty seats big enough to fit our family that was available in the building. But that is pretty cool. I was encouraged by their service and their encouragement to the christians to go out and be a light in the community and stand up for the truth of the Bible. They had those getting ready to go to school come up front and they prayed for them. Anyway, it seemed like a neat congregation.

Our next stop after that was in Arkansas. It was super duper hot that day and each time we stopped we struggled to even want to have our eyes open as it felt to hot for them. I know, we are northern sissies that can stand the heat. Oh well. We deal with cold - you can have your heat. :-)
Jonathan and Mara had some solo recording to do at this location.

Next we stopped in Memphis, TN. Here we had chosen to go out on a walking bridge that goes over the river. This could have been fun but we were so terribly hot that we really just wanted to get back in the air conditioned RV and maybe find some ice cream. :-) Megan and Aaron were videoed doing solo parts here.
Natchez, MS was our next stop. The sun was setting, it was getting cooler and it was a beautiful location. We totally enjoyed this stop.
When we were walking along with River Walk we found a bridge with padlocks all over it. I was curious about it and Mara had heard of this and filled us in. I can't remember just what it is called but Lovers can get a lock, put their initials/names on it and then lock it onto the bridge and throw the key into the river. How romantic!! :-)
There was a pretty little gazebo in this park.
Afterwards we headed to Sonic to check out their icecream. Both Megan and I got to much and had to save some in the freezer for a later day.

That night we stayed at a camp ground in Louisiana. This campground was interesting in many ways (especially the reserving process) but it worked and we got some rest, filled up with some horrible water and were able to move on again.

This was the pretty view across the way from the campground. I think it was a historic home that would have been fun to visit but it wasn't open at the time.
We found a lovely place to stop and record in Baton Rouge, LA. This pretty place was off the beaten path, very quiet and lovely. It was near a very picturesque cemetery. Those are interesting places down south because of all their above ground vaults.

In New Orleans we went over to the Algiers area to record so that we could have the New Orleans cityscape as our background. Going around in New Orleans was especially interesting to me as I thought about how much we were paying attention to the city and all that was going on there when they dealt with hurricane Katrina.

Ken's cousin Esther and her two boys were able to come over from Biloxi, MS to visit with us in New Orleans. That was really fun. So we took some time and did some sight seeing there.
We went out to eat at a place called Mr. Ed's.
In Louisiana we figured that we should really try some of the specialty food.

Jonathan got a Shrimp Po' boy.  Other foods that we eaten were Jumbalya, Black Beans and Rice, and Crawfish.
Megan declined at the idea of being adventuress and had spaghetti and meatballs.
We went walking in the French Quarter. We experienced a rain storm and hung out in a paint store for a while, waiting for it to pass.

We visited a few different shops.
We checked out monuments and dealt with panhandlers.

We enjoyed looking at the different architecture.

We did also drive beyond New Orleans to see the Mississippi lower down. We didn't have time to go as far as we could go in the Delta so this was where we stopped:

It is one wide river.
 We videoed our final section there. Poor Megan is super scared of snakes. I am pretty leery of them myself but nothing like Megan. At this place that we found to stop we had to walk through some tall grass. I held her hand and walked in front of her and we made it up to the top of the levee. She still hated being out there.

Ken carried her for a little while on the way back. We never did see any snakes this trip but "we" certainly worried about them plenty. Unfortunately the fear of them is still really bothering her. Hopefully we can figure out how to get past that.
 So, we traveled the Mississippi from the top to almost the bottom. It was pretty fun to see and I loved seeing God's handiwork throughout the length of it. We then headed West to stay with some friends in Crowley, LA. I will tell more about that part of our trip another time.

  I know we missed seeing many beautiful spots on the Mississippi - are there any that you have been to? I would love to hear about them. Who knows, maybe someday we will repeat doing a Mississippi river trip. I have always thought it would be fun to canoe the length of the Mississippi. I am not as interested in doing the southern portion so much anymore but it would still be fun to try. Maybe someday.


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