How a Family-of-8 Moves Across the Country While Still Doing GAPS

When we announced we were moving across the country to Colorado, more than one person (including one of our older children) asked if we were going to continue doing GAPS during this time.

My answer:  "We can't NOT do GAPS."  It's just not worth it.  Between the skin issues that immediately show up on some children, the congestion/sinus issues that crop up on some, and the behavioral issues that manifest in some....it is just. not. worth it.  Not to mention how I feel with my hypothyroid (which is an autoimmune issue) when I eat stuff that doesn't like me.  The inflammation and pain in my body becomes quite unbearable, enough to make me cry.  (You can read more about GAPS here, or here and here)

Mind you, I did not know *how* we would go about eating GAPS-legal during this whole time...but I just knew it had to be done.  No if, ands or buts about it.

So, for the past several weeks, this is the two-fold plan of attack I've come up with:

1.  I cook extra when I am cooking, freezing the extra

2.  I've bought some "convenience" foods (that are still GAPS-legal) that we don't normally keep around (because they are more expensive)....now is the perfect time to take advantage of those kinds of products!

I have frozen (so far) 9 gallon bags of various soups that we've had over the past several weeks:

We will use these during the last day or two here and during the first few days in Colorado.

For the actual, factual drive to Colorado....

Elisabeth prepared Fudgy Muffins for us (6x the recipe):

This seems like such an indulgent treat, and it is totally healthy: just bananas, peanut butter, cocoa and honey

I have been preparing many pounds of Turkey Sausage Patties (9 pounds this past Saturday alone)...and freezing what we didn't eat for breakfast:

I cannot find any packages of sausage at our grocery store that don't contain Corn Syrup or MSG, or both!  I was thrilled to find this sausage recipe several months ago.

Sausage: for every pound of ground turkey, add
1 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp sea salt (we use Redmond's Real Salt)
Combine all, and shape into patties, bake at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes

I made lots of meatballs a few days ago, some went in the soup we had that night, and then I froze the rest of them:

These are just ground beef, garlic powder, salt and pepper...baked

We made beef jerky in our dehydrator (using Wellness Mama's recipe):

this is so yummy, I had to freeze it right away, before we gobbled it all up!

I have been stocking up the past several weeks as I go grocery shopping, and run by TJ Maxx...good deals on nuts and dried fruit.  (I have more bags than shown here, like, ummm, 6 of the dried mangoes!)

I like this particular bag of nuts because they only contain "Almonds, salt"...no weird (inflammatory) oils!

All the dried fruits only have one ingredient each.  No added sugar...no sulfur dioxide.  (Hint:  dried apricots should NOT be bright orange!  That is the sulfur dioxide keeping it that color!)

We never buy these because we can make them easily at home, but Elisabeth knew that our Kroger has good deals on Larabars.  It sure was easy to just buy these...and having them on hand will eliminate us buying them at gas stations along the way, when they'll cost twice as much!

Jas went yesterday and brought all these home.  It's a good thing he did that shopping (during his lunch hour) because I wouldn't have bought this many.  The only ingredients in these:  nuts, fruit

In addition to the above items, we will also have on hand in the van:

Cheese (for those of us who can have dairy right now, which is only 4 of us)
Peanut Butter
Boiled Eggs  (for those who can eat eggs right now, which is 4 of us)

Right now it seems like a good plan to me....but ask me how it all went down a week from now when we have actually arrived in Colorado - We'll see!


The Backstory on our Move to Colorado

As I said in my last post, we felt when the Lord moved us here to the deep-south from Colorado it was for a season.  We have prayed many times during the past 14 years, checking to see if it was time to move back.  We have gone through several (very serious) cycles of praying...and fasting....and  a few times Jas put out feelers about jobs.  And the answer was always the same:  It wasn't time.  Yet.

But a year and a half ago as we were pulling out of Colorado, we knew that we knew: It was time to start working toward moving back.

And we have been slowly working on it for the past year and a half.  Praying at each step along the way for the guidance that we so desperately need. Praying for His wisdom.  Praying for His timing.

We told only a small, small circle of friends.  Jas had 4 people praying with him (including our pastor), and I only told two of my closest friends.  (Our children have only known for not quite 3 weeks now.)

Near the beginning of Jason's job search, he looked into franchise opportunities.  We were intrigued by the idea of owning our own business...and he spent hours (and hours) pursuing this line of thought.  But after all the research and reading, we knew that none of those opportunities was right for us...and we abandoned that idea.

May 2016 - Jas was contacted by a company.  After seeing his resume online, they thought he would be a good fit to own and run one of their offices.  When Jas came home that day and told me about it,   immediately it just. felt. right. Peace.  Excitement.  We both could totally see him doing this.  From that first conversation we were both very intrigued and wanted to continue pursuing this path.  He then spent hours and hours (and HOURS) reading, researching, and finally...studying.  He had to take 8 exams in order to become licensed to run this office.  And...he had to take the tests in the state of Colorado. Most people take some exams, study more, and then take more exams, etc.   But with Jas needing to fly across the country to take them, he had to do this differently:  He studied HARD for almost 8 weeks...and then...

8/24 - Jas flew to CO, took 4 exams on Thursday, spent all day Friday meeting with district staff, took the remaining 4 tests on Saturday, and flew home that afternoon.  (btw - He rocked all the tests, finishing in record time!)(We told the kiddos that daddy was on a business trip...which was the truth.)

8/28 - Jas arrived back home in the wee hours of Sunday morning.  We had a full day of church and community group on Sunday (like normal) and didn't have a chance to fully debrief.

8/29 - When we finally got to talk (alone!) on Monday morning before Jas headed to work, he said it was looking like we would move to Colorado in January, and he would open the doors of his new business on March 1st.  My words were, "Hmmm, if we know for sure we are moving, my preference would be to "rip the band-aid off" and go ahead and move.  I hate knowing it is coming, but just hanging around several more months."  Famous last words.  When Jas got home from work that evening, my friend Amy and I were sitting at the kitchen table chatting (and crying).   Jas had an interesting look on his face, "You want to rip the band-aid off?  We can rip it off."  A new office of the company had become available, a turnkey opportunity.  Ready to walk into. A great fit all the way around.  It would require us to move in October, and Jas open his doors November 1st.

9/6 - Jas talked to his boss at the bank and turned in his letter of resignation.  That night we told the children we were moving.

9/7 - It was announced at Jason's bank.  We let all our family and friends know (the ones we didn't want to find out on FB.)

9/8 - We posted on FB-land that we were moving.  And a couple hours later, almost as an after-thought (but was really the Lord's plan), I posted on FB a pic and short blurb about our house being for sale.  16 minutes later I had a message, "Can A and I come look at your house this afternoon?"  And over the next few hours, four other couples were interested in coming to look also.  But that first couple who contacted us were the first to come and view the house...and gave us a binder check.  Done.  Less than 10 hours after I posted on FB, our house was sold.  (We totally intended to list our house with an agent, but when we called him on Wednesday afternoon, he was out of town and couldn't come to see us until Saturday....so I went ahead and posted it on FB, thinking it couldn't hurt to try, until we met with Jonathan on Saturday.  This was another not-so-little detail in how the Lord has been working everything out, a "detail" that saved us five digits!) (And no, we didn't have our house way under-valued...we had it appraised several months ago, getting ready, and we sold it for right at the appraised value.)


Where will we live?

At first, we will live with Jason's mom for a bit.  We don't really know how long...but it seems that it will likely be 3-6 months.  With Jas just starting his business, we'll need three months of paychecks before we will be able to be considered for a mortgage loan.  

Yes, Linda is basically a saint for taking in 8 of us (EIGHT!).  But I think(hope?) she is as excited as we are.  When we first told her about moving back and asked if we could live with her for a bit, she immediately said yes.  And then when we talked with her next (a week later), she'd already taken a bookoodle bags of stuff to Goodwill, cleaning out closets and making room!

She is living alone in a 4 bedroom, 3 bath house.  The three boys will share one room, the three girls will share another.

Will we have cows/chickens?

No.  We are so, so thankful that the Lord allowed us this season out here on these 2.5 acres to live out this dream.  And now this season is over.  Sad...and not sad.  We'll be glad to have less land/animal work to do.  Our weekends were consumed by work.  So glad we (and our children!) have had this opportunity and experience...and now we'll move back to an approximately 1/8 acre lot in town.

We intend to live in a neighborhood.  You know, the kind where you can reach out from your window and practically touch your neighbors' house.  Our kiddos are so. very. excited. about this.  They have dreams/visions of running around playing with neighborhood kids.

Are you doing school?  Will you continue homeschooling?

We began school early this year (mid-July) because we knew we'd need to take off time (sometime) during the school year to move.  We have already completed 8 weeks of school, but now we're taking time off to accomplish the move.  We plan to get started back the first Monday after we arrive in CO.

We intend to continue homeschooling.  There will be many (MANY) more options available to us now...so things may look different in the future.  Cottage schools? (2-3 days in a school, the remainder at home), homeschool co-op (for actual academic classes, instead of just for fun as we have been doing), etc, etc....  We'll see.  We will continue to pray every year and seek the Lord for what he has for our children for the coming year.

How are you getting to Colorado?

Jas reserved the biggest Uhaul truck there is, and he will drive that to Colorado.  We are flying Jas' middle brother Robert here, and Robert will drive Jason's truck.  I will drive the Silver Bullet.  We have sold/given away so much stuff (ALL our family room furniture, two of the 6'x6' Ikea Expedit bookshelves, kitchen table/chairs, crib, computer armoire/desk, riding lawn mower, trampoline, etc.), and we are hopeful that everything/everyONE else will fit in these three vehicles!

How are the children taking it?

The youngest five are thrilled.  E took it harder.  Much harder.  She has made such sweet, precious friends....she is so sad.  The others are sad about leaving friends too...but with E being the oldest (and a girl) it just seems different for her.  But she is ok with it now.


This is all so very bittersweet.  We aren't wanting to leave Georgia. (It would be so sad if we did!) But we very much know that we are supposed to be in Colorado.

I keep thinking that I wish I could just fast-forward through this next 3 months?  6 months?  12 months?  This is so hard.  Emotionally.  Mentally.  Physically.

Saying good-bye.  The actual, physical move.  Starting the business.  Finding a church.  Finding a house.  Moving again when we find our house.  Finding new health care providers (I just counted: we need at least 9 different doctors for the special needs we have going on).  Finding a homeschool co-op (or maybe not in this season of our schooling life?).    Finding a food co-op (or will Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Sam's  and Costco eliminate my need for a food co-op?).  FINDING FRIENDS.

But when I get right down to it, I don't really wish to skip ahead (I think).  The Lord has guided us and worked things out in amazing ways (ways that everyone around us can see!) and we are so excited at what He is doing.  When my head starts to spin thinking about all that needs to be accomplished and all the (HUGE) decisions that need to be made...I come back to the fact that the Lord already knows All The Things.  And He will most certainly reveal His will and plan to us...as we need to know it (and not before!).  We just need to "do the next thing"...and trust Him.

This process is hard, and good...and I don't want to miss anything He has for us.  I want all the lessons.  I *need* the lessons.  The good, the bad and the ugly.



When the Lord moved Jas and I here to the deep south from Colorado 14 years ago, we knew it was not a forever move.  We knew it was for a season.  And now...the season is over and He is moving us back.

I intend to post the backstory on our move, because I need to document it for us.  I know from experience that I will forget all the amazing things that He has done that right now I can't imagine ever forgetting.  (Like, how He sold our house in less than 10 hours 5 days ago.)

This has been coming for 18 months, but it just all got nailed down two weeks ago.  We have been in "Wait...wait....wait..." mode for over a year, and now all of a sudden we are in "GO! Full-steam ahead!" mode.

We plan to pull out on Oct. 1st...18 days.  Time to get back to packing....



Hermine came through, and my kiddos thought it was actually one big party.

They all had a slumber party in our master bedroom.  Specifically they were in the vanity/closet area (all carpeted).  No widows, close to Jas and I...perfect!

You can hardly see G, but he is back there leaning on LK's lap.
The worst of it hit us in the wee hours of Friday morning, lasting until about noon or so.

Jas had a delayed opening at his bank, and one of his branches didn't have electricity.  We were so glad that daddy was here with us through the worst of it.

I was rejoicing that we never lost power...and then we did.

In the dark...watching the rain, and the trees being whipped around

And then in early afternoon, it was done.  It was clear and sunny...like nothing had ever happened.

Except well, we did have to pick up the yard.  Branches (one really big one) everywhere!

G couldn't wait to get out there to get started on those branches.  He and I headed outside to survey the damage as soon as the sun came out:

This big branch was leaning on another branch it caught on its way down, so after I set it "free" and it fell on down, G said he wanted to take my picture!

Then G kept right on taking pictures.  I love seeing things from his point-of-view:

His dinosaur boots are practically camouflaged

Yes, I let my babies run around half-naked outside

But then I got the camera back and caught G with his buddy BeBe Grace.

It was very thoughtful of Hermine to hit right before Labor Day.  
Labor Day weekend we all *labored*!!

Hauling, hauling, hauling!

And when the hauling was (finally) done...straight into the pool!

We successfully weathered Hermine, and were so very thankful for the Lord's protection in this storm.


Our Littles Memorizing James

I mentioned in this post a few weeks ago that we are memorizing the book of James over the course of this school year.  I assumed "We" meant the oldest four children and I.  But just hearing us review the verses at mealtimes, G has picked up quite a bit!

He shocked us when he started spouting off verse...after verse...after verse.

I finally captured him on video...

(We are using the ESV translation.  Also, it may look like Gabriel is reading the verses...but brother doesn't even know all of this letters yet...I promise he is not reading.)

And....not to be outdone.....

Abigail wanted to give it a try after Gabriel got done.  She actually does have the whole 1st verse memorized.  (Watch how she asks for the index cards also (like she can read!).  And watch her "side-eye" at the 20-second mark.  And she got mortally offended when I prompted her to be done (and started BAWLING when I stopped taping):

They are watching.  They are learning.  The good and the bad.  They are like little sponges.  This is encouraging and very scary - all at the same time.


Abigail's Hair This Week

This is Abigail's hairstyle for this week:

Yes, her styles can last a WEEK now.  Not just a day or two, or even three.  A whole week!  This is HUGE!  I don't know if it is that her hair is getting longer (it is 8.5 inches stretched at the crown), I am putting in styles in smaller sections and that are more protective, or if she is easier on them.  I think it is the first two...because it is NOT the last one!

It took me right at 2 hours to complete this style before church on Sunday morning.  (I am beyond thrilled that I am getting quicker and neater with cornrows.)  

But getting her ready started the day before - Saturday afternoon.  We spent about an hour taking out her previous style, 20 minutes shampooing and conditioning it, 30 minutes of her letting the deep conditioner sit on her hair (she had plastic wrap and a towel covering it)...and then I spent about 45 minutes doing the LOC method and banding it into 5 sections (already parted for this style I knew I'd be doing the next morning).

I have (finally!) begun faithfully updating the "Hair Gallery" post that is on the ride side-bar of the blog.  I want to be able to compile all of Abigail's hairstyles in one spot.  

I don't want to come across as boasting about her hair.  But, well...I **am** so proud that I can do her hair now.  There are few things I have worked so hard at in my life.  I have purchased multiple books, follow multiple blogs, belong to multiple hair/skin care groups on yahoo and FB, and have watched HOURS (and hours) of videos on YouTube.  I have learned much good and helpful information.  And I have learned (the hard way) many things I should never do again. I have cried literal tears of frustration/worry about her hair (when she was about 6-9 months and needing more done to it and I was just starting to understand all I needed to know).  I was so worried that I wouldn't do right by her, and then wouldn't be able to pass along to her the knowledge she'll need to care for and style her own hair.  I have worked long and hard to get us where we are and the fact that I am not embarrassed for black women to see her hairstyles now?  Still amazes me.    

There is still so much for me to learn/practice...but I see the light at the end of the tunnel now.


Miscellany Monday, August 22, 2016

This (empty) bag?

Ingredients:  organic mangoes

Saving my life right now.  

I am still trying to decipher what foods my body can tolerate - and which are contributing to my autoimmune issues (Hypothyroid).  I haven't had any dairy in months.  I only have eggs once a month or so (and I'm not entirely sure I should even be having them at all).  This is in addition to the regular things that are not allowed on GAPS (all grains, sugar, etc), because we are 6 months into doing GAPS again.  "Treats" are hard to come by with the restrictions I have right now.  So this "treat" that feels totally indulgent and "illegal" but is so totally legal?  Wonderful!

This bag of dried mango (organic, non-GMO certified) is HEAVEN for me right now.  I buy one bag a week...and I won't tell how quickly I scarf them down...


WHY had none of my (so-called) friends let me in on the "secret" of how wonderful "Fixer Upper" is?

HOW did it take us so long to discover this show?  The four oldest kiddos and I are having a BALL watching it together!  After the two youngest are tucked in bed, we head to the family room to snuggle up and watch the next episode.  

Joanna is so very talented...and beautiful (and the fact that she is 1/2 Korean is not lost on my Asian kiddos...it is nice seeing your race represented).  And Chip is crazy with a capital C!  (The ROACH!)  They are so funny and so great together and their four children are precious.  We love trying to guess which of the three houses the current couple will choose to buy and renovate.  And then we love to follow along on all the feats and foibles of the demo and construction and decorating.  

The only bad part?  We're almost caught up on the past episodes.  :(


We have about one acre of pasture that is fenced in for the cows to roam on.  They have not been able to keep the growth down in there lately.  I love mowing, so I planned to do it...but Jas said it would make more sense for dad to drive his tractor down the road and cut it for us.  

G was so happy we went with that plan.

That boy loves him some "might machines"!


Back story:  We began the process last month of trying to get Chelsea pregnant again.  We didn't like her being so big pregnant through the hottest part of the year with George Franklin...so we planned to wait a little longer than normal (leave her "open" a little longer than normal) to try to avoid doing that again.  Well, it's time now.

We were hoping that A.I. process took. 

But when I was out in the pasture with Dad and Gabriel (someone had to open all the gates to let them from one paddock to another and such), I witnessed firsthand that Chelsea is apparently NOT pregnant yet.  I will spare you the details, but GF made it apparent that Chelsea's hormones were telling him she was not pregnant.  

Jas called our A.I. Tech guy and he came out Friday night and again Saturday morning (two visits - approximately 12 hours apart - is standard procedure for the actual insemination part).

It took two rounds (exactly like this - one that was artificially prompted, and the second where she appeared to be in "standing heat") when she became pregnant with George Franklin.  We are hoping to get good news in a few weeks!


This photo was taken at church two Friday nights ago at a special worship service at our beloved church.

While I love (love!) the picture of G getting his worship on...

....when I look at this picture I see the man in the top left.  

That is Mr. Rodney.  He was helping with the AV team there in the back of the sanctuary.  We were sitting just to his right, and I noticed he was singing his heart out (along with everyone else in the room), even though he was "working".  

Two nights after this event (so, Sunday night), he and his precious wife were in our Community Group meeting.  

One night after that, he was gone.   Absent from this life...present with the Lord.

A driver going the opposite direction went off the shoulder, overcorrected, and ran head on into Rodney's truck.

We never know when.  We never know.  We must be ready.  Am I ready?  Are you ready?


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