Quarantine Haircuts

This may not seem like a big deal to most. Although right now most people are wishing they could get their hair cut during quarantine. In general, most kids will get their haircut with no real fuss. Maybe a little but not full out knock down fight. 

Since day one Auggie has had an issue getting his hair cut, to say the least. We have had to hold him down while screaming and throwing an absolute fit.

This kid…. We can all learn something from him. This is one of his biggest fears, maybe the biggest. He decided that he was going to find a way to overcome his fear. He is about to turn five years old. He received his first haircut right before his first birthday. After four years of terror. Four years of every time we drove past the barbershop and crying, begging not to get a haircut. He decided that he was going to watch sesame street haircut episode. He was cringing moving in his seat he was so uncomfortable.

But he sat there. He watched that episode time and time again. And then…. he decided it was time to start playing pretend haircut like they do in the show. 

We sat there for hours playing haircut, barbershop or beautiful shop as Auggie called it. Until he finally agreed. One snip. One cut. One GIANT move for Auggie. He allowed Stephenie to cut the long section in the back of his head that was starting to look like a rat tail. 

Hopefully, we can all take a little inspiration from Auggie. We are so proud of him. When there is an obstacle in his way, he puts his head down and charges forward. We can all learn that lesson. The obstacle in our way may not be something that terrifies us until we are in tears. It may be paying off that debt, walking into the gym we have been neglecting, or taking a leap of faith for your career.  Whatever it is that’s in our way the hurdle is not too tall.

We may not overcome what is in our way in one day, it may take four years like Auggie. But it can happen.

We are still learning about resources to help Auggie. He is not over this fear. He is still so uncomfortable to think about a haircut. As we learn we will grow with him. [Stephenie: For me, I find that this has been such a big comfort during this season of unknown. I have my own obstacles that I’m trying to overcome, and this is the perfect reminder to take one step at a time and push forward. I am continually grateful for the lessons that this little man is teaching us.]

Auggie is Auggie and Man is He Brave

Auggie has Autism………

There. I have finally written the words out.

This is one of the hardest things I have ever written down.

The reason this is hard…it’s not because we are ashamed or worried. I don’t want anyone to look at my son any differently than they did before his diagnosis. The term is no longer used but if this was pre-2013 than the doctors would say he has Asperger’s. They have removed this term and are now just saying that he is high functioning. There is nothing to hold Auggie back from having a completely normal life. He has some challenges he will have to overcome but he will have every opportunity to succeed like everyone else.

This week, we decided to share this on our YouTube channel. That our lives are no different. We will still help Auggie in every way we can. Our biggest fear is that people will treat Auggie differently if they know. This is why we have spent the past few weeks trying to decide if we should put this out there. [Stephenie: I can’t count the number of times people have reacted to this news asking Randy and me if we are ‘okay’ with the diagnosis. It’s hard to explain, but we really are okay. For us (and we’ve talked about this a lot), we’re more overwhelmed by scheduling the appointments, being fulltime working parents, and making time for therapies. I’ve been fortunate to know quite a few people with learning disabilities throughout my life. I learned very early on that not everyone learns the same way that I do, and I just have to appreciate those differences. Not saying that it’s always easy, but we’re trying to really learn how Auggie learns so that we can help him gain the skills he needs to be successful. Really, that’s what I want for anyone with autism, ADHD, ADD, Dyslexia, etc. is that we all start appreciating the differences rather than seeing them as a fault.]

We ultimately came to the conclusion it’s too stressful not to share it. To say it out loud. Auggie is the same kid he was and always will be. He will have hurdles that he will have to overcome. The biggest one will be people who do not understand that he is just fine the way that he is. Not saying one is better than another, but Auggie is determined to be Auggie. When he sets his mind to something he will persevere over any challenge that he faces.

We have seen him face every challenge head-on. Whether it has been due to his sensory issues or if it is any other reason, he will put his head down and barrel forward. You try and tell Auggie he can’t do something.

This is not meant to draw attention to Auggie. Actually, it’s the exact opposite. This is the first time we have put to words the challenges we face and are happy to face. My prayer is that no one treats Auggie any differently, he will suceed and he will do it his own way.

We can all learn something from Auggie’s smile and determination.

[Stephenie: It was hard to interject on this post because I feel like Randy captured everything so perfectly. The thing that I have found to be true is that I have never met someone as brave as Auggie. He has a fight in him that is gentle, steadfast, and true. It’s so subtle that if you aren’t paying close attention, you’d miss it. It’s methodical. You can see it in his eyes. It’s this ‘look’ he gets that this ‘scary thing’ is not going to define him…unless it’s a leprechaun or ghost (another story for another day). It makes me wonder how much quiet bravery is missed daily and has made me look at the world through a new lens, which is what I hope this helps others do. I also hope it makes those closest to Auggie step back and truly look at this characteristic with admiration, tenderness, and love.]

Welp…2020

Welp……

Maybe I shouldn’t have said I was going to try and write a new post each week this year. I have written one time since then and that post never made it to the website.

How could have we known how much our lives would change in 2020? Really?

It feels like we have lived a full year in the last two months.

Everything is uncertain. People with birthdays are having zoom parties (raise your hand if you didn’t know what zoom was before the pandemic). We have friends who have spent numerous hours planning their weddings without the certainty that they will be able to get married. They are even uncertain if they can get married in the courthouse since most courthouses are closed. Students not having graduation ceremonies, and classes canceled until further notice.

Hopefully, everyone is keeping their spirits up during this time. Change sucks. However, change gives us the opportunity to grow. I have been off work most of this week. This has given me the opportunity to try some different things. For starters, I turned my phone off three days ago and have only turned it on once (I have my IPAD that phone calls can come through and my mac book pro – I am not an animal). I have noticed how many times I have been sitting there and there are a few seconds of downtime and I reach for it. Auggie is playing and I am not a part of the game so instead of watching him, I grab my phone to see the latest Coronavirus report (it hasn’t changed that much since the morning). When I reached and it wasn’t there I jumped down and joined Auggie’s game.

Since starting this little experiment, Steph and I have agreed that we will start leaving our phones at the door. We tried this two years ago and failed (we still have the box though). I think this time will be different. Why? We have embraced minimalism more. We still have plenty of things and are working on having less. If you haven’t watched our YouTube videos then you may not know, our house is up for sale.

Where are we moving to………we are buying a larger Rig and we are going to live in a camper for at least six months. While this will help us minimize our actual belongings, it will also help us as we are wanting to minimize our focus more as well. Our number one focus is God. Second is our family which puts Auggie as our main focus. So, reducing our time spent in front of a screen, not for work is time we are going to be deliberate with. We will still watch videos and scroll through the interwebs, but we will schedule that time, so it doesn’t take away from life and when we thought it was going to be ten minutes and we look up and it has been an hour……those days are over – or that’s the goal.

Hopefully, you have enjoyed reading my words after being away. If not, well I can’t help you…tehehehehehe. Anyways hopefully you will take the time to look into what is important in your life during this time of uncertainty and devote your time, your attention, and your passion to what you are most passionate about.

Finding the FRESHEST produce during COVID-19

Well, it’s been a week for us in self-isolation and it’s had its ups and downs. I’m in so many group chats. Some of the things I consistently hear are:

  • “I can’t find eggs”
  • “I can’t find produce”
  • “I hate going to the grocery store!”

It’s not easy. Right now, those that are practicing self-isolation and social distancing are fearful. How long will this last? What does the future look like? The truth is, no one knows. We are only just beginning to understand what this next phase of life will look like.

So, in the meantime, I wanted to share what I hope will be some useful resources to ease some of the things we are all experiencing right now.

“I can’t find eggs”

If you’ve never checked out local farms in your area, now is the time! We are fortunate to live in Florida, but I know that there are resources all over the country. Locally, we have places where we can buy chicken and duck eggs. On average, they are roughly $8 per dozen. This is higher than what we would normally find in the grocery store, but for us, they are fresh, the chickens are raised humanely, and the eggs are delicious. Overall, it’s one of the less expensive protein options out there.

“I can’t find produce”/”I hate going to the grocery store!”

Farmers’ markets and local farms are doing their best to keep things running during this pandemic. To me, this is a reminder that while department stores and large retailers are very important for distribution and sales, we’ve almost become too reliant on them. There is a blossoming community of farmers across this country that are local or ship great products to you. In this time of panic, maybe it’s time to go back to simple.

In Florida, we are fortunate that this is the season for wintery greens, blueberries, strawberries, and always a season for peppers. This is the time of year where you can find the BEST produce at the market. PLUS, it’s open-air and easier to navigate social distancing.

Below are a few resources to help you get started! Feel free to email us at arevampedlife@gmail.com if you need help creating recipes, finding alternative resources, or just want to share additional resources in your area!

Some local places for North Central Florida:

Swallowtail Farms – produce, eggs, dairy, berries

Eggnostics Fruits & Vegetables – Produce, eggs, plants…PLUS the most delicious pound cakes!

Siembra Farms – Produce

Fresh Song Organics – Produce, meats, eggs, jams

Rogers Farm – Produce, strawberries

Red, White, and Blue Farms – blueberries

The Family Farm – Produce

Wild Man Foods – seafood, meat, premade dinners (paleo friendly)

Graham Cattle – Beef products (Ground Beef, Chorizo, Beef Jerky, etc.)

Online Places for Meat:

Five Mary’s Farms – based out of California, their meat boxes are well-priced for quality.

Local Hen – put in your zip code and find some local options!

Farmer’s Market Lookup – The USDA has a great resource for looking up local markets in your area! Starting at a 5-mile radius!

If you want to get the latest updates from these farms, I highly suggest checking out their Facebook pages. They have been the most up-to-date in my experience!

Our family is keeping yours in our prayers and we hope that you ALL stay healthy, whether you are a traveling family or sticks and bricks! We will all come out of this stronger than we could have ever imagined!

Love,

The Langstons

The Small Things

We all have damage. See those smiling faces. The man began this relationship with insomnia, nightmares, and a sense of urgency because things usually fell apart. The woman began with a wall so high that it took a great love to break it down and had her world shattered just a few years after marriage with the dissolution of everything she thought family was. Maybe one day, after a lot of therapy, we can each share our stories and how they made us who we are today, but for now, I want to share with you what it looks like for two people to give it all to God and each other. We have failed each other, built each other up, comforted one another, and pushed the other to not wallow in the sadness. We have witnessed so much of each other’s soul and it’s sometimes in these moments that I feel I truly get an insight into what makes us a FAMILY.

For me, family was once something I thought of as this ginormous group of people. It was Aunts, uncles, cousins, second, third…and so on. I feel as though Randy somewhat felt the same. We could go almost anywhere in our hometown and he was related to what felt like everyone somehow. As we’ve grown into our 7-year marriage, my view of family has vastly shifted based on life events, removing toxic people from our life, and really focusing my time on the people who matter the most. What I feel like God has blessed me with is this precious little family that is protected by the fierce love Randy and I have for one another and for what we’ve created. Our families built us into who we are, and we are taking those lessons of love to grow and mature our family. We have a small group of people that truly know us (blood relatives and chosen family) and that feels truly comforting. We trust those people with Auggie, our most precious gift from God, and we know he is safe with them.

In writing this, I realize that some people are blessed with larger families and that makes me incredibly happy and grateful for you <3. But, for us, at this juncture of our family life, we keep things small. We keep things fun and we keep them sacred. That’s my hope for all of you. No matter how large or small, blood or chosen, that you find a PEACEFUL group of people who truly know and love you to journey through this life. From a recent quote I found,

“You are worth it.”

Our first Revamped Year

We looked back at all the shenanigans that we got into last year. By shenanigans, we mean family time.

This was a fun video to make. When most people look back over there past year, they do not have a sequential list of videos, evidence to look at for the past year. Its kind of crazy to look back and see all that we discovered this past year.

We may have always spent this much time outside, doing different activities and adventurers…or we may have done less. Either way, looking back, it is kind of crazy. Every time I look back though, I appreciate having this channel more and more. There have been weekends where we had things that were more important than going on an adventure. Laundry, pressure wash the house and so on. Documenting our journey has forced me to do these things during the week as much as possible. It’s not like I could put off laundry forever. Or can I? [Steph: No we cannot 😉]

My favorite trip of this year was when Auggie and I spent a week in the camper. I was able to spend more time with Auggie. All the cleaning that had to be done that week, was done in about ten minutes a night. All my other time was spent with him. I did have to wait till Steph got back to do the laundry. I was not taking a four-year-old to wait an hour on laundry to finish. We spent every night doing something different. We played games, we rode bikes, he even rode is battery-powered tractor around. Due to weather, we could not do the one thing Auggie wanted to do the most. He wanted that swimming pool. I am going to speak for Auggie and say this was his favorite week, too. Although he would probably say that it was slinky dog, but hey, who asked him?

[Steph: It’s hard for me to pick a favorite week. But in looking back, I think it was our trip to North Beach. I love the beach and Randy isn’t the biggest fan, so I’m trying to get Auggie to like it as much as I do. The water has always been my comfort when life gets hard. This MBA program, while I hope will be a catalyst for our future, is not easy. The time it takes away from Auggie and the time away from my demanding job for a while had me questioning whether or not to continue. Our weekend trips have honestly kept me sane during this very short, but stressful season of life. I’m grateful for the time to unplug and focus on our family. It also makes it easier for me to be in class being somewhat selfish to further my education, knowing that Auggie and Randy are having a great time building their relationship. Because of Randy’s work schedule the first few years of life, I feel like we’ve switched roles a little. I got those first few years to have a lot of Mommy & Auggie time. Now, it’s their turn, and I’m working to make our future the best it can be from what I contribute.]

We hope you enjoyed seeing our year so condensed. It was really hard to put this in seventeen minutes. We still want to hear your story. There is a section on our webpage that is called tell us your story. Head over there and write a message telling your story. You can even write once a week if you would like. No rules. That part of our website is for you!

We look forward to hearing your story!

Happy New Year!

I am writing this around Christmas time, so of course, this topic would come to my mind. Right around the corner will be the New Year. This will bring on the famous New Year’s resolutions. I try not to have too many resolutions. Mainly because I want to have resolutions all year long.

Sure, there are things that I would like to change in the New Year, but I am not waiting till the magical first of January to start them. Today would be nice. For me, the main goal/resolution that I have set for this year is to eat better. I am not saying I am only going to eat certain foods; I am just wanting to eat whole foods that have not been processed. Fresh food that I have to cook, cut out as many restaurants as possible. [Steph: Special occasions like vacation call for some restaurant eating, but depending on where you go, you can find better options…usually. I have the same goal, in addition to finding my exercise routine again. I took the end of the year not to go crazy, but to give my body time to rest. Rest mostly from the stress of work, finals, and navigating a new school with Auggie. I plan to enjoy our weeklong vacation, then when we get back, I’ve signed up for the Fed and Fit project for the month of January as a way to use a cookbook I already have to have a fresh and clean start for the new year. It’s not a diet, but more of a reset to continue healing so I can be my best as I focus on much larger (and scarier) goals for 2020.]

While my main goal in 2020 is not something that I have to take a step back to be able to step forward, there are several opportunities that people are afraid to go after because of a “step backward”. In the past, my greatest success has come from these steps backward. I would like to encourage you to take the chance. It may not really be a step backward.

[Steph: In talking about New Year’s Resolutions and whether or not to have them, I agree with Randy in the sense that I make goals (sometimes lofty goals) whenever they need to be made. This is just a good time of year to take the opportunity to sit back and reflect. I’m writing this a little later than Randy, and as I sit here looking at the Blue Ridge Parkway front of me, I know that I want the beginning of this decade to be about our family growing and strengthening our individual selves, together. That may sound odd, but Randy, Auggie, and I are so different. Well, Randy and Auggie are a lot alike in their personality, but you get the point. That means that while I have very major goals, my job is to make sure that while I’m pursuing my goal, I’m also cheering, supporting, and encouraging Randy and Auggie to do the same. I graduate at the end of 2020 and I know exactly what I want to do after graduation, but it’s going to take work, the changes that will happen as a result require our family to be on the same page, and they require that when I’m not working towards that goal, my sole focus is on our family and quality time with my guys. I don’t want to look back in 2030 and regret anything about our family time together. I want to look back and see a family that loves one another, supports one another and shares our time and resources with others. If you’ve ever had a gut feeling about things, this is where I’m at. I have this gut feeling that we can do some amazing and great things, but that’s only if we reach for those things hand in hand working as a family and team.]

Another goal of mine for 2020 is to grow this blog and be consistent, at least one post a week that will match up with our videos. While this doesn’t sound all that difficult, this is not my job. I have a full-time job and a family. I am also spending a lot more time editing our videos trying to learn to be a better editor.

I would like to set the same goal as last year for this year. This is the one that I have to take a step back. I would like to reach 1,000 subscribers on YouTube. I made this goal last year and did not achieve it. So, I need to step back and see what I need to do to make our videos better. The reason for having a subscriber goal is that I feel we have a great message to get out there. Every family can get out there and do life with their kids. We provide ideas of activities that families with little time can do. Also, activities that really don’t cost much money, if any. We also throw in a little R.V content.

So, if you have not already clicked the link to subscribe to our YouTube channel, click this link to help me toward my goal. https://www.youtube.com/c/arevampedlifeand step out there and find people to help you towards your goals for 2020!

Here’s to A Great 2020!

The Best Christmas Gifts are Free

[Written last year…]

Today, as I was driving my son to school, there was a fire truck with its lights flashing, and siren blaring. This truck was headed somewhere important and needed to get there fast. Auggie was letting me know, as all three-year old’s do, that “There is a fire truck Daddy”. So, we pulled over, as everyone should, and let the truck pass. It was amazing to me how many vehicles kept driving. I’m not sure if they saw the truck and said well, they have enough room, or they are in my way, or what was going through their mind. What was so important?

Earlier this year I read the book To Kill a Mockingbird. There was a chapter in this book which told the story of how while a character in the books house burnt down, the people did not see this as an inconvenience, they stepped in and helped the character save some of their things and made sure she was safe. Stopped everything. That book was not based in a time all that long ago, where people helped one another. Now if someone needs help, we just hope it doesn’t make us late for work, school, or any other activity that we are valuing over where those firefighters need to get to.

Fast-forward to this evening, we needed some coffee for the morning. So, I stopped at a local grocery store to pick some up. At the entry way there was someone cheerfully ringing a bell. The salvation army is one thing, I know I will see every year out in front of pretty much every store we go throughout the Christmas season. As I walked up, I noticed everyone ducking their head as they passed by. The bell ringer, every time no matter what, said Merry Christmas and God Bless, to everyone who passed by. I even saw people going in the exit to not have to walk by the joyful man.

I had to ask the man, “Does it bother you everyone, walking by you, does not even look at you.” He said “not at all”. Which surprised me. I had to ask a follow up. “How?”. I loved his response. “God loves them and understands that most people do not carry cash. I am just here to give a smile to someone who needs it”. Then he told me “I have to move to the exit now, a couple who went in the exit earlier are in checking out now, and they have not received their smile”.

These are just two examples that happened in one day. Every day, we rush to do what we feel is the most important thing. We can put down social media for a minute and give a smile to a stranger (those are the people you may bump into while texting and walking). We can take a lesson form the jolly man (who had a white beard and a Santa hat, just saying).

Give someone something that is free. Proof that you see them as a human and that they matter, a smile.

Pumpkin Love

Buy a pumpkin feed a child. What a great idea! If nothing else this is great marketing. This brings us back every year. Granted they do not make a penny off their efforts. All the money this pumpkin patch makes goes back to feed a child in need. 

We have been bringing Auggie to this same pumpkin patch for since he was 1. The thing that first brought us in was the fact that Mater the Tow Truck was sitting out front. We knew Auggie would get a kick out of seeing one of his favorite characters in person.  This year Mater was a little bit louder and Auggie was not a fan of that. While Mater brought us in, their mission keeps us coming back every year.

The mission of giving back is very important to Stephenie and me. We wish we could spend more time giving back and hopefully when she graduates, we can do way more volunteering. But, right now, one way we can give back is the way we spend our money. We seek out places like this. Places that use their proceeds to give back. This church could build a whole outreach center if they wanted to with the proceeds, but they stick to why they started the patch and that is to help feed hungry children. 

And not only do they give back. Every year they bring something new and different in to help grow to feed more children. When we first went to this patch, all I remember is Tow Mater and a corn bin for the younger children to play in. Now there is a bounce house, tractor, Jurassic park truck, and a dinosaur.  I am sure there are several things that I am leaving out that are a part of this pumpkin patch. 

While the pumpkin patches are all wrapped up for the year. Be sure to try to find ways to give back with all your purchases. Coming up soon will be this tiny holiday no one has heard of called Christmas. Google it so you know what it is. You can look into different places to buy your Christmas trees that are giving back to those in need. [Stephenie: You can also use the smile.amazon.com to purchase your gifts and it gives money back to the charity of your choice! We have ours set for Ronald McDonald House Charities]

We can always give back in different ways. Being intentional in the way that we buy presents and gifts for those we love is one of the easiest. Don’t just buy something for someone just to say you bought something. If the “present” you are buying them is just because you feel obligated to buy them something. Don’t. If you do believe they will receive value from what you are buying them then buy it. But if not, then show them that you know them by picking a cause that is important to them and donate your time or your money to in their honor to this cause. [Stephenie: It may not be traditional, but my parent’s gift every year has been my brother and I buy a gift for a child in need through our church or other organization. We take a picture of the gifts and put it in a card. We get them something small like a picture, but their main gift is something they’ve asked for since we were in high school, and I love that it’s a tradition for us!]

In today’s world, most people who are receiving gifts, are people who do not really need anything. The average household in America has over 300,000 things in the home. These people are the ones receiving a gift to put in a drawer, not to be seen just because someone would have felt guilty for not buying them something. Instead, think about ways the money for this item could be used for doing some good. 

Not that we shouldn’t be giving and receiving gifts.  Gifts can be great when well thought out. As long as you sincerely believe that you are adding value to a person’s life, then you have chosen to add to that person’s life. Maybe I have combined two seasons and two topics here. It is never too early to give to those in need. Especially when it just means being intentional with our actions.

Opt Outside on Black Friday

Black Friday. A holiday that has really become black Thursday in many cases. One of the things that make us the saddest is that we find more and more families are not having Thanksgiving dinner. Instead, they are having a pre-Black Friday meal. Conversations are not about what we are thankful for and the gratitude for all that blessings we’ve received. Everyone is discussing what deals they are going to be getting after we are done with our meal.

[Steph: As someone who worked in the retail industry and then watched my mom work retail for several years, I feel resentment towards Black Friday at this point. It got to a point where my mom would have to leave dinner early to go to work and then she would come home so exhausted that I didn’t get to spend much of our time visiting with her, and I found it ridiculous. Thanksgiving is meant for us to spend as a family (blood or chosen). It’s a time for us to put our hearts in a grateful place and reflect. If you’re working at a restaurant or gas station on Thanksgiving, I’m so grateful for you so that we can make our travel to families. But shopping on Thanksgiving, or even midnight to 6 am Friday, has got to stop at some point. Our consumerism as a country is not something I want as our legacy.]

Steph and I, are joining in R.E.I’s Opt Outside. This establishment is closing its doors on Black Friday. While still paying all its employees. This company is putting people first. Instead of opening Black Friday or on Thanskgiving., They are blocking out that time to promote families, nature, and gratitude for the Earth we live on. Their employees don’t have to have Thanksgiving breakfast, so they can get the store ready to open at 6 pm. Instead, they will be enjoying the holiday weekend however they choose. While this is maybe just a P.R move to get bloggers like me to write about them, it’s a movement our family can get behind. [Steph: It’s one of the reasons I love shopping at REI, not to mention all the cool classes they offer! My mountain biking skills need some serious work! But that’s another story for another day]

What is opt Outside? Well, it’s just that. Go outside. Instead of being in stores all day shopping, go for a hike and see something in God’s creation that you can be thankful for. This year our plan is not to go for a hike, but we will be going for a bike ride along the river. Packing a picnic lunch and maybe a bottle of wine. We are taking a journey along the Savannah River, taking in God’s creation. It’s something we look forward to every year and we make it a priority in our marriage to really focus on gratitude and setting an example for Auggie.

So, instead of buying something you probably don’t need this Black Friday, just because it is on sale, head out and have a good time.

Take the challenge of spending some time outside to admire the ones you love and the world that was created for us. We promise you won’t regret the decision!