Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Blessings & Nic's First Solo

I can't believe I haven't updated since Thanksgiving! I need to get back to it, especially my Thankful Thursday posts. In my defense, I'm more than 35 weeks pregnant and sitting at my desk typing is physically painful for me anymore, but I just had to share this.

First, the back story. My son, my beautiful gift from God filled me with such happiness Christmas Eve, but the best part is that it wasn't just me he touched. He was asked to sing a solo at our church's candlelight service.

The candlelight service itself was gorgeous, full of the true Christmas spirit and a blessing to behold. Then when my little guy got up on that stage and in his sweet 4 year old voice sang "Happy Birthday, Jesus" of course, my heart was full. After the service and then even the Sunday after, dozens (and I mean literally dozens of people, some I didn't even know their name) came to me to tell me how my little guy was their favorite part of the service or how he really touched their heart or how he truly filled them with the Christmas spirit. THAT is what filled my heart to overflowing. To know that my little 4 year old could touch people in that way. That God had given him such a gift to evoke such emotion from people. What a blessing. I told him to go up there and sing for Jesus and he did, with no fear, all by himself.

As a mother, I pray that I lead my children in the right direction, that I teach them to put God first and to use whatever blessings and talents He gives us to glorify and serve God. I think my little guy is on the right path. He shared a blessing God had given him and he did it with a joyful and willing heart, just as Jesus taught us to do. I couldn't be happier.

If you'd like to see his performance, I've attached the video. The sound quality isn't that good, I was just using my handheld camera to record it, but you get the picture.

To make it all even better, my best friend and her family came up for the holidays! They attended the service with us and just having them there was the best gift ever! Then the rest of the holiday was filled with food, laughter, fun and for the first time in my life, even snow! It truly was the best Christmas ever. I got to share this holiday with my wonderful husband Larry, my best friend Angelica and her husband Chris, their son Jacob and my beautiful boy, Nic. Having two little boys to read to on Christmas Eve and then wake up together Christmas fun! I am so truly blessed and thankful to God for all of the blessings He has put in my life and how He always takes care of me.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

There aren't enough words in the English language to adequately give thanks for all of the blessings in my life. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so this Thanksgiving I put together a collage of the biggest blessings in my life. Even all of these pictures and the thousand words that go with each of them, are but a drop in the bucket. Thank you God for my beautiful sons, my wonderful husband, my family, my best friend and "sister from another mister" Angelica and all of the remarkable, supportive friends I have. I have a beautiful church family, a loving and supportive sister, great brothers, parents, grandmothers, aunts, uncles, cousins....I appreciate you all and am thankful for all of you. I love having such a big family! I hope everyone has a blessed Thanksgiving. Remember to give thanks to God for all you have in your life and remember those less fortunate.

God bless!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

4D ultrasounds, my Thankful Thursday post

This Thankful Thursday I am very thankful for 4D ultrasounds. We are getting ours tomorrow of our son and I am so excited that I think I will barely be able to sleep tonight! I got one with Nic as well and to be able to actually see what our baby will look like before he is even born is such a blessing! It doesn't only allow me to get a glimpse of our bundle of joy, it also give a little extra reassurance that everything is okay with the little guy. Especially if you are like me and have extremely difficult pregnancies.

I can't wait to see you tomorrow, little one. In the meantime, here is Nic's 4D ultrasound taken 4 1/2 years ago:

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thankful Thursday

This week we celebrated the United States Marine Corp. birthday and Veterans Day. This really made me focus today on how thankful I am to live in a country where I have so many freedoms. Of course, those freedoms aren't free, they come at a very big price. I am thankful for all of my friends and family who have served and continue to serve in our armed forces. Thank you for the sacrifices you have made and continue to make. Thank you for helping to provide the freedom that we all enjoy. Thank you God, for blessing me with being an American.

What are you thankful for today?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

It's Been a Rough Week...

Yes, it's been a rough week. It seems like one piece of bad news has been constantly followed by another. I know it's not only been a hard week for me, it's also been a hard week for some of my family members and friends, and I have been praying for them. Even though it has been tough, it is still Thankful Thursday and I feel when things are tough is when we need to look at our blessings even more and we need to lean on the One who can comfort us like no other, God.

So, this Thankful Thursday I will give thanks to God for bringing me comfort during this past week through his steadfast love and through my family and friends. I know He will never give me more than I can carry, if I just trust and have faith. Things will be fine. I am thankful to Him for giving me a strong heart and faith and I am thankful to Him for the friends and family I have that have been so supportive, who share their "been there, done that" stories, to help me see the light at the end of the tunnel, who break in with a little joke to remind me to smile. For this I am truly thankful.

What are you thankful for today?

Monday, November 2, 2009

My Top 5 Post Pregnancy Happy Thoughts.

This blog post is not about the obvious mushy stuff. Of course what I'm most looking forward to is finally having my little bundle of joy in my arms. Having another happy, healthy son is going to be my biggest blessing through all of this, but I'm not going to talk about the obvious here. I'm going to talk about the stuff that I didn't learn about until AFTER I became pregnant. I'm going to share with those of you who may not have been there yet, what you can really expect. I'm going to share it with those of you who have been there too, so that you know that you aren't alone.

Happy Thought #1
EATING. That's right, eating. I know most people think that while pregnant you can eat with wreckless abandon. WRONG. While pregnant you obsess over labels. Does this food contain MSG's? Is there mercury? Has this meat been fully cooked, I don't want to get Listeria!!! Oh my gosh, is this cheese considered a soft cheese? Are these eggs fully cooked? Oh yes, the list goes on and on. Once my baby is born I plan on consuming my weight in bleu cheese, fish, shrimp, cold cuts, tuna and anything else I can get my hands on. Well, for at least a couple of weeks, then the diet will begin.

Happy Thought #2
NOT GOING TO THE RESTROOM EVERY 20 MINUTES. Okay, so maybe it's every 40 minutes, but you still find the bathroom ends up being the room most visited during the course of a day. Everyone knows that once the baby gets here, sleep will be at a minimum. But not every Mom to be realizes that the lack of sleep starts way before that cute little bundle arrives. It is nothing for me to be up 5 times per night to empty my poor bladder. Not only will I be happy, but so will my kidneys.

Happy Thought #3
BENDING OVER. One day it just happens, you drop something, bend over to pick it up, only to realize you can't. You start to realize that your body must contort into completely unnatural ways to put on your socks. I have mastered the "grab your pant leg at the calf and hoist your leg up" maneuver to simply put on my socks. I have learned to squat like a frog to pick up something I have dropped, or better still, just use my toes to grab it and lift.

Happy Thought #4
EXISTING AGAIN. I find when I am pregnant I do not exist. No, I am just a vessel in which this precious life grows. Nothing I do is about me, it is all about the baby. Most Mom's (like me) don't put themselves first regardless, but if we want to eat a few Cheetos, we allow ourselves.....unless pregnant (yeah, Cheetos have MSG, read the label) because what we want doesn't matter. What matters is what's best for the baby. You see, when I get to be Donna, I sleep on my back or my tummy, sometimes...even on my left side. But when pregnant, I do what is best for the baby, I sleep on my right side, no matter how bad my hips hurt. When not pregnant, I sometimes eat food that (GASP) contains MSG, while pregnant, there is no way that's going to happen. When I am Donna, I take steaming hot showers or baths, not anymore. When I am Donna I am very physically active, but for the 9 months I am pregnant, I am careful not to lift anything too heavy, not to overexert myself, not to go for that 5 mile hike. I never think about what I want to do, I think only about how what I'm doing will affect the baby. Oh, and do not even think about coming near me with the slightest hint of cigarette smoke on your clothes, I will run in the opposite direction. Okay, maybe not run...but walk away really fast.

Happy Thought #5
NOT BEING TERRIFIED OF THE SWINE FLU. Everyone knows by now that the most high risk category for swine flu death is pregnant women and children. I was always concerned about germs before, but now....I am a full fledged germaphobe. Seriously, I think I may have to join Germaphobics Anonymous after this. I wash my hands so much and use so much antibacterial gel that my hands are becoming dry and cracked! If my eye itches, I don't dare scratch it, I just suffer. I don't want to take a chance of rubbing some killer organism into my eye. I couldn't tell you the last time I touched a door handle. When I leave a public restroom, I wrap my hand in a paper towel to open the restroom door. After passing the offering tray at church, I squirt antibacterial gel on my hands. Seriously it's becoming a sickness and the only cure is delivery.

There is so much more I could write, but I think I may save it for a book (yes, I think I could come up with enough post pregnancy happy thoughts to fill a book). What are some of your post pregnancy happy thoughts? I'd love to hear them!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thankful Thursday - My Church Family

There are many things I am thankful for today, like the Hokies playing tonight, like the fact that I did my glucose testing today and it is now behind me (I had a very hard time with that today), and my church family.

I truly feel blessed that God lead me to the First United Methodist Church in Pulaski. I have never been to a church that was so warm and welcoming. Everyone is so friendly and caring, that before you know it, they really do start to feel like your extended family. This church has such great ministry programs and really reaches out to help our community and even beyond our community. Have I mentioned the kids? Well, let me tell you, the children here are GREAT! There are so many different ways you can get involved at our church, it's a great place to worship and then go beyond worshipping!

Thank you to my friends at FUMC, like the Queen's, the Cash's, the Newby's, the Cox's, the Clark's, the Kellis', the Hodges', the Dean's and everyone else for welcoming us with open arms, you are truly a great group of Christians!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thankful Thursday - My hubby

I am a very lucky woman. Correction, make that a blessed woman because luck has nothing to do with it. My hubby is truly the answer to so many prayers. He has been working so hard lately, on weekends, late into the night and doing it without complaint, doing it not for himself, but for our family. He never makes me feel like it's unfair, that he is resentful for it or that he is just sick and tired of it. Don't get me wrong, he is tired physically, but he's not that angry or resentful tired that some people can get when they feel they are working too hard. I found the poor guy laying on the floor at 5:00 a.m. after falling asleep painting the rocking chair for our baby last night. Some nights, he doesn't get home until 8:30 or 9:00 and after working all day, he still helps around the house. He is so tired, but he never complains or makes me feel guilty for how hard he has to work. We are both very fortunate that both of our companies are doing so well in this difficult economy (something else to be thankful for), so we don't complain about working, we are thankful and know that the work that has come our way is an answer to prayers and who would complain when God answer's their prayers?

He is a wonderful, giving, caring husband. He doesn't just provide for our family, he takes care of us in every way we can be taken care of. He does this with love, he does this happily and thankfully, he has such a wonderful heart.

The main reason he is so busy is because God has answered our prayers and quite simply because he really does a great job! He puts such care and craftsmanship into each job he does. He has the ability to take a project and create such high quality results that I am so proud of him. If you ever have a home remodel project, check him out:, you won't be disappointed!

And last, but not least, I am thankful for how he gives so willingly. When you do something for someone, you should do it with a cheerful heart, and he does! I have always tithed, but a few months ago, even though I had less money, I started tithing more. I don't know exactly why, I always felt a little uncomfortable during the "tithing" sermon's at church. But, God put it into my heart and I noticed how my husband tithed. We also give with a happy heart. Don't tithe if you are just going to give grudgingly. After increasing tithing, our business increased. I know their is a direct correlation because God says so, "2 Corinthians 9:7- Let each one do just as he has resolved in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." He also says to TEST him on this! "Malachi 3:10 - Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”

My husband is what I am thankful for not only today, but everyday. He is kind, compassionate, giving, he takes care of us, he is a Christian and helps to bring out the best in me. I am truly blessed, thank you, God. I love you, Larry!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thankful Thursday

I don't know if someone else already does this, I'm hoping that I'm not the first person that has thought of it. I was just thinking about all of the things I am thankful for and realized that today is Thursday and it hit me, "Thankful Thursday."

I am going to try every Thursday to post something I am thankful for. A blessing in my life that God has given me. I want to do this not only to give thanks to Him, but also to help remind myself (and hopefully others) of all the blessings, big and small, in all of our lives. I hope everyone who reads these posts will take the time to reflect on their own blessings and give thanks.

My first Thankful Thursday post is inspired by a picture I took over the weekend. My son is, of course, a wonderful, life long blessing. Another blessing, as you can see in this picture, is the beauty of a perfect fall day. Today is another beautiful fall day and I am so thankful for the beautiful sunshine, perfect temperatures and beautiful fall colors that are starting to emerge.

What are you thankful for today?

Friday, September 25, 2009

You've Got to be Kidding Me!

Close your eyes and picture it. There I am, sprawled out on the couch like a beached whale, my eyes fixed on the TV in a trance-like stare, my mouth opened wide as I look from the TV to my gigantic stomach, back to the TV and then back to my stomach and finally, back to the TV again. What I am seeing is inconceivable to me.

I am watching Discovery Health. There is program on called "I Didn't Know I was Pregnant." I truly can not fathom this. I hear women talking about how they went nine months with a life growing inside of them and never having a clue they were pregnant.

Are they serious? Is this a ploy to get on TV? Is this a joke? I check the calendar. Nope, it's not April Fool's Day. This show is real!

I then hear a doctor talk about how it is possible to be pregnant and not recognize the signs because you credit them to something else, like bad Chinese food. At this, my yet to be born son kicks me in the bladder. Even he doesn't get it.

My pregnancy with my oldest son was not easy at all. My pregnancy with this son has proven even harder. I am in a state of awe at the women who are actually pregnant for nine months and don't know it. I can't imagine not having morning (actually all day) sickness, not getting up to go to the bathroom 10 times a night, the back pains, the inability to be comfortable no matter what position you are in, the indigestion, the inability to control my thyroid disease, the inability to maintain a normal glucose level, the sheer exhaustion (just to name a few).

Then I go from awe to a feeling of pity. Yes, these women don't get the unpleasantness of pregnancy, but they also missed out on the entire process. The amazement of having a life growing inside of you, feeling the baby move for the first time and then, when he really gets the hang of it, REALLY feeling it and sometimes even seeing it! They didn't get to have ultrasounds and get a sneak peek at their baby, they didn't get to anticipate and dream about what it would be like to finally hold their little one. They didn't get to experience the fun of decorating and preparing a nursery before the baby arrives. They didn't have months to decide on a name. How sad!

But, I still don't get it. How on EARTH could a woman not gain weight, not feel the baby move, not have any pregnancy systems at all? Most of the women said in hindsight, they recognized the pregnancy systems, but they discredited the baby moving to gas (WHAT?) and the nausea to having the flu (HUH?). There were other reasons they missed the signs, but as I look down to where my belly button used to be, I truly can not imagine being pregnant and not knowing it. As tough as it has been, I'm so thankful and feel truly blessed to be able to experience it again. The good and the bad. But especially the good.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Nic learns he's going to have a baby brother!

Ever since Nicholas found out that I am having a baby, he has been saying that he wants a sister. But two days ago, he decided he wanted a brother. Good thing, because that's what he's getting! After we stopped recording it must have really sank in because he went wild with excitement! I wish I had my camera handy for that! When he sees the baby "wee wee" on the video, he gets really excited.

He wants to name the baby "Ian". Not a bad choice, buddy! But, we aren't telling the name until the baby is born, so everyone will just have to wait!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Friday Night Lights are Here!

I've always loved football. But as I've grown older I've really come to realize that for me, college and high school football is so much more fun to watch than the NFL. Why? Because the kids playing on the college and high school football fields play focused on the true love of the game, their community and their school. The main focus isn't the money, sponsors and celebrity.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that all NFL players are focused on the "greedy" aspects of football, but a majority of them just don't play with the same heart as the kids. There are some great NFL players that do seem to play with heart, set good examples and help the less fortunate. But so many just seem to be mostly concerned with the mullah and fame.

I would rather watch a low scoring, slow moving football game where the kids really put there all into it and played with heart and good sportsmanship, than watch a high scoring game where players are showing off and fighting.

With this being said, I'm excited to attend my first high school game this season! Nic, Larry and I, along with about 15 of our friends will be at Radford High School Friday night, watching Radford play Pulaski for the first time in 30 years. They are expecting over 15,000 people in a stadium that only seats 6,000, but I'm sure it's going to be tons of fun! I've never lived in an area that brought the movie "Friday Night Lights" to life like this area, and I love it!

See you under the lights!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Finding Peace and Happiness

I was overcome by an urge to share this. It hit me the other night. Even with all I have going on, even with stress and concerns, I feel more at peace and more happy than any other time in my life. Why? I make time. I make time everyday, no matter what, to pray and read the Bible and my devotionals. Now, before you think I'm getting up on my soapbox and beating my Bible preaching fire and brimstone....fear not. This blog is not about that.

I have just found something in my life that really brings clarity and peace and wanted to share in the hopes that it helps someone else. At first I didn't notice a huge difference, but after a while, I really started to notice an inner peace. The longer I have been doing this, the happier and more at peace I feel. Every night, after Nic is in bed, after I have had a shower, before drifting off to sleep, I take at least 20 minutes to be by myself, just me and God. I pray, read devotionals, look up scriptures. It doesn't matter how tired I am, it doesn't matter how late it is. I do this EVERY NIGHT. It has become such a part of my nightly routine that I don't think I could sleep without doing it. When I started doing this, I just wanted to say a prayer and give thanks to God for his blessings. Then I realized that there is a lot in the Bible that can be confusing or hard to understand. I wanted to make sure I was interpreting things correctly and doing the right things. I wanted to make sure I undestood, so I can help my children to understand. So I started praying for understanding and clarity so that I could be sure that I'm living the life I am supposed to live and help others that may need it. I started reading devotionals, which were VERY helpful. I started discussing what I was learning and reading with my significant other and found we both could learn a lot from each other.

Then, I really saw God working. I read Nicholas a Bible story every night from his Children's Bible. Believe it or not, this has really helped me as much as him! One night I will read a story about (for example) Saul and then when I pick up my devotional before bed, will find that my devotional is talking about the same scripture! A coincidence? Then I'll go to church on Sunday and each Sunday, there is a sermon, a hymn, or something in Sunday school about one of the scriptures I had been studying that week!! Another coincidence? I asked God to help me with understanding, and He has provided. Everything I pick up and read ties together, even what we learn in church on Sunday. Gaining this understanding and clarity has helped me find peace and happiness. It all started with making sure I took the time everyday.

So take time, be still, learn, grow, pray and worship. You will be amazed at what just 20 minutes a day can do for you!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Has it been that long???

I just noticed my last blog post was over a month ago!! How is that possible? It seems like it couldn't have been more than a week. Where is the summer going? I think it is completely true that the older you get, the faster time flies.

I have had a very eventful summer so far. There have been trips, illness, surprises, laughter, fun and stress, but that's all a part of life isn't it? My laptop has been acting up or in the shop for about 4 weeks total so far this summer, so that has put me pretty far behind as well. It's amazing how much I depend on that little piece of machinery. How did people do it 25 years ago? Everything handwritten or on a typewriter? It must have taken ages to get anything done. I can't even remember the last time I used a typewriter, probably high school. Has it been that long?

Speaking of dependence on modern conveniences, I made the mistake of going to the grocery store the other day and forgot my cell phone at home. How did people do it 20 years ago???? When I arrived home I had missed several calls and text messages, all that communication that would have been missed had I been grocery shopping in the 80's and early 90's. Has it really been that long since we've been using cell phones?

My son is, at this very moment, playing with a digital camera that plays games, records video and takes digital pictures, among many other things. I have no idea how to operate this gadget. I can not even fathom having such a toy at the age of 4. I was happy with my big wheel and my barbie doll. I don't think any of my toys were interactive. They all required only the use of my imagination. Has it been that long since I was a child? Has it been that long since children didn't have interactive toys?? Don't get me wrong, my son plays just as much with toys that require only the use of his imagination, but he has access to the technologically advanced toys as well.

Oh, I could go on and on about how time has flown and things have changed, but I'm afraid it only makes me feel really, really old! I don't want to start telling you about the time I walked through 3 foot of snow, in the freezing cold, for 5 miles, in my bare feet, to get to school....or maybe it was my great grandfather who use to always say that??? :-)

God bless!

Friday, June 5, 2009


Woo hoo! I can't believe it! I actually won! Twittermoms was hosting a blog contest for the Children's Place for the most stylish kid. The first 20 entries automatically won a $50 gift certificate to the Children's Place, as did the person with the most comments on their blogs. The BIG grand prize winner was the person the judges at the Children's Place determined to have the most creative blog. The winner was to be announced on May 15th. Well, May 15th came and went and I hadn't heard anything. No big deal, I just entered for fun anyway, not really expecting to win anything (although I really could use that couple hundred in Children's Place clothing, my boy is growing so fast). There were also a lot of really great entries from all over the country, so I truly didn't think I would win and just forgot about it.

Well, I get an email on Monday from Twittermons that says the following, "Here's what the judges said about Donna's winning post... “We chose because her blog best described The Children's place clothing. Not only did she mention our value priced clothing but she also spoke about the quality. The pictures of her son in the best selling argyle vest was adorable."

I started jumping up and down! Nic thought I was crazy, but when I told him we won, we both started jumping up and down. THANKS TWITTERMOMS! and THANKS CHILDREN'S PLACE! I can't wait to get Nic some new cute, quality clothes!

Oh, and here is my blogpost, in case you missed it click here to read the winning blog:

Friday, May 22, 2009

Reality Check!

Okay, so it happens to me all the time. I see something Nic is doing and it just reminds me so much of things I did as a child. The other day I found a bunch of pictures of me from around 2 to 3 1/2 years old. Wow, did I get a reality check.

Nic loves to make funny faces whenever I take a picture of him, oh...and he NEVER wants to stand still. He is always asking to take pictures, but he just wants to take what he calls, "funny face" pictures. I'm always thinking, "Where on Earth does he get that from?" Well, ask and you shall receive. In the envelope full of pictures I found there were pictures of me...three in a row, where I was dressed in a cute yellow dress. Now, you may be thinking, "AWWWW." A two year old girl in a cute yellow dress, must be adorable, right? Wrong, in each of these pictures I am doing everything I can to make my Mom laugh and have fun. In each picture I am making funny faces. I can just hear my Mom saying to me, "Donna Mae, could you please hold still and smile for just 3 seconds so I can get a picture of you in your pretty dress?" I know she said this because I have said the same to Nic (minus the pretty dress part). Oh no...another reality check, I'm saying some of the exact same things to Nic that my Mother said to me (YIKES)! How does this happen???

I found another picture of me at 3 1/2 and it blew me away. Again, all I can see is Nic. My hair was just as light as his when I was his age, we have the exact same eyes, even the little puffiness under the eyes is the same, we have the same smile lines, same mouth, same nose, same chin, same cheeks, same eyebrows..everything! How is this possible? I mean, I know how it's possible, DNA, genetics, all that..but really, it blows my mind when I see how much this little boy looks like his Mama, but much cuter :-) !! I hope he stays cute...Mama grew out of it...LOL!!

Here are the pictures:
This is one of Nic's favorite faces to make!!
Originated by Mommy back in the late
I think I should have been a boy. Never
did do very well in dresses!
Nic and Mommy..we are almost the same age in this picture.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A Letter to My Son

Dear Nicholas,

On Saturday, you will be four. I can't believe it. Your birthday is the day before Mother's Day this year. The year you were born it was the day after. You will always be the best gift I have ever received.

My precious son, do you know how special you are? Do you know how much you are loved? Can you even fathom the amount of love and joy you yourself bring to others? Love radiates from you, a true blessing from God.

For many years I knew God had put me on this planet for a specific purpose, until you were born, I never knew what that purpose was. I can't believe God entrusted me to be your Mommy. I can't believe He chose to bless me with being responsible for such a beautiful soul. I am forever thankful and forever changed.

Would you like to know something my dear little one? You were named after an angel. I use to read to you even before you were born. I remember sitting on the couch at our home in Bealeton and reading Bible stories to you from the time I was three months pregnant. There is one memory that stands out most of all. It was Christmas time and I was reading to you the story about the birth of Jesus, the angel Gabriel appears in the story and when I read his name out loud (which is also your middle name), I just cried. Don't worry, Mommy wasn't sad. I was simply filled with love and joy. I knew you were going to be special and I was so happy that your name had a very special meaning.

When you were born, there were some very scary moments, but when it was all said and done, you arrived very quickly. When you make up your mind to do something, you don't mess around (I wonder where you get that?). I was in active labor for all of 1/2 hour and pushed you out in 10 minutes. I will never, as long as I live, forget that moment, the moment I first got to hold you in my arms. You were the most gorgeous baby I had ever seen. I felt like I was dreaming. Even though you were 3 1/2 weeks early, you had the cutest chubby cheeks and I could see right away that you looked just like me (sorry, buddy).

Being your Mom has brought such joy. You have taught me so much. Even during the trying times. For example, you HATED bath time for the first month of life. I don't remember who cried more, you or me. But, you eventually grew to love it and so did I. There was also the time when you were just six months old and came down with RSV. You were in the hospital for a week and I had never been so scared and worried in my life. As you got older there was potty training (wow, that took patience), but we got through it and now you potty like a champ :-).

Do you remember, my sweet boy, when you first started sleeping through the night? I can tell you that I do! You were almost 2 months old and I was so thankful! There are many other firsts I remember like they were yesterday. The first time you sat up all by yourself you were 6 months old. You could stand all by yourself at 10 months and started walking at 13 months. At 3 1/2 months you took your first trip to the beach and that was all she wrote! You officially became a beach bum, just like Mommy. I love that you love the ocean just as much as I do.

Not to brag, my love, but I have always been so proud of the things you did very early as well. You drank from a cup at 7 months and stopped drinking from a bottle by 10 months. You spoke your first word at 6 months and said your first 2 word sentence at 11 months. Do you remember how everyone laughed at you every time something great happened and you yelled, "All RIGHT!" You knew your colors and shapes by the time you were a year old and could recognize all the letters of the alphabet by 2. You wrote your name at 2 1/2, I was shocked. By 3, you were reading. I hope your love of learning stays with you throughout your life. Mommy use to LOVE school and I hope that I pass that along to you.

Another important day in your life, mi carino, was August 7, 2005. This is the day you were baptized. Of all the things I will teach you in your life, your faith is the most important. Always trust in God, always turn to Him, always love Him, ALWAYS, no matter what, have faith! Life will bring you challenges, trust in God. Life will bring you unbelievable joy, give thanks to God. I pray that I raise you to be a strong, faithful, loving, Christian man. I pray that I don't let you or God down.

So I'll end this letter to you, mi perito, by saying I love you. I love you "the best thing yet." I love you more than all the stars in the sky, more than I ever thought it was humanly possible to love. Thank you for showing me that same, unconditional love in return. I can not believe how fast four years have flown by. I am so sad that it has gone so quickly, but at the same time, I am excited about what the future holds for you. I look forward to the future with you, Nicholas Gabriel; I have a feeling it is going to be very bright.

Te Quiero Siempre,

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Saying Goodbye, part 2

So I did it. I told Nicholas about Emile. I explained that Emile had died and was in Heaven. The first thing Nic said was, "I want to go see him now." GULP.

I explained, "Honey, we can't see Emile anymore because he has gone to live in Heaven with God, he is very happy there and he will be there forever." He then tears out my hear by saying, "Mommy, this makes me so sad." I tell him I understand, that I am sad too and that it's okay to be sad. I explain that we will always love and miss Emile, but that one day, we will see him again. I explain that Emile is very happy right where he is now and we always want those we love to be happy.

After some hugging and more talking he perked up. He then asked, "Mommy, can I get another fish? It won't be Emile, but I liked having a fish." YES!! He gets it. It was hard, but I told him the truth, talked with him simply and honestly about it and he is doing well! I'm proud of him for understanding his feelings and being able to verbalize them so clearly to me. I'm proud that he understands that the new fish will not replace Emile.

Our new fish is named Remy. For those of you who don't know, Remy was Emile's brother in the movie Ratatouille.

I feel better that I was honest and helped Nicholas to understand this important life lesson. Thank you God for guiding my heart in the right direction.

Saying Goodbye, part 1

My son's Beta fish, Emile, went off to that big fish tank in the sky. My son LOVES this fish. He helps feed him, clean the tank and thanks God for Emile in his prayers at night. But my son is only 3. How do I explain this to him?

Ever since I found out I was pregnant, I have always focused on protecting my child. I know most parents, especially Mom's, can relate to that. When your little one is in your womb you second guess everything. You stop thinking of yourself first. Now you think, "If I eat that tuna, will it hurt the baby?" Before, it was just, "Yum...tuna!" EVERYTHING you do, is to protect your child. I even remember while I was pregnant being in a situation that may not have been the safest place for a woman 7 months pregnant and specifically thinking, "Protect the baby! Protect the baby!" It wasn't just a thought, it was a loud voice telling me this. I removed myself from the situation immediately. I have always been like a Mama lion, protecting my baby! I would even keep my arms wrapped around my belly and "hug" Nicholas all the time.

Now he's 3 (almost 4) and his little fish that he loves has died. My first reaction was to protect him. I don't want my son to be sad or hurt. Just buy another fish that looks like Emile and hope that Nicholas doesn't notice. But my son is smart, I know he will notice. I could tell him Emile changed colors, like a chameleon, but that would be lying. I can't lie to my child. I can't lie, period. I just can't live with myself, especially as a Christian. I know better. I was also worried that I would be sending the wrong message to Nicholas. I don't want him to think that things we love are so easy to replace. So I prayed on it and decided to tell him.

He doesn't know yet, I plan on telling him after I pick him up from school. I don't know what his reaction will be and didn't want him to be upset at school. I will explain to him, in simple terms what happened. I will explain that Emile is in Heaven with Jesus. I will explain that it's okay to be upset and to miss Emile. Then I will let him talk and hear what he has to say and how he feels. If he wants to get another fish, I will let him, but only after explaining that the new fish does not, in any way, replace Emile, we will still miss him. I want to make sure he understands that the new guy is not a new Emile.

I'll let you know how it goes in part 2 of this blog! Wish me luck!

Friday, April 17, 2009

It's Not a Book Review, It's a Devotional Review

Every night, before bed, I read a Devotional, as I'm sure many Christians do. I have one that I received as a gift from by best friend, Angelica, many years ago. It's a Devotional specifically for women and has really been a source of strength for me.

Recently, in addition to my Women's Devotional, I started reading "Night Light" by Dr. James and Shirley Dobson. It is a devotional for couples and one I would highly recommend. Along with scripture, prayer and insight, it gives you discussion points between couples, like "How have I shown you my love this week?" and "Is there an area in your life that you used to struggle, but now have turned it over to God and have positive results?" and "What aspect of my support means the most to you?" These talking points really are helpful with communication between a couple. Sharing this time with your significant other and sharing with them how much they mean to you and how much God has blessed your lives can only help a relationship. Build a strong foundation and you will have a successful, lasting relationship. This Devotional is definitely something that can help you accomplish that and one I would highly recommend.

Monday, April 13, 2009

He's So Cute! Where'd Ya' Get That???

I've had a lot of people ask me about Nic's Easter outfit, so I thought I'd share on my blog where we got his outfit and why I love the store we got it from. Nic's entire outfit, the hat, the shirt, the sweater vest, the pants and blazer all came from The Children's Place and we got the entire outfit on sale! If you plan it right, take advantage of the sales and coupons they will send you if you sign up for their mailing list, the clothes at the Children's Place can actually save you money. How you ask? Simple. The quality of clothes are better and they last longer! Nic is a boy and little boys get dirty! I have to wash his clothes A LOT! The clothes from the Children's Place always stand the test of time. No matter how many washes or how rough he is on them, they last without the shrinking, fading and fraying like some of the clothes we get at the "Big Box" stores. He has a size 4 sweater vest that we got from the Children's Place last year that still looks and fits like new. I also bought him a sweater vest, in a size 4, from a "Big Box" store at the same time. A year later, the "cheaper" sweater doesn't fit, is faded, has frayed edges and "pills" all over it. I can get another 6 months out of The Children's Place sweater, the other sweater has gone to Good Will after running my shaver over it to get rid of the pills. I have found my Children's Place outfits last twice as long as his other outfits so I get more "bang for the buck."

Now, that's the sensible side of me talking, the other thing Nic and I both love about The Children's Place is the style of the clothes. Everyone thinks if you have a little boy you don't have the wide variety of clothes that girls have. In some stores, that is true, there are more options for cute girl outfits than boy outfits, but the Children's Place has just as nice of a variety for boys. Nic likes the "polished/preppy" look, but he also likes cotton t-shirts and fun play clothes too. The Children's Place fits both needs. The style is great, the quality is fantastic, so I would definitely recommend giving them a try! You can check out their latest clothes on their web site:

Here is my little guy in his Easter outfit:

Monday, April 6, 2009

The meaning of Rainbows

I had the most amazing dream the other night about a rainbow. It was the biggest, brightest most beautiful rainbow I had ever seen, it took up most of the sky and the colors were so vibrant I almost needed sunglasses just to look at them. When I woke up I felt such peace and happiness and my first thought went to God and how he used a rainbow in the Bible to symbolize his promise to us. Rainbows are a blessing and the one in my dream had such an impact on me that I wanted to do some more research.

After doing some research on the web site, I found this:

"When we consider the many colors of the spectrum from a Scriptural perspective, it appears that even in the simple design of the rainbow, each shade may hold deeper meaning.

- Blue portrays heaven and infinity.
- Red or scarlet depicts blood and redemption.
- Orange is for the fruit of atonement.
- Indigo was the dark blue dye obtained from the plant; the color of skins used for the Tabernacle covering.
- Green stands for new life or resurrection.
- Yellow or gold depicts perfection and deity.
- Violet or purple is the color of royalty and kingship.

The next time you see a rainbow, consider the silent yet profound message this symbol speaks, not just to mankind, but to you, as a sole individual. The Creator sees you for exactly who you are, and it is important that all people, no matter what their race, creed or color, come to full knowledge of the Divine. God's word is written all around us, and His truth is just waiting for the soul who thirsts for righteousness. Let His awesome light shine upon you!"

I had never read about each color of the rainbow and their scriptural meaning. I thought I would share this so that the next time you see a rainbow, you can think of them too.

Remember everyday to give thanks to God for even the smallest of things and to have faith in Him with the biggest of things. Each day, spare some time to look at the beauty of the world around you, be it the first flowers of spring, the blue sky above or the fact that you have a home to live in and give thanks to God for these blessing that we sometimes overlook. Remember to have faith in Him for the big things, the problems, the worries the fears that you may have. He will take care of you! God has promised in Romans 8:28 that "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him..." Even though it may be difficult for us to see and understand how this is accomplished, have faith and He will deliver.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Funny faces

Monday, March 16, 2009

To Homeschool or Not to Homeschool....That is the Question.

I didn't sleep at all last night. I was up all night worrying about my 3 year old son's education. Yes, I'm a worry wart. I have very valid concerns though (in my opinion). Let me give you a little back story so you can understand why. I'll start off by saying, I'm truly not trying to brag, but my son is only three years old and he is already at least at a first grade level academically. He can read and write all by himself and do simple arithmetic (add and subtract numbers under 10, counts to 100 by 1's, 5's and 10's, etc.). He has known his shapes, colors and patterns since before he could walk. He spoke early as well, by 11 months he was saying two word sentences.

My concern is that some of the things he learns in preschool now are things that he has known since he was 1 or earlier. By the time he gets to kindergarten, in two more years, I have a feeling he is going to be far ahead of his classmates academically and be bored out of his mind. I have him in a private Christian preschool right now and we really do love it. Even though he is academically ahead, he is still only a three year old and acts like a typical three year old, so he would not be ready to be around a first grade classroom. The preschool is only 3 hours a day, two days a week, which is perfect. It's enough time for him to work on social skills and be around other kids his age, but not long enough that he gets bored out of his mind being there. However, next year preschool goes to three days a week and I am afraid he will get bored.

With all this being said, I know it seems the simple answer is to homeschool him so that I can keep up with his pace and he doesn't have to throttle back his learning to stay around kids his own age. My concerns with homeschooling, however, are this:

1. Whenever Nic says that he can't do something without even trying it, I tell him there is nothing he can't do and not to say he can't do something when he hasn't even tried yet. When it comes to homeschooling, if I do that first, am I saying he can't do a private school without even trying it first? I want to make sure Nic gets every opportunity in life. I think a private school is an opportunity he deserves to try (I say private, because I really do think a private school will be the best option for him, I have no plans to send him to public school). If we at least try a private school first, if it doesn't work out, THEN we can re-visit homeschooling. At least we can say we tried and he had that opportunity. I won't feel like I've robbed him of an opportunity due to my own fears. I feel I should practice what I preach and let him try school before I say he can't do it.

2. It comes back to opportunities and social activities. For example, if Nic is home schooled, he won't get to go to Prom, Homecoming or be President of the Drama Club or even be Senior Class President, if he chooses. He won't get to be Captain of his high school football team, if he wants to be. If I start right off with homeschooling, I'm afraid I will be taking those opportunities from him without even trying. These are things I loved about school, I don't want to rob Nic of these fun, time-honored, teenage traditions.

3. I'm not a teacher. I don't feel I'm qualified to teach my son effectively. Now, I've had people telll me this is crazy because I've done such a great job teaching him so far. But I'm 35 years old, I know how to read and write so I can handle teaching reading, writing and simple math. I can even handle simple science lessons. My fear is when he gets older, what if he wants to learn Algebra or Calculus? What if he wants to become a scientist and I don't have access to a chemistry lab? There is no way I could teach those things!

4. College - I've read that children who are homeschooled have a more difficult time adjusting to college life. Also, if he is homeschooled and wants to go to a top University, he will be competing with the kid who went to a great school, was President of his class and Captain of his football team. Guess who the college is going to pick first? Guess who will have a better shot at the scholarship?

With this being said, I hope I didn't offend anyone because that is not my intent. If you can homeschool your child, I think that's really great and I admire you. I think more children should be homeschooled. I'm just not sure it is the first option for Nic. One thing I've really learned from him being at preschool is that he LOVES being around children his age. He likes having his friends around and learning with them. I have also seen an improvement in his social skills. If he is homeschooled, he won't get to be around his friends as much. I guess that was just another point for private school.

Whatever school he attends, I plan on being very involved. I will know his teachers and be comfortable with them. One of the reasons I love his school now is because I know his teacher, I don't feel like I'm leaving him with a stranger for three hours. When he starts school, I plan on doing the same.

After writing this blog, its easier for me to see what the best option is for us. I'll start researching private schools today.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Go Green - Save Money and the Environment.

There are a lot of ways to go green and save money while doing it. It's easier than you think and with the money you can save, why not? Going green is a win-win situation. Most of us know we can use compact fluorescent bulbs and buy Energy Star appliances, but what are ways to go green that are even easier and cost less?

Here are some easy ideas, along with how much impact they have on your wallet and the environment:

1. Save electricity, purify your air with plants. Having live plants in your home helps to absorb airborne toxins and saves energy costs by not plugging in the air purifier. Not to mention, plants are MUCH cheaper than air purifiers!

2. Use bar soap. Replacing just one plastic bottle of liquid soap with a bar will save 2.5 million lbs. of plastic! Also, let's not forget that bar soap is cheaper!

3. Put a recycling can next to the trash can in your office. This way you can just as easily throw your paper into the recycling can as the trash can. Making one ton of paper from recycled materials saves 7,000 gallons of water AND 17 trees.

4. When building a fire, use an artificial log (like those Duraflame fire logs you can find at most stores) to start the fire. Believe it or not, those man made logs burn longer than wood and give off 75% less carbon monoxide.

5. After you fill up your gas tank, turn the cap until it clicks three times. Each year, 147 million gallons of gas evaporate into the air due to missing, loose or damaged caps. This is in the US alone!

6. Wash laundry in cold water only or use the warm wash and cold rinse cycle. You will save on energy costs and if each home in America did this, we would save 100,000 barrels of oil a day!

7. Use your toaster oven as much as possible. When you need to bake a few rolls, some chicken nuggets, or any other small baking job, use a toaster oven. You will use half as much energy, saving you money.

8. Stop using the screen saver on your computer. Instead switch your computer display to go into sleep mode whenever it isn't used for 5 minutes. This will consume 90% less energy!

9. Use power strips and turn off the power strips when the electronics plugged into them aren't in use. Some electronics use electricity even when they are turned off! If you plug your appliances into a power strip and then shut the power strip off, you will use 87% less energy than if you have the appliances plugged into 6 separate outlets.

10. Return your wire hangers to the dry cleaner. Don't just throw them in the trash. If we did this, we could save 200 million tons of steel each year that could be reused.

Just think of how much money we could save and the environmental impact we could make if we all just did these 10 simple things!

Thanks, I will now step down off of my soapbox and take it to the recycling bin.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Smile, it's electrifying :-)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Time Changes Everything - Even Marketing

I was just thinking about how much time changes things. We all know the effects time has on us in everyday life. Be it your memory, that extra little ache you may feel in the morning that you didn't feel a few years ago, or that (gasp!) gray hair that has seemed to pop up overnight.

Time doesn't just effect how we feel or look. It also has effects on how we think and get things accomplished. Take the phone book, for example. Ten years ago, if I needed anything from a plumber to a doctor to someone to bring me a hot meal, I'd go right to the phone book. Today, I looked under my phone table and found two phone books from the last two years that are still in their plastic wrap and have never even been opened. At first I started thinking about what a waste of paper. Think about all the poor trees that were cut down so that my phone books could collect dust (which made me realize that ten years ago, I never would have thought that much about the environment, either). Then I realized that, like me, phone books are suffering the effects of time. I wonder how long it will be until they no longer exist in paper format? Most people today just look things up on their computer or cell phone. I know I do. I hope that everyone who has an ad in the phone book has also invested advertising in other mediums. If you haven't, I can just about guarantee you are not getting the most from your advertising dollars. I'm not saying don't advertise in the phone book, I'm saying make sure you advertise in several different places in order to get the most bang for your buck. By just sticking to print, you are missing all of those who do research online and vice-versa.

Another advertising medium that has suffered the effects of time is newspaper advertising. In today's online and environmentally friendly world, most forms of print advertising are on the decline. Again, if you only do print advertising, you are missing a large number of potential clients. Review your marketing, make sure you are keeping up with the times and spread your marketing out among several different mediums such as the web, television and radio. Just think, 10 or so years ago many small businesses and professionals couldn't have imagined the importance of having a web site or blog and now they couldn't imagine going without it. Stay on top of the trends, only time will tell what the best advertising medium will be for you 10 years from now.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tickle Buggy!

I'm sure most of you have heard of or played the game "Punch Buggy!" You know, when you see a Volkswagon bug and you yell out "Punch Buggy" while hitting the person next to you? Well, I wanted to teach this game to my son, but didn't want him hitting other people. My solution? Replace "punch" with "tickle". Now, everytime I see a VW bug, I yell, "Tickle Buggy" and give him a little tickle. He loves it! He also loves looking for VW bugs himself and then tickling me if he sees one! We both have fun and I don't have to worry about feeling bad because I've taught him to punch other people, even in fun!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Oh Happy Day!

I had such a great day Saturday that I just had to write about it. I've had so much to deal with lately that when a truly wonderful day like this came along, I just couldn't pass up the chance to share my blessing and write about it.

It was Valentine's Day, but that really had nothing to do with why my day was so great. Nic and I had a full day of nothing but joy. Trust me, after the past few weeks I've had, it is something I so desperately needed and wasn't sure if was even possible. To have a smile on my face the whole day, for everything to go absolutely right...WOW, what a blessing!

Let's start with the weather, it was a beautiful, sunny day. After breakfast we headed to Roanoke. A shirt and sweater was all that was needed. I put a light jacket on Nic in the morning, but by the afternoon, it wasn't needed. We started off at the Science Museum. Nic had been there once before, but it was an "open house" kind of day and admission was free. This meant the place was CROWDED and we didn't get to spend as much time as we would have liked or done all of the things we wanted to do. Not the case on Saturday. For the first 30 minutes, we were the only ones there. We had the place to ourselves! After that, we only saw about 3 or 4 other families. This was wonderful because we got to spend as much time as we wanted at each exhibit without feeling like we had to rush to give other people a turn. We took lots of time and interacted with each exhibit.

After an hour and a half, we started getting hungry, so we went downtown to grab a bite for lunch. Nic can sometimes be a picky eater and I worry if he doesn't eat enough, especially on days when I know we are going to be busy. He ate like a HORSE! He finished his entire lunch and then started munching on mine. Oh happy day! After lunch, we went back to the museum to play some more. I then noticed that they have a planetarium. I remember as a child how much I LOVED the planetarium and being that Nic says he wants to be an astronaut when he grows up, I thought he would really enjoy it. He was fascinated. I wish I had a nickel for every time he said, "Oh, WOW Mommy!" The planetarium was a huge hit. The one in Roanoke isn't a complete dome like the ones I've been to before, it is more like a 3/4 dome, but it's still a lot of fun and I would highly recommend it.

After the planetarium we went BACK to the science museum for another hour or so. After the museum we walked the downtown area of Roanoke and went into a few shops. Again, Nicholas was so good, he didn't play "touchy-feely" with the breakables in the store, he used his manners and even showed me and everyone on the sidewalk his latest "cool trick" (which consisted of him jumping up in the air while kicking his leg). He didn't only make me smile, he made several other people smile too.

We then went to Valley View Mall so he could see some puppies and ride on the kiddie rides. At the mall we got some chocolate chip cookies and then made a bee line for the puppies. Nicholas LOVES puppies. He doesn't have any teddy bears that he sleeps with, but he has (at current count) 7 puppies he likes to have in bed with him, including the one he got me for Valentine's Day that he has now claimed as his own. The ladies at the store pulled out a couple of Shitzu's for Nic to pet. Oh my was so hard not to buy one. They were so cute! Then Nicholas saw a Boston Terrier/Pug mix (I'm told they are called Bugg's) and he noticed how it looked like one of his stuffed puppies named "Georgia". He then announces, "Look, Mommy, he looks like Georgia, can we get him? Oh, wow Mommy, he's laying on his back and I can see his wee-wee!" This last part he said pretty loud and everyone in the store laughed! That's my boy, always bringing a smile to people faces. After leaving the pet store, we went and rode some of the kiddie rides before heading home.

Within 10 minutes, he was OUT! He slept soundly the whole way home. We had such a busy, fun filled day that even with the nap on the way home, by 7:00 he was telling me he was tired and ready for bed.

I've posted a couple of pictures here, but you can also see pictures of our day on our photobucket account (click here). And see video on NicTV (click here).

I know there is no such thing a perfect, but my Saturday was pretty close to it in my book! I give thanks for such a wonderful day!

Monday, February 9, 2009

I was just thinking...

I was just thinking….As soon as you think you’ve got it figured out, something happens to completely throw you off balance.

I was just thinking….About how ironic it is that the economy is getting worse, income is becoming less, however my gas bill is the highest it has ever been and gas prices are quietly starting to inch their way back up. Yet, the oil companies had their best year ever last year.

I was just thinking….How bad things really do happen to good people and we will never really know why.

I was just thinking…..About how much I have to do.

Then…I stopped thinking and was quite.

And I prayed and I listened.

Then I was just thinking....about all of my blessings…


Isn’t it funny how it makes YOU feel better as a parent when your kids eat healthy? For lunch today Nic had a freshly made salad with grilled chicken. He eats this better than he eats chicken nuggets and it makes me feel so good! Then for dinner I made his favorite penne pasta (the good kind with alpha omega’s, protein and whole wheat…NOT the white kind), with organic veggies and more grilled chicken, he gobbled it up! These were the two highlights of my day, with me…it’s about the little things. Nic is always my number one blessing and what helps keep me positive.


How very blessed I am to have the best friends a girl could ask for.


How very blessed I am to still have a roof over my head and food in my cupboards when there are so many without either.


How blessed I feel in my life right now. Even with the difficulties I have encountered, I am still hopeful, looking forward to and excited about the future. I am thankful that God has blessed me with these things and with this heart. It is more sensitive and more easily broken, but it also makes it easier for me to be open to love, hope and joy.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Yes, that's me in the center of the picture. This was about 5-6 years ago, either Thanksgiving or Christmas Eve, I forget which, but remember where it was and spraining my knee, ending up in the hospital.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Most Powerful Sentence I Have Ever Read

I have just had the worst past few days of my life. I won't get into the details, just trust me. I have been constantly praying and asking many questions that I know will never be answered in this lifetime. I have been struggling to get through each day and found myself just going through the motions and not feeling any hope for the first time in my life. Then it happened.

I was sitting in the living room and had a music channel on the TV as background noise. Nicholas (my 3 year old) comes up to me and says, "Mommy I want to write you a note." Okay, I go and get him some paper and markers and put it on the little table in his playroom. He sits down and starts to write. I'm not paying much attention, I had turned to pick up some toys and tidy up a bit. He then announces, "Here you go Mommy!" I look down at the paper and just started to sob. The only thing he has ever written in the past was his name, "NIC". He has practiced his letters and can read 3 and 4 letter words, but has never written any. Today, he wrote his first sentence and it touched me deeper than any words I've ever read. In the background, I hear Carrie Underwood singing, "Jesus Take the Wheel" as I read the words, "I LOVE MOM." No sentence has ever pulled my heart right out of my chest like this one did. Other than the word of my lifetime, these are the most powerful words that I will ever read. They meant so much to me on so many different levels.

I truly feel God was sending me a message. He was letting me know that He is in control and that He loves me. He was letting me know that I have so many blessing in my life and the biggest is my son. For the first time in days I felt hope and joy. Joy for my beautiful son that is learning and growing and is such a blessing. I am honored to be his mother. I am honored that God chose me and trusted me with this precious life. I know I will always be there to catch my son if he falls, to lift him up if he needs it....I never knew that he would be the one to lift me up. Thank you God for sending me this blessing, for showing me You love me, for Your grace and mercy. Most of all, thanks for not giving up on me, when I felt like giving up myself. As a way of sharing my blessing and serving You, I hope this story will help someone else who is feeling hopeless. Hang in there and trust Him.

Yes, he wrote this all by himself. No help from Mom.

The Newspaper

Here is my article "Passionate About Pulaski" as it appeared in the Southwest Times. Three days before my article was published, Nicholas was in the Roanoke Times, so I've published his photo here as well.

I have received tons of positive feedback on my article, thanks so much! I'm glad people enjoyed it and I hope it helps! (click on the article to see/read it full size).

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Passionate About Pulaski

I was asked to write an article for the Southwest Times. Every Sunday they have a feature they call "Passionate About Pulaski" where each week they ask different local leaders and business people to write an article. The first few articles were about 1/4 page, but I guess they aren't THAT passionate about Pulaski because they requested that we scale the articles back due to space restraints. Unfortunately, I didn't get this request until AFTER I had written the full 1/4 page article. I didn't want the full article to go to waste, so I've posted it here. The abbreviated version will be in this Sunday's paper, along with my mug shot.

Passionate About Pulaski

As a relative newcomer to Pulaski County I find myself feeling blessed on a daily basis that I chose to call Pulaski County home. Pulaski has offered me a great opportunity to raise a family and start a business. What is so surprising to me is how amazed people seem to be when I tell them this. The question I get asked the most is, “Why on Earth would you move to Pulaski?” My response, “Why on Earth wouldn’t you?” How strange it seems to me to talk to so many people who don’t see the true gem that Pulaski County really is.

Let’s start with the people. The Pulaski community is one of the friendliest I have ever encountered. Everyday I see someone who greets me with a smile, a “hello,” a handshake or a hug. No one just passes you by. The hurried, “I’m too busy to speak” pace of Northern Virginia (where I am originally from) does not exist here. To be honest that took me a little while to get used to, but once I did, there is no amount of money that could send me back to Northern Virginia.

The community is very family oriented; there are many children’s programs and family activities, if you only take the time to find them. For example, my 3 year old son has been to story time at the library, KinderMusik classes, children’s choir at our church, baseball games at Calfee Park and let’s not forget the playgrounds and parks in our area, like Randolph Park.

There are fantastic things for adults, too. You can join a book or knitting club at Coffee Buy the Book; hike the New River Trail; go fishing; boating or swimming at Claytor Lake; golf at one of our three great golf courses, just to name a few.

While Pulaski is a great place for young families, there are impressive health care and social opportunities for our older community as well. As an example, the Pulaski Community Hospital is an accredited chest pain center and cancer center. They offer excellent rehabilitation and other therapy services. In addition, Pulaski offers the Retired Senior Volunteer Program and the Senior Center offers a wide variety of trips and activities.

Pulaski also offers a nice mix of culture and educational outings too. The newly renovated Pulaski Theatre is spectacular! It truly is a treasure. The Fine Arts Center for the New River Valley hosts magnificent pieces of art as well as free concerts in Jackson Park. You can learn more about Pulaski at the Pulaski Courthouse exhibits or the Raymond F. Ratcliffe Memorial Museum and don’t forget to check out the stars at the Wysor Observatory.

There are a number of festivals and community events in Pulaski every year that I highly recommend. There is the Claytor Lake Annual Summer Festival, PulaskiFest, the Fall Festival of Arts and Crafts in Newbern and the New River Valley Fair at the New River Valley Fairgrounds.

As a resident of Pulaski, I like that I don’t have to drive for miles to shop for everyday items. I can go to Walgreens or CVS to pick up my prescriptions, makeup and toiletries; Peebles to get a new dress for church or a suit for a business meeting; Food Lion for groceries and Magic Mart for anything else.

Looking for a great gift for a special person’s birthday, holiday or just because? Shop downtown. We have great little shops that are certain to have that unique gift perfect for people of all ages, from 1 day old to 100 years old. Looking for sporting goods for you child’s team? Check out Hibbett Sports. Need help planting your garden or keeping the greenest yard on your street? You can find what you need at Tractor Supply. If you are upgrading your kitchen and need new appliances or if your washer/dryer finally went “kaput,” then you can go to Pulaski Appliance. Not only will you get the new appliances you need, but also experience great customer service. They service what they sell and keep parts in stock, so even if you only need a repair, stop by and see them.

Speaking of the special people in your life, if you are looking for spectacular getaway for you and your spouse, try out Rockwood Manor in Dublin. This magnificent property is, beyond a doubt, southern hospitality at its very best. Looking to start a life together? Rockwood Manor provides a flawless backdrop for a picture-perfect wedding and/or reception.

Need a haircut or the perfect “do” for that wedding? We have a fabulous salon (Elite Style) and great barber shop (Sani-Mode) right down town. Oh and don’t get me started on the most relaxing massages you will ever receive in your life from Patricia Aust Weeks at Fruitful Seasons! Think I’m exaggerating? No way. I’ve had massages all over this country and the best I have ever had, by far, is from Trish.

Want to grab a bite to eat? The options are endless. Everything from Japanese, to Mexican to Chinese to good old fashioned American cooking can all be found in Pulaski.

Starting a business? Again, Pulaski can provide the environment you’ve been looking for. The New River Valley Competitiveness Center offers tremendous resources for local entrepreneurs. With lower taxes, affordable store front spaces, a willing workforce and other resources to help start your business such as accounting, printing and marketing services already in place, it is the ideal spot for any new business.

With all that I’ve listed above, I again ask, “Why on Earth wouldn’t you choose Pulaski County?” This article is only a drop in the bucket in the long list of reasons to live here. I didn’t even get into the low cost of living, beautiful homes at affordable prices and the close proximity to outstanding educational institutes.

Yes Virginia, a wonderful, family friendly, affordable place to live and work in the New River Valley really does exist. It exists in Pulaski County.

Monday, January 26, 2009

25 Things About Me

Okay, I've been tagged about 25 times with this note about 25 things, so I guess it's time I do it. So here you go, 25 things about me:

1. Being a Mom has taught me more than any other person, class or book ever has.

2. I was a firefighter/EMT for 15 years and am still certified.

3. I still, to this day, have nightmares about some of the things I have seen.

4. My sister was born on Easter Sunday and I have always felt kind of like her Mom, even though I'm only 6 1/2 years older than she is. I love her as if she were my child.

5. My brother Jason is 11 years younger than I am and I feel more like a Mom to him, too. After he was born, I knew I wanted to have a sons.

6. My brother Jeffrey is 20 years younger than I am, but even though we have the biggest age difference, I feel less like a mother to him because we have never lived together. Don't get me wrong, I love him just as much, but since we never lived together, I never changed as many of his diapers or fed him as many meals.

7. My best friend, Angelica, lives in Naples, FL and anyone who really knows me, knows this. We have been best friends since we were young, naive girls in our early 20's and no one in the world knows me better than her. I love her like she is my sister and I know God brought us together.

8. I use to sell firetrucks for a living.

9. I am half Native American - Iriquois to be exact. My biological father was Iriquois and I even have an uncle named He Dog and and Aunt named Moon Eyes.

10. Ever since the moment I found out I was pregnant (and I mean THE moment, as soon as I saw the "+" sign, even before I told Gary, I dropped to my knees in prayer) thanking Him for blessing me with a child.

11. I would like to have another son - but am truly perfectly happy if I don't.

12. I love kids so much that if I am in a restaurant and hear another child crying, I tear up because I feel so bad that they are unhappy.

13. I was the first female President of the Upperville Volunteer Fire Company and kept the position for 10 years, until I moved.

14. I have had my heart broken too many times, but still believe in love. I'm either a glutton for punishment or have a huge amount of faith (who am I kidding, I know it's faith).

15. I absolutely LOVE my church! I LOVE helping teach the kids in Sunday school, love the people there, love all the programs they offer and I thank God in my prayers for leading me to the First United Methodist Church in Pulaski.

16. I am more religious than most people realize, but I don't get up on my soapbox or judge other people if they aren't. I truly believe in "Judge not lest ye be judged" and "Let he who be without sin cast the first stone", so it's not my place to judge others on the lives they choose.

17. I don't believe you have to live like a nun to be a good Christian. I listen to R&B music, can go out and have a drink (just one, I don't get drunk, I'm really not a drinker) with the girls and just have fun. It doesn't lessen my beliefs, mean I love God any less or make me any less of a Christian than the person in the front pew Sunday morning.

18. I love talking to old people. I think they have such interesting stories and have so much to offer in the way of advice. They have already been there, done that, so listen to what they have to say and learn from their experiences.

19. Nothing in this world can bring me as much joy as my son. I am amazed everyday by him and I know I will never love anyone more. He is my hero for opening my eyes to so many things.

20. I use to have a Dalmatian and I miss her dearly. I still have her picture on my fridge.

21. I admire my friend Holly. She has one of the kindest hearts I have ever been witness to and I really feel that God brought her into my life.

22. I try to do what I can to make this world a better place, not for me, but for my son.

23. I lost my two front teeth when I was 2 (they were knocked out) and I didn't get them back until I was 8.

24. I have been in enough weddings to be in the movie "27 dresses"..LOL...okay, maybe not 27, but close! I have a ton of bridesmaid dresses in my basement.

25. I hope I can help every person I ever meet in some way, even if it's very small, like learning something from my blog, not for myself, but as a way to serve God by sharing the blessings he has given me.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Fun Way to Teach Your Child About the Solar System

My 3 year old son (Nic) and I were playing with his Mega Blocks. I asked him what he wanted to build and he said "Spaceships." This came as no surprise as he has been saying lately how much he wants to be an astronaut so he can fly to the moon. We began building spaceships and I asked him where we should fly the spaceships. He wanted to go to the moon (no surprise). Off we go. After a safe landing on the moon and checking out Neil Armstrong's footprints and the flag, I asked, "Where should we go next?" The reply, "Jupiter!" That's when it hit me. I could use this playtime as an opportunity to teach.

I took out 8 different Mega Blocks and spaced them out on the living room floor. I told him that Jupiter was the biggest planet (so I used the biggest Mega Block) and showed him where it was in the solar system. Then we counted down, "5 - 4 -3 -2 -1, Blastoff!" We were on our way to Jupiter. After landing at Jupiter I asked him again what makes Jupiter special? He remembered, it's the biggest planet - YES!! He's learning! We then flew to Saturn, I told him Saturn was special because it had rings. We did the same thing for Neptune, the little blue Mega Block, (the coldest and furthest away, since Pluto doesn't count anymore....poor thing was demoted). Then we did it for Mercury, the little red Mega Block (the smallest and hottest). We then raced home to Earth. He really liked it when we raced between the planets! I thought I'd save Uranus, Venus and Mars for the next night. After we landed back home, he wanted to fly through the solar system again - GREAT! This time I played the command center. For example, "Command Center to Astronaut Nic, we need you to fly to the coldest planet, furthest away and report to us the name of the planet." He then flew to Neptune and said, "I'm at Neptune and it's very cold!" Woo Hoo!! He really is learning and doesn't even realize it. Command then directed him to the planet with rings. Nic then flew to Saturn and named the planet. We played this for about 45 minutes.

When I was tucking him in last night, I asked him again about the planets, which was coldest, which was smallest and hottest, which was biggest, which had the rings and which was our home planet. He got them all right. SCORE! I found a fun way to teach! I hope it works for you too!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Don't be the Itsy-Bitsy Spider!

So, I’m wearing my marketing hat again. I know what you’re thinking; what does the itsy-bitsy spider have to do with marketing? Glad you asked. I was thinking about this children’s song yesterday when I found a frozen spider on my deck. No kidding, he was frozen solid inside of his web. This spider didn’t make it back up the water spout. I’m sure you all know the song about a very small spider that climbs up the water spout, until the rain comes. The rain washed the spider away, but when the sun came back out, so did the spider. Great, the spider was persistent, but only persistent when it was comfortable for him. He was only persistent when the conditions were perfect.

Let’s pretend the rain is our current economic times and the water spout is your company’s marketing. Don’t wait until the rain (current economic times) ends to start back up that water spout (marketing your company)! Studies have shown that once you cut your marketing budget, it takes an enormous effort to get your marketing back up to snuff and your branding back on track. Branding yourself is like tending to a garden. If you consistently take care of it, it will provide you with sustenance. This sustenance will save you money, since you won’t need to go to the grocery store to buy it. But, if you stop watering your garden (especially during a drought), it won’t produce. Now, you are stuck spending more money in the long run and getting produce from the grocery store that may not be as good as if you had continued taking care of the garden, even during the dry spell.

Don’t be the itsy-bitsy spider. Don’t wait until the weather is better to climb back up that water spout. Be consistent with your marketing, even during these economic times so you don’t lose all the hard work you have already put into branding your company.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Where were you for "The Moment"?

Since this day is a day most people will always remember and a day that our kids and grandkids may ask us about for their school projects in years to come, I thought I'd ask. Where were you during this historic day? I picked my three year old son up early from pre-school to make sure he got to see the swearing in. Even though we couldn't be there, I wanted him to remember and understand the importance of this day. We came home, rushed in the door, turned on the TV and started to watch. You could even feel the excitement in our humble little home in Southwest Virginia. He was very excited during the ceremony, but when President Obama was sworn in, he stopped in his tracks, sat completely still and focused (as seen in the picture). When it was all done he said, "Barack Obama is President, he was inaugoorated!"

I hope he remembers this day. But if he doesn't, I've got pictures AND video of him participating in this historic day.

He was raising his hand mimicking the President.
If he ever becomes President, this picture will
be pretty cool to have :-)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Just a little something to make you smile!

Monday, January 12, 2009

What Makes Me Happy.....and What Drives Me NUTS!

A fellow blogger recently wrote about things that annoy her. I loved the post and thought I'd write one of my own, but with a little different twist. Here you will find a short list of things that make me happy AND things that make me crazy. My happy stuff is a little more serious and sappy, but the crazy things are more on the fun side, enjoy!

Five things that make me happy:

I would like to start this one off by saying first and foremost what makes me happy is God. He will always be the source of all things that make me happy and my strength when things make me crazy.

5. The beach. The sun, the sand, the ocean, the breeze. Just looking at a picture of a beach is instant stress relief for me. The sound of the ocean relaxes me, the breeze refreshes me, the sun warms me. I would absolutely lose my mind if I didn't get to the beach, at the very least, one week every year. It is something I look forward to all year long. Some of my happiest memories in life takes place at the ocean. Some of my biggest life lessons also took place by the sea.

4. Listening to people who were alive during WWII. Especially WWII Vets. I think this is fresh in my mind now because I just watched Flags of our Fathers (great movie - go rent it if you haven't seen it). I love to listen to their stories, their life experiences. To hear someone talk about how different times are, to listen to how much they have seen change is amazing to me. To hear WWII vets talk about what they experienced, the friends lost, the battles won - it really gives you a different perspective. I have so much respect for all of our veterans, not just WWII vets. To sit down and talk to someone who has seen first hand wars, recessions, the assassination of a President, a man on the moon, etc. is eye-opening. Always take the time to listen to our baby boomers and senior citizens, every time I talk to them, I learn something. They have been there, done that.

3. Snuggling in my nice warm bed on a really cold night. This hit me just the other night. The air in my bedroom was a little chilly, but I hopped in bed with my warm flannel sheets and my soft down feather pillow and felt so much happiness that I literally giggled with glee. If I've got a good book right beside the bed, even better! I love to read a great book while snuggled in my bed.

2. My family and friends. These two go together because for me, a lot of my friends are more like family and some of my family are also more like friends. My sister and I are more than just sisters and I love her to pieces. I can't imagine my life without her, we've been through so much together. My best friend Angelica, I consider her family. I don't know what I would have done without her on so many occasions. I know I can count on her, she is always by my side. My friend Holly is someone else I can always count on, she is one of the sweetest people I know. I could never forget Darien who is so fun and also someone I can depend on. There are so many other friends I have that I just love. I am one of the luckiest girls when it comes to my friends, I have the best and to think of them, as well as my family and all the fun times we've shared, always makes me happy.

1. My son. Okay, this was an obvious one. My son is the number one thing that makes me happy and the number one person I live for. Everyday with him is a blessing. Even when he's having a grumpy moment, he still makes me happier than anything on this planet. For me, to hear him laugh is the sweetest music that no composer could ever write, to see his beautiful face is to see a masterpiece that no artist could ever paint and to witness his heart is to feel love and happiness like no human could ever compare to.

Now for the things that drive me NUTS:

5. Getting urban legends in my email. If someone tells you your head will explode if your milk has a pink top instead of a blue one, it's probably an urban legend. Okay, I'm exaggerating on that one. But I've gotten some that are just as crazy that people send to me to warn me of my impending doom or of the gangsters that are going to bust a cap in me if I drive 57 mph instead of 55 and one of my headlights is out. If it sounds too frightening to be true, it probably is. Please check it out on one of the millions of urban legend web sites before forwarding it to everyone in your email address book. Everyone can fall prey to one of these once in a while, but seriously, I get these about once or twice a week and some that have been circulating since the advent of the internet.

4. When I am mid-sentence and completely lose my train of thought because I just forget what I'm saying or get distracted. I chalk this up to a combination of things, getting older and my thyroid disease. I HATE it when I'm talking to someone and telling them something really important and then "POOF" it's gone before I can finish getting it out of my mouth. I'm convinced I will have Alzheimer's by the time I'm.....oh look, I just got an email.

3. Women who stay young, fit and beautiful without having to do anything. How do you stay a size 6 without exercise? How do you have flawless skin just by washing with Dove soap? I practically starve myself to keep my 5' 9" frame in size 8 jeans (okay, starve is a strong word, but I really have to watch what I eat). I spend 20 minutes before bed washing, exfoliating and lathering up with moisturizer, just so my face and body doesn't look like a road map with all the lines and creases. Why do I waste my time? You can still see father time's footprints all over my entire body.

2. People who are rude. This encompasses many things. For example, not RSVPing. I think if someone thought enough of you to invite you to something, you should be kind enough to at least let them know if you can or can not make it. Also, people who don't use their manners. I'm often shocked when my 3 year old son displays better manners than the adults around him. For example, we are at a restaurant and the waiter gives Nic his food. Nic says, "Thank you!" The rude waiter just walks away without saying, "Your welcome." This has happened MANY, MANY times.

1. People who are fake. This is so annoying. People who pretend to be someone that they truly aren't, just for the sake of appearances. Be yourself! People will start to catch on eventually anyway. There is a country song that has a lyric that goes something like, "I'm so much cooler online." These are the people that annoy me. The people that pretend to be the social butterfly, the hippest, coolest or smartest thing ever to walk the earth. Then you meet them and they still live at home with their parents and don't bother to change their clothes from the fashions of 1972. Not that there is anything wrong with that. If you want to dress like it's 1972, I say go for it! I'll still be your friend if you are a nice person, but don't pretend you are a fashionista if you aren't. I'm more likely to be friends with someone who is caught in a time warp if they are honest about it (I think it adds to their character) than if they pretend they are Mr. or Mrs. Hip and I found out later it was all for show. Just be yourself. Have enough faith in yourself that you are good enough and deserve to have friendship and happiness!

As I started writing this list, I realized there are many other things that drive me nuts, but I'll spare you. I'm sure there are many things I do that drive other people nuts too, it's all part of being human, but thanks for "listening" to my rant.