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.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

My First Two Blog Awards

I received my first two blog awards today! I'm thankful that people are really reading and enjoying my blog. I hope it proves helpful, informative and more importantly, just makes you smile! Thank you to http://www.notjustamomsite.com/ for presenting these awards to me. Make sure to check out her very cool site, too!

I would like to share the love and pass these awards on to a few of my favorite blogs:

Adventures of a Millennium Mom

Kitchen Chatter

Mommyhood Adventures

The Power of Housewife Word of Mouth

Welcome to the Nuthouse

Check out these blogs, they are great!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Importance of a Logo and Effective Logo Design

I'm wearing my marketing hat again. I'm working on some new logos for clients and thinking about how important logos are to any business, no matter how big or small. I am posting the following blog on my business web site: www.cwimedia.com, but thought I'd also share it here:


What does your logo say about you? Do you even have one? In order to effectively brand your business and stand out in the market, a logo is a must. A logo also gives your business credibility. People perceive the business or person with a logo to be more established than the business or person that doesn’t.

But not just any logo will do. Your logo needs to stand out and be memorable. When creating a logo, make sure it reflects your business. You want people to see your logo and have some idea as to what you do or what service you provide. For example, if you are a florist, having a boat incorporated into your logo simply because it’s your favorite type of boat, might not be the most effective design.

Make sure your logo is easy to read. If the fonts are too extravagant to read, people won’t. Also, don’t underestimate the effectiveness of a simple design. You don’t want your logo to be too busy. You want to attract the reader and keep them.

Another thing to keep in mind - be careful with color. Too many colors may be overwhelming and difficult to reproduce, so limit it to two, three max. Make sure your colors compliment each other, not compete with each other.

And finally, create a clever tag line to go with your logo. Tag lines should be three to seven words and let the reader know the benefit of working with you.

Effective logo design is best done by professionals who listen to your needs and message and work with you to create the optimum logo for your business. If you would like help creating a unique, effective logo design, contact Donna at donna@cwimedia.com.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

My Willow Tree and I. It's a Love-Hate Thing.

I LOVE my willow tree, April through October. The rest of the year, not so much. My willow tree is HUGE and beautiful and has provided many lazy summer picnics under it's beautiful canopy. I really do love it. But, then November comes and all the leaves are gone. But not just the leaves, tons of branches come down too. My back yard is about a half acre and the ENTIRE thing is covered in willow leaves and branches. It doesn't loose all it's leaves until the end of October, sometimes early November, which is about a month behind when my other trees loose theirs. I find myself doing all my normal yard work in October, raking leaves, preparing for winter, just to find that a month later it looks like I've done nothing because that's when my willow sheds.

But by November I'm starting to get ready for the holiday season, the days are shorter and colder and raking leaves is not at the top of my priority list. So I usually end up not getting to rake up my willow leaves and branches until almost spring. I was lucky this year (well, if you can call it lucky). We had a beautiful 65 degree day in January, so I hauled my cookies outside for some hard labor. I figure it'll help me shed some of those holiday pounds. Several hours and huge piles of branches and leaves later, I still have a huge mess in the back yard. But, I can see a light at the end of the tunnel and my willow tree is starting to grow on me again. I love playing with my son under the branches of that tree. It's big enough that we can play baseball in it's shade during the summer, instead of in the hot sun. When I was a little girl, I loved swinging on the branches of the willow tree in my grandfathers back yard. Inside the branches of a willow is almost like your own little fortress, a protective, beautiful bubble. It really is a gorgeous tree and I just have to remind myself that anything worth having is worth all this extra hard work. It really only takes me a couple of days to get everything cleaned up. But, because I usually can't get to it right away and it sits for months at a time, it seems worse than it is.

This morning I thought, "My next house will only have magnolia trees and evergreens!" But this evening, while thinking about all the beautiful memories the willow tree has brought me, I decided that no matter where I live, I have to plant a Willow.

Friday, January 2, 2009

A New Blog for the New Year

Happy New Year! I've taken down the "Christmas skin" and have replaced it with a new background, as well as updated some of my widgets, so I'm ready for the New Year. I also wanted to share a New Years smile, these 2009 glasses made the rounds:

I hope 2009 is the best year ever for you! God bless!