Thursday, December 30, 2010

Another Year

I know you've heard it a million times, but it's true! 2010 FLEW by.

How is it possible that I am now a mother to two beautiful boys and a dog? I was looking back through my blogposts from 2010 and I'm amazed at how much my life has changed and how much has happened in just one short year. I must say, this year is ending MUCH better than last year. Last year at this time I was 35 weeks pregnant and on bed rest. Wow, that seems like so long ago!

I am very thankful for such a blessed year. It hasn't always been easy, but thanks to my extraordinary husband and precious children and of course, the Good Lord above, it has been the best year ever. Some highlights:

- Caleb Nathaniel was born! This was definitely the highlight of the year!

- We added a new puppy to our family, Maximus. Caleb was only 4 weeks old, what were we thinking????

- We had a GREAT vacation in Myrtle Beach that included Nic's first helicopter ride.

- I planted my first veggie/fruit garden ever and it did GREAT! I did not have to buy any produce all summer because the garden fed us! I can't wait to do it again in 2011! Nic and I have so much fun working on the garden together and now Caleb will be able to join us, too.

- Hubby and I celebrated our anniversary with a weekend getaway, just the two of us. It was wonderful!

- I finished reading the Bible, cover to cover.

- We had a family reunion/80th birthday party for my Grannie. I love my big family!

- We worked together as a family to create a very unique Halloween costume that got the most attention I've ever seen a costume get!

- We hosted Thanksgiving and had lots of family over. Our hearts and our stomachs were full.

- We all participated in our church's live nativity with Larry, Caleb and I portraying Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Nic was a Shepard and the boys and I got to ride a camel for the first time!

- Nic turned 5, rode his first roller coaster, learned to swim, started kindergarten, played on a soccer team for the first time, lost his first 2 teeth and has excelled in school. He is already reading and writing well beyond his level. I am so proud of my oldest son.

- Caleb was baptized, started taking steps, celebrated his first Easter, 4th of July, Halloween and Christmas! He has already had two haircuts, has a much larger vocabulary than I ever expected and is eating like a horse. He is a happy, healthy baby, the answer to our prayers. I can't believe he will be 1 year old on January 18th! I am proud of my baby too!


These are just a few of the highlights from what has been a fabulous 2010! I am so looking forward to 2011 with my loving family and wonderful friends.

Have a safe and happy new year!

Friday, December 17, 2010

My Second Best Gift, EVER.

This morning, my 5 year old said to me, "Mommy, thank you for giving me a baby brother." It was one of those moments that, as a mother, I will cherish forever. It helped me to know that, when it comes to my kids, I'm doing something right.

That got me thinking.

I didn't actually give him a baby brother. After all, the baby is not mine to give. To say I gave my son a brother, or my husband a son is implying that I have ownership of that gift. But I don't have ownership, we all belong to God.

So, after wiping my eyes, I said to my son, "Your very welcome, sweetie. But, I didn't give you a baby brother. GOD gave us, our family, that wonderful gift." I then explained to him that all babies are gifts from God and that He is the original owner. He is the giver of those precious little gifts. I am blessed to have received that gift twice.

If the occasion ever calls for it, I will no longer say that I gave my husband a son. I will no longer say that I gave my son a baby brother. I will say to my wonderful husband that I am the mother of his son, that I bore him a son, or something along those lines. I will tell my amazing son that God gave us a baby brother for him, but NOT that I gave him a brother. I don't want to take the credit away from the One who truly deserves it.

With that being said, the second greatest gift I ever received has been my children. They are not mine, they are His. God has entrusted me with them while on this earth.

The greatest gift I have ever received, is the Salvation that came from the birth of Jesus and his subsequent sacrifice on the cross. Let's not forget that, especially at this holiday season.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Best New Smart Phone Application

Okay, so this new application hasn't been invented yet. It is my idea and if there is anyone out there who can help me make this application a reality, please get in touch!

So....have you ever had someone send you a text or leave you a message asking you to call them right back? Of course you have.

How many times have you called that person back, right away, only to find they don't answer? Then they call you back five minutes later saying that they didn't hear the phone ring or that it was in their back pocket and they didn't feel it vibrate.

For those of us with friends and loved ones with hearing loss and/or the loss of sensation, I have the perfect solution.

So, you know how when leaving a message you hear, "Press 1 to leave a message, press 2 to leave a call back number?"

Well, I have thought of 3 new options and they would go something like this:

- "Press 3 to have the party you are trying to reach tapped on the shoulder to get their attention."

- "Press 4 to have the party you are trying to reach slapped in the back of the head."

- "Press 5 to drop the elbow on the party you are trying to reach."

I'm pretty sure one of these three options would get the attention of the person you are calling.

So that's it. The "Be Sure to Get Their Attention" application. Even if it can't be done in reality, it would probably make a good Saturday Night Live skit.

I would like to dedicate this blog post to my wonderful husband. The love of my life, the man of my dreams, a great Dad and the inspiration for this blog post =D


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My Real Life David vs. Goliath

I think I know how David felt.

He was confident, he was faithful, he trusted in the Lord to deliver him from the those trying to hurt him and his family. But, David was also human. As a human it is only natural to feel a bit of nervousness before battle.

Without going into too much detail, I find myself in a similar battle. My battle is against greed, money and ignorance. Of course not mine, if you know me, you know how unimportant money is to me.

Even with this battle looming, I am remarkably comforted. I am still happy. Why? Because I have truth on my side and more importantly, I have the Lord. I know he will deliver me and my family from those who try to hurt us. You know why? Because He says so, many times. He tells me that I don't need to fear, that He will protect me:

Job 5:20-21
In famine He will ransom you from death, and in battle from the stroke of the sword. You will be protected from the lash of the tongue, and need not fear when destruction comes.

Psalm 32:10
Many are the woes of the wicked, but the LORD's unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him.

Psalm 138:7
Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes, with your right hand you save me.

2 Thess 3:3
3The Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one

Psalm 27:1
The Lord is my light and my salvation, who shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

Also, because they are so evil and alone, they think that money equals happiness. But since our happiness has nothing to do with money, attempting to taking it from us will not take away our love and happiness.

You know what else? I feel sorry for them. Not in the, "I'm saying that in a sarcastic, mean way." I truly, from the bottom of my heart feel bad when I know someone is so miserable in their own life that they have to try to ruin the life of someone else. To live a life where you are so blinded by your own greed and envy that you can't open yourself up to find true happiness in your own life, makes me sad.

My family and I are incredibly blessed and happy because of our true love, we are happy because of God. Nothing makes us happier than just being together. Those things can not be taken away. They are not something you purchase at a store.

I will pray for my enemies as the Lord instructs us to do. I will pray that He can open their eyes and their hearts. They know that they are flat out lying, they can't be so far gone that they can't see that they are only being greedy and evil. As a mere human, I cannot correct those flaws in them. It has to come from their heart, they have to turn to God. I pray they find true happiness. I pray they can see that no matter what they try, they can't take our joy. They can try to take our money but, God is faithful and after the battle they will still be empty, alone and jealous. We will still be a family full of love and joy. We will be victorious.

I have a few other friends that I know are in the same situation, battling the money and the greed of someone else. You know who you are and I wrote this for you as well. I'm surprised at the number of people fighting this same type of battle. I'm shocked at how evil and greedy some people really are, especially at the holidays. Know, my friends, that you aren't alone, take strength in the Lord, trust Him. Everything will be just fine, God never lies!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Mom, Dada, Nic Poop Blue Apples.

I know what your thinking. WHAT is she talking about? The dog and the boys have finally driven her over the edge.

Nope, I'm perfectly sane.

Well almost.

You see, it's not me talking, it's the baby.

If you were to take all the words he says on a daily basis and put them in a sentence, that is what you would get. Oh, but he also says "Hi" and Bye-Bye" so I guess it would really be more like this:

"Hi! Mom, Dada, Nic poop blue apples. Bye-bye!"

You know, like when you exchange pleasantries with someone you bump into while at the grocery store. Instead of saying, "Hi, how are you? How's the family? Take care!" Caleb will tell you that his family poops blue apples.

Well, he doesn't usually say them all together, but throughout the course of the day, you will hear each of those words at least a couple of times, especially when you change his diaper. He squeals, "Poop!" and then laughs. He is his father's son.

And that, my friends is what I am thankful for this Thursday. Although, I just realized that today is Friday and I missed my Thankful Thursday post. All this talk about poop has clouded my brain. Regardless, I am thankful for my baby's budding vocabulary.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Forgiveness

The dictionary defines the word forgive as "To excuse for a fault or an offense; pardon."

Wow....to pardon. Have you ever thought about that? We know that the President can pardon people. We know that Governor's can. Of course, we all know that God can (at least I hope we all know, if you don't read on). But, have you ever stopped to think about your ability to pardon?

I've learned that it's easy to say that you forgive someone, but to mean it, TRULY mean it in your heart, is HARD! You know what else I've learned? Most of the time, It takes time.

God is certainly willing to forgive us, all we have to do is ask, to say we are sorry and mean it. When we do that, we are forgiven. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9. It doesn't say, "...and in time, God will forgive you." He forgives you right then and there.

But, I can't seem to do that. Why? Because I am human, I am not perfect. I think most everyone struggles with this. Think about it, who is the last person that said, "I'm sorry" to you? Did you forgive them and move on? Or, did you mull and stew over the offense? Did you still feel some resentment or a bit of anger the next time you saw them? Then guess what? You didn't forgive them.

You know what it takes to truly forgive? God. I've learned that true forgiveness sometimes requires time and most importantly, always requires God. To forgive someone and forget the offense, to not be resentful, to not feel hurt or anger afterwards is something we, as humans, can not do without God.

Something else to remember: Just as you may be the offended and in need of forgiving someone. You too, are someone who has hurt someone else. It is not possible to live your life without hurting someone at some point in time. If you are aware of a hurt you have caused someone, intentional or not, it is important that you ask that person to forgive you. Be sincere in your apology, don't just send a text or email, actually speak to the person and own up. It is so much easier to forgive someone when they say they are sorry. But, even when they don't, it's still up to us, as Christians, to pray and forgive so that we can be released of that pain and move on.

This Thankful Thursday, I am so very thankful for forgiveness, especially the forgiveness I have received.

Monday, November 1, 2010

What Halloween Means to Me


I understand that Halloween is a lot of different things for a lot of different people. For me and my family, there are no ghosts, goblins or anything scary. For us, it is a time to reflect on the previous year and/or a day of fun pretend. A day that you can be whatever you want to be when you grow up.

Each year Halloween commemorates something from the previous year. For example, when my son was 3, he loved Ratatouille, so I made a Ratatouille costume using a chef's costume, mouse ears and my eyeliner for his nose and whiskers. Whenever I see his Halloween pictures I remember him watching the movie over and over and then reenacting it during playtime.



When he was 4, he wanted to be an astronaut. He had his biggest birthday party ever and the theme was outer space/NASA. When I see the Halloween pictures of him dressed in his flight suit, I remember how excited he got whenever we talked or read books about outer space and his joy at his 4th birthday party.

This year, he went on his first helicopter ride and he also loved the
movie "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs." At first he said he wanted to be Flint Lockwood, the scientist from the movie. But, I know that he changes his mind a lot. He's 5, that's what 5 year old's do. So, my strategy is to start asking what he wants to be about a month before Halloween. I ask once a week what he wants to be and if he says the same thing three times, that's what we go with. Week 1, he wanted Flint Lockwood. Weeks 2, 3 and 4 it was a helicopter, so a helicopter he was. I have to say, this is the first year we have made a costume completely from scratch. Using only materials found around the house, we made it at no cost. Not only was the costume original, it was economical! It also created memories. All of our family working together on this costume was so fun. Of course, hubby did most of the work. He's a carpenter, so that sort of thing is second nature to him. But we all did it together and making that memory helped make this Halloween so very special.


We also have a baby in our family this year. The baby is too young to really give us any feedback, so he went as a pilot for Nic's helicopter. I love costumes that aren't typical. I thought about making him a fluffy lion or mouse or something like that. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing cuter than a little baby in a fluffy costume, I love it! But, for us, we like to do things a little different and have unique costumes. There were no other baby pilots or helicopters walking or flying the streets on Halloween night, so mission accomplished!

The one thing I have learned is that I really do prefer the costumes that are home made or at least semi-homemade. Not something you just buy. Make a memory with your child, be creative with them and next year, Halloween will be even more special.....and you'll save money to boot!


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My Chicken Corn Chowder Recipe

Love chicken corn chowder? I have an easy recipe to make a large stockpot full of the stuff! This will feed at least 10-12 people. I only have 4 in my family, but like to cook large quantities to feed us over several days and to make sure I have enough to share with others.

Oh, and these are estimates, I don't really measure when I cook:

INGREDIENTS
1.75 to 2 lbs. of cubed boneless chicken breasts (to make the recipe REALLY easy, use the Tyson's frozen, diced chicken breasts, saves lots of time!)

1 large diced onion

5 cans of extra sweet niblets corn

2 cans of creamed corn

2 1/2 cans of evaporated milk (12 oz. size)

12 large potatoes peeled and cubed (to make this recipe REALLY easy, just buy about 5 cans of the diced/cubed potatoes)

5-6 tablespoons of cornstarch

1 cup of butter

Seasonings: salt, pepper, Season All, garlic, basil (add as much as you like, depending on what seasonings you prefer)

DIRECTIONS

In a large stockpot, melt the butter and add the chicken and onion. Cook until the chicken is ready.

Add potatoes and water. Cook until potatoes are tender. Add evaporated milk, then add creamed corn and finally corn. Add as much of the water from the corn as you need. I used 3 cans of corn with water, but drained the last two cans and added only the corn. You will have to judge based on how full your pot is and how much liquid you like in your soup. Bring to a boil.

Remove pot from the burner and in a separate container stir cornstarch with a small amount of COLD water. Add the cornstarch mixture and return the soup to the burner to boil. Add seasoning.

Then just let it simmer until you are ready to eat! YUMMY!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fall off the Bone, Easy, Yummy Barbecue Rib Recipe

I made some ribs tonight that were so good, it would be selfish of me not to share! If you've read my blog before, you know that I don't really measure, but here is a guesstimate of the recipe:

2 to 2.5 lbs. of country style ribs
1-2 TBSP. pepper
2-3 TBSP. of dijon mustard
1 1/2 bottles of Jack Daniels Honey Smokehouse Barbecue sauce (or your favorite sauce, I recommend a sweet sauce for this recipe)
About 8 oz. of cherry preserves
1-2 TBSP. of garlic salt

First, rub the pepper on the ribs (Careful with the spices, since these are being cooked in a crockpot and seasonings are usually stronger when cooked in a crockpot).

Place the ribs in the bottom of the crockpot.

In a bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients (barbecue sauce, dijon mustard, cherry preserves and garlic salt).

Pour mixture over the ribs and cook on high for about 4 hours for 6-8 hours on low.

Super easy, super yummy!

Enjoy

Monday, October 18, 2010

Radford and Pulaski - an Oustiders Inside Perspective.

I’m a transplant. Well, at least I thought I was. What I have learned is that I’m actually an “outsider.” No, I don’t run with a pack of leather jacket wearing “greasers” and no, my husband doesn’t call me “Pony Boy,” but I am still an outsider. Why? Because I haven’t lived in the New River Valley long enough. What is considered long enough? My guesstimate is that you need to have been born here, or lived in this beautiful area for at least 25 years, minimum.

Almost five years ago I moved to the Town of Pulaski from Northern Virginia. I was looking for a quieter life style. I wanted a great place to raise a family, far away from the hustle and bustle of the city. I found that in Pulaski. I loved it there. The people were friendly, the cost of living was low and the pace was much slower than what I was use to. I was welcomed to a quaint little town that had a ton of potential and a group of people willing to work hard to help the town meet its potential. I loved the “can do” attitude. I loved the faith these people had in their town. I jumped right in.

Then, one day, about 6 months after moving to Pulaski, I went to a store in Radford. When I was asked where I was from, I proudly said, “Pulaski!” The woman proceeded to look me up and down, take a step backwards and say, “Oh.” This was my first taste of the negative stereotype. I didn’t understand. How could anyone not like Pulaski? Then, the woman asked, “But are you FROM there?” My reply, “No, I’m a transplant from Northern Virginia.” I could literally see her internal sigh of relief. “I didn’t think you were from there, I figured you were an outsider.” I was baffled. This woman gathered all she needed to know about me by where I was “from.” Her attitude went from disgust to cheerful in .0025 seconds flat after learning I was actually born in Northern Virginia and not Pulaski. In this case, being an outsider was a good thing.

I started to notice the same response everywhere I went outside of Pulaski. I started to find myself defending the “underdog.” I was on a one woman mission to turn around the stereotype, one person at a time. I started telling people, whether they asked or not, where I was from and why it was such a great place. I was a walking brochure for the town.

After a couple of years, I actually started to notice a change. Not because of me, there were lots of positive things going on in Pulaski and lots of positive people working towards the same goal. I like to think that in some small way, I helped. But, what I did notice along the way is that even though the people were friendly. Even though they welcomed me, I was still treated a little different. When speaking at a meeting and someone else, who had lived here their entire life began to speak, the lifelong resident would find more support. This wasn’t just with me. I noticed it with other outsiders, too. Regardless of who had the better idea, the better point, unless you’ve lived here long enough, it was hard for some to take you seriously. Now, not everyone was like this, but I did run into it time and again. As have many other outsiders, according to conversations I’ve had with them.

After living in Pulaski for a few years, I married and moved to Radford, where my husband already lived. I have now been in Radford for a year and a half, so I am still the same outsider, different town. I have a feeling that just about every small town has this phenomenon. In most cases, outsiders are welcomed, but with a bit of hesitation. Everyone in Radford has been very nice and hospitable. I have made many new friends and absolutely love living here. Radford has wonderful schools, friendly, hard working people and many beautiful parks. But, I can still tell that I’m an outsider.

The one thing I have found disheartening is that in some circles there seems to be an “us versus them” mentality between these two fabulous towns. In my experience, I have found that Radford and Pulaski have much more in common than they realize. As a Cougar turned Bobcat, I think both towns could really benefit each other if they work together. They have a lot of the same ideals, community pride and amazing, interesting people.

There is a bridge that extends over the New River between Radford and Pulaski County. This bridge is often looked at as the dividing point. I think it should be looked at as just that, a bridge, something that connects the two communities. It is just one of the many things they have in common and one of the many ways they should be connected.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Internet - My Thankful Thursday Post

The internet. It can be aggravating. It can be disruptive. It can be distracting. But, what would we do without it? I use the internet to keep my long distance friends and relatives up to date on our family. I use the internet as a source of income, as it is a requirement for my company. I also use the internet to reach those I have never met.

While reviewing the stats on my blog, I noticed that thousands of people have read it. People from China, Russia, Germany, Israel, just to name a few. Because of the internet, people from all over the world have read my thoughts and hopefully, gained some encouragement, motivation and possibly, a few laughs. I hope at least one person has read my words and could relate. I hope it has helped someone feel like they weren't alone. I hope that one day, my children and grandchildren will read my words and feel comfort and love.

Most important, out of all this, I hope it helps others to turn to God. He is the reason I am so thankful. He is the reason I am so blessed.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

It is finished....My year long journey through the Bible

A year ago I started a project. My goal was to read the entire Bible, every word, from cover to cover, in one year. Last week, I finished. It wasn't always easy. There were nights when I wouldn't get to bed until late and my eyes were so heavy, but I still read. When I went to the hospital to have the baby, I brought my Bible and the schedule I used along with me. When we went on vacation, I brought them with me. It takes commitment and dedication to do this in a year, but it is life changing and I would highly recommend it!

There are different ways you can read the Bible. I chose to read a little old testament and a little new testament everyday. The schedule that is pretty close to what I followed can be found here: www.ewordtoday.com/year/31/o.htm

I can not even begin to put into words all that I learned and all the positive changes that have occurred in my life since I began. Like most of us, I knew the most popular stories about Jesus, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Saul, John, etc. It was the ones that I had never heard of that surprised me the most. I have a brother named Jason. I did not know what an important role Jason played in the Bible. His home was a refuge for Paul.

Of course, I knew a little about Caleb, my son's namesake, but when reading the story of his strength and faith, I was amazed at how little I actually knew and felt that his name (meaning faithful) was the perfect fit.

I also learned more about Nicholas, Gabriel and Nathaniel. My children have these Biblical names, I wanted to make sure I understood about the people (or in Gabriel's case, angel) behind the names so that I could properly teach my children about their namesakes.

I thought I knew so much about religion, faith, God's laws and commands. I was surprised at how little I actually knew. Until you read all of God's word, how can you be sure you are living the life he has planned for you? How can you be sure you are doing the right thing? I learned that there were things that I was doing wrong, in ignorance. Even though I have been a Christian since I was a child and went to church every Sunday when growing up, there were many things I did not know. There is more to God's laws than just the 10 commandments and until you educate yourself, you are leaving yourself open to disobedience. Even if the disobedience is done in ignorance, you short yourself of all the blessings and happiness God has in store for you. The best thing you can do is educate yourself in God's word. Not only to make sure you are living your life right and are open to receiving all of His blessings, but also, so you can fully understand how much God loves you. I often felt so loved and peaceful when reading. It is amazing the grace, forgiveness, mercy and love God has for each of us. Reading the Bible really reiterates this.

Since beginning my journey a year ago, I have had many positive changes in my life. I feel less stressed, more love, more happiness and more peace. Out of all the books I have read in my life, none have been more life changing.

Try it, see what a difference a year makes!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Happy Anniversary!

I will start off my post with a reminder that my posts every Thursday are to give thanks to God. They are to glorify Him for all of the blessings He has given me and in hopes of inspiring someone else to do the same; give thanks, count your blessings, trust and glorify our Heavenly Father.


This Thursday I am thankful for my wonderful husband and our upcoming anniversary. It's not just an anniversary of when we were wed, but an anniversary of when we became a family and when I became one with my best friend, my soul mate, the man of my dreams. I thank God everyday for my husband. Particularly on 8/8 of every year I want to acknowledge just how God has blessed us and how happy I am to be Larry's wife.


Over the past year we have been through so much together. I can't imagine getting through the tough times without you. We have also had the most wonderful and blessed of times and I also can't imagine sharing them with anyone other than you. Together we have created a beautiful son, a perfect mixture of both you and I. Caleb completes our family, you are a wonderful father and Caleb lights up every time you walk in the room, he loves his Daddy! Nicholas is now a big brother and he ADORES and loves his little brother. He also loves you! I can't thank you enough for loving my son as you do.


Oh...and let us not forget Maximus. What were we thinking bringing home a puppy when we had a newborn? LOL!! Now, Maximus is a big part of our family, we love him and couldn't imagine life without him....especially Nicholas!


I am so glad that you also share a love of the Lord. To be able to share that with my spouse is so wonderful. It fills my heart when we pray together, especially as a family around the dinner table. You are a great example for the boys.


I am looking forward to going back to where we were wed this weekend and reminiscing about all this year has brought. Thank you for making me happier than I ever thought possible. I love you Papi, I always will.





Thursday, July 15, 2010

You Couldn't Pay Me to be RICH!

That's right. I think money is the root of all evil. Before you go on the defensive, hear me out. Now, I'm not saying that people that have lots of money are evil. I just don't think they are really happy. UNLESS, they do something good with their money. If you have lots of money, yet refuse to help others, tithe or do something good with it, I just don't think you are truly fulfilled or know what true happiness is. I understand that there are a lot of people out there right now who are struggling and saying, "If only I had more money." Be careful what you wish for, God tells us:

"Whoever trusts in riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf." (Proverbs 11:28)

"You can not serve both God and money." (Matthew 6:24)

There are many places in the Bible where God warns us about greed and money. He knows what He is talking about.

Now, by NO means am I rich. I have a nice home, my vehicles are paid for, I have food and clothing. More importantly, I have love, family and faith. When I was younger, I was in a much better financial situation. I never had to think about a budget, if I wanted something, I just bought it, if I wanted to travel, I went. Money was not an issue. I worked very hard, but I played very hard too. Sound nice? WRONG!! I wasn't truly happy. I had everything I wanted, but felt like something was missing. I also did not tithe like I should. God tells us that holding back tithes and offerings is stealing from Him. After all, everything belongs to Him to begin with. NO WONDER I wasn't totally fulfilled!

Now things are MUCH tighter. I have a budget, I struggle at times to make sure bills are paid. But, even though I don't have as much money, I make sure to tithe and give money to those in need. You know what? Even though my checkbook is empty...my heart is FULL. I have never, EVER in my life been as happy as I am now. The less and less I find in my checkbook, the happier and happier I become. Do you know why? Because I TRUST that God will take care of us. I know that everything is in His very capable hands and that He will not leave us. Everything that I need to be happy will be provided. I tithe, like He tells us to do. He doesn't say, "Only give when you have money." It takes true trust to tithe and give back when times are hard, but God will take care of you. He promises to if you only follow His perfect directions. It's also important that you don't give only so you can receive. You have to WANT to tithe and help others. It needs to be in your heart so that you are a cheerful giver.

Just look at all of the rich and famous celebrities you see on TV today. Everyday is a new scandal. Drugs, alcohol, adultery, lust, greed, dozens of sins in their everyday lives. They don't look too happy to me. You could not pay me to trade places with them! You couldn't pay me to be rich!

When money is tight, giving isn't easy. Do it anyway and watch how God takes care of you. It doesn't happen overnight, but keep at it. Keep giving with a happy and trusting heart and watch what you receive!

And so, my friends, my poor financial situation is exactly what I am thankful for on this Thursday. I have never been happier.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

My Green Thumb

I LOVE summer! I'm a beach bum, I love hot weather and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to garden. Planting these tiny little baby plants in the spring, feeding them, watering them, weeding and taking care of them can be time consuming, but it's so worth it. By the time summer rolls around, I have all kinds of beautiful flowers (Lilly's are my favorite) and this year, I have a wonderful fruit and veggie garden! I love going out of our back door at dinner time and picking part of our dinner right out of the back yard. It's so rewarding and tastes so much better than what you get at the store, not to mention the money and environment you save! We have zucchini, squash, broccoli, about 4 varieties of tomato, and several varieties of peppers. Oh, and don't forget our strawberry, blueberries and blackberries!

But, you know what my favorite part of gardening is? Sharing it with my son. My 5 year old is a carbon copy of his Mom! He loves the summer, the beach and the gardening. Every single morning he reminds me that we have to go check on the garden. He has helped plant, pull weeds, water and of course pick our yummy veggies. When we go out to the garden in the morning and see a new vegetable that is ready to pick, he literally screams with excitement, "Mommy, it's ready, it's ready!" It doesn't stop there, he goes out to "check" on our garden several times a day, everyday. He wants to make sure no "critters" are eating our food! I love teaching him and sharing this love with him, it makes everything taste so much sweeter.

If you'd like to see our hard work, click here: Garden Pictures

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Ocean - My Thankful Thursday Post

God really knew what he was doing when he created the ocean. Of course, God always knows what he's doing and always does everything perfectly. For me, the beach is one of my favorite creations. Mountains are spectacular and I love living where there are mountains a plenty, but peace always comes when I'm by the sea. I marvel at it. It's vast, it's powerful, it contains so much life. Oh, and bonus, you weigh less when you are in the water!

I can not wait to return to the sea next week. This year, I will have both sons to enjoy it with, along with my hubby and Mom. I already know that Nic has taken after Mama and is a beach bum, time will tell if Caleb is as well. I have a feeling though, he's going to love it as much as we do. I pray both of my boys marvel at and appreciate this beautiful creation of God's. I hope that they find peace and relaxation by the sea, that they have wonderful childhood memories there and continue our tradition with their own families.

A couple of my favorite quotes about the sea:

For whatever we lose (like a you or a me)
It's always our self we find in the sea
- E.E. Cummings

The sea has no king, but God alone
- Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Of course, I would be remiss if I wrote a blog about the ocean and didn't mention the oil spill in the gulf. I can hardly watch the news without tearing up because it breaks my heart to see what a disaster this is. I will continue to pray and ask that you do the same. Although it has already gone on far too long and much damage has been done, pray that a resolution is quickly reached and that clean up can be expeditious with as little harm as possible to the environment, people, animals and sea creatures. Maybe we should get together a mission trip to help with clean up? It's something to think about, research and try to make happen.

Until next time...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Easy, Yummy 2 Ingredient Chicken Recipe

I made an accidental discovery last night. I discovered a way to make baked barbecue chicken with a crispy crust using only two ingredients and in only 20-25 minutes. I am NOT kidding (beat that Racheal Ray.....ok...don't take that wrong, I LOVE her) !

So, every time I bake chicken, hubby always sits down with a bottle of barbecue sauce to dip his chicken in, so I thought I'd beat him to the punch by baking the chicken in the barbecue sauce. He gets his barbecue and we still eat the healthier baked chicken.

All you have to do is dip or brush a boneless chicken breast into some barbecue sauce (I used Jack Daniels Honey Smokehouse Barbecue Sauce). After it's good and coated with the yummy barbecue sauce, dip the chicken breast into some Shake N' Bake (don't use the bag and don't ask how I know......use a bowl or something) to coat it with the crust. Bake it at 350 for 20-25 minutes and YUMMY!! Hubby LOVED it! I have to admit, I did too! Fast, easy, yummy.

Enjoy!!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A letter to my Son - 2010

My Dearest Nicholas,

Every year, I write you a letter on your birthday. This year is no exception. This year is very special because this year, you turn 5. I can't believe it. It's the last year you will be able to show how old you are using only one hand! This year, you turn 5 on Mother's Day; you were born the day after Mother's Day in 2005. I remember that day like it was yesterday and can't believe it has been 5 whole years! You will always be the best Mother's Day gift I have ever received.

In the past, I have read your letters to you. This year, you can read your letter yourself. I am so proud. What a great year it has been. My sweet boy, you became a big brother! I knew you would be an extraordinary big brother, but even I couldn't have known how extraordinary. Some people tried to warn me that you would be jealous or act out once the "newness" of the baby wore off. Mama knew better. I know your heart and how special it is. You have never, not once, shown an ounce of jealousy towards your brother. You have always been so sweet and caring and protective of him. You help take care of him, you love him and you make him laugh. I can not believe what a special bond the two of you already share. My beloved son, you fill my heart with so much happiness, especially when I see how precious and loving your heart is.

This year, you sang your first solo at church and I cried. I had to explain to you that they were happy tears; I was so moved by how you stood up in that spotlight at our church and sang to the Lord. Everyone who had the good fortune of being there was moved. To you, it was no big deal, it was just something in your heart that you wanted to do, you wanted to sing for Jesus. I remember Rev. Kilgore asked if I wanted to go up on the stage with you, but you didn't need me, so I stayed back. You were such a big boy and had no fear. What I was most proud of, is how you knew the reason you were singing the song and when you sang it, you really sang it for Jesus.

This is your last year of preschool. It's so wonderful to see how much you love school and how easily you make friends. You are truly a social butterfly who has never met a stranger. You will talk to anyone at anytime. I can't believe you start Kindergarten next year. For the first time in your life, you will be away from me for 7 hours a day, 5 days a week. That will take some adjustment for me, but I know you will do just fine! You are so looking forward to kindergarten and I know you will absolutely love it! I wish I could keep you here with me always, safe in our home but, being a parent you learn to do what's best for your child, not what is best for you. You also learn that when you do what is best for your child, it turns out to be what is best for you also, because as long as your child is happy, you are happy. I would sacrifice anything to make sure you are always full of joy and healthy. As long as you and your brother are happy, Mama is happy too! One day, you will be a father and you will completely understand how that works!

Our bedtime routine changed a little this year too. From the time you were still in my tummy, I started reading to you. Now, instead of just me reading to you, you like to read to me. I hope your love of learning and reading continues throughout your life. Mommy LOVES to read, I hope you continue with that love as well.


Oh my, and how can I forget Maximus? Your first puppy. Yes, this has been an eventful year. You do a great job at helping with Maximus, you water him and take him out to go potty and you play with him until the poor puppy can no longer run! Of course, there are times when you just like to see how far you can go with him, like the time you decided he would like to be pushed down the slide, even though it was obvious the poor puppy was terrified! He loves you though, and you love him. It is so sweet to witness.

You still say you want to be an astronaut when you grow up. You can name the planets, constellations and are a whiz with numbers. My brilliant son, with your brains, outgoing nature and with your determination, I have no doubt you can do it. Let's just hope NASA is still around!

My darling, the older you get, the more and more I love you. EveryRemove Formatting from selectionday, when I think it's just not possible; I wake up and realize that I love you even more than the previous day. You have been a true blessing in my life, a wonderful gift from God. I could never thank Him enough for picking me, out of all the Mommies in the world, to be yours.

And, in case you want to read your letter from last year, here it is sweetheart: A Letter to My Son - 2009


Love always,
Mama


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Health

It's Thursday and I'm thankful. This week, every member of my family is healthy. Everyone knows that is truly something to be thankful for, but if you have been where I have been in life, you would know even more so why this means so much to me. As long as my family and I are healthy, I can deal with whatever else happens to come my way (ummm...God, if you are listening, don't take that as a challenge, please).

As many of you know, health has been at the forefront for me over the past week. My little guy had strep, complicated by bacteremia. It was AWFUL. He had an extremely high fever (101-105.8) for 7 days! He had to take 2 different types of antibiotics, get 2 very long, painful shots of antibiotics and have his bloodwork done 3 times over the course of 3 days. That's 5 sticks in 3 days. It was not pleasant. I was terrified and kept thinking back to the time when he was hospitalized for a week when he was 6 months old due to RSV. He doesn't get sick often, but when he does, he really does it right! Maybe he's an overachiever :-).

There was a point last week when I was really afraid he would have to be hospitalized, I reached out to my friends and family and asked for prayers. I can testify that the prayers truly worked because it is at that point that he started to turn the corner. He is now back 100% and you'd never know that he had been sick!

My newborn baby has had some health issues already as well. The poor guy had to have an Upper GI done when he was only 2 1/2 months. He has very bad reflux and is now on Zantac twice a day. The Zantac has really helped though. He eats like a horse now so feeding time isn't as stressful. He has also had an upper respiratory infection already and was on a decongestant for that. All is well now, though. He is one of the happiest babies I have ever seen in my life! He laughs and coo's constantly!

Then there is me. You name it, I've had to deal with it. I even went blind when I was 21 years old from an eye disease that is so rare, the doctor I went to specialized in it and I was the first ACTUAL case he had seen. It's called MEWDS. Heard of it? Yeah, didn't think so. You have a better chance at getting struck by lightening 5 times in a row than getting this disease. So, I was blind, but now I see (thank you, Amazing Grace). It lasted a couple of months and when my sight came back, I was color blind, which lasted a couple of years. I can see colors now, but still have trouble with dark blue, black, red and orange. I also have thyroid disease. I am hypothyroid and it took several years to get a proper diagnosis, which means I went several years without treatment. I think this is why I still have to fight this disease today. Most people can take a pill once a day and they are fine. My thyroid can not be controlled. I have to have blood work done every couple of months and my dosage has to be changed every couple of months as well. Oh, and I'm hypoglycemic. Oh...and I had cancer.

Shall I continue?? Nah, I didn't want to relive my medical history in this post. The point of this post is to give thanks to God for my healthy family today and for seeing us through our illnesses of the past. He has taken care of us through everything and we have all come out just fine. Yes, I still have medical issues to deal with, but I can deal with them well, they don't hold me back or keep me from doing anything. That is a blessing from God.

If you and your family are healthy, take a moment right now to thank God! Don't take a healthy second for granted.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Thankful Thursday - A Successful Business

This Thursday, I am so very thankful that both my business and my husband's are thriving. Even in this economy, hubby's company, Sams Brothers, Inc. (www.samsbrothers.net) has not slowed down and he has, in fact, had to hire on more employees. I am so proud of him and so thankful to the Lord for His blessings.

My company, CWI Marketing & Printing (www.cwimarketing.com), has some big things on the horizon as well. To read more, check out my business blog: http://bit.ly/3pnsXp

I hope everyone is having a great week. Remember Virginia Tech tomorrow, April 16th.

God bless!

Friday, March 26, 2010

A Newborn's Thoughts on Family and Healthcare Reform

My blog post this week is actually a video blog and comes from my 9 week old son.. Enjoy!


video

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Spring Blessings - A Promise Kept

Isn't it wonderful? That first warm spring day. The first day the temperature gets into the high 60's or low 70's, while the sun is shining and there isn't a cloud in the sky. It's beautiful! How could you possibly be in a bad mood on a day like today? It was a LONG, cold, hard winter. Now we have warm sunshine, flowers starting to bloom, life returning. That is what I love the most about spring. The promise of renewal, everything coming back to life

Do you ever wonder if it is a coincidence that Easter occurs in the spring? Easter is a promise kept. Easter is when we all received the greatest gift, a chance for a new, eternal life. The gift of new life comes in the spring. Both new life in Christ and new life in nature here on earth. Are you making the most of your spring gifts?

And that....is what I'm thankful for this Thursday.

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Diaper Review - Which One's Stink and Which One's Don't

I'm a bargain hunter. You know how some people are really big into name brands and brag that they paid $200 for their baby's name brand onsie? Not me. I'd rather shout from the rooftops that I got the onsie for $1.00 at a huge sale.

However, when it comes to diapers, this all goes out the window. I will happily pay $5.00 more per box to get a diaper that doesn't leak or give my baby a diaper rash. The way I see it, even though the diapers cost more, they save me in the long run. I go through the "cheap" diapers faster and they leak. Leaky diapers equal more laundry. More laundry equals more money. If I had used the name brand/quality diapers (personally, I prefer the Pampers Swaddlers for newborns), I wouldn't be changing my screaming 2 week old's pj's at 3:00 a.m. I could just change his diaper and get him back to bed. Also, if he didn't have a rash, I wouldn't have to buy some butt paste, Cha-Ching!

With my first son I tried the generic Walmart brand diapers hoping to save money. Big mistake. The leaking wasn't as bad as the horrible diaper rash, though. Now, this could have all been a coincidence, my son could have just had really sensitive skin, there are all kinds of excuses I came up with so that I could try the Walmart diapers once again with my youngest son. I desperately wanted the Walmart diapers to work. Too bad. If possible, I think the diapers are worse now than 4 years ago. They feel like cardboard, chaffe baby's backside and leak. I've had an equally bad experience with Huggies. Luv's are good at stopping leaks, but they are also rough on baby's new skin. After two babies, I have discovered (at least from my experience), that when it comes to diapers, you really do get what you pay for.

The best diaper I have used is, without a doubt, the Pamper's Swaddlers. Once baby gets a little older (about a diaper size 2 or 3), I change to Luvs. They are just as good at stopping leaks as Pampers and not as expensive. They aren't as soft, but as baby get's older, it's not as much of an issue (they don't feel like cardboard, they just aren't as soft as Pampers). As far as the worst diapers I have used, the prize goes to the Walmart "Parent's Choice" diapers. As I mentioned before, they are as hard as cardboard, leak, have poor fit, and the parts that don't feel like cardboard (i.e. the elastic around the legs), feels like scratchy plastic. I would NOT recommend these diapers, although I wish I could. I hate how expensive diapers are. One last brand that I'm not impressed with is Huggies. I tried and tried and tried Huggies and have had no luck with them either. They leaked just as badly as the Walmart brand.

Again, this has been my experience, I'm sure there are people out there who LOVE Huggies and Parent's Choice. For those people, I'm really happy for you, I wish it could be me. My wallet wishes it could be me, but since it's not, I had better get back to work so I can afford to keep my son in diapers!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Thankful Thursday - Photography

"Nicholas must be the most photographed 4 year old ever." I've heard this many times from many people and it makes me smile. Yes, I take a lot of pictures of my beautiful blessing, but probably not for the reasons you may think.

I came from a family of very little means and a camera and film were just not something in the budget prior to the age of two. Because of this, there are all of about 4 or 5 pictures of me prior to turning two. If my grandkids ever want to see what grandma looked like when she learned to walk, had her first solid food, took her first bath, etc., they will just have to use their imaginations because those types of pictures don't exist. I don't want that for my kids. One day, I'd like to show my grandkids what their daddy looked like growing up. I also want my kids to be able to see pictures of events they may not remember without the aid of a picture. Hopefully, the picture will jog a memory for them.

Most importantly, with every picture there is a story. The story is the most important element to me. Sometimes, I have trouble remembering what I ate for dinner last night. There is a good chance that 25-30 years from now, I will forget the funny story that goes with Nic's first bath, or Caleb's first time eating solid foods. The pictures will help me to remember. There is also the reality of the chance that I won't be around or that if I am around, I will have no recollection of these important times due to Alzheimer's or some other illness. That is when the pictures will be even more important. I will need the pictures I have taken to tell the stories that I won't be able to. I see pictures as an opportunity for future generations to learn about their family and get to know them in new and interesting ways. I know I love to look at old pictures of my grandparents and like to know what story goes along with the picture. I want to do that for my children and grandchildren as well. It is so true that a picture is worth a thousand words. I want to make sure my children have millions of words to share about their life growing up, the pictures will help ensure that. This is why for this "Thankful Thursday" I am thankful for photography.

My new favorite photo. We were all snuggling together, just talking and feeding the baby, it was a precious moment and I grabbed my cell phone to take the picture and capture the moment.

My other new favorite pictures capture how much Nic loves his little brother:

Monday, January 4, 2010

Confessions of a Mother on Bed Rest

Bed rest. Separate, these words sound great. The word "bed" conjures up images of warm, cozy comfort. The word "rest" is one that no one could find fault in. It's a way to de-stress and something everyone seems to need more of these days. Used together, however, these words create an oxymoron. At least it does when you are a mother.

Have you ever heard the saying, "There's no rest for the weary?" Well, you'd be hard pressed to find someone more weary than a woman who is a mother, runs a business, a home and is nine months pregnant. With that being said, rest is not possible for this woman, ergo bed rest is contradictory. Bed rest is an oxymoron.

Confession #1 - Anyone who knows me, knows that my son is my life. In my eyes, the sun rises and sets in this little guy and spending time with him is always a joy. Well, almost always. I have been on bed rest for 5 days now. For the last 5 days I have been confined to about a 6' x 6' space. This is not enough space for anyone as enormous as I have become, but even less when you share the space with a very bouncy, active 4 year old and his toys all day, every day. The little guy has been worried about his Mama, so he doesn't like to venture too far from me, which means he and his toys spend most of their days in bed with me. The first day or two, it really wasn't too bad. But after 5 days of children's programs, Leapster games, Connect 4, toy helicopters, cars, jumping up and down right next to me, silly kid songs, coloring and other various 4 year old activities, my brain is fried. I am mentally exhausted. I am use to spending my days in a 4 year old world, but when not on bed rest there are times when he can occupy himself while I get grown up things done. Not now. If I hear one more kid song, I'm going to scream.

Confession #2 - By comparison, bed rest was pretty great the first time around. I was on bed rest for the last 3 weeks of my first pregnancy. I thought that was tough. I didn't have a clue. With my first bed rest experience, I had a little fridge and microwave right beside my bed. I had books, magazines, a TV, pen and paper. I could actually rest. I didn't have to get out of bed at all. After the first week, I was sick of it, but looking back, I should have enjoyed it more. Bed rest when you have a child is TOTALLY different from bed rest when you don't.

Confession #3 - I don't actually stay in bed 24/7. It's not possible. For the most part, I do stay in bed all the time, but I have done a few loads of laundry, helped my hubby take down Christmas decorations, bathed and fed the little guy, along with various other tasks for him. I have also had to sit at my computer downstairs to complete some projects for work that can't be done on my laptop. I do these tasks very quickly and get right back to bed. I may get out of bed for about an hour on a daily basis, but that's it. My hubby is great, but he can not do it all himself. He can not run his business, my business, this house, take care of the little guy, me and the millions of other tasks that pop up everyday. For example, when he is at work during the day, I have to get up and fix lunch for the little guy and I. When the little guy gets his button or zipper caught when trying to use the potty, I have to get up and take care of it, when it's snack time, my 4 year old can not cut up his strawberries for his yogurt himself, when he spills his milk, Mama has to kneel down and clean it up. It is NOT possible for a mother to stay on bed rest. Again, it was so much easier the first time around!

Confession #4 - I feel like a burden. I am not the kind of person who likes to do nothing. I feel best when I'm up doing things for my family, when I'm working, when I'm helping friends or just spending time with friends and family. I can't do any of the things I normally do, so now I have to depend on others to help me do them and I feel so bad for my friends and family. Everyone is so busy these days and I feel like I'm just adding to the heavy weight so many people already carry. I know my friends and family don't feel this way, just as I wouldn't if the shoe were on the other foot. I know they are all happy to help however they can and I can't even begin to tell you how much I love and appreciate them for it. But, I still can't help but have a part of me that feels like a burden.

Confession #5 - I would do it all again, without hesitation. Being a mother is the best thing to ever happen to me. I truly feel God put me on this earth to be a Mom. I love children and raising these two little boys is the most precious gift I could receive and the most important thing I will ever do. It has been a very long and hard road, but I know it is worth it. These nine months are but a moment in time, just the blink of an eye, when compared to the lifetime of love and laughter that will come from my boys. Yes, I would do it all again without a moment's hesitation.

Time to put down the laptop and roll over onto the left side. Wish me luck!