Monday, September 24, 2012

"A Love Story in 22 Pictures" {inspiration}

I saw this on the Today show this morning and it's worth sharing.  Its an ahhhmazing love story.  A story that came with sacrifice and validates what we take for granted, "Freedom is NOT Free".

Taylor and Danielle's pictures need no words.  Enjoy....










  Photos by Tim Dodd Photography.


For the whole 22 picture story.... Click here.

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Monday, September 17, 2012

SAHM vs Working Woman {parenting}

Good Ol' Days....
Oh how, I remember the days when I could use the bathroom in peace and read an entire book from start to finish. Now my days are consumed with fighting children and wiping noses, all while I am conquering a mountain of laundry.  Get the picture?

Magic 8 Ball....
Before I had children I never envisioned myself as a stay at home Mom.  I was much too independent and on the go. Life doesn't come with a magic 8 ball, so I didn't predict how Kid #2 would change my life.  Working full time with Kid #1 never phased me, however when Kid #2 entered the world, he developed many health obstacles that changed our households dynamics.  The end result, I quit my job.  Leaving my (sanity and) peaceful office behind.

4 1/2 years later....
I am now blessed with 2 healthy children.  At the ages of 6 and 8, they are consumed with school until 2:30 pm everyday.  After a hell-ashious summer, I thought "what a better time for me to go back to work".  The kids are self sufficient and I can now close the 5 year gap that will exist on my resume.

What I was thinking....
I know this is a constant struggle for all stay at home moms.  To be something more than just Kid #1 and Kid #2's Mom or His wife.  To have have my own identity outside of the home.  Stay at home mom's sacrifice their life for their children and family.  Is it worth it in the end?  Is it selfish to think like this?  I believe these are all "normal" questions to ask.  Everyone has doubts however, the tricky part is 1) making the choice and 2) accepting the consequence that it comes with and 3) not looking back.

A working experience....
I tried going back to work full-time and after 3 weeks, work wasn't cutting it.  The satisfaction was not rewarding enough for me.  I came home everyday to crying children with runny noses, the same amount of laundry and enough elementary homework to give me a headache, all just in time to figure out what to cook for dinner.  Of course, I was thinking then...."what happen to the time when I had all day to plan dinner, do laundry and get a blog in, if I wanted too.  Oh, the joys of being a stay-at-home Mom.  I missed being able to volunteer at school, go to the gym and most of all listen to "what happened at school today?" the minute my kids get in my car.

My glass is half full....
I believe for all household's the make-up of what we call family is different.   We must choose to be optimistic about our choices.  If you are fortunate enough to stay at home with your children, it comes with the sacrifices, whether they be financial or ego driven.  Working mom's face the same sacrifices just from a different point of view (and much more serious in my opinion).  Most working Moms have to work to support their families.  Therefore, they have no option but to sacrifice valuable time away from their children.  My heart goes out to working Moms and especially single, working Moms.  I do NOT know how you do it.  Kudos to you.

Tell this to my husband....

World's Worst Mom?
Don't be silly...  When you're stressed and doubt starts to creep in.   Grab some wine, relax and enjoy Tammy aka "worst mommy extraordinaire" at www.worldsworstmom.com.  Tammy and her followers share their "World's Worst Mom" experiences that will make you LOL.  Then you will realize every thought and experience, we encounter as a mother is perfectly normal.  If you don't feel the rain, you'll never experience a rainbow.  It's the trials of parenting that better equip us for the harder days to come therefore making us better parents.  {Or we are so desensitized by the end, it doesn't faze us.}

Fashion forward Moms....
Who says, SAHM and style can't be in the same sentence?  Take it from one fashion forward Mom to another when I say, "I love dressing up".  It makes me feel more satisfactory to get up each day and make myself presentable.  I do it and I see it time and time again at school.  There are three fashion categories, Moms fall into daily.

  1. Hide and Seek Mom - these are the Moms that "hide" at school and avoid any and all conversation.  Usually, they are found in pjs or t-shirt that represents some type of function their children participated in.  
  2. Yeah, I Work Out Mom - you will never find them in anything less than gym apparel even if they don't work out.  Hey, the first step is putting on the gear!
  3.  Madam Barbie Mom - no matter what she is wearing she did it with style.  It may not suit your taste but she made it work down to every last accessory.
I am a combination.  My dominate trait is "Madam Barbie" even if I am sporting the "Yeah, I Work Out" assemble.  However, on the "Hide and Seek" days I am usually in the pick up line, safe from everyone's viewing.  I am a firm believer in looking presentable.  It helps my self esteem and (yes, you can laugh out loud) but I do it for my husband.  Who wants to come home to Plain Jane everyday with no makeup.  Spice it up ladies.  God gave it to you, so use it to your advantage.  
With all that being said, I also love being comfortable.  It doesn't take reading a Vogue magazine to incorporate easy wardrobe pieces to complete a look.  Here are a few of my favorite for easy, Fall style.



1.  Chunky Sweaters - they can cover up any "fat day" or ugly shirt plus it's cozy and warm.
2.  Flats - perfect for denim or capris.  Dressier than tennis shoes and flip flops.
3.  Earrings - a simple stud or hoop works great!  Get into the habit of putting them on when you wake up.
4.  Headbands - a great accessory whether your hair is up or down.  A simple piece that add just a touch of style to "walk out the door" hair.
5.  Bag - the right handbag can make any outfit pop.  Make the investment and choose wisely.


In the end....
I have chosen to be a Work At Home Mom {aka WAHM}.  I am very blessed to be able to work from my house and still enjoy the flexibility of being at home with my kids.  It still has it challenges and I still have doubts but I know this is where I am suppose to be and I am pleased with my decision. The question still remains "what do you want to be when you grow up"?  I have no clue but for now my magic 8 ball says "it is certain" to Zoe and Jax's Mom and Joseph's wife.  Alena Smith will just have to wait her turn.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Oyster Reef Photos {community}

This is an update for my last post Building an Oyster Reef.  Here are some better pictures that aren't taken from an iphone :)  I hope you enjoy them and it helps you have a better understanding of what we were building.

The picture below are of the site that I worked on.  As you can see where the dirt and salt grass just drop off is where the erosion is taking place from all the impact from the waves.

Building the oyster reefs and placing the rebar.

To get involved in PenderWatch check out their website!
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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Building an Oyster Reef {community}

What do you do for your community?  Do you give back?  

You don't have to wear a red cape to be a hero.  I wore the ugliest toed water shoes in the world!!  This past Saturday, I joined local organization, PenderWatch as well as UNCW Marine Biology and Environmental Science students who also volunteered to help build two reefs at Mill Creek.  

Why are oyster reefs so important?

      1.  Improves water quality by removing nitrogen and other impurities.
      2.  Protect coastal ecosystems and marsh grass.
      3.  Provide food and habitat for birds and other marine animals.

Check out this informative video from The Nature Conservancy.


This was the last reef of twelve that PenderWatch applied for a major CAMA permit to build.  Jumping hoops, crossing fingers and a lot of prayer finally got the 29 signatures it took from state and federal agencies to approve the project.

There was a lot of work done that even I didn't see.  When I arrive Saturday morning all the shell bags were perfectly stuffed and tied with oysters and laying in a huge pile on the island.  All the rebar was cut and bent ready to drive into the ground.  In the past reef buildings Marines from Camp Legeune Engineering School lent a helping hand to move of oyster bags.  Through a lot of effort and energy PenderWatch's Oyster Shell Committee Chief and members have moved thousands of shell bags to build the 12 oyster reefs.

Below is the oyster bags that we used to build the reefs.  All around our community you will find "Oyster Recycling" stations, these shells are bagged and used to build oyster reefs in our local community to help improve our diminishing local ecosystems as well as our water quality.

The reefs are built like a pyramid in order to help absorb the impact from waves so that it can reach the marsh a natural manner.

(one) top bag
(two) middle bags
(three) middle bags
 (four) bags on the bottom 

Bottom-Left - The first layer of 4 oyster bags is laid.  Once a layer is down, rebar is hammered into the bags to help them stay in place.  

Bottom-Right - The 2nd to last layer has been placed (2 bags) and rebar is being hammered into it.


Bottom-Left - What you see are the top 2 layers, layer 3 and 4 are under the water.

Bottom-Right - Volunteers formed assembly lines transferring the oyster bags from the island to the water.


Pictured below is the finished product.  After 2 hours and about 30 volunteers we completed the two oyster reefs.



This was a great learning experience, one that I hope I get the opportunity to do again.  (Next time I'm bringing the kids so they can enjoy the experience.)  PenderWatch is doing an awesome job at helping our local community and I urge everyone to get involved!  No one is too young or too old!!!


A big thanks to PenderWatch for all their hard work.


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Saturday, September 1, 2012

I look better in red! {Go Pack + day trip}

This past week Joseph, myself, Jeffery and Erin (brother and sister in law) were fortunate enough to meet the basketball coaching staff at NC State.  What an ahhhmazing experience that I will always remember.  An opportunity, we give all the thanks to our close friend Sidney Wicks.  If the name Sidney Wicks doesn't "ring a bell" to you, here is your enlightenment.  He will kill me for saying so but I have the bragging rights.  Other than being a beautiful person inside and out, Sidney is a 4 x NBA All-Star, 3 x NCAA Championship, NBA's 1972 Rookie of the Year and the list goes on and on.  


Arriving in Raleigh, NC at the Dail Basketball Center on the campus of NC State University.  We were greeted by Jeff Dunlap (Director of Basketball Operations) and Larry Farmer (Head of Player Development).


Arriving at lunch, we left the complex and headed to local favorite, Sammy's Tap and Grill.  A very familiar surrounding having sat in the same restaurant 5 years earlier with Sidney Lowe's coaching staff.  However, the experience this trip was unfathomable.  Just to be able to sit and listen to the stories told from John Wooden's protégées.  Stories of Wooden's "Pyramid of Success" to one of Larry Farmer's Top 10 ranked stories where Sidney dunked on Bill Walton sending him back to freshman practice.


After a lunch that cannot be described by words, we loaded back up for a tour of the Dail Basketball Center.  According to Jeff, their coaching job took a turn when they were given the opportunity to do some "interior decorating".  Having viewed the basketball complex under Sidney Lowe's staff compared to what it is today, hands down, no comparison.  The "Wow Factor" takes over the minute you walk from the glass doors to the foyer.


Parts of the complex were still under renovation like the front driveway where a basketball is being made out of brick and mortar approximately the size of a large SUV.  Along with the players locker rooms on the lower level which has custom cabinetry being installed in which Sidney can't even compare to that of the NBA.


We started in the recruitment room which is where it all begins.  The room itself is equipped with a curved glass entrance that leads to a "living room" with plasma tv, leather embroidered sofas and enough State lineage to make any prospect want to sign.  This was my favorite room in the whole facility.


Shop my Look




Jeff lead the way for our "Recruitment Tour"....  Down every hallway, each wall was a monument to Pack's legendary past.  We rounded one corner and ran into Bobby Lutz (assistant coach) who was slightly startle by 6'8 Sidney standing in the hallway.  After the initial "meet and greet" chit chat and another enactment of Sidney dunking on Bill Walton, we got a peek at the Coach's conference room. Where the "top secret" recruitment board was unveiled to show players who were schedule or had seen the facility for the grand "recruitment tour".  After a brief discuss where Joseph was extremely inquisitive, Jeff pressed a button on the wall that lowered a monogramed panel to cover the board.  What lies on the other side?   Shhh...   I'll never tell.

Every corner we turned State's History was relived on their walls.  Acting as a daily reminder of where the Pack has been from Conference Champion Teams, NBA Draft History, NBA Coaches to ACC Players of the Year.  These walls aren't only monuments to Wolfpack athletics but art to inspire what is yet to come.


Of course, I had to time to recognize my all time favorite Wolfpack crush, Chris Corchiani.  Joseph and I meet him while at the 2004 Holiday Tournament in New York.  

Chris is the hot half (pun intended) of the fire and ice legacy at State.  Also the better looking half :) (don't take offense Rodney) the point guard is still ranked 2nd for the most career assists with 1,038 assists.


One of the most memorable moments of this trip was the hallway that lead to basketball courts where John Wooden's "Triangle for Success" was mounted.  Hearing Larry and Sidney talk about John Wooden's philosophy was life changing.  John Wooden made a difference in every life of the players he coached.  He not only coached them in basketball but in life.  He created a legacy at UCLA that Mark Gottfried and staff are now passing on to generations to come at State.  What an amazing feeling it must be to be a part of such a legacy.

What lies behind these doors is where all the magic happens.  
Where the blood, sweat and tears at each practice hits the floor......the basketball court.
Why, yes, that is Julius Hodge practicing before heading back overseas.
To Sidney - Thank you for being so good to our family.  We love you!  To Larry & Jeff - It was amazing to meet you!  Thank you for your gracious hospitality and the shirts :)  I just have one questions.  When is the PNC tour? 
This was one day I was sad for it to come to an end.
This was one of my "Top 10" stories that I will continue to retell. 
Stay tuned in State Fans.  This should be an interesting season with Hess back as a referee. Let's see if he tries to pick on Chris and Tom again.