2010 – New Year and a new healthy lifestyle

2010 has been a year of change for me in many ways……..
I have lost family members; tended to family members who are sick; been a wife and mom;
worked part-time; been a full-time college student; been a friend;
been a teacher to my children;
and
I have started working out and running on a regular basis……………..
On Saturday, May, 1, 2010,
I ran in my first 5K.
Here are a few pictures and thoughts from the day…………..
Before the racepossibly wondering what I was doing…..
Getting close to that finish line
Oh, yeah, I am gonna make it
I can taste it now
Almost there
The feet speak for themselves going across that finish line.
I can’t believe I just did it!
TIME: 37.22.68!!!!
Yes, I did it in less than 40 mins!
Thanks for sharing in my successes!!!!!

I Will Carry You by Angie Smith

It has been a while since I did a review of a book, and recently a book came out that I wanted to read. I was not asked to do a review, and the book was not provided to me by the publisher. I am reviewing this book, because *I* wanted to do it. As you may or may not know, I am no stranger to the loss of a loved one. I have also lost a baby in a miscarriage. It is one of the most painful events in my life.

I have read Angie’s blog for some time now, so I knew the story of Audrey Caroline from her blog. But I will say that the depth that Angie goes to in her book, I Will Carry You, goes as deep as a mother’s love for a child and then some. I do not have a lot of time to spare in reading books, but I read I Will Carry You in one Sunday afternoon. And Angie spoke to my heart. She has a way with words that is simple and eloquent and shows her love. I can say that Audrey Caroline has touched my life, and I think that she will continue to touch lives through this book and through Angie’s writing about her on her blog.

If you have lost a child through miscarriage, still birth, or otherwise, Angie’s writing from the heart will speak to you. Her love for her child and her love for the Lord are apparent on each page of the book.

Thank you, Angie and Todd for sharing Audrey Caroline’s story with me. I am one life her story has touched.

Always seem to be working within a new normal

Hello,

February has been a busy month for me. I am helping with caregiving for my in law’s when I can. I am also still homeschooling full time, and I am a full time college student. And I am still running my online business. There are not a lot of spare moments in the day. I am thankful that I have a lot of energy and strength. I am using both every day. I also finished up a 12-week workout and weight loss challenge with some friends. And I lost 10 lbs in 12 weeks. I can handle that!

Hope you are having a great day! I find that I am living each day as best as I can.

The last week has been rough…..

We have had an unusual winter this year. We had snow in December, and we had snow in January (last week). Tonight, we have more snow coming. For my friends in the north, snow is not a problem. Here in the south, we are just not set up to deal with snow easily.
Add to this, my father-in-law was put in ICU last Friday. Today, he is still in ICU. There have been improvements, but there are still more things that he needs to be able to do in order to go home. My mother-in-law has ALS, so we have coordinated 24/7 care for her in her home.
I also homeschool my children and run a business from home and am a full-time college student. To say that life has been busy is an under-statement. But God has been good in all, and today He is working on many fronts for me and my family.
The picture above is my driveway earlier in the week. In the morning, I expect to wake up and not see the gravel or grass. But that is okay. God will see us through whatever comes.
May you be blessed today!

Special announcement for the Estes Family

Today I have a special privilege to tell you about my friends, the Estes family. Several years ago I “met” Kate Estes on an email group for Christian self-publishers. In the summer of 2006, several of us were expecting. In July of 2006, I gave birth to our 6th child.. And a few weeks later, Kate gave birth to her 7th child, Noah. Her delivery was nothing short of miraculous. God spared both her life and Noah’s life. In February of 2007, I was honored to meet the entire Estes family in person in the Western North Carolina Bookfair in Asheville, NC. Even though we were both vendors that day, we found time to talk and get to know one another. Noah was this sweet little baby in a hand-crocheted sweet pea baby bunting. One thing that struck me then was how small Noah was compared to my own baby.

At that time, the Estes family had concern about Noah’s size, but it was not until he was being considered for a feeding tube in April of 2007 that they found out that Noah had serious medical issues. His internal organs were not in the normal placement for organs. He was not a candidate for certain feeding tubes due to anatomical issues. Further testing over the course of months and years eventually gave the Estes family a diagnosis for their precious son. Noah was diagnosed with a progressive and ultimately terminal condition called mitochondrial encephalomyopathy. Since I do not have a medical degree, I will not go into a medical explanation of mitochondria. As a mother, I cannot fathom hearing that my child has a terminal condition. My heart has been heavy for Noah throughout his journey. I have prayed for him and his precious family for a long time.

Noah’s condition would be considered fragile. He has had many, many hospitalizations during his little more than 3 years of life. He has seen many doctors and specialists. And his parents have learned how to do many medical procedures at home in order to keep him at home as much as possible. Their family has been blessed with another child since Noah’s birth, so their family now has 10 members. It is very important that Noah’s parents are available to take him to the doctor or hospital on a moment’s notice.

A few years ago, Noah’s dad, Jeff, was working for a company and his position was downsized, and he was laid off. In this economy, most of you know how hard it is to find employment. He was able to do more with their home-based business, Hands and Hearts. But there were changes to federal law last year that forced them to shut down their business for several months. They make hands-on history kits, and the kits are for children aged 12 and under. Since then, there has been a temporary stay on this federal law, and they are once again operating Hands and Hearts from home. But it has not recovered back to its former level of business. The economy has been hard on many homeschool publishers.

Noah’s condition is so fragile that he is often in the hospital with Kate caring for him and Jeff at home caring for the other children.. So while God has worked many circumstances out to provide financially for the Estes family. God has also used many of us to bless the Estes family. That is why I am writing today. The Estes family has been working with many Christian self-publishers to provide a special package for anyone who donates a minimum of $39 to the Estes family. This would enable them to take care of financial obligations and allow Jeff to continue to run Hands and Hearts from home while also starting an additional business that he can run from home. From personal experience, running a business from home requires a lot of time and attention. And Kate can do some of the Hands and Hearts operations, but her focus is to care for her children and Noah’s medical needs. Jeff is really the backbone of Hands and Hearts. They are both prayerfully seeking God’s will for their lives and the lives of their children.

There are few people in this world who have stood firm in the faith during trials as Jeff and Kate have stood. They have always given praise and glory to God even when the situation was dire. There were many times that I expected “the call” that Noah had gone Home. God has plans for this special child, and He has brought him back from illnesses that doctors did not expect recovery. There will be those who read this who have something negative to say to the Estes family. They really do not need that type of “attention.” You can leave any negative comments here on my blog, or you can email them to me. I know this family is the “real deal.” My life has been blessed and enriched from knowing them. And I know many, many people can say the same thing. Please prayerfully consider if God wants to use you to bless this family. While there is a suggested minimum donation, any donation is appreciated. For the special package made available by the self-publishing family, you are asked to make a minimum donation of $39.

For more details, here is the page you need to visit:

http://www.funfoodadventures.com/estes.htm?emc=intellicontact&m=4285556&v=1012869972&l=11

It won’t be like this for long……

One thing that I am thankful for is that I have a large age range with my children. The oldest is 19, and the youngest is 3. I have enjoyed motherhood from the time I became pregnant with our first child (morning sickness aside). But I have also realized how fast time flies. Babies do not stay babies for long. Time passes very quickly. And before you know it, your children are grown. So I try to remember that mothering my children matters, and I take time to be with them. My youngest one enjoys some quiet one-on-one time with me in the evenings. He calls it “Mommy and Benji” time. He usually does not invite siblings, but sometimes he will invite one or two of them to join us. We usually just hang out on my bed and watch a movie. His favorites are Cars, Toy Story, and Stuart Little. Since I want to cherish this time when he wants to be with me, I try to wrap up my work and computer pursuits to hang out with him. Before I know it, he’ll be grown.

Week in review…….

When it’s a quiet week on my blog that usually means that my life is anything but quiet. Our 10-yr-old had a migraine that started last Sunday. Mainly, he had a slight headache with blurred or double vision and nausea. As the week progressed, he did not improve. I took him to the doctor, and we tried a change in his medication. That still did not help, and he started having problems with his legs, so I consulted with the doctor. And he ordered an MRI of his head. So my son had an MRI yesterday, and everything looks fine. Thank you, Lord.

In the midst of all of this, I had a growth removed from the top of my foot that resulted in 5 stitches across the top of my foot. So I have been trying to stay off it. But that is not easy with doctor’s appointments and grocery shopping to do. This is day 3, and it is looking much better.

I really treasure my quiet weeks, because weeks like this are exhausting!

Organinzing paperwork and files for taxes

Since I am self-employed, I have to keep really good records for my tax return each year. I also organize our personal paperwork throughout the year in various file categories. This makes sorting through and matching up receipts a breeze when it is time to do our tax return. I also use an Excel spreadsheets for several things. I do my business checkbook through Quicken, and I am moving our personal checkbook to Quicken this year. In January, I start going through the files to make sure that I have a receipt for each of my business expenses. I have been doing our tax return since we got married, and I have learned which forms I need to have in hand by the end of January/first of February. I try to get our return filed as early as possible, since we usually get a refund. (Thanks to having 6 children.)

Last year we were audited by the state of NC for the number of dependents we had. I was required to send in a copy of all of our children’s birth certificates. We had the same number of dependents the year before, and all 6 of our children were born in NC. And I supplied Social Security numbers on the federal return. And yet the state still had to have documentation. I was not a happy camper, but I complied. If I did not provide the documentation, they would have retained our refund. Nice, huh?

So keep good records for your annual tax return. Keep important papers in a safe location. And finally try not to stress too much when you start compiling all of your information.