Friday, September 30, 2011

Doing our part for the economy: Check out my upgraded kitchen!

Say hello to our newly upgraded kitchen!

Considering renovation of our master bath now.... do we dare?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Ode to my princess

I am no poet, but this one makes me smile.

I wrote it and posted it in February... but it deserves a second debut.

I love my little girl!!!

Mama is not a girly girl,
I never wore bows or lace. 
I dress in jeans,
I lounge in sweats,
Just a touch of makeup on my face.

A boy was my plan,
Someone to grow strong as a man.
On the field,
Or in the stands,
I could be his loudest fan.

Then we looked upon the screen,
And a girl you were to be!
Sugar and spice,
Sure, those things are nice.
But - what would a girl mean to me?

Sometimes when we have a plan,
Life takes a turn of course.
A princess you would be,
So sweet and cuddly,
In a moment I had no remorse!

I think I went out that day,
To buy hairbows, dresses and rings.
Pink, pink, pink, pink,
with sparkles and shine.
Now life is BRIGHT with girly things!

You were meant to join our family,
You were meant to have your style.
You can still play ball,
You can tackle, you may fall.
But a beauty and a lady all the while.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Celebrating "Momtrepreneurs" - Paper Nook


Momtrepreneur Tacy:  Owner of Paper Nook

I'm Tacy, owner of Paper Nook. After 10 years in the corporate world as a Graphic Designer, I made a decision to stay at home to raise my children and start my own business. It sounded way easier in theory than it has been in practice, but spending my days with my three year old girl and one year old boy has been rewarding beyond words. I've worn many hats since graduating from Ohio University with a BS in Visual Communications (Info. Graphics/Page Design), such as Graphic Designer and Creative Director with well-known consumer brands. Transitioning from a professional career to a stay at home mom was a challenge! Over time, I discovered a void. I desperately needed a creative outlet at the end of the day or else I'd go crazy. The result? My third baby - Paper Nook.

The inspiration for Paper Nook came from my name. Tacy isn't common. At novelty shops, my name wasn't on the bicycle license plates or personalized cups, so I'm slightly obsessed with putting my kid's names on whatever I can. Paper Nook gives me the unique ability to personalize products for parents and their children—no matter how unique the name.

A typical day for me:

7am: Kids wake up and we eat breakfast

8am: Try to respond to emails while the kids play or are doing activities

12pm: Eat lunch and then my son goes down for a nap and I answer more emails or package up orders I completed from the night before

3pm: Snack time, errands and more playing the rest of the afternoon
6pm: Make dinner and hubby is home to help with the kids

7pm: Bath time and then bed time for the kids

8pm: The real work time begins

12pm: Bedtime!
I really try to only work 3 of 5 weekdays and only on Sundays, so that I can also have quality time with the hubby a couple week nights and weekends.

Being a SAHM is definitely a very hard job. Being a SAHM while also being a work-at-home-mom is even harder. I opened my Etsy store in June 2010, a month after my second child was born, and my business has grown organically via word-of-mouth. In the future, as my kids get older, I hope to spend more of my daytime hours growing my business, but I'm completely satisfied with my work and the time I get to spend with my children.

My advice to anyone who wants to work from home is make sure you have all the support in the world from your spouse. I couldn't do it without my husband. Secondly, find a healthy balance of time for your work, your family and yourself. It's not easy and it's a moving target that requires re-calibration from week to week.

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Check out all of Paper Nook's great products and become a fan today!

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TODAY'S PRIZE:  A $20 credit for any PaperNook product(s)!
Remember, one lucky winner will win ALL of the Momtrepreneur Week prizes!!! Check out each post for more details on what you can win. One comment per post allowed for multiple entries (posts on September 22nd, 24th, 26th, and 28th).

Please, don't make me search the world for your contact information - be sure to include a Twitter handle or email address so I can reach you if you are the lucky winner.

Giveaway entries accepted through 9/30 at 9:00 PM eastern time. Winner will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Celebrating "Momtrepreneurs" - Mommy Talk Show


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Momtrepreneur Joyce:

The dream…

When I was working as a TV news reporter, one of my favorite things to do was interview an entrepreneur. They always seemed so passionate about running their business, selling their product or providing a service. Entrepreneurs had no “boss” to answer to and made their own schedules. The minute-to-minute deadlines of TV news were foreign to them. Entrepreneurs moved at their own pace or at least at the pace of their customers.

The reality…

Now that I am an entrepreneur, or momtrepreneur to be exact, I realize I may have idealized them a little too much. Running your own business is hard work. When you’re first starting out, you’re probably working alone. All decisions, good or bad, must be made by you.

The even bigger challenge as a mom running your own business is that you have a little person who is your real boss. Your children and their needs dictate when you can take conference calls, meetings or attend seminars. It’s a never-ending balancing act that I’m not sure any mom ever perfects.

Getting things done…

Thanks to technology, I get an incredible amount of work done while my 18 month old son A.J. is taking a nap or in bed for the night. Thanks to my Macbook Pro, I edit professional videos using iMovie software while I’m in bed watching TV. My tweets and Facebook posts can be scheduled thanks to Hootsuite or Tweetdeck. This way I have a round-the-clock social media presence for me and my clients, when what I’m really doing is playing at the park with my son, running an errand or taking a quick catnap.

When I really need to get things done, I tell my husband ahead of time that he’s “on-duty” and I leave the house so I can work at Starbucks or Panera Bread (where I’m writing this post). A.J. also attends a mother’s day out program once a week so I can rely on that dedicated four hour break. Thanks to a nearby co-work and play space, Bean Work Play CafĂ© in Decatur, I can work in a professional environment and A.J. plays nearby. There’s no long-term commitment. Just a membership fee and hourly child care.

Can you do it?

Watch this video to learn a little more about me, my parenting talk show and about an e-book designed to help moms find business ideas that you can win. Most importantly, I suggest a really simple business you can start ASAP. Once you hear it, you’ll think “Why didn’t I think of that?”

Connect with Emmy-award-winning Joyce!

(And don't forget to enter HER e-book giveaway! After you enter for the Momtrepreneur Gift Pack here first!)
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Today's prize: A $15 Target gift card
so you can stock up on supplies to follow you entrepreneur dreams!

Remember, one lucky winner will win ALL of the Momtrepreneur Week prizes!!! One comment per post allowed for multiple entries (posts on September 22nd, 24th, 26th, and 28th).

Please, don't make me search the world for your contact information - be sure to include a Twitter handle or email address so I can reach you if you are the lucky winner.

Giveaway entries accepted through 9/30 at 9:00 PM eastern time. Winner will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen.

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(Deadline to enter to win Joyce's e-book giveaway (visit her site for more info) is Saturday, October 8th at 9 p.m. EST.)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Celebrating "Momtrepreneurs" - Saucy Spirits (yum!)


Momtrepreneur Tiffany (and son!): Owners of Saucy Spirits

About the author: Tiffany Wong is a mother of six and co-owner of Saucy Spirits, a gourmet wine jelly business operated by her oldest son, Ryan. They are currently raising funds for Ryan to get his commercial license, check out their project HERE.

I helped Ryan start his Saucy Spirits wine jelly business last summer, as a way for him to make some extra spending money. What was supposed to be a one-day-a-week hobby, quickly turned into four markets a week and lots of jelly making hours! We have now been in business for a little over a year and Ryan is getting ready to take his wine jellies to the retail market. As a mom to six children, I do my best to keep some sort of separation between work and family, but more often than not, it just isn’t possible. I don’t have easy access to a sitter, so 90% of the time I have at least three children home, if not all six. To help juggle the business and family tasks, I have found that the easiest option for my family is to just involve everyone, even the little ones. If you work from home and have trouble finding time for your children, think about trying one or more of the following:

Take your children on business errands with you. If it isn’t an important meeting, load everyone up and head out. When we go shopping for wine jelly ingredients and market materials, my younger two girls love to come. They take turns doing things like holding the shopping list, putting things in the cart, organizing items in the cart, handing things to the cashier, etc. Yes, it takes a little longer than if I just went alone, but they really enjoy helping. It’s also quicker and cheaper than taking them to a sitter, and allows us to have more time together.

Let your children be your assistants. When performing various work tasks at home, let your children help you. My daughters love to help Ryan and I get out the materials he needs to make his wine jellies. Even at three and four, they can hand me sheets of labels, help put jars in boxes, and much more.

Involve your children in business decisions. We often discuss important business decisions around the dinner table. Even though the final decision is ultimately made by me and Ryan, I still let everyone know what the issue is at hand. We usually go around the table and let everyone tell us their thoughts. You may be surprised at the wonderful ideas your children have for your business, if you just take the time to ask!

Something that we often forget as parents is that our children just want to be with us. They don’t care if we are managing a house or running a business, they just want our time and attention. If you struggle with penciling in time for your children, take one day next week and try having them help. You might just be surprised by the results!

Find out more about Ryan's unique jellies on their webpage,, or on Facebook at

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Today's prize: $25 gift box
Includes a mini jar of each Saucy Spirits flavor:
Pear Pinot Grigio
Dark Chocolate Cherry Cabernet Sauvignon
Roasted Red Pepper Chardonnay
Tomato Basil Table Red
Peach White Zinfandel

Remember, one lucky winner will win ALL of the Momtrepreneur Week prizes!!! Custom name sign from Ellabee Papier, $15 Target gift card, $20 to Paper Nook, plus the wine jelly sampler from Saucy Spirits! One comment per post allowed for multiple entries (posts on September 22nd, 24th, 26th, and 28th).

Please, don't make me search the world for your contact information - be sure to include a Twitter handle or email address so I can reach you if you are the lucky winner.

Giveaway entries accepted through 9/30 at 9:00 PM eastern time. Winner will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Celebrating "Momtrepreneurs" - Ellabee Papier (and a big giveaway!)


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Momtrepreneur Melissa: Owner of Ellabee Papier

Hello, I'm Melissa with Ellabee Papier and mommy to Ella, an energetic non-stop two year old. Ellabee Papier is my venture back into the world of working. The idea of starting my own business has always interested me. With the encouragement and support of friends and family, I became a mom-entrepreneur and Ellabee Papier came to fruition. I considered an Etsy store, but the start-up seemed daunting. Etsy's market is flooded with invitations and other paper merchandise just like mine and I wasn't sure I would get noticed. I decided to postpone the Etsy store and pursue word of mouth referrals and network with local vendors and so far, it is working. Between Ellabee and freelance print media design I stay quite busy.

Now for the fun part.

How do I manage being a stay-at-home mom turned work-at-home mom?

Most days I wish there were two of me. Ellabee Papier is still very new and I'm trying to figure it all out. I'm sure I jumped in prematurely (no official business plan or website) but I work better under pressure; at least that's what I keep telling myself. I read blogs and see "Super Moms" with multiple kids managing to do more. Not just a little more but lots more. How is that possible? Is it Inspirational? Yes! Am I Jealous? Of course I am! Will I be one of those moms? Fingers crossed.

How do I plan to get there? A comfortable chair and the television are my weaknesses. I am most productive at my desk. I try to limit my time on social media sites and I take advantage of naptime. I also work several evenings a week after Ella goes to bed. Is this working for me? It does most of the time, but occasionally I stress over deadlines. What am I learning along the way? To hopefully be a little less OCD and realize it's okay not to be a perfectionist. The most important lesson so far is not to procrastinate. I enjoy having time with Ella and being a mommy is my first priority. Too soon life will change and she will be off at school. Maybe then, I can be "Super Mom". One thing is certain, being a stay at home mom, work at home mom, or working mom makes no difference, raising a child is the hardest job of all.

You can view more of my work at

I would be happy to help create a memorable birthday party for your superstar!

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Prize #1 in the Momtrepreneur Week prize pack:
A custom name sign!
Designed to compliment your child's bedroom, be it whimsical, beautiful, or just plain fun!

To enter, simply leave a comment on one - or all - of the Momtrepreneur posts this week (I will have a new post every other day through 9/28). If you comment on each post this week, you get four entries! One tweet per day, with a link back to this post, also allowed as bonus. Just be sure to leave an extra comment saying "I tweeted!" with the link.

Please, don't make me search the world for your contact information - be sure to include a Twitter handle or email address so I can reach you if you are the lucky winner. 

Giveaway entries accepted through 9/30 at 9:00 PM eastern time. Winner will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

WW: Tiny bubbles make me happy

Wordless Wednesday
Who doesn't love bubbles?!?

(Linked up for some iPhone Photo Phun at @BelleBeanDog's place! You know you have some great phone photos - Come on over and join us.)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Four steps to HAPPY family travel

My husband and I share a love of travel. We work hard during the week, and often jump in the car for day trips of mini overnights on weekends. Once or twice a year, we jet off on a "big" vacation like the Canadian Rockies, Yellowstone, Maine, or an occasional cruise.

(Still can't believe I climbed a glacier!)

Since having Amelia join our family, we have altered our travel style a bit. But only a bit. We still travel annually and on many weekends. We continue to enjoy grand adventures here, there, and everywhere. However, we keep her needs in mind by shortening any selected hikes, making sure our hotel has a pool, keeping our eyes peeled for playgrounds, and scheduling child-friendly down time.

It used to take me days to plan out our trip needs and pack everything. But these days? I can get us in the car in 30 minutes flat.

Want to know my secret?

After stressing out before many vacations, I finally realized something. I can keep Amelia happy as long as I address four major needs. If you cover your bases on these four questions while packing, you will be sitting pretty. On an airplane or in a car, ready to enjoy that break from home and some extra-special family time.

(1) What if the child gets hungry?
One extremely important key to maintaining a happy child travel companion is this: snacks. I make sure to have a lunch tote or backpack full of snack options. Goldfish crackers, fruit snacks, granola bars, and yogurt raisins are some of our favorites. I always throw in a special treat as well - something she doesn't get very often, like M&Ms or Skittles. And I save those, snuggled down in the bag, until I she really needs a pick-me-up.

(2) What if the child gets bored?
Long car or airplane trips can be boring for adults, and they are torture for active preschoolers like mine. I always pack several entertainment items, such as coloring books with crayons, an egg of silly putty, books, a favorite toy, and/or stuffed animals or dolls. I have also found that the $1 store can work miracles in this type of packing situation. Five bucks at the dollar store means five activity surprises for your tiny travel partner. And just like the special treat, hide these in the bottom of the goody bag and dispense one at a time as needed. A brand new toy goes a long way towards entertainment. (One note: If you are headed for airplane travel, avoid any toys that make noise! The people sitting in front of your child will thank you.)

(3) What if the child needs to go potty?
This is a crucial part of the trip planning. If your little traveler is in diapers, then just make sure you have at least double the amount of diapers you would normally need during the travel time frame - and several extra outfits. Excess is good here, because you will inevitably face blow-outs or leaks when you least expect it.

If you have a potty-trained preschooler like I do, be aware (as in, never-ending high alert) of any and all bathrooms nearby. Similar to the diaper blow-outs, your child will most certainly beg to go potty once you've passed every available facility for miles. On a road trip, try to stick to roads that have plentiful gas stations, fast food restaurants, or hotels. For air travel, be aware of your flight time and get that child in the bathroom right before the captain requires you in your seat for the 30-minute approach and landing procedure. Fitting both of you in an airplane bathroom is an adventure in itself... but it is optimal compared to having to explain to a flight attendant why your child's seat is now soaked.

(4) What if the child gets tired?
This is the point we had to focus on the most. We enjoyed many active child-free vacations in our early-married days, but these often do not translate well to child-friendly adventures. Before we commit to any hiking trails or outdoor excursions, we have to put ourselves in Amelia's size-11 (and glittery) shoes. Can she walk that far? Is it possible to bring a stroller? Is there a height/age requirement for the activity? We have put some of our favorite excursions aside for now, but it is a sacrifice we are willing to take just to have her at our sides. She experiences new things with such shine and wonder in her eyes - and that is a sight I never want to miss.

Now I am ready for our next big trip!

How about you? Where do you want to take your family?

Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

Friday, September 16, 2011

Magic moments happen every day

Sharing some of my favorite magic moments.

When you have an awesome little kid in your life, magic moments happen every day!

Magic is... First baby snuggles
Magic is... Joy in discovering a brand new furry friend

Magic is... Family playtime (Amelia's cousin Kate!)

Magic is... Lifelong friends, and a new generation

Magic is... Meeting childhood heroes

Thursday, September 15, 2011

If I could tell new moms ONE thing...

If you are looking for expert advice on parenting, you have come to the right place should probably venture elsewhere.

But if you want some honest tips from a semi-clueless first-time mama who is managing to raise a pretty darn awesome kid? Okay, I can help you there.

I have now lived three years, five months, and five days with my lovely, precocious little darling.

She is worth the exhaustion.

She is worth the "mommy brain" from which I still often suffer.

She makes me laugh every single day.

So, what advice would I give to a new mom?

Do not lose yourself. Instead, take care of yourself.

Do not let society lead you to believe that a good parent must be a martyr. Don't let unsolicited advice make you doubt yourself. Do not put so much into raising your child the "right way" that you forget to raise yourself up at times. A good mom? Is a happy mom.

So, new moms? Repeat after me.

I will take time to be myself.

I will take time to be alone.

I will do something, just for me, on a regular basis.

I will not apologize for making myself happy.

When I am happy, my child will know it, feel it, and live it.

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Join in the fun with Mama Kat!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

WW: History. Rememberance. Youth.

Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield near Atlanta
Field of Flags, 9/10/11

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Snapped a couple pics with my phone that day so I could join iPhone Photo Phun with BelleBeanDog!
iPhone Photo Phun
Happy Wednesday!

Monday, September 12, 2011

My 3-yr-old may be smarter than me

It was the kind of morning I always dread. Too tired from a busy and never-long-enough weekend, hearing the sounds of sniffles coming from my daughter's cozy pink bedroom. When we got her up this morning to get ready for school, she insisted she was  fine. She wanted to go to school and play with her fellow preschool friends.

So after our usual morning routine of strawberry milk, a breakfast snack, and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, we headed off to school. I kissed her head and gave her a hug before driving myself across town to work.

Then, around 12:15, my cell phone rang. I glanced at the caller ID and groaned.
Her school.

"Amelia is in my office, and can't stop crying. She says she doesn't feel good and needs you."

I wasn't thrilled to hear this news, but wasn't extremely surprised. So off I went again, back across town, to pick her up.

I arrived at her classroom and peeked in the door. She took one look at my face and lit up like sunshine.

"Hi, Mommy!" she exclaimed, waving. Then she bounded her happy little self over to me.

I questioned her about her crying incident. I asked her if she was sick.

"No, Mommy. I am fine now!" Grinning. Grasping my hand. "Let's go home."

Um... what?!?

I think a three-year-old may have just duped her mama, two teachers, and the assistant director of her school.

You live you learn... I guess.
(Mama feels like a fool!)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Where does Daddy live? A 9/11 rememberance

"Where does Daddy live?"

"Heaven", Jack responds.

"Who does Daddy live with now?

"God. And in my heart.", Jack says.

The babies born to single mothers after 9/11 are no longer babies. They walk and run, play and laugh, sing and write. They are growing up with photos and tales of their daddies lost in the 9/11 attacks. Some businessmen, some firemen, all heroes. All an important part of history.

We remember all of these people regularly, but on this 10th anniversary of the attacks, we pause for a bit longer. We reflect a bit deeper. We thank God for what we have now, and we make sure those who were lost continue to live in our hearts.

Jack and his mother's dialogue is from an ABC News report. Also read: Son Honors the Father He Never Knew

Photos taken at The Field of Flags, Kennesaw Mountain battlefield park near Atlanta. A full-size flag was placed for every life lost in the attacks. Tomorrow morning, officials will read each & every name over the loudspeaker. A very touching tribute.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The jeans in the bottom drawer

Shortly after Amelia was born, my jeans were looking good. Through sheer exhaustion and first-time-mommy stress, I was skinnier than I had been in years.

Baby weight? Did not exist in my world.

Or so I thought.

It was simply delayed.

Today, my jeans are angry with me. They feel neglected and unloved, living in the bottom drawer, uncomfortably tight around my “mama middle”. My daughter and I graduated 'Infant/Toddler 101' last year and while she is more active than ever, Mama somehow moved into a sedentary phase (with a side of snacking).

My confidence faltered when I succumbed to a new jeans purchase last fall. I dragged my feet from the junior’s section into the grown-up world of pleats and elastic waistbands. No worries – I did not go that far. I did, however, succeed in finding two pairs of new jeans that fit well, felt comfortable, and minimized my muffin top.

Designer? Well, no.

But I do not believe I have fallen into the depths of “mom jeans”… yet. And if I have? Please, for the sake of human decency, please pull me aside one day and tell me. I promise not to cry. In front of you.

It is almost fall here, and I will soon dig out those new jeans for their seasonal debut. My old jeans? Are still waiting patiently for me in the drawer, buried underneath more recent (and larger) purchases.

I owe it to myself to get back into those jeans one day. My weight plummeted after the birth of my daughter; I know it is possible.

Don’t lose faith in me, skinny jeans. I will see you again one day. Just give me a little more time.

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The assignment this week was to write a piece – fiction or creative non-fiction – in which jeans play a prominent role.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

WW: Far away in the sunshine

"Far away in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see the beauty, believe in them and try to follow where they lead."

-- Louisa May Alcott

Monday, September 5, 2011

Rainy Labor Day - and what a surprise!

Monday was a day at home after a fun-filled visit with the grandparents. It was a completely rainy, stuck-indoors kind of day. I saw the tweets of other moms, lamenting the Labor Day holiday trapped alongside stir-crazy children. I pretty much expected the same at our house. But I was in for quite a surprise!

First, playtime.
We discovered that Amelia's favorite play gym was open, so we took Daddy to see this place he always hears about and can never visit. They chased and bounced and plopped into the pit of foam blocks.

Second, creativity time.
Satisfied that she was fullly exercised, we went home to spend the afternoon in good old lazy fashion. I watched a few HGTV shows and Amelia colored. And painted. And colored some more.

We didn't hear a peep from her for over an hour!

Third, constructive play.
Later, she asked us to play with her. We did a few puzzles together and Daddy helped make the dollhouse come alive with 4" Disney princess figures.

Then, completely unaided, Amelia cleaned the house.

Yes... she cleaned. Everything! Put all her art supplies away, placed snack bowls in the sink, stashed all her completed paintings, dropped the puzzle pieces into all the correct boxes, and stuffed her toy animals into the bins.

I could not have cleaned up any better myself.

She was gleaming with pride in her acomplishment, and I was overcome with love for this darling girl. I couldn't be more proud of the sweet heart she has inside that cute little princess package. Maybe we need rainy days more often!

Happy Labor Day!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

For the "what if's" in life...

As parents, we do everything we can to protect our children. We hold their hands in parking lots, look both ways and back again when crossing a street, and strap them securely in their car seats.

We want to protect their little bodies, so we encourage them to eat healthy and exercise.

There is one really important thing that many of us forget... and that's emergency planning. Where will your family meet up if something were to happen in your city? Where is your safe outdoor spot if the fire alarms go off? Who will care for your children if something were to happen to you?

Even though it was a difficult conversation, my husband and I have drafted a will. We decided who will take Amelia in the event both of us are gone. We determined how our money would be saved and distributed to cover her needs as she grows up. And we bought life insurance.

Life insurance will allow either one of us to pay the home mortgage in full if the other passes away. It ensures that our medical/funeral expenses will be covered. It gives us the peace of mind knowing that Amelia will be taken care of, and we will not leave a financial burden on any loved ones.

Not sure where to start? Genworth Financial has a comprehensive and helpful website with answers to many common questions.

What is Life Insurance?
How do I calculate the amount I need?
How do I talk to loved ones about life insurance?

Take a look, then start that conversation. Because our children are worth it.

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The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.
The second best time is today.

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This post sponsored by Genworth Financial. I was compensated, but all opinions are 100% mine.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The time had come to live again

This week's Red Writing Hood Prompt asked us to write about a season of change. I decided to revisit my prior short fiction piece, The Runaway. I gave you the end before; here is a bit more to her story:

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The aches pulsing through her back were nothing compared to the lightning stabbing her brain.

What happened? Where am I?

She surveyed the small dark room. The furnishings were old and small. The thin and scratchy linens lay rumpled on the bed. An old clock ticked and tocked on the wall. As the moments passed, the fog within her brain cleared.

The priest. My bags.

He was kind. He listened. He picked her up, literally, from the depths of filth. He awakened her fighting spirit. He helped her to grasp her self-worth that had been long gone for all those months.

She had agreed to follow him, simply for the promise of a warm shower and clean clothes. She trudged through the open doorway and let out a gasp as a smiling, chubby woman made a beeline towards her.

“Welcome! We are so glad to have you here!”

What have I done?

The gentle clergyman remained by her side and placed a hand on her shoulder as she signed her name with a trembling hand. Her body was screaming to run, far and fast, back to the street. Only the slight pressure of human contact kept her moving forward.

He is right. I need this. I don’t want to die.

Once the ink was placed to paper, the chipper woman nimbly snatched her tattered bag.

“We have to keep your belongings, hon. Any substances we find will be destroyed.”

No! Okay. No! But I need them!

She shook her head and forced aside the greedy pleadings inside. She remained silent, eyes cast downward, and simply nodded.

Shower. Sleep. Eventually… home.

The time had come to live again.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

When you hear the word cancer

Today's guest post is from a very special friend. We met through an online "expecting club" about four years ago. We were both expecting our first child in April 2008. She was having a girl, I was having a girl also. And at the time, we both lived in the same suburban area of Atlanta.

Life threw my friend a few curve balls along the way, but she refused to strike out. She has since moved away to pursue cancer treatment at MD Anderson, and she recently launched a very special project to bring smiles to others in need. Throughout all her trials, she has never ceased to amaze me with her poise and integrity.

I am honored to feature her guest post here today:

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When you hear the word cancer I believe part of your brain goes into a place where all of life’s what if’s, why’s and everything else all come crashing down at once. I imagine this is the feeling that anyone in a dark place feels. My brain worked like that for a moment when I was pregnant and hearing the words cancer, chemotherapy, radiation, and all sorts of other terms I did not comprehend. As my diagnosis and illness rocked along, I felt like those words or that far place would eventually be replaced by something grand. I had a healthy and beautiful little girl and I was oh so thankful for that. I continue to battle with my illness but how blessed am I to say that I am BATTLING. I never gave up and never will; I have far too much to live for and one little person who is ready to see her mama take on new battles each day.

In my journey I discovered that although the people closest to you want to be your support system, at times it can hit too close to home, be too difficult, or they are just not equipped to think along those lines. Sadly the person who is battling begins to feel isolated and on this island of uncertainty. After trying to recreate the wheel in my own support system, a light bulb went off. I can be someone’s rock, or I can tell him or her THANK YOU for fighting. I realize I am only one person, but I am a person who is fighting too!

I thought of ways to get my praise out there and really reminisced over the lost art of letter writing, sending and/or receiving mail other than a bill or junk! How awesome would it be opening a letter from someone who you do not even know thanking you for your courage, the heart that a higher power gave you to take on so much and still try? The Soaring Swallow Project was born.

The idea is simple. I ask people who know of someone who is battling or fighting one of life’s uphill battles to kindly give me that person’s address, and I will happily send out a letter to lift that person’s spirits. I absorb the costs, I do not expect replies (they are welcomed) all I hope is that the person who is opening that letter smiles, or knows they matter.

Everyone matters - sometimes we just need to hear it from someone else!

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"We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love."
-Mother Teresa
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