December 31, 2010

2010 In Review

 

January – This was the month that we spent preparing our house for Joycelen’s arrival. There was a lot painting and cleaning. But the hardwork gave us a beautiful nursery for our daughter.

February – During the month of love we were in the home stretch towards Joycie’s birth. We spent this month having baby showers, visiting the doctor and counting down.

March – Along with the strong March winds, we welcomed our daughter into the world. The first few days were fraught with a few bloopers but we managed to survive.

April – April saw me return to work and learn about the darkside of motherhood. However, the smile of a certain little girl outshined the negative.

May – Things were rough around the Lee household in May. A sick husband and baby added up to one exhausted Mama.

June -  The start of summer saw big changes in our household. I learned that I couldn't do it all, M celebrated his first Father's Day, and Joycie had her first visit to daycare.

July – July brought steaming hot temperatures in South Georgia….so we spent our free time inside. July was also a month of insight and self-acceptance for me.

August – This month started out on a high note, with a lovely family trip to Atlanta. However, it ended on a sad one as we had to say goodbye to my beloved cousin.

September – M turned 31 this month and we celebrated with a birthday scavenger hunt.

October – Joycie experienced her first fall festival, hayride, and placed 2nd in a costume contest.

November – As the weather turned cool, and we prepared to celebrate a day of thanks, Joycie once again taught her Mama an important lesson or two.

December – We celebrated Joycie’s first Christmas with our family and friends.

Our New Year’s Eve plans are low-key. We have a NYE service at church, after which, M and I will watch the “ball” drop from the comfort of our couch.  I hope that each of you has a blessed New Year.

December 28, 2010

Christmas Recap

Our Christmas celebration began on Christmas Eve with a candle lit service at our Church. Joycie was quite thru the first few moments of the service, but began to get sleepy and fussy so I opted to take her into the nursery. I sat in the darkened nursery rocking her and singing Christmas hymns to her. My mind thought about Mary, and that long ago Christmas Eve as she prepared for the arrival of her son. It was a beautiful moment and a cherished memeory of the holiday.
On Christmas morning, Joycie was wide awake by 8 a.m. M fed her a bottle while I called both sets of grandparents to let them know that they could come over to watch Joycie unwrap her gifts. Joycie had little interest in unwrapping her gifts, which was suprising since she had been trying to tear into the wrapping paper all week long. After lots of encouragement from Daddy, she managed to get her presents unwrapped. The picture above is her excited face as she plays with her stacking rings.
After Joycie unwrapped her presents, M and I exchanged our gifts. I was tickled pink at how excited he was over the new WII game that I bought him. However, his excitement was nothing compared to mine, when I unwrapped my gifts. He began by giving me a box, than contained a flour shifter.
I was a little perplexed, but thought that there had to be a purpose to his gift. So I eagerly unwrapped the next two packages and discovered a bottle of vanilla flavoring, and a can of baking powder. I sat there stunned as I realized that M had bought me a stand mixer. M said that he was worried that I did not like the gift.....but I assured him that I was just so blown away that I had to fight tears. Once I got it together, I tore into my box, and soon had my shiny new toy on the kitchen counter.
Once we were finished with our gift exchange, we went to M's brother's for Christmas breakfast. Joycie managed to find her way into a leftover box.....and was entertained for quite awhile.

We exchanged gifts with my parents, sister, brother-in-law and nephews/niece at 11:30. With 4 kids all under 5 trying to open presents, it was chaos to say the very least. However, it was so much fun watching them get excited over each item. When the presents were all unwrapped, we snapped family photos in front of my parents tree and then headed to M's parents for Christmas lunch. At M's parents, more presents were unwrapped, lots of good food was eaten, and laughs were shared. Our Christmas festitvites ended with a Christmas supper at my parents home....followed by M playing his new game, Ghost Hunter. The excitement of the day wore Joycie out and she was tucked into bed by 8:30.

Did you have a wonderful Christmas?

December 24, 2010

From Our Family To Yours

December 21, 2010

9 Months

Joycie,

You turned 9 months old on December 5th. Since we were on vacation when this milestone occurred, and are now in the throes of the Christmas season, you 9 month letter is a little late. Mama’s sorry. Here are your stats for this month:

•You weigh 20 pounds and nearly 29 inches long.
•You are now in size 3 diapers.
•You are now wearing clothing sized 12 months.

Your vocabulary continues to expand with you saying “Bye” whenever someone leaves a room, as well as attempts to say “Meme” (great grandmother”, and La-la (which we think is for Aunt Lane.)

You are beginning to crawl in small bursts. You begin by getting onto all fours and rocking back and forth. Then you pull your legs up to your hands. After 2 or 3 times of this, you realize that you are not moving fast enough, so you resort to rolling – or begin grunting/crying… until someone picks you up. (Spoiled much). However, you have no desire to be held, instead you wiggle until we set you down and then you try to walk with us holding your hands.

Your 2nd tooth is coming in – right next to the first tooth. I chuckle every time I see your smile with those 2 teeth shining thru. You have experienced your first Thanksgiving – and we gave you small tastes of the traditional Thanksgiving fare. You liked pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and stuffing. However, you strongly disliked the ham and turkey.

You are still a happy, loving baby. You have smiles and laughs for nearly everyone you meet – and tend to lunge head first into the arms of whoever starts talking to you. Last night at Daddy’s Christmas party, you were blowing spit bubbles, kisses, and giving a pageant wave to all the guests.

Joycie – you are a constant source of delight to Daddy and I – teaching us something new everyday. We can not wait to see what the next month holds for all of us!

We love you!

~Mama & Daddy

December 10, 2010

Prayer Request

I have a series of blogs that I will ocassional read, but rarely comment on. They are blogs that I have found thru other blogs, and so on and so on. My most recent discovery was the blog of Sarah .

Sarah is an amazing Mom to Ella, Jacob, and Audrey. Jacob and Audrey are the twin that Sarah gave birth to prematurely just a few months ago. I have peridoically read Sarah's post as she shared how her twins were growing/thriving - serving as a testament to God's amazing healing power.

So you can imagine my dismay, when I read today on Sarah's blog that Audrey is bakc in the hospital - battling a serious virus.

Would you please pause and say a prayer for this sweet baby girl, her mom, dad, twin brother, and big sister?

Twas' The Write Before Christmas - Day 5

Day 5 Prompt

“If you had to sing for your supper, you’d starve”.

That’s what my sister told me when she was 3, and I was 7. We were riding in the backseat of my parents silver mini-van, belting out the words to My Boyfriend’s Back.

While her words stung, I knew that they were true. I have been gifted with many talents, but a beautiful singing voice is not among them. I tend to either sound like I am singing with my nose pinched off, or as though I am trying to imitate my husband’s deep bass voice.

And yet, I love to sing. I sing in the shower, in my car, to my daughter as we dance around the kitchen. I songs that I love from all genres of music – from The Beach Boys classic Kokomo, to Etta James soulful love song At Last, and everything in between.

My favorite songs to sing though are hymns. Hymns are to me like quilts – they wrap themselves around you – offering warmth, comfort and security.

In the midst of trying days, I find myself humming the tune “Sheltered in the Arms of God…
And soon I raise my voice to sing

"So let the storms rage high. The dark clouds rise. They won't worry me. For I'm sheltered safe within the arms of God ."

And I sing with reckless abandon – which has often earned me strange looks from co-workers. I am also certain my husband’s ears are often aching by the end of song service – but he never complains.

While earthly ears may hear my nasally tone, my wavering pitch, and my uncanny ability to get off tune, the ears of my Heavenly Father hear an anthem of praise, a song of a grateful heart, and that is a beautiful thing.

Twas

December 09, 2010

Twas' The Write Before Christmas: Day 4

Day 4 Prompt


How the Grinch Stole Christmas, is one of my top 5 favorite Christmas movies (although, I will admit that the Grinch scared me just a bit when I was a child). As I child, I loved the movie because the “bad character” became “good” at the end. The movie had a happy ending – and I have always been a sucker for happy ending.

Now that I am a grown up – and perhaps a bit wiser, I love the movie because it teaches the important lesson that in the words of Mr. Grinch

“Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more."

It is that little bit more than can make all the difference in the holiday season. For me, the little bit more is:

  • Celebrating the Birth of My Savior

  • Watching Christmas Movies in my PJ’s with the children from our Church

  • Singing silly Christmas songs with my husband, brother in law, an sister in law while standing in my mother-in-law’s kitchen

  • It is watching my nieces make smores in my fireplace on Christmas Eve.

  • It is decorating Christmas cookies with my nephews.

  • It is the wonder in my daughter’s eyes as she creeps over to touch the lights on our Christmas tree.


Knowing that for the moment all the people that I love most are safe, healthy, and well.

What things make your Christmas “mean a little bit more”?

December 08, 2010

Twas' the Write Before Christmas: Day 3

Day Three Prompt

She shifted uncomfortably on the pew. Glancing at her watch for the third time, she noted that only a mere five minutes had passed. “Will this service never end?’ she pondered.

Her parents had insisted that she attend the Christmas Eve service with them. “It is a family tradition.” Her mother had stated.

“When did you go to detest spending time with us?” her father queried.

It was not her parents. She loved them with every fiber of her being and spending time with them was enjoyable to her. Instead, it was the service. In the 8 years, since she had left home, she had only attended church a handful of time. No longer did she feel the pull to gather with others who shared her faith. After all, what was the point? Life in the city had shown her the hatred, despair, violence that filled the world.

She had done the right things growing up. She had never drank, smoked, swore, had pre-martial sex, made good grades, went to college…. and still she was alone, living in a rented apartment, working at job that paid the bills but left her feeling unfulfilled.

With her dark thoughts filling her mind, she barely noticed the choir filing into the sanctuary. But she was drawn out of her self-imposed pity party, when a beautiful soprano voice rang out “I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play, And mild and sweet their songs repeat, Of peace on earth good will to men."

Her mother leaned over and whispered, “That’s Jenna. She lost her husband and little boy in a car wreck earlier this year. You remember me telling you about her.”

She nodded, watching the woman’s face radiant pure joy. “How – how in the midst of such a tragedy, could this woman be happy? Moreover, why am I so bitter?’

"Then rang the bells more loud and deep, God is not dead, nor doth He sleep. The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, With peace on earth, good will to men" Jenna finished the carol.

The crowd rose to its feet with thunderous applause. But she remained seated, tears streaming down her face. “I have had it all wrong. My focus has been on what have in this moment, in this world. I have overlooked what I have been given here, and what I have been promised in the world to come.”

Casting a tear filled glance around the sanctuary, her eyes first fell on the nativity. The tiny statue of a baby – resting in a manger. A promise of hope, a promise of salvation. Then her eyes fell upon the cross – the fulfillment of that hope, the completion of the promise.

That night, as she left the church with her parents. Her heart sang “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep. The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, With peace on earth, good will to men"

December 06, 2010

Twas' the Write Before Christmas - Day 1

Day One Prompt .:

Lost Amid the Snow

I have never been lost amid the snow. Truth is, in my corner of the world, snow is extremely rare. In 28 years, I have seen snow 5 times, and only one of those came during the holiday season.

I thought that I had nothing to offer on this prompt – no poems to write, no gorgeous photos to share. I started, stopped, deleted, and re-wrote for nearly an hour.

And then it hit me – I was taking things too literally. So I started letting my mind wander (which can be a dangerous thing)…

Snow ---- > White Noise

A gentle snow is a beautiful thing but a blizzard is dangerous, often deadly. In a blizzard, people can lose their way.

Activity during the holiday season is the same way. It always starts innocently – I agree to attend a party, volunteer to prepare a dish for the get together, or just need to buy “one more gift” – and soon the going/doing/being/buying has overwhelmed me. I am bombarded by the “holiday” and lose the reason for the Season.

Too many holidays I have been lost amid the snow. Not this year, instead I am settling in at home, snuggling under the blankets, and waiting out the weather.

November 18, 2010

Bigger Picture Moment: Hold her close, let her go

Joycelen has always been a happy and content baby. While most newborns take a few months to settle into a sleeping pattern, our Joycie was snoozing all night long at 2 weeks old (a fact that I am grateful for each and every day). When she turned 6 months, friends/family/coworkers began to warn me that she would soon suffer from stranger and separation anxiety. Not our girl – two weeks after turning 6 months, she practially leapt into the arms of the security guard at my Alma Mater’s football game. And when I drop her off with my Mama each morning, no tears are shed.

But last Thursday evening, Joycie was anything but happy and content. When I got home from work, I sat her down on her play mat, surrounded her with her favorite toys – and went to change out of my business suit. As soon as her tiny butt hit the floor, she burst into tears. I picked her up, checked her diaper, dried the tiny tear trickling down her cheek, and once again sat her down. More tears – more crying…..I picked her up again. For the next hour, my darling girl would scream if I even attempted to put her out of my arms.

Concerned at her behavior, I went thru the Mama checklist – she had a clean diaper, it was not time to eat, not time for her evening nap, and she was not in physical distress or sick. Then the realization dawned, my girl just wanted her Mama’s undivided attention. And I happily complied.

Lesson learned: Sometimes, as a Mama, you have to set everything else aside and just focus on your child in that single moment. .

Last night, I noticed that Joycie’s eyes were getting heavy. M was working in the home office which is close to her room. Worried that he would keep her awake, I took her into our room – thinking that we could snuggle our way into dreamland. For 45 minutes, Joycie kicked, tossed, turned, pinched my nose, shoved fingers in my mouth, pulled my hair – did everything under the sun…but sleep. Finally, I decided to lay her down in her crib. I had barely pulled up the covers when I heard the first snore.

Lesson learned: Sometimes, as a Mama, you have to learn to let go of your child and allow her to do things on her own. .

Those two lessons were my bigger picture moments for the week. I would love to hear about yours, so please link up with Sarah .

November 17, 2010

8 Months





Joycie,

You are now 8 months old…wow, two-thirds of your first year are behind us. I know that fairly soon I will be planning your first birthday. I say it every month baby, but time is flying by. Here are your stats for this month:

•You weigh 18 pounds and 15 ounces and 28 inches long.
•You are now in size 3 diapers.
•While you can wear 6-9 month onesies, your long torso and even longer legs mean you have to wear 12 months in pants and dresses.

You are still a talker – your favorite words included Mama, Dadee, Nona (for Nana) and Papa. You are starting to say the word when you see the person.

Over the last month, you have learned to reach for someone when you want them to hold you, clap your hands to music, wave bye-bye, and give “High Fives”.
You are still not interested in crawling. You prefer to either scoot around on your back, or army crawl. But you get really excited when we put you in the walker – you can zoom all over the place. You are getting quite accomplished at pulling up and I really believe that you are going to skip crawling all together.

This month you also got your first tooth. Daddy and I had heard that when babies cut teeth there are many sleepless nights, crying fits, and other unpleasant side effect. However, we should have known you would be different. You were never cranky, ill, or upset. Mama just happened to notice that you had cut a tooth on the bottom of your mouth.

You had another first this month – your first Halloween. Mama bought you 2 separate costumes. You were a sweet pea at the community fall festival, winning 2nd place in the costume contest. At our church’s fall festival, you were a Georgia Tech cheerleader, while Mama was the football player and Daddy was the Georgia Tech fan. You loved the hayride at the fall festival and seeing all the big kids getting candy.

Daddy and I are so blessed to have you. Your loving, happy personality makes us smile.

We love you!

~Mama & Daddy

November 11, 2010

Bigger Picture Moment: Grateful

For some today is just another day off from work - but for me today has a deeper meaning.

One of my earliest childhood memories is of my Daddy teaching me to place my hand over my heart while the national anthem was played. I can remember mimicing his movements and looking up at him while the trumpet sounded its notes, and I saw tears in his eyes. Years later, I would come to understand why those tears glistened in his eyes. My father is a Vietnam Veterna, and while he served as Military policeman and was therefore spared much of the horror of Vietnam - he is still haunted by his service. Those tears, I believe, are for the loss of his innocence, the loss of cherished friends, and for the grief our country felt during that time. But those tears are also for the other men and women who have given their service to our country - both in times of war and times of peace.

Today is a day set aside to honor those men and women. Men and women who willingly offer themselves as servants to a nation. Men and women who leave their homes, their friends, their families and willingly place themselves in harm's way -- not for the paycheck, not for the glory, but simply because they wish to protect the freedom that has made this country great.

Elmer Davis was quoted as saying "This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave".

I thank God that America still has brave men and women who are willing to serve.

So to my father, my friend Kevin, to my youth group memeber Cedric, and to all service members past and present -- THANK YOU! My life is blessed because of your willingness to serve.

November 10, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: First Tooth



Please excuse the snot and drool on her face. She was (still is) battling a runny nose and had just stopped blowing spit bubbles when I snapped this image. I had only been trying for 2 weeks to get a picture of the tooth.

November 09, 2010

Christmas Cards with Shutterfly

Now that Halloween is behind us, and Thanksgiving looms on the horizon, I find my thoughts turning to the approaching Christmas season. Last year, I was heavily pregnant and lacking motivation in terms of sending out Christmas greetings to far flung family and friends

However, this year, I have numerous pictures of an adorable baby that I need to share. But I found myself at a loss on how to include those precious shots with the Christmas cards that I send out. Enter Shutterfly.

With their expansive collection of Photo Christmas cards , I can create the perfect card for our family and friends – one that maximizes the level of Joycie cuteness. And when I and done with that project, I can pick amongst their Christmas Cards for cards to send business associates, work colleagues, etc. Shutterfly even has Gift Tags .

I know that Christmas is still more than 50 day away, but thanks to Shutterfly, I have one less Christmas task to worry about.

November 05, 2010

It's Offical!

Last week, I casually mentioned that in 2011 I would be walking in the 3 Day for a Cure Walk . At the time, I had just mailed off my registration packet. Today I received a confirmation e-mail that I am indeed registred for the 2011 3 Day for a Cure Walk in Atlanta, Ga.

Now the real work begins. Not only must I being to train my body to be able to handle walking 20 miles a day, I must begin to fundraise. My fundraising goal is $2,300. If you might be willing to donate, you can make a donation on my personal fundraising page .

If you are able and willing to give, I thank you in advance. If you are unable to give, I ask that you pray for me as I begin this incredible journey. I will be updating periodicaly with training tales, fundraising stories, and more.

November 03, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Fall Festival #19 - Trying Sweettarts 

M thought Joycie would like the taste of sweet-tarts……I think it’s safe to say he was wrong.

October 29, 2010

My Prize Winning Sweet Pea

Our town hosts a fall festival each year and as a part of the festivities, there is a costume contest. I had not planned on dressing Joycelen for the contest - as I was saving her real costume for our church festival on Saturday night. However, at the last minute I bought this sweet pea costume at the dollar store. It was cute enough to win her 2nd place in the baby division.

October 28, 2010

Girl’s Weekend

 

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Hi Everybody, Joycie here. Mama is once again very busy with work, so I will be guest blogging for her today.

I wanted to tell ya’ll about the great “girls weekend” we had last weekend.

 

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My Aunt Gail came to visit for the ENTIRE weekend. On Friday, we went shopping – and I got lots of pretty new fall dresses. Then we met Daddy for dinner at Ruby Tuesday’s. He was late – so we ate appetizers – well the grown up’s at them, and Mama fed me tiny bites of the cheese biscuits.

On Saturday, Nana, Aunt Gail, Mama and I went shopping … and once again I got lots of pretty fall outfits.  Then we came back to the house where I played and played with Aunt Gail…

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She sang silly songs to me, played patty cake, and horsey.

 

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We even swang on the porch swing. I had a great time with my 3 favorite ladies. I hope we can do it again soon.

 

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Bigger Picture Moment: Celebrating Life

There are only a few days remaining in October. As the calendear changes, the world's focus will likely shift from Breast Cancer Awareness to the upcoming holidays. But not for me - because each day I see a living reminder of breast cancer.

My cousin Tammi, who I have mentioned in previous post is a 2 time breast cancer survivor. She is also my co-worker. And each morning, as we chit chat at the coffee maker, I offer a silent prayer of thanksgiving -- that she beat the odds and defeated breast cancer.

This month, I have blogged about Tammi's story, what I have learned about breast cancer, and what we as women can do to fight this dreaded disease. This week's prompt for Write Pink is to write about how this month's posts have changed you, or about a breast cancer survivor you know and love.

Instead of retelling Tammi's story, I will simply tell you that the above picture was taken moments before Tammi and I mailed off our registration for the 3 Day for a Cure 2011 Walk in Atlanta.

When Tammi was diagnosed she dreamed of walking to one day celebrate her remission....and it was my vow to walk in her honor. Next October, we will due it together -- a celebrate of life, a celebration of family, and a celebration of VICTORY!

October 27, 2010

Wordless Wednesday




October 18, 2010

Monday's Meals

Between my work schedule, training schedule, M's farm work, and church responsibilties, we often find ourselves stretched thin. There are many nights that we do not sit down to eat supper until nearly 9:00 p.m. On those days, I am grateful for one thing:
My crock pot. I love the fact that I can put a meal on in the morning, it is ready when I walk in the door after work -- and can stay on the warm setting if we can't eat until much later. For the next few Monday's Meals, I am going to share my favorite crock pot receipes. This week it is:

Easy Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Ingredients:

2-3 pound pork tenderloin

1 - 12 ounces can of diet coke/coke zero/diet pepsi

1 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce

Directions:

1. Trim excess fat from your tenderloin and poke several holes in it using a fork.

2. Place pork tenderloin in your crockpot and cover with the diet coke and bbq sauce.

3. Cook on low for at least 8 hours.

4. After 8 hours, remove pork from crockpot, shred and return to the crock pot. Allow it to continue to simmer in the pot until you are ready to eat.

*M says that the meat gets more and more tender the longer it stays in the sauce mixture. We are usually able to get a few meals out of just one tenderloin. If you prefer your bbq sandiwches to be saucier, you can just add more sauce when you prepare your sandwich.


October 16, 2010

7 Months

 

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Joycie,

You turned 7 months old on October 5th.  With each day that passes, you are becoming more independent – almost toddler like – and less of the tiny infant that we brought home from the hospital. Per the usual routine, here are your important statistics for the month:

  • You weigh 17 pounds and are 28 inches long.
  • You are still wearing size 2 diapers because you have absolutely no waist.
  • You are wearing clothing in sizes 6-9 months.

Last month you were practicing your M and B sounds. But this month, you are using words. You routinely say Mama, Daddy (although it comes out Da-DEE), and Ba-ba (which have come to believe is your word for bottle). You have also said Uh-oh, Nana, and Papa.

You are an accomplished sitter, and have stared trying to pull yourself back up when you tumble over.  While you are not yet crawling, you are beginning to get up on all fours and rock back and forth. Mama is fairly certain that you will only crawl for a brief time, as you already try to pull up when you cousins are standing around.

Daddy and I have had to buy you new toys as you show no interest in the toys that are designed for your age range. Instead, you prefer playing with Lacey’s baby dolls, London’s pom-pom’s or Trevor and Trenton’s trucks.

DSC_0648You have developed quite an outgoing personality. While at the Georgia Tech game last week, you threw yourself from Mama’s arms into the arms of the security guard. Then you promptly gave her a big, wet kiss.  As we tell everyone, you are a happy, content, loveable, easy going baby.

Love,

Mama & Daddy

October 14, 2010

Write Pink! Kimberly's Story

My first cousin is a 2 time breast cancer survivor. After watching her heroic battle with cancer, you would think that I would be a breast cancer expert. But I am not. In fact, I am so uneducated that I do not even know to give myself a proper self-exam.

For this week's Bigger Picture Moment, I decided to do some research - after all knowledge is power. I went hour reading various documents, articles, websites, and speaking with breast cancer survivors and my own doctor. Here are a few of the interesting (at least two me) things that I learned:

- Women in there 30's have a 1 in 229 chance of developing breast cancer. By age 40, the chance increases to 1 in 69.

- My diet can be a factor in increasing/decreasing my risk of breast cancer. Some studies have found that a diet high in saturated fat may increase breast cancer risk, but a diet high in monounsaturated fat may lower breast cancer risk.

- Diet is not the only lifestyle factor that can have an impact on my breast cancer risk. Exercise has the potential to lower the risk of developing breast cancer by 20%.

- A lump in my breast my not be the only sign of potential cancer. When performing self exams, I should be looking for the following changes:
  1. Lump, hard knot or thickening
  2. Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening
  3. Change in the size or shape of the breast
  4. Dimpling or puckering of the skin
  5. Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple
  6. Pulling in of your nipple or other parts of the breast
  7. Nipple discharge that starts suddenly
  8. New pain in one spot that doesn’t go away

The most important thing that I learned this week is that this is my body. And because it is MY BODY, it is my responsibility to do all I can to educate myself about breast cancer. Then I have to put that education into action.

What new information have you learned about breast caner? How are you going to put your knowledge into action?

October 08, 2010

Making the Important Connection

I am a social media junkie. Each night, I come home, turn on my computer and read blogs, change my Facebook status, tweet to a few friends, and spend hours IM’ing. Social media has allowed me to stay conneced with family and friends who are not nearby. Given my hectic schedule, social media allows me to share glimpses into my life with out committing a lot of time.

However, in my bigger picture moment, I came to realize that social media was harming the most important relationship in my life, my relationship with M. Thursday night started out as so many others. M arrived home from work, we loaded up the diaper bag, grabbed our gym clothes, and headed to my parents house to drop the baby off. We arrived at the gym and I went to pull our gym token out of the console – it wasn’t there.

That set off a firestorm of frantic searching (by me) but to no avail. The token was not in the truck and without it we were not going to make it into the gym. By this point, I was beyond frustrated, so when M suggested we go home rather than get fellow gym goers to let us in, I snapped “Fine, just do whatever you want. Forget that I need the workout to distress.”

It was a long, silent ride home. Once home, I turned the house topsy turvy - determined to find the token – certain that if I had not lost it, my evening would not have turned out so poorly. After 30 minutes of looking, I found the token, in the pocket of the jeans I had worn to the gym the prior week. Excitedly, I went to our workout room to inform M of the good news. The sight I found broke my heart.

M was sitting on the weight bench, head in his hand, shoulders sagging. He was hurt – and there was no doubt as to who had inflicted the pain. I knelt in front of him, resting my head on his knee and with tears in my eyes and throat, I whispered “I’m sorry.”

Those simple words opened up a lengthy dialogue, in which M shared that he often felt ignored in the evenings. As he said, “You find Facebook and blogging more interesting in me.”

I assured him that was not the truth, but that he often came home and turned on the television, becoming so engrossed in the show that I felt neglected. So I was turning to Facebook and blogging to fill the void.

But Facebook, blogging, My Space, and twitter can not replace honest conversations with my husband. Myth Busters, Sports Center, and The History Channel are a poor substitute from laughter shared between M and I. So now I have a new rule for myself – no blogging, Facebook, or twitter after M arrives home. That’s our time.

How’s is working? Last night, M arrived home, we stretched out on the floor, conversing about our day, a mock wrestling match ensued, which resulted in M chasing me thru the house while I laughed hysterically, and Joycie looked on in wonder and amazement.

And it was way more entertaining then any television show, blog post, or Facebook game.

October 07, 2010

Bigger Picture Moment : I'm doing this for Joycie

Seven years ago, I along with my family sat in the surgical waiting room while my cousin Tammi underwent her first mastectomy. I can remember sitting next her daughter Tamela, as she read the note that her mother had written her - a note that told her not to worry, that she was going to be okay. And I remember the haunted look in Tamela's eyes - because in spite of her mother's assurances, she was not certain that Tammi would win the battle. Truth be told, none of us we certain -- we were all terrified.

That image - the stark terror etched in Tamela's eyes has never been far from my mind. Now, as a new mother, I find myself hoping/praying/ that my daughter - my precious Joycie - will never have to experience that kind of fear. But hoping/praying is not enough. I have to take steps to
lower my risk of breast cancer . I need to perform monthly self breast exams to ensure that I know my breats, that I would be able to recognize any change in them, not just a lump .

But I will not stop with just me. There are countless other women in my daughter's life that need to know - her Grandmothers, her Aunts, her cousins, and even perhaps her someday. And beyond Joycie's tiny world there are millions of others who need to be made aware.

Because if we are know, then we can fight, and if we can fight then we can win. And if we win, no more daugther's will sitting in waiting rooms with terror in their eyes and fear in their hearts.

October 06, 2010

What I’m loving Wednesday….

It's Wednesday! Today I'm linking up with Jamie to share the things that I am loving this week.

 

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The fall decorations in my living room.

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This little scarecrow that sits among the “pumpkin patch” above my living room window.

pumpkin spice candles

I’m in love (maybe even obsessed) with pumpkin spice candles. I have them in my kitchen, living room, bedroom, and bathroom. They smell amazing and embody the fall season.

white chocolate mocha

As soon as the weather turns cooler, I begin craving hot tricks. I am loving White Chocolate Mocha’s from Starbucks. Unfortunately, the nearest one is nearly half an hour away. But M promised that he would treat me to one this weekend….

bobby dodd

I am loving the fact that this weekend is Homecoming Weekend at Georgia Tech. I am so excited to share the Homecoming traditions with Joycie, Mikey and my parents. I am also excited about reconnecting with friends.

6 months 9-24-10 #4

And lastly, but most importantly, I am loving my baby girl’s laughter. She has been giving little giggles for the past few weeks. However, she has not started laughing – deep belly laughs that have her little body shaking. Her joy at the world around her is something worth loving!

What are you loving this week?

October 04, 2010

Monday's Meals: Kickin Chicken Chili

Lyndsie at A Love Worth Waiting For , is hosting a new link up called Monday’s Meals. The idea is for each person to share favorite recipes, and then each week we can get inspired for new meal ideas. M and I often eat the same 5-6 meals week in and week out, so I am eager to participate and get a little kitchen inspiration.

Over the weekend, the temperatures here grew cooler. Saturday night is was chilly enough that I needed to wear a sweater when we went out to dinner with friends. The cooler temperatures immediately had me craving warm foods – soups, stews, chili – so I thought I would share my favorite chili recipe.

Kim’s Kickin Chicken Chilli

*This receipe was modified from Gina’s Recipe.

1 bag of frozen pepper and onions ( You can also use freshly chopped if you prefer)
1 16-oz can black beans
1 8 oz can dark kidney beans
1 8 oz can light kidney beans
3 cups of corn (I usually grill ears of corn and then take it off the cob. However, you can use canned or frozen)
2 cans of diced tomatoes
2 jalapenos chopped ( If you prefer things less spicy, use only 1 jalapeno)
1 packet taco seasoning
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp chili powder
1.5 pounds of chicken breast
To prepare, place the beans, peppers, corn, tomatoes, and seasoning in your slow cooker. Place the chicken breast on top, cover, and cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 6 hours. About half an hour before you are ready to serve, remove the chicken breasts and shred them and place the shredded meat into the slow cooker.

When you are ready to serve the chili, you can top with sour cream, avocado, cheese, and crumbled tortilla chips. My husband likes to mix a mashed avocado with a bit of ranch dressing and use it as a topping. And while it sounds weird, it tastes great and the cool ranch is a lovely contrast to the spice of the chili.

September 30, 2010

A Letter to Joycie - #1

Joycelen,

Each month I write you letters that detail how much you have grown and changed in the previous four weeks. And each month, I print those letters out and tuck them away in your baby book, in the hopes that years from now, we can read them together. And when I am no longer with you, you can read those letters and feel the love that I have for you.

I enjoy writing those letters. But lately I have been feeling as though I should write more letters. Letters that speak to you about more than just how you are growing up (way too fast for my liking) – letters than impart some of the wisdom that I have gained in the 28 years on this earth.

I also want to have these letters to refer back to – so when I encountered a parenting situation in the future, I can remember how I wanted to handle it, what I wanted to say, what I wanted to do.

So today, on Thursday, September 30, 2010, I am going to impart my first bit of wisdom to you.

“Don’t envy others!”

Joycie, it’s a simple fact of life that someone is always going to have somthing you want. The popular girl at school will date the boy you are secretly crushing on, a coworker will get the promotion you wanted, a friend will buy a new vehicle while you drive your old car.

You’ll first reaction will likely be envy. It would be easy to give into this emotion. You will list the reasons that the boy should like you better (Side note: Any boy who thinks you are anything less than amazing should be ignored, but that’s another lesson for another day), why you worked harder to earn the promotion, or why it is makes no sense for your friend to buy a new vechicle in her current financial situation.

You will probably find yourself wishing that you had what the other person has…don’t. I promise that there are things going on that you do not know about, problems that you can not see, worries/fears/questions that are plaguing the other person.

Envy is a waste of time and energy. Instead, of envying, you should be happy for the other person. And then focus on all the good that is in your own life. Sit down and list out all the things that you have been blessed with and I promise, you will soon forget about the boy, the promotion, or the car.

Okay, I would write more, but you are sitting in my lap and keep banging the keys, so I will close this letter.
I love you, pook!

~Mama

September 28, 2010

Write Pink ! Blog for Your Breasts Day

We each have moments in our lives that change. Moments that so dramatically shift our worlds, that we can describe in vivid detail where we were, what we wore, when the moment happened. For me one of those moments was April 4th, 2004.

I was lying on my beige floral couch in my one bedroom apartment in Smyrna, GA. I was wrapping up the final weeks of my senior year at Georgia Tech. Per Sunday afternoon tradition, I had called home to give my parents the weekly update. Towards the end of the conversation, my Mama said “Honey, we need to tell you something.”

My heart leapt into my throat. I wondered if the news would be about my grandmother. Over the early part of the spring, she had been ill – I wondered if it was the news that the end was near. It was not. Instead, the news my mother shared was even more shocking, even scarier. With tears clogging her voice, she spoke “Tammi has breast cancer.”

Tammi was my oldest cousin on my father’s side. 14 years older than me, she had been more of a big sister to me than a cousin. I had always admired her style, her zest for life, and though I had never told her – I secretly wanted to be like her when I grew up.

That night and in the coming weeks, I wondered how this could be happening. My cousin was still so young – didn’t breast cancer happen to older woman. I was scared of what would happen to my cousin, but during a long conversation with her she assured me “I will win.”

And she did! She beat breast cancer, not once, but TWICE. Unfortunately, many woman do not win their battles. So today, in honor of my cousin’s victory, and in memory of the other soldiers, I am participating in Write Pink: from the Head, Heart and Feet.

Please join me and Bigger Picture Blogs today as we kick off Write Pink! from the Head, Heart and Feet by teaming up with Army of Women and bloggers everywhere to Blog for our Breasts.

The Army of Women campaign is an online initiative, where women (and men) can sign up at http://www.armyofwomen.org/. The members are then contacted via E-blast to participate in groundbreaking, breast cancer prevention research studies. They can either sign-up for the studies online, or if they do not qualify, they are encouraged to forward the information to a friend or family member. Every woman ( or man) over 18 is welcome to participate, whether a breast cancer survivor or someone never affected. Do you want to join the fight against breast cancer? Then sign up! Want to recruit friends and family to join the army? Encourage them to sign up by using the Invite a Friend Link.



Breast cancer has taken the lives of too many mothers, daugthers, sisters and friends. Join this Army and let's battle to win the war with breast cancer.

September 25, 2010

A Single Curl

6 months 9-24-10 #10

September 23, 2010

Bigger Picture Moments: Following the Plan

Welcome to Bigger Picture Moments, a weekly writing meme where we breathe in the moments that paint a picture of the grander scheme. All moments are welcome in this space -- small or large, as community is just as important as the grander awareness brought on by searching for a bigger picture every week.

I have always wanted to be a runner. There seems to be a freedom in running – the breeze blowing around you, the repetitive sounds of your feet hitting the pavement – running seemingly provides a momentary escape from the pressure of the world around you.

Two years ago, I was in the middle of transforming myself into a runner. I was nearing the end of Couch to 5K training plan and was a mere two weeks away from my first 5K run. And then I got injured.

Two X-ray, 1 MRI, and a few cortisone shots later, I was able to finish the race. But my knee was extremely inflamed, and my doctor advised me to take a few months off from my new found hobby.

Those few months became years. Recently, I have once again felt the urge to run. To lace up my shoes, pick a route, and just run. But my body is two years older, and has undergone changes sense then – namely given birth to a child. So once again I am following the Couch to 5K training plan.

On Monday, I was in the middle of the first day of the 4th week of the program. My training plan called for a 5 minute warm up walk, followed by a 3 minute run, a 90 second walk, then a 5 minute run, followed by a 2.5 minute walk – all of which is repeated a second time. The first set was hard – I struggled to maintain my pace, and my legs felt heavy. Three minutes into my 2nd 3 minute run, I was feeling great. I was experiencing the elusive “runners high”, so I though – I think I’ll just keep running. So I ran for another minute and then another.

My training partner looked me and said “Aren’t you suppose to walk now?”

“Nah, I am feeling good – and besides the walking segments are boring. I am just going to run the rest of the time.”

And my plan worked for a moment. And then my lungs began to feel as they were on fire. I couldn’t breathe properly. My lack of breathe lead to a cramp in my side that finally forced me to stop my workout.

Later that night as I lay on my living room floor attempting to stretch out my sore muscles, I though about my run. I realized that I had gotten so focused on the end result – RUNNING – that I had desired to abandon my training plan.

It’s something that happens to me in other areas of my life. I become so consumed with the end result, that I often miss the small steps that I need to take -- and often wind up costing myself more time.

So in the coming week, I am going to follow my training plan to the letter. And in the other areas of my life, I am going to focus on the completing the small steps that will get me to my end result.

September 21, 2010

M's Birthday Scavenger Hunt

If you read my blog yesterday, you saw a post that contained a clue for M to decipher so that he could continue of his birthday scavenger hunt. I promised that would post a recap once he was done….and here it is.

M’s birthday hunt was suppose to begin with a letter that I had placed over the visor in his work truck. It contained a poem about breakfast that I had composed and a clue that read:

Look in the place that was named by Dorothy Levitt, it is also known as a jockey box.

The answer was the glove compartment, in which there was money for M to treat himself to a breakfast out.

Unfortunately, M had to switch work trucks, so while he found the letter, he did not figure out the clue until AFTER the switch. He is going to treat himself to breakfast today.

M’s truck swap further thru my plans out of whack. As the 2nd clue was set to be delivered by scheduled email at 10:30. The clue was simply an anagram of the word toolbox. Inside his toolbox, I had hidden 2 cd’s that he had requested. I had to just tell him about that gift.

The third clue was this:

    

    

    

    

    


If you take the text, paste it into word and change the font, it looks like this:

W T N E C

W K D Y O

W I M D M

D M I O -

O A K T -

Reading down each column you get the following:

www dot kim and mikey dot com.

This clue took him to a blog post that instructed him to e-mail me at the e-mail address that we use for private matters. This was my personal e-mail address. Once I received his message, I responded with

Sehen Sie unter der Stelle, wo Staub Hasen verstecken

M figured out that it was a phrase in German. So he googled an online translator and received the phrase “Look under the place where dust bunnies hide.”

This clue took him quite a bit of time to figure out. He was looking under our bed, the crib, chairs, tables, etc. He finally found the next clue under the corner of our couch. I should not that I laughed at him crawling around on our floors. Joycelen was watching him with an expression that said “Daddy has lost it.”

The clue under the couch was simply 2-9-5. I told him to look in anything that would contain numbers. He thought about phone books, various books in our house, and finally found the clue in an old hymnal we had in the living room.

The clue in the hymnal read “I can feed you but I am not food, I can quench your thirst but I am not water.” M quickly realized that this was referring to the Bible. He located the correct Bible (we have 4 in our home) in which was a humrous birthday card that contained the final clue “Look where your memories were stored.”

The final clue guided him to a wooden chest that he stores items in. He lifted up the lid and found the box containing the wireless mouse that I purchased him.

M stated that he enjoyed the scavenger hunt and wants another one for his next birthday. And being the good wife that I am, I am going to oblige him. But I think he is nervous because I have a whole year to plan clues, while this year’s search was planned in just a week.

Oh, this is going to be fun….

September 20, 2010

Mikey's Next Clue

**Readers, today is M's 31st birthday. Since his birthdy fell on a work day and a Monday no less, I decided to create a scavenger hunt for him. He has been receiving clues on morning. Some clues lead directly to a gift and others to another clue. I promise to post tomorrow with a complete recap. But for now, I need to give M his next clue.**

You previous clue was quite difficult, so I will make this one a bit simpler. Send me a message to the address we use when we wish to discuss private matters.

September 16, 2010

6 Months

 

Dear Joycelen,

You are 6 months old. Hard as it is to believe half of your first year of life is over.  Here are the important milestones for this month:

6 months 9-4-10 #1

  • You are 15 pound, 15 ounces.
  • You measure 27 inches in length.
  • You are wearing 3-6 months clothing, although a few of the 6-9 month onesies do fit you.
  • Due to your long limbs, you have a tiny waist, so you are still in size 2 diapers.
  • You are still sleeping thru the night. You take a nap around 6:30 or 7:00 that last for about an hour. Then you wake up for an hour of playtime and one last bottle, and then sleep for 10 hours.
  • You have become a pro at eating solid foods. You have 1 jar of baby food along with a 4 ounce bottle for breakfast, a 6 ounce bottle at 11, a jar of baby food at lunch, another 6 ounce bottle at 3, 6, and a 4 ounce bottle before bed.
  • Your verbal skills continue to grow. You are making the “b” and “m” sounds….over and over again. Nana says that she has heard you say Mama and Daddy first, but if that’s true you are not letting us hear them.

6 months 9-4-10 #4

  • You are also becoming quite accomplished at sitting up.
  • Still no crawling, you prefer to scoot on your back or army crawl.
  • Recently, you have become enthralled with remotes, cell phones, and paper.

Your Daddy and I are constantly amazed by you, and you always have us laughing with your smiles, giggles, and big wet kisses.

Love,

Mama & Daddy

Bigger Picture Moments: Satisfaction

Another Thursday, another chance to share my weekly Bigger Picture Moment. For more inspiring moments, visit Bigger Picture Blogs

For the last two months, I have repeatedly listened to a CD titled “Songs 4 Life: Feel the Power”. It is a CD compilation of Christian music from the 90’s. With all of the new praise and worship CD’s and the plethora of Christian artist, my husband who gifted me with the CD wondered why I had asked for this particular one (and the others in the collection.)

I explained to him that my parents had gifted me with the collection when I was an 9th grader. As I dealt with the numerous angst of high school, I had listened to those CD’s. While other girls went on dates on Friday night, I stayed in my room signing along to the words. The music was a reminder of a time, when my sole source of comfort and peace had been Jesus.

Now at 28, my days are filled with work, exercise, family demands, making time for friends, creating time for my husband, housework, and other responsibilities. Jesus has been relegated to Sundays and Wednesdays, and often my mind and heart is any another place on those days too.

I was/am yearning to once again be close with my Savior. And foolishly, I though that if I listened to the music that it would happen. However, over the last two months, the gentle voice of God has whispered “ You are listening, but do you hear the words. You know the music, but have you learned the message.”

And I do. If I want to have a better relationship with my God, I have to spend time with Him. If I started to feel disconnected from my husband, would I just sit at home playing CD’s of our favorite music. Of course not. I would probably turn on the CD’s, pull him off the couch, and slow dance in our living room. Then when the music ended, I would sit with him and talk, and talk, and talk….

Nothing difficult, nothing challenging, simply really….I would find time to spend with him. And that is what I need to do with God. So last night, as a lay in bed, I prayed

“Lord, I know that I need to spend time with you. I need to study your word, talk with you, to just be still in your presence. But, Lord, I too often let life get in the way. So I am asking you (and this may be wrong to do Lord) can you have me wide-eyed and alert when my alarm goes off. Remove the desire to hit snooze….and I promise I will study your word.”

Bargaining with God…..yeah….. but you know what? At 7:05 this morning, I was wide awake. I offered a pray of thanksgiving as I tossed the covers back. Then I pulled out my Bible and began to study my lesson for that day.

And wouldn’t you know it… the lesson was on satisfaction – on how I am designed to long to be in God’s presence. Coincidence, not likely. That is just God telling me what I needed to know.

I am eager to hear what He says next.

September 11, 2010

Nine Years Ago….

Nine years ago, I awoke in my sophomore dorm and set out for the campus bookstore.

Nine years ago, I stood in the checkout line at the bookstore. As I waited to purchase my biology book, I heard a radio announcement that the Pentagon was on fire. My thought “What have the idiots in Washington done now?”

Nine years ago, I climbed on the campus bus. As I rode, I heard to guys behind me conversing. “Did you see the plane hit the tower?” one asked. “Yeah, the smoke came billowing out and glass flew everywhere” was the reply. My thought “I wonder what action movie they are discussing.”

Nine years ago, I was volunteering at the campus Job Fair when the director told us that it was closing early. She stressed that all students should return to their dorm rooms. My thought “Yes, I can take an afternoon nap.”

Nine years ago, I walked back into my dorm room and found my roommate crying as she watched a newscast. Curious as to what had her upset I turned to look at the screen. NBC was replaying the footage of the plane hitting the tower. My thought, that I voiced over and over, “This isn’t suppose to happen in America.”

Nine years ago, I frantically and repeatedly im’ed Kevin , who I knew worked in the Pentagon. My prayer “Lord, please let him be safe.”

Nine years ago, the President sent out a campus wide e-mail to address the horrific act and its impact on us. He stated that in one hour our campus would be closed – nobody in, nobody out. My roommates and I were ready to leave in 40 minutes. All of us fearful of staying in the heart of a major city…Our thought “Could Atlanta be next?”

Nine years ago, I spent the evening with my roommates in Dunwoody. We cooked ravioli in Alfredo sauce and watched the news footage safe in the den of Kim D’s parents home. Sometime during the night, I spoke with my Daddy.

Nine years ago, I asked my father “Daddy, does this mean we are going to war?”.

Nine years ago, I cried when he replied “Yeah, baby I think it does.”

9/11 is forever etched in my mind. It was a day that America as a nation was changed, and a day that I as a person was changed. Faced with the horror of the largest terrorist attack on U.S. soil, our nation came together. We prayed, we mourned, we gave, and we vowed never to forget. In light of that day, I lost the last vestiges of my childlike innocence. I was faced with the reality that the world is indeed full of hatred, cruelty, and people who are willing to hurt others in the name of “their god”.

Today, nine years later, I awoke in the comfort of my bed, in the safety of my home. I checked on my beautiful, sleeping child. And I offered thanks to God for all that I have been given. And I asked comfort for those who lost loved ones ten years ago, peace to those whose heart are still filled with anger/hatred, and that somehow America as a nation can once again unite as we did then.

Today, nine years later, I will host my nieces 1st birthday. I will watch as children frolic thru sprinklers, splash pools, and water slides in my front yard. And I will pray that they never experience what I did…ten years ago.

Today, nine years later, I will honor the victims of 9/11 by living my life fully. I will celebrate that I am living in a country that, while flawed, is still the greatest nation on earth.

How will you remember? Today, tomorrow, and years from now?

September 07, 2010

A Tough Choice

On Thursday, after spending several hours deep cleaning my home, I was in desperate need of shower. I turned on the hot water, got a new fluffy towel, and stepped in....

A few moments later I discovered I was out of my body wash....I was left with the choice of using M's ' manly bodywash, or Joycelen's baby wash.

Guess which one I chose?

September 01, 2010

Weekend in Atlanta, Part 2

 

Hi Bloggies – I’m back, did you miss me?  I missed ya’ll.  So, where did I leave off last time.  Oh, I remember. Even with Mama navigating, we managed to make it to Turner Field.

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Here I am with Daddy waiting for the game to start.  Mama made sure that I was slathered in sunscreen, had my hat, and was properly hydrated….

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Watching the Braves was hard work. I got tired from clapping my hands and cheering. So around the 4th inning, I took a nap.

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I woke up in the 7th inning. I sat with Papa and Nana and watched the Braves score again, and again, and again. The Braves won the game 13-1.

After the game, we loaded up and head back home. It was a busy and short weekend in Atlanta. But I can already see why Mama and Daddy like visiting there…. I can’t wait to go back.

August 30, 2010

In Memory of My Bubba



Last Sunday evening, while preparing supper at my in-laws house, I noticed that I had missed call from my Mama. As I was preparing to call her back, I received the alert that she had left me a voicemail. I checked the message. She said simply “Kimberly, please call me.”

For my Mama, that meant something serious was happening. I called her back and was informed that my cousin Barry had been admitted to the ICU for chest pains and shortness of breath. “But everything is checking out okay.” Mama said “I told your Aunt to call us if anything changes.”

One hour later things changed. A CT of the heart, showed that my cousin had an aneurism in his aorta that had enlarged to 6 cm. He was going to be transferred to a larger hospital in Savannah and would undergo immediate surgery. I commented to M “This is just how things started with my Uncle.”

M assured me that my cousin was younger, healthier, and that even the physicians stated that he should make a full recovery. At 10:03 p.m., I received the first text that he was headed into the O.R. At 5:25, I received a text that he was finished with surgery and resting comfortable. At 6:30, he was back in the operating room….

With each text, I felt my emotions swinging back and forth. I kept praying “Let him be okay…let him be okay.” I headed into work, with the plan that M and I would drive down later that afternoon to visit him in post-op. But at 8:15, I received a text that stated things had taken a turn for the worst…. We were advised to head to the hospital. I called my parents, dropped Joycelen off at daycare, and we started towards Savannah. As we drove out of town, I received the call – my cousin Barry was gone – just 39 years old, leaving behind a beautiful wife Jennifer, and two daughters, Hannah who is 9 and Haleigh who is 3.

Barry was a larger than life persona. He loved his family, music, and Jesus. He never met a stranger, always had a smile on his face, and loved to make people laugh. As an only child, I often asked him if he had ever wished for siblings. He would always respond “Nope, Pearl (his nickname for me), why do I need siblings – when I have you?”.

And it is true, although we were just cousins – our mothers sisters – we lived as though we were brother and sister. I adored him, and followed him around as a little girl – and then as I grew older he became one of my closest confidants. In turn, he offered brotherly advice, and would grill any of the boys I brought home from college. And like so many brothers and sisters do, we fought – since we were both headstrong, we would often disagree and hold our ground. But then with a single joke, the fight would be over. I last saw him at Easter. I remember that I was holding Joycelen – he walked over, told me again how beautiful she was, then hugged me and said “I love ya, Pearl.” My response was “Love you too Bubba.”

I would never have imagined that that would be last time I would say those words to him. Needless to say, it was a difficult week for our family. But we take comfort in knowing that while we feel pain, Barry is at peace. We know that he professed Jesus Christ as Savior, and as such is now rejoicing with the Lord in Glory. And I know that someday, I will see him again.

August 18, 2010

Weekend in Atlanta, Part 1

 

Hi guys! Joycelen here --- Mama is super busy at work. She keeps mumbling about auditors, GLSA reports, and account recs. I don’t know what any of that stuff is, but I do know that it is keeping her too busy to blog. So I thought I would tell ya’ll about our trip to Atlanta last weekend.

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We left early on Saturday morning to head to the big city.  Daddy drove while Papa Babo was the navigator. Apparently, Papa’s idea of navigating is to snore until Nana wakes him up. Papa’s snoring made me sleepy so I took a nap myself.

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When I woke up, I decided to play with Mama’s sunglasses.

 

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What do you think? Do I look stylish?

After a few stops at Bass Pro Shop in Macon, and the outlets in Locust Grove, we arrived in Atlanta. We got turned around a few times before we made it to the hotel. Daddy says that Mama is bad with directions, Mama says she knew exactly what she was doing.

Once we arrived at the hotel, Mama and Daddy got ready for dinner with her college roommate Kim D.  I stayed with my Papa and Nana while they had “date night” at the Braves game.

On Sunday morning, we woke up and had breakfast with my “Uncle Streamline”

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He was so silly that I laughed the entire time. I absolutely love the new toy that he bought me.

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Once we were done with breakfast, we told Uncle Streamline bye and headed to the stadium. And this time Mama didn’t get us lost.

Mama just told Daddy that she needed to check e-mail, so I guess I’ll have to finish my recap tomorrow……

August 13, 2010

Always, Sometimes, Never

I saw this on Jennifer's blog and decided to play along.

I.....


Always
Take long baths before a “date night” w/ M
Play with my hair when I am going to sleep
Hang the clothes in my closest by type, color and length.
Email M as soon as I arrive at work
Drink Diet Coke with Breakfast (who needs coffee)


Sometimes
Skip workouts just to go home and read blogs
Watch bad reality television – Real HouseWives for example
Rewash a load of laundry just so I do not have to put it in the dryer

Never
End a phone call, visit, email with family/friends without saying I love you!
Am without a book to read
Go to sleep without snuggling Joycelen
Forget to put on sunscreen (I am pale and prone to burning)

August 07, 2010

Five Months

 

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Joycelen,

Your now 5 months old.  Here are the important stats for this month:

  • You weigh 16 pounds and are over 25 inches long.
  • You now wear size 2 diapers.
  • You are wearing mostly 3-6 month clothing, but there are a few outfits that you wear that are 6-9 months.
  • You are still army crawling across the floor.

DSC_0249

 

  • You go to sleep each night between 7:30 and 8:00 p.m. and sleep all the way until 7:30 a.m.
  • You take 2-3 naps each day.
  • You started solid foods and seem to love them. You especially love sweet potatoes, green beans, and bananas. You are not a big fan of peas.
  • You are becoming even more verbal – this month you discovered your ability to shriek. You like to do this when you think nobody is paying you attention.
  • You learned a new skill this month:

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Each day, Daddy and I see changes in you. We are loving watching you grow!

Love,

Mama & Daddy

August 05, 2010

Bigger Picture Moments: Joy in Obedience

Another Thursday, another chance to share my weekly Bigger Picture Moment. For more inspiring moments, visit Hyacenth's blog.

The Sunday evening service began like each and every service prior. We were welcomed by the song leader. The choir sang, a prayer was offered, more singing, and then the service was turned over to our pastor.

From my seat in the sound booth (hubby runs the sound board, and I operate the computer/projector) I half-heartedly listened as our pastor explained there would be no sermon that night. Instead, a guest speaker would be sharing his story. With his words, I closed the program we use to project the sermon notes, and opened up Spider Solitaire.

As the speaker took the stage, I began my first game….

{Jack to Queen, Queen to King}

He was tall, slender, with a neatly trimmed beard. His voice – a deep rich tenor – was heavily accented. He thanked the congregation for the opportunity to speak to us. He apologized for his accent. English was not his native tongue. He spoke French – and a little Hatiain Creole.

{Ace to the two…. Board cleared – Game won}

And then he began to sing – an hymn that I am familiar with – I’ll Fly Away. But instead of English, he sang in his native tongue. The sanctuary rang with the beautiful melody. Suddenly, Spider Solitaire no longer interested me.

From my seat at the back, I began to sing along with him. Our voice melded – his French, my English – and I though “This is what heaven will be like … each nation represented, each tongue spoken all for the glory of God.”

After he ended the song, he told his story. He is a pastor of small church in Haiti – a church that was devastated by the earthquake in January. Thru tears, he spoke of the agonoy he feels as he tries to feed the widows and orphans in his congregation. He told us that his country was poor with a history of voodoo – and though he has had opportunities to come to America, he chooses to stay where God is using him.

My heart was pricked. I have a nice home, a good job, two vehicles in my garage, clothes to wear, food to eat – and yet I am often ungrateful. I had grown resentful of the service that I was asked to give….

Suddenly, I saw myself much like my 3 year old niece, stomping my foot and telling God “No, I don’t want too.”

The tears began to flow, and as our pastor called for the ushers to collect a lover offering for our guest, I felt the nudge on my heart – “Write the check” the Lord whispered.

Without hesitation, I took out the checkbook, wrote the check – and in that moment peace flowed over me. I felt joy, exhilaration, happiness. Not because I had given money. The emotion was because I was obedient to my Heavenly Father.

Obedience brings joy – a simple truth that I have always known – it just took a Haitian preacher with a tenor voice to remind me.

Birthday Recap

My 28th birthday was a wonderfully relaxing day filled with all of my favorite things and favorite people.

I began my day by playing with this adorable little girl.

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Then I went shopping with my sister. I managed to purchase several new items. The best part was that they were all on sale. After a delicious lunch with my Mom, Dad, sister, nephew, niece and Joycelen – I spent the afternoon getting pampered.

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M bought me a gift certificate to my favorite salon. He is treating me to a pedicure, eyebrow wax, and a haircut. He says I deserve to be pampered.

I returned to my parents house after my hour long pedi to find these waiting on me

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M sent me a dozen roses. And when he arrived home from work, he had an incredibly sweet card and my favorite candy. I felt so spoiled.

Since it was Wednesday night, we went to church – where everyone wished me Happy Birthday. Following an amazing Bible study with my youth group, I came home and logged on to find nearly 100 Facebook messages wishing me a Happy Birthday. I also had text messages from many family members and friends.

It was definitely a day to remember!

August 04, 2010

Happy With Me



This week, Caitlin's amazing book is being released . In honor of the release, she is asking bloggers to post about the theme "Changing the Way You See - Not the Way You Look". Here is my story...

Ten years ago, I celebrated my 18th birthday. I spent the evening before enjoying supper with two of my best friends. We laughed for hours over appetizers, entrees, and decadent desserts. The next day (my actual birthday) we wasted hours riding the dirt roads of my hometown on 4-wheelers. I felt happy, content, and alive – I was 100% happy with whom I was – it would be the last time I would feel that way for nearly a decade.

Two days after my 18th birthday, I packed all of my worldly possessions into a rental van and drove with my father to the big city of Atlanta. I was there to begin my collegiate career at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech for short). I was there to obtain a college diploma. Four years later, I left with that diploma and an eating disorder.

Everything started innocently enough. Following my freshman year, I wanted to lose the 15 or so pounds that I had gained. I started working out at the on campus gym. One day, in the girl’s locker room, someone mentioned diet pills. I started using the diet pills and the weight seemed to melt off. However, the heart palpations, jitters, and other side effects were too much, so I left the pills – and turned to bulimia instead. By my junior year, I was at a dangerous weight; my “binges” were fruit and water. After my junior year, I moved back in with my Aunt for the summer...so it was harder to hide my disorder. I gained about 20 pounds. From the outside things seemed okay. But there were not.

In December 2005, a good friend confronted me about my eating disorder. While I had managed to “hide” my bulimia from nearly everyone else in my life, she had seen the ugly truth. With her help, I was able to get therapy and move past my bulimic tendencies.

This is the point where I would like to say that I learned to be happy in my body, to love me no matter what the scale said. But it’s not. Even though I stopped having bulimic episodes, I was still a disordered eater. Food was classified by “good” or “bad”. Workouts were done for the most calorie burn, not because I enjoyed them or wanted to challenge myself physically.

And then I became pregnant. Each day, as I watched my body change, as I begin to feel the baby move within me, I thought about the kind of mother that I wanted to be. I knew that I wanted my child to grow up confident, happy, content with themselves. I took a vow to love my body as it is and to focus on what it was doing.

For 9 months, I listened to my body. I ate what I craved, worked out to the level I felt like that day, and embraced my pregnancy. Some days I ate tons of vegetables and fruits and would do my regular aerobics classes. Other days, I ate chocolate and skipped the gym to take an afternoon nap. I honored my body while it did the most pressing task it would ever do – nurture a human life. In return my body honored me.

Once my daughter was born, I continued the same pattern. I trusted my body to tell me what it needed. And five months post baby, I am at peace with my body. Let me state that again, after 5 years of active bulimia, 5 years of disorder eating… I am at peace with my body.

If you were to ask me my weight, I couldn’t tell you. But I will be happy to tell you how much weight I can bench press, my new PR goal for my next 5k, or any of my other fitness goals.

Ten years ago, I was an 18 year old girl who was thin but not healthy. Today, I am a 28 year old woman who is strong, fit, healthy, and above all else happy with whom she is.

July 30, 2010

Our Life in Bullet Points

•Joycelen loves solid foods. Thus far we have tried green beans, peas, squash, carrots, bananas, and apple sauce.
•Green beans are her favorite veggie and she adores bananas. Peas appear to be Joycelen’s least favorite veggie – and it just so happens that they are my least favorite as well.
•On Tuesday, I had to travel out of town for a work conference. M kept Joycelen by himself. Since M is a heavy sleeper, he thought it best to allow Joycelen to sleep with him. Apparently, M got very little sleep since Joycelen kicked, flipped, and flopped all night long.
•The weekend should be a fun one – as it will be the first weekend in several weeks that M will not have to work.
•Tonight we plan on hanging out at home, hanging a few pictures, and cleaning out our closets.
•Tomorrow night, our church is holding a special prayer service that I am extremely excited about.
•Sunday will be the usual routine of Church, Sunday dinner, naps, etc.

That’s the quick version of life in our corner of the world. What is happening with each of you?

July 23, 2010

Foto Friday - Littlest G.T. Fan

My Daddy (Joycelen's Papa Babo) came over last Saturday. He was talking to her about the upcoming college football season and how he couldn't wait to take her to a Georgia Tech game. I turned around and found this sight...



This post has been linked to Foto Fridays @ Mama Michie .