Friday, December 31, 2010

Random Acts of Zhu

Time sort of stopped for me on December 1st.  I have been so out of the loop since my father fell and began his downward spiral.  He is fortunately stable now and there are very hopeful signs of improvement.  For days I came in and out of my house, basically only returning to sleep, shower, and return to the hospital.  I almost forgot about the glorious boxes from Cepia LLC , the makers of Zhu Zhu Pets, that were by my front door.
If you have known me for any amount of time, you will know that I love Christmas.  Love might not even be a strong enough word.  I love colored lights, cookie baking, shopping for and wrapping gifts and most of all celebrating the birth of Jesus.  This year I missed a lot of that.  I wasn't able to bake cookies with my kids and my husband thankfully did all of the shopping.  We didn't have our usual Christmas, but we still had a great one.
One thing that made my Christmas season amazing was being able to participate in Random Acts of Zhu!  Zhu Zhu Pets have been incredibly popular since they appeared on the scene in 2009.  They are adorable hamster like toys that zip around and squeak just like a real hamster.  They saved me from having to buy my daughter a real hamster!!(we have a cat that loves to hunt=bad news for small critters)

 I was given the opportunity to give away Zhu Zhu Pets this holiday season through the Random Acts of Zhu program.  Cepia chose 100 bloggers to donate 104 Zhu Zhu Pets to the charity of their choice.   Because of the amount of time we have been at our local hospital, New Hanover Regional Medical Center, I chose to donate to the Betty Cameron Women's and Children's Hospital that is a part of Hanover Regional.  My father is in the Rehabilitation Hospital which is just around the corner from the Children's Hospital.  On my many treks to the cafe to get something for my dad, I passed so many family members of children who were hospitalized.  My dad and I discussed that while it stinks to be in the hospital at Christmas when you are seventy-three, it would REALLY stink to be in the hospital at Christmas when you're seven. 
 Children's Hospital
My husband and children brought the Zhu Zhu Pets up to the hospital and I met them in the lobby.  The Children's Hospital is very strict about allowing access to insure the privacy and safety of all of their patients.  We had been granted access, but unfortunately(not for us, but for the children involved), when we were supposed to deliver our Zhu Zhu Pets they had two children being admitted who were in critical condition.  We quickly dropped off the toys because we knew everyone had important things to do.  I have since heard how much the children and families appreciated having special toys at Christmas. 
Christmas Tree @ Children's Hospital
My family with our bags of Zhu Zhu Pets around the tree at the Children's Hospital
For our family, participating in Random Acts of Zhu was a wonderful way to focus on the most important part of the holiday season, GIVING.  We always participate in Salvation Army projects and Toys for Tots, but it was particularly rewarding to help a toy company like Cepia with their giving.    I am grateful for the opportunity, and grateful to have made Christmas a little bit brighter for children in the hospital!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Rehab ~ Stream of Conciousness Sunday


Many thanks again to my friend Fadra who is hosting Stream of Consciousness Sundays.  The idea is to set a timer for 5 minutes and type.  I was able to write much more last time, but I wasn't perched on a hospital bed listening to my Dad's breathing that time.  This is a great way to get out anything that you're thinking about, or just jump start your writing(it was both for me this week!)

and the story takes another turn.  the week after thanksgiving, after a diagnosis of some Parkinsonisms, my dad fell in the middle of the night.  He broke his right femur and his left hip.  He had to lay in a hospital bed from Wednesday to Friday with two broken bones.  He had two surgeries back to back to fix the right leg and repair replace the left hip.  it's terrible.  he is so weak and he is getting so confused and now they arent' even sure if he has parkinsons or some other terrible HEREDITARY condition.  we are at a rehab hospital facing the possibility of being kicked out because he has developed a urinary tract infection and can't do therapy.  hopefully he will tomorrow.

it breaks my heart because he just wants to go home.  I leave at night and go home to my family and he has to stay there. its the best place for him, but hes so confused.  yesterday morning when he was very sick from the infection he thought i was his mom.  that sort of pushed me over the edge.  my mom is exhausted, i am exhausted.  i am so grateful to my husband for taking care of so much at home so I can be here.
and its Christmas.  I love Christmas but the thought of it makes me cry.  I haven't done any shopping and I have two children that need me to be able to find my Christmas spirit. 

There you have it, 5 unedited gloomy minutes. Moving on.   

Monday, November 22, 2010

Caring for your Parents ~The Post I Don't Want to Write

My friend Fadra of All Things Fadra started a meme that asks you to write for 5 minutes and don't edit, just write.  Since I've always been a little bit of a rebel I am writing on a Monday in hopes of getting through the post I don't want to write.  Please forgive me if this is rambling or non-sensical.

My dad is one of my best friends.  Weird, huh.  We live next door to my parents which is a little "Everybody Loves Raymond" but it works.  Actually it's our house, then a few acres with a barn and pasture, then their house.  We aren't right on top of each other, but we are close enough to help out in a crisis.  This fall we have found ourselves in a crisis.  My dad has terrible arthritis and extreme muscle tightness.  In an effort to help with some of his joints, he has had his right hip replaced and was scheduled to get his left hip replaced at the beginning of October.  Unfortunately, his right knee sort of crumbled underneath him so he switched from having his left hip replaced to having his right knee totally replaced.  Just information here, the knee is a much tougher recovery than the hip.  Someone with medical knowledge can tell us why, but the knee is MUCH tougher. 

The surgery went just as expected, but post surgery is when life got really interesting.  I stayed with my dad in the hospital at night.  The anesthesia and pain medicine threw him for a loop.  He would wake up(sort of) and think he had to be someplace and start trying to get out of bed.  When I broke the bad news that he couldn't get out of bed and tried to get him settled back down he would become very agitated and anxious.  Then they tried to treat the anxiety which you would think would help him sleep but he just had weirder dreams and episodes.  He spent a few days at a nursing home/rehab facility until he fell and we discovered they had been medicating him even more.  We brought him home. 

He improved and was going to physical therapy at an amazing facility not too far from where we live.  About a week ago we went to see his psychiatrist (he was being treated for depression/anxiety) and that doctor told him that he was experiencing episodes of delirium and was susceptible to dementia.  Then proceeded to eliminate any drugs that might aleviate the anxiety dad was experiencing.  He told dad about a book that would help him.  I don't know if any of you have ever experienced a panic attack, but the last thing you want at that point and time is to read a book.  The next day we saw his orthopedic doctor who said he was progressing nicely, the knee looks great.  That night my mom told me that Dad had felt weak when he was walking across the room.  The next morning I was out at breakfast when my mom called and told me that Dad had fallen.  Fortunately he didn't hurt himself, but he is a tall guy and with his lack of flexibility he could not get up.  My husband and my brother and I had to get him up and back into his chair.  (my mom actually broke his fall, fortunately she was okay)
He swears that he didn't actually lose consciousness, but I am not so sure.  Later that afternoon he fell again.  (this time a very soft chair broke his fall~at least he's good at falling)

I wanted him to go to the hospital.  I admit that I was worried about him having a stroke or something along those lines.  He has a very intense fear and dislike of hospitals and I let him talk me out of it.  We made an appointment with his primary care doctor for the next morning and agreed that if he fell again the first call was going to be to 911.  My sister came in town the next day for the doctor's appointment.  The doctor was a little dismayed at the committee of people there for the appointment.  He agreed that Dad should be referred to a neurologist and ordered other basic radiology tests and blood tests to rule out things.  He made the mistake of saying that my dad had been dealing with "malaise and increasing frailty."  Friends, my dad is 73.  He is no spring chicken, but he should not be dealing with the health issues that he is, unless there is a cause beyond aging.

So that's where we are.  Waiting to see a neurologist on December 16th.  If you are a neurologist this is clearly a great market so please move here.  Have an appointment with a cardiologist after that.  I am torn between not wanting them to find anything, and wanting them to find something that is treatable.  I would love for him to have an answer beyond "you have the tightest muscles we've ever seen"  I know that tight muscles doesn't sound like a big deal, but his are ridiculously tight.  Some of his muscles in his legs feel like steel cables they are so tightly contracted.  Words have been tossed around that are scary.  Parkinson's is one that I have investigated and as scary as all these words are, they are at least treatable.  My mom has forbidden us from talking about Parkinson's until we go to the neurologist.  I worry so much about her too because she isn't getting the sleep she needs.  I spent last Wednesday night with him and we were awake a significant portion of the night.  (of course I was brilliant and went to the midnight opening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows~ I was TOAST on Friday.)

He seems to be stronger.  Last night Mom brought him to my house for the first time since before his surgery.  I want him to be okay.  I want him to be as well as he can be.  Maybe he is having delirium and maybe there is a neurological problem.  I just want him to be okay.  If you are the praying kind, would you say one for him?  And I will selfishly ask for prayer for myself.  This is a new road and navigating it is not easy.  Would you pray that I will know the best way to help him and my mom?

that went way too fast but at least I got the basics out. phew. Thanks to Fadra for hosting!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Advent Conspiracy ~ How do we celebrate?

Earlier today I was watching my good friend Molly of Go Mom on her Mom TV show.  Molly was discussing getting prepared for the holidays.  I am so grateful to her because her organization skills inspire me to be better prepared.  So Molly's show made me think about the holidays which inevitably leads to thinking about all of the hoopla that surrounds Christmas.  A few years ago, a friend sent me a video from a group called Advent Conspiracy and it resonated with me.  We all get videos and sometimes they are of someone's kids being funny or the antics of a cat.  This video is different.  I hope that you will take a look.  I am sharing the first video that came out several years ago, then an update that was done last year. 

I want you to hear me loud and clear.  I am not advocating NOT buying presents and decorating for Christmas.  I am advocating taking a look at what you and your family are doing and see what you can do to make your celebrations more relational and less commercial.  I still fully intend to buy video games for my children and my nieces and nephews, but I am also going to look for ways for us all to celebrate together that are not reliant upon cash.  I am also trying to figure out how to give back.  We try to shop for children off of the Salvation Army Angel Tree, but there are other things we can do.  I guess that's what I would love for us all to consider.  What can we take off of our schedule, that doesn't make sense for our families, to make room for ways to give back. 

I hope that whatever holiday you happen to celebrate, it is filled with Joy and Love

For more information about the "conspiracy" please visit Advent Conspiracy

Friday, November 5, 2010

Verizon Mifi 2200 Review

If you know me at all, you know that I LOVE gadgets.  It's a trait I inherited from my dad.  Imagine my delight when I was sent a Verizon Mifi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot to review.  I am a little late to the Mifi party, because they have been out for a little while.  It is a tiny device that you can use to connect to the internet.  I cannot adequately explain how much I love this tiny device.  I did a short video so you could see how small this thing is!!

Right now, at Verizon Wireless Online, the Mifi retail price is $269.99, with a new two year contract it's $99.99 plus you can get up to three select phones for free!  Now I just have to convince my husband it's a great deal, wish me luck!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Disney Halloween ~ Wordless Wednesday

So much has happened in the last month that it's hard to know where to begin!  I'm giving myself a break for another day and posting a not so Wordless Wednesday picture from our spur of the moment trip to Disney World for Halloween.  We had a wonderful vacation, and one of the highlights was going to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party with an amazing friend of ours who is working for Disney right now. 


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Disney Mom's Panel - The Dream Postponed

Word began circulating yesterday that Round Two notifications for the Disney Mom's Panel were arriving in inboxes. My heart started beating faster. I spent a couple of hours checking my email every five minutes until it became apparent that I was not moving on. Boo. Talk began circulating before I closed my computer down about how many had moved on. Everyone was in agreement that the number seemed low. Theories started to pop up.

You know how you feel like something is right? I'm talking about feeling way down deep in your bones that something is right for you. That is how I feel about Disney Mom's Panel. The funny thing is there were up to 20,000 other applicants who felt the same way. I am bummed today. I am a little sulky, no point in lying about it. However, I still trust the process. I would like to think that there is something wrong with the process and that's why I wasn't selected but my brain won't let me. My self esteem likes to revert to middle school and tell me I just wasn't good enough, but that isn't necessarily true either. The truth that I see is that Disney has had years of wonderful panels with incredible women(and men) and I have had the pleasure of getting to know several of them. Disney's process has and does work. I cannot wait to see who makes it onto the 2011 Mom's Panel, and I will be hoping to join them in 2012.

Amy Disney Table
photo by Molly Gold
Dreaming of the 2012 Disney Mom's Panel

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Relevant Conference Giveaway!

When I first heard that the Relevant Conference would be happening I was thrilled to register.  I have spent a good part of this year looking forward to traveling to Pennsylvania to learn and meet more people.  I was very fortunate to attend several conferences this year and it has been very interesting to compare the experiences.  Unfortunately, life has gotten in the way of my journey to Relevant.  My father has terrible arthritis in most of his joints.  He has had one hip replaced and was scheduled to have the other replaced on October 6th.  I thought about selling my Relevant ticket when he scheduled that surgery, but he has already been through one and we know what to expect.  And then the unexpected.  His right knee has started to bother him.  He started to fall.  He's over six feet tall so he has a long way to the ground.  Problems with his muscles and his arthritis make it terrifying when he falls.  He can't necessarily catch himself.

All of this makes him sound very frail and I assure you he is not.  He is hearty and funny and trapped in this body that is failing him.  So they changed his hip surgery to a knee surgery.  Yikes.  Longer time in the hospital and longer rehab.  Boo.  I also have to admit that I am feeling a little "conferenced-out."  I have been so fortunate to attend these conferences this year, but it has meant being away a lot.  Well, maybe not a lot, but more than we are used to.  I have decided to spread a little good fortune around by giving my ticket away.

I will accept entries through Saturday, October 9, 2010 at 12 noon Eastern Time.  All valid entries will be entered into and a winner will be selected.  The winner will be announced here, on the blog, early Saturday evening.  The winner will have 24 hours to respond or another winner will be selected!  Best of luck!

For EACH entry you must leave a comment! To Enter:
  1. Follow this blog by RSS feed, Google Friend Connect or by email.
  2. Follow me on Twitter
  3. Tweet this ONCE a day "Win a ticket to The Relevant Conference via @amymchodges "
  4. Mention this contest and link back to this site in a blog post.
I hope the Relevant Conference is a rewarding experience for all!

***EDITED FRIDAY 10/8 TO CLARIFY #3- If you tweet on subsequent days(today and tomorrow) please leave another comment that you have tweeted!  Please don't tweet more than once a day, only once will count and I don't want to clog everyone's twitter streams! I wish I had more than one ticket to give away!!*****

*******Winner Information*******
My most sincere apologies.  My dad was having a very bad day at the rehab center and I wasn't able to leave there until after 7pm.  (then I had to pick up dinner, family was starving!) So, drumroll please**********the winner is***********
Please DM me the name you want me to transfer the ticket to.
I wish I had tickets so you all could go!  I entered all of the entries into a spreadsheet and drew a number with  If any of you would like more information please don't hesitate to email me. 

    Thursday, September 30, 2010

    Type A Mom Conference

    I just returned from the incredible Type A Mom conference in Asheville, NC.  Those of you who know me IRL (in real life) you can stop your laughing now.  The irony is that I am nowhere close to being a type A mom.  Fortunately there was a great mix of women of all different parenting and blogging styles, there were even some brave dads.  There are so many things to say about the conference but I want to devote my first to one of my favorite subjects, community.

    Kelby Carr is the founder of the Type A Mom conference and she "gets" community in a way that so many others don't.  It's easy to say that you want everyone to be comfortable, it's quite another to actually make that happen.  In the weeks leading up to the conference, Kelby had time for everyone.  She replied and retweeted on twitter and did what she could to ease everyone's anxiety.  When the inevitable discussions about what to wear happened, Kelby didn't just say "It's comfortable" she said "Wear what you're comfortable in."  There's a big difference.  Some of us are most comfortable in jeans and flip flops  ( I did bring my fancy sparkly flips) but others are most comfortable in dresses, or khakis, or leggings.  I'm guessing that her philosophy worked because I barely remember what people were wearing, but I do remember their faces and their stories! 

    You see, community is about how we interact with each other.  Kelby set the tone by communicating openly with everyone.  At every conference you see little groups of people talking and laughing, heading off to wherever (dinner, parties, etc.) but at Type A it was different.  The groups were not closed off.  Everyone was encouraged to pull up a chair or join in for dinner.  Introductions were made and insightful questions were asked.  The hotel had groupings of couches and chairs outside of the main meeting rooms.  These couches were actually comfortable and filled for the entire conference.  There was no rhyme or reason to the groups that formed in those seats.  It was whoever needed to recharge their computer or check their email or just get off their feet for a second.  Great conversations happened around those couches and they were completely organic.  They came about because people were willing to engage with each other. 

    There is more to say about the conference, but I was so grateful for the community I had to write this first.  What's the lesson I learned?  Be open.  Be the one who takes a chance and walks up to a group.  Be the one who tweets out about dinner plans.  Be the one who always invites in.  Be the one who welcomes.  If you do these things you will find your community. 

    Sunday, September 19, 2010

    Disney Souvenirs ~ Dreaming of Disney Mom's Panel

    If you don't like Disney World, you might want to tune out over the next few weeks because I am going to be all Disney, all the time.  I have applied to serve on the Walt Disney World Mom's Panel for 2011.  It is a DREAM of mine to serve on this panel.  It is a group of moms that answer Disney trip planning questions on a forum on their website.  All of this thinking about Disney made me think about all of the fun souvenirs from our trips.  I shared a few before, but today's are my oldest and my most unique Disney souvenirs.  Hope you enjoy it, and thanks for stopping by!

    Friday, September 17, 2010

    Droid X Verizon Review

    I hate cell phone contracts.  It never fails that six months into my contract a great new phone comes out and I want it.  It makes me crazy to see the ads for the new and pretty phones on television so I turn the channel.  I still have another YEAR to go before I can upgrade my phone.  Therefore, I was delighted when I was offered a Droid X to play with for a couple of weeks to review.  The only hitch would be trying to disappear with the phone when the review was over instead of shipping it back. 

    The Droid X is the one of the latest offerings from Motorola that uses the Android platform.  My current phone is the original Motorola Droid so I was at least familiar with the system.  One of the great things about all Android phones is the number of applications that are available.  The Android system is open source so anyone with the technological know-how can develop applications for the phones.  Some of my favorites are a Blockbuster application that lets you watch movies on your phone, a task killer that saves your battery life, and Tweetdeck, a social media application.  The phone also has several home screens to make it easier to access your applications.

    The Droid X is lighter and sleeker than the original Droid.  One reason it's lighter is it does not have a separate keyboard, it uses a touch screen.  This was the only downfall for me, and it is more of an issue with me than with the phone.  Most phones are moving to the touch screen keyboard, I am just clinging to the old ways!  My husband uses the touch screen much quicker than I can.  One of the cool new features of the Droid X is "swipe."  This technology allows you to put your finger on the first letter of the word you want to type, and then you drag your finger to the other letters in order(without lifting up) and it continues to type as you drag.  It makes the touch screen very fast to use.  I think you can swipe faster than I could type on my laptop. 

    Speaking of laptops, have you ever been stuck without an internet connection and really needed to use your computer and not your phone?  With the Droid X, that problem is solved.  With the press of a button the Droid X becomes a 3G hotspot.  I used it with my laptop and the speed was incredible.  I have been on the go so much lately that this would seriously come in handy.  I also thought about all of my friends who spend time at athletic fields waiting for their children to finish practice.  The Droid X would help you get a lot of work done while waiting.  (or a lot of reading celebrity news!)

    I also have to mention that the Droid X is available through Verizon.  We switched to Verizon service in our area a few years ago because they have the best coverage for us.  We used to lose calls anytime we got near our house!  We have traveled quite a bit and found Verizon coverage to be very reliable.  I do love the new stuff so I was very tempted to leave Verizon when the Iphones started coming out.  We decided to go with the Droid phones because you can do just as much with them (sometimes more) and you just cannot beat the Verizon service in our area.  As much as I enjoyed the Droid X, I think I might choose the Droid 2 as my next phone because it does have a keyboard.  My husband however, was trying to figure out a way to keep the Droid X because he would love to have it! 

    Here is a short video about the Droid X and the "swipe" feature

    I was provided a Motorola Droid X with service from Verizon to review.  The opinions expressed here will always be my own,  for more information please see my disclosure page.

    Wednesday, September 15, 2010

    Philly Cheesesteaks ~ Wordless Wednesday

    This past weekend I was fortunate enough to attend Bloggy Boot Camp in Philadelphia, PA.  It was a long drive for a short weekend, but the monotony was broken up by riding with Fadra from Raleigh, NC to Philly.  There is so much to say about the weekend, but today I am giving you the closing shot of our weekend.  On our way out of town we stopped by Pat's and enjoyed an amazing cheesesteak.   It was a cool morning with a little bit of drizzly rain around.  The breeze was chilly and that hot cheesesteak was oh, so good!   There are two very passionate camps about Philly cheesesteaks.  Pat's and Geno's are directly across from one another if you want to make a scientific comparison, however, I am completely satisfied with our choice!

    Thursday, September 9, 2010

    Father Figures

    I don't think it's any secret that I am a "Daddy's girl."  I have a great relationship with both of my parents but my mom and I really had to struggle through the adolescent years to come through with this wonderful relationship.  My dad was always the one that played games and read books with me.  My brother and sister were older than me and when they didn't want to be annoyed by me any longer, my dad would step in and play the five millionth round of Candy Land! 
    Even though my relationship with my dad was strong, I was always thankful for the other "father figures" in my life.  Whether it was our youth minister or the dad of a friend, there was no shortage of strong, caring male role models around.   My husband, John, was lucky enough to have these, too.  He had one in particular.  Mr. Bryan.  Mr. Bryan was the father of John's best friend growing up in Dallas.   My husband and his friend were up to all kinds of mischief in their neighborhood, some of it we have on videotape.  John had a great relationship with his own father.  His father loved him well and taught him so much about love and life and business.  I am so thankful for John's parents because they raised this wonderful man that is my partner in every way.  Mr. Bryan, well Mr. Bryan invited John to church.

    When John and I got married almost fifteen years ago we had our engagement portrait at our reception for all of our friends to sign.  There are some very touching things written and some very funny things, (thanks Tyler and Bradley!) On the left side, two-thirds of the way down is this quote.

    Sorry this is so blurry, but it says "Hi John, come to church w/Kevin and us this weekend-Lee Bryan 1979."  My husband went to church with them.  He wound up joining that church at the age of 17 and becoming very involved in the youth ministry program.  John found his calling there.  He graduated from college with a business degree, but his heart was called to youth ministry.  He graduated from the Presbyterian School of Christian Education at Union Seminary in Richmond, Virginia and went on to have a very successful twenty-something year career before "retiring" from professional youth ministry last year.  The roots of John's faith came from the family he was born into, and the Bryans provided the opportunity for his faith to grow. 

    Why am I thinking about all of this today?  Mr. Bryan passed away last week.  He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year and fought valiantly until it was time to stop fighting.  Last Saturday we were able to go and be there for his memorial service and spend a little time with the family.  They are so full of love and faith.  Even in the midst of such a sad occasion, they were a joy to be with.  And to Mr. Bryan, thank you.  Thank you for loving and caring so well for your own family and for the others that crossed your path.  Thank you for sharing your faith. 

                   Lee and Susan Bryan at our wedding November 11, 1995

    And for the rest of us, you do not know the lifelong impact your words and interactions might have.  Whenever possible, speak and reach out in love!  And whenever you can, in any way you can, fight cancer!

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010

    Wordless Wednesday 9/8/10 Walt Disney World

    The Walt Disney World Mom's Panel will begin accepting applications for the 2011 panel on Monday, September 13th.  That's five days from now.  FIVE!  I have Disney on the brain.  I even saw a Mickey Mouse in the clouds today.  When I saw Resourceful Mommy's adorable Wordless Wednesday I thought I would put up a picture from one of my favorite trips to Walt Disney World.  This was in February of 2006 at Animal Kingdom and my parents are surrounded by all of their grandchildren.  

     If you have posted your own Wordless Wednesday, go to Resourceful Mommy and link up!  If you are applying to be on the Mom's Panel, good luck! Maybe we'll be on the panel together, after all, "a dream is a wish your heart makes!"

    Monday, August 30, 2010

    The Zhuniverse Tour

    On August 18th my daughter and I drove up to Cary, North Carolina to check out the Zhuniverse Tour.  If you don't have children under the age of twelve, or if you've been living under a rock, you might not have heard of Zhu Zhu Pets.  They are adorable hamster-like critters.  They run on wheels and each one makes 40 different sounds.  The Zhu Zhu Pets make a different sound depending on where they are.  If the Pets are in one of their accessories they will make a noise to match it, like honking if they are in the car. 
    My daughter has wanted a hamster for years so when Zhu Zhu Pets came out they were a perfect compromise for us.  When we were invited by NC Blog Buzz and Mom Select to check out the tour, we were both excited.  We both wanted to see what's new in the Zhuniverse, and I am always thrilled to see my blogging friends.  I have been so fortunate to get to know several incredible women who blog that live in North Carolina.  The Zhuniverse tour gave us a chance to catch up, too! 
    It was a very hot day in Cary and thunderstorms kept threatening.  I was afraid they wouldn't be able to set up their stuff, but the weather held off long enough for some play time.

    The Zhuniverse truck

    They had an Interactive "Which Zhu Zhu pet are you?" 
    They had several Nintendo DS systems set up with Zhu Zhu Pet games

    There were tables with regular Zhu Zhu Pets set up, and the newer Kung Zhu battle set up
    Molly Gold of Go Mom Inc. and Sarah Pinnix of Real Life Blog were covering the tour for MomTV  (they are so much fun!)

    We had a great time playing at the tour!

    One reason I really enjoy it when a company does a tour like this is that you have a chance to let your child try out the product before you buy it.  The kids there were having a great time with all of the Zhu Zhu Pets.  It was also pretty cool to see all of the accessories that are available and how they work together.  I like that you can buy one Zhu Zhu Pet for a reasonable price, (under $15) but you can also expand your collection however you like.  Of course my daughter immediately put the DS game on her birthday list!

    All photos included taken by Amy Hodges.  I received an invitation to the Zhuniverse Tour from NC Blog Buzz and Mom Select.  I received a gift for my participation.  I am grateful for the gift, but any and all opinions expressed here will not be influenced by gifts/compensation.  For further information please see my disclosure page.

    Wednesday, August 25, 2010

    Walt Disney World Mom's Panel

    Who loves Disney World?  I mean, REALLY loves Disney World?  You know who you are.  The minute you leave one vacation you are already planning the next, whether it's in six months or six years.  You know how to navigate all the parks but you still pick up a park map.  You know which rides are "Must-Do"s for your family.  You know that "Must-Do" is from the loop played on Disney resort televisions.  All you have to do is think about Tinkerbell flying from the castle and you are in tears.  You would ride Toy Story Midway Mania over and over again no matter how badly your hand cramped.  You have a Junior Jammitor sticker in your wallet. (I'm looking at you, Tyler){ok, I just got a new one too.}

    I LOVE Disney World.  It is my happy place.  I cannot go there enough.  I love going with my family, either my husband and kids, just my husband or the whole clan. (All eighteen from my side of the family went several years ago. Eight adults and ten kids.  It was insanity, blissful insanity!)  I love going with my friends and showing them new stuff and learning what they love about the parks.  I particularly love going with people who have never been before.  Walt Disney World in Florida is so huge that it's difficult to adequately describe.  I love watching their faces when they see Main Street and the castle for the first time.  I had the great pleasure of being with my friend, Cheri, as she experienced Epcot for the first time this past weekend.

    Yes, we went to Disney World in August, and yes, it was hot and crazy humid, but I promise we had a good reason.  Four years ago, Disney started the Walt Disney World Mom's Panel.  It's an online forum where anyone can ask trip planning questions and Disney Moms answer and give trip advice.  Disney did a search for Moms who love planning their (and everyone else's) Disney trips.  They had 10,000 people apply to be on the first panel in 2008.  I believe they started with 12 members and have increased as the demand has increased.  Every year they open up the search to find new members.  I think that last year they had close to 20,000 applicants.  It is a dream of mine to be on the Mom's Panel.  I have applied and will be applying this year.  The same group of Disney cast members (employees) that is responsible for the Mom's Panel also hosts the Mickey Mom's Club.  The Mickey Mom's Club had a dessert party and special viewing area to watch Illuminations, Epcot's nighttime spectacular on Sunday night.  My friend Cheri and I drove down to be there. 

    Was it crazy to go to Florida for a short weekend for a dessert party?  Maybe to someone else, but to me, 1. um, it's DISNEY, and 2. what a great opportunity to meet some of the people who are living my dream!  I met several former and current Mom's Panel members, including some dads!  I was able to get a few minutes with Laura Spencer, Disney Princess in charge of the Mom's Panel, so I'll let her tell you about the Mickey Mom's Club.

    Okay, so maybe I did some creative editing!  The truth is, out of 20,000 people someone WILL be chosen and maybe this is my year!  If you love Disney and are interested in applying, the Mom's Panel search will be starting September 13th.  I'll be hoping for some pixie dust for all of us applying!

    Tuesday, August 24, 2010

    Whatever Martha {a party at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia}

    A few weeks before the BlogHer conference, buzz started zipping around twitter about a party happening at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.  The twitter stream lit up.  For some of my fellow bloggers, this was like the mothership calling them home.  There are many food bloggers, style bloggers, and organization bloggers who immediately tried to figure out how to get invited.  I was curious because, COME ON, Martha Stewart!!  However, the truth is I am so not Martha.  Not even close.  I am a Whatever Martha kind of girl.  If you have never seen Whatever Martha or listened to Whatever Radio they are all kinds of awesome.  Whatever Martha is a show where Alexis Stewart and Jennifer Koppelman Hutt go back over old episodes of Martha Stewart Living and generally snark and sometimes try to recreate the craft or demo that Martha does.  The show won critical acclaim in its first two seasons and they recently started shooting season 3 which will air on the Hallmark Channel in January.  So being a Whatever, Martha! kind of girl, this is the only tweet I sent out about the Martha party.

    That's it.  Didn't think about it anymore.  Imagine my surprise when I checked the email account for this, my very new blog, and found an invitation to Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia!!  I immediately replied with a "Yes."  On that Thursday, I arrived in New York, went immediately to the Kodak Bus Tour, raced back to the hotel and had about 20 minutes to get ready to leave for the Martha party.  One disadvantage to the Kodak tour is that after being on top of a double decker bus for three hours on a hot sunny day, I was fried.  I had sunscreen on, but clearly not enough.  You will see in the pictures, I was a LOBSTER!  So I raced to get ready and ran to the lobby of the hotel.  There was a huge line for taxis and it wasn't going anywhere.  A gentleman approached us and offered to take us in his limo for $5 a person, up to ten people.  We quickly gathered 8 of us and hopped in, we were going to Martha in style! (yes, we were slightly worried that we would never be seen again!)

    the ride to Martha

    After arriving in style, we had to wait in a long line to be escorted up to the 9th floor.  Once off the elevator we were firmly in Martha-land.

    the little details

    everyday food

    The one Martha Stewart publication that I regularly subscribe to is Everyday Food.  Actually my husband is the subscriber.  We love it because it really is everyday food.  The recipes are easy to follow and the ingredients are easily found.  Imagine my delight when I found myself talking to Editor and Chief Anna Last.  She was so kind and easy to talk to, one of my highlights of the party. 

    My other highlight brings me back to Whatever, Martha!  Not long after exploring the party I realized that tucked into a corner were Alexis Stewart and Jennifer Koppelman Hutt.  Brilliant!  I dissolved into fangirl excitement.  I didn't want to intrude on their privacy, but holy cow!  Fortunately right before I left the party they were leaving too.  I spoke to Jennifer first who is unbelievably tiny.  Alexis is just frighteningly thin, but Jennifer looks like she could use a few sandwiches too.  Maybe a brownie.  So I got a picture with the two of them and my friend Sue from Motherhood and Me.

                              photo by Sue Robinson of Motherhood and Me and Lives Less Ordinary

    Then the magic happened.  On their radio show, Jennifer is known as "the sound" because girl can talk, and Alexis is known as "the fury."  I'll let you figure it out for yourself.  So I asked Alexis for the following picture and she happily complied.

                            photo by Sue Robinson of Motherhood and Me and Lives Less Ordinary

    Seriously, I might frame this picture and put it up in my house.  Love.  Let me emphasize again, I asked for this picture!  I'm so glad she indulged me, she scares me a little.  Look at her arms! She could totally take me out!

    All in all this was an interesting party.  I freaking loved seeing Jennifer and Alexis.  I had false eyelashes put on for the first time and found them on my pillow the rest of the week.  There were some great displays and demos, but it was an odd assortment.  I think companies and bloggers are trying to figure out what to do with each other which makes events like this interesting.  I am grateful I was able to attend and see a little more about the Martha Stewart empire!

    Stop back by this week for posts about the Zhuniverse tour and my report from the Mickey Moms' Club Meet Up in Epcot this past weekend.  Thanks so much for stopping by!

    Monday, August 16, 2010

    A Few of my Favorite Disney Things

    Today's vlog is about my favorite place in the world, Walt Disney World.  In it I mention the Walt Disney World Mom's Panel, for more information please go to the Mom's Panel website.  I also reference being able to find maps for Disney Parks in the hotels, but forgot to add that I meant the on-WDW-property hotels! (remind me not to vlog late at night!) Oh, and as usual, please forgive the scratching around of dog and cat feet! {and let's all just ignore the attack of adult acne going on!} 

    Thanks for stopping by, more exciting things coming this week so check back!!

    Wednesday, August 11, 2010

    Kodak Big Apple Bus Tour

    When I heard that Kodak was sponsoring a photo tour of New York City the day before BlogHer began, I was immediately intrigued.  I truly LOVE my Kodak Zi8 video camera.  That is the camera I use when I vlog (video blog).  As a new blogger, I did not receive many invitations to private parties that were happening at BlogHer.  I expected that because I am new, and unknown commodity to the people setting up these parties.  I made a few inquiries with Kodak and was put on a waiting list for the tour.  A little over a week before the conference, I received notice that there was space for me.  Hooray!  What better way to start my first visit to New York City than with a photo tour?!  Kodak sent us all their EasyShare M580 14 megapixel camera.  I was thankful to get the camera before the tour because it gave me a chance to learn the camera's features.

    Kodak's EasyShare line makes uploading a breeze.  One of the new features is that when you are clicking through your pictures on your camera, you can tag them to be uploaded to specific destinations.  I can tag my pictures to go to the services I use, which for me is mainly Flickr and Facebook.  You can also tag the people in pictures, and you can tag them based on event.  I made a tag for pictures I might want to use on my blog so they will all go in the same file.  The EasyShare system does streamline the uploading process.

    But back to the Big Apple Bus Tour!  When we arrived at Caroline's Comedy Club, the people from Kodak had arranged a refreshing lunch with awesome cupcakes decorated with the "Share" button!  We had a great lunch and were treated to a presentation on what's new and coming up at Kodak.

    Kodak Presentation

    After the presentation it was time to get on the bus.  I won't share all of my pictures, because I am not the best photographer, but here are a few highlights.

    Get on the Bus
    Getting on the bus, there were two buses of bloggers!

    Times Square
    Driving towards Times Square

    Duane Reade
    The ubiquitous Duane Read

    The Other Bus of Bloggers!
    The other bus of bloggers

    No Soup for You
    As a Seinfeld fan, I had to grab this shot!

    different styles of architecture
    The different styles of architecture were amazing.

    a building in a building
    A building in a building!

    Hershey's/ M & M store
    My kids were very interested in this one!

    the yellow ones don't stop~buddy the elf
    This just made me think of the movie, "Elf", "The yellow ones don't stop"

    Old and New
    The old and the new

    I have more pictures that I will share later, but these felt like the best representations of that day.  Many thanks to Kodak for a great start to BlogHer.

    Kodak furnished a camera, lunch and the tour at no cost to me.  The opinions expressed here will ALWAYS be my own.  Please see my disclosure page for further information.  

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010

    Going to the Show

    Times Square

    I have just returned from the BlogHer '10 conference in New York City and my mind is sufficiently blown.  2400 (mostly) women bloggers converged on the New York Hilton and other neighboring hotels for a long weekend of activities.  I had been faithfully reading about BlogHer for some time now, hoping to prepare myself.  I had never even been to New York City before, how was I going to survive this huge conference? 

    So much happened over the course of four days that it might take me several blog posts to address all of it.  There were the people that I encountered.  Meeting my fellow bloggers, old friends and new, conference sponsors, public relations people, marketers, even Alexis Stewart.(that story definitely deserves it's own post!)  There were parties to attend, events hosted at the conference and invitation only parties that I wrangled a few invitations to.  There were instructional sessions that I sadly made it to few of.  There was the Expo Hall where brands were waiting to talk to us all.  There was the Voices of the Year gala where amazing posts were read by their authors.  There were moments stolen away from the insanity to sit and talk with friends. 

    One of the best things that happened for me was the connection with other bloggers.  In the light of cameras filming interaction, FTC regulations for bloggers, reviews left and right, it can feel like I have entered a very commercial world.  At the conference you are able to see the number of people who care about what they are putting into the world.  You meet the moms who just want to help other moms save a little money.  You meet women who want to support other women in business.  You meet moms who just want to assure the rest of us that we are doing the best we can.  You meet women who just have words burning up their souls, and a blog is the best way for them to get it out.  The diversity of the community is awe inspiring. 

    The challenge that is before me is to take what happened there and apply it in this space.  I have been stuck since Sunday night trying to figure out how to represent everything that happened and everything I learned.  I heard that many people have writer's block after a conference like this and I completely understand.  Where do you start?

    The beginning is probably the best place to start so tomorrow look for a post about my fun on the Kodak Big Apple Bus Tour. 

    Tuesday, August 3, 2010

    Stepping out in Faith (with Chocolate!)

    Some of you know that I am going to the Blogher conference in New York City this weekend.  Of all the places I have been, I have never been to New York City.  Weird, huh?  Not only have I turned into Ellie Mae Clampett going to the big city, but I am going on my own.  No family, no friends that have known me very long.  I am lucky to know some incredible bloggers from North Carolina who are going to be there.  It's odd and wonderful how you can form friendships and connections with such depth in exchanges of 140 characters or less! 

    In a stroke of luck, I was able to hook up with a group of bloggers from DC for part of my travel.  I didn't want to arrive in NYC, alone, if I could avoid it.  I had tried to arrive at LaGuardia with some of the NC fabulous crew with no luck.  I was agonizing when I saw the discussion on twitter about a train from the DC area into NYC.  It was as if I heard the angels singing, or that may have been U2 on my ipod.  It gets better.  These crazy cool birds from DC had gotten the train ride sponsored.  So I am traveling to this conference courtesy of ...

    Hershey's S'mores!!  Are you kidding me?  We LOVE S'mores.  Working with young people has given me so many opportunities to enjoy S'mores.  We have had them at bonfires, over the dying coals of the grill after dinner, small campfires, toaster ovens, even S'mores quesadillas with mini-marshmallows and chocolate chips.  Our most recent S'mores adventure was before I knew about the Hershey's sponsorship.  For some crazy reason, on the fourth of July, my son and some friends decided to build a small campfire.  Not the crazy part.  They built this fire on the driveway.  (all you firefighters out there, we had hosed everything down and were safe, I promise)  It was only a matter of time before they all ran inside for S'mores makings! 

                                               photo by Amy Hodges

    Hershey's very generously sent us some S'mores makings and some killer toasting forks.  My husband has promised the kids that they will make S'mores while I am gone and he has promised me that it won't be in the driveway.  Many thanks to Hershey's for not only providing my travel on the train and the goodies, but for providing so many lifelong memories.

    As part of the S’mores Road Trip to BlogHer I received a round trip ticket on Amtrak to the convention and Hershey branded items. Any views expressed in this post are my own

    Saturday, July 31, 2010

    Time for Change

    I'm rebellious, did you know that?  Terribly, terribly rebellious.  It is one of my character traits that I alternately embrace and dislike.  I am overweight.  I have been overweight for the last 12 years.  That is very hard to write.  I have never been skinny.  People used words like "big boned" for me, but I am fat.  I am cursed to have two naturally thin siblings.  Bony.  Little.  They can eat any darn thing they want.  To be honest, skinny people I am not related to do not bother me at all.  The ones I am related to irk the heck out of me.  It doesn't help that even when I was at the low end of my healthy weight, these same folks were telling me I needed to cut back on what I ate.  I lived on Sundrop, (and almost Sundrop alone) and they thought I should eat LESS? (if you've never had Sundrop-A. you're missing out, B. tangier version of Mountain Dew with just as much sugar and caffeine)

    Because of my rebellious nature, I sort of wanted to prove that I was okay even though I was overweight.  For years I was.  I saw my doctor regularly, good cholesterol, good blood pressure, everything was okay.  Lately my blood pressure has been creeping up.  I tried to pretend that I was okay.  I was OKAY.  But the day came when I wanted to be more than okay.  I want to be healthier and I want to have more energy.  I want my kids to see me making healthy choices.  It's risky to be putting all of this in a blog when I have just started on this path.  Some of you are going to see me at a conference next weekend, and guess what?  I'm not strictly following the food plan when I am there.  (I'm stressed enough about the conference, can't even think about tracking points!)

    There is another part to this equation, my wonderful husband of fifteen years.  He has his own story to tell, but he has also gained weight that he is ready to lose.  We have decided to try Weight Watchers together to see if we can become healthier.  We hope that by doing this together, we will be able to stick with it and support each other.  I feel like we are at the beginning of a very long journey.  However it is not a journey that I dread, I am excited to see what's going to happen.  I'll let you know how it goes, and if you have any suggestions or hints, I would LOVE to hear them!


    Friday, July 30, 2010

    Getting Out of the way of a Good Time

    I am frantic.  I am so far behind.  I started my new blog.  I am trying to do the "31 Days to Build a Better Blog" challenge and am woefully behind.  I leave for New York City for the first time for the Blogher Conference NEXT WEEK!  So what do I do?  I go out of town for 3 days.  Then my sister's children are in town so my children want to spend every waking moment with them.  I HAVE SO MUCH TO DO!  I guess it should be referred to as "every woman's lament."  We all have so much that we need to do, and so much that we want to do.  There is never enough time in the day.

    So yesterday when I was thinking that I could get caught up a little in my own little blog world, my children wanted to meet their cousins at the beach.  I was irritated.  I started to climb up on my martyr pedestal and list all of the things I was doing for everyone else and is it too much to ask for a little bit of time.   One major problem with being a martyr is that everyone misses out.  I pulled myself together and grabbed our beach bag.  It was a beautiful day at the beach.  The tide was out, the water was somewhat calm but waves were breaking enough on the sandbar for some boogie boarding.  The blog is still here.  I still have so much I want to write and so much I need to do to be ready for the conference BUT I had a beautiful afternoon watching my kids and their cousins splash, laugh, and ride the waves.  I cannot do it all, therefore I to choose to play when I can. 

    This was our crowd heading over to the beach.
    And just a few of the waves that were caught!

    Tuesday, July 20, 2010

    What IS in a woman's purse?

    It's the age old question.  Of course, my husband never knows what to call my purse.  He usually asks something like this "Do you have your purse/pocketbook/wallet thing?"  I admit that I contribute to the confusion because sometimes I only carry a large wallet, then other times I have a much larger bag that the wallet goes into.  I still think it's funny that he can never figure out what to call it, and I just think pocketbook is a funny word. 

    This month I am taking part in the SITS/Problogger 31 Days to a Better Blog challenge.
    Today's challenge was to write a list post.  Today has been a ridiculously long day for me and my creativity has flown the coop.  As such, I decided to list what is in my purse/pocketbook/wallet thingie.  You, lucky reader, are in luck because I am carrying a BIG bag today. 

    • empty eyeglass case
    • yellow plastic case with neosporin and two bandaids
    • blink n clean eyedrops
    • Benadryl readymist
    • nail clippers
    • 2 nail files
    • inhaler (had bad bronchitis early summer)
    • saline solution
    • contact lens case
    • appointment cards for orthodontist (if you are in the area, Dr. Gierie is great!)
    • small wallet with business cards and inexplicably a pair of earrings
    • another small first aid kit (I promise we aren't accident prone)
    • reading glasses
    • small baggie of soft peppermints from Fresh Market
    • 7 small hair clips
    • 1 Almay lip gloss
    • 2 Philosophy lip glosses
    • eyes lips face travel mirror
    • small flashlight
    • Splenda
    • antibacterial hand gel
    • car charger for my cell phone
    • 3 Sharpie clickable pens (seriously one of my favorite things right now!) 
    • headphones
    • extra key ring (disney of course) with customer loyalty cards
    • Ipod nano
    • extra microphone for my Kodak Zi8 video camera
    • actual wallet with driver's license, credit cards, small amount of cash, insurance card and Disney Annual Pass (valid through next July, wanna go?)
    • small Vera Bradley cosmetic bag with tylenol, advil, benadryl and tweezers
    • last but not least, and Oscar Mayer weenie whistle (no, I don't know why)
    That is my list of what's in my bag, I want to know what's in yours.  (I really want to know if anyone can tell me why there is a weenie whistle in my bag!)

    I have not been compensated for mentioning any of these products, this is truly what I found in my purse!

    Sunday, July 18, 2010

    Why a new Blog?

    I have spent the last two weeks going over my goals from January and February of this year.  I have actually done more towards reaching them than I realized (that deserves its own post!!)  One area that I was lacking in was posting to my blog.  I looked through my posts, and several that I had written I never posted on the blog.  Why?  They didn't seem to fit.  Weird, huh? My blog, my rules, right?  I took this past weekend and spent very little time on the computer ~now I'm just talking crazy~ and the idea for a complete blog makeover took root.

    So why "A Million Boxes?"  You know that habit we all have of putting people in box?  This is my own small protest.  For the last 17 years I have either been employed by a church or my spouse has been.  Do you want to know how to stop conversation at a party?  Even quicker than playing "the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald?" Just mention that you work at a church.  Crickets, people.  You will only hear the sound of crickets.  Just because you might believe differently than me, it doesn't mean I am going to evangelize you at every opportunity.  (anymore than the fact that I am overweight means I am going to try to steal your dessert){okay, I might try to steal your dessert, or -even better- get another for us to share!}

    I want to be clear.  I am not, nor have I ever been, ashamed of my faith.  That is just my best example of a box I am put in.  I am also put in a "mommy" box.  I've been to parties and events where there were not many parents in attendance.  I was looked at like a relic.  I am overweight.  I've been in crowds where this is a crime worse than kicking puppies.  All of these things are a part of who I am.  My faith, being a mom, being overweight, it all comes together and colors who I am.  I just don't like being put in a box.  I know that I have been guilty of this as well.  It's too easy to make a snap judgment about someone.  Except there is so much to every person that to minimize them does them an injustice.  So throw the boxes out people.  OR put those boxes to good use!

    The other reason I love "A Million Boxes?"  At this moment we have hundreds of boxes.  Not kidding.  Between my house and my parents we have a ridiculous amount of boxes.  We are all pack rats and we are learning to let go.  When I am not taking care of my children, or doing laundry, or attempting to clean, I spend my time trying to get rid of boxes.  We are making giant leaps towards getting rid of clutter, but we have so far to go.

    So here I am.  It's not quite as pretty as my first blog.  That feels more like me, too.  I'm curious about you and what box you're in?

    Tuesday, July 6, 2010

    Top Ten Tuesday ~ Ten Things to Pack When staying in a Vacation Rental

    Top Ten {Tuesday} 

    I love the Top Ten Tuesday because I seriously love me some lists.  Head on over to the lovely Amanda's blog at and check out some more of the fun lists!! Even better than that?  Come up with your own top ten!! Just be sure to link up at Amanda's so everyone can find you!  My list is Ten Things to pack when you are staying in a vacation rental.  We have done this a lot as an extended family and found a few things that really can make a difference in your stay.  Thanks for stopping by!

    Monday, July 5, 2010

    Monday Mingle 7/5/2010

    Holy Cow!  With all the 4th of July hoopla, I almost forgot that today was Monday which means, MONDAY MINGLE TIME!!!  I love the Monday Mingle, big thanks to Jennifer at for hosting.  If you want to join in, put up your own vlog and go to her site and link up.  Every week a lot of fun people do the Monday Mingle and it's a great way to get to know some of your fellow vloggers/bloggers.  Hope you all have a great week!

    Fourth of July Fireworks

    My family has had a love/hate relationship with fireworks ever since our children came along.  I love fireworks, love to watch them and ooh and aah.  My children, on the other hand, have abhorred fireworks for a long time.  When we go to Disney World we still find places outside of the park to watch the fireworks so the kids won't complain.    I keep waiting for them to get old enough to appreciate them.  Part of the problem comes with the "fire" part of the equation.  They have not been "play with fire" kind of kids.  We have a fireplace and have fires all winter and neither of my children will light the fire.  They don't even like to light birthday candles!!  Last year my son got braver and started lighting some of the small fireworks that we buy for the Fourth.  This year my daughter asked if she could light some of the fireworks. 

    I think we're over the fireworks aversion!  I hope you all had a great weekend.  Thanks to all who have served or are serving our great nation to protect our freedom!

    Sunday, June 27, 2010

    Life is always changing.

    For around the past twenty years I have worked with young people.  Before I was married I was a Youth Director for a Presbyterian church, and after I married a fellow Youth Director I happily became a volunteer.  The churches we served jokingly referred to getting two for the price of one, but I relished my role as volunteer.  I didn't have to worry about scheduling, budgeting or any of the nitty gritty details, I was just called to love the young people.  How lucky is that?

    Unfortunately, the time comes when you have to say goodbye.  The time comes to move on.  For the last couple of years our last church has been having a difficult time.  It is a good church with great people.  A long time pastor left and since then, they have been trying to figure out who they are as a church.  While we still believe in, and love this church, it became a very difficult place to work.  Last August my husband resigned his position.  It was time to say goodbye. 

    For the previous twenty years, we have been taking young people to a youth conference in Montreat, NC.  My husband and I both attended these conferences as young people and have been a part of them ever since, serving as leadership and support staff for the conferences.  This year we attended as "house parents" for my very great friend's youth group from Wasatch Presbyterian Church in Salt Lake City, Utah.  For most of the week I felt like I was cheating on my last youth group.  I stayed on the edges of the Wasatch group even though they welcomed us in completely. 

    I posted a facebook status that said it felt like I was ripping off an enormous bandaid.   Some of my incredibly sweet friends posted lovely things that were very flattering about the impact we have had on young people, but one other gesture struck me to my core.  One person "liked" my status update.  This person had been a 14 year old in my youth group with the first group I took as an adult.   That one little click of her mouse reminded me how blessed I have been.  I have gotten to know so many amazing young people and their families.  I will be volunteering again with another youth group.  It will be different but that's okay.  For all of those young people I have been blessed to know, we will ALWAYS love you and we will always be praying for you and hoping for you. 

    Wednesday, June 16, 2010

    Wordless Wednesday 6/16/10 Why I love North Carolina

    On Friday,  I was on a sandbar with my children and assorted cousins.

    Saturday I got in my car, drove a few hours and I was here.
    I love calling North Carolina Home


    Tuesday, June 15, 2010

    Top Ten Tuesday ~ Reasons Chaperoning Teens is NOT a vacation

    Top Ten {Tuesday} 

    Many thanks to Amanda of for hosting the Top Ten Tuesday every week.  Visit her site to see all of the top tens for the week.  They usually cover a variety of subjects and are very fun!  My Top Ten Tuesday is the top ten Reasons Chaperoning Teens is NOT a vacation.  I have spent the last twenty years working with young people and I love them.  I love every minute I spend with them but trips really cannot be called vacations!

    When I go on vacation,
    1. I have two children, not fifteen.
    2. I do not do plumbing repairs
    3. I sleep
    4. I do not have to worry about who is crushing on who
    5. I am able to make my own schedule
    6. I am not a wardrobe mistress, able to make repairs and supervise choices
    7. I am not a walking drug store, dispensing everything from advil to feminine products
    8. I get more than 10 minutes to shower
    9. I don't get to know a group of young people and be reminded again how intelligent and thoughtful this generation is
    10. I don't have my heart moved by watching their faith, their care for each other, and for our world.
    This list is made for the number of people who ask me upon returning from a youth trip, "How was your vacation?"  I LOVE chaperoning young people but it cannot be mistaken for a vacation.  With great thanks to the lovely Wasatch Presbyterian Church youth group from Salt Lake City, Utah for allowing me to spend time with them this week!

    Monday Mingle 6/15/10

    This is my very late Monday Mingle!  I am chaperoning a group of young people in the mountains of North Carolina.  Not only is there no internet, there is very little cell phone service so I am in withdrawal.
    Thanks as always to Jennifer of for hosting the Monday Mingle.  Please go to her site and check out the great mingles!

    Sunday, June 6, 2010

    Feeding Hungry Children

    With only two more days of school left, my kids are about to jump out of their skins because they are so ready for summer.  For 26,000 children in our area, summer means more than freedom from homework.  For those children, summer means not knowing if there is going to be enough to eat.  During the school year, these children are able to get lunch and sometimes breakfast for free.  When school is out, they are still hungry, and still need to eat.  On Thursday I was able to attend a social media mixer that was sponsored by an organization doing everything they can to meet the needs of the hungry in our area, the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina.  For all of my friends from this area, you really should know about the work they do.

    In our little section of southeastern North Carolina, there are 26,000 children who don't get enough to eat.  That number is staggering to me.  I tried to think of it visually.  We have four fairly large high schools in our county.  If you filled each of their athletic stadiums to capacity with these children (no parents, teacher, volunteers, JUST the kids) the stadiums could not hold the number of children who can't count on having enough to eat.  I almost can't comprehend it. 

    Thankfully, the Food Bank is doing everything they can to reach these children.  As an organization, "the Food Bank is rated in the top 10 in food distribution out of more than 200 food banks in the United States."  In their budget, 97% donated goes to food and food programs, with 3% going to administration and fundraising.  That is a great ratio!  "For every dollar donated, the Food Bank is able to distribute generally EIGHT dollars worth of food, or provide FOUR meals." If you donate money to the food bank, your dollars will go very far, but money isn't the only way to donate.  They need and welcome volunteers, no matter your age or skills.

    One other way to give is by donating needed items.  Their most needed itimes include
    • canned stews
    • soups
    • canned tuna
    • canned ravioli
    • canned fruits and vegetables
    • rice
    • cereal
    You can find a complete list and more information at  .

    There is one more fun way to help out in our area.  On Saturday, June 19, from 11am to 2pm the Food Bank is sponsoring a Kid's Carnival at the Mayfaire Event Field.  There will be jump castles, magic shows, musicians, face painters, and the first 500 people in attendance will get a mini-sundae from Coldstone Creamery! (YUM!) Bring your kids out to have fun, and please take a minute to learn about the great work the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina is doing.

    I am so thankful that I get to enjoy sandwiches on the beach, grilling out, homemade ice cream, fresh corn, and ice cold watermelon.  I am also thankful for the reminder that not everyone has that luxury. 

    all quotes from Food Bank CENC information.