"....I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." ~James 10:10~

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Better Way: {Mrs. Bell Serves Others}

Please welcome my friend, Mary Todd, to the blog. She is sharing a beautiful story of a few special people who made a difference in her life and helped to shape her into the person that she is today...a beautiful, kind, and compassionate friend to many:) 

 Sometimes when times seem impossible to get to the other side, there is a hidden gift within the events that we may have never experienced if we had not gone through the hard times. This is a story of one of the hardest times in our family’s life and a gift that came to me that would change the direction I may have taken without it. 

We had moved from the only house I remembered when I was eight years old. It was a home filled with friends and family, music and laughter. There were wonderful trees that I had begun climbing when I was only three years old. There was a maple tree I had planted myself when I was five years old. I still love trees. I was not happy when I was told that we were moving, but move we did.
We lived by a river in what would be my favorite house. That river sang me to sleep many a night while I would lay looking out my window at the moon. Sometimes while listening to the river’s lullaby, I would think about the events that had occurred in our family.

 Jimmy was married to Catherine and lived out of state. Gary was still in college and did not come home that often. So it was Joe and me left at home. He was sixteen. While we lived in this house, Joe was shot by his best friend. It was a hunting accident. It was a scary time for all of us. Joe has always been my gentle brother. He would survive but without three of his fingers on his left hand. But this story is not really about him, and not really about me. It is about how service and giving can be the same. It is about a woman who taught me about both.

While my brother was recovering, I lived with another family. Mr. Bell worked with Da, and Mrs. Bell was Ma’s friend; they opened their heart and home to me. They were as opposite as a couple could be. Mr. Bell was a quiet balding man who seemed to move slow and steady. He had a good sense of humor and the only time I ever heard him be loud was when he laughed. Mrs. Bell was the fastest talker I had ever met. She could say nearly a hundred words without taking a breath. Whenever she called Ma on the phone, Ma rarely got to say a word. She also was in constant motion. Whenever she told a story, her hands moved to show what she was telling. She was the first storyteller that I met that did that. She would tell so much with her hands that she really didn’t have to talk to tell her story. The other thing was while she was telling her story she would involve her audience. She would bend down and tell even the least child how she was making a dress or crocheting. Mostly she was a person with a huge heart.

Mrs. Bell told me her name was Emily Belle Boney and she married James Bell so she became Emily Belle Boney Bell. She told me about growing up in Alabama and marrying her Jamie. She talked about her children and her grandchildren. Her eyes would beam with love and pride whenever she talked of them. She told me stories about the quilts she was making. She would tell me how the colors would make a pattern and tell a story she wanted to tell with the cloth. I hadn’t known that about quilts because my experiences with quilts were the simple coverlets Ma had made to keep us warm. She had a closet filled with her cloth for quilts and with quilts that she had made. Mostly, Mrs. Bell loved to play the piano. She played music by ear since she could not read a note of music. I was amazed since I would give anything to play the music that I heard. She would say come sing with me and she would play the hymns loudly and sing just as loudly along with her playing. She sang with more joy than I knew a person could sing. I was always happy when she would she would ask me to come sing with her. She also knew how to give gifts to herself. She also loved pretty plates and would buy a table for two so that she and Jamie could have different plates to eat on each night. She would tell me that this way she could have many different pretty plates and make her table pretty a different way each night. She was also saving, she would look for sales on plates just so she could do this. I had thought that Ma could make a penny scream, but Mrs. Bell could make a penny scream like a banshee.

In the evenings when Mr. Bell was home he would tell me how my family was doing and sometimes Da would come home with him to have dinner with us, but mostly he went to Knoxville to be with Ma and Joe. Mr. Bell would also ask me about what I was doing in school. I think he did this so he could tell Da how I was doing. In the evenings, they would play dominos or password with me. It was quieter in the evenings when Mr. Bell came home.

  They were active Christians. She was a Baptist and he was a Methodist. They would go to Sunday School together and then he would go on to the Methodist Church for preaching. Mr. Bell would always be quiet about his faith. Mrs. Bell was a doer. All day long she filled her day with work and doing things. The woman would never be caught not working at something. She was the same about her faith. She had to be doing something. So she began to look for needs of those around her.

 In those days, the tourist season was only from Decoration Day (what the rest of the country calls Memorial Day; it is called Decoration Day because it is the day that the graveyards are cleaned and flowers are placed on the graves of loved ones) until Labor Day. The community lived from feast to famine every year. Work was hard to come by after Labor day for many of the natives. There had been a movement in the early twentieth century to train people in native crafts. The school I attended in Gatlinburg was started by one of these groups( Phi Beta Phi) and because of this we had a program that taught art and wood crafts. Joe made lamps and a desk while he was in high school. We also had rummage sales(sort of like a yard sale today) at school when donated barrels of stuff had come. There was all sorts of junk in those barrels, evening gowns, fancy shoes, and the sort. All the children loved to go to the rummage sale because of the treasures that was in the junk. There was also some good stuff, and many of the women would come to look for coats and shoes for their children at the rummage sale. Other mothers would help run the rummage sale. Ma would help at these sales which occurred twice a year in the fall and in the spring.

Despite all the efforts at that time, people struggled thru the winters. Mrs. Bell saw a need that no one else was addressing. She believed that people should be taught how to care for themselves as much as possible. She would tell me that helping people is more than feeding them a meal and giving them a coat but teaching them how to feed and to clothe themselves is more important because it lasts. She saw a need that most would not have thought of as a need. She felt any woman getting married should have a pretty dress to wear.

While I was staying with the Bells there was one such young woman needing a dress. She was about seventeen years old. Her family did not have money for a wedding so she was going to marry at the church after the church service. Mrs. Bell made her a simple white satin dress with little pearl buttons. Mrs. Bell helped this young woman also by teaching her to sew. Mrs. Bell told her that if she learned to sew that she could make her own clothes. During the afternoons with Mrs. Bell and this young woman working, I watched and joined in a little because I was able to sew on buttons. Ma had taught me when I was five how to sew buttons. We would laugh and Mrs. Bell would tell us stories. Every afternoon would end with Mrs. Bell playing the piano and all of us singing. I remember the day the bride dress was finished and she looked so pretty.

I would learn over the years that Mrs. Bell would go to Knoxville to look for cheap sewing machines usually at pawn shops. She would teach a woman to sew. Some women she would teach how to make quilts so that they could sell and make money while staying home with their children or during those lean months in the winter. What I didn’t know was, I was learning about meeting people where they are concerning their needs. I was learning about how to teach others how to help themselves. I also began to watch those around me and began to see how Ma and Da did their part to help those around them. It was not just about doing these things to help but doing them with a kind of joy.

It was in the Bells home that I learned about service. Somehow it had to be part of my life. It was sort of a soft idea back then that would take a few years to really grow into what would be my career of working with foster children. Years after I had grown up, I wrote a letter to Mrs. Bell thanking her for her gift to me. She wrote me a sweet letter telling me that she only did what she thought she ought to do. She told me that sometimes people were put in her basket and I was just one those placed in her basket all those years ago.

When I returned home, I was glad to be home to hear Da play his harmonica at night, and to have Ma make her pound cakes for my brother and his friends. It was good to have Joe home. I had missed them all, but I also found that I missed living with the Bells. So I would lay those many years ago with my pillow pulled out onto the window sill so I could see the moon and listen to the river singing. If it was especially nice night, I could also hear the wind calling. It was there that I begin to realize that the family around us can make who we are, but so can other people.

 It is sort of like wading into a river and picking up a river rock. It is smooth because all the things that brush up against it because the river brings those things to that rock to change it. Da told me that because we talked about rocks. I begin to think we are a little like those river rocks where people and things come up against our lives smoothing us out and changing us. We just have to be willing to wade into that river for it to happen.

This year I want to dedicate this story to all those people who have helped turn the rough rock I was into a river rock. And to all of those still trying to smooth me out because I still need a little more smoothing out, keep trying.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

{Bright, Bright Sunshiny Day!!!}

Our first two days here at Lakewood have been nothing short of fab-u-lous!
I parked myself here for about 6 hours today and made if halfway through The Hunger Games.
 I'm looking forward to 6 more hours of luxurious, relaxin' hours of reading, sunning, and snacking again tomorrow.  Oh, the life of a beach bum:)
P.S. I went a lil' crazy with the bleach right before we left---eek!! 

There have been many baggies of pickles consumed ocean-side....
And slides conqured....
Waves were rode
Melons were peeled, sliced, and eaten on beach towels---my favorite way by far:)
...and now it's time to go have some more fun!
I'll see you tomorrow after I finish reading the The Hunger Games! Then I'd love to hear what everyone thinks of the book----I'm finding it hard to put down:)


Thursday, June 21, 2012

{The enemy is what you choose, not your options}

When you're watching the scales and the wallet, Mickey D's (or fast food in general) really isn't the evil place everyone makes it out to be. Life is all about choices--and since eating healthy revolves totally around personal choices--a fast food breakfast (or any meal) can present the perfect opportunity to exercise your right to choose something cheap that won't empty your piggy bank:)

{btw: I am TOTALLY appalled that the government wants to limit our soda consumption. Before long they will be passing a law allowing each of us two bananas and 1 teaspoon of sugar per day (for one cup of coffee) plus one box of raisins for a snack to be eaten at 3pm. I mean SERIOUSLY! Stay out of our lives and let us make our own decisions! And those of us who care about our health will continue to enjoy our soda in moderation....or in excess for that matter if we so choose!}



This morning I chose the breakfast burrito off the dollar menu + a large unsweeted iced tea
(0 calories!)

 Total cost of Breakfast #1- $2.15

Sausage Burrito

(Daily Value)
Total Fat16g25%
Carbohydrates 26g9%
Note: Values shown are for "Sausage Burrito"
Source: Mickey D's nutritional website.

In comparison with one of the McGriddle breakfast sandwiches + a small coke....

(Daily Value)
Total Fat32g49%
Carbohydrates 48g16%
Note: Values shown are for "Sausage, Egg & Cheese McGriddles®"


(Daily Value)
Total Fat0g0%
Carbohydrates 40g13%
Note: Values shown are for "Coca-Cola® Classic (Small)"
Total cost of Breakfast #1: Over $3.50

See my point?
You can choose a 300 calorie-$2.15 breakfast OR you can choose a 710 calorie-$3.50-ish breakfast.

My 300 calorie choice was just delicious!

Later, for lunch I had a pasta dish I made a few nights ago. Just whole wheat shells, green peppers, red peppers, onions, and cabbage all layers together. YUM!

Other highlights of my day are my new $1 glue on nails:)
A trip to Goodwill!
 One of those juicy pears I mentioned yesterday...
...and the excitement of knowing I have one more work day until VACATION!!!

Much Love,

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


And hoping it turns out decent :/

While the blue bleach works it's magic, let's check out a few new deals.

Starting with bags, and bags, and bags of one of my favorite things.
Got 5 big bags of Lifesavers Gummies, a three-pack of chewing gum, and a bag of caramel creams for 75% off:) Stocking my beach bag with yummies for my vacation!

I also found this new backpack for 65 cent! I've been looking for an LLBean without initials and without writing all over it. This one came from the Goodwill Clearance Center last week.  I love backpacks for traveling because they're easy to carry and have lots of good organizational pockets. And this one is pretty;)
                                                         ****HAIR CHECK****
making progress:)

...and just enough time to eat my supper:)

Today's food choices weren't ideal but neither was my schedule:(

  • Big cinnamon raisin bagel with low-fat cream cheese
  • Gummy Octopus:)
  • Turkey Sandwich catered in a work (minus one side of bread)
  • Banana
  • 2 caramel cremes
  • 1 Oreo
  • 1 ear of corn on the cobb (eaten in the car while on my way to VBS)
  • 1 Handful of peanuts
  • 2 jello cups with whipped cream (VBS snack)
  • 1 plate of baked fries
I'm planning for three balanced meals tomorrow with at least 2 fruit/veggie snacks.

Perhaps this pair of pears that make me laugh when I look at them from this perspective:) *hehe*

I hope my hair is nothing to laugh about :/

As of now, after I waited 30 minutes and washed the bleach out, it looks blonde which is always better than orange. A fear of unnatural blondes everywhere:)

 And Luckily, after a blow dry, I was quite pleased with the results!

Crossing that off the to-do list:)

Now it's time to tackle everything else!

Much Love,

{A Better Way: Leigh Advocates for Autism Intervention, Awareness, and Support}

----Please Welcome Leigh to the blog! She has a passion for helping children and families who are affected by Autism. Our hope is that this information will lead you and/or someone you know and love to better ways to live a more awesome life!---even in the face of challenges and adversity.----

Hi!  My name is Leigh and I am Board Certified Associate Behavior Analyst and I (hands down) have the best job in the world.  In particular, I implement plants based upon the science of Applied Behavior Analysis for children diagnosed with Autism and related developmental disabilities.  This may not sound too exciting, but the amazing children I have served have provided me with more priceless experiences than many could hope to have in a lifetime.  I have worked with these wonderful children and their families for a little over ten years.  Laura has asked me to share a bit of information regarding Autism and credible resources for families.
Over the years, I have been immensely blessed and humbled to be a part of the lives of numerous families.  I have attempted to collect resources which have been shown to benefit these children and their families based on empirically-based (scientifically validated) and ethical foundations.  Numerous families have relayed the onset of confusion which occurs with a diagnosis of a developmental disorder.  To date, I have been markedly impressed by the resources published via Autism Speaks.  In particular, they have a ‘100 day kit’ (see link below).  This kit is an attempt to help families navigate through the first days of the diagnosis.  I also favor the Association for Science in Autism Treatment (see below as well).
I am, in particular, a fan of Verbal Behavior (a subset of Applied Behavior Analysis - ABA).  The primary focus of this intervention is to teach children FUNCTIONAL COMMUNICATION.  Most children I meet do not have the ability to express their needs.  Notably, many of the children understand language but do not have the ability to outwardly express language – how frustrating it must be for them!  I never tire of the moment when a child learns their first request – A-MAZING. 
Please know that not every intervention is appropriate for every child.  If a child is not responding to a therapeutic intervention, the therapy team should be working with the parent to understand ‘why’ the goals are not being met.  In my experience, communication between the family, therapy staff and school have a tremendous (if not the most substantial) impact on outcome of therapy.
Below you will find links and tidbits of related information to resources that may helpful.  If you think your child may be demonstrating signs of Autism, PLEASE speak with your Pediatrician.  The earlier a diagnosis is made, the earlier a child can enter into intervention services and a family can receive support.
Articles Citing Effectiveness of ABA-based Early Intervention for Children with Autism
The Association for Science in Autism Treatment
This wonderful organization seeks to verify treatment claims for the numerous therapeutic/intervention options for children diagnosed with Autism.  I HIGHLY encourage any family wishing to learn more about treatment options to become familiar with this organization and their materials.
Carolina Center for Applied Behavior Analysis and Autism Treatment
(where I work J)  Parent resources can be found on the site.
The Mariposa School for Children with Autism (Cary, NC)
Amazing school which serves children educationally within an ABA format. 
Autism Speaks
Consumer Guidelines for Behavior Analysis
If you are a family looking to start (or already participating within) an ABA program – PLEASE read this document. 
Early Signs Video Clip
This is a video clip of an interview with a medical doctor who specializes in diagnosing Autism.

In closing, according to the Centers for Disease Control, Autism currently affects 1 in 88 children in the US – 1 in 54 boys.  Many people spend time arguing as to the reason for the numbers.  My concern lies in educating the public so that children and their families can receive much needed services as soon as possible.  I could continue to bombard you with links, book titles, journal articles, etc. but I am going to try to control myself J.  Please feel free to contact me at leigh.mahan@gmail.com if you would like any additional resources.

The Basics…
What is Autism?
Autism is a developmental disorder which affects 3 core areas of development:  social, communication and behavioral. 
Who is at risk for developing Autism?
The disorder affects FOUR times as many boys as girls. 
Why do children develop Autism?
Many groups have theories, but there has yet to be a unified agreement as to the “cause.”
When do Children get a Diagnosis?
Children are typically diagnosed within the first three years of life (U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2012).
Where do Children get a Diagnosis?
The diagnostic process is typically initiated by the child’s Pediatrician.  Licensed Psychologists may also provide a formal diagnosis. 
Tip from families:  I have had parents express that they were able to most effectively communicate with the individual providing the diagnosis when they brought in video clips of their children engaging in the behaviors of concern.  This allows the doctor to clearly see the concerns of the parent ‘outside of the office.’
**A SUPER HUGE THANKS to Leigh for her willingness to share this valuable information and make a difference in the lives of others!***

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

{Not So Ready To Go}

Another day of bible school done!:) Hopefully another seed planted in the heart of a 4-year-old!

And I just couldn't WAIT to leave work, head straight to Church, and chase around a bunch of kiddos for a couple of hours.

That was a total fib-------------soooo far from the truth!

 As much as I cringe at the thought... I have to tell you the truth behind that lie. Don't get me wrong, I love serving God and working with children,  but if I don't share my honest, down-deep feelings that led up to that statement I'd be lying to myself...and to you.

So....Here is the truth. **GULP**

I really didn't want to go to Bible School tonight.

I thought of every reason in the world NOT to go.

But I went.

I went because I had a purpose for going. I went because my purpose outweighed my incredibly selfish desire to go home, get in bed, and watch my dvr'd episode of Teen Mom. I went because the Holy Spirit empowered me to suck it up and enabled me to do way more than what I really wanted to do. I was spent...but the Holy Spirit was ready to go. So the Lord made sure I was exactly where I needed to be tonight. And He taught me exactly what I needed to know.

If I was the one teaching the class tonight, you could've fooled me. Tonight, I was the student, who learned that there's nothing I can do (especially the things I don't feel like doing) apart from the power of God in me. I'm so glad God can do immeasurably more through me than I could ever do with myself. Thank you God for using a room full of sweet 4-year-olds to show me once again how amazing you really are.

Much Love,

Monday, June 18, 2012

tRw: {Some Days Require Candy}

Like as soon as you get out of bed...
Breakfast of champions candy lovers everywhere!

And, since health is all about balance, a bowl of non-fat cottage cheese and a big banana.

Though breakfast started with balance, my day did not. I wasn't feeling well and had lots of work that HAD to be done so I trudged on....(yes, I'd love some cheese with my whine:) Cheddar is fine.

The problem was I had a hard time shaking the "un-balanced" mood I was in. I knew I physically just "felt" bad but I kept trying to do a mental/spiritual self-check to make sure there wasn't something there that was a little off-kilter. A person is a whole: if physical, mental, and spriritual aren't aligning properly you end up "walkin' a little crooked" through the day. Basically, I just paused for a moment in the middle of my day and did some evaluating.

Here's what I was feeling:

 1. PUNY! I just didn't feel well. Icky sore throat and a moderate headache that I couldn't shake for the last few days.

2. I was exhausted---because I stayed up way too late the night before.

3. I was frustrated---at myself because I did not prepare properly for my day.

4.  I was upset--because I was frustrated at myself and letting it get the best of me.

So...Here's what I did to make it better:

1.  Drank plenty of water the rest of the day hoping it would help flush away some of my germs. I also ate some fruit thinking maybe that would help:) I also got a diet mountain dew and that seemed to help. Who cares if it's the placebo effect---works for me:) Sometimes you just don't sweat the small stuff and give yourself a free pass.

2. I wish I could've taken a nap but that wasn't an option. So---I dug deep and motivated myself by reminding myself that my body would carry me through the day and I could enjoy better sleep tonight. And my reward would be the satisfaction of a job well done.

3. I cut myself some slack! I decided to focus on what I had done right instead of what I had done wrong. Although I hadn't prepared properly for the day, I had a very successful weekend which included doing things for the ones I love most. It had left me slightly drained and I had forgotten about a few things that needed to get done. But I also made a plan of attack of how to get back on track and make the rest of my day as successful as possible.

4. I forgave myself! I let go of the guilt I had over my short-comings and patted myself on the back. I thanked God for the opportunity to live another day and committed the rest of it to Him. He was faithful and got me thru.

It was one of those day that I look back on now (it's 11:15 pm---so much for going to bed early!), thankful that I actually survived it without losing my marbles. By 9 am, if you had asked me, I would've said I didn't think I'd make it. All it took was just pausing for a quick minute and thinking of a better way ;) **wink**

---AND YES---I also ate candy.

Never ever underestimate the power of a gummy octopus to make you feel much, much better. I know one shouldn't use food as a crutch, but as long as it's done in moderation, you're not over-feeding your body, and you're getting your fill of all the nutrients you need....I say why not??? I'm not ashamed to say that it honestly cheers me up a bit:)

After I got my head right (lol!), I enjoyed a nutritious lunch.
The one thing I actually prepared for:)
Romaine lettuce, some purple lettuce:), cherry tomatoes, hemp seeds, a few sunflower seeds, strawberries, and hummus. Super yummy and colorful!

Kept me going strong....ummm, well  maybe just going is a better way to describe it, through the first night of VBS----(24 four-year-olds will wear you out!)
Look at our homemade airplane!

Thankfully, I was able to get my hands on two of the leftover fruit cup snacks towards the end of class. I'm glad they see the value in serving the kids something healthy.
Then it was CANDY TIME again:) Eaten out of sight of 4-year olds. One of the joys of being an adult es getting to decide when and where you want to eat candy, anytime---anywhere:)
Just one.
Confession. It was two:)
My super sweet hubby picked up dinner---
and we ate right in front of the TV.  Finally, a moment to relax.

So, there you have it. I made it through one hectic "had the potential to get the best of me days". It took a plan and a change in attitude, but I did it. And the next time you encounter a day from "you-know-where" just remember----you can make it too! And don't forget the candy;)

Much Love,

Sunday, June 17, 2012

{A Better Way: Baby Wendy Inspires the WORLD!}

Please welcome Jamie to the blog! This amazing Mom and Dad have an AMAZING daughter and you will fall in love with them both...I'm sure! :) I most certainly have!

Here's their story in Jamie's own words:

"A Better Way To Live, Laugh, Love, and Inspire!

Have you ever experienced a life-altering moment? A moment that you knew your life was about to change forever? In the few seconds it took those two pink lines to show up, I went from being scared, to nervous, to excited, to knowing that nothing would ever be the same.

March 13, 2011. It had been one month and four days since my husband returned from a year long tour of duty in Afghanistan. We both knew we wanted a baby, however, we had tried for a while before he left and on his two week leave, so we both assumed it would take a while for us to get pregnant. We assumed we would have months to adjust to him being home before we began growing our little family. We were wrong. One month and four days after he got back I found out I was pregnant. Zed didn't believe me or the positive pregnancy test so he made me take another one. 

April 11, 2011. I went to the hospital and took a blood test. During that first appointment, I also filled out paperwork and was told I would come back on the 28th to hear the heartbeat.

April 15, 2011. I made an unexpected trip to the hospital because I was vomiting nonstop. They did an ultrasound to make sure my body wasn't aborting the fetus and I got to see my tiny baby for the first time. The little jellybean was bouncing off my uterus walls, literally. The doctor said I must have one happy baby because he/she had a high heart rate and was moving a ton. I was told I was 8 weeks and 5 days pregnant. 

April 28, 2011. I met my midwife. I was still nauseas and vomiting quite a bit. I had lost 1.8lbs. 

May 10, 2011. I had to go to the emergency room because I was vomiting so much. I received 2 bags of IV fluid for severe dehydration. I was miserable. I was only 12 weeks pregnant and already I was ready for November 20. I loved my sweet baby, and the thought of holding my precious little one is the only thing that got me through the vomiting, the aching, and the hospital visits. 

May 26, 2011. At my checkup I found out I had lost more weight. I was down 5.5lbs from my pre-pregnancy weight.

May 28, 2011. Today was the big day. We got up early for our appointment in Nashville, TN. We were going to Focused 4D Imaging to find out what our little jellybean was going to be! I was so excited, but I was also absolutely positive I was carrying a baby Zayden Odith McLanahan. I was wrong. After a good, long 45 minute ultrasound we finally got a picture of jellybean's princess parts. We were having a beautiful baby girl who we had already named Wendy Lee. Zed and I picked out baby names way before we got pregnant. When we were only dating we decided if we ever got married and had a little girl, she would be Wendy Lee. Wendy was Zed's mother's name and Lee is mine, my mother's, and my great-grandmother's middle name. I later found out Lee was Zed's sister's, aunt's, and great-grandmother's middle name. Our boy name, Zayden, was picked out while Zed was deployed. I wanted something odd and something that started with a Z. I am now very happy we had a baby girl because several people have named their baby boys Zayden. 

June 9, 2011. I was 16 weeks pregnant and I had lost 9.8lbs. At this appointment they gave me another bag of IV fluids. They kept telling me my baby was fine, and I was only experiencing morning sickness, but I knew something was not right. I should not have been this sick, all the time. 

July 18, 2011. I had my "20 week ultrasound". I was really 22 weeks pregnant. At Blanchfield Army Community Hospital they do one ultrasound during your pregnancy. They do it at around 20 weeks. The only reason I had one at 8 weeks was because I was so sick and at 14 weeks because we went to Nashville and paid for it. 

July 21, 2011. I had a checkup and I received the results from my ultrasound. They said my baby was measuring a little small and that they found something. Coming from a doctor, the words "found something" completely fills you with dread. The midwife said my baby had Choroid Plexus Cysts. CPCs are a somewhat common finding in pregnancies and usually disappear on their own by 32 weeks, that's what we were told. Zed and I were given the option of a second ultrasound at BACH or we could go to a maternal-fetal specialist in Nashville. Zed was quick to say we were going to Nashville. As we left the hospital that day, I will never forget that feeling of dread. My heart was heavy as I called my mother. I told her what the doctor said and read off a list of statics the midwife had printed out for us. I kept telling my mom, it was fine, I was fine, Wendy was fine. But all I really wanted to do was cry. 

August 4, 2011. This was my first appointment with maternal-fetal group in Nashville. They did an ultrasound. We then talked to Dr. Mayor-Lynn. Wendy was measuring about a week behind and the CPCs were still present as well as fluid around her heart. Dr. Mayor-Lynn told us we had about a 1% chance of having a baby with a chromosome problem. 1% doesn't sound bad, but when you think about it, that means one in one hundred babies. We wanted to know for sure so that we could prepare and give our baby the best chance possible. I had an amniocentesis that day. We were told if the baby did have a chromosome abnormality it was most likely Down Syndrome or Trisomy 18. Those are the two most common with CPCs. Down Syndrome we could handle, Trisomy 18 we were told chance of survival was low. Most Trisomy 18 babies are stillborn, the rest usually don't make it past a year old. I was heartbroken. This was my baby and I couldn't do anything to help her or fix her. And on top of me feeling sad and helpless, I was hurting, physically, from the amnio. I was cramping and my belly was extremely sore.

August 12, 2011. At 25 weeks pregnant I was told Wendy had a problem with her 7th chromosome. They were doing further testing and we wanted to test mine and Zed's blood to see if we were carriers.

August 18, 2011. Zed and I went back to Nashville to give our blood samples. We still didn't have final amnio results. We were in limbo. We didn't know what to think or how to feel. All I could do was look up stuff on the Internet and that was scaring me to death. All I kept reading was mental retardation and leukemia. 

August 25, 2011. I was 27 weeks pregnant and we were heading to Georgia for my baby shower. We were stopping on the way to have yet another ultrasound. This time, they said I had too much amniotic fluid and would have to come back weekly for ultrasounds. At this appointment I also had 3D pictures done. When we left, I cried for the first time. She was beautiful and I was terrified that she wouldn't survive. I wanted Wendy so badly. I didn't know what to do or how to feel. Not long after we left Maternal Fetal Group, BACH called to tell me they wouldn't be seeing me anymore and that I would be finishing my pregnancy out with the specialists at MFG. I was happy about that, knowing Wendy and I would both have better care in Nashville than we would at Fort Campbell. 

September 6, 2011. We had been back from Georgia for a few days. I had went grocery shopping and cleaned my house top to bottom. I was cramping some and having Braxton Hicks contractions. I decided to take a warm bath because that always helped before. As I was getting undressed, I noticed some fluid leaking down my leg. It wasn't a lot so I didn't panic, but I did call my doctor. I had an appointment scheduled for the next morning. I asked if I needed to go to the hospital or if it would be okay to wait until the morning. My doctor called back a few minutes later and said just to be safe I should go to the hospital. They put me on the monitor and watched me for a few hours. They said I was having some irritabily but not full blown contractions and I wasn't in active labor they wanted to do a quick test to make sure my water hadn't broke and then I could be on my way. Well, instead of the nurse coming back to discharge me, the ER doctor came in and told me my water had broke. Zed actually said, "shut the ____ up". The doctor said I would be camping out at the hospital until I delivered. Zed was drilling him with questions. He was wanting to know would Wendy be okay if she came now. I was just trying to breath.

September 21, 2011. We received news from the geneticist that our final report from my amniocentesis was in. Our daughter had an unbalanced translocation between chromosomes 7 & 10. She had many deleted genes. There was no medical record of another case even similar to hers. They couldn't even give us a survival rate or tell us what to expect. We decided to bank her cord blood through ViaCord. Many times when there is a problem with the 7th chromosome, the child will end up with leukemia. 

October 6, 2011. I started having really bad contractions. They were different from the Braxton Hicks I had been experiencing the past weeks. I told the doctor that I was hurting and I thought Wendy was coming. My magnesium drip was increased and an ultrasound was ordered. Wendy had definitely dropped. Over the next day, the contractions worsened, but the doctor did not want to check to see if I was dilating for risk of further rupturing my membranes and putting me in labor, if I wasn't already. I received 5 shots of Terbutaline within 40 hours.

October 8, 2011. Early that morning, I refused any more medication to try to stop labor. I was Wendy's mother and I had to listen to my body. My body was telling me I was having a baby and I wasn't going to keep pumping my body full of drugs. Finally at lunch, a wonderful nurse named Kelly that had taken care of me many days I was there talked my doctor into letting her check my cervix. I was 5cm dilated. I called my mom and dad and it just so happened that they were on their way to surprise me. I was immediately taking to the labor and delivery floor- I had been on the high risk floor. By the time I got moved and Zed got showered, was 7-8cm and I got my epidural. After that I got on my makeup and put in my contacts. They checked my cervix again and I was 10cm. My mom and dad had just arrived. They both got to come in and give me a kiss then they waited in the hall. I pushed once with the nurse, then they got Dr. Robinson. I pushed twice with her and Wendy was out. She was born at 3:01 pm, weighing 3lbs 15oz and 17 in long. She didn't cry. And the doctors took her immediately. Zed cried seeing our beautiful daughter and he stood by her while they stitched me up and examined baby Wendy. Finally, I got to hold her. Zed and I got to take a few pictures and then they took her to the NICU. Not long after she was born, a neonatologist came to tell me she had an imperforate anus and would need surgery. She was to be transferred to Vanderbilt within a few hours. I got in a wheelchair and went to see my baby. She was beautiful and I did not want to hand her over to the transport team.

October 9, 2011. At 9 am I signed myself out of the hospital and went to see my little angel. 

For 71 days she was in the hospital. She was born with an imperforate anus, microcephaly, kidney reflux, swollen kidneys, interrupted infra hepatic IVC, anemia, intestinal malrotation, gastrointestinal reflux, feeding difficulties and she was jaundice. Wendy has had two surgeries, one at 3 days old for a colostomy and one at 6 weeks old to have a g tube inserted and a LADD procedure. She came home on December 18, my 22nd birthday.

Wendy Lee is now 8 months old and 11lbs. She still looks like a newborn and is only in 0-3 month clothes. She still has a colostomy bag and a g tube. She has to take medication daily. We are preparing for a surgery on the 28th. But with all that said, I have to mention all her accomplishments too. She can now roll over. She's babbling a ton. She's learning to eat baby food. She has two bottom teeth and she loves to smile and show them off. She's reaching milestones and doing so much better than any doctor anticipated. She is a true miracle and an inspiration to us all. Wendy is a one-of-a-kind, million dollar baby."
Jamie---I couldn't agree more! Thanks for sharing your inspiring story----you are all awesome...and Wendy is a little star! You've truly discovered better ways to live an awesome life! Blessings to you all~Read more about precious Wendy at http://alwayskissmegnight.blogspot.com


{Family loves BEST!}

And boy does Glory know how to eat that corn on the cobb!
Typewriter style!:)

And boy does Makayla LUV to eat ice cream!!!
...and cupcakes, too:)

And as for me...I know how to chow down, too:)
My Granny had a delicious spread for Father's Day and I enjoyed two platefuls of wholesome goodness. I was so pleasantly full:) Nothing beats fruits and veggies...they're the BEST, hands down!

And there's the man of the hour---my fab DAD!
And he loved his new bike:)

I squeezed in a quick ride, too:) In my $1 Goodwill vintage sundress. Thrifin' it in style:)

But...instead of harping on my weekend I'm wrapping it up because I'm so very excited to share my next "A Better Way" feature!


Saturday, June 16, 2012

{A Better Way: Brandy overcomes Addiction}

 I want to thank my friend Brandy for volunteering to be featured on my blog. I'm sure that her story will inspire you all! I hope her willingness to share her personal story will make a difference in your life and lead you towards better ways to lead a more awesome life!

Here's Brandy's story in her own words:

"When I think about the many things God has done for me, I get overwhelmed. I use to be a drug addict, a smoker, a compulsive liar, and a victim of emotional, mental and physical abuse. I am not ashamed of where I've been or the hell God has brought me out of because what I use to do does not dictate who I am today; who I am in Christ does. My drug addiction is what ultimately broke me and brought me to my knees. I was beaten by the endless insanity of my drug abuse. Feeling baffled and ashamed, weighed down by countless past failures, and then nothing short of divine intervention, He saw me lyinng there defeated, confused, and alone and reached down from Heaven and rescued me.

About a year after surrendering myself completely over to God, I came across an enormous mountain on my path. A stroke took most of my mobility from me. I guess I was angry with God for awhile and it took me 9 months to realize that things don't go wrong and break your heart so you can become bitter and give up. They happen to break you down and build you up so you can be all that you were intended to be. And also Romans 8:28 says that "For we know that all things work together for good, to those that love God and are called according to His purpose."

I am truly grateful now because God strengthens me everyday and I understand what Paul meant now when he said  he has learned to be content regardless of his circumstances (Philippians 4:11).   I have a long journey ahead of me. By no means am I perfect or where I need to be. But by the grace of GOD, I'm not where I use to be. I know the road to victory is not always going to be easy, and I don't pray for it to be, but I do pray for the strength, courage, and guidance that can only be obtained through Christ, to make it safely to my destination.

My goal today is progress; to be a better me than I was yesterday. With this attitude, I can finally look at that broken and battered girl in the mirror and tell her "I not only love you, I like you." I can say now that I love you all as well. But most of all.........I love the Lord!"

Show Brandy some love by supporting her with a comment and some encouragement!

Together we can all live better more awesome lives!!!


{Share the Fatherly Love}

This girl has got to get busy!

I'm hosting a Father's Day dinner at my house tonight and there are a million + 1 things to get done. The good thing is that my family doesn't care if there's pet hair on my couch or dust on my tv...as long as I feed them something good---they'll be happy:)

So....On the menu:

Grilled Burgers
Baked Beans
Corn on the cob
...and homemade ice cream for dessert!!!

Grocery shopping is first on the list followed by a quick tidy-up session. Probably just a little surface cleaning because the yard needs some lovin' too! Hopefully the hubby will take care of that:) And me and the sistah-friends need to go pick up "we's deddy" a gift. A new bicycle to be exact:) Adding that to the to-do list!

Yes, there's lots of work to do today--but it pales in comparison to everything my wonderful dad has done for me over the years. I wish I could give him the world but a new set of wheels and some juicy beef will have to do:) And because I know his heart, I know he will love it. Mainly because I know he loves me.

A good dad is not a gift to be taken lightly. I consider my dad one my life's GREATEST blessings. Though I'm almost 30, I still need my dad and crave his attention and approval. I cherish the moments we laugh together, cry together, and spend together. I always will. My dad has given me a gift I will carry in my heart until the day I die---the joy and comfort of knowing I was greatly loved by the man who gave me life.  His love for me comes from his love for his heavenly father, that I know for sure....and I'm so happy he shared that love with me!
My Dad is the guy in the middle. He holds our family together like glue!
I love adore TREASURE you, Dad! I really wish I was a master of words so that this story of how much I love you would do you justice. Because it doesn't. I just hope all the hugs I get to give you today speak much, much louder.

If you are missing your Dad today, I pray that you are comforted. I pray that whatever the  circumstances might be, that you can think back on a happy moment and live it again in your heart. If you are a father to someone who needs one---you are amazing because you are imitating Christ. And, if you are hurting today because you never experienced the love of an earthly father, I'm happy to share some good news with you. You have a heavenly father who loves you perfectly and can replace any pain you might feel with a calm and peaceful reassurance that He is all you need. It's a promise.

Reach out to Him today. Whether you are able to celebrate your earthly father or not, reach out to Him. Either way, we all have a reason to rejoice!

Thanks be to GOD!


Friday, June 15, 2012

{Pocket full of Chocolate}

A Pretty Breakfast makes my eyes and tummy happy!

Vanilla yogurt, two large strawberries, one small banana, a handful of shelled sunflower seeds and about 1/3 cup of rolled oat. Doesn't get much easier to start your day with a nutritious meal....so no excuses people! If I can do it, ANYONE CAN! Just ask my husband, he'll tell ya the truth. I roll out of bed (which is why my hair NEVER gets fixed and I thank God for headbands ;), JUMP into some clothes, and go (as fast as I possibly can because I'm usually already running late---story of my life!). Breakfast is, like, the one thing I ALWAYS make time for. Until I have a personal chef that is---{A girl can always dream!}

Despite my raging thoughts and creative juices that showed up at a MOST inconvienent 2 am, I am feeling pretty chipper.
And....I'm smiling because I am just excited about Project: 'A Better Way'! I really hope this idea takes off because I think it has the potential to improve many lives and make a difference for many people. Who doesn't like that idea!? Thank you to everyone who has shown their support and enthusiasm to far! PLEASE contact me if you are interested!!! And please continue to be patient as this idea (and The Rada Way as a whole) grow and evolve. I keep reminding myself that things take time, committment, and determination to see them thru and I intend on keepin' at it! So thanks for sticking by me and growing with us!

All that brain power left me feeling rather ravenous throughout the entire day, giving me the feeling that just thinking was a really good workout ;) I should start thinking harder more often;)

Lunch was my cabbage creation leftover:)
Still tasty but lacking in "oomph" which I believe was a shortage of some protein and a little fat.

Which I made up for around 3 pm
Literally a pocket full of chocolate:)  What's with me and the chocoholism this week?!

I enjoyed a banana that I had abandoned at the bottom of my work bag...oops! On the verge of mush but still good enough to eat.

And since it's very important to me to be 100% honest....

YES after a few sips....massive headache---problem solved!

For me, works every time. Maxed out my daily allowance but I'm now headache free.

And REALLY looking forward to an evening with the man of the house, a nice dinner, and movie. Avengers, Snow White and the Huntsman, or That's my Boy? Which would you recommend?

Bring in on FRIDAY NIGHT!


Thursday, June 14, 2012

tRw: {"A Better Way": Volunteers Needed!}

Volunteers Needed! 
 I am working towards making my blog a way for people to make their lives, as well as the lives of others, better! I have a plan to get it started:) I want to feature a section called "A Better Way" In this section, I will accept articles from all organizations, churches, groups, and individuals highlighting ways to better yourself, others (i.e. community events, church events, individual efforts for self-improvement and accomplishments) ect. Topics can revolve around healthy eating, helping others in ANY way, saving money, going green, ect. The effort and goal is to share these stories in order to inspire others towards action and changed attitudes! Please don't be afraid to share! :) To submit your "A Better Way" feature, please email your submission to lauramrada@yahoo.com and put "A Better Way" in the subject line.
Thanks for helping make lives better!!!

{Purple over Ice}

Grape Powerade Zero---hits the spot every time:)

My new cereal wasn't too shabby either...
...just "peanut buttery" enough and really crunchy. Even better topped with a 'naner!

I joined a few friends for lunch but I wasn't very hungry since we went around 11:45 (I was still full of panda puffs:). Instead I dined on their spare tomatoes:) It looks like Leslie is wearing a big tomato slice costume. Halloween idea, anyone:0)? Get the whole family involved and you could be a salad!
Sweet Lisa shared a small bite of her sweet (as in taste and awesomeness!) cookie...
110% as delicious as it looks!

Back at the office, I had my leftover sub from yesterday and one of my summer favs---


A little obvious?

What gave it away?:)

Lastly, a beautiful fresh jar of lavendar scrub that I CAN'T WAIT to use...
..and a big plate of baked french fries with ketchup that I can't wait to eat!!!
Or is that a big plate of ketchup with baked french fries???

Either way, they won't last long!

Baked frenchies are my favorite "feels like I'm cheating but I'm not making a too terrible of a choice" indulgence:) What's yours?