Tuesday, December 31, 2013


It's New Years Eve and I am laying on the couch at 8:00pm. I am sure I can make it to midnight, right?!  Well, yes of course.
I have a lot to reflect on this past year, and to be honest, I am thrilled that 2013 is OVER. I have gone through some rough patches this year and am so ready for a new beginning. New Years reminds me of a scripture in the Bible, "The steadfast love of the lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning, great is Your faithfulness" Lamentations 3:22-23
This verse gives me such peace. His mercies ARE new every morning, even if things seem to be too big to conquer.
I have conquered a lot this year, and can say I am proud of myself. I got through the first full year of losing close friends, which at times I think about. I just sometimes wonder if I am ever on their mind too. I believe that God brings people in and out of your life for certain reasons.
I continue to be on an awesome track to great health. I know 2014 will bring a new me. That meaning my old lifestyle is over, and I cannot wait to see what God does this year in my life.
Late this afternoon, I took a long 2 mile walk around my neighborhood. It felt great to be outside, and I thought why have I been missing out on this all along? Forget the YMCA treadmill- I am walking outside!
Each New Year, I choose a Word of the Year. My prior church started this a long time ago. I have stuck with this tradition awhile now. This year, my Word is JOY. I have this canvas that my friend made for me, hanging in my kitchen above my stove. It will be a constant reminder this year to find Joy in life, and in all I strive to do. During the ups and the downs, I will find Joy and peace. This is something I have struggled with this past year, and I am making a point to change how I look at the small stuff, and even the big stuff.

In Romans 15:13 it says, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" 
This is such a great reminder as we head into this new year.
Happy New Year 2014! May you be a blessing to others, and find the Joy in your journey.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Thumbprint Cookies

I have been tortured with sweets all month and I finally decided that on Christmas day, I wouldn't be left out while everyone was devouring desserts!

I went on a search and found a recipe for Thumbprint Cookies, using whole wheat pastry flour, and no refined sugars. I will be bringing these with me tomorrow so I can have a treat too!
I wasn't sure how they were going to turn out, because they are not your average cookie, and don't have all "the bad stuff" that makes cookies taste good. To my suprise, they are soooo good!! Here is the recipe if you are looking for a "healthy cookie" :)

Ingredients: (All Organic)

  • 1 cup almonds or pecans
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup expeller-pressed canola oil
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup or brown rice syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 5 tablespoons fruit juice sweetened jam. I use Crofter's, because it's so good!

Preheat oven to 350°F. Put almonds and oats into a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground. Transfer to a large bowl and add flour, oil, syrup and salt. Stir to combine well. Roll walnut-sized balls of the dough in the palm of your hand to form each cookie, then arrange on 2 large baking sheets, spacing cookies 2 inches apart. Press your thumb gently down into the center of each cookie to make an indentation. Spoon a teaspoon of jam into each indentation.

Bake cookies until golden brown and just firm around the edges, 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack to let cool completely, then serve immediately or store between layers of waxed paper in an airtight container.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Great Reminder

There are days like today when I am reminded why I do what I do. Almost daily, I have someone tell me or ask me- "How do you do it?" "I would go crazy!", or they simply bow to me. I am not sure why they think I am a Saint, but I have been called it more times than I can remember.

Kindergarten. A (small) classroom where you have around 20 children who love to tattle. ALL THE TIME. You are constantly re-directing- reminding them to sit down, talk quietly, stop talking all together, pick up your trash that you spilled all over my floor that I JUST swept. I am a a doctor who applies bandaids to non existent injuries, and a tooth saver who saves freshly fallen out teeth.
I am a counselor to the children who need to talk about their imaginary friends, children who are going through divorce or who simply love to be dramatic (my lovely 6 year old girls). My lunch time is surrounded by constant tattling about how someone is eating, what they mixed with what, and who put their ketchup on what part of the plate, as I open 17 drinks, yogurts and clean up spills. Don't forget that I have to TEACH. Math, Reading, Handwriting, Science, Social Studies and Art.
This is my life- every single day.

You get the picture. My days are hectic, and simply exhausting. I used to work in a school where the kids had everything they wanted, and more. The kids in high school had nicer cars than I did. It was the norm to see a 16 year old driving a brand new Mercedes.
The parents were so involved you wished they would go away! Thats how it was, and that's all I knew.

Now I am teaching in a school where most of the students are not so fortunate. Some of my kids have home lives that we can't even fathom, and it has made me realize that what I do as a teacher to these little ones, is so very important. When I start to get overwhelmed, I have to remember why God put me where He did. And I was reminded of that today.
I have a student in my class who's family is in great need. God put this child in my class for a reason, and it was shown today by another mother in my class who is stepping up and doing something for this family that is truly the hands and feet of Jesus.  I just wanted to say Thank You-

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Holiday Perfection

This post is written for the person who has visions of holiday perfection :) That person is also me-

Every year; during the fall season leading to Thanksgiving and Christmas, I have visions of what the holidays are SUPPOSED to look like. In my mind, a big family gets together- at a perfectly decorated home where the table is magazine perfect with the Christmas tree ready on Thanksgiving morning while you cook and watch Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. HA! Well, I can tell you now that this is not how it really is. Not during my childhood at least.

As an adult, I have spent most of these years half with family and half with friends. I would rush out of my house to get to my best friends house for a holiday. They were just as dysfunctional, if not more than my family! I don't really know why I was in such a rush to get there, it was definitely not from Norman Rockwell.
The past two years, things have changed, and my holidays are now spent with my family. Last year, I went to Williamsburg VA for Thanksgiving with my aunt and uncle. Even though I loved the trip- it didn't feel "right".

This year- I am going to do my best to start my own traditions. I go to a wonderful new church where I feel that I am welcomed with open arms, and love it. So many familiar faces are there and it feels like home. This Thanksgiving Eve, I will be attending my church's Thanksgiving Service and Pie Social.
I am also hosting Thanksgiving at my house this year. I have a small family, so I have to make the best of it! I am cooking myself (except the turkey, gross) and have it all planned out- and yes, I am putting my tree up the day before and watching the Thanksgiving Parade while I cook :)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Princess Pizzazz

Yesterday, I went to my friend Kathleen's for her daughters 5th birthday party. She did such a wonderful job with the decorations and I just had to take pictures and share! The theme was Ariel, but with a princess twist.

The party was set up outside, which was a great idea since there were some messy activities :)

Pink lemonade filled little teacups :)

Nail painting, glitter tattoos, and hair pieces were a hit!

The girls loved decorating their own cupcakes. I put all the sprinkles and icing in cupcake liners, so it was easy access for little hands, and everyone could have their own set of goodies!

Sugar overload!

Happy Birthday Sweet Girl!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Trust His Promise

God has been speaking to me lately. It's like He has tapped me on the shoulder and has said, "see, I told you everything was going to be ok". Eight months ago, you couldn't have told me that. I was in a very sad place, where I felt like everything was just going down hill. I went through something that I knew would happen one day. I just felt it. This day finally came, and it made me sick. Literally.

I never realized how much I needed this change. And looking back I still think at times "what if i did it differently?" Would I be in a different place in my life? Probably. But I cannot go back. I cannot change the decision I made to keep saying no, and that no had a huge impact on my life. An impact that changed my life as I knew it.
God and very close friends were the only ones I could lean on at that point. I cried, I cried a lot. Everyday for weeks, and I knew I needed these cries to cope. God knew my needs, and I believe in my heart that this was His plan all along. It taught me that I have strength I never knew I had. All types of heartache is real, and boy does it hurt. I am still reminded, without fault of anybody. I was reminded everywhere I went- the store, radio, pictures, facebook, friends, the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, It's hard to stay away from.

Here we are almost a year later, and I am at a much happier place. I have spent time with new and old friends, and I find the joys that God shows me everyday. Now I am at the point where I look back and feel sad for people, I feel sad that peoples hearts are so cruel. I feel sad that people don't know what friendship is really about. I feel sad that I was lied to for so long. I feel sad for them. I pray for them. I pray for them everyday, that they would find the peace and joy in life that God brings. Without Him, we are nothing.
One of my church friends just wrote a book called "Being OK With Where You Are". It's is a book written for someone like me. I am not always ok with where I am. But I know God has a purpose that He will fill when the time is right. And I thank Him for this sweet promise- I thank Him for pulling me through.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Live Like No One Else

This summer I have been busy reading up on Dave Ramsey principles. I have heard of his plans before, but I really opened my eyes when my friend Ryan introduced me to it after completing Financial Peace University at our church. We sat down at her kitchen table one day and really studied it, and I came up with a plan and a BUDGET! This budget will completely be in place once I go back to teaching this fall. I am so very excited to begin this new way with money.
Basically his plan is this...Live Like No One Else, So You Can Live Like No One Else. Get it? It's easy...don't spend your money like the world teaches us, but use biblical principles and common sense when it comes to money. Create a budget, a budget that works, but is strict enough that you become debt-free. No credit, all cash. All the time.
This girl used to spend money like it was going out of style!

A lot of changes will be made, and I have already made some of these changes!
First off, NO MORE NAIL SALONS! I used to get mani/pedi's every other week. That is about $70/month. What?! Ridiculous! I went to Target and got some cutical cream, some tools, and I have enough nail polish already to start a store, so I am set!

Something I have really gotten better about is EATING OUT. There was a time where I ate out every day. Not now, even as I write this, it's Friday night and I just finished dinner...at home! You cannot eat out for less than $15 a person, and I got to the point where I really am not interested in just average restaurants. The food is really not that great.  If I do go, it is because I am being treated.

Next on the list is MEAL PLANNING! I used to go grocery shopping and buy things I really didn't need, now I use many coupons and look for sales. I am no longer brand loyal and buy things when they are on sale, and love store brands! I will say this though, I love Publix and Whole Foods. These are the two stores where I buy my groceries. So I have to be very mindful of how I buy, especially when I am at Whole Foods!

I will keep you updated as I go through this journey. I can't wait to Live Like No One Else!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Just Because

I don't know about you, but I love love love love getting mail. Not bills, not annoying pizza delivery ads, but mail from friends or family. Nowadays, we rely on e-vites, e-mails, E, E, E! Ugh, I just don't understand what happened to sending out a real invitation to a party, or a birthday card instead of a Facebook "Happy B-day". Don't get me wrong, I love getting all the Facebook birthday wishes, but there is just something a lot more special and thoughtful about a card in the mail. During Christmas, I send out cards, and LOVE getting cards during that season. I fill my kitchen walls with beautiful cards from family and friends. I want you to know that I appreciate them :)
So today I went to Papyrus, my new favorite store that opened here at Millenia. I picked up a little card for someone I know who is having a baby, and a card for a good friend that I thought she would love.
I know these will put a smile on their faces...Just Because.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Caleb Fund

Yesterday I joined my friend Candice and Caleb, along with his class of graduating pre-kindergarteners at Uno Pizzeria in Winter Garden. The kids had a lot of fun hanging out together and eating pizza! So many of the parents were saying how good Caleb looks, and he does- But he is still fighting everyday, even though you cannot see it. No, he does not look sick at this point, but he is.

     Right now at Uno, 20% of your bill will be donated to the Caleb Fund, a "dough raiser" (fundraiser) that Uno is doing to raise money for Caleb's treatment.
If you get a chance, and want to help out, print these tickets and pass them to your friends and family. You will need to present it when you get your bill. Thank you in advance for helping this strong little boy fight childhood cancer!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Summer Memories

SUMMER IS HERE! I cannot believe the school year is over and I am into my first week of summer break. Well, a break from classroom teaching that is! I still have a full time schedule with tutoring and behavior therapy clients, with a few hours here and there to see friends and relax!

Usually each summer I am nannying, and taking a few vacations. This year is a little different- no nannying and no trips! I just don't have the extra time this year because I have to work with my clients full time. I am used to getting paid through the summer from my teaching job, but the school I currently work at does not offer this unfortunately.
Because I am staying in Orlando this summer, I want to reminisce on past summer fun!

Summer 2011 I spent most of my time in this golf cart with an 8 year old boy driving me and his sister around the neighborhood. SCARY! We were either eating lunch at the clubhouse or swimming in the pool.

I also taught Vacation Bible School at Delaney Street Baptist Church that summer! it was fun to see some of my former students and their parents!

Summer 2010 was also my first trip to New York City! I was SOOOOO excited! My friend Anna lived in Jersey City and I went to visit her. We had such a great time and even stopped at Carlo's Bake Shop for some treats!


I got to fly to Nashville right after my New York trip to visit my dad and my little brother and sister. We took a road trip to Atlanta to visit my aunt and uncle that year. Here is Michael and Cathryn in the pool at our Aunt's and Uncle's house in Atlanta.

 Summer 2012 I nannied for the Graham Family. Here is Ashley doing my nails for yet another NYC trip I was blessed to take last year!

Don't they look beautiful?? ;)

My aunt took me to NYC for a girls weekend last July. We had THE BEST TIME EVER! We stayed at the iconic Plaza Hotel and it was so beautiful. We saw Wicked on Broadway, ate at every restaurant possible, had high tea, and shopped till we dropped!

The Bathroom in our hotel room was spectacular. With real gold covering the walls, how can you not feel like you are in a fairytale?

                                                                  Happy Summer!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Run and Not Grow Weary

I have been debating with myself whether or not write this post. It's a tough one. But writing is therapeutic, and maybe this post will raise awareness to you.
I don't share very much about my anxiety, it's kind of a personal thing, and for people who do not have this disorder- they don't really understand how it affects you in such a strong way.
I have had this issue most of my life, and when I think back on my childhood, I can now realize what was wrong with me. I was not a weird child, I had an anxiety issue that no one new I had, not even me.

I grew up in Orlando, and was born to very young parents. My parents did the best they could given their circumstances. I was very close to my grandparents because they were a huge part of my life from day 1. My grandfather died when I was 13. I remember it was right after the 1996 olympics, and while I was watching my favorite gymnast, Dominique Moceanu on re-run, my grandfather had a stroke- right in front of me. After he died, I was TERRIFIED of hospitals. They reminded me of him, and it scared me. To this day, I still try to avoid driving by any hospital, and if I do- I have a mild anxiety attack. It has gotten better though, but still not something I can do with ease.

During that time, that was also when my mom and dad got divorced. My dad left to Nashville with his girlfriend and I was devastated. Not good timing! Another person who I didn't have close. My mom was angry and hurt by both her dad and the divorce and had her own issues she was dealing with. This left me extremely insecure. Jump a few years later and my mom re-marries, and someone new moved into my broken home. Oh boy- was that fun. Enough on that.

A few years passed and I met friends who became my second family. My anxiety subsided and I felt happy and was having fun with my friends. We did EVERYTHING together. Beach, concerts, swimming, parties, scrapbooking, BBQ'ing, and traveling to name a few. They were in my life for 13 years. That is a long time- and they became my family. I met most of my current friends from this circle.

You always hope that people have good intentions, and sometimes you find out otherwise. Friendships change as you grow older, and so do your feeling towards people. When feelings get in the way, depending on the circumstance, it can be tricky. And in this case it was. Our friendship ended last year, and even though I am pulling through it, I miss a certain few terribly. It is very strange not talking to them, and some days are still hard.
Some people close to me tell me that maybe they will have a change of heart. And as sad as I am to say this, I do not want to go back. I am moving forward towards bigger and better.

A close friend of mine's son was also diagnosed with childhood cancer last year. This boy was always close to my heart and when I walked in to his hospital room a day after his diagnosis (yes this took courage), my heart cried. It hurt for him and hurt for my friend. No one should ever have to go through such a terrible thing. It has been a tough year for them, but they are keeping their faith alive and fighting   for a cure.

After saying all this, my anxiety has become a large part of my life. Even though you cannot see it, it's there. The physical and emotional part of anxiety is the worst to deal with. It literally makes you sick.
But I know God is just putting me through this storm to end up in a place where I will be the happiest. I am teaching at a small christian school, in which I love. I am working with children doing ABA for Autism, and getting ready to begin classes for board certification for Applied Behavior Analysis. I have a lot going on, and am truly excited about working towards this goal.
Be honest, kind, sensitive, passionate, motivated, and just give a smile or hug to someone you know. You never know who is battling a storm.

Thanks for reading- and if you are having struggles in your life right now...may this truth bless you-

"But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not be faint."
Isaiah 40:31

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Embracing A New Path

It's April, which means that it is also Autism Awareness Month. I write this post for two reasons, 1- to spread awareness of Autism and 2- to explain how my life took an unexpected turn.

All my life I thought I would be a teacher. There was never anything else that really interested me. So during my college years, I taught prekindergarten at one of the best little preschools in downtown Orlando. I had many friends there, and we LOVED what we did. After I graduated, I knew it was time to move on. I needed to make more money and felt the time was right. 
A position was open at my church's school, The First Academy, in the division of Special Needs Education. I was hired and accepted this job, but leaving my comfort zone of Delaney Street where I taught was a very scary feeling. Little did I know how much this new job was going to open different doors.
I taught there for two years. I was a lead teacher for 2nd grade and kindergarden. All of the children in my class were on the Autism Spectrum or had another related disability. I loved what I did with the kids, and knew they loved me back...even though their tantruming could have had me believing otherwise! Exhausted does not even begin to describe how I felt each day!
During my experience with this school, I met new people and made new friends. Little did I know that the lady who was coming in each month to observe the Applied Behavior Analysis approach our classroom was taking, would be a lady who I would be working for independently as a Behavior Assistant today! After leaving the school, I kept in touch with her and she persisted that I become a Behavior Assistant with her ABA company. I took the offer and am now working on my courses for the National Board Certified Behavior Analysis Exam. After I complete these courses I plan to become a full-time therapist providing ABA for children with Autism. I am so excited for this journey!

I cannot express to you how rewarding it is to see progress in a child you are working with. The SMALLEST task can be a HUGE task in the eyes of a child with Autism.
Spread the word about AUTISM AWARENESS!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Flowers and Topiaries Galore!

This past weekend I spent most of it outside at Epcot! It was the first weekend for the Flower and Garden Festival, and I always love these as they have great food kiosks, special items for sale and also of course the Disney spirit that comes along with it.

Tinkerbell's Butterfly House was so cute. Butterflies flew around in a tent amongst fairy topiaries, little waterfalls and live flowers and plants.

Each country had a special topiary. Below you will see some of my favorites!

Of course one of the best parts of the day was walking around tasting all the different foods!

What is your favorite part of Flower and Garden?? I'd love for you to share!