New Year's Eve Fit Friday!

Happy New Year's Eve! :)  Welcome 2011!  :) 

As a finale, I wanted this New Year's Eve Greeting to be my Fit Friday Goals and plans for 2011!

2010 was a good year, a very good year.  And she did have her challenges, like the last quarter.  For me, the last quarter I found my routines changing.  So with a new vigor, I approach 2011 with an exciting list of Resolutions, Goals and Dreams.  And everyday Routines and Habits I want to implement.

For a couple of these, they are a recommitment.  Like my Diet and Exercise.  I love healthy living focusing on organic, green living as well.  During Winter, I have to say I have a new game plan - that I found in my Christmas stocking - The Shred!  by Jillian Michaels!  Sooo excited.  Y'all know I love Biggest Loser, Jillian Michaels and the Shred.  Well, now, it's time for me to join the party!

I'm committing to the 30 Day Shred! ♥♥♥ Excited!  Can you hear me!

Also, as a Weight Watchers Member and enthusiast, I am committing to implement the Points Plus Plan! That's right, not just attend the meeting, but implement the plan!  Excited again because I hear great things about the PointsPlus© Plan from members like Jennifer Hudson and Esther Crawford!  

For me this entails, learning the new Points Plus plan.  So I have some work to do.  I will be sharing my pounds and inches lost with you! :)  Want to Join me?!  I'd love to work together and share together.  Let me know how I can support you and I look forward to reaching goals with you in 2011!

Thank you for joining me and for another awesome year together here at Carolina Mama.

Cheers 2011!

Warmly, Carolina Mama

Interview with Katherine Brooking for Yoplait

“I believe that a healthy lifestyle is within everyone’s reach. My goal is to help consumers make smart food and fitness choices that will enhance their health and well being." 
Katherine Brooking

Recent findings by the Institute of Medicine indicate that many people get their daily calcium from supplements as well as foods, including yogurt. On the heels of this news, Yoplait is making it easier for women to meet their daily calcium needs with newly reformulated Yoplait Original yogurt, which now contains 50 percent Daily Value of calcium in every cup  that’s two times thecalcium of the leading yogurt.

In celebration of its commitment to calcium, Yoplait will also be giving away one million free cups of Yoplait Original beginning December 13. Your readers can get their free cup by going to

It was a real treat to talk with Katherine about the benefits of Calcium for our diets.  And Yoplait makes it easy and tasty to implement calcium into our diets every day.  Plus, let's face it, the many flavors are out-of-this-world!  The Christmastime favorite I hear is that Red Velvet.  We're fans of all the fruity flavors.  

Nonetheless, they all pack a calcium punch.  

You can follow her on her website: and on Twitter @KatBrooking 

Remember to join the Yoplait Facebook and receive your FREE cup of Yoplait. :) 


Also, check out the Interview of Carolina Mama and Katherine Brooking right here: 

Do you get your daily dose of Calcium?  Is it a challenge?  Are you a yogurt fan?!  

Warmly, Carolina Mama

The Color of the Year is … | BabyCenter

The 2011 'Color of the Year' is… | BabyCenter

Are you ready for the Color of the Year for 2011!?!

I like it, I love it, It's a favorite...!

Check out the Momformation blog for the answer and many many awesome topics and blogs!

Carolina Mama Got a Christmas Present!

Hope your Christmas was Merry and Bright! And White! We had a White Carolina Christmas! It was magical!

Carolina Mama received a great present from Santa!  Her domain!

Please join us on the Domain! :)  Thank you for your patience and for following!

Thank you for following!  Cheers! 

Warmly, Carolina Mama

Let Rayovac Power Your Holiday Memories - Coupon Codes

We enjoyed a White Carolina Christmas!  Of course, most of the east coast experienced a White Christmas!  Some say, in our area of North Carolina, it was the first since 1947.  Clearly a magical Christmas! 

Magical Moments.  

When I think about our "magical moment" this Holiday, I think of our Christmas picture.  This year's picture is one of those pictures that truly captured our spirit.  It's fun, of-the-moment and whimsical - it's us! 

As a mom of twins, it has never been easy to get a family of four to look at the camera all at once, so this picture in its relaxed, loving tone takes special meaning.  Takes it for all of those pics when someone is not looking, eyes are shut, etc.  I'll admit we had an awesome photographer help us get it right.  And I'm so glad.  She said, "Just hug and smile." We did. This is what she clicked.  It's a memory we'll carry forever. 

When we are taking the pictures, on our day-to-day "parents photographing the children," kind of way, I am glad Mountain Man remembered to "power up" our cameras with our Rayovac Rechargeable batteries for shots like these this Christmas.  Rayovac Rechargeable batteries perform best in digital cameras because they can be re-charged and re-used up to 500 times — reducing waste and saving money - go green - go Rayovac!  

Thanks Rayovac - we wouldn't want to have missed this. 

Golden moments.  Moments you want to freeze in time.  Or this.

This is how the Twins see life.

Now,  you too can remember to "power up" your camera with Rayovac rechargeables.  Capture your Moments with these Rayovac Coupon Codes for you!  

Rayovac Everyday-Use and Platinum Rechargeables offer more power, less waste and less money! take up to 300 photos per charge—that’s 8 times more than competitors’ lithium batteries.

Warmly, Carolina Mama 

Disney Store Fashion Haul - Day-After Christmas Sale

Hope your Christmas was lovely and bright!  We feel very blessed and thankful.  You know we got snow! It was even a White Carolina Christmas! :)

Mountain Man took the Tigers for an amazing sledding adventure and I took to the day-after Christmas sale at the mall.  With Twins Sons whose birthday is soon into the new year, I do what my mother taught me, shop early and on sale!  No wonder my Mom was always prepared for five children on special occasions.

Here is my Disney Store Fashion Haul from the day-after Christmas sale!  That's 50% OFF y'all.  So for once, with twins, it really is "like two for one!" :)  Check out my haul vlog:

Again the items were:

(2) Toy Story 3 Sweat Suits (Sweatshirt and Sweat Pants w/drawstring and elastic!) $7.99 each
(2) Mickey Mouse Sweat Shirts $7.99 each
(1) Lightning McQueen Sweat Pants  $7.99
(1) Jack Black Sweat Pants  $7.99
(2) Toy Story 3 Suit Case Roller Over-night Bags with Toy Story 3 Pillow AND Blanket! $14.99 each
(2) Toy Story 3 Breakfast plates - dishwasher safe. top rack $2.99 each

Total Disney Fashion Haul: $107.62 with Tax!
Disney Gift Card  $100.00
Spent:  $7.62

Happy Mama!  What's your favorite Christmas haul and savings?!  Please share!

Warmly,  Carolina Mama

Merry Christmas from Our Family to Yours!

Merry Christmas from Our Family to Yours! God Bless you this Birthday of Jesus!

We're all enjoying this awesome video by the Christian Media Group, Igniter Media! Totally relevant for today! Click and enjoy! Check out some of their other work, they are amazing!

Still love this am reposting this year, enjoy!!!

Blessings and see you after Christmas!

Warmly, Carolina Mama

Great Great Wolf Lodge Giveaway!

Great Wolf Lodge Charlotte/Concord, North Carolina is spoiling a reader this Holiday Season!

You know how much we loved our stay at Great Wolf Lodge for the MomBloggers Event just a couple of weeks ago.  Well, John Poole, Director of Sales and Marketing, GWL Charlotte/Concord, is reaching out to surprise one family for an over-night stay!!!

You will enjoy this amazing Water Park and all the fun you can imagine.  Check out another visit we took here in Snowland. 

My video of 5 Tips for Visiting a Great Wolf Lodge should help too!

You are invited to enter to win a (1) Night Stay at the Great Wolf Lodge Charlotte/Concord, North Carolina!  Contest closes at 8pm December 29th.  *Please note this is for the Great Wolf Lodge Charlotte/Concord, NC only. 

Enter to Win!  

1)  Leave a Comment saying why you want to win?!  Be creative and fun!
2) Follow Great Wolf Lodge on Twitter
3) Follow Carolina Mama on Twitter 
4) Follow Carolina Mama on Facebook;
5) Share on your social media channels (entry for each link!)

This may get pretty competitive - just know that there are lots of ways to win!  It's so worth it!  All the best!  And a huge Thank You to GWL for the offering!

*I was not paid to host this Giveaway.  GWL generously offered and I love to bring good things to my readers.  GWL graciously hosted my family recently and I would love another family to experience that too.

Warmly,  Carolina Mama

Weight Watchers "I'm Dreaming of a Lite Christmas!"

Tonight at our Weight Watchers Meeting, our Leader wanted a "Singer." Now, I have never claimed to be a singer. Ever. I mean I love to sing.... and I love music.

When the Leader is needing a Volunteer and no one volunteers, I was game. And this is what it lead to -

This was totally impromptu and once I volunteered two others and my Leader joined me (thank heavens!). A member took this picture ...

...and me, being the "Media Mom" that I am, I sang it again just for the "full effect" for you all.

Really, this is the kind of fun meetings are and I love them! Here are the lyrics - they are that funny!

"I'm Dreaming of a Lite Christmas!"

"I'm dreaming of a lite Christmas-

not like the ones I used to know;

Now "Free Fruits" are included,

so I don't feel excluded;

From snacks of buttery, sugary dough,

I'm dreaming of a lite Cnristmas

with all the Power Foods I will bite

May your bread be whole grain not white,

and your Points Plus® Chirstmases be lite!" :)

Are you a Weight Watcher Girl? Do you attend Meetings? Online? It's a blast and I love meeting all the Leaders and Members.

Warmly, Carolina Mama

Kids Wal-Mart Gift Guide for Mom

The Tigers were making a "Wal-Mart run" recently and it lead to this.

Kids Wal-Mart Gift Guide for Mom!  Really here's a cute reminder of the fun and inexpensive and practical goodness waiting at Wal-Mart for Mom!  That's Mom fashion made simple!

The Tigers were sold.  What about your small children, do they make gifts, or buy Mom a gift?  I have to say that tonight I was a little teary-eyed at the boys enthusiasm as they were hidden away in their rooms "making Christmas gifts!"  Aren't those the best?  And the really cool Wal-Mart finds too!   Early Merry Christmas to you!

Warmly,  Carolina Mama

Great Wolf Lodge Water Park: Family Fun in North Carolina

We were so delighted to be invited back to Great Wolf Lodge Concord, North Carolina for the MomBloggers Event! (Another Great Wolf Lodge near us is Great Wolf Lodge, Williamsburg, Virginia. ) We're starting a tradition here. Our family is loving this new tradition. The Great Wolf Lodge staff is genuinely kind and friendly and they really give you the VIP treatment. We loved seeing familiar faces there at the Lodge. John, Philip, Alex, Teresa, Kathy, and more! They are such a strong presence and a cheerful staff!

Here is a glimpse of how Great Wolf Lodge has all the family needs for water park fun!

We arrived on one of our coldest weekends in December. On a misty morning, we checked in...

... and we were quickly ready to warm up to this awesome Water Park with rides and fun galore!

The Tigers made Mama happy by pausing for a moment by the huge Bucket that drenches all within a mile of it! (exaggeration! though it feels that way!) Can you just see the excitement on their faces!

Inside the lodge, I loved finding all of these Christmas trees in competition. They were all so festive.

The lobby is always so convivial. The staff is friendly and efficient. In the lobby, there is always something fun to do. At Snowland, you can see the snow fall - indoors - and meet Santa Claus! Or even come down in your pajamas and listen to a bedtime story. And drink milk and eat cookies! See the comforts of home and the spoiling of a grand mountain vacation with water park fun! Here the lobby is decked out as Snowland and the snow falls are beautiful!

Here the Tigers felt right at home in the "Kid's Kamp!" bunk beds. :)

And by the Christmas tree in their pjs....

Great Wolf Lodge Water Park in Charlotte / Concord, North Carolina was awesome family fun!
Ask-A-Mom is a phenomenal community of Moms sharing all about specific Great Wolf Lodge properties. Check them out and "Share. Learn. Ask. Enjoy!" Or if you have questions you would like me to answer, feel free to ask in comments or send me an email from my contact page and I'll give my best answer or find one for you.

Also, There's even Spa time for Moms, Moms and Daughters, etc. Take a break from the park and let Dad hang out while the children while you rejuvenate with a massage!

We also were invited to visit the NASCAR Charlotte Motor Speedway! Oh my word! This was a dream come true for the Tigers. We got to view the Christmas lights and live Nativity scene on the track! And we got "bank" on the track! And the boys got pictures at Jeff Gordan's pit stop!

The entire weekend was awesome fun! It is highly recommended for family fun this Winter! Merry Christmas to you!

Warmly, Carolina Mama

Fashion Friday: Video 7 Fuss-Free MomFashion Tips for Holiday

The Season is upon us, the parties are here. It's Holiday time. Now let's have some Fuss-Free MomFashion to go with that party schedule! :)

Recently, I loved getting to write as Guest Blogger for Momformation. We talked "7 Steps to Fuss-Free Holiday Fashion!" Now, I want to share with you my easy to follow steps on video. Let's make this as easy as possible because not only is it Holiday Time, it's party time! :)

Hope this helps! I know for me these quick and easy steps really get me going for Christmas parties and fun. And I don't have to stress about going over budget.

How about you?! What are your fuss free Christmas fashion tips? If you have questions, please leave them below and I'd love to help you out.

9 days until Christmas!

Warmly, Carolina Mama

iBand at North Point Church

Andy Stanley's church, North Point Community Church, Alpharetta, Georgia introduced the iBand of North Point!

Literally composed of iPads, iPhones and the lovely musicians of North Point! iPhone, iPad lovers that they were, they used their Apps and created this amazing Christmas music completely from Apple and Apps! After creating the songs, they performed them on iPads as shown in the video here.

Too cool!

They performed at the 12,000 person congregation. Now their youtube video is nearing 1 million views!

Wasn't that just happy, feel good music! Love it! Rocking around the Christmas Tree and I want to wish you a Merry Christmas too! :)

Warmly, Carolina Mama

Great Wolf Lodge Water Park Fun!

This past weekend was amazing! Great Wold Lodge spoiled us for the Second Annual MomBloggers Event! They are so great with families and fun!

Post, pics and video coming soon!! ;)

5 Awesome Christmas Tree Farms

It's snowing most places and that tops off Christmastime!  We adore a family outing to the Christmas Tree farms.  Mountain Man grew up picking and cutting his trees in Colorado.  I grew up watching my Daddy do the same in Louisiana.

Now, we're passing this tradition on to family and friends. This year, I am surprised at how many folks do not have their trees up yet.  And we have friends who wanted to know what farms we have visited in the past.  So here I am sharing 5 Awesome Christmas Tree Farms in North Carolina!

North Carolina has been a great source of White House Christmas Trees!  How about that!

Top of the Mountain Christmas Trees West Jefferson, North Carolina  I would love to choose one of these trees.  In fact, I have seen farms in West Jefferson in the Summertime.  :)  A lot different and beautiful nonetheless.

Lake Jordan Christmas Tree Farm Apex, North Carolina in Chatham County.  We have purchased trees here and it was a dream!  We love choosing our trees and the whole process.  The Lake Jordan Christmas Tree Farm is very quaint and friendly.  They are so helpful and kind.  We had an awesome experience there.  They offer you apple cider and hot chocolate. 

Helms Christmas Tree Farm Lincoln, North Carolina  This farm is a blast year round.  Check out the parties, and field trips and more.  Love that they are open year round:  

Open Year Round for Parties,School Groups,
Tours,Wagon Rides, & Picnics - Call 704-276-1835 for Reservations.

Appalachian Evergreens of Boone, North Carolina  

Appalachian Evergreens, a family tradition.  Appalachian Evergreens was founded in 1933 by Charles Cole "Charlie" Wilcox.  In the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Western North Carolina. 

"Our real Fraser Fir Christmas wreaths, fireplace mantle garlands and other greenery are handmade with fresh cut evergreens from our local farms."
Smokey Mountain Christmas Tree  -  "is in the Smokey Mountains.  Another beautiful option in the North Carolina mountains.  Their farm looks lovely and offers many options for trees, and 

"Jonathan creek..NC near Maggie Valley, NC ..nestled atop a knoll... you will find Smoky Mountain Christmas Tree Farm. The beautiful old red barn is surrounded by Fraser Fir Christmas trees...
Fraser Fir trees have a reputation for being the Cadillac of Christmas trees and have the longest needle retention over all Christmas trees.

 Jonathan creek..NC near Maggie Valley, NC ..nestled atop a knoll... you will find Smoky Mountain Christmas Tree Farm. The beautiful old red barn is surrounded by Fraser Fir Christmas trees...
Fraser Fir trees have a reputation for being the Cadillac of Christmas trees and have the longest needle retention over all Christmas tree"

NC Christmas Trees is an awesome website all off things Carolina Christmas Trees! I was able to find Tree Farms that I have not visited by choosing the city or county, etc.  

"The mission of the North Carolina Christmas Tree Association (NCCTA) is to promote "real" Christmas Trees through marketing and education. We will contribute to the success of the Christmas Tree Industry by providing ethical, professional, and visionary leadership."

As for you, what is your favorite Christmas Tree?  Do you prefer real or artificial?  And have you visited a tree farm?

Warmly, Carolina Mama

Rayovac Battery Shopping List: Match Top Toys to Correct Batteries

Rayovac Powers Your Holidays! (and every day!)
You've made your list and checked it twice. You are ready.

Remember - Batteries! Not only Batteries - the right sized batteries!

When you are making a list and checking it twice....if you are like me, you need to be reminded to match the right battery to the right toy. 

Is it just me, there are a million different sizes of batteries.  So remembering the batteries is one thing, the right thing is another.  

Take the guess work out of the right size battery... 

Rayovac to the rescue!  Rayovac batteries created a Battery Shopping List Matching Batteries with the Season’s Top Toys.

"A recent survey by Rayovac found that 65% of moms admit they have forgotten to purchase batteries for holiday toys and gifts. To help moms with their holiday shopping tasks, Rayovac batteries created a Battery Shopping List Matching Batteries with the Season’s Top Toys."

Here is your PRINTABLE Battery Shopping List: Battery Matches Top Toys
  • Rayovac batteries offer more power for your money
Are you set on Batteries? Do you just love this list of batteries matched to the toys?! :)

Warmly, Carolina Mama

*This post is sponsored by Rayovac

Hanes Comfort Giveaway for You

We love Hanes!  Hanes is comfort, durability and family!  Hanes is a North Carolina Company!  So you can see our affinity!  Besides we all grew up wearing Hanes!

Hanes sent The Tigers new Boys Hoodie Sweatshirts just in time for Basketball Season!  So the night of first practice, I looked like the cool Mom when I pulled these out along with the new tennis shoes:

The Tigers love the soft, light-weight of these hoodies.  And they love that they are a nice fit.  Loose but not just hanging with no form - got to tell you, Mom like that too.  These are your classic sweatsuits!  They are thick enough that the boys are warm and they have that flannel type of soft feel inside. 

Hanes is great for all-American basics.  Comfort.  Classic and Dependable!  That's what we love about Hanes.  So stock up!  Hanes is having some great Sales throughout Holiday time and Free-Shipping on all orders $50 and over.  I just stocked up on basics for all of us. Now you can and Enjoy!

Hanes Basics:

  • Patented, cotton-blend fleece feels super-plush, inside and out
  • Knit with high-stitch density for low-pill durability
  • Kid-safe, cord-free hood helps block out wind and chill
  • Roomy front pouch pockets keep hands warm and lunch money ready
  • Ribbed cuffs and hem stretch for cozy fit
  • 22" long, with full, front zipper and sturdy double-stitch trim
  • Cotton/polyester
  • Imported

Hanes is Gifting one of you also!  One randomly chosen Winner will receive two Hoodies for your brood.

Enter to Win:

1)  Leave a Comment - what is your favorite Hanes product, or favorite you'd like to try;
2) "Like" Hanes on Facebook
3) "Like" Carolina Mama on Facebook
4)  Share with your Followers through: Facebook, Twitter and your Blog.

All the best to you!  What's your favorite Hanes product?! For me, it's hard to narrow it down except that I fell in love with the Hanes All-Over Comfort Convertible Strap Wirefree Bra while at BlogHer NYC! :)

Warmly,   Carolina Mama

Giveaway: Win a $500 Disney Store Gift Card by Rayovac

Perfect time of year for a GIVEAWAY of a $500 Shopping Spree at a Disney Store! :)

You can win an awesome Disney $500 Shopping Spree powered by Rayovac! Really, who couldn't use this at Christmastime or any time! :) Check it out and all the best to everyone!

*I am a Rayovac Power Blogger. I like to share all things Rayovac, Disney and Giveaway with you all!

Warmly, Carolina Mama

Fear and Faith With Max Lucado and Matthew West


> Fear and Faith with Max Lucado and Matthew West
> Does fear control you? It can
> motivate you if you remember God is in control. God bless!

Great Times At Great Wolf Lodge

Loving our time here at Great Wolf Lodge Charlotte/Concord, North Carolina!

Getting the royal Southern treatment! Great fun, food and fellowship at the MomBloggers Event!

Check a Great Wolf Lodge Water Park for your family!

Howlin' good times to you!!

Friday Fashion Find: Quick Mom Fashion for Holiday Time

Moms!  Here is my latest insight and Fashion Find.  I know, Wal-Mart.  Really though. The Tigers and I were running through Wal-Mart when I had my revelation.  Simple, inexpensive and hip fashions abound at Wal-Mart for Moms!

Don't let your children break the bank - yours or theirs - by buying you gifts.  After all, it's the thought that counts right!  So look what I found just today!

You too can find great fashion at Wal-Mart.

What are your simple Fashion Finds for Holiday time?!

Warmly, Carolina Mama

Spectrum Brands Offers you $25 Coupon Savings

Savings and Shopping Tip: $25 Coupon Savings For Spectrum Brand Products

Let the Holiday Shopping and Savings Begin...

Let's face it, the Holidays are here! That means 17 Days until Christmas! Really! Makes me excited and checking my list all at once!

One thing I have Highlighted! **** and !!!! and on my list is: "Stock up on Batteries!" So Rayovac has partnered with Carolina Mama to bring you...

$25 Coupon Savings For Spectrum Brand Products

You know our experience is that Rayovac batteries are so long-lasting and durable. The Tigers look for them and love them. We do too because let's face it - when the batteries last longer... so does the calm. :)

Rayovac has money saving offers on batteries and beyond to help you get started!

  • You get More Power for your Money with Rayovac batteries and you can also get great discounts on other products with the $25 Coupon Book in Rayovac battery packs
  • Coupon book included on select packages of Rayovac AA 24 packs and AA 30 packs good for $25 in money-saving coupons on Spectrum Brands including:
    • Rayovac Rechargeables
    • George Foreman grill
    • Remington hair care products
    • Dingo Dog Bones
    • Flex360 Flashlight

  • Rayovac battery packs are available at Target, Walmart and most retailers where batteries are sold
  • Remember Rayovac batteries when purchasing battery-operated holiday gifts - there is nothing like Christmas morning with a cool gift that reads batteries not included and Mom thought they were and all the stores are closed....

Get all the scoop on Coupons, Contests (with awesome prizes) and more on the Rayovac Facebook Page here!

Sharing the fun, this Holiday Savings Tip is published at "Works For Me Wednesday" where I submit Wednesday Tips. Enjoy!

What are your Holiday Savings and Shopping Tips!? Come on, share with me! :)

Warmly, Carolina Mama

*Carolina Mama is a Rayovac Power Blogger

Hope, Visiting My Mom and Welcome To Holland

"Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for and hope
for and expect the Lord!" Psalm 31: 24

"Hope is that thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops... at all." Emily Dickinson

Last night, I returned from visiting my "Carolina Mama!" :) And most of my immediate family including my sweet nephew and his wife and my new great-nephew, brother and his wife, sister, etc.

The story I do not really talk about is my sweet Mama being ill. It's a hard thing for all of us when any of our loved ones are ill. Though the Lord has revealed Himself to us throughout this journey.

Remember Katrina? Exactly - yes, 5 years ago. Well, it was the Spring of 2005 when our sweet mother took unexpectedly ill. It was a rapid decline that kept the Doctors working diligently to demystify. We heard words like Parkinson's, Alzeheimer's, and then "we need to do a brain biopsy."

This "road" started out as a hard sprint and progressed slowly down a winding road that seems much more like a marathon today. My sister would know, she is amazingly our mother's primary Care Giver. We are blessed! Please pray for our mother, sister, us.... (see end of post)


by Emily Perl Kingsley

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this...

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome To Holland".

"Holland?!?" you say, "What do you mean "Holland"??? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy"

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills...Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy...and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned".

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away...because the loss of that dream is a very significant loss.

But...if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things...about Holland.

... so this journey is our Holland. You know, we didn't "sign up for this." And yet does one ever "sign up" to lose a parent or two? A baby? A Spouse? Do we "sign up" for illness or loss or pain?

Yet, I always ask myself, if this is His will? If this is His "assignment" that He signed me up for - why would I want it any other way?

As Third Day sings, "My hope is in you, show me Your way...!" Thinks for your thoughts and prayers. Anyone else hearing "Welcome to Holland?"

Warmly, Carolina Mama