Happy New Year's 2010 to You!

My little collage from Facebook is tiny. And honestly I post more photos on my blog... nonetheless, here's My Photos 2009 on Facebook!

Happy New Year from the Carolina Mama Family to yours!


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Thanks and Giving Campaign with Marlo Thomas

As 2009 comes to a close, I was so happy and moved by Marlo Thomas on The View today! Her father founded St. Jude's Children Hospital for terminally ill children. And now Marlo has created this amazing foundation for those in need.

Are you aware of this Campaign? Which charities do you like?

"Give Thanks for the Healthy kids in your life, and give to those who are not."
Thanks and Giving Campaign


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North Carolina Homeschool Moms Conference

2010 is shaping up nicely! And I have something exciting to share with you. In March, March 12, 2010, there will be an awesome Mom Heart Conference.

"Hearing the best of God's heart for Motherhood!" by Sally Clarkson

Whole Heart Conference, Raleigh, North Carolina

Love Sally Clarkson's "I Take Joy" blog. There are so many wonderful topics there. She shares about family, faith and her heart for homeschooling and moms in general. Check her out. And plan to see her in person this March.

Believe me, there are so many calls and demands upon moms in today's society. It is refreshing and encouraging to meet a mom who encourages us to serve our families. Raise our children as unto the Lord. And more.

Will you attend the Conference? Check out her books and resources at the very least.


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The Decade In Three Minutes

Let the reminiscing begin. This is poignant. What were your big moments this past decade? I'll be sharing mine soon. For now, here's what Yahoo allowed.

The Decade In Three Minutes via Yahoo


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Breath of Heaven - Merry Christmas

It's Christmas Eve and this song, "Breath of Heaven" by Amy Grant really caught my attention at the Christmas Eve Service tonight. I remember getting a Gift Book CD the year it came out. Now, listening to it as a Mother - it has a completely different meaning.

You remember how music moves my soul..... Tonight continued the tradition. Expectantly, O Holy Night made me cry. And I can't help it, I love it that much.

Unexpectedly, "Breath of Heaven" took my breath away. As I sat surrounded by my precious husband and boys and a church family that shows me heaven this side of earth, I was overcome by the words of Mary in Breath of Heaven.

Because I feel this every day. I feel like Mary... saying... "hold me together!"

There's no comparison to Mary the mother of Jesus and yet I feel her words most days, "I am frightened
by the load I bear." It's a strange revere I have for parenting these boys. And this song put it into words for me. 'Be forever near me!"

You can listen and read and be moved as well....

Here's wishing you all the wonderful wonders of this Christmas day. Merry Christmas to each and every one. You know I get nostalgic and love thinking about what a phenomenal year this has been. I'll save some of my reminiscing for New Years!

"Breath of Heaven" by Amy Grant
I have traveled
Many moonless night
Cold and Weary
With a babe inside
And I wonder
What I've done
Holy Father
You have come
Chosen me now
To carry your son

I am waiting
in a silent prayer
I am frightened
by the load i bear
In a world as cold as stone
Must I walk this path alone
Be with me now
Be with me now

Breath of Heaven
Hold me together
Be forever near me
Breath of Heaven

Breath of Heaven
Lighten my darkness
Pour over me, your holyness
For your holy Breath of Heaven

Do you wonder
As you watch my face
If a wiser one, should of had my place
But I offer-all I am
For the mercy-of your plan
Help me be strong
Help me be
Help me

God Bless and Merry Christmas! May God bless us each and every one!


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Yes, Virginia There Is A Santa Claus!

Yes, Virginia There Is A Santa Claus!

Eight-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of New York's Sun, and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial Sept. 21, 1897. The work of veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church has since become history's most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies, and other editorials, and on posters and stamps.

"DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
"Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
"Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.'
"Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?


VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

My mom always read this to us! She encouraged our childlike wonder of all things imaginary and Santa! Even in the midst of her planning to 'deliver' the goods of said Santa to her five children! She and my Dad were just like Boogie and Bacall - they had it all!


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Holiday Homeschool NCSU Veterinary School Field Trip

Who says we can't end the semester with a bang! The Tigers love animals. So they were more than thrilled to get to go on the North Carolina State University Veterinary School field trip with a group of home education families in our homeschool group.

I have to admit, I was pretty jazzed about it also.

NCSU Veterinary School, North Carolina

NCSU Vet School field trip was a stellar experience. They were so good to us. We had a great group. And our weather was absolutely perfect. The field trip was partially outdoors and partially indoors. Another group from our homeschool community had done the same field trip in November and unfortunately for them, it was raining the entire time. So we knew the disadvantages if it rained. We did not have to worry about that.

The class was awesome...

Yes, the Tigers are talking, more than ever, about becoming Veterinarians!

They were fascinated with the Horse and Pony that played endlessly - and the braid that the students put in the horse's mane.

We could not have ordered more perfect weather. Or happier 3rd Graders.

I think they would be happy with this field trip on a weekly basis. We really did learn a ton.

Did you know a Giraffe's neck is the same length as ours/a human's?


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Christmas, Holidays and Weight Watchers Girl

Apparently, we're all working to keep it together in the eating department this Holiday Season! Thanks for the thoughts and comments and questions concerning my Weight Watchers Girl plans over this most wonderful time of the year!

Fortunately, I have some good news to report. My plan to hold off on most of our Christmas baking until this last week - is working! Can you hear me, it's working! And did you hear what one of my sons and I came up with to help with the over-load on Christmas cookies calories?

We're making our Christmas favorites - in half batches! That's right!

All the goodness of our favorites without missing the family fun and tradition. Another tip that helps me, is that I ate a few of my favorites the night we made them and told myself no cookies tomorrow. And it worked ... until ...

The doorbell rang... and another cute couple - newly weds in our neighborhood - delivered a lovely Christmas Cookie Plate and Christmas CD! And of course, as reality would have it, her cookies were different than all of mine. So yes, I indulged.

Only after my good choice to go to my Spin - Cycling - Class that afternoon! It felt so great to stay focused and go to my class I really enjoy - love.

It's like my first aerobics class instructor used to say, "Everything counts!" So yes, that class really helped me stay away from the extra eating. I did indulge in three cookies but that's way better than other choices I could have made.

Remember my little WW Ice Cream Novelty Giveaway (sponsored in Nov.)? Even if you didn't, check out one of my favorite ice creams they have. These are so satisfying and tasty! And 1 Point! If you're like me, I enjoy ice cream year round. Just for fun, I wanted to remind you about these...

WW Novelty Ice Cream

Please let me know some of your tricks for staying slim this Holiday season?! It is fun to share ideas. And by the way, I was down 2 .lbs this week at my WW Meeting! Yes! I'll take it - worth every effort.


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Waiting For Christmas...

Waiting For Christmas

... tired Twins after the amazing Christmas musical...they worked really hard... and did great with their narration parts... I think I can see "whew, glad it is over and it went well!" in their eyes. Or was it "Time to get home and make Hot Chocolate!"


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What Faith Looks Like in the Midst of Great Loss

My blog is reflecting life lately. It is not all fun and games and Giveaways and Trips! I am thankful for the other Christian moms in this community and how we can share life together even in the midst of great challenge and loss. We are not just another number, or click, we are genuine associations, colleagues and friends! What a blessing!

This email is from Melanie of Bella-Mella Andrew's Mom. In the midst of this great loss of their precious son, Andrew, the family continues to praise the Lord who gave them this son 12 years ago.

Subject: From my mom (sent by Melanie's daughter)

Dec 16, 2009
Andrew smiles in heaven now

Our beautiful, precious Andrew passed from this earth to heaven yesterday. He was scheduled to start treatment yesterday, Dec. 15, but the aggressive tumors grew too fast. He had been sleeping next to me for weeks and he woke up around 1:30 a.m. Monday morning complaining of a terrible headache. He vomited and asked to go to the hospital, knowing it was the only way to get the pain relief that he needed. A cat scan revealed that his brain was full of the cancer and there was nothing medically to be done for him. Soon he was unaware of anything, although we believe his spirit was aware of our presence.

We stayed beside him and soon family and friends gathered in his room. We prayed, cried, loved on him and told him everything we wanted him to know. We were privileged to have him in our family for 12 years.

We sang and we kissed him. He was not able to breathe on his own. After removing the breathing tube, he never even tried to breathe. Soon he was no longer with us. I lay beside him in the bed and loved him. The nurse and I bathed his body. I gave him his first bath and wanted to give him his last.

Thank you so much for your outpouring of prayer, love and support in so many ways. I will be posting pictures of Andrew at some point. They are pictures to celebrate his precious life with us. I told our children yesterday that we will always be a family of 5. Andrew just made it to heaven ahead of us but I know it won't be long until we join him there. This life is just a breath. God is good.

May we all have a faith like this. Often Christianity is made to look glamorous, and just this Sunday our pastor preached about the suffering of Christians. Christians are not immune from suffering and trials, we do have a Savior to carry us through!

Do you know Him? Please follow the links in my About column above or email me if you have questions about a personal relationship with Christ. God Bless and keep you.

*Posted at "Works For Me Wednesday!" Christ works for me and I want Him to for you as well!

Please continue to pray for @Military_Mom from yesterday's post.

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Prayer Warriors Arise - These Families Need Your Prayers

Friends you know our community - the mom blogging community is a whole lot of fun. We're not only fun but we have been blessed with amazing friendships and connections, too. Some of you have been praying along with us for Melanie's sweet son, Andrew. Please see the update below.

Also, a new friend, Shellie, on one of my mommy blogging teams, just lost her precious 2 year old son. Please read and pray along for these families in this time and especially at Christmastime. God Bless you! And in the words of Shellie herself, "Hug your children closely!"

URGENT! From Bella Mella's friend Lisa Chats regarding "Praying for Andrew!"

Bloggy Friends!! Please pray for Andrew right now. I just received a text from Melanie and the doctors don't give Andrew much time. Maybe hours.

We know who holds time in His hands. We know who numbers Andrew's days and has his life planned out from beginning to end. We long to see Andrew experience the goodness of the Lord and complete healing in the land of the living! We are asking for Andrew's healing. A healing that will be used for God's glory, spreading His fame everywhere, all over the earth! I am praying that God will rise with healing in his wings and Andrew will go out and skate like Tony Hawk on steroids!! Let's stand together in victory. Andrew's victory. Melanie's victory. The Lord's victory. Amen!

But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall. Malachi 4:2

Also, please pray for Shellie and Family in Florida - they lost their 2 year old Baby today due to a pool accident.... unspeakable.


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Great Wolf Lodge - Concord, North Carolina Snowland & More

Concord means Harmony! And there was a whole lot of harmony this past weekend...

Arriving at the Great Wolf Lodge in Concord, North Carolina!

The wonder of it all. May they always carry this joie de vive!

The Staff at the Great Wolf Lodge were so accommodating! And friendly! The gift bags and DVDs on the desk behind them Welcomed the Mom Bloggers to the Great Wolf Concord! We love our keepsake Caribou Ornament for our Christmas tree!

We let the kids get start swimming while we waited for them to get our room ready.

Here's my Animoto of the trip... some of our family favorite memories, a little shopping and great friends!
Great Wolf Lodge Concord, North Carolina

Here's a favorite Mommy moment and at Great Wolf Lodge, there are many of these memories! We loved our family time here.
Carolina Mama & Twins

One of my favorite amenities of the Lodge was the lovely Arm Band that was your Room Key! Yes! Check this out, here I am opening my room with a swipe of my wrist! It was so awesome to say, going to the room, and in the instant when you go who has a key, or reach for your purse, voila! the room key is on your wrist! It is waterproof so you're set the whole time!

The next morning all the mom bloggers and our families were invited to a wonderful and abundant Breakfast Buffet and we got to hear and meet the band Highway 101 who have won Country Awards in Nashville! They were so nice and it was special to sing "Joy to the World!" and "Away in A Manger!" with them! Here is Nikki Nelson leading us all...

Joy To The World!

Carolina Mama loves her mom blogger friends old like One Moms World and Real Life Sarah and new like this picture.
North Carolina Mom Bloggers

Then we all sang "Happy Birthday!" to the Mayor Scott Padgett of Concord! He was at the festivities the night before with Santa Claus and the lighting of the tree! It was also the birthday of the son of Eve White of Charlotte Parent! So there were lots of smiles and well wishes going around!

Happy Birthday Mayor of Concord, NC!

We stayed at the Wolf Den Suite and it was fascinating for the twins and us! Here's what it looked like in our Den at night!

One Tiger exhausted from the fun day and watching the flat screen in the 'wolf den'

Here is the Howling Tornado Ride that actually changed our boys lives... and ours! Too fun! You'll also enjoy this video actually uploaded by Great Wolf themselves. It is more in depth than mine so enjoy! And go, book your family vacation!

Great Wolf Lodge Concord, NC

Great Wolf Lodge is perfect for a family vacation and getaway! There truly is something for everyone! Have you visited a Great Wolf Lodge? What's your favorite Water Park?


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*Thank You Great Wolf Lodge PR for sponsoring this trip. They believe in the power of moms and know mom bloggers share what works for their families. They did not require me to write about the trip. I chose to write and share what an awesome 5 Star Trip we enjoyed!

Tips: Best Gingerbread Boys and Girls by Paula Deen

Christmas brings out the fun! And we love Gingerbread in our home. Whether it is a simple Trader Joe's homemade loaf or this amazing Gingerbread Recipe from Ms. Deen! It's tradition! This year I'm on the fence about the Gingerbread House or these Boys and Girls!

Gingerbread Boys and Girls
by Paula Deen


2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 cup molasses
3 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting work surface
2 large eggs
1 stick butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1-2 tablespoon milk
Food coloring as desired

Using an electric mixer at low speed, cream the sugar and butter until thoroughly combined. Add the eggs and molasses and mix until combined. Sift together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and combine with a spoon or spatula.

Remove the dough from the bowl and wrap in plastic wrap; place in the refrigerator until firm, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Allow the dough to sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes, until pliable. Take about 1/2 cup of dough at a time and roll onto a floured board until about 1/8 inch thick. Cut out with gingerbread boy and girl cookie cutters. You can reroll the scraps. Using a spatula, transfer the cookies from the board to the prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 10 minutes, until just beginning to brown at the edges. Transfer to wire racks to cool. To make the icing, combine the confectioners’ sugar and milk. Divide the mixture into thirds; leave one-third white, and color one-third green and the final third red. Decorate piping eyes, mouths, buttons, and bow ties. Recipe courtesy Paula Deen This recipe is one of our Gifts from the Kitchen. Click here to see other Gifts from the Kitchen.

Tasty and pretty, the perfect cookie to bake with your children or grandchildren! What are your Gingerbread traditions at Christmastime? If any... at least, I didn't ask about Fruit Cake Y'all! :) This Best Gingerbread Tip is posted at "Works For Me Wednesday!"


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