Saturday, July 31, 2010

Friendship a Treasured Trust.....

Brett, Cori and Little Miss Henli arrived in Sioux Falls on Wednesday to spend time introducing family and friends to Henli. Going back to Sioux Falls to spend time with the Albers family, dear friends and their Hy Vee family was a sacred time for Cori and Brett. Having both grown up in Sioux Falls, it always feels like going home. Cori called me this morning to tell me she had forgotten to tell me that Christy reads my blog, which in turn gave me the inspiration to sit down to night and blog. Thank you Christy!

It's been an extraordinary experience watching Cori embrace motherhood. Her constant care of sweet Henli is precious to watch. Cori and I talk several times during the course of the day. Everyday she sends me a new picture and we laugh about what is going on at that time. Cori is learning some days are better than others. Henli is happy some days and fussy the next. Cori has learned Henli's cries from being hungry, to mad, to just wanting to be heard. Brett is such a good daddy. The hours of sleep he has sacrificed, to be the lucky one to spend time with Henli all night is sweet. He loves and takes such good care of his girls. As a mother in law... it doesn't get any better than Brett... He is an amazing man.

Cori's return home was also a time for great reflection and greater realization. Cori has always been blessed with great friends and she herself has always been a great friend. Cori had the opportunity this past week to really experience true friendships and a greater opportunity to let go of relationships that no longer serve her well. It's difficult at any age to come to the realization that some friendships simply fade way, yet exciting to dust off other friendships which in the end are more treasured and enduring. Cori had a wonderful time enjoying the company of many 'treasured friends' and came away with a greater appreciation for those friends who have always been there.

Ethan went to San Diego with Griffin and Jackie. I am so grateful that my boys really enjoy spending so much time together. I really appreciate how Griffin is a big brother, a friend, a mentor, a protector and a great influence for Ethan. I love Jackie. She is a gem. It's fun to be around her and her family. We always have such a good time.

Kylie and I finished up summer school. We took a class together this summer, Philosophy 101.. It was a great experience. Fall semester we also have a class together... How fun... She has a good friend returning from the Dominican Republic in the next 2 weeks. It will be nice to have Jesse home.

I finished up my summer semester with a 4.0, one step closer to ASU and achieving my dream. I love school and have been blessed with such great opportunities to get involved. I am working on some incredible projects. This fall will be very busy.. but I am ready. My educational path is very clear and I am very determined. This semester I am on a full scholarship my original goal was to be on a full scholarship when entering ASU I hit this goal a year early! My hard work, excellent academic achievement and campus involvement has not gone unnoticed by faculty. It's amazing to look back and see what I have accomplished there is so much opportunity. I couldn't have come this far without the constant encouragement and support of Griffin, Jackie, Brett, Cori, Kylie, Laura and Terri. The list of friends who support me is long and treasured.

I have Nana duty this upcoming week! Cori asked me if I would come back and take care of Henli for a couple of days while she is at a meeting.... and I said YES! I will have another week back with Brett, Cori and Henli. Kylie is coming with me... we will have a blast... Nothing better or more magical than holding little Henli, experiencing a grand baby is by far one of the most rewarding experiences ever....

Life is about uncovering the treasures that await each of us. Cori I am so proud of you... Griffin... I am so proud of you... Kylie I am so proud of you... Ethan I am so proud of you! It takes courage to live an authentic life and stand firm for what you believe in. I am so proud of each of you for your character and integrity..

Dust yourself off, get back on the horse, return to the field, what ever you have to do: Life with Intensity and Purpose!

Carla

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Henli Grace Albers, June 21, 2010

Nine long months had finally passed. There were many discouraging moments of sickness, driving to doctor visits, dehydration and all around misery. There were moments of great joy, when the sickness subsided, hearing a tiny heartbeat and feeling flutters and movement for the first time. The last few weeks were difficult, sleepless nights, swollen feet and the anticipation of Henli's arrival.

On June 21, 2010 we all woke up early and headed for St. Joseph's Heartland Hospital. It was a gorgeous morning, clear blue skies, lush green rolling fields and a light mist hovering over Maryville. The drive would take 30 minutes. Cori was quiet, I understand her thoughts, concerns and excitement, I have been there. Having the opportunity to spend the week prior to Henli's arrival with Cori was special. Kylie and I had talked about this for months. Today we were going to have the precious experience of helping bring Henli into the world.

Once we arrived at the hospital, Cori checked in and was assigned a room. Once she was changed, her nurse came into to introduce himself and explain what was going to happen as they started her IV's.

It was hard to watch Cori has her pains and labor grew more intense. Cori is a strong women, she never complained about anything. Brett was such a great support for her. The two make such a great team. Within 6 hours Henli would arrive.

At 3:14 pm Miss Henli Grace Albers arrived. She was healthy, strong and letting the us know, she wasn't happy with being cold, the glare of the bright lights and being weighed and measured. The experience of being in the room with Cori, Brett, Kylie and the hospital staff was the most incredible experience to date. There are no words to describe how spiritual and profound holding your precious new grand baby is. Hearing her first cry, watching to see her parents respond and her mommy knowing exactly what she needs is amazing.

One of the great privileges of my life was to be present for Henli's birth. To watch my daughter bond with her little daughter is extraordinary. The feeling of passing the baton of motherhood to your daughter and knowing she has prepared herself well is one of the greatest blessings of my life. Watching Kylie hold little Henli as tears rolled down her face. Monday June 21, 2010 was extraordinary.

Cori also had the support of her dad, Greg and his wife Ann and her sister Grace. It was so nice to have them drive over and share this special day with Brett, Cori and Henli. Greg and I had the opportunity to reflect back on Cori's short 25 years on the planet and share treasured moments. Ann has been such a good mother to Cori as well. Cori has a very special love for Ann. It was so nice to all be there sharing in this special time.

A new baby who comes from heaven above, with hope, love and promise. Her sweet little spirit drew every one of us in. There were not enough minutes in the day to hold her. We all took turns in changing, burping, walking, rocking, loving, kissing, holding and admiring Miss Henli. We all laughed when she stretched and smiled. We all admired her dimples, blue eyes and itty bitty long fingers. Henli captivated everyone of us. Just her presence brings warmth, love and unity.

Kylie and I also had the great opportunity to spend time with Brett's parents. We so enjoyed our week end with them. Deb and Lloyd are two of the finest people on the planet.. Brett and Cori are so blessed to have such good supportive family so close. Griffin, Jackie and Ethan called daily for their updates, new photo's and video clips to hear Henli's little voice. After calling the boys after Henli's birth, I called Laura and we shared another milestone in our 30 year friendship. There have been many hard times and many more good times... Laura and I have shared, births of our own children, engagements, weddings, baby showers and now the birth of Henli. Debbie another cherished friend was one of the first to share in my good news. My dear friend Karen provided a buddy passes for Kylie and I to fly on. Karen was so helpful and joyful as I shared our great news. I heard from so many dear friends who are already grandparents... so they understand what a great 'club' I have entered into. Griffin and Ethan asked me if it was strange to be called 'grama'.... No I told them... it's wonderful. I also asked my children if they would multiply and replenish my earth... I could get really used to lots of grandchildren....

As I have pondered my life, the amazing children and opportunities I have been blessed with, I can only credit my father in heaven. Thank you dear Lord for your continued watch over my little flock, the infinite blessings I enjoy every day, the close relationships I cherish with my children, my dear friends, health, strength, the opportunity to complete my education, meeting the right people at the right time... Understanding my divine purpose. My heart is overflowing. I am so blessed.

Griffin, Jackie, Cori, Brett, Henli, Kylie and Ethan...Thank you for your love, unconditional support and inspiration... Together we have it all.

I love you all Mom....

Monday, May 17, 2010

When you follow your Bliss..........

life becomes an extraordinary journey. I have become more aware of the "why's" and less concerned with the "how's". There is no question this past semester has been incredible and the opportunities I have had the chance to experience are only the beginning. Meeting Tom Nazario was the opportunity of a lifetime. His story caught my attention late one Saturday night in late January, while I was watching channel 8.. the educational channel... The documentary "Road Trip" nation caught my eye, but when I saw Tom and heard his voice, I knew our paths would cross and they did. His visit to Phoenix April 21-22 was amazing. It's hard to describe Tom. He is soft spoken yet dynamic, he is generous with his time, yet focused on his goals. His love for the forgotten people of the world is genuine and compelling. His personal story is one of persistence and courage. The story of his life parallels those he passionately serves. We are friends most likely old souls.. He has invited Laura and I to be his guests to meet the Dali Lama in October in San Francisco. I am in the process of getting my passport renewed so I can travel to India next summer..

The second highlight was being invited to a VIP event with Dr. Jill Biden, Bob Schireman the under secretary of the Dept of Education, President Crow from ASU and countless other dignitaries. The evening was spectacular! We met at the home of Sandra Day O'Connor which is now a historical site. Dr. Biden's passion is education, the value of the community college and keeping students on tract to complete their educations. Jill Biden is a lovely person, with smarts and class. I enjoyed our private conversation.. My passion is opening up opportunities for women my age to go back to school and embrace the wonder of education. It's never to late to set an educational goal and enjoy success. I made new friends..and the experience was life changing. Jill told me how important my story is.. where there is hope and determination there will be success and prosperity.

It's amazing how the greatest challenges I have faced have transformed my life into the greatest achievements I could experience. I am so proud of my children. They are all unique, talented and incredible. Having the opportunity to raise them alone has been the greatest privilege of my life. I have been blessed with great friends who are like extended family and love my children. It's not always been easy, it's always been worth it. Watching them grow into really nice and accomplished young adults is beyond rewarding. Learning to love them unconditionally has been priceless. I am so grateful my children have been blessed with the gifts of unconditional love, forgiveness, kindness, compassion and wonder. They are my greatest inspiration and they believe in me and my abilities to accomplish my dreams.

The times in my life when I have held on to tight, were the times I needed to let go sooner. Living an unfulfilled live is easy.... having the courage to commit to my dreams has changed me life. Leaving the safety net of a miserable existence was just the first layer. Learning to love myself from the inside out, accepting my gifts and talents and choosing my path have all been a huge part of my self discovery. All in all.... my results are amazing. I feel completely alive following my bliss.

Today exercise your courage.. it's OK to be unique, be who you are, if your not sure, spend quality time with yourself. Invest in you. Follow your bliss with intensity and purpose.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day ..

It has been a wonderful day. I wanted to capture my thoughts and feelings as I am sitting in my office and my house is quiet. My adventures in Motherhood have span 27 years. There are so many thoughts, feelings and experiences that my heart is full. My children are such a gift. When Greg and I started our life together many years ago we both shared an love of children and a want to start our own family. It's hard to share the feelings of love I have for each of my children. I am so proud of each of them. Each one brings a unique dimension of love and inspiration into my life. A reward of Motherhood.... enjoying the fruits of my labors...Watching my children grow into absolutely amazing adults who are great friends in turn. They love each other, support each other, stay in close touch and really enjoy the time they have to spend together. As I spoke to Cori this afternoon, I smiled as I thought within a few short weeks she will also start her journey as a new mother.. Her role of a lifetime. Cori will make an exceptional mother. To hear the excitement in her voice touches me to my very core. I will take on the role of "Grand".... still working on that part... but grand it shall be.

To celebrate my mother, we had her come to breakfast yesterday. I made some of her favorite things, had a few of her favorite magazines to read and we watched a movie. My mom is an extraordinary woman.. Her legacy will be her service to others. I appreciate the great example she set for me. We shared some funny jokes and stories and then she decided she was ready to go home. Our stop included "Sonic" for her beloved "Lime Ricky" a simple thing which means so much to her. Learning to stop and enjoy the simple things is one of the greatest gifts of life. Life is to short not to. I am grateful for the memories of my mother I have that I will always cherish.

It's a great time in my life, as I transition from "hands on mom" to grown children living their own lives...This morning Griffin and Jackie invited us to brunch, Lisa, Jackie's mom also joined us. Brunch was delish.. the conversation was outstanding and sitting on the porch enjoying the moment was timeless. Spending time with my kids is time well spent. I love their positive energy.. I love to hear them laugh and reminisce about growing up... I love to hear them talk of the future, their families and the incredible opportunities that await them. I smile and catalog their expressions and the sounds of their laughter.. I hold them close when we hug and always tell them how much I love them. Being a mother has been the role of my life. I have succeeded in raising four of the most amazing children. A job well done.. the measure of my success is evident through the relationships we have built together. We as a family have learned to communicate through the hard times, develop a deep abiding respect for each other never resorting to undermining with criticism or sarcasm. We are not in competition with each other rather a cohesive family unit who love, encourage and completely support one another.

Today as memories flooded my mind, the constant theme of my thoughts was... How profoundly blessed and watched over I have been. The Lord has been so good to me and my children. The past few weeks have been extraordinary with the people who have come into my life and the experiences I have had. I understand the power of surrounding myself with positive and inspiring people who support my dreams. I understand the power of intention and it's role in assisting me in creating the life I know is within my reach. Dreams really do come true...

Happy Mother's Day!

Monday, May 3, 2010

May 3, 1985

25 years ago today I was resting comfortably at Alta View Hospital, my beautiful daughter Cori was born. Cori wasn't due until May 31, however on May 3, 1985 Cori decided early that morning she'd had enough.. It was time to upgrade to more leg room and wide open spaces. The morning was overcast and rainy as we started the 30 minute commute to Alta View Hospital in Sandy Utah. The decision was made shortly after I had arrived.. I would not be able to deliver Cori and would need emergency surgery. Cori arrived around 2:30 in the afternoon. She was gorgeous from the start. Her olive skin and jet black hair was incredible. I remember being overwhelmed with such emotion as I had those first few precious moments with her.

Life is funny...some days drag on and on, while others pass in the twinkling of an eye, but the years all fly by. As I pondered on the last 25 years.. where can I start? so many memories and treasured moments.. so many kisses, lots of ouchies, some girl drama, superman pajamas's, battles over wearing hair bows, blue eyes, piano lessons, turning 8, the scooter accident, 9 stitches, Hannah dog, TCBY, Gigglebees, The Empire Mall, The Gap, basketball, sleep overs, Hy Vee, driving, prom, The Last of the Mohicans, Titanic x 12 :)..friends, tears, hugs, loves, Christmas, traveling Europe, Mexico and the birds,Sex and the City, Designer handbags, shoes, Waldo's, eyebrow waxing,tanning,true love and Brett.

Cori is going to experience motherhood in June, she has prepared herself well for this moment. Cori is going to be an exceptional mother. I am so very proud of her. It's been so fun to hear her talk about the little details that make a pregnancy so grand... feeling sick, feeling better, ah! feeling the baby move, watching a 3D scan, the phone call.. MOM WE ARE HAVING A GIRL!, counting her fingers and toes, anticipation... assembling the perfect nursery, making sure every detail is taken care of. Watching her open shower presents and knowing she is feeling overwhelmed with love and excitement. Watching her grown into a beautiful young mother and been a privilege.

Cori you are simply amazing. Your accomplishments in life are many, and the possibilities that await you are endless. You have lived well, laughed much and loved with all of your heart. Continue to live your life with intensity and purpose, after all I believe you have the ability to change the world.

I adore you Cork! Happy Birthday ..

We are having a baby :>) soon!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Invitation.....and Greater Opportunity!

I was just coming off an extraordinary week of meeting Professor Thomas Nazario when I received a phone call inviting me to attend a special VIP event with local dignitaries from the Maricopa Community College system, Northern Arizona University and ASU. The special guest was Dr. Jill Biden. The opportunity of the meeting was to discuss the importance of the Community College and retaining student while preparing to transfer to a university and complete a bachelors program. I knew little about Jill Biden with the exception of her being the wife of Vice President Joe Biden. I did my research and found Jill is an exceptionally educated woman. Jill is in her 15th year at a Community College in Delaware, where she teaches English composition. She also spent 13 years in the public schools, where she was a Reading specialist and English teacher as well as a part-time teacher with Rockford Psychiatric Hospital Adolescent Program.

While working full-time and raising a family, Jill earned two masters degrees: a Master's degree in English from Villanova University (1987) and a Master's degree in reading from West Chester University (1981). And this past January, Jill earned a Doctorate in Education from the University of Delaware in 2007. Her dissertation focused on how to retain students in community colleges.

There was a small group of about 20 invited to the home of Sandra Day O'Connor located within The Arizona Historical Society Museum at Papago Park. We gathered after 5 pm for introductions and a social hour. It was incredible to see Air Force Two flying directly overhead on the way to Sky Harbor and within 20 minutes Dr. Biden and her staff had arrived and we were ready for introductions. I was one of four students asked to come and share my story of why I made the commitment to return to school. I sat next to Bob Shireman, Deputy Under Secretary with the U.S. Department of Education and Arizona State President Michael Crow. It was an amazing evening.

For me it was very interesting to be a room so politically diverse. Yet no one was wearing their party affiliation on their sleeve. The common consensus was an urgency to encourage a greater awareness of the community college and the vast opportunities and programs that await students. President Obama has pledged his support and the necessary resources to help students who are willing to commit to finishing their programs and graduate.

Little did I realize a year ago where I would be standing today... The loss of my job has turned into one of the greatest blessings of my life. The opportunities that have come my way to meet such influential people and work with them is extraordinary. I have relished every minute of this experience.

I am getting ready to close out my spring semester. I have worked hard and will have earned more than just high marks. I am learning, new perspectives, new paths to take, being open to the differences that make each one of us unique. It's refreshing to let new ideas take hold.

I am so thankful every minute of the day. My life is so rich and filled with good things! For me the greater opportunity is to live my life knowing I am my own person, free to experience all of the opportunities that await me, no longer burdened with old pattens of thought and habit that never served me well.

It's empowering to understand who you are.... it's life changing to love and accept yourself and your potential.. it's success when you apply both and live your life with intensity and purpose.

Carla

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Road Trip Nation/Inspired Email/Professor Nazario

It was been an extraordinary week. What started for me as watching a late night documentary on educational tv... turned into the opportunity of a lifetime. It was in mid January after midnight and I was channel surfing... I stumbled upon a documentary called "Road Trip Nation" which showed three college students travel across the Golden Gate Bridge to meet with Professor Thomas Nazario a Law Professor at the U of San Francisco. I can't explain what transpired next only that as he began to speak.. I sat straight up in bed, turned up the sound and was drawn in immediately. As the Professor spoke of his humble upbringing in Spanish Harlem and the difficulties he experienced as a child something struck a cord with me. After his segment was over, I grab a pen and actually jotted his name down. After another 15 minutes I could get his story out of my head so I got up and decided to google him. Oh My... His educational accomplishments are incredible, his humanitarian efforts are life changing. I decided to send him an email to express feelings about his extraordinary life and story. After about 10 days passed without hearing from him I decided to email again. In the back of my mind I was smiling thinking... Internet Stalker... Crazy Woman.... but that didn't dampen my spirits. I knew I was going to meet him at some point. So I pressed on and email again. This time.... JACKPOT... he did respond and said .... "Next time your in bay area give me a call"... seriously... even his response didn't stop me for one minute... I emailed again with gentle persistence... if there is such an animal... The good professor did indeed respond in kind.. which was the start to several phone conversations to follow and his coming to Phoenix to meet me, speak at Mesa Community College and create a presence of creating a meaningful life. On April 22, 2010 which was this past Thursday, with Laura by my side... we went to the airport to pick up Thomas Nazario.

I can't express how easy this meeting was. It's almost as if we had been great friends in a previous life. He is absolutely gracious, kind and inspiring. His presentation at MCC was very well attended by my kids, friends, students and faculty there was not an empty seat or dry eye as he spoke of his childhood, international travel experiences and then sharing "Why" he chooses to do so much for those who have so little.

Our subsequent time spend with him will always be treasured. He shared some of his most cherished travel experiences with the Forgotten children he adores. He spoke of his friendship with the Dali Lama, spending extended time with him and traveling around Tibet. He talked about his opportunity to share his work with Oprah and Larry King. In addition to his remarkable experiences, stamina and work in progress.. he is charming, witty and warm.

My heart is full today as I express profound gratitude to Tom for taking a "chance" and responding in kind to my email. His inspiration of creating a meaningful life as affected many who are in kind getting involved to share their resources to make our communities, country and world a better place. How great is the worth of one Soul? ask Tom Nazario.... and he will tell you Priceless....

With profound love and gratitude....

Live with intensity and purpose today... there are abundant opportunities to make a difference in someones life today...

A once in a lifetime opportunity to meet

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

While you were sleeping.....

I had the opportunity last night to stop in and briefly visit a friend who's son was in a nearly fatal motorcycle accident almost 4 weeks ago. Although we had communicated via face book a little bit, I hadn't had the opportunity to see her in person and give her a big hug, look into her eyes and let her know how much I love her. My friend Laurie is amazing. It's hard to describe her faith, courage and determination. Her world came to a stand still about 10 years ago as her beloved husband battled cancer and lost. Her faith never wavered, if anything she has become more reliant on the Lord. She decided to leaved California and most closer to her family in Arizona. Her story is compelling and her experiences have been challenging, yet she has never lost her faith or way. She is gracious, kind and witty. She is always one to open her home and have the "girls" over.

In true Laurie fashion, when the news of the accident broke, Laurie did what she does best. She turned to the Lord and asked her family and friends to pray... and then to pray specifically to heal his brain injury. She flew to Utah and spent the next 2 weeks by his side. Praying, Fasting and Believing.

The prognosis was grim, yet Laurie never doubted the tender mercies that continued to flow.. She thanked the Lord and continued to call upon him.. very specifically.

As Michael endured multiple surgeries, the days pass into weeks and his body started to heal. It's his brain injury that remains the most significant hurdle. Laurie continues to pray for a miracle.. she is optimistic that may just happen.

Then... a ray of hope... his being able to breathe on his own... a huge hurdle and significant improvement.. One day Michael will understand the faith, courage and perseverance his mother has developed. One day he will hear of the fasting, prayers and blessings on his behalf.. While he was sleeping.

I was thinking about life.. and what goes on behind the scenes while we are sleeping.. it's almost as if... there is a sky filled with little angels who arrive during the night to answer each prayer individually. Prayers for our families, for friends, for neighbors.. prayers for safety, good health, employment opportunities and peace. Prayers for healing, forgiveness, understanding and overcoming adversity. Prayers for change and personal growth.. Prayers to connect with God, to feel his divine presence in our lives.

Laurie and I shared a smile and laugh as we both said.. I wonder what he has been doing while he's been sleeping...

As for Laurie, she is amazing. Her unrelenting faith and courage have sustained her, while serving as a constant reminder to each of us.. That miracles do happen and are just a prayer away.. her deep abiding faith in "Eternal Families" gives her the comfort in knowing.. she has family just on the other side of the veil who are also pulling for Michael and his speedy recovery.

It's a good day to give thanks.... for life, health, love and yes... opportunities to grow..Thank you dear Lord... for keeping watch... "while we are sleeping".

Infinite Blessings

Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Baby Shower

We gathered together yesterday to celebrate Cori & Brett by showering them with love, support and little pink things. My two very dear friends asked if they could throw Cori a shower. Debbie and Laura are amazing "shower planners" and soon plans were underway to gather addresses, find the perfect invitations and most importantly to find the perfect place. Everything was planned to perfection. Cori and Brett arrived late Friday night.. It was so fun to see Cori.. she looks amazing and is such a beautiful little mommy to be. Friday was a play day as Laura flew in, we met up with my sweet niece Alex and my mom. Alex is getting married March 11 and shared her excitement and details of her upcoming wedding. My mom is so excited about her first "great-grand baby" we took her shopping and then to lunch. My mom has always enjoyed a special and close relationship with Cori while Cori loved spending time with her grandmother. We had a nice morning, following by an afternoon of connecting with Debbie, running errands and shopping for the shower. I have been blessed with such great friends...

When Laura, Debbie and I get to spend time together we make every minute count... running, shopping and talking... well into the wee hours of the morning. We also have great stories to share and many laughs to be had.

The shower was so fun... I want to thank my sweet friends who came to support Cori and Brett, for those unable to attend their cards of congratulations came pouring in.. Brett's grandparents who are wintering in Mesa.. came and joined the celebration.. they are just darling. We enjoyed seeing them so much. Karen's gift of "baby RayBan's" may have just top the gotta have list. It was so fun to have you all there... A heartfelt thank you to all who attended....

It was "Bliss" to have my children all together. What a blessing to have such incredibly nice kids. We spent the afternoon together getting in a photo shoot, catching dinner and a movie. My kids love my friends who have been such an integral part of their lives showering them with love, advice and inspiration. It's so fun to all get together and spend time talking, laughing and reminiscing. It's so rewarding to see my children growing into great friends who love, respect and support each other. The next few days will be spend together, pampering Cori and Brett, taking in favorite restaurants, spending time with grandparents and treasured friends...

I am so blessed... Today as I blog while the rain gently falls outside.. I am reminded of the truly important relationships in my life. There is nothing more important than feeling connected to your children and knowing they feel equally connected to you.. the A baby is a celebration of life, opportunity and hope... Cori, you and Brett will be such good parents. You have spent time planning and preparing, reading and getting ready... The love you and Brett share will be passed on to your little one. Your little daughter will grown up in a home where love is the foundation. Kind words, encouragement and teamwork will serve your family well. I am so excited and thrilled I am such a huge part of your joy!

A baby shower.... the perfect way to usher in our anticipation of the Stork's arrival... in June...

Saturday, February 13, 2010

"Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice!"

Ethan, Kylie and I went into Thursday with "Great Expectations"! Cori my daughter who is expecting her 1st baby was scheduled for a 2nd Ultrasound. We all made our predictions on the sex of the baby...some of us were on the blue side, while others were positive that pink would prevail. Then in a bold statement...my son in law, Brett laid his hand on table.. he proudly declared his prediction was absolutely "Pink".... Thursday morning drug on... I found myself holding my phone close for any communication come from St. Joe Missouri.... Ethan and Kylie kept calling and texting..any word? yet? At 1:30 my phone did ring and with great anticipation I answered the call... and sure enough Cori in her playful way let me know everything was great! The baby was healthy, active and smiling... We were laughing and crying when she told me, "Mom, Brett was right... we are having a "GIRL" and the tears continued to fall. Cori took Brett to lunch to celebrate "his being right"... funny how daddy's just know especially when it comes to their little girls...

My heart was filled with so many emotions.. First the overwhelming feeling of gratitude. To know that Cori is finally starting to feel better and the baby is healthy and growing strong is a blessing. One of the hard things for me is living so far way and not being able help her as she has been so sick or to see the physical changes at occur on a weekly basis so Brett snapped a precious photo (the only photo I have seen) of Cori and sent it to me. It was so fun to see her showing, smiling and giving me "2-thumbs up". Second knowing this little one will be blessed with amazing parents who have meticulously planned for her and her arrival, providing a home filled with love, a strong foundation and endless possibility and opportunities.. and finally.. coming to the magical realization that I am entering into a most cherished season in my life... A Grandmother...

It's amazing to me how quickly time passes. I have gone from being at home with 4 kids to have three grown and on their own... and just Ethan left for a moment.. Ethan is looking forward to high school graduation in May and moving towards his dream.. Time keeps moving.. and now here I am with my life ahead of me filled with countless possibilities. My sweet mom once told me she enjoyed her 50's and 60's the very most, understandably so... as a mother you start to reap the rewards of your parenting as you see your children go out into the world. For me.. this has been a most rewarding experience..

My dad picked me up from school on Thursday.. As I shared the news with him.. we both laughed... he could reflect on his two experiences of once being a father and second being a grandfather... now he is going to be a great grandfather. Today I am going to see my mom and share Cori's great news. I know how excited my mom will be. I am very grateful to have experienced seeing my mom in her role of being a grandmother. She was an excellent teacher and loved every minute of having her grandchildren around her... her lessons are now going to influence yet another generation.

My best friends have planned a "Baby Shower" and celebration for Cori in the next couple of weeks. We will all come together to celebrate life, love and possibility.

Today is absolutely Pink bliss...

Friday, February 5, 2010

Personal Responsibility.....

I was getting into my day when a story on the news caught my attention. A 9 year old girl had given birth to a 6 pound baby boy.. At first I was sure I misunderstood, a 9 year old having a baby???? I guess for hardened news reporters even this story was shocking.. I thought of my own two daughters trying to recall what their lives where like at 9. I remember church activities, piano lessons, basketball teams, softball games, sleep overs, friends, trips to the mall to hang out, talking on the telephone, watching TV and walking up to the corner for a yogurt being kids. I was saddened by the loss this 9 year old girl will be faced with through out her life especially the loss of her innocence and childhood.

My world has changed significantly since I embarked on marriage and motherhood 28 years ago. The line between black and white has been reduced to a gray matter. Entertainment has evolved into a platform of "Hollywood" activists, movies are filled with violence, language, sexual content which is labeled ... artistic and edgy. Music is filled with angry lyrics degrading humanity, sexuality and language now identified with a Parental Warning Label. TV has also evolved... no longer does "Father know Best"..... we have become a society "Lost" within "24" ... sex, violence, teenagers experiment with drugs, alcohol and sex in the comfort of your family room. Cable and satellite bring more stations with more and more of the same. Is it any wonder kids are confused, angry and desperate for attention?

I am blessed. My children who range in age from 26-18 are simply amazing, uniquely different and each focused on making their mark.. I used to think Hillary Clinton was crazy when she said, "It takes a village to raise a child" now I understand her wisdom. As a single parent I also struggled with positive role male role models for my children. I have experience many Monday Morning Quarterbacks during the past 13 years.. Those who are willing to dispense destructive criticism ... always willing and quick to point out perceived fault in my parenting abilities or choices my children had made... yet not one of them single nor what I would call a great role model especially within their own families...and never willing to walk a mile in my shoes. Yet in my village I have acquired a tremendous circle of great role models who have loved unconditionally, encouraged and inspired the possibilities of each of my children. Today I see the profound wisdom in the "Village". There is no way I could have raised my children by myself... I was blessed with great Bishops, excellent home teachers and ward members who just loved and accepted my family as an extension of theirs. To my cherished friends... you have seen each of my children grow into amazing young adults, you have celebrated tremendous accomplishments, marriage, college and high school graduations and the everyday experiences that make life so grand, and now we celebrate a baby coming... A heartfelt thank you to those who not only understand... but have chosen to make a difference in the lives of my children by feeling a sense of personal responsibility.

I have learned that life doesn't come in a perfectly wrapped package... Lessons, adversity and challenges are rarely planned for... In light of those lessons.. I have learned that personal responsibility can't be forced, or demanded but simply emulated. Like the famous poem of "Children Learn what they Live".. If a child lives in love they learn how to show love... Much the same, if we raise our children with a foundation of personal responsibility they will learn to live in the realm of personal responsibility. This does not mean that mistakes will be avoided... or the pain we experience from bad choices won't be felt.. As Proverbs... would suggest . "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." [Proverbs 22:6] For me this has meant... teaching my children to do the very best I can in light of being human.

For me, age has been a great friend. Learning can be very painful yet empowering.. Understanding can be enlightening and life changing... The opportunities for personal growth and evolution knock at our doors every day... the question is.. do we open the door? This past 7 months has been filled with incredible opportunities to reach, stretch and grown in ways I never dreamed possible.

Personal Responsibility is not a one time event... but rather conscious daily decisions that foster strength of character, integrity and the courage to live your "Personal Best".

I challenge you to live your life with intensity and purpose.

Monday, February 1, 2010

To Save A Life....

On the recommendation of a friend I went to see the movie "To Save A Life". It is an incredible journey of a young man, Jake Taylor who finds his life at a crossroads after a tragic turn of events. He has everything, is everything and is heading to college on a full ride scholarship. The movie realistically depicts every difficult "peer pressured" decision high school kids are living with and making. Drinking, Drugs, Unprotected Sex, Popularity and the Pressure to Exclude others, Teen Suicide, Cutting, Divorce of parents, Pressure of college plans, Unplanned pregnancy, Abortion, Adoption and finding room for God.

TAKE YOUR KIDS AND FRIENDS AND GO SEE THIS MOVIE.

Most of us have experienced glimpses of Jake Taylor in our own lives. Having friends, maybe being popular, facing temptations of "peer pressure", drinking, drugs, sex, feelings inadequacy..not feeling thin enough, pretty enough, not having a boyfriend, feeling like you just don't fit. Feelings of why I am here? Why do I hurt? What's in it for me?

Life becomes most difficult when we feel like no one cares or understands.

Life presents us many new opportunities and challenges every day, that is no coincidence.. Our lot in life is one of constant learning, growing and evolving into the best people we can be.

We may never be called up to save the masses... But may I suggest, saving just one life certainly changes the outcome of future generations. When we no longer feel our voice is the only one that matters, we cease to have to be right, when there is no longer room for criticizing, gossiping and exuding others ... Then the life line of love, acceptance, forgiveness, reconciling and healing lifts us out of the depths of despair.

A LIFE SAVED...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Color of Love....

According to Dictionary.com the definition of Love is:

1) a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.
2) a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a spouse, child, or friend.

As I ponder the phrases profoundly tender, passionate affection for another and deep personal attachment, I am fortunate I have experienced love on all three levels. How grateful I am for the blessing of motherhood. It's a good thing children don't come with instructions or a manual. How divine and wise is the plan of motherhood. Trial and error is the way we learn on the job. Yet we are equipped with enlarged hearts, eyes in the back of our heads, extra sensory hearing and the ability to love...unconditionally over and over.. The more love we give.. the more we get.

As women we are all unique in personality, appearance, abilities, gifts and talents. We are all similar in our uncanny ability to love, nurture, sacrifice and serve those we love. We all struggle with feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, not being young enough, thin enough or beautiful enough....I often wonder why as women we choose to be competition with each other instead of being "friends"....Ladies we are extraordinary beings... and when we work towards the common good...collectively there is not a summit that can't be reached... We have the ability to heal that which is broken.. relationships, hearts, homes and communities.

I have been invited to work on a project that is my passion. I am going to spend this semester educating the young adults on campus to "Rethinking Personal Responsibility" on sex and accountability. Can you imagine what our communities would be like if there were no unplanned or unwanted pregnancies? What would our community look like if young women and men took pride in their appearance and choose to dress modestly? Can you imagine a future where young adults respect each other and no longer seek to engage in abusive or unhealthy relationships? I don't have unrealistic expectations of "saving the world", I understand how great the worth of "one" soul is. To help one soul..is work well done.

If the greatest need we all have is to be loved and accepted.. what would happen if each one of us made a conscious decision to love more, judge less and forgive others yet ask nothing in return? Out of small things... proceed that which is great.

If you ever wonder if one person can make a profound difference within our world... I would like to introduce Nancy Brinker, she is the sister of Susan G. Komen, she has taken on Breast Cancer and painted our world PINK.. has created a brand awareness,and a foundation that has impacted the way Cancer is researched and fought.. One woman with a passion, a cause and momentum will change the world and those around her every time.

The color of our skin will vary, we may come from different cultures and different parts of the world.. but the commonality we all share, are enlarged hearts and the ability to see the color of love around us...

My dear sisters... join with me...

~ You must be the change you want to see in the world.~
Mahatma Gandhi


I would love to hear from you!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Women supporting Women...

While the rains came and the winds were a howling... I was able to take a day off..from my normal schedule..so I pampered myself... I slept in... which for me is a treat, a delicious feeling of self care and renewal. As I was waking up I could hear the rain laughing, falling and making the joyous sounds of free fall dropping from an angry dark sky...as I enjoy the sounds of the rain, my body was telling me a delightful herbal tea would be a nice addition to an already lazy day. I grabbed my robe and slippers and made my way to my kitchen... Once I was up and moving it was easy to start multitasking in making a little something to eat, while flipping on the dryer, folding clothes and taking a moment to sit down and enjoy the warmth of my tea cup between my hands. As I was sitting in my down filled chair with my feet up sipping my tea.... I reflected the great blessings of my life... I was sitting in my home which is beautiful, warm, clean, furnished in my "eclectic style" with smells of clove bud and cinnamon filling each room with warmth and fragrance. I have food to eat, clean clothes to wear, a hot shower that beckons me daily.. I am pursuing my dreams of completing my college education. I am in new season in my life, with only one child left at home, my life is filled with new opportunities that are now within my reach.

As I watch the TV coverage of Haiti.. my heart is heavy, I watch the video coverage, still photo's, I hear miraculous stories of survival, new life, perseverance and compassion. My heart is sick as I have watch those who have died, lining the streets, images of mass graves, little ones who's lives were cut short. I read about Sandra Bullock, Brad Pit and Angelina Jolie, Leonardo DeCaprio giving so generously. I watch and hear of George Clooney organizing a Tele-thon to raise money and awareness to the enormous need of those suffering in Haiti. I wonder why this level of humanitarian effort is not felt everyday in our country, let along our communities.

With unemployment levels staggering in our own back yard, many I personally know are losing their homes as they struggle with financial ruin, marriages crumbling, broken hearts, shattered dreams, a feeling of complete and utter loss. As I talk to those who's lives are being profoundly changed... I feel there is much we all can do to lighten the emotional, financial and spiritual loads are sisters carry. Can you imagine a community where everyone of us works collectively to enhance the lives of those around us. Women helping women.. working together in a spirit of accomplishment not competition... We as sisters can change the landscapes of our communities. I am a firm believer of the power of one... teamed with the power of others makes for a strong unbroken chain of women who not only love each other, they love their families, love and serve in their respective communities, understand the profound nature of unconditional acceptance, love and service.

Just think...right inside the walls of our own homes, outside our front doors there are endless opportunities for us to make a difference every day... In an individual way... Once small act of kindness, love, charity can and will change the lives of those around us...

This week I challenge you.... Go ahead and make someones day... Smile, interact with your families, friends, neighbors, engage in random acts of kindness for those who you don't know, who really are in great need....

I understand the power of the little things! Go and report back! Share your experiences... Power in motion!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Flutter + Excitement = Great Expectations!

Cori called me Saturday night and said..., "Hey mom, I think I just felt the baby move!" she said... it felt like "Flutter".. I can't even begin to express how treasured our conversation was... My beautiful daughter is expecting a baby of her very own. To hear the excitement in her voice, brought back such sweet memories of my own... Cori has been very sick, but always optimistic. We touch base about everyday to talk about how she is feeling, colors for her nursery, names for the baby... and of course... the big question.... Will she have a boy or girl? A baby shower is being planned in Arizona... we are all looking forward to seeing Cori and celebrating with her! It's a season of miracles...

My heart is overflowing...as I count my many blessings. We gathered this past week.. Tuesday evening... January 12th...to celebrate another milestone! Kylie turned 21. It's hard to imagine I have three children well into their 20's.... Yikes... It was so fun to see Kylie with her cute girlfriends... Kim who was so willing to help me, She has been such a good friend of Kylie's. Griffin, Jackie, Ethan, Emily, Brett, Erin, Kelsey, Hannah, Lee, Evan and others gathered to share great pizza, Sugarmama's Cupcakes, stories, laughter and celebrate her advancement into adulthood. ...It was so great. Last Friday night.. Kylie and I had a chance to spend some quite time really touching base. I am so proud of the gorgeous young woman she has become. I admire her faith, goodness and optimism. Moving in with roommates has been a great experience.. It's been fun to watch her decorate her apartment and really enjoy creating her own space.

It's just Ethan and I.... Ethan is about to turn 18... he will be graduating from High School in a few months... hard to believe... I have successfully raised my 4 children.... BRAVO! and the best part is... Griffin, Cori, Kylie and Ethan are all incredibly nice human beings... each believing they have the ability to change the world!!! How great my joy is.. when I look at my children, how humbled I am to know I have had an influence in their lives. How blessed I am to have such good relationships with each of them.

Spring semester starts for me in the morning. I am thrilled and ready to learn many new things... I am so blessed to have this opportunity to be back in school.

Thank you dear Lord...for your watchful eye, unconditional love, unwavering inspiration and entrusting me with motherhood. I am proud to report.. I have chosen to develop my many talents and gifts... I am making good use of my time here on earth.. I am making a difference... I love you dear Lord and express my profound gratitude for every one of my blessings!

with love...

Carla

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Happy New Year!

Oh my time does fly by....This year I enjoyed "the holidays" more than anytime I can remember. December is such a magical time..each day was filled with wonder, opportunities to serve and time spent with my children. Kylie and I spent an evening baking cookies, talking about life, love and possibilities...Ethan and I spent an early morning shopping which concluded with breakfast at Starbucks. As we sat there talking about the many things we were going to accomplish...I looked at him and said come Ethan we need to go.... Ethan is an old gentle soul... he looked at me and reached across the table to hold my hand and said..."Mom, everything else can wait... can you and I just take a moment." I stopped my self...and decided to hop back into that precious moment.. just he and I. As a mortal... I am not sure just how many roll over minutes I signed up for in my heavenly package... I do know there are moments and then there are "Cherished" moments. I was in that divine realm of "Cherished" moments. Ethan and I did take that moment to talk about relationships, life, dreams and the future... Had his wisdom not interceded on my busy behalf...I would have missed a treasured opportunity.

I spent time with my most cherish friends. My dearest friend just happened to be in town over my birthday week end... we had an amazing time... it's hard to image 25 years as passed since we first met. Laura is more than a friend... she is my soul mate sister. Her belief in my abilities, support not only to me and my children has been unconditional and always based on love. I am so blessed. My dear friend Debbie opened her home to host a birthday party for me, she is amazing. Not only is she a fabulous hostess she also has provided a foundation of love, friendship and advice for me and my kids. My dear friend Terri is always there to support...talk... help... My dear friend Stephanie and Marty came to my rescue as my car needed repairs..they immediately contacted me to let me know I could use their truck as long as needed. Not only have the Kurtz family been great friends.... they have also become family. Marty and Stephanie have both been a profound influence in Ethan's life. The Lord has greatly blessed our family this past year with new friends. My dear friend Karen... it's hard to express the fun and connection I feel for her. She is amazing. We had the great opportunity to enjoy many evenings together... we love movies.. and we laugh out loud.

Christmas Eve my mom and I were busy wrapping presents, baking and taking time out to watch favorite Christmas Movies.... My parents had a great time and we loved have them.... Kylie, Evan, Ethan and I decided to take in a late movie Christmas Eve.. We saw the Blind Side... Excellent...If you ever wondered if love can change lives... go to see the movie.

Christmas day was spent with Griffin and Jackie joining the rest of us... we had a great time. It's hard to express my feelings about my children. I am so very proud of the incredibly nice people they are... They love and respect each other..enjoy the time they are able to spend together. It's a blessing to have great communication with each and every one of them. It was a day I will ponder in my heart....

Cori and Brett were unable to join us... they spent Christmas in St. Louis with Greg and Ann. Ann had made special arraingments for Cori to have an Ultrasound done while she was there. Cori actually text messaged the three dimensional scans to me.. it was truly amazing. Cori and Brett will be here in the next month to thaw out... and Cori is just starting to feel better. It was very emotional for me as I heard her telling me how amazing it was to see their baby.... she will make an good mommy... It's so fun to hear the excitement in both her and Brett's voice.

My life continues to be richly blessed... My children are healthy, happy and accomplishing their dreams. Cori will become a mommy for the first time. Ethan will graduate from high school..My nest is growing smaller...yet my family is enlarging all the time... My schooling has been such a blessing and great opportunity. I am meeting very interesting people and learning so many new things.

Happy New Year to all!

Carla