Monday, May 30, 2011

Kelley with an E's Delicases: Cheesesteak Omelet

Cheesesteak Omelet
Shopping List
1. eggs
2. steak-umms
3. peppers, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes
4. salsa (whatever flavor you prefer)
5. cheese
6. bread (french, regular toast, 100 calories bagels, etc.)
7. Ketchup
8. Taco sauce

The Cooking Part
1. Saute peppers, onions, and mushrooms and one chopped frozen steak-umm in small omelet skillet over medium-high heat
2. Add two heaping spoonfuls of salsa
3. Beat two eggs, add shot of water, salt, and pepper
4. Pour into pan over the veggies and put heat on medium heat
5. Use a cake spatula to lift the edges until the entire bottom is cooked
6. Use a glass plate to cover the pan, flip the egg, then add it back to the pan
7. Once egg is cooked add desired tomato slices and slice of cheese
8. Fold with spatula and leave over heat until cheese is melted
9. Slide onto plate
10. Serve with ketchup and taco sauce

Low Calorie, High Protein, and MAJOR Mmmmmm-ness!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Reality CAN Suck

But, then again, it doesn't always.

Is that possible at the same time?  Huh?

Confused?  HA!  Welcome to my world, People!

But this was today's roller coaster eye-opener.  And the best part about a ride that is so up and down is that normally, the best hill is saved for the end. 

 So true for me and my journey.

Lately, the happiness, joy, and sheer elation I feel cannot be contained.  I was working on a project after school one day and my co-hort asked me if I'd just had a fifth of Tequila.  Ummm...I hadn't.  But, the point is I am so ridiculously thrilled to GET TO live the life that I am living, that I just want to dance...and sing...and jump...and giggle...and chatter on and on about all these, I do.

And so it appears I am crazy sometimes.  So what.  Cause, I am.  Crazy in love with my God, my life, my church, my gifts, my lessons, my path, my job, my friends, my children, and (pause to thank God) my sweet, precious agape-loving husband. 

These last few weeks it is clear that I feel a LOT better....A LOT LOT LOT LOT better...and as the focus scale leans away from the physical health side of life, I am overwhelmed at how blessed I am. 


And I just want to shout to the world...


But, that euphoria had a slight slap in the face today.  I purposely say slight because through a good, strong cry, kneeful prayer, and the immense patience and love of said husband, the part of reality where I realize how immensely blessed, our children and myself are, returned quickly.

I love that part of my reality.  It is not 110% perfect; but it is 110% greater than what I thought was ever in store for me.  And probably once an hour a get that little butterfly feeling in my stomach for I am overwhelmed at the happiness I feel.


Back to the minor slap... 

And the good cry.

I am tired of faking the part of reality that is still, well, real.

My maternal family and I, for over two years, have not shared our lives.  The reasons are not, and usually aren't, the point.  But the nightmares, endless hours of tears, and pure pain are.  They hurt me.  And I suppose I hurt them.  Irregardless, though we all love each other very much, our lives are not meant to intertwine.  No matter how hard we have tried, for decades, it always ends the same way:  In painful silence.

So, I have traveled this path of sickness without them and consequently, they do NOT know me anymore.  They do NOT know my life.  They have ZERO knowledge of my reality.  I realized this, even though it should have been obvious, through my sister's words in a text I received today.

She is right about the part of her statement that said such.  I do hide my reality.  The reality of my physical health...because, although MOUNTAINS better, it is still BUSHELS away from the stamina and stature that I was at pre-Gastroparesis.

Why?  Cause it ain't pretty...

I wake up every morning nauseous, still.  It is slight, but it is there.  It takes one to two hours for the Domeperidone to completely kick in.

I have almost zero strength in my arms and legs.  I try to pick up a casserole dish and 10 steps into my school building I realize I am not going to make it.  Do you know how embarrassing it is to be 38 and have to stop on the ground to rest so you don't pass out?

My head, my heart, and my mind are better than ever.  However, they forget my body is not.  Therefore, I attempt to do things I am not ready to do...and sometimes pay for physical effort beyond the basics.

I want to exercise.  I yearn to exercise.  I need to exercise.

But, physically, I just can't.  Getting up, doing the mom thing for two kids, standing and walking for 8 hours is literally all my body can handle.  Many days...most days...I leave the school holding onto the banister a little tighter than when I came in that morning...for my legs are so very weak.

And do not get me started on food. Eck.  I have very little appetite.  I am so sick of eggs, tuna, lettuce, and vegetables I would rather starve most days than eat the same boring things.  But, I am working on livening up healthier choices and that is going to be okay...

Then there is the energy thing.  I have carbs and proteins to make it through the day..physically.  I balance milks, healthy fats, meats, cheeses, veggies, and calculate my six to eight mini-meals and eating them is usually not that enjoyable. Yet, I meticulously watch my calories to get them to at least 800 a day without going over 1200 and make myself eat.

Yet, week after week, day after day, I remain the same weight, or higher, and get more and more out of shape.

If you know me AT ALL, you know how incredibly difficult that is for me.  Yes, reality is that I love me, love my husband and know he loves me, but the reality is also, that I am sizes larger than when we met and that hurts my self-esteem.

Whether, I want it to or not.

I miss many events, including school and church. 

My paycheck was over $1,000 short this month from my days off from my recent hospital stay. Not to mention the immense amount of inconvenience and stress my time off cost my team, co-workers, and administration. 
 Oh yeah, and my husband. 

My children are often upset with me because I am too late, too tired, too boring, too mean, too strict, too "lazy", too scared to overdo it or just too sad to do whatever their next request may be. 

Qualities they rarely saw in me before.  We spend MUCH time together and do MANY wonderful is just the daily life that is oh so different for them.
I wake up every single night in a pool of sweat from the horrific nightmares that I cannot escape.  I pray.  I mediate.  I listen to music.  I read.  I have tried it all and they continue.  However, even in that nightly prison, I am just thankful that at least I am sleeping and without any medication.  And, most importantly, that my awake world is so much better than my asleep one.

Do you know how many people this illness has causes, and continues to cause, me to let down?  The weight of that at times is heartbreaking...whether it is my fault or not.

And, finally, the reality of my physical strength. 
The graphic nature of what my body goes through EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. is not made for print. 
But, again, I really am not that angry.  I am too full of gratitude that I no longer feel the unbearable pain and nausea that overtook my body for the past months, that dealing with these and other inconveniences, although annoying, no longer consume my every thought.

And on and on and on... Those are just the greatest parts of the reality that DO, in my mind, suck. 

But, I don't like to talk about that part for...

A) Who wants to hear it???
B) I truly have always been a 'focus on the positive' kinda gal!
C) When I do share, people's replies are often unnerving: "Well, at least you are not the people in Haiti."  "Focus on the positive.  We all have struggles."  "Remember how lucky you are!"  "At least your children are happy and healthy."

Duh. Duh. And Double Duh.  But it is VERY hard to remember all of that when you are trying to do your job with a trash can in your hand and the fear of the next accident on your mind.

But the D), the last reason, is why I do not focus on all that part of the reality.  Because, even though I have to watch what I eat and spend weekends resting in order to restore my body for the upcoming week, I still am "healthy and wonderful."

My mind is healthy.

My spirituality is healthy.

My emotions are healthy.

My heart is pretty healthy. 
 (Some pains just can never be erased, unfortunately.)

My relationships..especially with God..are healthy.

And all of this combined, makes the part of reality that DOES suck seem like a speck of dust compared to the part that doesn't.

And that IS wonderful.

So, the answer is yes: Reality CAN both suck and be awesome at the same time.  

Thank goodness.

Minor slap dismissed.  Back to being "healthy and wonderful"...

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Kelley with an E's Delicases: Chocolate Covered Strawberries Cake

This cake is soooo much tastier if made in strawberry season...May or June. 

The sweeter the fruit, the better.

What you will need at the store:

*Strawberry Cake Mix (and ingredients to make cake)
*1 Can of Cream Cheese Icing
* Hershey Bars or Mini-Chocolate Chips
*1 Pint of FRESH Strawberries
* Red Food Coloring

*Mix cake batter according to box directions.
*Split batter between two GREASED/FLOURED bread pans.
*Crumble one hershey bar (or MINI choc chips) and split between the two batters.
*Take a knife and go back and forth to stir up and even out the chocolate pieces.
*Bake and COOL

*Mix one can of cream cheese icing with a tablespoon of vanilla

*Slice 2/3 of the strawberries, removing the stems of course.
*Mix with red sugar (make your own with sugar and red food coloring)
*Set aside.
*DRAIN before adding to the cake.
*Dip the remaining strawberries in choc and dry on wax paper. (1 TB milk to each cup of chocolate and melt in the microwave)

*Put one cake on a plate.
*Cover with the sliced strawberries.
*Add the second cake.
*Cover with the rest of the icing and strawberries.
*Sprinkle the top of the cake with the rest of the sugar.
*Decorate the sides with the dipped strawberries!
*Store in refrigerator. Better if cooled a few hours before eaten!


(I want to try doing this with white chocolate next.  Sounds DELISH huh?)

Let me know your MMMMMMMMMMMM level if you try it!

Special Shout Out:  To one of the most wonderful, patient, kind moms I know....Anne Timberlake.  She is the mother of FIVE CHILDREN and is the one who suggested I blog my recipes.  I. Love. Her.  And I really LOVED the idea!  :O)
Eternally grateful! xoxo

Friday, May 27, 2011

I am NOOOOOOOOOO Julia Child!

You know what my first thought to that statement is, even as much as I LOVE to cook? 


I have ZERO interest in spending 22 hours on preparing a meal that has the name 'duck' in it.  However, I come from a Syrian, Italian, German, and just LOVERS OF FOOD background and therefore, LOVE (like seriously, LOVE) cooking and the joy that food brings to others.  My entire life it has been the center of all celebrations, milestones, and even hardships.  No matter the occasion in the Deep family, the question is always the same...

"What are we going to eat?"

I leaned on this celebration and happiness for so long it led me to an unhealthy obsession with food.  I spent every waking moment thinking about what I/we would eat next.  I always loved planning to eat, shopping to eat, preparing to eat, waking up early to get ready to eat, cooking to eat, and well, of course...

eating to eat.  This is where the problem came in. 

I associated LOVE with FOOD.


I am not going to expand on that 30 year heavel, but, I am however, grateful.

GRATEFUL that finally I understand the joy, blessing, and honor there is in serving others through food.

That's what I believe my family, my ancestors, were trying to teach us...and consequently, me.  All the love that goes into serving others through meals, whether your own family or others, DOES matter.  It is the obsession of overeating that was not intended.  Or the obsession with being the "perfect" size or the "ideal" weight that our country dwells in, constantly.

*Disclaimer:  I cannot type one more word with giving credit to the most confident, humble, beautiful, vulnerable, yet faithful woman I know...Brandee Shafer.  She inspires me.  More than I have words to express.  If you think I am kidding...Smooth and change your belief in Him.  I promise you will become addicted to her God Driven words...

Anyway...Food was used as far back as the Bible to bring people, followers together.  I know, whatever your religion, you have at least, heard of the story of the fishes and loaves of bread. 

And...Everyone I know, either HAS, or knows someone who HAS, a picture of The Last Supper in their home.  At the very least, almost everyone that I know has heard of it.  Supper.  Sup.  Sharing in "bread" together in a celebratory or mournful manner.  Can you imagine a day that was more "SUP" than The Last Supper?

I can't.  So, why would it not make sense that we would model our own lives?

So, the last years, especially the last 22 months, have taught me that I do not have to give up my heritage... I simply need to embrace it...and remember who I Him.  HE made me with this drive, this past, this gift, for a reason.  And I refuse to ignore it any longer.  I simply can't. 

I am finally, just embracing it.

Here it where the Brandee part comes in...

Her blog is not just to share her faith or her life...but to document...log..her life, her past, and her immense love for her immediate family....her three beautiful..and maybe future...children.

And I think that is beautiful.

So, I am a teensy, weensy, itty witty, bit, copying that idea.

I have thought of it for a while.  Ever since I watched the movie Julie vs. Julia.   I loved to cook. God made me this way.  It is HOW I show love.  I was taught this.  Every. Single. Sunday. of my life.  By Grandma Deep.  And this alone, makes me refuse to give this up, but, rather, embrace it, semi-obsess about it, and to continue to "Just Do It". and sharing...and loving through the  breaking of bread.  For, as torterous as the last, almost, two yeears has been, I am continuning to focus on the gifts...blessings...I have taken from each baby step of healing.

I finally realized I can love others by cooking...and still live a healthy life.  He made me to do such.

So I am going to blog my favorite either me, my family, my friends, or just my general SO FREAKING YUMMY category...with pictures and recipes included.


You CAN cook delicious foods, be healthy, AND eat in moderation.

I swear.  We all can.

And I just want to share that joy.

But...the more important point...God made you JUST how you are.  YOU. HOW YOU ARE.

This is not a free ticket to eat 4,000 calories a day.  But it is your pass to eat normally and "grow," as the years do.  Spend MUCH MUCH MUCH less time worrying about the extra pounds and MORE MORE MORE time loving extra on the ones He blessed your live with.

She taught me that, too.

She, being that Brandee Shafee again.

Seriously, you must get to know her.... even if through her words only...

We had dinner.(spent time together-both in brokeness and honesty-over food...ahemmm)  We supped.

And I spent moments talking about the torture I felt and the disappointment I had in myself and my weight "issues".  Brandee said, "Oh, I never worry about that."  I was stunned.  She assured me that we all had issues...just different ones...but, still I remember asking, praying, begging Him that night that I might, someday, be able to accept myself, ME, the way He had designed me to be.

No matter the weight.

And He did. 

Let me be CRITICALLY clear...I do NOT believe God made me BE SICK.  But, I do believe He utilized that opportunity, because I begged Him to, to teach me this lesson...this peace...that I had been asking for all these years: That what is on the inside really, truly does matter so much more...

If you could hear my content sigh right now...


So, for my heritage's sake, for my sake, but mostly for Austin Ryan and Chloe Sue's sakes, I shall blog "Kelley with an E's Delicases".

I just made that title up. 

Hmmm... Like, I first stated, I am NO Julia Child, but it sounds good to me (I liked Julie better in the movie anyway).

Thanks, Brandee.  Thanks, God. 

The blessings are too many to count.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

I'll Bet You a Cold Pepsi...

...that you cannot watch this and not be profoundly impacted.  It is an hour long.  It is 110%, completely, undoubtedly, endlessly worth every second of your time.  You will laugh.  You will cry.  You will have questions answered.  And you will think...

until you know.

I did. 

And with that 'thinking' I reflected on how thankful I am.

Thankful, eternally, for every single person that goes into making the weekly message happen...from Brian Hughes to Cathy Rusch to Wesley Redford to Karen Bonner. 

 It matters. Really, really, really matters.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

THE Greatest Privilege

If you were asked the question, "What is THE greatest privilege?" I am sure you would ponder and offer one of many good answers:

  • Being a parent
  • Loving your "job"
  • Your Education
  • Public Service Employment...Teacher, Policemen, Firemen, ServiceMen, etc...
  • Being an American
Now, I am not arguing that any and all of those answers are good, very good even...

...but, for me, and probably for you, (even if you don't know it...yet) THE greatest privilege is one, simple word:


"Faith without works is dead."  James 2:20

I have heard that verse for years, decades even. 
I believed it, I encourged it, lived it, and loved it.

But, it wasn't until I lost it, the gift-the joy-the privilege of serving, that I truly understood it.

It being...that verse in James.

That you can believe with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind...but if you do not act on those beliefs... well, then you might need to ask yourself if, in fact, you have that faith?

I was in a valley and simply unable to love others for Him, through serving.  It wasn't my fault and I had zero choice, but it still left a G.I.A.N.T. void in my spirit.

Sure... PowerJam suffered, Small Groups were let down, Dramas were abandoned, and many people did not receive cards, meals, visits, or e-mails...but the biggest disappointment was a personal loss.

For serving... IS. A. PRIVILEGE.

You are the winner.
You get the prize.
You walk away with a joy in your heart that can be explained no. other. way.

If you don't believe me, it is really, ummm...YOU that is missing out.

Try it.

Love someone for Him.

Because they have loved you...

Because their lives are facing a challenge...

Or because it is the only way to show someone Christ's love.

There is zero opportunity for regret. 

Oh, and, He kinda tells us to.

The happiness part is just a GIANORMOUS bonus.

Yep, it is true...the best things in life ARE free.

So, don't miss out on THE privilege. 

Serve Him today.

Just KNOWING these two girls, who serve, selflessly, fills my heart

Any chance I get to love on these two people I jump on...for they give so much, every day, for His Kingdom.
Beautiful People deserve to feel His Beautiful Love

Saturday, May 14, 2011

If YOU ever...

...contributed to my child's love of stuffed animals...

...her little heart thanks you for the immense joy you have helped add to her young seven years.

If you ever bought, gave, selected, or gifted to Chloe a fuzzy friend...adding to her insane addiction...
...which lead to an 8 hour room cleaning that erupted through the entire house...

...please. do. not. ever. do. it. again.

And, finally...

if you ever, ever, ever, ever, ever...see "me" purchasing her a Stuffed Animal, of any kind, ever again...whether at a store, amusement park, fair, or yard sale...

...pummel me.

Not a light tackle either. 

A run and dive. 

If that doesn't work, no matter how cute the sweet, furry creature is...

...even if it is the deal of a lifetime...

Knock me out cold and steal my wallet.

  Thank you.

Thank you very much.

This true, undeniable Gift blesses our lives EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Finally...I Believe


 I have "believed" in the love and power of Jesus Christ since September 13, 1987.  The first time I heard someone speak of this 'God' who would love you through all and consequently, send you people in your life that would, too... I knew, confidently, that Christ must live in my heart.

It was not a gradual belief.  It was instant.  But the trust, faith, and unwavering mindset....well, that took about another 24 more years..give or take a few days... ;o)

The last twenty-one months have literally been 'hell on earth.'

The bacteria that invaded my body not only stole my physical health, it tortured my emotional and spiritual well-being, too.

For the fact that we are all SICK of hearing and/or talking about it...I will leave out the details of my daily life over the past, almost, 2 years. 

But...they were horrible.  So horrifically unbearable on some days that I have no words...

I would wonder, ponder, ask, cry, beg, and plead to our Father as to why this was happening to me?

I could NOT believe that it was not my fault. 

The doctor's said it wasn't.
The tests, NUMEROUS TESTS, said it wasn't.
My friends and family said it wasn't.

But after 21 months of feeling sick every single solitary minute of the day...I had myself convinced that I deserved this suffering and/or I was purposely sabotaging myself to remain the victim.

I swear.  That is what I believed.  I couldn't help it.

I had tried e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g

Thanking God for all the millions of blessings that came through this illness:

1. Brian...and how he proved his immense love to all three of us.
2. Pocahontas...a daily 'family' away from my family.
3. PCC...I am unable to list all the people who loved on our family.
4. God...My relationship is so much stronger...deeper...than it ever was, for I was forced to spend so much time with Him, in prayer and reading.

And. So. Much. More.

Truthfully, the amount of pure, solid agape that was showered upon me...

Just the thought is overwhelming.


But, even through all that gratefulness, I was still not better.

So, I began to meditate by my window each morning, continuing to ponder what I was supposed to learn:

I reviewed who I was...who I am...and dug deep down inside of me...

And still, day after day, I woke up sick.

I did what all the doctors said...and it just didn't seem to matter.

Then, last week, the pain became too unbearable. 

 I was physically unable to teach, spent three days in bed, and could absolutely not take any more.

I, finally, gave in and drove myself to the hospital.

The details of this three day visit are not the point. 

Bottom Line=They sorta fixed me.

I will never be back to who I was physically and will need to take medicine, maybe, for the rest of my life...

But...I will never be back to who I was spiritually or emotionally again either.


Through this terrible illness, awful emotional struggles, and difficult spiritual doubts

I finally believed.

Believed that this 'disorder' is NOT my fault.

Believed that God is NOT punishing me for my past and its poor choices.

Believed that although 'crazy', I am not insane.

Something bad just happened.

And the result was I became very, very ill.

Unfortunately, it took me just shy of two years to have a day where I felt zero effects from the food poisoning, and caused me to lose much of my daily life.

But...what I gained from this struggle is far greater than anything I may have lost:

Financially, we saw debt...Emotionally, we cried...Physically, I lost all strength and stamina...and Spiritually, I questioned my beliefs.

However, those were, and continue to be, "things", although terrible, that I had to go through.

We all do, at some point, I suppose.

I thought I would never get over this trauma.


But, just one week later, I know that not only will I get over it...I know what I was to learn through it all.

To believe...finally.

Finally, know that I am so blessed, so loved, and so forgiven.

I truly believe that God loves me. 

He REALLY loves me.

I believe it and KNOW it.

He must. 

Otherwise, how would I have hundreds upon thousands of blessings?

Believing is such a grand thing.

My Greatest Blessings

Author's Note:  If I listed all the blessings I have in my life, especially the people who loved on our family through this trial, I would be typing for two more years. 
For, not one day...not one single, solitary day...went by, that He didn't show His love to us through the many calls, letters, cards, visits, meals, gifts, words, texts, posts, prayers, and love of our children.

Thank you doesn't cut it.

But I will have to believe that you know how grateful my heart is.

Every minute of every day.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

My Pastor Dances...

...for Jesus.

And...THAT is comforting.

When my husband, Brian & I attend the Powhatan Campus of Powhatan Community Church, the children always go upstairs to Power Jam and we sit to the far left of the stage...diagonal to the center spotlight.


I have no idea.

But today, while the band (who were AMAZING! Including, Beth Stoddard, Alex Sabatini, Sandra Moore, Nate Wheeler, Tony Stoddard, Andy Vaughn and yes, the infamous, KEVIN SALYER...if you missed church MUST go on-line and watch it!)  sang a newer song, which spoke of how the blood of Jesus saves us even when we are at out worst, and as I became wrapped up in my own time of praise, my eyes scanned the crowd from the left to the right, and I saw hundreds of people worshipping in their own, private way.

Some were singing, LOUDLY.

Some were bouncing.

Others were jumping up and down like they were at a ZUMBA class.

Several were quietly participating, rocking slightly or tapping their right toe.

Dozens, upon dozens, were stomping their feet so hard it appeared they had attended "The Minister Beth Stoddard Class for Praise and Worship", me being the STAR student.

Many had their eyes closed, hands raised, and hearts completely open to hear HIS voice.

I am pretty sure during the 5:47 song, I did a little of all of the above.

During a moment while I was taking in the entire picture of the people that I love so dearly on the stage and thanking God over and over and over again for the way each of them have touched my life...for the better..for His gain....

...I saw him.

Our Senior Pastor: Brian C. Hughes.

With the seats arranged as they were, I had a wide-open shot as Brian prepared to come onto the stage to deliver the message (which was also INCREDIBLE food for thought...again...if you missed it...GO ONLINE and watch it! which is a miracle in itself...because that is right behind bouncy, stomping, hand raising Mrs. Stoddard...

But I saw him.

Our pastor.





I pointed Susan's Brian out to my Brian and said, "THAT is why I love and trust that man so much. He isn't afraid to dance for Jesus."

Although I will admit, at times, he looked like he may have been having a 'seizure' for Jesus, but I didn't care.

Not only did I not stop to make fun of his "creative movement worship style", but I joined in on his completely free, open, and pure worship, praise, and cries of praise.

You see, he did not know that anyone could see him. 

He just knew that his sins, and all of our sins, were, and continue to be, washed away by His Majesty's crimson blood.

It. Was. Beautiful.

I, like each of you, may not always 110% agree with Brian Hughes on the grey areas...but he is 1,010% right when he speaks on the blacks and whites in the bible.

And that is why he was dancing.

"For the Bible tells us so..."

THAT is why I love, trust, honor, and believe in the words that come from our Pastor's mouth.  (And I really want to try to heed more and more to his words for I complete believe they are words of God.)

Yep, because he dances.

Who knew?

God did...

If you didn't, come visit us...we have three campuses, and four different services, on two different days.

You. Won't. Regret. It.

And neither will He.

"He" being the Big Guy Upstairs.

"Susan Hughes"...not your Brian OR mine.

This is Senior Pastor Brian Hughes and Our Children's Pastor Susan Hughes: She dances, too.  And teaches little people to do it, as well.  She is, equally, a gift to my life and to my family's lives.

Happy Mother's Day 2011

To all of those that have shared their guidance, advice, and treasured moments with me and/or my that I too, could be a mom one day...

I thank you.

For all of YOU that taught me patience, discipline, acceptance, determination, protection, pride, selflessness, grace, unconditional acceptance,  creativity, to be realistic, to crave fun, to be giving with time and money, and of course, Love.  Loads, buckets, and bushels of love...

I thank you.

Because of each of you, and so many others not pictured, I learned how to take care of, teach, guide, and love children.  And, of course, most importantly, I get the chance to practice what I've learned...what I continue to learn, on my own two gifts from God...Austin Ryan and Chloe Sue...and all of the children that, consequently, come into our lives.

And there are not enough words for the gratefulness that my heart feels for that blessing.

Happy Mother's Day :O)

Disclaimer:  The man below may not be a "mom", but I would be remiss if I did not add him to the list of people whom I must thank as I celebrate the privilege of being one today...  Without his patience, support, effortless co-parenting, and pure, immense, unconditional love I know, without a doubt, I would not be here to continue to be a part of my children's lives... 
Dimples is my ultimate gift.

My "Ecko" Boy