Monday, October 20, 2014

He Did It

This month we celebrate Down syndrome Awareness month and Developmental Disabilities Month. We honor the month by walking in Buddy Walk Atlanta put on by the Down Syndrome Association of Atlanta. (You can still support our team!) 

The day is like a giant family reunion of the close community of people who know what it is like to love, care for, be challenged and inspired by a person who has Down syndrome, also known as Trisomy 21. We walk in support of our son, Joey.



Each year, I learn more about life from my son. It was the day before Buddy Walk this year when I had an occasion to observe the sweet tenacity that I know will help my son achieve great things in this world. 

Tenacity, or sticktoativeness, is a character trait I admire a lot and I believe it can have a huge impact on how your life turns out if you don't have it.

It was late in the day, and the crowds had thinned at at our church fall festival. We wanted to have the kids expend some energy, so we went to the bouncy houses. They all love them.

They immediately gravitated to one that had an obstacle course, climbing wall and slide. My son made it through the obstacles, but I was worried he would not be able to climb the ladder.

You see, people with Down syndrome have lower muscle tone. This means they often have to work harder on physical tasks and it may take longer to learn physical skills. 

So when it came to the climbing wall, Joe had a challenge. He faced it head on trying several times to get past that first step, each time with determination and hope. After getting a little help by his sisters, Joe was eager to try again, on his own. 

He climbed without worrying about who was behind him, who was passing him (accomplishing the task better than he) or who was watching. When he slipped, he started climbing all over again with a big smile to boot! It did not take him long to literally learn the ropes and soon he was climbing all on his own. As he neared the top, he turned and said "I did it!" Yes, buddy you sure did!!! 




Saturday, October 18, 2014

Bouquet of Love Smells Sweet

As a Revell book review blogger, I had the opportunity to review a light-hearted Christian romance by Janice Thompson titled A Bouquet of Love.

Set in Galveston Texas, it is the story of a Greek family, led by a patriarch who moves his family and business to the island to open up a second family restaurant. 

Already entrenched in the island is a large and vibrant Italian family who owns the pizzeria across the street.

Conflict ensues when Pappa Pappas decides he will steal all the customers away from the popular Italian restaurant across the street and declares its owners, the Rossi family mortal enemies.

Cassia Pappas is s dutiful daughter who followed the family to Galveston even as she should be embarking on her own course. With a desire to go into the floral business, Cassia's dreams are poised to come true when she is asked to help out at the local floral shop. It is here she meets and befriends several members of the Rossi family.

A third source of tension comes from the budding romance between Cassia and a Greek nursery owner who supplies flowers to the shop.

A sweet romance, with plenty of tension and comedic undertones, the book explores themes of independence, following self or staying within family expectations, friendship and family. 

The book was engaging and reminiscent of My Big Fat Greek Wedding. It would also be appropriate for teenagers. 

Have you ever taken a path different from what was expected of you? 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Blessing of Allume

Wow. I have taken a break from my blog routine these past months because of major changes in our life at home. In May, my husband went back to work full time and I left the PR agency I thought I would be at until I retired for a new opportunity God had in store. I launched Sheran Communications with a focus on helping causes communicate and within two days I signed my first client working as a contractor 20 hours per week managing web and social communications for All About Developmental Disabilities (AADD). Now, you may know this subject is near and dear to my heart as I have a son who has Down syndrome. 

I cannot tell you what a blessing it was to spend the summer working part-time for AADD and having so much home time with my kids. As summer ended, I began to take on more clients and more responsibilities. I recently went on board as an employee with AADD as its director of marketing and communications, and with a flexible schedule, I am able to keep my business going to and have been learning to juggle my work responsibilities and all the kids activities. Needless to say, the past nine weeks have been a blur of activities, deadlines and craziness! 

I am writing a lot! But I haven't been able to nurture this blog or my business blog or quite honestly myself and my family. With change, comes chaos as we figure out how the new pieces all fit. While it seems to be coming together, I am really looking forward to next week, when I leave for a three day Christian blogger conference called Allume. It will be my third time attending and I'm really looking forward to the friendship, teaching and challenge I will experience over the weekend. 

I know I'll be refreshed, inspired, I'll meet amazing women and make new friends, I will grow in my writing, I will be challenged, I will find great causes to support. These are just some of the things I am looking forward to about Allume. This year I am attending with my friend Kristy McCarley, founder of Shazzy Fitness, a Christian Hip Hop Dance DVD series and the lead choreographer of the series Apollo Levine. I am ready to get my groove on with them and share the hospitality of fitness with the women of Allume.


For my Allume friends who are packing, here is a packing list that should help you out. And don't forget to pack your dancing shoes and follow #ShazzyFitness for pop up fitness opportunities during Allume.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

September is Build A Better Breakfast Month

September is noted as "Build a Better Breakfast Month." Since we are also back into a season of hectic schedules and I have embarked on a 90-day fitness challenge, I thought I'd share one of my breakfast secrets. I like to make egg muffins in advance on Sundays so that I have a protein-packed, quick breakfast for us to grab and go on hectic mornings.
First, I combine eggs, a little water (some use milk), salt, pepper and whatever veggies I have on hand that I can dice and chop. Whisk until blended. I sometimes include some ham, turkey or bacon as well and sprinkle cheese on top (Feta is great). 

 Pour mixture into a liquid measuring cup and then pour into muffin tins (I like using silicon muffin cups). Bake at 400 for about 20 minutes.

The egg muffins just pop right out. Store in fridge and they are ready when you need a quick breakfast or snack.

Enjoy!



Saturday, September 13, 2014

I'm Going to Allume with Shazzy Fitness

I am very excited that I get the opportunity to go to Allume again this year through my sponsor Shazzy Fitness. I have posted a review on the Shazzy Fitness Christian Hip Hop DVDs previously. You can learn about its creator Kristy McCarley on the Allume Blog this week.




I recently began two 90-day fitness challenges (any help I can get right?). One challenge is through my work and I have teamed up with a co-worker. We have the incentive of the opportunity to win cash if we are a finalist. The second challenge is the Bikini Body Mommy 90-Day Challenge. Bikini Body Mommy sends 20 minute workout videos via email everyday that I am committed to doing but for fun and stress relief, I am adding in some Shazzy dance sessions, as well as yoga, to the mix.

I'll share more about my diet plan in an upcoming post. The holidays are coming. Time to get your groove on!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

September Date Night Idea: Go See The Song

So, I haven't been blogging here as much during this busy season of launching my own business and transitioning to working from home and taking over the after school duties with the kids. I have so much I want to write about, such as my experience at the National Down Syndrome Convention this summer and reviews of all the products I brought home with me. So, please stay tuned.

In the meantime, I thought I would share about a movie I had the opportunity to preview earlier this summer called The Song. It is a real and gritty film about love, passion and getting lost in ambition. It is also about brokenness and restoration. True to its title, the film is a bout a singer/songwriter, Jed King, who finds sudden fame and all that comes with it. In the process, he loses himself and drifts far away from those he loves and the promises he made to them.


Filmed on location in Nashville and Kentucky, the movie showcases a strong musical score to guide us along a moving and at times haunting storyline. This film was really well done. It opens in theaters September 26. Find a location near you here.

On the movie website resource page there are small group and church study kits for further exploration of the movie's theme, based on the Song of Solomon. The studies explain God's plan for relationships, love and marriage and explores dating, romance, intimacy, conflict, restoration and commitment. A personal journal is also available. There is also a six-week devotional available for couples.

I encourage you to plan a date night on September 26 and go see The Song then plan to go get drinks or coffee afterward and check in with each other after the film. May you have good discussion. Come back and tell me what you thought of the movie!



Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Lost in Time with In Perfect Time

In Perfect Time by Sarah Sundin is a brilliant tale of romance on the front lines during World War II. Sarah blends true to life historic events with multi-dimensional fictional characters to paint a captivating picture of romance during wartime in the 1940s in and around Italy.

It is the story of a young, troubled flight nurse searching for redemption and finding true love in the process and of a young pilot trying to escape his past by sitting out future possibilities whose defenses are shattered by true love.

I have read two other books in this series and am left wanting to know these characters even more. I was excited to get the opportunity from the publisher to receive a copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Critique

Writing: Sarah's writing is descriptive prose, blended with action, humor, compassion and romance. In Perfect Time is no different.
Sundin explores the struggles her hero and heroine have in truly accepting the gift of faith and overcoming internal struggles while on the front lines of WWII.

The prose and dialogue are very well balanced and engage us deeper with the story. Through alternating chapters that focus on each character, Sundin tells us the stories of Kay and Roger with a pace that makes it hard to put down. Each character has a complexity that make them seem like real people. Flawed and wounded by what life has dealt thus far, both Kay and Roger put up defenses to control who they let in. Kay, who has a reputation of being a loose flirt, searches for acceptance through her relationships. Roger, who doesn't trust himself, puts walls of defense around him to keep from finding his true passion.

The backdrop of the war and the internal struggles each character faces provide plenty of tension. The romantic angst, however, is off the charts as each character becomes so handicapped by own inner battles they nearly miss the gift of love and acceptance in front of them.

Sundin brings back the characters from her two previous novels and helps tie up some loose ends. I am glad I got to know this group of nightingales and their men.

Historical significance: Sundin's immense knowledge of both World War II and nursing brings much credibility to the storyline. The settings are so vividly described I felt transported to an army base in Italy or a remote German cave. Sundin depicts 1940s culture, and as such, some of the characters smoke and drink and defy the traditional views on sex before marriage. The war scenes include descriptions of dog fights, bombings, plundering and injury. In Perfect Time, as well as the entire series, offers a unique look at the contributions of women on the front lines during that time.

Spiritual themes of redemption, assurance and grace are strongly highlighted throughout. Each of the characters, as do many of us at times, have a difficult time understanding and fully embracing forgiveness, the free gift of God's grace and newness promised to those who have accepted Christ.

Audience: This book would appeal to women and men who enjoy historical fiction. With strong, but not pushy, spiritual overtones, both Christians and non-Christians will enjoy the entire series, which I think has a broad appeal with enough action and romance to be a feature film.

You can get In Perfect Time at Amazon and book retailers near you.