Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas Recap

I’ve wanted to come here and write about Christmas for days now but unfortunately I woke up on Christmas Day and felt awful. I had a horrible headache and horrendous pressure in my head which I assumed (and rightly so) was a sinus infection. I felt so terrible that I really didn’t even want to open my presents. It took me forever to open them when I can usually rip through them. I think J was ready to take me to the ER (LOL!) Ya know, I’m definitely sick if I don’t want to open presents!! But, finally I am feeling more like myself again! Despite feeling terrible on Christmas Day, we did have a nice one. It’s always fun and nice to watch Noah enjoying the gifts from Santa and family members and friends. Watching him enjoy everything makes the craziness of the holiday season worth it. Noah’s favorite gift was probably the Fischer Price portable DVD player with headphones. (The headphones are probably this Mom’s favorite gift! Haha) It is designed for a preschool age child so the buttons are big enough that Noah can work them himself and he has quickly learned how. He got several different new movies and videos to go with the DVD player and although I have offered for him to watch them on the “big TV” numerous times, he has refused and has enjoyed watching them on his new DVD player. He looks so cute in those lil’ headphones! He also received many books of course. It wouldn’t be Christmas (or any holiday for that matter) without books for Noah! He also received several blankets – a Cars (the movie) blanket that lights up, matching Clemson blankets for him and Noel, and a very very soft maroon blanket that has paw prints (for Mississippi State University) and his name embroidered on it. He got a few dinos, some dino PJs, some small See-N-Says, and a bunch of other stuff I can’t remember at the moment including a new orange and purple stocking filled with goodies. I was pretty spoiled too! My favorite gifts include new tennis shoes (they are brown!!), the audio version of Jenny McCarthy’s new book Mother Warriors (thanks Brother!), and a massager thingie. (I really don’t know the name of said massager thingie but you can either sit it in a chair or you can lie on it on the bed and it massages your head, neck, back, and legs. It has heat too!)  J was also spoiled receiving a new Wok set, a big huge chopping knife which I’m not allowed to touch until my eyes are better, and several different Clemson things just to name a few items off the top of my head. Behavior wise, Noah did well aside from a little fussiness mainly towards the end of the day. By the end of the day I think he was just ready to get home. He was pretty fussy at Mom and Dad’s and pretty fussy in the car, but once home, he drug out most of his new toys in the living room and played by himself while J and I unpacked, put things away, etc.  Material gifts aside, it was nice to spend the day with my family and it was great to have my brother home and spend time with him. He and Noel hit it off – I’m surprised he didn’t try to sneak her back home with him! I hope that each of you had a peaceful Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wishing you Joy

Well, it's Christmas Eve!! It still hasn't sunk in yet.....

We are off to spend the evening at my parent's house just as we do each year. I think that Noah thinks Santa will miss him if we aren't my parents!! I've mentioned staying home and going over there on Christmas Day but nope, he won't hear of that! I do enjoy it though. We go to the Christmas Eve church service and then go back to my parent's house and have appetizer/snack type foods. Then we usually watch some type of Christmas movie - I think it's been Elf the past two years and then it's off to bed!

I leave you with this year's Christmas card. I designed it myself and am pretty proud of it. I made three different ones before this one and they just didn't say "us" to me. Then finally, when I was finished this one, I knew I had captured us.

Happy Christmas Eve!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Hung by the Chimney

I love our stockings. We don't have the traditional red and white stockings that many people have, our stockings are each unique and fit our personality.

Until three years ago we had the traditional red and white stockings and then for Christmas, Santa brought me a new stocking that totally fit me. It's a pink high heeled shoe and says "Princess." I just love it!

So after receiving that stocking, when Christmas rolled around the next year I was on a mission to find stockings that were unique for Noah and J as well. We ended up with a Superman stocking for Noah and a Clemson stocking for J, both found on ebay.

Monday, December 8, 2008

We Heart Andy

My little (ok, tall but younger) brother, Andy, is having surgery for a deveiated septum today. My parents have driven down to where he lives (a few hours away) to be with him for the surgery. We sent him a card with the picture below. Keep my bro in your thoughts and prayers today, please!

Update 10 PM – When Noah talked to my parents a bit earlier, Andy was at his house drinking 7 up and lounging on the couch.

Christmas Commercial Features ASL

As the mom of a special needs child, I'm always on the lookout for disabled people and their disabilities being highlighted in positive ways. I love for the general public to be able to see the disabled in a positive light. There is one new holiday commercial that I am just in love with at the moment as it features signing, commonly known as American Sign Language.

This commercial is for Kay’s Jewelers and features a young couple by a Christmas tree. The young man of the couple begins to sign and speak and says (to the young lady) that he isn’t very good at signing yet but he is trying. She signs to him and the captions on the screen tell us that she says he is doing just fine.  Then, he tells her (in sign language of course) that he learned a new sign today and he signs “Merry Christmas.” And then he hands her a Kay Jeweler’s box. She opens it and inside is a beautiful silver watch. He then asks her if she likes it and she signs “Read my lips” and then lays on a big smooch.

This is one of those commercials that leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy and it makes me proud that it is a commercial featuring something considered to be a "disability." 

Check out the commerical here - you won't be sorry!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Noah the Tornado

This is what it looks like 15 minutes after Noah the Tornado hit played in his room. He has lots and lots of books!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Quote of the Week: Gift to God

This week's quote is a quote I heard several years back and instantly loved it. I even used to have it on my voicemail and whenever my BFF would leave a message for me, she’d say “Hi there, God’s gift” and make my day. But, I really like it because it reminds me that while I’m here on this earth I need to be doing things with my life, I need to be doing what God wants me to do with my life, and not just going through the motions and that’s probably something that we all need reminding of every once and awhile.

"What you are is God’s gift to you. What you become is your gift to God.”

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: The Clemson Bed Sleeps Better

Noah got the Clemson bedspread and sheets for his birthday. He LOVES them and tells me that the Clemson bed sleeps better than it did before it became the Clemson bed!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween 2008

Noah dressed as a wizard this year and looks pretty cute in his wizard cape and hat don't ya think?!? (Ok, I think he looks cute in everything!!)
Once again, this year's costume was made by "Aunt Snowy." Thank you Aunt Snowy!!
Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Halloween Goodies

So we have been busy in our house today preparing goodies for the Halloween Party/Birthday Party/Carnival at Noah's school tomorrow. There's the Halloween Carnival that they have every year in the gym and then the Halloween party for his class which is mushed together with his and another classmate's birthday party.

Since Noah doesn't like regular sweets we got creative and made a version of the trail mix that my Mom makes. I put in some of Noah's favorite things and then threw in two sweet things that the other kids might enjoy so it consists of popcorn, goldfish crackers, mini pretzels, candy corn, and M&Ms. I'm sure the kids will love it!

While Noah was at school today I finished making the "mummy cups" which are a Halloween goodie for his classmates. They are just white cups wrapped with white fabric to look like a mummy and two wiggly eyes are glued on. Once Noah got home, we stuffed them with some goodies for his classmates and then I bagged them up and tied ribbons to close them.

So, we are ready for Halloween here! Come back tomorrow to see a picture of Noah in his costume!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Noah's 12th Birthday Recap

Noah's birthday was Saturday. I am now the Mom of a 12 year old. Eeek! As I mentioned in the previous post, in the past we have had big parties but Noah would get stressed out so this year we opted for a very small party and I'm so glad we did! I kept the guest list super small and only included close family. Uncle Andy was able to make it from Charleston and of course Nana and Grandad were present as well as Aunt/Cousin Holly. Noah seemed to really enjoy himself and was happy while opening presents from Grandad's lap, eating chips and (spinach!) dip from Grandad's lap and blowing out the candles on his orange Clemson tiger paw cake. (Nope, he didn't do that from Grandad's lap!) The party had a Clemson theme - meaning we had orange decorations and a tiger paw birthday cake that I made. (Side note - it takes a TON Of food coloring to make icing THAT orange!!)

Noah received many nice gifts as always! Our living room was covered in orange either from gifts or the party decor! Noah received a Clemson bedspread and sheets, a rug with a tiger paw, a Clemson poster, a few other misc. Clemson items for his room, a big inflatable Clemson "tackle buddy," a Clemson polar fleece, books, and much more that just isn't popping to mind at the moment! Noah's room is definitely all decked out in Clemson colors. (We just need to paint the walls and his bookshelf!) Yes, ALL the boys in my life love Clemson.

I'm not that good at taking pictures at Noah's parties because I am typically so involved so this time I just gave my niece, Holly, my camera and let her go to town. (Thank you for being my photographer whenever I need you to Holly! You take much better pictures than the husband!!) She took a TON of pictures; so many that I am really having a hard time deciding which ones to share here!

All in all, my boy had a great birthday!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Celebrating Noah

Twelve years ago on this day at 2:12 in the morning an impatient tiny baby boy made his early entrance into this world. The moment he was born my life changed forever. His first breath took mine away - I was in awe. I was in love. I was exhausted. I was a MOM!

I was nineteen when Noah was born. We've grown up together in some ways. Noah has taught me more than he will ever realize and not just basic Mom things like changing diapers or staying up with a sick child. He's taught me about unconditional love. Because of him, I'm a better person. I've made many, many mistakes and I've done many things right. It hasn't been an easy road but it's definately been worth it. Today, we celebrate Noah! It will be a low key celebration. In the past, I've thrown these big parties but they just stress Noah out. He doesn't do well with a crowd so I hope he will enjoy this celebration amongst close family. BIg or small - we will celebrate the day Noah entered our lives and stole our hearts. We celebrate all that he is and all that he will become.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Dinosaur Please

Noah always asks for the funniest things for Christmas and his birthday. For the past few years at Christmas he has asked for a real live reindeer and last year he upped the anty by asking for TWO reindeers; a Mommy and a Daddy reindeer! Two Christmas ago he asked for a space shuttle with keys! Not a toy space shuttle – a real live space shuttle he could drive. Last year for his birthday, he wanted a school bus. So, when talking to my Mom last night, she thought it would be funny to ask Noah what he wants for his birthday and see what was in his little head. (His birthday is Saturday.) True to his character, it was over the top! He’d like a dinosaur please. Yep, he said please! Silly boy!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Born a Momma

Noah was at my parents' house today and they were looking at pictures on the big screen which is one of Noah's favorite things to do. (My Dad has pictures on the computer and it's hooked up to the Television so that you can view pictures on the TV.) So, they were looking at pictures and my Dad put up some of me as a little girl. Noad did NOT like these and did not want to look at them. They tried to explain that it was his Momma when she was a little girl but he didn't want to hear any of that. When he got home, I talked to him a little bit more about it. I showed him a picture of me as a little girl and he said it was not me. It seems he thinks that I was never little. He thinks I was just born his Momma! He's a silly silly boy! Maybe I was born to be a Momma but I wasn't BORN as a Momma and those pictures of me at three years old is proof or that baby would have whiplash from the way I was man handling her! And what good Momma dumps out all her blocks and is really destructive right next to her baby's crib? I was really cute though, don't ya think?!? :)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Review: Craft Mates Ribbon Storage Container

I love ribbon and have gobs and gobs of different types of ribbon. I will buy it for no real reason, just because I think it is cute. Luckily though, I use ribbon in a lot of different craft projects so it does not just sit and collect dust.  With all the ribbon I own, storing the ribbon can sometimes be an issue. In the past I have had to come up with creative solutions of how to store my ribbon. I have written before about using photo storage boxes to store my ribbon and while this worked it was also a tad time consuming to put holes in the sides of the boxes and sometimes the ribbon got stuck and wouldn’t thread through properly. It was working but it just wasn’t a perfect system.  And then I received one of the new Craft Mates Ribbon Storage Organizers. These organizers are made out of a hard durable plastic and are clear so you can easily see what ribbons are stored on the inside if need be. There are no decorations or anything on the containers however it does say “Craft Mates” in small letters on the front. It has seventeen plastic dividers that can come out easily so that you can store up to seventeen different ribbons in the container. If your ribbons are wider, it will hold ribbons up to 3 ½ inches wide. Once inside the container, the ribbons slide through a little plastic part and hang out. You can easily roll out whatever amount you need and snip it off. There are also two little locks on each end of the container so that it won’t accidentally come open. If you have lots and lots of ribbon like I do, don’t worry, you can easily stack these containers on top of each other creating a great storage solution for ribbon. Thus far, I have no complaints with the Craft Mates Ribbon Storage Containers.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The 32 Year Old Me

I took the pictures of myself featured in this layout the day before my 32nd birthday. I usually don't like pictures of myself very much but for some reason, I liked these so I decided to make a little "32 year old me" layout. I love the way it turned out and think this is something I'm going to start each year!

I used a digital scrapbooking kit by Shabby Pumpkin but I don't think her kits are available anymore.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Charlie's 7th Birthday

Today is Charlie's (my birthson) birthday! It's hard to beleive that he is seven years old. It seems like only yesterday I was holding him as a tiny baby in the hospital preparing to let him go.
Over the seven years that I have been Charlie's birthmother my life has changed drastically. I was given a second chance and I have sincerely tried to make the most of that second chance. I've tried to be the best Mom to Noah and an advocate for birthmothers. While I know placing Charlie for adoption was the best choice I could make at that time in my life, that doesn't mean that my heart doesn't ache at times. Birthdays are bittersweet. I usually get to spend time with Charlie and his family on his actual birthday. This is the first year we haven't been able to do that. Charlie's Mom's best friend's husband (that's a mouth full!) died and the visitation was last night and funeral today so it just didn't work out to get together today. A (Charlie's Mom) wanted to try and get together tomorrow evening but I'm afraid that will mess up Noah's routine too much and (I hope this come out the wrong way) he is my priority. She may try and re-arrange things so we could get together Sunday afternoon but I'm not getting my hopes up in case it doesn't work out. If nothing else, I'll see Charlie next weekend for his birthday party. Happy Birthday Charlie! (Photo taken on Charlie's 6th birthday)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Space Mom

I have been having some real Space Mom moments lately all that involve Noah and his school. I’m sure his new teacher thinks I’ve lost my brain!! I was really feeling badly about it and felt like a terrible Mom but yesterday when I was watching The View Sherri and Elizabeth were talking about some of the spacey moments they have had lately. Elizabeth even forgot when the first day of school was and sent her child a day late! I guess we all spacey moments. Last Friday, I completely over slept and Noah missed the bus. J had to come home and take him to school late. Then Monday, I was going to make Noah’s lunch and I realized we were out of the already made, frozen, no crust PB&J sandwhiches Noah takes for lunch. So, I go to just make him a sandwhich. Nope, no bread! (In my defense, J fixed Noah’s lunch Friday AM and failed to tell me he was out of PB&J sandwhiches.) Don’t worry – I wrote a note to his teacher and I asked that he get a school lunch that day. Then Tuesday morning, I completely forgot to put his braces and shoes in his backpack! Geesh! So far, no crazy space moments today!!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Holly's Engagement Photos

If you know much about me, you know I LOVE taking photos! My niece Holly asked me to take engagement photos of her and her finace' Michael. I think they turned out pretty well if I do say so myself! Selective Colorization used in this photo..... holly-michael-yellow-and-blue.jpg I thought this photo looked really cheesy when we were taking it but it actually turned out to be one of my favorites! dscf0036_alt.jpg This one is one of Holly's favorites. dscf0018.jpg This one is really cute too. back2back.jpg Holly striking a pose with the tree. holly_yellow.jpg And a graphic collage I made with some of the photos..... god-bless-the-broken-road.jpg That's just a few of my faves. I think I took about 65! I love digital photography - no wasting film!! Whatcha think?!? (Photos orginally taken in March of 08)

Monday, August 18, 2008

My Writings

I love to write. I have always enjoyed writing, whether it was in a journal, a story, or a poem. I guess I just never realized that it was good enough to share with people or even publish. I really started writing a lot after I placed my son Charlie for adoption. Before that, I wrote off and on writing occasional poems or journal entries about being the mother of a child with special needs, but becoming a birthmother is what helped me find a writing voice and gain confidence in writing. Now that I have found that writing voice, I've realized that the world is pretty open to me. I can write and actually get paid for it! I am not limited to writing only about adoption. I can write about anything and everything I want. And sometimes, the writing is just for me. I get something out of it regardless of whether or not anyone else does while other times my purpose in writing is to inspire or inform others. And other times, it's writing that I share whether it be on this blog or an actual article that I'm getting paid to write. For those of you who wish to read more of what I have written, I thought I'd post links to various articles, poems, and essays here on this page. I'll break things up by categories where appropriate. NOTE: This page and list is a work in progress. I'll be adding to it because unless I stop writing all together, there will always be new content! Where I Write: Here (Of course :) ) Busy Mommy (Special Needs Editor) Adoption Blogs (I write in the open adoption blog, crisis pregnancy blog, and occasionally the adoption news blog.) Poetry about Noah: Mama Knows Noah's Prayer Adoption Related Poetry: Visiting Special Needs Articles: What is Cerebral Palsy? Wheelchair Friendly Ameusement Parks Jenny McCarthy's Book on Autism: A Great Resource Misc.Quotes for Mothers Out of the Box Wedding Gift Ideas Reality TV: How Far is too Far? For Those who Love John and Kate plus Eight

Reviews: Cock of the Walk in Ridgeland, Mississippi: Amazing Catfish No Way Jose's in Pigeon Forge, TN: Awesome Tex Mex Food

Cerebral Palsy Information

I've noticed lately that people have been coming to this blog using the search engine tag "children with cerebral palsy" or something to that effect. I thought it would be good to create a page here for those people so that you can easily find out information about cerebral palsy as well as how it affects my son.

But first a little disclaimer… I am attempting to put what I have learned about cerebral palsy over the years into laymen’s terms but please keep in mind that I am not a doctor, a nurse, or a trained professional who deals with cerebral palsy. I’m simply a mother wanting to educate others about her son's condition. For more information on cerebral palsy, please see the "CP Links" section at the bottom of this page.

What is Cerebral Palsy? (I will refer to Cerebral Palsy as CP from now on.) CP is a condition caused by injury to the brain resulting in loss of oxygen right before, during, or after birth. More and more often, CP is being linked to negligence on the medical professionals part. It can often be very common in premature babies as well.

What are the effects of CP? CP affects each person differently. It can affect their speech, motor control, ability to walk, and the ability to do everyday things - even eating! It can affect their whole body or it can affect just certain aspects of their functioning.
How many children have CP? According to UCP, about 8,000 babies/children are diagnosed with CP each year.
Does the condition get worse over time? No! CP is considered a "static" condition - meaning it does not get worse. With therapy and hard work, people with CP can overcome their obstacles.
Since each child with CP is different, I thought I would take a moment and walk you through how CP has affected Noah. Eager to see the world, Noah arrived 6 weeks early weighing 4 lbs and 12 oz. After I was given the epidural, he lost oxygen which resulted in CP. We did not know he had CP at the time. After an attorney did an investigation as to what caused the CP, I firmly believe that Noah's CP is the result of  my reaction to the epidural and the doctors not responding quick enough to that reaction. 
Noah was a happy baby, but we did begin to notice that he was not on target with some of his milestones. At about 8 months old, a CT scan was done and it was then determined that Noah did have CP. Noah had surgery at Shriner's Children's Hospital in November of 2002 to lengthen his heel cords and to put steel plates in his hips. It was a long process - he was in a cast from the waist down for a month and then in "boot" casts from the knees down for another month. The surgery has helped some and Noah is able to walk short distances in a walker.
Noah's speech is also delayed by CP - although he comprehends and understands so much! He is now communicating with sign language and a communication device. Noah goes to a very good local school for children with special needs. He is in a class room setting, but receives occupational, physical, and speech therapy and learns life skills at school as well. He is doing well in school and enjoys school - especially riding on the school bus!  Noah continues to amaze us with his zest and love of life. Noah is a very happy and loving boy who enjoys making others smile and laugh by doing silly little things. He plays Miracle League baseball (baseball program for children with special needs), loves the Clemson tigers, and enjoys reading and going places.  He is a curious learner and a bit of dare devil at times - especially when it comes to roller coasters.  People have asked me if I wonder what Noah's life would be like if he did not have CP, but that is hard for me to imagine. 

Noah is who he is - CP and all.

Cerebral Palsy Links:
UCP Support Community for Parents of Children with CP

Links to things I have written regarding CP: 
Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month
What Do You Call Someone with a Disability? 
Defining Noah

More About Me

More About Me

As you probably read in my blurb, my name is Nicole but most of my friends call me Coley, so you can call me Coley too. :) I'm a thirty something southern gal. I am sensitive yet passionate, simple yet complicated, loving yet defiant, dependent on others yet independent. I have big dreams yet realistic goals. I wish I could "save the world like I was super girl." I am a people person, I like to shake things up and make things happen!

I am Super Mom to Noah, Birth Mom to Charlie, wife to J, angel Mom to Darcy, friend, sister, daughter, aunt, Christian, neighbor, confidant, writer..... I wear many hats!
Hobbies and Work

I'm a work at home writer - yep that means I can work in my jammies if I want to! I love words and I love to write so when writing for a living fell in my lap, I jumped at the opportunity and soon discovered that I was really good at it! I began writing about adoption professionally at AdoptionBlogs three years ago and was solely writing about open adoption and unplanned pregnancies but over time I have added other paid writing gigs to my resume about a variety of different topics.  

I'm also proud to be one of the founders and the director of BirthMom Buds, an organization that provides support to birthmothers and pregnant women considering adoption.

Since I write a lot for a living, this blog was born out of the need to write about personal things that I don't write about in articles as well as way to share photos and keep out of town friends and family up to date on what's going on in our lives. 

I'm a very creative person and love crafting and digital scrapbooking. I'm also very into photography and am always pushing myself to try new things with my photos. If you look around my blog long, you'll notice that my favorite subject is my son, Noah, and that my favorite type of photo is a black and white photo with selective colorization (meaning one part of the photo is in color). This year I'm participating in "Project 365" where I'm taking a photo a day so you'll find lots of posts labeled "Project 365" on this blog. 

My Hubby, J

I really believe that everyone has a soul mate. Sometimes they meet in high school, other times not until later in their lives, and sadly sometimes not at all. It was a broken road to find my soul mate but luckily I met J in 2001. We began dating seriously after awhile and I knew he was the one after seeing his gentle ways with Noah and his nephews. He loves children and is very good with them. We tied the knot on April 19th, 2003 in front of our family, friends, and 1200 other fans right before a minor league baseball game. J is a a video game playing, Clemson football fanatic and a very good listener, provider, husband, and father. I really am lucky!
My Kids
Of all the hats I wear, the most important hat I wear is that of “mother.” Being a mother is one of the most rewarding yet exhausting and challenging roles I have ever had. Being a Mom is very important to me - I am the mother of 3 children, who each have a very different story and all hold a special place in my heart, no matter where they are!


Noah is currently 12 years old. He was named after “the man God loved so much he gave us rainbows,” so I often call Noah my rainbow. He really is the center of my life. Noah is your typical 12 year old – he loves big dogs, the color blue, t-ball, and roller coasters just like many other 12 year olds. But Noah is special – he has cerebral palsy and epilepsy. Noah was diagnosed with cerebral palsy around the time he was 8 months old. A wheelchair is his main mode of transportation and you’d better watch out – he’s fast and will run you over! Sign language is Noah’s main form of communication although he can hear just fine. It’s challenging being the Mom of a child with special needs but rewarding all at the same time!

Charlie is currently 7 years old. When I got pregnant with Charlie due to a failed depo (birth control) shot, I was not ready to parent again. I chose to make an adoption plan for Charlie and placed him with a wonderful family. Our adoption is very open, which means I get pictures, phone calls, visits, etc... He knows that I am his birthmom and that Noah is his birth brother. We are basically like extended family. His adoptive mom was even a bridesmaid in our wedding! To read my adoption story in its entirety, please visit the Founders Page at BirthMom Buds.
Darcy is our little angel! Darcy never made it to earth - God decided our baby should become an angel before making an earthly entrance. Even though Darcy never took a breath, she was a part of me and always will be. Darcy's short life and death have affected my life so much. To learn more about Darcy, please visit Darcy's Memorial Page.

And now you know LOTS about me!!!
If you need to contact me, please do so by emailing me at coleybelle(at)gmail(dot)com!