Sunday, January 26, 2014

New blog post over on wordpress

Check out my newest post on my wordpress blog here: Welcome 2014 Happy New Year everyone!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Taller than me

Practically the entire world is taller than me at just 5'1' it's not a hard thing to accomplish. I don't mind being short really, I kinda like the package I'm in these days. Now I can admit, it was hard being the shortest in class and being made fun of (yeah kids are mean) but I survived it and I think a lot of my spunk came from those days of teasing. I had to learn to fight somehow, to bite back and so I can pull out spunky little ole me when nice me isn't working well in any situation. It reminds me of High Point Market  this past October when my friend (from twitter) Carissa saw me get my ire up with my mom, she said something like wow where'd that fire come from, what oh what's the word she used something like spunky, or feisty, yeah feisty that is it. I take feisty as a huge compliment... My mom said something and it hit a nerve and I just let spunky me respond. It happens, sometimes even at my age...
All of this is getting  to a point really it is. So here I am 5'1" a mom of a 13 year old boy. All of his friends tower over me, heck even our neighbor Audrey who is a year younger than my son is 5'8" already. I walk into his middle school a little afraid of all the other kids still to this day. I feel like I belong in the principal's office every time I set foot on that campus and that one of those big kids are going to get me... I try not to go to his school, but he has had a few discipline problems this year and I do love his chorus concerts. Although I'm happy to report I haven't had to meet with  the assistant principal yet this year. It's early in the year I know... He came home with another detention notice for... yea none other than talking. I can't imagine where he gets that talkativeness from?
This morning before Sean left for school he said "mom am I taller than you today?" This isn't new, all year he's been hoping to be taller than me. If you think being short as a girl is tough then can you imagine being a boy? I pray for him that he won't get my short genes, and that he will reach his potential height of 6' something one day. I'm sure being in middle school and shorter than all the girls is not fun at all. I know he isn't the first 13 year old to be shorter than all the girls, and it is common at this age, but he is my boy, and I see his struggle.
Back to this morning. He asks again and then we turn around back to back, and before Audrey even says it, I know it, I can feel that he has reached a height taller than me. Yep today is the day my son is about 1/4 inch taller than his mama! It is a big day! If he keeps growing at this rate he will be 7' tall!
But those markers on my kitchen wall are there as a reminder. I see the marks of time passing. I see his growth in height and his growth from a little boy to a bigger boy and on his way to manhood. I hugged him so tight this morning. I told him, "I know in a little while you will have to bend down to hug me, what am I going to do then? You are growing so fast son, right in front of my eyes, how can I stop it? I can't stop it, I can't put a big enough weight on your head to hold you down." As for my compassionate son, this time he didn't pull away, he hugged me back, he held me tight. He must know it too. This marching of time that's happening so fast that it's making my head hurt and I feel like my heart is about to burst. He was my little angel not so long ago. He was the one who helped me wake up and become a better person. Sean is the reason I kept going even when it was too hard to go on for me, he's the reason I want to keep becoming a better person. Yeah I know the world's  answer is to do it for yourself, to get better for you, but I want to heal for him, for future generations of my little family, for his kids and his wife and his children. I want to become the best person I can be because I want my son to be proud of me one day again (when it is cool again to like your mother). I want him to hold me up as an example to his kids like I do my own mom.
my son Sean
My son Sean, I think he looks very tall in this picture! 

Again I find myself writing about my son, about our life, about the real stuff. I don't get inspired to sit down and write as often as I'd like. I keep finding that what inspires me most right now is Sean and the lessons I'm learning by being his mother. I have many other jobs that I take care of like being the brand ambassador for  Help 4 Haiti, Inc, working with my parents in their businesses, writing content, cleaning house, taking care of our Woodstock Market booth and that list goes on... But, here in this moment, after Sean is gone to school, I know what the most important job is for me right now. In the quiet there is no doubt that being my son's mother is the most important job I'll ever have. It's the hardest and most rewarding at the same time. I'm so grateful for my other mommy friends in real life and for the internet including social media(even with all the negative press) because of all the wonderful writers I have found who write about their lives. being a wives and mothers and somehow they manage to reach out and encourage others. I could literally sit around and read great blogs all day from people like Glennon Melton, Ann Voskamp, The Hands Free Revolution, and The Time-Warp Wife, because these ladies get it, they understand that being courageous and sharing our struggles out loud with one another is a great way to encourage each other. I know I am not alone when I read their blogs. I know that I'm not the only one seeking answers and hoping for the best for our children and families in this crazy world we live in. The whole world feels like it is against us these days, so having a little bubble of good words to read makes it better. It truly makes life "brutiful" as G(sorry Glennon but I feel like I know you) says. So I'm inspired to keep writing, even if it's not that great, and my grammar is wrong, because when I write the truth about my life I feel free. And my other hope is that one person will read this and feel less afraid of what is coming next with their kid. That one lady might just feel a kindred to me(as I do to my favorite writers) and be less afraid to love with all her heart, no matter what the cost. This was my status post on Facebook yesterday.
Day 6: I'm thankful for my son Sean! I'm thankful for messy awkward 13 year old life, and that God loves each one of us even in the midst of our messy awkward life at any age. I'm thankful for the lessons I learn each day from my boy and how since the day he was born, I recognized what unconditional love truly meant. That is this: if God loves me more than I love my son, then WOW! What a love that must be! Thank you God for your love for me and Sean today and always!
I'm taking time each day to be thankful ( a joy dare from Ann Voskamp), and yesterday in spite of the roughness and complications that being the mom of a teenager can be God helped me stay thankful. Thankful for the mess for the awkwardness of being a part of a teenager's life. And you know what, instead of being angry when he came home with that detention slip because I had just bragged about how awesome he was on Facebook that day ( has a way of happening like that to me) I remained calm. I was thoughtful with his punishment and super proud of the way I handled it. So Thank you Ann, Glennon and the writers of all the other "mommy" blogs (there are too many others to list) ((which by the way I can't stand that title, so let's think of something sexier ok? )) for being you, for writing real truthful blogs from the heart, for motivating me to be a better mom and for just being willing to share your struggles with me! I am learning every day to do better and thanks to a great community of friends online as well as offline too we are making it... As momastery says (and I quote so often these days people probably think I'm in a cult or something now... go Monkees) "We can do hard things.... together" and don't forget to be "brave and kind".
And then there is this too... Yesterday was one of the first days I remember being absolutely thankful for my past. I've kinda said things like yea it made me who I am, no regrets and so on yada yada, but yesterday morning as I was having my quiet time it washed over me, this thankfulness for each and every circumstance in my past, not just the good stuff, but even yeah even the really hard, stinky stuff and messes I made... Because you see that is truly what made me who I am today. That is who God made me to be.  And loving my irritable, ornery, grumpy, hormonal teenage son is teaching me that if I love my son like this, and God loves us more than our moms, then WOW! What do I have to be worried about my past for? God loves me even when I'm yucky, even when I'm not such a good mom, when I stumble and He loves me even in my failings.  Because really there is no doubt in my mind that no matter how much taller my son gets than me he will always be my son, he will always be that little baby who helped rescue me from my own self, and NOTHING can change the love of a mother, no matter who he becomes or what he does with his life, I know I will love him as much as I do now, if not more as time goes on... Isn't God good to give us daily examples of HIS LOVE for us? Here it is in His word for us to see:  Romans 8:38-39
38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Did you get that list? Do you see it there in His love letter to us? Nothing can separate us from God's love through Christ Jesus! NOTHING! So today be thankful with me, just be thankful for every little thing and most of all be Thankful for God's love for you. It is real and it is healing and a power that changes lives. May hope light your way today! Bondye beni ou! (God Bless you)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The End

Yesterday my son left to get on the bus for the end of his 7th grade year. He's 13 and until recently wanted me to tuck him in every single night. I kept tucking him in for years after most parents probably stopped because I remember never wanting my mom to stop tucking me in, so I've clung to tucking my kid in like a safety blanket I wanted to never lose.
He came home one afternoon recently and started telling me something, I was trying to finish a little bit of work, but something in the way he talked made me stop. At first I thought it was going to be another call from the teacher or that he'd gotten into trouble for something at school. But he assured me that wasn't it. He stammered a little and then finally got it out. He said "Mom, I like a girl." "Oh?" I said, probably raising an eyebrow. He then went on and explained in a hurry that he liked her and didn't know what to do because they were friends. He asked me how I felt when I met daddy.... I smiled and said "oh son, you aren't ready for that yet, but I can tell you when it came to puppy love for me, it seemed as real as if the stars were falling from heaven and that that boy in 7th grade was surely the one I'd been searching for all my life." I'm obviously a hopeless romantic... He continued on and wanted to know if he should ask her to go out, what about the friendship, would she still like him if it didn't work out? Instantly, I was in flashback mode, remembering those days, almost feeling as if I was 13 all over again. I remember what a tumultuous stage of life it was, but the liking the boys part, that was mostly a lot of fun, (except for the many heartbreaks part) but let's focus on the positive here. So I explained to him that if he really liked her and thought the friendship was worth the risk then to go for it, I told him "you only live once son so take chances and remember to be brave." (that brave part I got from recently reading Carry On Warrior, Thoughts on Life Unarmed)  All the while inside wanting to cry, instead of giving him advice on how to win his girl. But, I managed to not shed one single tear in front of him. He's 13, and I realize he doesn't need to know how it feels to see your baby grow up, just yet. He is still my baby, he will always be my baby, but a girlfriend, yeah that's serious growing up stuff here. So, the next day he comes home happy! I mean overjoyed, and I knew this time the little girl was smart enough to say yes to my perfect little boy. He told me how it went down. He told me details that are in my personal thought treasure box forever. Yes, it is the end of some things but also the beginning. The beginning of wondering if I've taught him the right things, if I showed him how to be kind, gentle, respectful and considerate of girls. Thinking about him making bad choices or possibly changing his future forever with one wrong turn is not new, but more prevalent in the forefront of my mind as he gets older...
Just this past week, he all of a sudden stopped wanting me to tuck him in. So in the end, this part of our life came to an end, really naturally on it's own. I was beginning to think he'd be 20 and I'd still be coming to tuck him in, but in his own time and in his own way he told me it was time. I think it's the girl, but that is ok, that is a part of being a mom that you expect to one day will happen. That day when your son sees other girls besides you and really really likes them... It's something that is supposed to happen, so I'm trying my hardest not to ruin what naturally is supposed to happen. Even though I must admit I'm just a bit jealous of this shift from thinking I'm the number one greatest girl in the whole world... But I'm grateful for the knowledge from watching my brother and mom that he will love me forever like no one else.
And now I have to let that little girl inside of me who still needs to be tucked in go. I have to tell her we are all grown up now, and it's ok. It's going to be ok, but somehow through tears and joy and beautiful moments, yes it will all be ok. I have taught him as much as I know how, sometimes the wrong way, sometimes the right. Everyone tells me what a good kid he is, and how respectful and kind and gentle he is for them. I am like most moms who don't see it... He is a normal 13 year boy old with me, which is a pain in the butt most of the time. But I love that kid more than words can describe. And, although it's the beginning of the end of our middle school journey, I somehow feel like this kid of mine will make it and choose good things and make good decisions.
I'm beginning to learn to trust. I am not good with trust. I am better with worry. But I know the damage worry does. I've seen it in my life and in my loved ones' who also struggle with worry. I want to wake up every day and turn it over again to The One who has it all figured out. I want to trust that God has given me the ability to be the best mom for my son, because he is my son. I want to simply rest and trust.
Sean at the lake looking all cool in his shades
I'm hoping to have a spectacular summer with my son. He will come home today and tell me all about going to the movies for a "double date" with his best buddy from school and both their girlfriends. I had to let go, I had to trust God for this day. I had to give it back to Him when my mind was screaming "he's too young for this, you should take over and not allow this." I am praying a lot more than usual today. I'm praying to try and not worry. I can't wait for my son to walk through that door and tell me every little detail. When I think about that I smile and it helps me remember how blessed I truly am.
What do you worry about concerning your kids? Is their getting older troubling you or beginning to make you feel old? Share your thoughts with me in the comments. I know I'm not the only mom in the world who feels these things. I hope sharing our journey will help us all! May you have a day filled with peace....Thanks for reading!

Monday, February 18, 2013

#OlioHop for #CharityCauses

Helping Others Visualize What's Needed to Go from #Sad2Smiling

I was excited to be invited to join February's newest #OlioHop on olioboard.com. Myself and 9 other bloggers have been joined together for Monday's #OlioHope to use olioboard to demonstrate our charity projects to possible donors and others interested in helping our cause. Olioboard is a free online tool that allows users to create 2D and 3D visual boards called moodboards to show how a room might look with furniture, accessories, lighting, rugs and many other interior items that can be selected and placed in the virtual room. You first choose a background and then begin to search for items that you would like in the room. Olioboard makes it so simple to shop with several different ways to select items included on the site and a convenient browser clipper that allows you to choose any item of the internet you want to use.
I am pleased to be showcasing my dreams for a future orphanage that I hope to help build this December in Onaville Haiti. The before shot is of the empty concrete room much like many of the structures I saw when I visited Haiti in December 2012. I also included some photographs on the before board from my recent trip to Haiti. The actual orphanage we visited, as well as the future site are featured on my before moodboard.
I realize that I'm Dreaming Big for my orphan friends in Haiti. There is no way to furnish this orphanage with our limited budget of $100k furnish as well as build the way I have designed it with the finest items available to me. The only way to do this #oliohop I decided  is to just dream as big as I can. I imagined that my connections on twitter with super stars like Kathy Ireland, Nate Berkus, and Oprah Winfrey have found out about Help 4 Haiti's new orphanage project in Onaville Haiti and decided to donate a million dollars or two to our cause Help 4 Haiti New Covenant Mission.
Before 
Help 4 Haiti began about 3 years ago right after the earthquake occurred in Haiti. My father went to Haiti about two months after the earthquake took place to try and help rebuild and minister to the people there. After my father returned he began sharing his passion for helping those in Haiti to rebuild and have a better future. We began Help 4 Haiti on Facebook and soon after started a twitter account @HaitiOrphanHelp. Our mission is to help feed and support 175+ orphans in Haiti. We are seeking partners to help us in this mission to sponsor a child for $35 a month.  In December 2012 I was a part of a team of 6, that included my mother, father, brother and two friends from our local church Blake and Erin, who were able to return to Haiti and continue the work my father began. It is a trip that changed my life and has given me a new perspective on the things that really matter. My husband and I have been supporting an orphan in the orphanage that Help 4 Haiti supports. I cared about Haiti before I went there and I thought I had compassion for the people there. But until I went and visited and met the people of Haiti, I realized I didn't really have much compassion after all. I will never forget the day I met Youcanlove Delva(the boy I support in Haiti) or how I felt when I thought that the picture I had been praying for was a real actual little boy. He is 10 and very little for his age. But he is strong. He grabbed a hold of me and hugged me and didn't want to let go. I didn't want to let go either. If you want to read more details about our mission trip please visit my previous blog post Letter to a friend about Hope4Haiti2012 Mission Trip. While visiting Haiti, we were told that our orphans are being asked to move from their home in Croix-Des-Bouquet, Haiti. Thankfully Pastor Estecuer Olistin of New Covenant Mission Baptist Church in Haiti has been given land to build on in Onaville, Haiti. We were able to visit the new site and see that the foundation has just begun to be built. Pastor Olistin explained that for $100k he can finish building and furnishing the orphanage. It is Help 4 Haiti's new mission to help raise the money needed to accomplish this dream and to return in December this year to help build the new orphanage.
I thought about what kind of theme I'd go with if money were no option. I've always wanted an explorer or adventurer room for my own son, so I began to build the new orphanage dreams around this idea. Thankfully my mom Nancy Chalmers, has been an interior designer for over 30 years. I am so blessed to have been learning the craft from her all my life and working with her at Niche by design for the last 4 years. I asked for her help on this project because I know if we had the opportunity in Haiti to make this dream come true, she would be the one I would ask to make sure each detail in the room was perfect. I chose a bedroom setting to show how it might look in our dream orphanage. Even though this is a dream board I still wanted to achieve functional elements of design as well as incorporating things that would stimulate the children's minds. I wanted to include things that would help them to want to explore and learn and grow.
After 
Can you see the smile on the girls face I chose for my board? I hope one day to see the smiling faces of the children I met in Haiti this past December again soon. It is my dream that we can help create a future filled with hope for these children. I know by myself I can't help the thousands of orphans in Haiti, but I can help one. You can help too, by choosing to join us in our cause.

There are three ways you can help

  1.  By donating towards building the new orphanage in Onaville, Haiti 
  2.  Giving $35 a month to help house and feed an orphan 
  3. Consider going back with us this December to help build the new orphanage in Onaville, Haiti
Donate online to Help 4 Haiti: http://www.crowdrise.com/haitiorphanhelp/fundraiser/oliviamillwood 
  
To see more examples of how to use Olioboard's free site to showcase in either 2D and 3D what your own #CharityCauses might need from potential donors, please click on the other 9 real world #CharityCauses that these 9 other designers in the hop with me are working on by clicking on their blog links below! 

#CharityCauses #OlioHop  

 http://wandrdesign.com/ 
http://nyclq-focalpoint.blogspot.com 




Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentines Day with a 13 year old?

Sean 2 days old
My son was born two days after Valentine's day 13 years ago... He has been my sweet Valentine present every year since that day. This is the first year, that I remember, that he's asked another girl to be his Valentine. I'm sure I'm not the first mom to have to tell her son that he will always be her Valentine no matter what another girl says... I could see from his expression that he was really hoping she would say yes. He hasn't been throwing a fit or in tears like I might have been at 13, but there was a hint of disappointment in his voice when he told me "Well she said no mom, so I guess no Valentine this year"  What a silly 12 year old girl to not take my sweet handsome boy up on his offer...
For my son it is a bit of a let down, but for me at least it is one more year that my baby remains my best Valentine gift ever! I'm sure in a few years I will look back on this year and wish I was his only love again.
So I hugged him extra tight this morning on the way out the door and reminded him he is loved... Any other suggestions how to cheer up his teenage heart? I want him to be happy today and enjoy his birthday coming up in two days. We are headed to the beach for his break, so I'm hoping once we get there he will forget all about silly Valentine let down.
Sean,  My baseball player! 
I was about to share this on Facebook when thankfully, I remembered my son is also on there as well as most of his friends. I imagined what an embarrassed boy he'd be if he read that I was telling everyone about his first mini heartbreak... So before pressing post I thought better of it and decided to turn a Facebook post into a short blog. Y'all won't tell him will you? LOL!
I turned to my blog to share because this is one of those moments as a mom I don't want to forget. I want to hold on to his childhood a little longer and I am trying very hard not to totally freak out that we are suddenly in the teenage years... Some days it's like he was born yesterday and on others it feels like it was so long ago. So for this Valentine's Day, and maybe even my last one, I get to keep on being my baby's only love.
Our Home Made Valentine's Day Cards
I pray I teach him how to love well. I pray my husband and I show him how loving couples behave. I hope beyond hope that when my son does finally get his Valentine to say yes that he picks a Princess worthy of my little Prince Charming's love.
 Tell me your Valentine's Day stories with your kids in the comments. Thanks for reading and may your day be filled with love and chocolate!





Monday, February 4, 2013

Preparing for a Mission to Haiti | Guest Blog post for GoGirlfriend

I am honored to have been asked to be a guest blogger for GoGirlfriend travel website. Thank you again so much Julia Rosein for asking me to do this seriese to share our story of our mission trip to Haiti this past December 2012. Read the blog post here on GoGirlfriend.com:
Preparing for a Mission to Haiti | Guest Blog post for GoGirlfriend
Map of Haiti
Map of Haiti (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Letter to a friend about #Hope4Haiti2012 mission trip

(I received a note on Facebook from a trusted friend wanting to know more about Haiti; as He & his family are considering a trip... I am using my response as a base for and the beginning of the first online digital account of my trip to Haiti. I am sharing the truth as I see it and would tell any friend. I hope you can see through my words how grateful I am for the life changing experience I had in Haiti! Bon Dye Bon Tou tan! (God is good all the time!)

Dear Friend,

What an awesome thing to think about! A trip to Haiti is an experience you will never forget!!!
Our team plans to go back & help build the orphanage on the new site in Onaville. We hope very soon... We only need to raise 100k to build it & furnish it... Only!
You are right about so many words! So many experiences... I can briefly tell you that I will never be the same & I'm so thankful for the way God opened my eyes while I was there.
We learned so much about what to do & what not to do and found each person's strengths to benefit the team in a way we couldn't have really imagined before hand... We talked about a team of 50 coming back of all ages... Our thoughts were anyone from 12-13 and above... There are things there I'm not sure a 9 year old needs to see... Openly happening on the street as you drive by. As a parent you know your child & perhaps he/she is mature enough to handle it... But I'd strongly caution you to think about it before seriously considering bringing a kid under 12. I'm 37 and I thought I had walked a wild side of life once a long time ago... But there is absolutely nothing in America that will prepare you for this....
There is a beautiful tourist side of Haiti and its like being in Puerto Rico resorts after landing in San Juan... You can go to the beaches for a fee... But after you get to know the people of Haiti you see beauty in every face & on every street & corner in Haiti...
God made us all! He loves all the little children of the world!
We stayed with Pastor Estecuer Olistin that my father knows and has worked with since going right after the earthquake. We sang in the church my father helped rebuild the foundation for (one bucket bucket bucket at a time) every night that we were there! Yes worship every single night!
My first journal entry read something about how awful dirty & filthy such a beautiful place had become on earth... Why did God let any of us live... Least of all anyone who could destroy paradise.... By weeks end I wanted to run & not get on the plane. I wanted to call my husband & have he and my 12 year old son move there... I saw the people of Haiti through Christ's eyes... First hand getting to know the people kind of seeing...
Onaville, Haiti (the foundation of the new orphanage has just begun)
My eyes were opened and I saw myself no better than the dirtiest beggar in Haiti... I was awakened in a way that is hard to describe. I honestly pray I will never ever return to who I had become because of hurt & failure... I really became a daughter of the King of Kings in Haiti... I see those children like one of the songs I heard on 104.7 the fish that inspired me to finally make the decision to start raising money and go to Haiti "Kings & Queens by Audio Adrenaline"
I haven't even begun my first blog yet so I may use this as my first post... I'll call it Letter to a friend about #Hope4Haiti2012
I am now a Haitian American. And if you choose to go and see for yourself you Will See!!! You will understand God's love in a whole new way... I went to give love & hope to orphans before Christmas. I received the greatest gift I've ever gotten!!! Real joy & love found in the faces hearts and kindness of the people I met in Haiti... And how Christ can help us to show love in extraordinary ways we didn't think possible...
Hope I didn't go on & on but there is so much more.... Ill share my blog once I finally get it written.... I hope to write a series of blogs about my experience. With every post I hope to gain awareness about the needs in Haiti & spread hope to those there by continuing to give & have others join our team!
Hope you have an amazing 2013!
Blessings & Love,
Olivia