Monday, August 15, 2011

One Year Later. The Journey, the Path the Love.




Almost a year ago I sat down with my brother in law, Jason, who has all the computer programming experience in the world, and told him I was interested in starting a blog.  This blog would be for our community that focused on inspiring women, sharing stories, passions, entrepreneurship adventures, photos, and tid bits of humor all wrapped up in a perfect little package of cyber chatter.

I had been sitting on this idea for quite awhile, and with the school year getting ready to start up, I would have more free time on my hands to devote to my writing..  In a nut shell, The timing just felt right.

As we began, our original idea was to partner up with my twin sister Kathryn,who was also a Mom. However Kathryn was your average "working mom."  Monday through Friday, 8:00-5:00 plus an hour commute.   It seemed to fit.  I would handle all the funny stuff, the budding Mommy entrepreneur stuff and local events and her content would but solely fixed on the ones who had to leave little ones behind and go into an office. Kathryn is and always has been very, very smart. She has her Masters Degree in Health Care Administration, has a good head for business, can debate just about any subject with a sharp tongue and quick wit and never ever backs down from something she strongly believes in.  Me....well okay I am smart too, but a different smart. I may not excel in a fierce boardroom meeting but boy can I throw a pizza party for a bunch of Kindergartners. And I can organize crayola markers from the washable kind to the non washable kind. I can even (and I hate to brag) but I can find a Scooby Doo marathon on TV no matter what time of day. Our different situations mixed in with our completely different personalities would make for great reading, great discussion starters and an even keel of information that would appeal to all.
Our first conversation went something like this...

Me - "We need a name...Something cathy..."
"Her - "Uh huh.."
Me - "Something that ties us together as sisters, and Moms."
Her - "Uh huh."
Me - "What about Sister Chat?"
Her - "Uh Huh.."(typing in background...)
Me - "Or Twin Chatter?"
Her - "Uh, huh... Hold!"
*insert classic music here...*

A few more conversations like that occurred but the underlying feel was that this was more my idea than hers and as much as I wanted to partner up with her and have her input, this wasn't as interesting to her.  Not in a bad way, nah she is one of my biggest fans, but it just came down to what gave me the idea in the first place - Our differences.  Not just within our own minds but also our situations.

So with her blessing, I continued to borrow her hubby with the actual launch.  We began in Wordpress.  This was clearly not my idea  (I had tried Wordpress once before and it confused the crap out of me).  But he insisted it was the way to go. Using Wordpress would increase our traffic, we would have a "polished and professional" look (and I had to admit, looking at other wordpress blogs I had been impressed).  So we "pressed" on.  Jason did all the HTML stuff and I provided the content.  He also hooked me in with a few "extras" (which I would later learn are called Plugins) and before I knew, we had take off.  I was so excited, my idea was finally turning into something real.  I was finally entering the world of Professional blogger, and if I played my cards right, I would be successful.  I might even make a little money.  More importantly maybe this blogging thing would jump start me into once again tackling that novel...  I would after all be writing every day.  How easy it would be to blog for an hour, then write a chapter...

Oh how I now laugh now at my naivety...

Yet, Back to the launch.  Everything was there just like Jason had promised.  We had local and national news, a daily weather report, we even had a traffic report and a daily cartoon.  My article that I wrote for the unveiling, a story about Evan starting Kindergarten, well that was up in the far right hand corner...  Evan's picture as Small as my thumbnail.
Bottom, line hardly any of it, and I mean hardly, had anything to do with my ideas on Motherhood.
For a few weeks I went with it.  I buried my head in Wordpress for Dummies books, website tutorials and endless texts and e-mails to Jason who I think after awhile began screening my calls (not that I blamed him).   I did get the hang of a few things,  I still enjoyed writing my own articles that I figured out how to make bigger on the front page.  I even hosted my very first contest, and the winner received Carolina Panther Ticket's   I was slowly making headway. 

However, underneath it all, I was actual quiet miserable, I didn't like sharing my blog with Jason, his intent for me to be more "news" and "current events" oriented wasn't jiving with my writing stories about inspiring Mom's.   We began to butt heads and damn it I had a lot to offer with this blog.   I mean after all, Chatter is effortless.  It just evolves and then takes on a life of it's own.  There is no structure, no boundaries it can stop as easily is it can begin.  And without we can't exist.   I realized I didn't need  tricks or fancy plugins.  I just needed my ideas, my vision and a much simpler application on how to present it all. 

So I changed gears and thanked Jason for his time, his commitment and told him I was running back to Blogger.  Blogger was my friend, Blogger knew me.  Blogger was where I started my original blog Momsie.  I belonged to blogger.  I was coming home.

In February I hired a designer and a few weeks later, I had my new look, my new vibe.  I was elegant yet simple.  I was smart sassy and funny.  I was thrilled.  More magic happened after that.  I had stories, I had content.  I was meeting new people, taking part in new experiences. I was offering more giveaways, I even went antique shopping for crying out loud and learned enough to write about it.  Gift baskets, fashion, design, baked goods, and more...  I was as ever in awe of how many talented women we have in out little community.  I was honored and lucky to be a part of something, I hoped was just as special to everyone I wrote about, as it was to me. 

Then, something, unexpectedly happened. A new path, a new vision slowly appeared in front of me.  A path I didn't see coming but at the same time wasn't surprised either.  Path's are funny that way.  How they appear out of no where yet show signs of familiarity.  Paths that lead to a new place, a glimpse into a new journey.  And the question became.  Do I follow this new path, or do I stick with the one I am on?  And If I took the new path would I be able to look back?  Would Chatter still be okay, would I be giving up what took so long to get started?  What about all the blood sweat and tears I had given over this past year? I didn't want to strand anyone, or leave anyone hanging.  One of my biggest pet peeves as a blogger is to gain a bunch of readers only to let them down with lack of content, lack of connection.  I slowly began to fear that could happen,  I was already writing less  and as if  life wasn't confusing enough, summer break kicked in and my time belonged to the kids, instead of the blog.

Yet through all of  this, the path stood firm.  It was clear as day actually.  So I took one step onto this path that for all practical purposes Lakeside Chatter created for me.    Now as I look back, I am most certain this was the intent and purpose of my experience over the past year.   I am in the Chatters hands forever.  I owe this path gratitude to where it has led me.  The incredible people I have met and the stories I have been able to write.  To read your comments and see how much the blog has changed over the past year has just warmed my heart beyond words.  

So here I am, a year later.  School soon starting again.  Chatter a year older and even though changes lay ahead, I am more excited than ever.  In fact it is that very reason that I wanted to share with you today.  That I, Ms Chatter box herself, am further along in my journey of discovering my own passion, my own inspirations.  The very thing the Chatter stands for happened to me when I least expected.
This isn't a "goodbye" by any strecth of the mens, it is just a "Stay Tuned." Watch me head down this new path and please come along with me.  There is no better feeling in the world than finally understanding all the paths in your life will lead you somewhere quite extraodinary. 
Stay true, stay real and more than anything stay Inspired!!!


With Much Love, Respect and Joy,
Mary

Thursday, July 28, 2011

For Every Season Consignment - The Sale, The Family, The Story

Hello my Chatter friends. I have an awesome feature for you all this week. I will start with a question - Who reading this loves a good sale? Good!
Next Question - Who reading this loves fantastic deals, great items and a bunch of smiling faces all at the same time??
Very good!
Last question - Who gets crazy giddy excited when they start to get flyers from a group called “For Every Season.” I mean jump up and down run to their calendars mark the days in permanent marker and gets a sitter for the kids just so you can go?
If you are like me then you are not only raising your hand but you are also jumping up and down squealing and clapping (okay maybe that is just me) but I have to admit I feel like a school girl who just got asked to the prom when this glorious sale comes around. That famous purple postcard comes in the mail with that special saying “For Every Season Fall/Winter Consignment Sale” (or Springs/Summer) and I am in heaven.

I became a fan of “For EverySeason” about 4 years ago when a fellow Mommy friend of mine sent out an e-mail about the sale and that this was where she got all of her kid’s toys and outfits. At the time I had never heard of them before. I loved consignment shopping for the kids but being located in Lake Wylie, I usually had to travel to Pineville to Once Upon a Child. I had been pretty disappointed the last few times I went so I defiantly want to try this sale out since a) they were much closer to my side of town and b) my friend raved about it and she did indeed have some really cool things for her crew of little ones.
The sale I went to was their Holiday sale. As you will read in my interview, they do three sales a year and a holiday is one of them. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was blown away when I walked in. Everything was labeled, tagged and organized and had a flow to the room. It was busy but not overly crowded. There were plenty of helpers and I not only found stuff for the boys, but also a rug for my foyer, a lamp for my guest room and a really cool purse. I was thrilled.
The next sale I went too was their spring/summer and I brought my Mom along. We both left with bags full of stuff and I couldn’t wait for the fall/winter sale roll around. I think it is safe to say that I have gone to just about every sale since then and seriously plan my schedule around the time of year when they are in full swing. My boys are 5 & 6 now but I still go and find great deals on clothes, shoes and books, especially since my oldest loves to read and I am always looking for books or puzzles that he hasn’t read in school or hasn’t seen yet. I still swing by the toy aisle and pick up a few things. Last year success was a Buzz Light-year dressed in the USA colors and was a “Special Edition” in the store a few months prior. Retail value was $49.99. I paid $8.00 and it was still in great condition. Ryan still plays with him today.
I will always love that Buzz guy and For Every Season for having a sale that helps Mom’s and families out with offering things we all need and use but at fantastic deals and great conditions.
I contacted Lisa last year just after their fall sale and hope they would be willing to be a feature on Lakeside Chatter. She was happy to do so and I am honored and so excited to share with you all. One of my favorite things about blogging is when I get to know people who I have always admired from afar and especially when I get to hear their amazing stories. Read more below and get to know this fantastic family owned operation and if you haven’t done so yet get those permanent markers ready for your calendars.

1) How long have you known each other, and how did you all meet?
We are sisters (Lisa is older than Lori by only 14 months.) Also, our parents are instrumental part of our sale in both their work they do for us as well as the encouragement and support that they give us. We share the same core values, but have very different gifts and talents which we have found to be an asset at being in business together. Lori is the retail manager and Lisa is the business manager of For Every Season—it works!

2) How did you all come up with the idea of For Every Season? Where did the name come from? We knew from the very beginning that For Every Season Consignment was going to be more than just a business. Both of us are very mission-minded and needed to make a difference rather than just make a profit. For Every Season is actually part of an Ecclesiastical passage from the Bible: “For Every Season, there is a purpose under heaven.” We hoped that our business could not only be a way for families to clothe their children and equip their homes “for every season,” but that our business would be a blessing to all in each season.

3) How long has For every Season been in Charlotte/Fort Mill?
Our first sale was the Fall & Winter Sale in August 2002 at the Leroy Springs Recreational Complex in Fort Mill. This year’s Fall & Winter Sale (September 1-11) will be held at The Pointe (2266 Deerfield Drive in Fort Mill—I-77, Exit 88--next to Knights Baseball Stadium in the former Bobcats Training Center.

4) How many workers/volunteers are involved?
The success of our Sale would not be possible without our wonderful helpers and consignors! We have over 300 3-hour helper shifts for each sale. Our helpers come to “work” at our sale with all of their enthusiasm, talents, and ideas. At each sale, we have helpers who make great suggestions because they are thinking outside the box. We also really enjoy the friendship connections that our helpers have made with us and each other. We have a group of ladies who met at For Every Season as helpers years ago and now socialize outside of our Sale! That makes us feel great!

5) How many sales per year?
We host three sales per year: Spring & Summer Sale, Fall & Winter Sale, and Home & Holiday Sale. At all three sales, we feature children’s clothing & shoes, baby equipment, maternity items, and toys. At the Home & Holiday Sale, we expand to also include furniture and home d├ęcor, holiday decorations, electronics, appliances. At one Home & Holiday Sale, we even sold a kitchen sink! With the Home & Holiday Sale, no one ever out-grows our Sale! We love that because we enjoy seeing our consignors, helpers, and shoppers at each sale!

6) Most interesting thing you have learned since starting this adventure?
That the old saying “Never mix family with business” is not necessarily true--not saying that we haven’t had disagreements. However, when the mission of the business (to make a positive difference in the lives of families) is shared by all family members in the business (sisters, parents, husbands, and kids,) a family business can be successful. We have had to learn that each of us brings different gifts and talents to the business and we have learned to appreciate those differences. At the launch of our business, we kept asking ourselves, “Why are we doing this?” when we would get tired or frustrated. We sarcastically responded, “It’s for the children.” After the very first sale, we heard back from families thanking us for what For Every Season provided to the Fort Mill/Lake Wylie/Rock Hill/Charlotte area and what a difference it makes to families. The “It’s for the children” statement has quite a different meaning for us now.

7) Most rewarding part of owning your own company/business?
The most rewarding part is working diligently all year (it takes 3-4 months to prepare for each Sale) and then seeing the “fruits of our labor” as the actual on-site Sale time begins—from set-up to drop-off to sale days to pick-up. We are always excited to see our “old” friends as they come to consign or help (or both!) and are thrilled to meet new friends as they join our Sale as first-timers. We love the relationships we have made through this business

8) You are teaming up with Coupon Mama this year, how did that come about?
The savviest “Business Moms” are the ones that know that saving money is the same as making money. Coupon Mama teaches people how to save money in many various ways—from clipping coupons to not over-buying to not blindly follow the Joneses. For Every Season Consignment offers families an opportunity to make money through consignment and then save money buying at up to 75% off retail prices. Our missions interlace perfectly, so it was just natural that we would partner together. Our Facebook Manager, Michelle Taulbee, recognized this opportunity and put us in touch with Coupon Mama. We met with her recently—she is so dynamic and enthusiastic—check out the picture of us at the meeting on our Facebook page. We are thrilled with the prospects of what For Every Season and Coupon Mama can do working together for families in our community!

Any other fun tid bits you would like to share about your Experience since starting For Every Season?
Once we had a shopper who was unfamiliar with our Sale ask if we were a non-profit charity. Our Dad quickly replied, “Well, we are a ‘not-for-much-profit’ business!” Sad, but true—as we do not measure the success of For Every Season by our bottom line, but by the enjoyment and blessings we receive in For Every Season! Our parents are such an important part of our Sale and have been with us since the beginning. When they first offered their help (free help, of course!,) Lori and I wondered what in the world we could give them to do as token work to keep them busy and out of our way. Now we can’t imagine what we would do without their help! We give them their schedules, but remind them that they work 24/7 AND are on call.
It takes months and months of work just to do a 2-week event! Lori and I always smile when someone says to us, “It must be nice to only have to work a few weeks a year!” Well, it must be, but we wouldn’t know! Ha!

I hope you enjoyed reading about For Every Season as much as I have enjoyed getting to know them and feature them on Lakeside Chatter.  Make sure you check out their website and facebook page below.  More than anything though spread the love.  If you are an avid shopper and fan of For Every Season make sure you pass on their information and Chat Up this wonderful sale that I know personally will be one of the first in line.  Sale begins September 7th. 
Thanks so much Lori and Lisa.  You girls are truly amazing!

For Every Season Website 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Prayers, A Walk and a Rock Star.

I pray a lot.  I always have.  It stared with the book "Are you There God it is Me Margaret"  back when I was 12 and like the main character Margaret, I too prayed for what else -  Boobs!  And okay a boyfriend, and if he was in the mood I also prayed to be as pretty as Lisa what's her name.  You know, there was always a "Lisa or an "Alyssa" or a "Stephanie" or some grogoues name that went with the gorgeous girl you went to school with.
I prayed to be like her.
And as I got older I prayed for my heartbreaks to heal, my parents to let me have a longer curfew and for Jon Bon Jovi to never get married until I was of age and he could chose me.
After college I prayed for a job.  Any job that would allow me to get my own apartment and finally be on my own.
And when I was on my own, I prayed not to screw it up.
And when I did I prayed for forgiveness and another chance.
And then years later, once I became a Mom I prayed about everything...
Please let the baby sleep....Please let my husband grab that night feeding, please tell me I won't be a walking one eyed open zombie for the rest of my life..."
"Please tell me this child asleep on my chest will never get hurt, will never get sick, will always be safe, healthy and always always Happy."
Because Children deserve that.  All children! 
My prayers about children are very specific..."Please help that child." 
Because children don't chose to get sick, they don't chose to have a disease or a missing limb or a bad skin disorder when they can't be allowed out in sunlight.  Kids don't pick this.  It is just life doing what it does best, leaving us with questions with tugs on our hearts and of course prayers. 
I am not extremely religious but I am extreme fan of God and his son Jesus Christ.  I believe in heaven and I believe in the power of faith, of his will and that sometimes we are not in control of what he has planned for us. 
And clearly I believe in the power of prayer. 
And when I see the amazing power this has, I am overwhelmed, I am moved beyond words.  Even if what we pray for isn't exactly how we had hoped it would turn out....  I know eventually whether it is in this life or my afterlife, I will understand why.
So it is then I try to wait and maybe understand a bit differently why kids get sick.  Really sick, or why kid's are taken from us so suddenly.  Because in my book you don't mess with kids.  You just don't.  But my book is different than God's and I trust his over mine any day of the week.
So latley I have had a certian child on my heart.  Okay, a certain family on my heart.  Many of you in this community know the Greenwalt Family.  If not you are about too.....
Meet them here
And if this link doesn't work, go over to my blog roll and click on "Life Love & Laundry" 
Or google Mitochrondial Disease.
Either way you will learn their story, their struggles and what they too are praying for - A Cure.
I am honored, to know this family and beyond humbled by their story.  I care very deeply about helping this little girl fight her "sick"  The sick she didn't ask for or deserve, The sick that found her at only 3 weeks of age.
The sick that is still with her today, almost on her 3rd birthday.
So I ask you wonderful readers for two things, first prayers for this family. 
Second, please visit her "Saving Savannah" facebook page and learn how you can help contribute to a walkathon taking place this October. 
The walk is organized by  United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation -Energy for Life." And their team name is "Saving Savannah" which is a perfect name for this little girl.  She not only rocks her own walk, but rocks the hearts of everyone who has met her, who knows her and who loves her.
Meet Savannah, one of the many many faces of kids facing Mitochondrial disease.
One of the faces you can help. 
And I belive she say's it best in the photo.

Until one is found, I will be praying.  Please join me.


With Love,
Mary

 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wednesday Chatter's "Chat"

Been a week you guys and I am sorry....  I so envy you Bloggers out there who post daily. Seriously how do you do it?  Especially in the summer?!  My mind seems to have melted right along with everything else lately.  However I can always find stuff to chat about so here we go...

First, I must tribute my beloved "first" baby. 
Bruno passed away this past Friday after almost 8 wonderful years as our pet.  We got him when he was only 8 weeks old.  He was the most perfect animal to have in my life.  He was big and sweet and gentle as a baby and loved anyone he met. 
Most of you know Bruno's medical history and our story.  If not and would like to, here is a post I wrote about him back in January where we were told there was nothing more we could do for him except keep him comfortable.  Bruno's Story.
I miss him terribly, but I know he is in my heart, that is about all I can say for now.  You dog owners/lovers know what I mean. 

So on to something so super cheerful and DELICIOUS!!!  Check out what the Cupcake Girl has going on.  I am so excited to see her and "Thoughtful Creations" team up and offer yet another fab giveaway and gift basket.  Click here to read all about the Cupcake Drop.  Too awesome.  Also, know of someone who has a wedding coming up?  Cupcake girl also says's "I Do" to weddings.  Oh "Mi Amore"

Mom Togging!!
I would love to share your July 4th Pictures with my readers.  Have a favorite photo you took over the holiday??  Send it to me at lakesidechatter@gmail.com and I will add to the photo gallery coming up in the next post.  I will get us started....

This is my neighbor's daughter, she just happened to turn away from me while playing with that peace sign necklace.  I couldn't resist the combination of youth, peace and the red white and blue colors.  I love when pictures take on a life of their own.  So send what you got.   Photo's can be of anyone, anything, any time of day.  If it is Patriotic, red white and Blue, Fireworks, even hot dogs then send it on.  Can't wait to see them and share.  Make sure you include your name and any info about the photo you would like to share. 

Speaking of Togging.... Must share my new favorite site.  Paint The Moon.  Okay so if you are a togger and new to Photoshop (or even a pro) at photoshop I highly recommend you check this out.  Annie has 100's of unique textures and actions you can download for Photshop, and Photoshop Elements.  I am in love with this chic and her talent for creativity and design.  She has made me like Photoshop (I have had a long time fear of this application and even now learning it sometimes still feels like Greek to me). But she takes a lot of the time and confusion out of editing and comes up with so many wonderful unique actions.  She even responds to e-mails (people she is FAMOUS) so I was so excited when I e-mailed and said "Hi I am a dork and no NOTHING about photshop" and she got back to me very quickly and said "No you are not a dork, try this and try that and e-mail me if you need any help."  And boom.  Instant fan for life.  Take a peek at her stuff,her prices are very very good. she has freebies you can try out and I think you will love her as much as I do. 

Organizing Tip of the Week.

Rubber Band ID
A guest's wineglass won't end up in the wrong hands when one of these brightly colored name tags identifies it.
Thank you Carolina Neat Freak for this tip.  To see more and learn about how a professional Organizer can help you declutter your life check her out at Carolina Neat freak.


New at SUGAR CREEK GARDEN CENTER:
Xeriscaping!


Xeriscaping is landscaping in a way that reduces or eliminates the need for irrigating.

On Saturday, July 23 at 10AM We will be featuring a class on xeriscaping and how you can make your landscape both beautiful and less dependent on irrigation!
For more Information on this event click here : Sugar Creek Garden Center.
Okay my peeps, that is it for now....  I will have more coming by this weekend.  Hugs to you and please keep the comments coming and share the love on Facebook as well.  I couldn't do any of this without you!!


Much Love,
Mary