Moms: Don’t Miss Out On Attending Soar Conference

A mom’s job is never done. The feeding, the cleaning, the scheduling for your kids – it’s practically endless. What if you could press pause and spend a weekend being refreshed, equipped and empowered alongside other moms? What if you had a weekend where you could get some on-the-job training for this most difficult of jobs and where you got to drink your coffee while it was still hot? Can you even imagine a weekend where YOU are the focus?

The Soar Conference was designed for that very purpose – to pour into you as a mom. Soar exists to inspire moms at every season of motherhood with the truth they need to soar and not grow weary as they navigate motherhood.

This incredible local conference will be hosted August 17th and 18th at North Point Community Church in Alpharetta. Produced by Birds on a Wire, a local ministry, the 4th annual Soar Conference will welcome more than 1,000 moms for a day and a half of practical teaching, inspiring worship and transparent conversation with other mothers. Soar will feature brand-new content from founder Karen Stubbs and also bring in experts from around the country to lead moms in break-out sessions on everything from parenting in the age of technology and the emotional world of kids to how to have “The Talk” with your kids.

You won’t want to miss this time of learning, laughing, and celebrating your role as a mom.

Tickets to the Soar Conference are on sale now and can be purchased by visiting www.birdsonawiremoms.com/soar2018– purchase prior to July 15th to save $20 off the final ticket cost. 

For more information on Birds on a Wire and the Soar Conference, follow along on Facebook and Instagram.

RSVP on the Soar Conference Facebook Event Page

Giveaway

Be sure to enter the giveaway for 2 tickets to Soar Conference, devotional, apparel and lunch box notes! Follow this link to enter to win.


More About Karen Stubbs:

Karen Stubbs is the founder and leader of Birds on a Wire, a ministry designed to equip moms through truth, encouragement, and community. Karen is the wife of Greg Stubbs, they have four children, Kelsey, Emily, Taylor and Abby and reside in Cumming, Ga. She is passionate about challenging moms to experience motherhood in the way God intended it for them and their families.


About Birds on a Wire:

Birds on a Wire is a ministry designed to encourage moms and equip them with Godly practical advice so that they will be able to parent with confidence and feel confident in their ability as a mom. As a mother of four, I know firsthand how difficult raising a child is in today’s society. A mom can feel isolated, ill-equipped and unsure of herself and her mothering skills. BOAW pulls alongside moms to give practical advice and assure them that their heavenly Father is with them in this journey. If you have little ones or teenagers or any age in between, join us on this journey of motherhood.

Connect Online: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Cape San Blas FL: Top Things To Do & Places To Eat

Cape San Blas FL: Top Things To Do & Places To Eat

Cape San Blas FL is referred to as The Forgotten Coast of Florida. However, in our book, it’s never forgotten. In fact, around our house, we talk about it all the time. It is our favorite destination every year! We first discovered Cape San Blas FL in 2012 and have returned every year since then. It reminds us of our childhood when it was fun to have no activities but playing on the beach or exploring in the bay. That is the experience we receive when we visit Cape San Blas FL. Over the last few years, we have made a note of all the best things to do and places to eat in Cape San Blas FL. And we wanted to share them with you in case you plan to take a trip to the fabulous forgotten coast!

Things To Do

1. RELAX: Seriously this is what Cape San Blas is all about. For us, it’s the only place we can truly sit back and relax! It’s like a big breath of fresh air.

2. Play on the beach

3. Ride horses on the beach

4. Explore St. Joseph Peninsula State Park

5. Go Scalloping

6. Play on the St. Joseph Bay

7. Go for a walk along the beach

8. Fishing with the family right on the beach

9. Wait for it to be dark, then look up at the stars. It’s absolutely amazing on a clear night! Don’t miss doing this, we still remember the first time we saw a starry night sky at Cape San Blas FL.

10. Make a campfire on the beach. You can either cook dinner, make s’mores or both!

11. If you have a dog, bring them! The beaches at Cape San Blas are dog-friendly.

12. Take a long walk, bike ride or run on the Loggerhead Run Bike Path.

Cape San Blas FL
{Image via www.capesanblaslight.org}

13. Visit the Cape San Blas Lighthouse

14. Shop in the Scallop Cove for souvenirs

15. Rent a pontoon from Cape San Blas Pontoon Boat Rental

16. Watch the glorious sunset every night

17. Read a book from front to back

18. Visit Apalachicola (it’s about 20-25 minutes away) it’s a fun little place to walk around and grab a bite to eat (we like Boss Oyster the best).

19. Did I mention relax? This is the BEST place to relax!

Places To Eat

There are not a ton of places to eat in and near Cape San Blas FL. But the ones that are there (or nearby) are excellent. We recommend you support the local businesses and visit them while you are vacationing on the Cape. We have organized this list by type. Some are restaurants, some are food trucks, some are places to grab fresh seafood to cook back at your rental. Either way, we have enjoyed eating at all of these places and we know you will as well!

Food Truck/Take Out Locations

  1. Weber’s Little Donut Shop: This is a MUST visit for every vacation at Cape San Blas! {Tip: You will need to get there early because the line is long and the sell out of their donuts! Our favorite one is the glazed croissant (pictured below).}
  2. Cape Trading Post: This will be your “grocery store” while in town. They also sell breakfast biscuits, sandwiches and pizza. We always stop by on the way out to grab our yearly sovenir (christmas ornament).
  3. Shoobie’s
  4. Peachy Beach Eats

Fresh Seafood Pick Up Locations

  1. St Joe Shrimp Company: We picked up mahi mahi and large shrimp to make for dinner while we in town. Then on the way out we picked up grouper and more mahi mahi to bring home. They packed it in our cooler with extra ice. {Tip: If you will want to bring home some fresh seafood, you will want to pack a cooler on your trip}
  2. Triple Tails
  3. St. Patricks Seafood Market

Dine In Restaurants

  1. Indian Pass Raw Bar: This is the original location and it’s where we first visited. Hands down the best oysters we’ve ever had. We also put down some delicious crab legs. One of our favorite parts about this restaurant is the atmosphere. They have drinks on the honor system (photo above), sometimes they have live music, and they always have a great front porch to wait on until your table is ready. {Tip: If you want to eat dinner, you will need to get there very early and be prepared for a wait! For us, the wait is always worth it!}
  2. Indian Pass Raw Bar Uptown: This past year we visited the new Indian Pass location in Port St Joe. It was a lot closer to our rental. The atmosphere was totally different. The things we noticed was nice tables, air conditioning, larger menu, etc. The food was still fabulous and they still have the drinks on the honor system. As a plus, they had more non-seafood options. In our case, this helped because we have one child who has never liked seafood. {Tip: When we were there in April, we got there around 4:45pm and had food by 5:30pm. As we were leaving (around 6:30ish) there was a wait to be seated.}
  3. The Sand Bucket Smokehouse & Grill
  4. Skully’s Low Country Boil
  5. Cone Heads
  6. Triple Tails Oyster Bar
  7. Pepper’s Mexican Grill
  8. Ronnie B’s Steak and Seafood
  9. Scallop Republic
  10. Joe Mama’s Wood Fired Pizza: A friend shared with me a great idea. She said they call when they are about 15 minutes away and order pizzas. Then they pick up dinner on their way in. Perfect for a travel day! We will be doing that for 2019.
  11. Thirsty Goat Lounge
  12. Dockside Seafood & Raw Bar

A Few Tips For You

  1. Bugs: There are three types of bugs that you might have to deal with while visiting Cape San Blas FL: No-See-Ums, Yellow Flies & Mosquitos. Thankfully they all can be avoided with a few simple tips. First, you will want to purchase this No No-See-Um natural bug spray. Second, you will also want to purchase either a DEET bug spray or make your own (I make mine from mixing lemongrass, eucalyptus, and Doterra’s TerraShield oil). Last but not least, when booking your trip you will want to find a place on the beach if it’s in your budget. We have had fewer issues with bugs when we were on the beach. But if we explored the bay side, you will need the bug repellant!

2. Places To Stay: There is a building ordinance over Cape San Blas FL that doesn’t allow high rises. Because of that, you can only book a whole house or townhouse. The place we stay is 4 units inside of a large townhome type. I’ve included a photo so you get the point. We like to stay on the beach so we can watch the sunset from our porch every night.

3. The Drive: It takes us around 7 hours to get there. We typically stop at RedBox along the way to rent/return movies for the kids. Oh and we try to time it so we stop for lunch in either Columbus or Dothan. There aren’t a ton of options if you have picky kids, you might want to pack a lunch.

4. Groceries: For the past few years, we have purchased all our groceries here and then packed them in coolers to take to Cape San Blas with us. There is one grocery store (Piggly Wiggly) that is about 25-30 minutes from Cape San Blas. This past year, I purchased my dry/canned goods here. And then we purchased all our produce, refrigerated items, and meat from the Piggly Wiggly. It is a little more expensive than our grocery stores here but it was a whole lot easier than traveling with all those groceries!

If you spend time at Cape San Blas FL, please let us know what you loved while there!


Rachael Walkup has lived in North Georgia all her life. Since 2006 – The Walkup family has made Forsyth County their home. Along with being a wife and mom, Rachael is an avid blogger, social media expert, and owner of CummingLocal.com. Her time is spent promoting local events and small businesses in North Georgia.  With a background in Marketing and Sales, coupled with her experience in Project Development and Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Rachael offers consultations and classes to help clients reach their fullest potential.

Surrender & Extraordinary: A Story of Magnificent Growth in Four Days

surrender

Surrender & Extraordinary: A Story of Magnificent Growth in Four Days

For the last couple of years I’ve chosen a single word to focus on for the whole year. I believe this makes it simpler and more achievable than to write out a bunch of New Years’ resolutions that most likely won’t be met.  But I have to say that when I chose the word “surrender” for 2018, I had no idea what that was really going to mean.  The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines surrender as “to yield to the power, control, or possession of another upon compulsion or demand, to give up completely or agree to forgo especially in favor of another.” I’ll admit that I’m a Type A personality and I thrive by being in control.  Hence why I picked the word surrenderfor 2018. I knew I needed to yield to the power of God who is fully capable of trusting and following.

Fast forward to last month…

What comes to mind when you think of being in the hospital?

When I think of just the word ‘hospital.’ I think of sickness, pain, dreary hallways, and rooms empty of bustle.  I think of just ordinary days, emergencies rushing in and surgeries working in the back.

After my 4-day stay at Northside Hospital Forsyth on the 8th Tower, I found much more.  In fact, it’s safe to say, I experienced extraordinary.

What led to my hospitalization started earlier in the week.  I came down with a high fever, headache, and a 200-bpm resting heartrate.  I was rushed to the emergency room early on a Sunday morning.

I have an auto-immune disease that causes my body to attack different organs.  It’s been my adrenal glands in the past and now my thyroid was taking a serious hit. When I arrived at the ER, I was rushed back and given meds to help with the fever and pain from a migraine that had taken root.  Soon after I was admitted and rolled up to one of the newest floors referred to as “8 Tower.”  And that is where my story really begins.

I had round-the-clock nursing care, which was divided into 12-hour shifts.  My first nurse was extremely helpful because I was still in so much pain.  She sat with me and even put a cold cloth on my head to help with my fever, which was still raging. Soon it switched to the night shift where another nurse was even better.  It seemed with every shift change I was being introduced to these angels who were there to lift my spirits and serve me in a way I have never experienced before.

Towards the end of my stay I encountered several nurses who shared a piece of their story with me.  One was a war refugee.  She had to flee her home with nothing but her sweet child and a few diapers and a bottle.  Another one was an executive and high on the totem pole in his country for years yet when he moved here he started at the bottom.

He was a medical tech and simply took my stats.  Every time he entered my room, he would bring me ice water.  He also was always smiling and to me that makes such the difference.  Other staff I experienced was just out of medical school or in the medical field for over 25 years.

The point is, no matter who I met, their eyes were always in contact with mine.  They looked for a way to make me laugh, smile, or be encouraged.  And they served me however they could.

My hospital stay was less about my diagnosis and more about my personal state of mind.

I spent 4 days in pain.  I spent 4 days missing my family.  I spent 4 days longing for the comfort of my home.  I spent 4 days afraid for my life.  Yet on the bright side…I spent 4 days being cared for by an extraordinary team.  I spent 4 days in the presence of angels who encouraged me deeply.  I spent 4 days learning that my suffering was creating character in me.

I spent 4 days healing from the inside out.

I recently had surgery to remove my thyroid, which we discovered was completely toxic.  I’m still in recovery.  But I’m so grateful for the care I received from the extraordinary staff at Northside Hospital Forsyth.  We are so blessed to live in a county with excellent schools, outstanding medical care, and marvelous people.

I hope you realize how fortunate you are to live in the great county of Forsyth!

You can also find this article in the June issue of My Forsyth Magazine


Rachael Walkup has lived in North Georgia all her life. Since 2006 – The Walkup family has made Forsyth County their home. Along with being a wife and mom, Rachael is an avid blogger, social media expert, and owner of CummingLocal.com. Her time is spent promoting local events and small businesses in North Georgia.

Tips From The Cole Team: Easy Home Updates Potential Buyers will Love

easy home updates

Tips From The Cole Team: Easy Home Updates Potential Buyers will Love

Not only is selling your home a daunting task, but preparing your home to sell is a huge undertaking. However, there are little changes that can make a huge impact on potential buyers, and can even increase the value of your home! Here are a few that you should do right now.

easy home updates

1. Start On The Street

An approachable home can make all the difference! A few things to consider doing at a street level: wash the entire exterior, touch up any paint that has weathered over time, remove any overgrown plants and weeds, mow the lawn, and consider adding hardware such as a door knocker or updated numbers to really add that extra “oomph.”

easy home updates

2. Turn To The Kitchen And Bathrooms

Now is the time to deep clean the areas you may have been avoiding. Repainting adds ambiance and brightens up any room. Not sure what color to pick? Architectural Digest has a list of 10 best bathroom paint colors to help you decide. Adding new tile and changing cabinet hardware can also make a huge impact. This will give these spaces a luxurious, sleek, and modern feel at a low cost! If you have more time on your hands, consider painting your kitchen cabinets. Architectural Digest also provides paint color & design inspiration to take your kitchen “from cookie cutter to high style.”

easy home updates

3. Let There Be Light!

A huge factor for buyers is natural light and ambiance. Deep clean and open up your windows to provide fresh air and light—creating instant space.

Don’t have natural light? You can add fixtures such as floor, table, and ceiling lights. Remember to purchase high quality LED bulbs that are consistent throughout the entire home. Adding mirrors can also be a huge help to amplify the light in any room.


More About the Cole Team:

Cole TeamThe Cole Team, Meriellen Cole Arenz and Stephanie Cole Patterson, is a full-time mother/ daughter led team with over 45 years of experience dedicated to tenaciously protecting their client’s interests. They epitomize integrity, energy, hard work, and creative service in every detail of a real estate transaction. They have earned respect in the North Atlanta community not only for their unparalleled professional track record and high ethical standards but for being an honest, hard working team that does absolutely everything in their power to ensure their client’s success. They have worked in every aspect of the industry representing sellers, buyers, and investors in the residential market. To learn more about this mother/daughter team, watch this video.

Connect with the Cole Team online: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Phone: 770.316.3110

The Impact Of Occupational Therapy And Cerebral Palsy

The Impact Of Occupational Therapy And Cerebral Palsy

As the month of April begins to draw to a close, I can’t help but feel a certain responsibility to shed light on something that has been a part of my life since I was an infant—occupational therapy. Because I am a teenage girl living with Cerebral Palsy, I have endured quite a few doctors appointments, surgeries, and therapy sessions, but I have to admit that my time doing occupational therapy has been one of the most rewarding of the bunch.

Occupational therapy, according to dictionary.com, is a form of therapy in which patients are encouraged to engage in vocational tasks or expressive activities, as art or dance, usually in a social setting; however, to me, it is so much more. It is getting to know one of the most incredible people in the world, someone I have been in contact with for all of my life, and someone who I know will always have my best interest at heart: my occupational therapist. It is being forced to do such grueling tasks that, by the end of a session, I feel as if my body wants to give up on me. It is being faced with the harsh reality that I am not as independent as I think I am and working through the proper steps to get me to where I need to be. For me and so many others, occupational therapy is learning, growing, struggling, and succeeding until you feel as if you are ready to finally spread your wings and fly and then doing it all over again.So, this month, I want to personally thank a group of people who make not only my life, but also the lives of millions of others, better because of occupational therapy.

Thank you to all of the incredible occupational therapists—past, present, and future. Congratulations! You made it through all those grueling years of school, and now, you’re here, making the world a better place. You all have hearts that are bigger than anyone could possibly imagine, and we are all so lucky to have the opportunity to grow up around you or watch you change lives. The way that you love us, your patients, or the way that you love what you do is truly inspiring, and we couldn’t ask for anyone better to spend our time with. Thank you for all those times you’ve forced us to tie our shoes, make our own food, button up clothes, or live our own lives: we have grown because of it. Overall, thank you for making us better people and shaping our lives from the very beginning (for some of us, at least); we couldn’t accomplish what we do now without you.

Occupational therapy, as you can probably tell by now, is not an easy job to hold. It will not always be easy, and it will not always be fun, but I’m telling you from the perspective of a long-time patient, it is so worth it. The impact you make is priceless, and I can’t even begin to express my gratitude for all of the times you could have given up, but didn’t. You are truly an amazing group of people.

So, in the future, I would like to encourage you all to keep smiling, keep encouraging, keep laughing, keep dancing, and keep changing the lives of your patients. Some of my memories from OT have been the best times of my 18 years, and I so desperately want that experience for someone else. Be the people that begin those amazing memories.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for all you do, have done, and will do.

Happy Occupational Therapy Month! All the love from a girl who has been greatly impacted and changed by her OT, Morgan Champion


Morgan Champion is an ambitious North Forsyth High School senior who believes in the power of serving others, reaching for her dreams, and having a positive attitude—no matter her circumstances. Besides writing for “Cumming Local,” Morgan enjoys volunteering at her church, at the Forsyth County Peer Court, and at various clubs and organizations throughout her school.

To read more about Morgan and our other contributing writers, click here

Create Memories Together on a Family Cruise

Create Memories Together on a Family Cruise

Planning the perfect vacation for everyone in the family to enjoy can be daunting. The younger kids want energetic playtime. Older kids want to do something new and different, but still want to sleep in. Dad wants good food. And Mom wants it to be easy and memorable. What one trip can meet all those requirements? A family cruise!

Family cruising is a very popular way to vacation. According to Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), nearly one third of all cruisers in 2017 sailed with their children aged 13 and under. Also, 40% of cruise travelers say they chose a cruise for their vacation because of the amenities available specifically for their children. After the trip, 9 out of 10 parties traveling with children report they were satisfied with their vacation.

DCL MDS: STILLS

Let me tell you why I love taking the family on cruises:

  • Explore the world. On their first cruise, my youngest son said, “We go to bed in one place and wake up in a whole different country!” It’s so convenient to unpack once and visit several places in just a few days’ time. On a 7-night Caribbean cruise, you can visit Mexico, Grand Cayman, and Jamaica. On a 10-night Baltic cruise, you can visit Germany, Estonia, Russia, Finland, and Sweden. On a 7-night Mediterranean cruise, you can visit Spain, France, and Italy. Imagine exploring these amazing destinations with the kids!
  • So much is included. Accommodations, all-day buffet, dinner in the dining rooms, parties on the pool deck, live music all day, a variety of recreation options, child care centers for toddler through 11-years old, designated tween and teen activities, are all included in the cruise price. Things that can be added to a cruise reservation at an additional cost: shore excursions, beverage packages, onboard wifi, spa visits, specialty dining, and casino visits.
  • Excellent customer service. Every day, your room steward will clean your stateroom. Every night, he’ll turn down the room, prepare your beds, and leave towel animals for you. You can have the same wait staff in the dining room for every meal, and they’ll get to know your preferences and dietary needs. Childcare counselors are educated and trained to make sure your kids have a fun and safe experience.
  • Something for everyone. My husband likes to be active when he vacations. On a cruise, he competes in every ping-pong and free throw tournament. I like to nap and read on a vacation. You’ll find me on a heated lounge chair in the spa enjoying the ocean view. My kids (11 & 13) like to hang with new friends. They’ll spend their days at sea in the tween lounge, movie theater, or sports deck. We all come together for dinner and the nighttime entertainment. And we enjoy shore excursions together. On our last cruise, we swam with dolphins in Cozumel—amazing! I love that cruising gives us the perfect balance of independence and family time.
  • Special activities for families.Disney Cruise Line offers fun Star Wars and Marvel themed sailings, plus a pirate night with fireworks and Halloween and Christmas parties seasonally. Royal Caribbean provides meet-and-greets with DreamWorks characters on many of its sailings. Royal Caribbean is also the only cruise line that offers Autism-friendly ships, providing extra assistance for families with children on the spectrum.

For every family, the number of vacations we’ll be able to take together is limited. Make the most of the time you have by choosing a vacation destination where you’ll explore new places, try new foods, experience new adventures, and create lasting memories together. With family cruising, you’ll be able to do all of that and more.

For personalized help planning your cruise, contact your travel agent. Need an agent who specializes in Disney and Universal destinations as well as cruises? Email me at jessica@travelmation.net.


Jessica McKee 

As an Authorized Disney Travel Planner, and a mom to two tween boys, Jessica has fully experienced every thrill attraction and enjoyed everything Star Wars at Walt Disney World. She knows how to save the day with the Marvel heroes at Disneyland. And she knows the award-winning service and relaxed fun aboard the Disney Cruise Line. Plus, outside of Disney destinations, she’s even cast a magical spell with Harry Potter in Universal Studios. And she loves helping other families create magical memories of their own.

Preparing For College

Whether the goal is to graduate with a 4.0 or to simply escape the walls of a dreaded classroom, every high school senior has a plan for his or her life. Everyone has something that they would like to accomplish, whether it be big or small; everyone has dreams of having a promising future, filled with happiness, peace, and working at something other than a minimum wage job. For me, that plan has always included going to college. While my particular passions and ideas for the future varied over the years, I’ve always known that I wanted to be walking across campus, living in a dorm room, meeting people who would become my lifelong friends, and most importantly, getting a state-of-the-art education in order to eventually graduate and pursue the career of my dreams. I’ve always known that I had big goals and that those aspirations would require some type of secondary education, but don’t get me wrong. When it came time to begin the college process, I was overwhelmed by countless tours, post cards, and information sessions. I quickly learned that getting into the perfect school would be no easy task, and because of this, I spent the next 3 and a half years losing sleep over AP classes, over scheduling myself with way too many student organizations, and never losing sight of my future. Honestly, I wouldn’t be where I am now without the help of my amazing friends, family, teachers, and mentors, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

As a freshman, I had no idea what the next four years had in store. I didn’t know how much I’d succeed in high school, and I certainly didn’t predict that I’d end up with multiple full-ride scholarships to some of the top universities in the nation. Truth be told, the college process has been one of the most difficult times of my life, but also the most rewarding. Yes, I made good grades. Yes, I had a good test scores, but I can’t help but remember the way I grew and matured during this time. So, as a high-achieving high-school senior who is blessed to be able to attend a prestigious university for free, this is my advice to you: live, laugh, learn, and grow. If you are a junior looking to attend college after graduation or if you are someone just getting a head start on your future, find out where you want to spend your next four years. Look at where your values lie, and find a place where you really fit in.

When I was an underclassmen, I remember a summer-camp counselor telling me that the perfect school is one that you can see yourself in, one that you can see yourself being happy at. This turned out to be the best advice anyone has ever given me, and I have to admit: it was something I never forgot during this time. I would say the same words to you, dear reader.

Ultimately, your future is up to you. You have the power to make the college process what you want it to be, so I’ll leave you with this: don’t waste that opportunity. Get the grades, do the clubs, study for your standardized tests (no matter how grueling they may be). I promise you, as a high-school senior, it will be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make.


Morgan Champion is an ambitious North Forsyth High School senior who believes in the power of serving others, reaching for her dreams, and having a positive attitude—no matter her circumstances. Besides writing for “Cumming Local,” Morgan enjoys volunteering at her church, at the Forsyth County Peer Court, and at various clubs and organizations throughout her school.

To read more about Morgan and our other contributing writers, click here

An Open Letter To Mom And Dad From A High School Senior

Dear Mom and Dad,

As my senior year begins to draw to a close, I can’t help but think about everything I’ve experienced over the past four years. I can’t help but think about all the late nights of doing homework, about all the football games, the church retreats, the homecoming dances, the proms, and the times that I’ve spent laughing with some of my very best friends. I can’t help but remember all the moments that molded me into who I am over my high school career, both good and bad. I suppose what I’m trying to say is that I’m taking the time to think about my final times in the nest, the final times when I was in the comfort of my childhood home, the final year before everything changes.

And I want to tell you that it was all fantastic. I want to tell you that everything went just swimmingly, that there were not bumps in the road, but that is simply not true. There were most definitely times when I was overcome by my stress and fear, as is the case for most teenagers my age. There were moments when I’ve doubted myself and thought that I wasn’t good enough. There were even times when I looked in the mirror and thought, “Do I even have a purpose in this world?”

The reality of high school and teenage years is this—there will be a point in life when you don’t believe in yourself. There will be a night when your flooded by mountains of AP homework, and you feel like you’ll never escape. There will even be times when your heart is broken, your best friend has just betrayed you, and you feel alone. I know because I personally experienced all of these things. However, let me be the first to tell you that there was eventually a way out. There was always eventually a shoulder to cry on; there were always people whom I knew cared for me more than I could ever know. Those people were you.

It was you who were there when the stress kicked in; it was you who were there when I felt like I wasn’t good enough, so I want to use this open letter as an opportunity to say thank you. I want to thank you and all the other parents of my fellow high school seniors because, believe it or not, we appreciate you. We appreciate the times when you pushed us to our highest potential and the times when you expressed your disappointment. Daughters appreciate the times when they had to admit, against their will, that mother knew best, and sons appreciate the times when their dads taught them important lessons such as respect and dignity.

We love all of the time that we have gotten to spend with you for the past eighteen years, and I know some of my peers will hate to admit this, but we will miss you so incredibly much as we embark on a future of our own. I suppose there aren’t enough words in the universe to talk about how amazing parents are, but I’m going to leave you with this—thank you for being our number one fans, our cheerleaders, and our defenders. Thank you for the life lessons, the amazing home cooked meals, and for doing our laundry. Thank you all for all the grueling tasks you have been forced to pursue as we grew up. Thanks for being the best parents in the entire world.

We Love You,

Morgan {and all of the other high school seniors in Forsyth County}


Morgan Champion is an ambitious North Forsyth High School senior who believes in the power of serving others, reaching for her dreams, and having a positive attitude—no matter her circumstances. Besides writing for “Cumming Local,” Morgan enjoys volunteering at her church, at the Forsyth County Peer Court, and at various clubs and organizations throughout her school.

To read more about Morgan and our other contributing writers, click here

Invite Your Kids Into The Kitchen Using Raddish

Invite Your Kids Into The Kitchen Using Raddish

My friend and contributing writer, Ashley, has shared with us all about this subscription box called Raddish. Be sure to check out the 10 important tips and you will find a $10 off coupon for your order!

Does the thought of inviting your kids into the kitchen sorta terrify you? Or what about not just inviting them into the kitchen, but actually giving them full reign and letting them cook a meal…are you breaking out in a sweat? Ha! I hear you loud and clear – in our home if mama’s cooking you need to be out of the kitchen.

As y’all know I have 3 boys that are now 11, 6, and 3. And I realized I may be forcing them out of the kitchen a little too much when my 11-year-old can’t make a grilled cheese and they haven’t started helping with the dishes…yet. I do not want to raise boys that can’t help their future wives in the kitchen. I want boys that become men that do the dishes. Can I get an amen?!?

So, I had heard about this monthly subscription called Raddish Kids (get it Rad Dish…it’s okay – it took me a bit too). I was a little nervous to try it out. The following is my review.

Tip: When you subscribe have the box come to your kid’s names – receiving mail is always fun, especially when it’s a box.

Tip: Go to the website to get the shopping list for the month without having to open the box (it is also emailed to you when your box ships). I found that getting the ingredients already purchased was easier and then when they opened the box everything was already available. Some of you may want to take the opportunity to take your kids shopping and follow a grocery list (I can see this being a good learning experience). But this mama is taking baby steps (plus I use Kroger ClickList).

The boys were pretty excited to see what came inside.

The box was full of great information and material. Everything was very high quality. Nice heavy laminated cardstock that held up well between all the spills and passing around the kitchen. The recipe cards were very easy to follow and user-friendly. All the instructions have pictures so my non-reading children could follow along as well. Each box always comes with a kitchen gadget/tool. This month we got a set of 12 red reusable cupcake liners.

And let the cooking adventures begin!

Each month is a different NEW theme. (March was an Ireland theme. And April is a spring brunch theme. There is always a main course, a side dish or two, and a dessert on the menu. There is SO much they provide to ‘tease’ the theme out or you can reign it in and simplify it as well.) Tip: For those home schooling readers, they have lessons already prepared for you that you could use all day leading up to them cooking the meal. Think Math, Science, Geography, etc. already planned out for you!

Overall, I’m sold! I loved it. And the boys loved it which is what really matters. And they enjoyed the food because they took ownership in it. And selfishly, they all mentioned how it was a lot of work and how they couldn’t believe I cooked for them so much. So that’s a win and worth you trying at least once in my opinion!

10 Important Tips:

  1. Be prepared for it to take MUCH longer to get food on the table. We started the process at 5:30 and we didn’t sit down to eat until 7:30. Cooking with kids and wanting to explain and teach and let them actually do and be part of the process takes time. Much more time than I was expecting.
  2. Get your husbands and/or other adults involved as well. I needed the extra hands with my three kids. (A 3-year-old on a stool close to a stove is a little nerve-racking). My husband would bounce back and forth between the kids as well as washed dishes behind us the whole way which helped so much.
  3. Read the entire instructions beforehand. I did not and once we started on the dessert it said, ‘chill in refrigerator for 2 hours before serving’. Needless to say, we had the dessert the next day.
  4. Read through the entire cards because it gives a lot of fun information that can be a part of the dinner table discussion. I didn’t notice these until after we ate. (For instance, there was information on Julius Caesar (because one of the side items was Caesar salad), information on Italy (because it was lasagna for the main course), etc.).
  5. I loved the Table Talk conversation starter cards – I put them on a ring and will be collecting them. This is something that can be used all the time at the table which is very helpful.

  1. The food was actually REALLY good. We all enjoyed it!
  2. There is the option of purchasing a kid-size apron and each month they send a patch to put on the apron. We did not purchase this, but I could see how some kids would love it!
  3. You get an email when your box ships that includes all the information for the month including: grocery list, dietary substitutions, homeschool lesson plans, and a bonus recipe. This was very handy and helpful!
  4. When you sign up for a subscription (no matter if it’s a one, six or twelve month subscription), it will auto-renew on the 1st of the month. Just want you to be aware of that because it surprised me.
  5. And probably the most important tip…a COUPON CODE for $10 off your order. And get this – it never expires and you can use it over and over! So, feel free to share with your friends – even outside of Cumming!   Got to http://www.raddishkids.com Upon check-out enter: G9BQJ5

And just as a FYI…

When you sign up for a Raddish membership, your first box will ship according to the following schedule:

  • Orders placed between the 1st and 15th of the month will ship on or before the 16th.
  • Orders placed between the 16th and 31st of the month will receive the following month’s kit, shipped on or before the 7th of the following month

Your second box and beyond will ship on or before the 7th of each month via the United States Postal Service. Please allow 3 to 5 business days for U.S. delivery.

If you try it please make sure to let us know your reviews or tips. And happy ‘family’ cooking!!


Ashley Jansen is wife of 15 years to Mark and mom to three boys, Hamilton (11), Luke (6), and Garrett (3). Originally from Texas, she has lived in Forsyth County for the last 15 years. She loves Mexican food, watching football and baseball, reading a good book, making Excel spreadsheets, and prefers candy over chocolate and Dr. Pepper over Coke. She is a recent breast cancer survivor, but still prefers purple over pink.

To learn more about Ashley and our other contributing writers, click here.

Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month

For many, March is like any other month. Kids go to school; parents go to work, and life continues on as it did the month before. But for me, March is a month of awareness. March is a time when millions of kids, parents, adults, doctors, and families come together to celebrate, learn from one another, and be thankful for everything that God has blessed them with. March is Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month, and as a high school senior living with this physical disability, I can tell you that it means much more than just wearing green or donating the extra cash in your pocket toward research. For me and so many others around the world, March is a time of hope. These next thirty-one days will be all about coming together to accept, love on, and pray for those who walk and roll through life everyday. This month will be all about those who fight the battle of Cerebral Palsy with smiles on their faces.

Whether it be speaking at a national medical conference or talking with someone who climbs the same mountains that I do, I’ve learned one thing about people with this physical disability—they never give up. Even when times get tough, even when the battle seems impossible or the mountains seem too high, those living with Cerebral Palsy keep going. They never let their heads fall too low or their smiles fade for too long.

As an almost eighteen-year-old warrior and mountain-climber, I know this feeling all-too-well; I know what its like to be told that you would never succeed, and I know what it’s like to defy the odds. I know what it’s like to have your optimism taken from you, and I know what it’s like to sink to your lowest low. But I also know what it’s like to rise to the occasion. I realize that sometimes, I have to put on my armor and fight what seems like the biggest war of my life. I realize that sometimes I just have to keep praying until I see the light at the end of the tunnel, until I see the mountain peak. And let me be the first to tell you, when I see it, it’s like the most beautiful sight on Earth. Moments like getting full scholarships to some of the best schools in the nation, moments like walking across the stage at graduation even though my parents were told I would never even stand—that’s what I live for. In short, I live to break the odds. I know that my life and the lives of so many others do not depend on their diagnosises, and that’s what Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month is all about.

March is about showing the rest of the world what we can do. It is about showing the rest of the world where we find our hope. No, we may not be “physically able” to do some things, but with hard work and determination, we can accomplish more than any doctor could’ve ever imagined. And I know that some of my proudest moments have happened because of the unconditional support from some of my favorite people in the world. I realize that, without these kindhearted souls and their relentless love for me, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Therefore, I’d like to give you all this one challenge as the month of March progresses: be that support system to someone in your community. Be the person that defies the odds and helps that person fight his or her battle. Be someone’s hope.


Morgan Champion is an ambitious North Forsyth High School senior who believes in the power of serving others, reaching for her dreams, and having a positive attitude—no matter her circumstances. Besides writing for “Cumming Local,” Morgan enjoys volunteering at her church, at the Forsyth County Peer Court, and at various clubs and organizations throughout her school.

To read more about Morgan and our other contributing writers, click here