My Lesson in Patience

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We all have those moments – the ones that make you stop in your tracks and think about a lesson you just learned. Recently, I had one of those moments. A few weeks ago, I discovered plants that would start growing in a pot on your windowsill and could then be transplanted into the ground. Never really having luck with plants, I decided to give planting another try. I figured I didn’t have much to lose, as the small plants were less than $5.00 (thank you Target dollar section). My seven plants ranged from daisies to watermelons. Once home, I prepared my plants as instructed, placed them on the windowsill, and hoped for the best.

After a few days of watering and waiting, my patience almost got the best of me. I kept thinking “Why aren’t the plants growing?” Keep in mind, it had been less than a week, but I wanted to see results. Then, it hit me; the moment that made me stop in my tracks and reflect on a life lesson. I was in a hurry because I wanted my plants to grow. I wanted tomatoes, cucumbers, and fresh daisies without the wait. It takes time for the seeds to grow into plants, but that’s not what I wanted. The life lesson I learned through this realization was the importance of being patient, and in time, all things will grow and become what they’re meant to be.

Yes, this lesson is probably one you have heard all your life, myself included. However, sometimes these lessons don’t stick with you until these “realization moments” occur. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, patience can be defined as “the habit or fact of being patient and being able to bear without complaint.” Unfortunately, one of the main things about being patient is waiting, waiting for the right time for something to happen. My plants will grow in their own, right time. I can’t dig my fingers into the soil and pull on the seeds and make them grow. After all, these seeds aren’t Jack’s magic beanstalk seeds. I had to be patient. I had to wait.

Quickly, I began to think about how I could use this new nugget of knowledge in other aspects of my life. What other things have I been rushing through or wanting to immediately happen? How many times have I wanted Monday to turn into Friday? How many times have I just wanted something to be over with? The beauty of patience is that it allows you the chance to take things in and actually notice your surroundings. You can enjoy the present and make more memories. Yes, that can be easier said than done. Sometimes life and stress get in the way, and we live in a world where we want things at our fingertips instantly (hello, online shopping and overnight shipping?). However, patience is a virtue, one that we must strive for each day. It’s a virtue I’m still striving for and learning.

I’m reminded of the value of patience through the story of the Chinese bamboo tree. Within this tale, a Chinese bamboo tree spends four years growing underneath the soil and in its fifth year of life, it sprouts to be over 80 feet tall. Within those four years, some tree farmers could lose their patience, while others continue on, because they know the trees are creating a strong foundation for what’s to come. Without being patient, the farmers might not be able to see the beauty of the Chinese bamboo trees.

Just like my plants, anything worth having takes time and patience to become what it is meant to be. While you have patience waiting for something, you learn more about yourself and lessons that you can take throughout your life. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but there will be many “realization moments” in your life that will help those lessons settle in. Thanks to my plants, I have been able to understand the value of this virtue and how to apply it to my life. Plus, I’m still perfecting that skill, as only four out of seven of my plants have bloomed so far. Here’s to having patience (and hope)!

xoxo,

Megan

Article published in Forsyth Woman, July 2017.

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America’s National Treasures

We all know them by name, the classic national treasures that reflect the history of America. But, do you know the history behind these famous landmarks and sites? From the Liberty Bell to Mount Rushmore, I’ll take a look inside some of the most popular national treasures in America.

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The Liberty Bell – Known for its iconic crack, the Liberty Bell is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The bell used to be referred to as the State House Bell, because its old location was the tower of the Pennsylvania State House, now known as Independence Hall. The Liberty Bell was created for the bell tower in 1751 by the Whitechapel Foundry in London. Speaker of the Pennsylvania Assembly, Isaac Norris, headed up the bell’s creation. However, a new bell had to be made after the first bell from London cracked during the first ring test. Metalworkers John Pass and John Stow soon developed the bell in Philadelphia. The bell was rung to call lawmakers to their meetings and townspeople together for important news. It wasn’t until the 1830s that the Liberty Bell became a symbol of liberty.

When it comes to the Liberty Bell, there are two famous symbols located on it. First, the crack. There are different theories as to why the bell cracked, but many believe it occurred during the 1840s, after 90 years of use. However, the split you see in the bell today is actually a repair job. In 1846, Philadelphia decided to repair the crack in the bell for George Washington’s birthday. Metal workers used a technique called “stop drilling” to widen the crack to prevent further spreading and to restore the bell’s tone. Sadly, this repair led to another crack and the Liberty Bell has not been rung since.

The second symbol is the bell’s inscription—“Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof.” This verse comes from Leviticus 25:10 and was chosen by Norris to commemorate the 50th anniversary of William Penn’s 1701 Charter of Privileges. The Liberty Bell’s message was also used by abolitionists to end slavery.

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The Statue of Liberty – “Lady Liberty,” one of the best-known landmarks of the New York skyline, was actually a gift to the United States from the people of France. It was dedicated as a universal symbol of freedom and democracy on October 28, 1886, and became a National Monument in 1924. The Statue of Liberty has a few key symbols associated with her, such as the torch, crown and face, the tablet and dates, and the chains. Lady Liberty’s torch was restored in 1986, and the original 1886 torch is located in an exhibit for all to see. The new torch is covered with 24k gold sheets. As for the crown and face, the iconic crown has seven rays, one for each of the seven continents, and her face is more than 8 feet tall. As for the monument’s tablet and dates, the 23-foot, seven-inch-long-tablet has the inscription “July IV MDCCLXXVI” (July 4, 1776). Lastly, Lady Liberty’s broken chains represent the cessation of oppression and tyranny.

When visiting the Statue of Liberty, there are two ways to climb inside the monument. First, you can either walk/climb the 215 steps from the lobby to the top of the pedestal, or you can take the elevator. From my own experience, there is nothing better than the view of New York, Ellis Island, and the surrounding areas from the top of the pedestal. Another way is to visit the monument’s crown. Access to the crown is only available with advance tickets. Tickets are also needed for the pedestal.

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Mount Rushmore – Located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, the faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln can be seen for miles throughout the Black Hills National Forest. These four presidential faces are visited by more than three million people annually in their home at Mount Rushmore. The mountain’s sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, chose these four presidents based on their important events and contributions to history. Borglum led over 400 workers in carving the monument, which they began in 1927 and completed in 1941. A total of 450,000 tons of rock had to be removed to create the heads. Borglum’s original plan was to show the presidents from the waist up. However, lack of funding stopped the carving after the faces were completed.

Today, Mount Rushmore is known as the “Shrine of Democracy.” On July 4, 1930, a dedication ceremony was held for the head of George Washington. The remaining three presidents each had their dedication ceremonies between 1936 and 1939. After Borglum’s death in 1941, his son took over the job and completed Mount Rushmore’s final details. It is known as a “Shrine of Democracy” because of Borglum’s intention for the monument was to promote the “continuance of the democratic-republican form of government throughout the world.”

The Liberty Bell, Statue of Liberty, and Mount Rushmore are just a few of the many classic national treasures in America. The list of beautiful places can go on and on, and all are on my own personal list of places to visit.

xoxo,

Megan

Article published in June issue of Forsyth Family Magazine. 

To Inspire and Motivate: Princess Diana

I first published this post a year to two ago in my “To Inspire and Motivate” series. However, I feel as if it is ever relevant today in honor of the late Princess Diana’s 56th birthday.

Princess Diana: 

“Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.” -Princess Diana

Following the adventures of Great Britain’s royal family is somewhat a hobby of mine. How can you not love Prince Harry and the adorable Prince George and Princess Charlotte? One of my biggest inspirations comes from this family- the late Princess Diana. I don’t like to refer to the Princess of Wales as “the late,” because for many people, myself included, her legacy still lives on.

Princess Diana devoted her time to her two sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, and her charity work. Her legacy of compassion and helping others, no matter who they were, still rings throughout the world. When there was a need, the People’s Princess was always there.

For me, I will always remember the Princess through her acts of kindness and her willingness. I was young when she died and don’t really remember much of her life before her death. But, when a person’s legacy lives one long after they are gone, that is when you know they made a huge impact on the world.

Princess Diana has and will always inspire and motivate me to be kinder, more compassionate, and always lend a helping hand to others in need.

Singer Elton John perfectly summed up Lady Diana’s actions in his song “Candle in the Wind.”

“You were the grace that placed itself, where lives were torn apart. You called out to our country and you whispered to those in pain…And your footsteps will always fall here, along England’s greenest hills. Your candle’s burned out long before, your legend ever will.”

Summer Travel on a Budget

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As of Wednesday, June 21st, it is officially summer! With summer comes no school, longer days, and more traveling. However, taking trips can be expensive. But, never fear, there are still ways to travel and enjoy the summer season without breaking the bank.

Start a Travel Fund: Start collecting your spare change or setting aside money for an upcoming trip. You can also create a savings account just for traveling. Little by little your money will add up, and before you know it, you’ll be in your dream vacation spot.

Go During the Middle of the Week: Did you know hotel rates and other travel expenses are lower during the middle of the week than the weekends? Try going on vacation during the week. You’ll end up saving more money and won’t have to deal with crowds at popular tourist attractions. Another way to save is to travel during the off-season. Research your destination and see when the crowds are the lowest. For some places, winter is the highest tourist time, while summer is the busiest for other destinations.

Visit Nearby Destinations: While staying in one place, explore the surrounding areas. For example, if you are staying in a major city, take the time to venture out to nearby tourist attractions. This will save you time and money without having to plan another trip.

Have a Staycation: There are probably places in your own hometown you have never explored! Take a day or two and get to know your city a little bit more. Visit the little, unknown places, historic sites, and more. You never know what history you’ll learn about your hometown. Also, read your newspaper and look online for free events and festivals to take part in.

Research Your Accommodations: Hotels aren’t the only place to stay while on vacation. Vacation rental websites, such as Airbnb.com and VRBO.com, are great places to search for cheaper accommodations in different cities. Plus, you’ll get to live like a local while exploring a new place. Another benefit is the possibility of having a kitchen, where you can make your meals and save on food. Be sure to read the rentals’ ratings and reviews before booking.

Take Advantage of Free Things: There is no shame in taking advantage of free entertainment, attractions, and transportation while on a trip. Sites like museums and parks can be free to visitors. Also, look into your location’s events, including concerts, art shows, and more to experience. Another way to save money is by using public transportation or, when possible, walking.

Fly Right: Prices for plane tickets vary throughout the time of the year and day of the week. It is recommended you purchase your tickets 50 to 100 days before your trip. Another way to save money is research prices through travel websites, such as Kayak, Expedia, and Airfarewatchdog.com. Try to plan your departures on a Thursday and returns on Monday to save more. When traveling abroad, fly to your destination during the off-season for cheaper airfares.

Use Travel Saving Websites and Apps: When it comes to any trip, the best thing you can do while planning is to research the best deals for accommodations, transportation, and more. An easy way to compare prices is by using travel saving websites and apps. In addition to the websites listed above, the Travel Channel recommends using jetsetter.combudgetplaces.com, and momondo.com.

Save Money on Food: You don’t have to eat out every meal while on vacation. When you first arrive, go to the grocery store and stock up on the essentials and items, such as sandwich supplies and easy to-go meals. This way you can pack your lunch, dinner, and snacks to take with you while site-seeing. Plan to splurge and eat out for maybe one or two good meals during your trip, and pack the rest.

Vacation expenses can quickly add up when you aren’t looking. However, there are still ways to save money and have the time of your life exploring a new place and making memories.

xoxo,

Megan

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Megan writes the monthly “Budget Bzzz” column for Forsyth Woman. This article was originally published in the June 2017 edition of the magazine http://www.forsythwoman.com/budget-bzzz-summer-travel/ 

A Memorable Family Reunion

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Every year in June, my family, extended and immediate, gets together for a family reunion. At this reunion, there is a lot of family fellowship, food, and fun. This year (this Saturday!), our reunion is a very special one. It is the 50th-anniversary of our family reunion. Fifty years ago, my family started coming together every summer to reconnect and spend time with one another. Throughout this past year, we have been planning many fun and new ideas to make this reunion very memorable. If your family is having a reunion, take a look at the ideas below for to how to plan a memorable event for all ages.

Start Planning Early: Once you know you’ll be having a reunion and the date, start planning all of the details for the event. Think about whether or not you want a theme, where the reunion will be held, the food, etc. When deciding on the event’s location, think about special places for your family. These places could be a member’s house or even a vacation destination. Try to plan at least a year out and involve other family members to help get things organized. Don’t forget about games, decorations, and favors. Also, if the reunion involves traveling to a destination or another member’s house, think about how you want to handle the travel arrangements and accommodations, as well.

Get the Word Out: You can’t have a family reunion without your family there. Once you know the date of the reunion, go ahead and send out “Save the Dates.” Also, you can include surveys or ideas for members to send back on what they would like in a family reunion. Then, closer to the event, about a month or so in advance, send out official invitations. Be creative and make the invitations special and unique to your family.

Food: There are a few different food options for a family reunion. First, you can have it catered and save some stress for family members. Another option would be to have a potluck, where members make their favorite family recipes. Always include desserts to end the event.

Take-Home Gifts: It is always nice to include a take-home gift for your family members. These gifts don’t have to be big, and could be a bookmark, a T-shirt, or a small favor bag. Want something bigger? Create a family tree or family cookbook. In the cookbook, add favorite family recipes, pictures, and stories. You could also create small scrapbooks for each family member.

Games and Activities: An important part of a family reunion is having games and activities for all ages. Depending on where your event is held, some games could be: relay games and races, scavenger hunts, board games, and family Olympics. Carnival games are also popular. For family Olympics, family members can compete in rounds of corn hole, bocce ball, Jenga, Twister, and more. Award medals to the winners. As for activities, craft projects are favorites among the various generations. Other ideas are: family bingo or trivia or a “Blast from the “Past, in which family members take trips to the old houses where the grandparents grew up, former schools, and other places down memory lane. Let grandparents and/or kids share stories from the past or funny anecdotes about another family member. Lastly, create a family video with pictures and clips from the past years. Collect these items while planning the reunion and show the finished product at the event.

Pictures: How many times are year do you see your extended family members? Use the time together to make memories and take tons of pictures. These photos can be pictures staged in a photo shoot, or candid snapshots. Display with your decorations the family reunion pictures throughout the years to see who has, or hasn’t, changed.

A family reunion is meant to be a memorable time, and planning for the event can be enjoyable. Be sure to get everyone’s input and make it special and unique to your family. However, the most important part of a family reunion is to have a good time with your family members.

xoxo,

Megan

 

Taking the Stress out of Traveling with Kids

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It’s summer time! And with summertime come trips and family vacations. Spending long hours traveling in a car, on a plane, or another mode of transportation can be tiring on both parents and children. But, there are tricks to keeping kids engaged and not asking the typical, “Are we there yet?”

Keep the Activities Coming: Pack a travel bag full of games, puzzles, coloring books, stickers, and more to keep your kids occupied. If you are traveling for several hours, try handing out a new item once per hour. Take the travel bag a step further and create a small bag for each child. This bag can be a pencil pouch or something of a similar size and include items that are interesting to that child. Lastly, play family games along the way. Have printable road bingo or a road trip scavenger hunt. Another classic family game is the license plates game, where everyone competes to see how many different license plates they can find. When traveling by airplane, it can be hard to pack all of these items into your carry-on. Instead, try downloading kid-friendly apps with games and videos on your iPhone or iPad. This way, your children will stay engaged in an activity other than running up and down the aisles of the plane.

Pack a Snack Bag without Sweets: Kids will get hungry going from place to place. Be sure to have their favorite treats to ease their hunger and avoid the hangry mood (hungry plus angry). However, remember one thing: don’t include sweets. There is nothing worse than being in a public tourist attraction with a child having a sugar rush. Include in the bag savory treats like cheese cubes, pretzels, fruit, and veggies. Don’t forget water to drink!

Start a Travel Journal: Put an educational spin on your trip and have your kids start a travel journal. This travel journal can include drawings, lists, and stories about the interesting places you visit, food you eat, and the various activities you do. Also, collect postcards from the different places. With these postcards, you can either write a message on the back and mail them to yourself or include them in the journal. Another way to engage your kids in the travel journal is to give them a camera to take pictures. This child-friendly camera will allow kids to capture their favorite sites and what interests them. Types of cameras can include disposable or Polaroid.

Have a First-Aid Kit and a Clean-up Kit: When you are traveling with kids, anything can happen. Be prepared with a First-Aid kit and a clean-up kit for spills. In the First-Aid kit, include band aids, gauze pads, a digital thermometer, cold pack, sunscreen, bug spray, aloe vera, saline solution, antibacterial wipes, medicine, and anything else you would normally include. For the clean-up kit, put in antibacterial wipes, paper towels, small garbage bags, zip-lock bags, and extra clothing and diapers.

Plan Ahead: Plan your trip and make your reservations well in advance. Along with hotel and flight reservations, buy tickets for attractions ahead of time. In addition, plan out a schedule for your trip, including the various activities for each day. Check out the websites for the places you’ll visit, see the nearby restaurants, and other sites to help your trip go smoothly. However, one of the most important things to remember is to stay flexible! If you have one attraction planned for a day and end up doing something else, don’t worry! Don’t plan too much or too little. The ultimate goal of the trip is to have fun and make memories with your family. Also, have a plan of what you’re going to pack in regard to clothes for your kids. Have a to-do list and schedule of what needs to be done in the final days leading up to your trip.

Bring Your Child’s Must-need Items: Don’t forget to bring your child’s favorite stuffed animal, toy, or blanket—anything they normally carry around and need to have at home. These items will help kids feel safe and comfortable while exploring new surroundings. Plus, it might help prevent some emotional break-downs.

Traveling with kids can sometimes be stressful. However, use the tips above to ease that stress and create lasting family memories.

xoxo,

Megan

 

Must Try Recipe: S’mores Dip

S’mores Dip is a must try recipe this summer. Bring on the chocolate, marshmallow, and graham crackers!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
  • 15 jumbo marshmallows, halved
  • Graham cracker squares

Directions:

  1. Adjust rack to center position of oven and place 8-inch cast iron skillet or regular frying pan on rack. Preheat oven to 450°F with skillet inside. Once preheated, use a pot holder to remove the hot skillet from the oven.
  2. Place pat of butter in the skillet and coat the bottom and sides. Pour chocolate chips in an even layer into the bottom.
  3. Arrange marshmallow halves over the chocolate chips, covering the chocolate completely.
  4. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes or until marshmallows are toasted to your liking.
  5. Remove from heat and rest for 5 minutes. Serve immediately with graham cracker squares.

Enjoy!

 

xoxo,

Megan