Home Improvements

If you asked me what my blog was about I would say motherhood, family, crafts, homemaking, faith, natural living, frugality etc.

Keeping that in mind what do you think my all time most popular post is?

A Very Veggie Birthday?

Heart Art?

Oh Be Careful Little Mamas What You Pin?

Nope. Nothing about crafts or motherhood. Those are some of the runner ups, but the Messy Mom Blog post with the most views (by a landslide) is…

How We Put Hardwood Over Carpet

Yes. Hundreds of people come to this site everyday not to see cute pics of my kids or find out tips for natural birth. They have come to read about home improvement. The How to Install Hardwood Over Carpet does not only hold the record for all time hits, but on any given day it is usually the most viewed post even when I have something new that is somewhat of a hit.

I am not bitter about this at all, but I am a little jealous of my husband who I hope starts his own blog someday when he has time. Because even though I wrote that post, it’s really all him.

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He is the mastermind behind it and not only do people want to know more about our flooring projects they want to know where or how to make the furniture that he comes up with! Like the coffee table that can slide under the entertainment center.

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My Lots of Hope in a Little Home is definitely the most successful series I have ever published and a lot of it also has to do with J’s genius. He has a knack when it comes to taking something that looks kind of hopeless and turning into greatness. It’s okay for me to brag on the hubs for a bit right?

J has renovated a house, a coffee shop, an apartment (which were all temporary upgrades since it’s a rental. More on that later), and now he is working on getting us settled into another rental property. In order to get geared up for this next big undertaking I want to take some time to look back at some of the work he’s done and also reveal some of the outcomes of those home improvement projects. I know I am not a remodel blog, nor do I want to be, but it’s been a big part of our marriage up to this point and I do love to save money by reusing, reinventing, repurposing, and remodeling. So that’s what I plan to write about this week. I’ll be picking J’s brain and diving deeper into some of the messy details of just a few of our greatest Home Improvement projects. Stay tuned.

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By | July 27th, 2015|Frugal Living, My Life, Projects, Uncategorized|2 Comments

The Roll Over Car Accident

I just recently read the book “The Vow” by Kim and Krickitt Carpenter.

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It’s a nonfiction book and there is a movie based off of the same story, but I wouldn’t bother with the movie because it’s NOTHING like the true story. The Carpenter’s story is such an amazing declaration or what love and commitment is really all about. The authors do not shy away from proclaiming the gospel page after page and their detailed account is incredible. The couple was married for just 2 months when they were in a tragic car accident that nearly killed them. Their lives were spared, but Kricket’s memory was not. She didn’t remember her husband at all and the rehabilitation and emotional challenges that followed were almost painful to read, but <spoiler alert> it has a happy ending.

This got me thinking about the time I was in a horrific car wreck.

Some of this will be a repost from what I shared 7 years ago, but I think the story bears repeating because not only is it a testimony of God’s provision, it is also a reminder to wear a seat belt and have infants properly restrained in a car seat while on the road.

It was March of 2008. I was in Kentucky with my 6 month old (Z) visiting family. It was time to head back home to Dallas where my husband was waiting for us. My mom drove us to the airport and while we were riding along on the highway going about 70 MPH the traffic ahead began to stop. My mom hit the brakes in order to avoid a collision and the car started to swerve, first to the left then to the right and we headed off road toward a ditch.

In that moment I honestly never thought I am going to die! I just saw the car vearing off road in the grass and thought Oh No, this is bad and by bad I just figured we would come to an abrupt stop and that we’d be late and miss our flight. Of course all these thoughts happened in a matter of seconds.

Next thing I knew the airbag and a bunch of dirt came towards me. Then I woke up just moments later with grass, glass, dirt, and debri everywhere. It was as if the car was a shovel digging up the earth. I didn’t immediately realized the severity of the wreck. All I could think about was my baby boy in the back seat. I literally screamed at the top of my lungs like you see in the movies “OH GOD! MY SON! SAVE MY BABY! JESUS CHRIST HE HAS TO BE OKAY!  My window had been busted out so I jumped through it and ran to the back of the car screaming. I had completely LOST it.

I tried to get him out through the window, but the car seat was too heavy for me in my condition and the door was smashed shut. My mom got out and was able to reach him from her side. She immediately assured me that he was fine. She went from looking at my 6 months old who didn’t even seem phased to looking up at me from the other side of the car. Her face was an expression of shock and horror. With tears in her eyes she said “but Natalie you are not”. I had a nasty head injury.  At that moment I felt light headed and collapsed on the ground and just wept. Once I knew my baby was fine the motherly adrenaline drained out of my system.
My mom brought the baby over to me so that I could hold him in my arms. Some people pulled over to help and were on the phone with emergency services. I didn’t even realize that the car had rolled over until I heard someone tell the paramedics. I had hit my head on the roof of the car and had a huge knot on the right side about the size of a baseball and was bleeding in several areas. We were all 3 rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. Everyone there reminded me over and over that my baby was okay and that did help me to calm down a lot, although I was still trembling. They did all the appropriate tests and in the end all of three of us were okay.

We got another flight and were back home several days later. I had to go to the chiropractor for a few months for neck issues, but other than that the only thing I came away with from the accident were scrapes, bruises, and a big chunk of missing hair that I guess had been sliced off by the broken glass. It looked funny when it grew back in because for a while it stuck up like alfalfa. I didn’t have a smart phone to take pictures and I didn’t blog back then, so lucky for you I won’t be sharing any gruesome photos. Although I do have this picture of my mom’s car which of course was totaled.

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One thing I will never forget about that terrifying day was that the whole time I was strapped to that stretcher forced to stare at the ceiling with my neck brace on the worship song “He Loves Us” by John Marc McMillan was going through my mind.

He loves us, Oh how He loves us, Oh how He loves us… I felt those words flowing through me over and over bringing me peace in the midst of it all.

And I know that He does love us. He truly does.

By | July 23rd, 2015|My Life, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Finding Out We Were Pregnant

I think most moms remember where they were when they found out they were having a baby for the first time. Well, you were probably in the bathroom, but I guess I mean where you were at in life. Or maybe you remember the date or details with every child. It’s one of life’s most surreal and indescribable moments.

With my first pregnancy I took a test and then announced it to J at the Macaroni Grill while playing hangman with our crayons on the paper table cloth.

Then with the next pregnancy I had Z color a picture for J saying saying he was going to be a big brother.

With Ezie I switched things up. Instead of me announcing to J I had him tell me. I saw it on a show one time. I took the test, but he was the one to go in three minutes later and come out and tell me the news. If you consider this keep in mind this also means your husband will be the one to tell you if you are not pregnant (which did happen once). So it can get emotional, but it was really special to hear the news from my husband that we were expecting our third.

This last time I thought why not just find out together? 

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Once your test leaves the bathroom it opens up a whole world of possibilities really. You could take the test and then tuck it away to save after you hike up to the top of a mountain. You could have the life changing experience at the same place he proposed. In our case we went home after a nice date night and then opened a little gift bag while snuggling on the couch. That’s where we were when we found out our lives were going to change forever, again.

The thing I worried about when I started drumming up this idea was the possibility of accidentally seeing the results. That’s an easy fix though since you can just cover up the result window with tape.

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I used Christmas tape because that’s what I had. It could be any colored tape. Once you take the test you can put the cap on and seal it in a zipper bag. Most test results will last up to 24 hours, but you will want to check the specific brand to know for sure ahead of time. That would be no fun to plan to take a canoe out on the lake or something and then just see a blank screen because your plus sign faded.

Another obvious downside to finding out together is that you don’t know if you are pregnant are not, which could be very anticlimactic if the test is negative. I can see how this is an impractical approach that would NOT be ideal for all situations. For me, since this was my fourth and I was tired of finding out alone. I KNEW I was pregnant. I was just waiting to confirm it with a test. So I just waited a little longer so that we could schedule a date night and celebrate afterwards with a special package and lemon meringue cheesecake. It was fun!

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So that is the story of how we found out we were pregnant this time. I’ll never forget it.

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By | July 9th, 2015|My Life, Pregnancy & Birth|13 Comments

The BIG Ultrasound

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can’t believe the pregnancy is already half way over.

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I am feeling well. I still get a little nauseous from time to time, but it’s definitely on the decline. The acid reflux is just barely starting to make short little unwanted visit. Boo. For the most part I feel fantastic though.

I am to the point that I feel the baby moving now and it won’t be long before the kids and J will be able to. We  have our FIRST ultrasound on Monday.

Quick poll for anyone who has had a baby in the past decade or so.

Did you have more than one ultrasound?

At my first appointment they said that if they were unable to detect a heartbeat at the beginning then they would, but that wasn’t an issue so they just went ahead with the exam and didn’t schedule a sonogram until 20 weeks. This is a first for me. I usually had one early on where you can see the tiny little bean inside and then a second at the halfway point.

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With that said, I’m excited to see the baby on the black and white monitor for the first time. This is always an emotional moment for me. Of course I want reassurance that the baby is healthy and everything is coming along fine and I am definitely anxious about finding out the gender!

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Most people are guessing that it is a girl. The pattern so far has been boy, girl, boy… So it seems a girl would fit right in with our current rhythm. However, I have had some STRONG boy vibes. So much so that I was worried about psyching myself out if I was wrong. I didn’t want the baby to feel like I don’t want a girl if that’s what I’m having!

It’s just that we have a boy name picked out already and the baby would be 3 years apart from Ezie  (whereas he/she will be 6 years apart from SJ) so I can picture the boys playing well together and being in school together. Another reason maybe that I was the only girl with 3 brothers in my family so I know what to expect with that.

On the flip side, if I am wrong and it’s a girl there are lots of things to look forward to with that. I was sorting through their stash of costumes the other day and I thought about all of the princess clothes that SJ would be grown out of before you know it and I have so many more little girl party ideas that I won’t even get to throw if I don’t have another girl. There is also dividing up rooms and the convenience of an even number of boys and girls per room.

I’m rambling out loud, but needless to say it’s a win-win regardless of whether the baby is a boy or girl. I am still really anxious to find out so that I can hit up the yard sales and also clear out some of the old stuff we won’t need anymore depending on what the gender is.

Did any of you other mamas feel like you knew what you were having? 

 

By | July 3rd, 2015|My Life, Pregnancy & Birth|2 Comments

The Good Times Van

My word for the year is good and it’s been helping me remember to focus on the good around me.

I think back to a season in my life that did not seem like it was good at all, my first year of high school. The year was 1997 and we were moving from Georgia to Texas. I was about to start 9th grade. 

The old family minivan got us from one state to the next, but we knew it was on it’s last leg. My parents being as eccentric as they are frugal found a 1978 Dodge Ram Van for $1000 it seemed like a steal. As a 14 year old girl I couldn’t care less about the price or dependability. In my adolescent mind image was all that mattered and I was certain that this van was going to ruin mine. We called it the good times van because it actually said “Good Times Van” in a retro style font on the side.

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It was multi toned brown, with bubble windows and on the inside there was an enormous steering wheel, burnt orange interior, and shag carpeting. Especially as the new kid in town I did not want to be seen anywhere near the Good Times Van, but I really had no choice so I tried to make the best of it.

Little did I know that in that same year the movie Austin Powers would become a huge sensation launching my generation into a flower power revolution. A year later in 1998 That Seventies Show would premier with ratings through the roof. It was then that the grotesque mortifying whale of a vehicle would become the envy of my peers. When people saw it coming (and believe me everyone could see it coming) it was welcomed with remarks about what a sweet ride it was.

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It wasn’t long before I was the one people sought to carpool with. All of my friends would pile into the van to go to concerts and we would all shift our weight from side to side causing it to rock back and forth down the road. People that I didn’t even know would stop me in the halls, “your the one with the good times van?” Yeah, that’s me, and I would beam with pride.

I know it’s just a van and it shouldn’t matter what you drive, but this memory serves as a reminder that things aren’t always as bad as they seem. What I thought was a humiliating eyesore soon brought memories that I wouldn’t trade for a million dollars.

Who knew the Good Times Van would be such a good time after all.

By | June 12th, 2015|My Life|4 Comments

Prayers to the God of Miracles

2 years ago I wrote a post called “We Need a Miracle”. It was one on the most vulnerable posts I’ve ever had to write. We were living in the basement of my brother’s house driving an hour to get SJ to school and the money was about to run out. We knew we needed to move across state lines so that she could qualify for scholarships, which meant we had 3 months to find a job and a home starting from scratch with zero connections. We truly did need a miracle and we got one! We found an apartment crazy enough to accept the pay stubs from J’s temp job he was wrapping up and we lived off of savings for a few weeks while he tried to find work. While volunteering at SJ’s school he met a guy that gave him a job! We knew he still needed a “career” in the long run, so that is why he went back to school. All that happened 2 years ago and the Lord has provided for us this whole time.

Last year I wrote another post titled “We’re Not Moving”  where I boasted about the sense of relief I felt by renewing the lease on apartment for another year. At that point we had just moved 3 times in less than 3 years, so I was thrilled to finally not be going anywhere.

However, this year is a different story. We gave the notice to the apartment management that we would NOT be renewing our lease. I am all for “Lots of Hope for the Little Home” and I don’t mind living in a small space at all, but I’ll spare you all the details and just say that we definitely need  something more accommodating for a family of six. Trust me. We also need a van because after three kids I have learned that a baby doesn’t need much. However, we can not legally fit all 4 kids in our current vehicles so this is a non negotiable upgrade. As if that weren’t enough J needs a new job. He has to have a co-op for school, so something in the field of computer programming. Do you see how I might be just a tiny bit stressed? The baby is coming in 5 months and all we need is a car, a house, and a job. No big deal.

I say no big deal sarcastically, but it truly is not a big deal for God. You’ve probably heard the songs Oceans by Hillsong United. The line that says “You’ve never failed and you won’t start now” has been resonating deep within me. We find ourselves desperate for another miracle, but thankfully I serve a God of miracles.  He is a mighty savior with infinite resources.

So here we go again. We need a house, a van, and a job. We need a miracle. Will join me in praying and believing for that?

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By | June 5th, 2015|My Life, Uncategorized|9 Comments

Ten Pregnancy Symptoms I Had Before I Took the Test

I have so much suppressed details to write about this pregnancy. Three months into it and I have not blogged about any maternity stuff, other than the announcement. That might not sound like a big deal, but I have a chronic case of documentia. It’s a disorder that I made up to label my impulse to document everything.

So I do plan to catch up on all the first trimester updates, but let’s just start with how I knew I was pregnant.

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First of all I was not expecting to be pregnant. Here is the TMI version of the story.

I don’t do birth control pills or anything like that. I did once when I was a newly wed and have decided against it for the past 14 years due to personal medical reasons. However, we were trying NOT to get pregnant through every NFP (natural family planning) method in the book. Now some of you might laugh and say “Yeah, that NFP stuff is a joke and it never works”, but let me repeat I have not been on birth control for 14 years and the three children that I have were not accidents. Let’s just say we had a good system going. At one point at the beginning of this year we discussed the idea of having another child soon. Except we decided it wasn’t good timing and we wanted to wait a bit to be completely ready. From that point on though I will admit to being a little more laid back with charting and all that. It’s not the first time I have taken the casual-trust-my-gut approach to NFP. However, it is the first time it resulted in an unexpected pregnancy.

I knew pretty early on what we were in for. I made this list on March 23 (which would have made me almost 5 weeks pregnant). I even titled it-

“Am I Pregnant?”

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1. Weird Dreams

2. Fatigue

3. Late period

My period used to be all over the place so this one isn’t that big of indicator for me, but I was expecting to start any day.

4. Nausea

5. Ear problems

This is something I commonly struggle with when I am pregnant. That is part of the reason I had to go to the Doctor recently.

6. Forgetfulness

Not that I want to attribute everything I do to pregnancy, but there have been some CRAZY mix ups. I feel like I am in such a fog.

7. Insomnia

I knew when I woke up at 3:30 am hungry and unable to sleep that something was definitely up.

8. Metallic taste

During those first few weeks I had a slight metallic taste in my mouth. Which was probably the biggest indicator.

9. Numb Arm

My right arm had a lingering numbness to it. It’s not even a pregnancy symptom I have ever felt in the past, but when I looked it up, sure enough, it’s a pregnancy symptom.

10. Gas

Bloating and intestinal issues. Bleh.

From there the list just grew and was of course later confirmed through a pregnancy test. Even though it was kind of a tough first trimester I considered all the symptoms a blessing because it was a constant reminder that this was real. I knew it probably meant I was having a very normal healthy pregnancy.

Did any of you other mamas have tell tale signs when you were expecting? Did you know right off the bat, or were you oblivious for the longest time like those women on the show I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant? Just kidding, don’t even get me started on all that craziness!

By | May 21st, 2015|My Life, Pregnancy & Birth, Uncategorized|8 Comments

Messy Mom Movie

What an adventurous day Saturday was!
For those that haven’t been bombarded by all of my announcements online, I’ll fill you in. I am working on relaunching my website and over the weekend I did a professional video shoot for what will be the “Messy Mom Welcome Video”.
The Story Board
The set location was in my brother’s basement. He has a recording/video studio which was staged to look like a living room.
There was whole team of people helping out from art director to stylist and more.

 

 

Truth be told it was just friends and family, but having titles makes it feel more legit.
We did take after take. I think it was 6 scenes total. All three of my kids were involved too, so it was exhausting.
Well worth it though.
There is one final scene that we decided reshoot later, but it’s just Ezie. So he and I will be going back to my brother’s studio tomorrow for that.
It’s not easy being a celebrity! Just joking of course, but I have always loved acting and have dreamed of being a part of a live studio audience or an extra in a movie, and this felt pretty close.
The big premiere day is scheduled for May 9th which is this MOTHER’S DAY!!!
I have so many exciting things planned for that week. It’s going to be like a big ol’ carnival here on the blog… or maybe a circus… or worst case scenario a poorly planned frat party. Things are happening though, that much I know for sure and YOU get to be in on it all from ground zero.
I did want to give a little heads up that there is A LOT that goes into moving 7 years of content to a new home. So things are going to start to slow down a little bit here for the next month as I get ready for all of this. I’ll still be around, but I just wanted to mention that I might be posting less frequently for now.
That’s the latest update. I hope everyone had a beautiful Easter Sunday. It looks like the spring weather is finally here! God bless.

 

By | April 6th, 2015|Creativity, My Life|7 Comments

My Loud Dishwasher

Most of my adult life I have been washing dishes by hand. I know it shocking that there are people in AMERICA in the 21st century that do not have dishwashers, but it’s true!

 

Our old kitchen. The dishwasher is on the left.

I won’t go through all of the places we lived and why there was no working dishwasher, but washing dishes in a tub of soapy warm water was my reality for over 10 years, other than a short stretch of time before we sold our house in Texas.

We did a complete kitchen remodel and we went all out for the energy efficient stainless steel dishwasher. My favorite feature was the “top rack only” option for when you only had half a load of dishes.

I remember when we bought that dishwasher. We were at the home improvement store and the salesperson was showing us all the bells and whistles of their best appliances. We got to the dishwasher and he asked me if my cell ringer was on. I gave him a confused and reluctant Yeeees. Then he told me to put my cell phone in the dishwasher! I thought he was crazy, but you know what they say “always trust a salesman”. Not really, but I was going with the flow. Then he shut the door and had J call my cellphone. The salesman grinned and looked at us like we should be just as excited as he was. My husband was nodding and looked impressed. I was still  confused until I was informed that the dishwasher was so sound proof that you couldn’t even hear a phone ring inside it. Which must be a big selling point for some. For me it just meant that if the kids hid my phone in the dishwasher I was never going to find it.

So that was the time that we had a fancy silent dishwasher. The next dishwasher came when we moved into our current apartment.

What’s teeny, tiny, and beige all over?

Our kitchen.

It’s the kind of kitchen you would find in a camper. See that row of white drawers in the foreground? We installed them. The kitchen originally came with a whopping total of 4 drawers, 6 cupboards, and literally two feet of counter space. It would be perfect if you were a single minimalist living in the 1980’s. It’s okay though, because one thing it does have is a dishwasher. It’s clunky, old and it is LOUD. The volume is like having a monster truck rally in our kitchen. And I am totally fine with that!

When I hear that dishwasher spraying and swishing, heating and drying, I am just reminded of all the dishes I am not washing by hand. Sometimes when the rhythm of the noise is just right I swear it is to the tune of the opening chorus from Les Miserables.

If you are not familiar with The Work Song from the French Musical then just imagine the opening song from Frozen. Pretty much the same thing.

My word for 2015 is “good”. I am determined to look for the good in things this year and that’s how I feel about my dishwasher. It’s good. It’s not the best, but it’s good. It is a blessing.

I know this is a really bazaar assignment, but I want you to listen for your blessings today. There are going to be the obvious things like birds chirping or children laughing, but go even deeper.

I remember hanging out with someone and their heater kicked on. You could hear it rumble and she apologized because it was so loud.

No apology needed! We have heat. We can be warm. That’s a blessing.

We all have a loud dishwasher in some form or another. Take that thing that could be considered intrusive noise and watch it become music to your ears.

By | March 20th, 2015|My Life, Simple Living, Uncategorized|15 Comments

Meeting a Project Runway Fashion Designer

A couple years ago my best friend called me to let me know that there was a deaf designer on Project Runway that signed and had a cochlear implant. I had never watched the show before that or since then, but I religiously followed that entire season rooting for Justin LeBlanc the entire time. At one point he was actually eliminated and it was very emotional. I might have okay, I did shed a tear, but then he was able to get back on the show because you know how those reality shows can go.

 I was thrilled to see a role model on a popular TV show that was deaf like my daughter and I even blogged about how I was a big fan. So when I found out that Justin LeBlanc was coming to my SJ’s school I was ecstatic! I had the opportunity to photograph the event for the school. After LeBlanc was introduced to the kids (grades K-2) they had a Q&A which mostly included 

Can you make shirts?
Can you make a hat?
Can you make shoes? 
Did you make your clothes?
Did you make my clothes? 
Can you make toys?
And lastly, How old are you?

 The answer is yes he can make just about any clothing item, but no he did not make the clothes anyone there was wearing, and he is 28 years old.

 Afterwards LeBlanc helped all them decorate their own hat. It really was the coolest thing! It was like watching the mini version of Project Runway with all of them busily losing themselves in the fabric and materials.


Then came the fashion show! 

 All of the elementary age students walked down the runway in front of their classmates and other special guests. It was adorable to say the least. 

At the end LeBlanc shared a little bit more about his hearing loss and what his passions are.  I was able to get a picture and talk to him briefly when everything ended. In classic fan girl fashion I started sputtering out “It is SO great to meet you. I never even watched Project Runway until you were on it” and his response was “Yeah, me neither.” I have had a lot of PR fans ask about what he was like in real life, not that I hung out with him for a week or anything, but for that afternoon he was so polite, sincere, and always had this smile on his face.

His parents were there too. Whenever there is a deaf celebrity I am always most interested in the parents behind the scenes, because that’s what I relate to and I loved getting to visit with them. 

 I’m sure everyone there took away different things from the experience, but the highlights for me were hearing LeBlanc talk about how Project Runway was kind of like a designer summer camp for him because he had six weeks being completely unplugged. No cell phone. No social networking. No TV. Just hours upon hours spent working on clothes and really getting to focus on his craft, which he had never had that opportunity to do to that extent before. 

On top of all that channel 12 in Cincinnati was there. 

Much to my surprise they decided to interview me (I am the only woman in the video. It’s about the halfway point and they also show a short clip of SJ while I am talking). I’ll admit it was a little bit intimidating and definitely made me self-conscious, it was still a great experience though. The cameraman and anchorwoman were so personable and down-to-earth. You can view the video on their website. 

 Local 12 WKRC-TV Cincinnati – Top Stories

I really can’t say enough good things about the fashion show at Ohio Valley Voices and I do want to give credit to Justin Leblanc designs, Sewn Studios, and TJ Maxx for donating their time and materials. I know that it means so much to these kids and their families.

 I meant what I said in my interview

“It’s really inspiring to have someone that’s deaf that’s shown how successful you can be despite whatever challenges you may face. I think they had a great time”

By | March 10th, 2015|Hearing Loss, My Life, Special Needs, Uncategorized|14 Comments