Category Archives for "Karla’s Korner"

January 31, 2011

Karla's Korner: Soup

I think we all need a touch point a place we can go to be inspired. Karla is my children’s teacher, a good friend, and a person with a heart of gold. I hope that her words will inspire you to do more. We are only as good as the people we surround ourselves with. It is important to listen with your heart and proceed with your eyes open. Enjoy! AMEE

Sitting alone in my kitchen with a fresh bowl of homemade vegetable soup and a handful of buttered saltine crackers, my eyes filled with tears. Now, there were onions and black pepper in my soup, but that was not the reason for the tears. It was the memories that flooded my mind as I sat there enjoying the fruits of my labor, or in this case, the vegetables of my labor.
As far back as I can remember, one of my most favorite meals was homemade soup. My momma would drag out the pressure cooker fill it with water and plop in a bunch of soup bones and the process would begin. Back in “the day” pressure cookers were not digital with timers like the ones available today. My mommas pressure cooker was that beautiful golden color of that era and the lid on it must have weighed at least ten pounds. Sitting a top of that big ol’ lid was a little jiggly thing that bobbled back and forth as the pressure inside the pot increased. After the meat was cooked she would carefully adjust it to allow the steam from the inside of the cooker release slowly. If it didn’t release slowly she would have a big mess to clean up. And once in a while she would have a mess to clean up. Once the meat was cooked, she would add lots of vegetables and let the soupy concoction simmer on the stove for the rest of the day. The result was a wonderful soup that would fill us up on a cold winter’s day.
Sitting there eating my soup and crackers my mind not only drifted back to my own mom, but to my grandparents. My Grandma and Pap were two of the most wonderful people I have ever known. They were hard working, honest people who never asked for anything and worked hard for everything they had. My Pap worked at a local car dealership detailing cars and Grandma worked in a blue jeans factory as an inspector. While they loved me more than I could ever put into words, they never spoiled me (or the other eight grandchildren). It wasn’t their way. And as an adult, I am so thankful they did not lavish us with gifts and material things. When I was nine years old, my grandparents purchased their very first home. That was 1976. They purchased a dining room table, chairs, china hutch and china for their new home. I remember going to see their purchase and hearing my grandma say to me “Karla Anne, when I am dead this is yours”. Now I was nine and the thought of my grandma leaving this earth would have never crossed my mind. However, she was a realist and she wanted to make sure that I knew that her treasured furniture would someday be mine and that everyone knew it. I am sitting at her dining table as I write this.
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January 24, 2011

Karla's Korner

I am proud to introduce a new column to Madame Deals! I think we all need a touch point a place we can go to be inspired. Karla is my children’s teacher, a good friend, and a person with a heart of gold. I hope that her words will inspire you to do more. We are only as good as the people we surround ourselves with. It is important to listen with your heart and proceed with your eyes open. Enjoy!

Lessons learned from a little boy…

As I sit down to write this I am sitting in a classroom with ten of the most beautiful children all nestled in their blankies sleeping soundly. The shades are down and there is sweet music playing to the crashing of ocean waves in the background. Ahh, this is the good life. When I tell people that I am a preschool teacher and that I teach ten three year old children every day I receive all kinds of comments. Most of those comments have to do with the fact that I must be a bit “off my rocker” to want to have such a job. Maybe I am, but if I am, there’s no place I’d rather be.

Every year in August, I open my classroom door to a brand new group of three year olds. Some of those students have never been in a classroom. Some have never been away from mommy and daddy. Some may be only children and have not really played or associated with other children on a regular basis. Some have older siblings or brand new babies in the house. Every year I meet and greet anywhere between 15 and 20 brand new faces and welcome them into my life. And every year, I am blessed beyond words.

January 17, 2011

Karla's Korner: Happiness

Happiness, defined by Webster’s Dictionary, means a state of well being, contentment and joy. As I reflected on the meaning of happiness I couldn’t help but think of the people in my life who are truly happy and who could find many reasons to choose to be otherwise. Now some would argue that we can’t choose to be happy or unhappy, that incidences in life make us happy or unhappy. I have several examples of some amazing people who have chosen to live their lives happy no matter what their circumstances. Let me share with you stories of two of the most amazing people I have ever known. The ironic part of their stories is that they are both under the age of four.

First, there’s the story of Faith. What an appropriate name for such an amazing little girl. Before Faith was born, doctors discovered some problems with her heart. Shortly after Faith was born, doctors performed heart surgery. She was just three weeks old. This would be the first of several surgeries she would have to endure. As Faith began to grow, her spirit would shine through in her beautiful smile. Faith played, laughed, and loved all the while enduring health issues that included several more heart surgeries. Faith went to church with my parents and every time I would visit their church I would see pretty little Faith, smiling and laughing with everyone she came in contact with. Faith’s parents created a website to update family and friends as they journeyed through this ordeal with their little girl. Pictures of Faith would show her riding her tricycle, coloring, playing outside, riding on their boat; living her life with a smile on her face and happiness in her heart, while sometimes being connected to a monitor, machine or stuck in a hospital bed. Updates and pictures would be posted periodically and each time she was smiling. Faith endured so much to be so little, but she always had her smile and would light up the room when she walked in. In November 2006, Faith had her third surgery. Three months later, she started having complications that affected her lungs. Faith had to endure more surgery and unfortunately on April 7, 2007 Faith lost her battle and quietly passed away with her parents at her side. While the end of her precious little life brought sadness to those who knew her, the legacy she left behind will live on forever. Faith was a shining example (along with her parents and family) of true happiness. She chose to be happy. I am told that there was children’s music and balloons at her memorial service something that Faith would have loved; something that would have made her happy.
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January 10, 2011

Karla's Korner : Fences

So I have a confession to make. I’m a country girl. I love country music, NASCAR and life in a small town. I grew up on a small poultry farm in rural Virginia. We had our own cow that my daddy milked by hand every day. We drank that milk without any processing other than straining it through a cheese cloth into a jar. We made homemade ice cream, ate fresh eggs from the chickens on the farm, raised pigs, processed our own beef, pork and chicken. We made homemade apple butter, canned vegetables from our garden and often times wore homemade clothes. We washed those homemade clothes and hung them outside on a line to dry. Have you ever tried to put on a freshly washed pair of blue jeans that have hung outside on a clothes line in the sun all day? It’s no easy task. We had chores and responsibilities every day and we did them without complaint (well not much complaint). I used to think that I couldn’t wait to get out of that small town, and at the age of 22, I married my Carolina boy and moved away. That was over 21 years ago. Over the past 21 years my husband and I have moved around due to his job and most of the time we have lived in small communities.

On my way to a youth function at my church the other day I popped in the new Jason Aldean CD my son gave me for Christmas. While I had listened to this CD several times since Christmas, I had not really listened to this particular song until that moment. After listening to it once, I replayed it two more times. The message, while some might consider quite “hokey”, hit me like a ton of bricks, but none the less, it hit me hard.

The title of this song is “Church Pew or Bar Stool”…yes, it’s quite country, and to some, I am sure it’s hard to believe that one could find a deep thoughtful meaning out of it, but let me explain my “aha” moment. The singer explains that there are two kinds of salvation in this small town he’s living in; the whiskey or the Bible, meaning you have to be one way or the other. He sings in the chorus that “when you don’t seem to live on either side of the fence people act like you don’t make sense”. As I reflected on this song and the meaning behind it, I realized that all too often in life we are judged by what we do, who we spend time with, where we live, what kind of car we drive, etc. But why? What does it really matter what religion I am, what kind of music I listen to, what kind of car I drive or whether I spend my time at a NASCAR race or in a museum or at the opera or in church? No one particular thing makes me who I am. What makes me the person I am is all of these things collectively.

I teach Christian preschool, but does that mean that I can’t listen to my country music? Does that mean that I can’t go to a NASCAR race, tailgate with my husband, family and friends and cheer on my favorite driver? Does it mean that I can’t frequent certain restaurants, or be friends with people with different backgrounds or beliefs? No, absolutely not. What it means is that I am who I am and that is enough. Sometimes when I get in my car to go to work or leave work for the day I crank up my radio and let the music fill up every inch of space in my brain. It’s funny to see the looks on my co-workers faces as I zip off the lot with my music vibrating the windows. Some find it quite humorous that Ms. Karla listens to that “stuff”. It’s just a part of me.

In the song the singer sings about not living on either side of the fence. What are fences for? Fences are built for two reasons; to keep something in or keep something out. They are a divider, of sort. There are so many things in today’s world that divide or separate and instill in us the need to be set apart. What we need to keep in mind is that when fences are built we lose intimate, personal contact with those around us. We set ourselves apart, and by doing so, we may miss out on something or someone wonderful. As a little girl growing up in the country, we had fences for the animals, but not for ourselves. We never locked our cars, we left our bikes out on the front porch, we slept with the windows open and if we forgot to lock the house when we left, well that was o.k. too. We trusted and were trusted. If we needed something we borrowed it from a neighbor. We knew our neighbors and they knew us. Life was simple. While I don’t advocate leaving our cars and homes unlocked, I would suggest trying to tear down some of the fences we’ve built in our lives. Maybe that’s why I have such an affection for country music. It’s real, it’s simple; sometimes it’s loud and other times it soft and melodic, but for me, it reaches into my heart and reminds me that it’s o.k. to be who I am. It reminds me to open up, reach out, help out, hold a hand, say a prayer or just sit and listen.

I remember a quote that quite possibly came from a country song that says “you can take a girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl”. And, while I do enjoy some of the finer things life has to offer, I have to admit that some of the things in life that bring me the most joy are things that are simple; country , if you will. My challenge for this week is to tear down a fence that you’ve built in your life. Reach out, open up and listen with your heart, it’s really that simple. You’d be amazed at just how sweet the simple “country” side of life is.

~Karla Robey

January 3, 2011

Karla's Korner:What’s Your Resolution?

As I began to think of a topic for this week’s article, I asked one of the wisest people I know what he thought of making New Year’s resolutions. This wise person happens to be my husband, David. I’ve known him for 23 years and so far, he’s never steered me wrong…well not on purpose anyway.

As we were talking about resolutions and their importance in our lives we came to the conclusion that resolutions, when made with sincerity and genuine thoughtfulness, can be kept. How many times have we resolved to do something on a grand scale and proudly announce to everyone we know our intentions, only to let the resolution fall by the wayside and end up feeling like a failure not only to ourselves but to our friends and family? I have resolved to lose weight many times over the years and each year I start off with the biggest and best intentions. Unfortunately, within a few weeks, I find myself losing interest instead of the weight. The guilt I have felt for not keeping my resolutions has taken its toll often times resulting in weight gain, not loss.

So why is it that we feel compelled to make big resolutions? Why can’t we just resolve to do something more attainable? Why do we feel we need to shout to the world that we are going to lose 100 pounds, walk five miles every day, quit eating meat, carbs, sugar or stop drinking soda? Seriously, while all those ideas seem wonderful, can we really attain them? Is it possible? Yes, I believe it’s possible, however, how miserable are we going to be while doing it? Wouldn’t it easier to resolve to do those things by taking it one step at a time?

For the past 20 months I have been involved with a support group that has helped me deal with anxiety, obsessive compulsive behaviors and my food addiction. Yes, you can be addicted to food and I am. I have secretly struggled with this problem for a very long time; I am only now strong enough to admit it. This program has allowed me to learn that I must take things one step at a time. In order for me to lose the weight I want (and need) to lose, I must begin to make small steps toward improving my overall health. Allowing myself time to adjust to eating healthier without the stress of giving up everything I enjoy eating, exercising, etc. has been much easier than in years past, where on January 1st I gave up everything. As part of the large support group, my small group has been focusing on conquering food disorders. As I have trudged through countless hours of reading, journaling, homework, praying and logging my food, I have come to realize that like Rome, my weight gain didn’t happen in a day. I have worked on this for a long time, and it’s going to take time to shed the extra pounds. And, that’s o.k. I have to take each day as it comes and resolve to do the best I can for that day. If I have a less than perfect day, I have to resolve to move on, learn from my mistakes of today and welcome tomorrow with a clean slate, or in my case a clean plate. Since September, I have lost 18 pounds. While the holidays were a bit difficult and I have not lost any weight in almost three weeks, I have maintained the 18 pound loss and am super excited about that.

As David and I shared our ideas on resolutions, one thing became crystal clear to both of us. When we make simple ordinary resolutions, we tend to have extraordinary results. For example, you may decide to resolve to spend an extra five minutes at the dinner table talking with your children each evening. And as a result, you find that your relationship with your children grows stronger. You may decide to eat dinner as a family every night, or several nights a week if you have conflicting schedules. Smiling more, saying please and thank you could be great resolutions. Small gestures can make a big difference in someone’s life and your own. While I cannot recall who it was, I heard a celebrity on TV. the other night saying that her resolution for the New Year was to be present more. When asked what she meant, her reply was that even when she is with her children, husband, friends, family, etc., she’s not always present mentally. She has resolved to be present not only in body but in mind and spirit. She has resolved to pay attention to those around her and to enjoy being in that particular moment. I think that is a grand idea on a very small, attainable scale.

As the New Year rolls in and we all get back into the routine of life, remember that sometimes it’s the little stuff that matters most. We don’t have to make a grand entrance all the time. Sometimes going through the back door quietly unnoticed is all that’s necessary. Whether it’s big steps or baby steps, the main thing is that you are moving forward. Whatever your resolution is this year, I wish you all the best.

~Karla Robey

December 20, 2010

Karla’s Korner

I am proud to introduce a new column to Madame Deals! I think we all need a touch point a place we can go to be inspired. Karla is my children’s teacher, a good friend, and a person with a heart of gold. I hope that her words will inspire you to do more. We are only as good as the people we surround ourselves with. It is important to listen with your heart and proceed with your eyes open. Enjoy!

Life Lessons….

As a preschool teacher to approximately 20 three year olds every school year, I find myself in a unique position. I become an extended part of the families of the children I teach….well sort of. Because I am “older” than most of the parents of students in my class and because I have a child who is almost 18 and another who just turned 12, I am looked upon sometimes for advice or my opinion because I’ve already been through that stage in my children’s life. For some reason these younger parents seem to think I have some magic book of answers. Sometimes I have answers and sometimes, well, sometimes, I don’t.

One of the biggest lessons I have learned as a mother, is that children do not come with an instruction manual. Children are the authors of their own book of life, from the day they are born…often times from the day they are conceived. From the time we find out that a baby is on the way, we begin to plan, change our lifestyles and prepare for this new person to enter into every facet of our lives. We are excited but have absolutely no idea what we have really gotten ourselves into. We don’t consider the fact that we will lose sleep, never eat a hot (let alone warm) meal for several years, we will never go to the bathroom by ourselves for at least five years and we will spend at least two nights a week on the couch with a small person sleeping on our chest.

On the day of delivery we were handed this beautiful warm bundle of sweetness and pretty much sent on our merry little way without a lot of instruction. I, myself, had never changed a diaper until the day my daughter was born. I was 25 years old and had no idea what I was doing. But she was so beautiful and she was ours and we were going to take her home and be the best parents in the world. Well, she’s still beautiful and we did take her home, but I doubt we will ever win the best parent award. But that’s o.k.

As we have meandered down our road of life, we have come to realize that it is o.k. to make it up as we go along. Each age and stage brings new challenges, new ideas, and new rules. As they grow, we grow right along with them. For example, meal time used to be spent in front of the t.v. on the sofa or standing over the kitchen sink. Once that little person arrives, you decide how important it is to eat at the kitchen or dining room table as a family. And, the music you listened to will become and thing of the past, at least for a while, because after all your little one would rather hear “the wheels on the bus” or the theme song from Barney instead of the loud head pounding music you’ve listened to for years. Your choice in television shows change too. Gone is the lazy Saturday afternoons of movies, sports, etc. Now you get a kick out of watching your little one enjoy the Wiggles, Backyardigans, Blue’s Clues or Dora the Explorer. You will even find yourself singing right along and no longer think it’s childish. You will enjoy those precious moments with your child. Your life changes so quickly and sometimes drastically and you don’t even realize it. You drive the speed limit, check your seatbelt, you don’t talk on the phone while driving, you eat healthier, and the list goes on and on. You do this all because you became a parent.

My family is currently going through the realization that our little ones are not so little anymore and one is actually preparing to leave for college in about eight months. The nerve of her to grow up, graduate high school and go off somewhere to school and leave us after all we have done for her. Sometimes, I feel just like that, but then I catch myself and realize that all of those sacrifices and changes we made in our lives all those years ago were about her (and her brother) and for her (and her brother). We wouldn’t have it any other way. We have spent the past 17 ½ years writing the book of her life. We helped guide her, teach her, nurture her and support her. So as we prepare to watch her walk across that stage and receive her diploma in a few short months, we will have a gift for her as well. The gift will be the book of her life that we will hand over to her and allow her the freedom to write the rest of it, her way, and the way she sees fit. Will this be difficult? Absolutely. Will we try to add a chapter or revise it once in a while? You betcha. But in the end, we must let her be the author of her own life book. After all, she started it all those years ago, she was the author all along, we just held her hand until she learned how to write on her own.
~Karla Robey

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