June 7, 2017

Explaining Transgender to My Four Year Old

I almost did not write this post. In fact, it has been weeks, maybe months, since all this has happened and ever since I have been playing the scenario over and over again in my mind. I wonder if I handled things correctly and what I should do next time this situation arises.

How I explained transgender to my child. A tough conversation for any age, when the conversation came up with my four year old I wanted to handle it in a loving and delicate way that encouraged inclusion and was unwavering in our Christian faith.

I always knew I would have to talk to my children about identities as hetero or homosexual, transgender and bisexual, I just never imaged the conversation would start when my son was only four-years-old. Like almost everything I have experienced to this point in parenting, it came faster than I could have imaged and I was unprepared. I was unprepared for the questions, for the stares, for the pointing.  I pray I handled things delicately and was sensitive to my child's feelings and those around us.

I am not writing this to make a mockery of the situation. I am writing this because I want to do right by my child who is growing up in a world where he will be faced with people who are different from him in many ways; their beliefs, their appearance, their attitudes, their language, their sexuality. I want him to learn to love all people, regardless of the differences which exist between them. His beliefs, whatever he may choose them to be as he grows, should not hinder him from always loving his neighbors.

My son pointed across a restaurant and very loudly called out, "look that girl is really a boy!" I wanted to shrink under the table, and I tried to quiet him quickly so we would not make a scene. But honestly, in the moment I had no idea what to say to him. And so, I'm writing this for advice on how to handle this situation knowledgeably and lovingly, here is the whole story.

My mom came in town, and I was excited to show her some of the new places I had discovered around our charming downtown area. On our list of stops, we went to a delicious local restaurant known for amazing burgers. It was beautiful outside, and since she lives in Ohio, where the weather in Spring can be rainy, snowy, or sunny, I wanted to take full advantage of our time and sit on a patio. My boys loved it they got to run around and enjoy the mild weather. We were there for an early dinner, and the tables were occupied, but the entire patio was not yet full of patrons. The people dining at the restaurant varied considerably. There were a couple of coworkers, reuniting and sharing a drink,  an older couple who apparently were also trying to enjoy the Georgia Spring weather and another family with children who were all smiles as they indulged on their burgers and fries.

There was one other notable couple in the corner, a man and woman, who keep mostly to themselves and appeared to be in deep conversation. When we arrived, they moved down a couple seats, and I suspect it was so the voices of my little ones did not interrupt their chat. I can honestly say I did not pay the couple much mind and they were positioned behind me, so they were not in my line of vision. My oldest, however, was seated directly in front of them and it was unavoidable for him not to notice them discreetly sitting in the corner.

In between mouthfuls of fresh cut french fries, he looked up a couple times to observe his surroundings - an act quite common for a four-year-old. At one point, without hesitation, he pointed his finger at the couple and said, "look that girl is really a boy!" He did not realize the impact of his comment, and I cannot be sure if the couple heard his innocent observation or not. However, we shushed him quickly and redirected his attention to French fries and passing vehicles. Distraction techniques are a saving grace and simultaneous frustration of having young and curious children. In this instance, I used it to my advantage.

In the meantime, my mind went in a million different directions, trying to decide how to lovingly and honestly explain the situation to my little man who suddenly seemed so grown up. He had propelled himself into a very profound scenario with one simple observation, and as an adult, I was faced with explaining a situation I had not fully come to terms with from a personal standpoint. For hours I was content on not rehashing the situation and decided to just ignore it altogether. But before bedtime, I had a change of heart. I decided he needed to be confronted with the weight of his observation. I wanted to approach the topic delicately but head on. I wanted to give him an opportunity to ask questions and think through his comments.

I asked him about his day, a practice typical during our bedtime routine. We discussed the highs and lows. Finally, I gently nudged him to recall our dinner, and immediately he mentioned the lady who was really a man. I stopped him and explained that throughout life we will run into people who are different from us in one way or another. They might look different, speak differently, or they could believe in differing truths. I concluded by telling him regardless of our differences it is impolite to point those things out so publically. I went on to explain that our hearts have enough room to love all people regardless of the outward things which make us each so unique. I told him loving someone does not mean we agree with all their actions. This lesson seemed a bit mature for my youngster. I tried to use an analogy he would understand; I love him to the moon and back, always and forever (a saying I express to him and his brother daily), but it does not mean I agree with him when he hits his brother or does not share his toys. Love transcends sins and personal choices. It is not his job to be critical of the lifestyle others choose for themselves. It is his job to lead by example and offer a safe haven of love and comfort for all people. Jesus was a perfect example of this and you have to look no further than the Gospels to get a glimpse of how loving another person does not mean you accept sin, it means you see beyond it.

I do not know if this message is over his head and I'm sure the conversation will come up again as he grows more knowledgeable and mature. I also have some research to do from a biblical and social standpoint. I hope I have done him and the woman at the restaurant, justice in how I handled the conversation about transgendered individuals. In a modern, quickly evolving world, it is one of my biggest challenges as a mother to maintain an open heart but also stay true to my convictions and the teachings of my church. I am committed to sharing those beliefs with my children in a way that will allow them to make their own decisions as they grow but also to teach them to be sensitive to the needs of others.

How I explained transgender to my child. A tough conversation for any age, when the conversation came up with my four year old I wanted to handle it in a loving and delicate way that encouraged inclusion and was unwavering in our Christian faith.

As a parent, how do you handle these challenging conversations with your children? If you have experience with the transgender community how do you suggest we approach the topic with our youth, knowing so many adults do not fully understand it themselves?

Be Blessed,
Brittany
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May 17, 2017

Crockpot Hot Wing Dip

Disclosure: Some of the links in this Crockpot Hot Wing Dip recipe post are affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you click on one of those links and make a purchase. 

Crockpot Hot Wing Dip is an simple recipe with tons of flavor. Serve it on sandwiches buns or over tortilla chips at your next party, summer barbecue, or on game night. It reheats great and tastes delicious with a cold beer.

Do you have a recipe in your arsenal that you go to when you know you have a crowd to please? Is there one that everyone raves about and asks for time and time again? Are you known for a signature dish? Well, if you aren't then you can borrow mine because it's easy and amazing. It has spice and tang and crunch and heat. It reheats like a champ and it is perfect for game nights, a Father's Day surprise, a Memorial Day or Fourth of July picnic, or an office potluck. My Crockpot Hot Wing Dip will have you doing a happy dance for days and dreaming of an excuse to make it again. Also, it tastes amazing with a cold beer.

I normally double or even triple the recipe when I take the Crockpot Hot Wing Dip to parties and I have NEVER had leftovers in the 8+ years I've been making it.

Ingredients: 
  • 1 lb of boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • Roughly 6 cups of water
  • 1 tsp chicken bouillon powder 
  • 4 oz block of cream cheese, cubed  
  • 4 oz. shredded Monterrey jack cheese
  • 4 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 bottle of your favorite hot wing sauce - I like Moore's Original Buffalo 
  • Tortilla chips for serving
Preparation Instructions: 

Place the uncooked chicken in a large pot with the chicken bouillon powder. Cover the chicken with water and bring to a boil. Continue to cook the chicken until it is completely cooked throughout, roughly 15 minutes on a slow simmer. Remove the chicken to the Crockpot and reserve two cups of the water in which it cooked.

Return the chicken to the pot or a large bowl and shred. I like to do this with a hand mixer but you can certainly just shred the chicken with two forks. Add the entire bottle of buffalo sauce and stir to incorporate. At this point, I normally like to put the chicken in the fridge overnight but it is not necessary.

Add all the cheeses to your Crockpot, top with the chicken and stir to incorporate. Let sit on low heat in the crockpot for one hour, stirring occasionally.

In the meantime, take the two cups of reserved water and pour it into the bottle that held the sauce and shake. Pour about 1/4 cup of the reserved water into the crockpot and put the bottle with the remaining water in the refrigerator.

The Crockpot Hot Wing Dip is now ready to serve. Turn the heat on the Crockpot to the lowest possible setting. Stir the mixture occasionally throughout the party or event to prevent it from sticking to the sides and burning. The dip will thicken as it sits. If you notice that the mixture gets too thick, add a little of the reserved water and stir.

Crockpot Hot Wing Dip is a simple recipe with tons of flavor. I only use Moore's Original Buffalo Wing Sauce to add flavor and spicy. Serve it on sandwiches buns or over tortilla chips at your next party, summer barbecue, or on game night. It reheats great and tastes delicious with a cold beer.

The Crockpot Hot Wing Dip is perfect over top of tortilla chips or on a sandwich bun. I normally opt for chips since they are more family friendly and easier to serve at events.

Crockpot Hot Wing Dip is a simple recipe with tons of flavor. Serve it on sandwiches buns or over tortilla chips at your next party, summer barbecue, or on game night. It reheats great and tastes delicious with a cold beer.

Crockpot Hot Wing Dip is a simple recipe with tons of flavor. I only use Moore's Original Buffalo Wing Sauce to add flavor and spicy. Serve it on sandwiches buns or over tortilla chips at your next party, summer barbecue, or on game night. It reheats great and tastes delicious with a cold beer.

Check out some of my other favorite recipes, including my crockpot turkey recipe, here. What recipe are you know for among family and friends?

Be Blessed,
Brittany
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May 12, 2017

Give Mom the Gift of Relaxation

Disclosure: I was provided with free Spa services from Salon Greco in Suwanee, Georgia in exchange for an honest review of my experience.

Mother's Day is this Sunday, and if you have procrastinated on finding a gift for your mom, then you are now in a time crunch. Here is the good news, the gift most moms really want is still available, and I am going to tell you a secret to help you nail Mother's Day this year. You might just win the "favorite child of the year" award this year if you follow my advice.

The majority of moms love and embrace their role in the home, whether they are considered a traditional mom or whatever their version of mothering might look like. When they have a little one to care for it is a remarkable and cherished responsibility. But here is the big secret, the thing most moms want on Mother's Day is all the love that comes with being a mom, but with a body and energy level that reminds her of her pre-child days. Give your mom what she really wants this year, a heartfelt gift of relaxation and rejuvenation, which can easily be done with a gift certificate to her favorite spa, like Salon Greco The European Day Spa in Suwanee, Georgia.

Salon Greco in Suwanee, GA is the perfect place for Mom to spend a relaxing Mother's Day.

Salon Greco a spa and salon located just north of Atlanta, Georgia is one of my personal favorites (read about my experience there). When I dream of a day of restoration and relaxation, it is the first place that comes to mind, and when I walk out the doors after a massage or facial, I feel like a new woman. No matter if you are a working mom, a fur moms, a woman pregnant and expecting her first child, or a stay-at-home mom, almost every mom would enjoy a facial, massage, manicure, pedicure, makeup application, or hair style in a beautiful, well-maintained, relaxing environment.

Salon Greco in Suwanee, GA is the perfect place for Mom to spend a relaxing Mother's Day.


Salon Greco is making it even easier to pamper your Mom this year with their Mother's Day Soiree, beginning today, Friday, May 12, and lasting until Mother's Day on May 14. Send mom to the European-inspired spa so she can enjoy refreshments and treats, an enticing spring atmosphere, and a relaxing package for two that includes:
  • The Ultimate Massage/Shampoo Experience
  • Beautiful Hair Finishing & Style
  • Customized Beauty Secrets
  • Professional Makeup Application 
  • A Mother & Daughter Mini Photo Session with North South Photography
The entire package for two people is only $185. Add additional people for only $93/person and make it a little party honoring all the women you love and respect. Bring your sisters, grandmothers, aunts, godmother, pastor's wife, or any women deserving a little pampering. If the Soiree is not your mom's style, a gift card to Salon Greco allows her to customize an experience perfect for her ideal version of relaxation.

Salon Greco in Suwanee, GA is the perfect place for Mom to spend a relaxing Mother's Day.

Salon Greco in Suwanee, GA is the perfect place for Mom to spend a relaxing Mother's Day.

Hurry over to Salon Greco and get Mom the gift she really wants; one of rejuvenation, relaxation, and beauty. Tell them "Everyday Thoughts" sent you and you will get $20 off any spa treatment of your choice costing $50 or more.

Happy Mother's Day to all the awesome moms out there. What are you wishing for this Mother's Day?

Be Blessed,
Brittany
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May 8, 2017

The Pearl That Broke Its Shell - Book Review

Disclosure: Some of the links in this review of The Pearl That Broke Its Shell: A Novelare affiliate links, and I will receive a small commission if you click on one of those links and make a purchase, but this at no cost to you and all opinions are my own. 



It has been awhile since I posted a book review but after reading The Pearl That Broke Its Shell: A Novel by Nadia Hashimi I knew I had to share it with you guys. Even if you only read one book a year, this debut novel needs to go on your reading list. I consider myself very scrupulous with my book review ratings, and I would give this one at least 4.5/5 stars. In my adult life, I have only ever awarded 8 books with a five-star rating.

Nadia Hashimi did an eloquent job of interweaving the stories of two different Afgan women. The women are related but separated by generations, regardless of the generational differences many of the struggles they faced were similar. Rahima was a child bride, and Shekiba was a woman with a large, deforming scar on half of her face, the result of a childhood accident. Shekiba is Rahima's great-great-grandmother, and Rahima used the strength and wisdom she learned from Shekiba's stories to persevere through unimaginable adversity in her own young life.

This is a fictional story, but it is told in such a way that it could easily be true. The suppression and adversity that Afgan women are faced with then and now, are so different than the roles we have in Western society. This book is not easy to read but it is enlightening, and it will leave you on the edge of your seat. 
It is perfect if you are looking for a book club book that will generate meaningful discussion about very real issues women face in Afghanistan. More than that, however, it is a book highlighting the extreme cultural differences between women in the Western world versus those under the careful scrutiny of a male-dominated society in Afghanistan.


I was shocked to learn how slowly life and societal norms evolve in Afghanistan. The novel tells the story of two women separated by years and generations, but their stories could almost overlap regarding the oppression and censorship they faced. If you watch the news at all, you must be aware that women are being treated unfairly, stoned to death because they are victims of rape, left on the curb because of deformities, sold to the highest bidder for a cow. In Afghanistan, women are mere possessions, and in many cases, they have little to no purpose other than to bear children and tend to a house. They are passed along from one family to the next like an old pair of hand-me-down jeans; their opinions and voices of no consequence. This book gives those women a voice, it sheds light on the emotions, thoughts, and dreams that women have, even if they are tucked away inside their husband's or father's compound with no access to or knowledge of the outside world. 


After reading this novel, I'm looking forward to watching Hashimi's career evolve. Her ability to hook readers with riveting character development and intriguing plot points, culturally counterintuitive to my understanding of the world, leaves me wanting more. 


Now I am onto my next book At Home in the World: Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the Globe by Tsh Oxenreider.  



Check out some of my other book reviews here:


What are your favorite books and what are you currently reading? 

Be Blessed,
Brittany
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April 23, 2017

Why I am Reevaluating My Skincare Routine

Disclosure: I was provided free Spa Services from Salon Greco in exchange for an honest review of my experience. 

I consider myself a skincare junkie. I have far too many tubes of eye creams, samples of moisturizers, face peels galore, and tons of the latest over-the-counter, quick-fix type solutions that promise to make me look like anything other than the extremely tired mom of two that I am. The problem is, these piles of products are the beginning and end of my skincare regime. I do not see a dermatologist, I never get facials, I just do not do any of the work to actually see my skin improve in look, texture, color, or firmness. Basically, I am doing the skincare equivalent of diligently eating a salad every day only to wash it down with a large Coke and a candy bar. I decided it was time to make some serious changes.

The enterance to the spa at Salon Greco in Suwannee, GA

If you follow me on Instagram you might have noticed that I had the opportunity to visit the award winning, Salon Greco The European Day Spa in Suwannee, Georgia a couple weeks ago. There I was treated to a Greco Facial Treatment and a Swedish Massage. I kicked things off with the facial. After slipping on a robe and slippers, I relaxed with a glass of refreshing, fruit-infused water. Monica, my aesthetician, came by shortly after and we began talking about my skincare goals. It was like I had been struck by lightning - was I actually supposed to have goals for my skin? My goal in life is to get through the laundry, and that is already difficult enough, but I digress. I quickly realized I have been slathering on goop and gel and oil and lotion all with the intention of better-looking skin, but all with no real concept of what I wanted to improve upon from a skincare standpoint. After quick consideration, I knew I wanted to focus on my eye area, which at age 32 is already wrinkled and baggy. I also told Monica that I wanted to improve the tone and color of my skin since it tends to get red, especially on my cheeks and around my nose.

Monica escorted me to a private, comfortable room and after laying down, she began to examine my face and neck. She was quick to mention that my pores were very clogged and I needed to be more diligent with an exfoliator - using one at least three times a week. Since I do not typically treat myself to facials, I went with a standard facial - The Greco Facial. It is perfect for men and women who want relaxation, skin cleansing, and rejuvenation. However, she mentioned that Salon Greco recently started performing Hydra Facials, which provide a much deeper clean and are significantly less painful if you need extractions because they are done with a machine and not by hand. She noted that with the Hydra Facials you instantly notice an improvement in your skin's overall texture and firmness. She recommends clients get them in sets of three, to achieve the best results.

Salon Greco in Suwannee, Georgia offers Hydra Facials

That got me thinking, should I be getting a spa-facial more often? I always thought of spa treatments as luxury, quiet time and not necessarily an investment in my skin. Boy, was I wrong. Monica explained, how skin cells rejuvenate every 28 days and it is best to treat your skin to the purifying benefits of a facial every 4-6 weeks to avoid premature aging. Plus, as we age the time between cell rejuvenation extends, leading to a reduction in firmness and an increase in visible wrinkles.

One of the most interesting things Monica mentioned during my facial was that Salon Greco carries a line of luxury skincare products typically only found in five-star hotels. The line is named Babor and as Monica gently applied their masks, tinted moisturizer, eye cream, cleanser, and toner she explained each step of the process. The products went on easily and smelled fantastic. At the end of my facial, my skin glowed and was soft to the touch. Monica wrote me a "prescription" for future visits and suggestions for skincare products to help me achieve my newly-developed skincare goals. Of all the products she prescribed me, it was the Babor Enzyme Cleanser with a gentle exfoliating effect, which peaked my interest. You might assume that because I love to buy skincare products I also naturally read the labels, not true. I have been applying every variety of skincare treatment under the sun without any thought to their active ingredients, which was probably contributing to the redness in my skin.

Salon Greco in Suwannee, Georgia sells the high-end, skincare line Babor.

Some things I learned about skin care during my facial at Salon Greco:

  • Exfoliate at least three times each week
  • Facials should be a regular part of your skincare routine
  • Read the labels and know the ingredients in the products you use and apply
  • When applying eye cream always use your ring finger
  • Give all skin care products at least 28 days to truly take effect

I was impressed by my entire experience at Salon Greco, and I am looking forward to returning to try the Hydra Facial. From now on, I will be making spa facial treatments a regular part of my skincare routine. The massage that followed the facial was the perfect culmination for a relaxing spa day. The gentle music and my massage therapist's skillful hands had me in a blissful utopia of relaxation and quiet.

 After my Facial at Salon Greco, my skin was glowing and felt instantly softer to the touch.
After my Facial at Salon Greco, my skin was glowing and felt instantly softer to the touch.

If you are in the Atlanta area make sure you book an appointment today to visit Salon Greco. Mention "Everyday Thoughts" and you get $20 off a service of your choice! They offer a complete list of spa and salon services for the ultimate in pampering, relaxation, and rejuvenation. I think you will agree that the staff is friendly, well mannered, and expertly trained in their respective crafts. The salon and spa are clean and efficient with high-quality products, a quiet and relaxing ambiance, and cutting-edge technology to ensure the best possible experience for all their guests.

Now that I'll be returning to Salon Greco regularly, I need some advice, what are some of your favorite spa treatments and how often do you get them done?

Be Blessed,
Brittany
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April 6, 2017

An Unlikely Friendship

We walked into our local grocery store one evening, and my ultra-observant son noticed that there were not any grocery baskets available. My son is one of those kids that can not let things go, so while I pushed him and his brother up and down the aisles, scooping up cereal and bananas, he was busy counting the baskets in the produce section, the pharmacy, and the bakery. Soon the groceries were loaded into the cart, and we made our way to the checkout counter. While the friendly associates rang up our food, my son casually struck up a conversation with the gentleman who was in charge of neatly placing the bread above the eggs.

"There are no more baskets by the door," he said, "but there are lots back by the hotdogs." The older man looked up and kindly entertained my son, conversing with him like it is entirely reasonable to have a conversation with a three-year-old. "Oh really?" was his reply, "I've apparently been slipping up on my job, I need to get some more baskets." My son shrugged, "well there are some other baskets over there" he said pointing to those laying at the foot of the checkout counter. The gentleman smiled sweetly and thanked my son. My big boy beamed proudly and announced, loud enough for anyone within shouting distance to hear, "I'm a big helper mommy." I saw the gentleman smile to himself as we walked out the automatic doors.

Several days later we returned, and my son once again inspected the basket selection in each department. He approved of the baskets this time around and said so each time a green stack came into view. To his surprise and elation, the same man was working that day. My son, never short on compliments, walked right up to him, smiled, and said, "there are lots of baskets today. You are doing a great job." It was at that moment that something changed. The man just stopped what he was doing and assisted us to our car. He and my oldest son chatted the entire walk to the vehicle. My son asked the man for his name because he was still too young to read the name "Lawrence" displayed on the man's nameplate. After that encounter, the two quickly became friends. Each visit to the store would bring talk about baskets, and groceries, and little brothers. Given that the two have more than 60 between them in age, they seemed to connect on a level I never could have anticipated. Every time we went to the grocery store was like Christmas morning. My big boy would wiggle in his car seat and ask, "do you think Mr. Lawrence will be there? Do you think he will need a helper today?" The joyful anticipation he had to go to the grocery store was palpable.

Mr. Lawrence became a household name during playtime. When we set up our pretend grocery store, I noticed my son asked to be Mr. Lawrence. After arranging the Fisher Price cash register and his plastic vegetables, he would carefully place the basket in the front of his imaginary store and put on an apron to be just like his older friend. Even while he played, he was careful and deliberate when he bagged food, just like Mr. Lawrence showed him.

This playtime ritual began to happen quite often, so one day when we visited the store, I stood with Mr. Lawrence as he helped me load the groceries into my trunk. The kids were both strapped into their car seats, and I mentioned that he left such an impression on my son that he was now emulating him at home. I do not know if I saw a tear or not, it could have all been in my imagination, but I could tell that he was moved by my story. He smiled his kind smile and said that he loved my boys and that he was always so happy to see them when they came to the store. I knew he was not just saying that to provide excellent customer service because unbeknownst to Mr. Lawrence I had seen him at the store when I did not have my children. He did not notice me, but I could tell by his body language that he is tired. I imagine that he has lived a full life and has seen better days but when he sees my children his entire demeanor changes. His face is bright, his shoulders are high and stable, and his smile is contagious. He looks just as happy as my boy, and their conversation is never dull or without excitement.

My son and Mr. Lawrence have a special friendship that happens between the checkout counter and the putting the groceries into my trunk, but they love one another. I have the awesome benefit of watching their unique, friendship flourish. They do not seem to notice the generational age gap. I get to witness how much joy they bring to one another's life. Mr. Lawrence's kindness, gentleness, and attentiveness to my children are unwavering. He never fails to wave hello, share a smile, and allow my son to help him bag groceries and push carts. He is patient and friendly, and to us, so much more than just the man who works at Publix. Mr. Lawrence is a superhero at our house.

An Unlikely Friendship


Mr. Lawrence if you ever read this, thank you for being so kind to my family and my boys. Thank you for giving us such a good example of how we can all make room in our hearts to love others. Thank you for letting me stand back and observe the friendship you have developed with my son. It makes my heart so happy to see the richness you each bring to one another's life. You have helped to restore my faith in humanity, and I now hold onto the hope that there are beautiful people in this world. People, who love without exception and those who do not let age hinder a beautiful friendship. You see my son as he is; a strong, independent, self-assured youngster who has never met a stranger, and you let him into your heart. Thank you for keeping the baskets stacked up, our hearts full, and for never shying away from our shrieking excitement when we walk through the doors.

Be Blessed,
Brittany
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