Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Apparently There Is A Day for Manatees!

I found out today that it's Manatee Appreciation Day!! So in honor of the sweetest marine mammals ever... Happy Manatee day :) You can read more (and see more cute pictures) about my love of these gentle giants here!

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Monday, March 24, 2014

A Week of Pictures

Two weeks ago was my LAST spring break! I never went on a wild spring break that the movies and TV shows depict because that just is not me. I spent all of my spring breaks at home with my family sleeping in and catching up. This year I had the best time exploring three cities! While I am a girl who loves to sit in the sand and listen to the waves roll while reading a good book... I also love strolling city blocks. 

My break started with a weekend in the city I have lived in for four years, Raleigh! My mom and little brother came up for a weekend of flea and farmers markets, exploring the city and goooddd food. They tried to take the train up (multiple times in a two day span) but due to North Carolina's crazy weather of freezing rain to 70s and sunny... they ended up driving!
After exploring Raleigh, we headed home and later in the week went up to Asheville! If you have never been to this North Carolina mountain city I recommend it. It is such an interesting fun city, you never really know what you will see around the next corner!

Our first stop was White Duck Taco Shop. Any Mexican food has my name  A L L  O V E R  I T! It's a great little lunch place on the river and they have very unique tacos. I chose the Jamaican Jerk and BBQ tacos... DELICIOUS!
We then headed to the beautiful Grove Park Inn to sit in rocking chairs in front of huge fireplaces and enjoy the beautiful views!
We headed to another grand building after leaving the Grove Park... Biltmore Estates. Every time I see this house (mansion) it takes my breath away. I also like to pretend I am a part of Downton Abbey strolling the grounds dressed to the nines! :)
The Biltmore is the largest privately owned house in the United States and was completed in 1895 by George Washington Vanderbilt.
For the third city visit on my spring break, we headed to Charlotte for the St. Patrick's Day Festival! Charlotte is such a neat city and I loved seeing so many people out and about enjoying the sunshine and Irish brews. And in classic Morgan style... I found the largest fluffiest dog in Uptown, meet Avalanche a 160lb Great Pyrenees!
Goodness I am SO ready for the warm weather to be back... Bring on Spring!
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Friday, March 21, 2014

3-21 | Trisomy 21 | World Down Syndrome Awareness Day

Today is a very special day, it's a day that is near and dear to my heart... World Down Syndrome Awareness Day. I'll be the first to admit that growing up I was uncomfortable with special needs. I never knew exactly what to say or do, or how to act. I did not understand.

I began reading blogs when I started college in 2010. The first blog I read daily was Enjoying the Small Things by Kelle Hampton. I read this post and my heart was forever changed. Each and every time I read that post the tears just keep flowin'. Kelle writes about the birth of her daughter Nella, who she didn't know had Down syndrome until the moment she saw her. It's her story of coming to terms with what that means and learning how to love fully through watching her older daughter love her baby sister without judgement... You should read it.

And God knew... God knew my heart for Down syndrome had changed and He placed a little girl into my life, Mia.
For countless summers I was a swim coach. In summer of 2011, I was given the privilege of coaching a little 5-year-old with Down syndrome. Mia was my biggest challenge and greatest joy. She changed my heart with her determination, frustration and radiant smiles. I'll never forget her blatant NOs and she ecstatic joy when she accomplished a goal. I have been able to coach Mia for three summers but last summer definitely stands out.
The day she swam a whole lap in a swim meet in front of over a hundred people... I sobbed. I was standing there at the end of the lane with her parents cheering her on, keeping her looking and swimming forward and sobbing. When she climbed out at the end, I will never forget this moment, Mia looked up at me and asked, "Did I do good?" I just smiled and laughed through my tears and said, "You did amazing sweet girl and I am SO proud of you."

My sister works at a special needs preschool here in Raleigh and I love being able to go and volunteer in her class one day a week. The little girl above is Ella and she also has three copies of the 21st chromosome. I must say, she has captured my heart (and Taylor's) as well!

Working with children with special needs is truly a gift. I am so thankful that by finding a blog God changed my heart and taught me how to love regardless of differences.
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Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Friend for Life

There is not much that can make me cry barely a second into a video! If you have every loved a dog you know the bond that is there. The bond that is loyal, loving and unbreakable. I love how a dog loves you regardless of the day you have had and how they just seem to know what is on your heart. This is one of the sweetest dog commercials I have ever seen. Be sure to grab some tissues!
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Friday, March 07, 2014

A New Lane

I have been a summer swim league coach for seven years. Yes, you read that right. For seven years, I have taught two-year-olds to 18-year-olds how to swim and how to swim correctly. I have been around water my entire life so it only seemed natural to have a job in the summer involving a pool, the sun and getting tan.

But coaching has always been so much more than a job to me. Coaching swimming is teaching a life saving skill that often falls to the wayside. Teaching kids how to swim or how to safely get out of the water is something I have always taken very seriously and am honored to have taught so many kids this life lesson. I love to see the pride in kids faces when they learn something new or when they make a best time in an event. 
My entire family has been involved in the swimming world for at least a decade, probably longer. The Lake Norman Swim League has had a Jones coach on every team except one! My brother, sister and I were all breaststroke swimmers. This is funny because my parents never wanted us to compete against each other in the same sport... andddd then we all chose the same event. Every summer at the league championship meet there is a coaches relay. Since Taylor, Casey and I coached on different teams and all swam breaststroke, we naturally always got to race each other! :)
With coaching and teaching swim lessons all throughout the summer, I practically lived in a one piece. But  I can't imagine having spent my summers any other way. Memories like seeing one of my sweet little girls who has Downs Syndrome swim her first lap or seeing another conquer fear of letting go, are memories I will cherish forever.
The older girls on the team also have a special place in my heart. I have loved seeing them grow in their confidence and step up into the role of leaders for the younger kids. 
This summer will be the first summer in seven years that I will not be a summer swim league coach. Goodness, that was harder to say than I thought. Coaching has been such an amazing opportunity for me to learn so many life skills that I will now put towards a career. It is scary not having the "safety net" of coaching but I am trusting in the Lord because I know that His plans are better than any I could make up on my own. 
I am thankful to all the families I have met through coaching and will forever cherish the memories. And I love that many of the kids I have taught still call me Coach Morgan.
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Tuesday, March 04, 2014

March Goals

Where on earth is this year going?! I can not believe it is March and that I am already over halfway through my last semester. February brought SO much snow, for North Carolina that is, and I loved every minute of it. Growing up in the South you learn to appreciate even the slightest dusting. But I am definitely ready for spring weather, green grass and fresh flowers! First let's look back at February...

February Goals
  Continue with my Contentment Challenge of not buying new clothes   post on this soon!
  Daily quiet times with my journal, bible and in prayer   I definitely did not do this daily but gradually getting better
  Finish 2014 goals   Done and done! Read my goals for 2014 here    
  Write letters to friends    Not as many as I would like but I'll get there
  Set a date for rebranding launch! 
  Create more :)    So EXCITED to share with y'all what I have been making
  Set aside intentional time with friends  
  Being prayerful throughout my job search    trusting that a great position is out there for me, now I just have to find it!

I have a tentative date set in my head for launching Morgan Alexandra but I still want everything to be together before I announce it! I also slacked on friend time this past month but it was short... so March will be better!

March Goals
Shoot two weddings with the lovely, talented Emily Payne of Emily March Photography! I was able to shoot one this past weekend and I just have the best time celebrating such a special day by taking pictures that people will cherish forever... And y'all, Emily is amazing!! I am loving learning from her :)

Attend the Emily Ley Playbook webinar! Can't wait to soak in everything I can from one of the bests in the paper business.

Write in my journal whether in between classes or on the bus, just write!

Set and announce an official launch date for Morgan Alexandra, YAYYYY

Continue with my personal contentment challenge of not buying new clothes. This will be so challenging with spring around the corner!

SAVE, SAVE & SAVE again! 

Send at least one letter a week to friends and family.

Stay positive and prayerful about job opportunities, knowing that HIS timing is perfect.

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