Friday After Five concert series kicks off Friday in Radford

Friday After Five, 8 MayRadford, VA-The first of the Friday After Five concert series kicks off on Friday, May 8th featuring Radford University alumni Matt Jones and the Bobs. The concert will be held at the Sunken Garden Amphitheatre at Nesselrod Bed and Breakfast, 7535 Lee Highway, Radford, VA  24141.

Everyone is encouraged to bring chairs or blankets and enjoy an evening of music under the stars.

Matt Jones and the Bobs music is described as ‘Americana from the Mountains of Virginia’.  They’re a folky roots-rock sextet that will be playing at FloydFest this summer.

With Radford University graduation scheduled for the same weekend, Radford Transit will be providing public transportation from local hotels and campus to and from the event for parents, students and visitors.

Food will be available for purchase by local food trucks and beverages will be available from VA Eagle.

Gates open at 4 p.m. and the concert is from 5 p.m.-8 p.m. Admission is $5/person.
After the concert, the band will be at Sharkey’s Radford for the After Party from 9 p.m. until midnight.  Sharkey’s is located at 1202 E. Main Street.

Upcoming Friday After Five concert dates scheduled are:

June 12 at Nesselrod B & B (Crossties and Loose Strings)

July 17 at Glencoe Museum grounds (band TBA)

August 14 at Glencoe Museum grounds (band TBA)

For more information please visit www.nesselrod.com. The event is being sponsored by the Radford Visitor’s Center.

Obituary for DeWayne Thomas Freeman

DeWayne Thomas Freeman, age 44 of Draper passed away Monday, May 04, 2015.

Born August 10, 1970 in Pulaski , he was the son of George Thomas Freeman and Debra Elaine Edwards Freeman. His grandparents; Ernest & Helen Freeman, Arnold & Norma Edwards and father-in-law; Tommy Bays, Sr. preceded him in death.

He is survived by his

Wife

Debbie Lynn Bays Freeman –

Parents

George Thomas & Debra Elaine Edwards Freeman – Draper

Daughter

Emily Elaine Edwards – Carroll County

Brother

Timothy John Freeman – Draper

Niece

Josie Marie Freeman – Pulaski

Nephew

Cory Dean Freeman – Pulaski

Special Friend

Angela Worrell

Numerous aunts, uncles, cousins and friends

Mother-in-law                  Mary Bays – Barren Springs

Funeral services will be held at 2:00 PM – Thursday at the Bower Funeral Chapel, Pulaski with Rev. Earnest Chinault officiating. Interment will follow at the Memorial Christian Church, Cemetery. The family will receive friends from 5:00-7:00 PM – Wednesday evening at the Funeral Home.

To send the family your online condolences, visit www.bowerfuneralhome.com

Bower Funeral Home, Pulaski is handling the arrangements for the Freeman Family.

School Nutrition Employee Appreciation Week is May 4-8, 2015

Pulaski County School Nutrition Program

Preparing healthy school meals, teaching good nutrition habits and offering a friendly greeting are all in a day’s work for more than 60 child nutrition employees in Pulaski County Public Schools. In the month of March 89,787 breakfasts, lunch and afterschool snacks were served to the students in Pulaski County Public Schools.

The non-profit School Nutrition Association celebrates this professional commitment with School Nutrition Employee Week, May 4 – 8, 2015. The week offers an opportunity for parents, students, school staff and communities to thank those who provide healthy school meals every school day.

School nutrition professionals are committed to providing safe, healthy and well-balanced meals. Balancing financially self-sufficient programs under budget constraints is just one of the many day-to-day roles of school nutrition professionals.

Employees must follow numerous federal, state and local regulations, provide nutrition education to students, and receive ongoing training in sanitation and food safety. They use their creativity to make the cafeteria a fun and welcoming place and perform their jobs each day because they care passionately about the children they serve.

The importance and nutritional value of school meals is well documented. For many children, school lunch is the most nutrient-rich meal of their day.

The role of school nutrition professionals is more important this year than ever before as more families rely on the federal child nutrition programs.  Thank you to the school nutrition professionals in Pulaski County for their outstanding work providing healthy, nutritious meals to children every school day.

Please join us in taking the time to say “Thank You” to the School Nutrition Employees in Pulaski County Public Schools.

Ethelene W. Sadler, Director of School Nutrition

Connie P. Wood, Assistant to the Director

Connie Paul, School Nutrition Office Assistant

NRV Job Fair Expo to be held in May at NRCC

The New River Valley Job Fair Expo will be held Thursday, May 21, at New River Community College (NRCC) in Dublin. The event will be held in 117 Edwards Hall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Job seekers attending the expo will have an opportunity to distribute resumes and connect with more than 40 local employers from a variety of fields. Attendees are advised to “dress for success” and bring at least 20 to 25 resumes.

The event offers companies and organizations an opportunity to survey potential employees including seasonal workers, technically trained entry-level employees, recent college graduates and experienced professionals.

The NRV Job Fair Expo is sponsored by the NRCC Office of Workforce Development, Partners for Self-Sufficiency, New River/Mount Rogers Workforce Investment Board, Disability Employment and Initiative, Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services, Virginia Employment Commission and Rapid Response.

More information, a list of employers attending and registration for employer exhibit booths are available at www.nr.edu/jobfair .

Additionally, in preparation for the job fair, NRCC’s Career Advisors will be conducting four “Resumania” resume review sessions. During the drop-in sessions, the career advisors will help individuals build new resumes or critique existing ones. They will also offer advice on online job applications, social media profiles, networking and a variety of other employment topics. The sessions will be held on Tuesday, May 19, and Wednesday, May 20. The first session will take place each day from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the main hallway of Godbey Hall at NRCC in Dublin. The second session will be held each day from 1 to 5 p.m. at NRCC’s New River Valley Mall site in Christiansburg. All sessions are open to the public.

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County woman on crusade to help parents know their SOL rights

By MIKE WILLIAMS

Publisher

Sherry Williams has spent the past several months on a personal crusade.

Her crusade is aimed, she says, at making the parents of elementary and middle school students in Pulaski County Schools know they can opt their children out of the dreaded Standards of Learning (SOL) tests.

And while school officials acknowledge Williams is technically correct, that students can be opted out of the tests, they believe doing so will hurt the school system’s accreditation efforts – and could put students in a bad spot come high school when opting out of tests isn’t an option, and receiving a diploma depends on passage of the high stakes tests.

Williams’ saga began nine months ago when her child did not pass an SOL test. Williams said she was upset over how her child learned they had failed.

“The ones who failed were told in front of the entire third grade classroom.  They were all crying in front of their class.  That upset me,” Williams stated.

It also upset her that failing the SOL meant her child would have to go to summer school for remediation, according to her understanding of the school system’s policy.

Williams said summer school conflicted with the family’s vacation plans.

She said she contacted school officials and learned that students scoring between 375 and 399 would be remediated during the next school year, with students scoring below 375 being remediated in summer school.

At that point, Williams said she learned that parents actually had the option to opt their child out of the SOL test.

“My question was why, if I could have opted my child out of the SOL, why not summer school? He didn’t have to take the test anyway to begin with because the Department of Education offers the ‘opt out.’  I was told that, because he had taken the test and failed, he had to go to summer school,” Williams recalled.

Not only did summer school clash with her family’s vacation plans, it also posed problems in getting her child picked up after school.

“I work full time,” Williams said. “Summer school closes at 1:30 p.m. I’m not at home. My husband isn’t at home.  My Dad passed away and my Mom isn’t well enough to do that.  Putting him in daycare from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. is an issue, too.”

Williams asked if there were any options for her.  “I had heard that you could remediate at home,” Williams said.

Eventually Williams received the workbooks, worksheets and other classroom material needed to remediate her child from home.  She recorded the time she spent working with her child and said he actually received more instruction than the students received in summer school.

Williams first appeared in June 2014 before the Pulaski County School Board to tell her story. She has attended every regular monthly school board meeting since except one.

“I think the kids really are highly stressed over these tests,” Williams said. “Even the ‘A’ students are stressed.  They’re getting sick to their stomach – vomiting, diarrhea, and hives – leading up to the day of the test. Then they are nervous until the test scores come back.

“I think if we took the burden off kids over possibly failing the test and having to go to summer school, the kids could probably focus more on the test and it would result in them having higher scores.  But they’ve done this for years – if you don’t pass the test, you have to go to summer school,” Williams said.

Williams pointed to a letter sent home by Pulaski County Schools in January to parents of students in grades 3 – 8, which states that students who “earn a score of 399 or below on the reading and/or math Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) assessments will be mandated to attend summer school.”

“When mandated to attend summer school, students must attend or the parents / guardians may be subject to a truancy referral which may result in a referral to Juvenile Court,” the letter stated.

Williams said she viewed the letter as misleading and intimidating.

“Threatening a truancy referral when the test isn’t even mandated to begin with,” she exclaimed with a questioning tone.

Williams said she ignored the letter and several days later received a second letter acknowledging her decision to opt her children out of the SOL tests.

“Every year you have the option to have your student not participate in Standards of Learning assessments,” the letter stated.  The letter went on to state, however, that graduation requirements in Virginia require a minimum of six verified credits for graduation.

“A verified credit is granted for a course if the student successfully passes the course AND is successful on the Standard of Learning assessment associated with the course. Thus, if you wish for your student to receive a diploma from any high school in the Commonwealth of Virginia, he will have to participate in Standards of Learning assessment when he enters high school,” the letter concluded.

Williams said she understands the verified credit requirement, but noted that there is an effort being made at the state level – led by the principal at Salem High School – to change the law so that there are other ways to verify the credits other than through an SOL test.

Williams said she has had no response from her complaints to the school board, and noted that during one meeting a board member told her that they had heard “no other complaints” from parents on the subject.

“A lot of parents don’t know they have rights and options to choose from,” Williams said.  “Some don’t want to stand up here (at the school board meetings) and be subjected to what might come right back at them (from board members’ comments).”

Williams acknowledges that parents opting out their children can hurt the school’s accreditation. “I don’t want that, but I still believe parents should know they have options,” she said.

“I don’t think students should be singled out or be made to feel like a failure for failing this one test,” Williams continued.  “Students and teachers need to be proud of their work and what they have accomplished all year from August to May, and not just be judged on one test taken on one day of the school year.  Even teachers are evaluated on that one test,” Williams said, adding that teachers need to be evaluated based on how much growth the student has made the entire year.

Williams also noted that other school divisions in the region don’t conduct summer school, but remediate students the following school year.

She said one official at a neighboring school division said their remediation occurs in a class called “Enrichment and Remediation,” with students divided into groups according to the type and amount of remediation they need. She said the same process takes place today at Riverlawn Elementary School in a class called “Reading Recovery.”

She wonders why that can’t be the process all over the county.

What does Williams want?

“I want the school system to inform all parents and guardians of their rights regarding the SOLS so they can make the right choices for their child,” Williams said.

___

Dr. Tom Brewster, School Superintendent in Pulaski County, doesn’t necessarily disagree with Williams over the over-emphasis placed on SOL tests. He says he also agrees that parents should know that there are alternatives to summer school.

“I believe we have worked with parents and provided them with their alternatives over the years,” Brewster said.

Brewster noted that with the summer feeding program offered by schools today, many parents have embraced summer school, and there is not a lot of resistance.

He said that if a parent comes to school officials and says they will be on vacation during summer school, “we have an alternative we can offer.”

Brewster said if parents choose to remediate their student at home, they would sign off on the fact they provided instruction at home and the remediation would be complete.

In March, the Department of Education approved a plan to allow students in elementary and middle school grades who failed a test by a narrow margin to retake the test prior to the end of the school year.

These “expedited retakes” would take place after two or three days of remediation.

Expedite retakes have been allowed at the high school level since 2000 for students who fail end-of-course exams linked to diploma requirements.

“We celebrate small victories in Virginia,” Brewster said about the change at the elementary and middle school levels, explaining that students could immediately receive three or four days of remediation in the area of the test they failed then re-take the test.

“If we can get in there and immediately remediate and test, it will help us tremendously toward improving pass rates.  Students will still have to take the whole test, but we can zero in on the problem areas and then get them tested.  I wish we could give partial tests, but they have to take it all.  You take what you can get.”

Brewster said the school system sends out a letter about the SOLs and summer school early in the year, then sends out a second letter targeted at those scoring less than passing.

“I have no problem with the letter saying that if you have a problem with the summer school dates you can contact your principal for alternatives,” Brewster said.

However, Brewster said he doubts any school division tells parents they can opt their students out of the tests.  “We’re not required to do that, and I’m not sure we should,” he added.

“If parents have opted their students out of the tests from Pre-K to 8th grade, then all of a sudden they have put their high school child in an environment where the student will be required to take the tests in order to verify credits to get a diploma. They will then be engaged in standardized testing for the first time and that will put a lot of pressure on them. They will have to pass the tests in order to get their verified credits to graduate,” Brewster said.

“If you don’t start testing until the ninth grade, then I fear it will be similar to what happened with the SOL tests in the beginning.  There will be a lot of failures,” he said.

Brewster said he knew of no school division that sends the message to parents that they can opt their students out of SOL testing.  “Particularly because it is high stakes testing that does eventually play a role in whether or not a student does graduate,” he said.  If they do send out the opt-out message, Brewster said it probably would be found in a student handbook somewhere.  “I’m not sure it would be on the website of the Department of Education.  You might find it in some policy language or the code,” he added.

Brewster said it is the state that mandates the emphasis on testing, and that local school policy is based upon what the State Code requires.

Brewster pointed to a recent report by the Washington Post on “opting out” of tests in Virginia.

The Post article notes that the Virginia Department Education issued guidelines that require students enrolled in public schools to take the state’s SOL tests.

The guidelines also, however, acknowledge that some parents may refuse the tests.  In those cases, the Post reported, schools are supposed to request a written statement from parents to be placed in the student’s file.  Schools are also supposed to inform parents that their child’s test results will show a score of zero.

According to the Post, that zero counts against the school for its state accreditation rating; if enough parents refuse tests, a school accreditation could be downgraded.  The zero also counts against the school for federal accountability.

According to the Post report, very few parents have chosen to refuse tests in Virginia in the past.  The state administered more than 2.9 million tests in 2013-14 and reported only 681 parent refusals.

Brewster said everything about summer school and remediation are on the table now.

“We’ve talked about doing away with summer school and remediating during the school year.  Some school systems aren’t doing summer school now primarily because they don’t have enough money.  Our summer school now is only ten days due to finances,” he said.

Summer school in Pulaski County is funded by the State Department of Education and supplemented by local funds.

“Summer school is an issue we can handle on a case-by-case basis,” Brewster said.  “We’ve never put in the letter that parents can opt out and here’s how.  If the parent comes and says they really have to go out of town, there’s an alternative.

“To my knowledge we’ve never turned anyone down.  It’s always been a fairly routine situation handled by the summer school principal.  Rarely does it get to the central office,” Brewster added

 

 

 

 

 

County taxpayers to get extra time to pay real estate taxes in June

By MIKE WILLIAMS

Publisher

Taxpayers in Pulaski County will have two additional weeks this summer to pay their real estate taxes for the first half of 2015, following action taken Monday night by the Board of Supervisors.

Treasurer Melinda Worrell requested the deadline to pay the tax be pushed back from June 5 to June 19 to give taxpayers additional time.

Worrell told the supervisors that due to new computer programs in her office and this year’s reassessment, it could be as late as May 11th before tax tickets are sent to the printer in Lynchburg.

“From the time I send the file to the printer and the tickets are checked, printed, stuffed in envelopes and mailed it takes about a week to two weeks to get the tickets in the mail and at taxpayers’ homes,” Worrell told the supervisors.

Worrell continued that her staff could get the tickets out in time to meet all legal requirements on her office, but taxpayers would be left with only about two weeks to have their payments into her office by the regular deadline of June 5.

In the past, she said, taxpayers have had about a month between the time they received their tax bills and the due date.

“This request is to give taxpayers more time,” Worrell said.  “Our office doesn’t need the extra time.”

A motion to approve the extension was made by Supervisor Ranny O’Dell, Ingles District and seconded by Charles Bopp, Robinson District.  It passed unanimously.

In other news:

-Responding to a request by the supervisors from last month’s meeting, Worrell provided a rundown on the top five meals tax-producing restaurants in the county.

Worrell said she could only legally disclose the names of the top five meals tax-producers, not the amount of tax revenue they generate.

She said topping the list is McDonald’s in Dublin, followed by McDonald’s in Fairlawn. Third on the list is Fatz in Dublin, followed by Cook Out in Fairlawn in fourth place and Shoney’s in Dublin in fifth place.

-During discussion on highway matters, Massie Supervisor Andy McCready requested that VDOT carry out some “shoulder wedging” to repair damaged shoulders between the stop light on Route 611 at Newbern to the corporate limit of Pulaski near the James Hardie plant.

O’dell asked VDOT’s David Clark if any money is available to pave the “park and ride” area at the intersection of Route 99 and old Route 100. O’dell said every time there is a hard rain it washes the gravel out of the parking area.

O’Dell also asked if some attention could be given to the stretch of roadway on Old Route 100 to the stoplight on Route 611 at Newbern.  He said the road is plagued by potholes and is actually coming apart in places, and needs to be milled and repaved.

Clark said he would check on each of the issues.

McCready also asked if there are any plans to replace the bridge over Peak Creek on that stretch of roadway. Clark said completion of that project is years away, but is in the design phase at present.

-Deanna Cox, representing the audit firm of Robinson, Farmer & Cox reported on the recent audit of county finances.

Cox told the supervisors that, if given a letter grade, the audit results would be an “A-plus” for the county.

-County Administrator Peter Huber, responding to a citizen question at a recent meeting, reported that a tractor-trailer observed hauling hay on Sunday recently was actually a state-owned vehicle. Huber said the truck was being used to haul hay to Virginia Tech from a location in Bland.

He said the vehicle displayed a state logo on the side that was similar in appearance to the county’s logo.

McCready seeks re-election to Board of Supervisors

Massie District Supervisor H.A. “Andy” McCready has announced his bid for re-election to the Pulaski County Board of Supervisors.

“I am pleased today to announce my bid for re-election to the Pulaski County Board of Supervisors for the Massie District, including the West Cloyd Precinct,” McCready said in a prepared statement.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“Just four years ago I ran for this office and remain humbled that the voters placed their trust in me,” McCready continued. “I have worked diligently to be a balanced, independent voice for the voters and taxpayers of my district as well as all of Pulaski County.”

McCready continued, “As a member of the Board of Supervisors, I have faced many needs of our county government and schools.  I had to balance those needs while keeping in mind our taxpayers’ ability to pay for them.  The county’s cost that has increased the most is employee health care.  In the past four years, mandated health care costs for the county have risen approximately $1.75 million.  All of our citizens understand how the new Federal health care laws (“Obamacare”) have effected the insurance market; it has certainly had a huge effect on the Pulaski County budget.

“A second area that has been challenging to solve is the building needs of our schools.  Just this year the supervisors and School Board have begun construction on an addition at Dublin Elementary that will eliminate the need for the mobile classrooms.  In addition, security will be improved, classrooms will be air conditioned, and the electrical system will be upgraded.  During the summer, Trustees from the jail will be painting the school.  The financing of the school addition and improvements is already provided for in the county budget.

“Two years ago, the School Board voted to spend approximately $56 million for a new, consolidated middle schools.  After several public hearings and a detailed review of our county finances, I and my fellow Board of Supervisors members felt that our citizens could not afford the 30 percent increase in property taxes to fund this project.  Instead, we informed the School Board we could not consider such a large debt until after 2021 when three elementary schools’ debts would be paid off.  Even at that time I feel the voters should decide whether we spend that much money or go a different route.  Until our debt load is lower, I feel strongly that the existing middle schools should be well maintained and should be air conditioned. The Board of Supervisors had set the money aside to air condition both middle schools, but the School Board continues to study the issue,” McCready stated.

“As most citizens are aware of, I have not been afraid to speak up when I have found the taxpayers’ money is not being used wisely,” McCready said. “However, being frugal alone will not be enough to fund the needed construction in our county; the very best way is through continued economic growth.  While I have been in office, we have seen over $160 million of new economic development announced for our county.  The county staff and Board of Supervisors continue to work to bring more quality economic development and associated jobs.  I hope we will have more economic development announcements in the near future.”

McCready added that, “None of these accomplishments in our county would have been possible without the support of the public, our county staff, and all five members of the Board of Supervisors working together.”

“I hope the voters of the Massie District will consider my record over the last four years.  A record of speaking up and questioning expenditures; a record of carefully guiding the county finances to be able to do the best we can with what we can afford.  A record of planning for the future, with smart economic development, job growth, and work force training.  A record of protecting Claytor Lake by making investments in new equipment to clean the lake.  A record of supporting law enforcement with a renovated sheriff’s office and new joint dispatch center.  A record of thoroughly studying needs and possible solutions by making numerous site visits and phone calls, and by attending seminars, including completing the Virginia Certified County Supervisor Program.  My two small businesses have been in operation in Pulaski County for almost 30 years and with my personal time, I continue to be involved in the community by working with our youth as a baseball and football official and by serving as a volunteer fire fighter and EMT.

“In consideration of my record, I ask the voters of the Massie District to again place your trust in me for a second term.  I will continue to work diligently on your behalf as an advocate for your concerns.  I ask for your vote on Tuesday, Nov. 3,” McCready closed.

VDOT Traffic Alert: Third over-sized tractor-trailer scheduled to travel on roads in Pulaski, Wythe counties next weekend

 

From VDOT

SALEM – An oversized tractor-trailer loaded with power transformers is scheduled to travel between Pulaski and Max Meadows, Friday, May 8 through Tuesday, May 12 between 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on weekdays and during daylight hours on the weekend.

The truck will travel at speeds between 1 and 5 mph so it will take multiple days and stops until it reaches its destination. The Virginia Department of Transportation and the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles has coordinated with the transportation company to develop a route that will minimize the impact to drivers, local businesses and residents.

The truck’s anticipated route and schedule will be as follows:

Friday, May 8

Beginning at the rail station in Pulaski, the haul will travel west onto Dora Highway, turn south onto Pierce Avenue, turn south on Route 11 (Washington Avenue) and head up Draper Mountain to park overnight at the Army National Guard building.

Saturday, May 9

Beginning at the Army National Guard building in Pulaski, the haul will travel south on Route 11 and cross Draper Mountain, turn southwest on Honaker Road from Pulaski County into Wythe County to the I-81 Travel Plaza Truck Stop to park overnight.

Sunday, May 10

Departing from Travel Plaza Truck Stop on Interstate 81, the haul will proceed southwest on Honaker Road to East Lee Highway to arrive at Truck-O-Mat Truck Stop in Max Meadows for parking overnight.

Monday, May 11

The haul will depart from the Truck-O-Mat Truck Stop and head west on East Lee Highway onto a series of secondary roads including Ready Mix Road, Chapman Road, Lots Gap Road, Danner Road, Apache Run, Fort Chiswell Road, Austinville Road and Store Hill Road to arrive at the New River Trail State Park for overnight parking.

Tuesday, May 12

Departing from New River Trail State Park, the haul will proceed to Route 693 (Lead Mine Road), turn onto north Route 52 (Poplar Camp Road), turn east on Route 608 (Foster Falls Road), then east on Route 772 (Electric Road) to a private road arriving at Appalachian Electric Power’s Jackson Ferry Substation.

Each oversized load convoy will include certified pilot cars in the front and rear and Pulaski and Wythe County police will provide escorts. Traffic control and flagging operations will be in place throughout the haul.

Drivers should expect the convoy to stop periodically, and motorists will experience delays in travel time. When traffic congestion is present, an effort will be made to stop the convoy and provide traffic control for both directions of travel when possible.

An additional convoy will be scheduled in the weeks ahead during the Friday to Tuesday time frame.

Sisters to Mothers

By KATHERINE WILLIAMS

“The Middle Child”

The Patriot

Both of my sisters have little boys. Both are beautiful, affectionate, funny, messy, unwilling to share and incontinent (the boys that is.) It’s funny to think of my sisters as mothers and to watch them interact with their sons. They comfort them, play with them, feed them and change them, which if you know anything about my two sisters you’ll find humor in the last one. Sarah, who not so many years ago would gag at the thought of loading the dirty dishes in the dishwasher, and Jenny, who would leave said dishes in her room for days on end, are now mothers.

My sisters are fashionable women who’ve always been on more of the prissy side, so I guess I find it hilarious that those delicate fingers are now more often covered in pooh than polish. Designer purses have been replaced by Eddie Bauer diaper bags and instead of searching for lip gloss or concealer, they now search those bags for Butt Paste and Boogie Wipes.

It amazes me just how much stuff is needed to be brought along when you take a baby on any sort of outing. Things I had no idea even existed! I’ve been an aunt for about 14 months now and I’m still surprised at all the bags and paraphernalia that my sisters bring with them. Diapers, wipes, pacifiers, formula, baby food, spoons, that food that comes in that space-age pouch, “taggy blankets”, eight changes of clothes, Butt Paste, Boogie Wipes, 17 toys, whatever meds they’re on … the list could go on and on.

I have a new respect for my sisters. Not only do they take perfect care of their boys, but they also remember to brush their own teeth, bathe, contemplate make up, and take care of their homes and husbands.

The more I think about it the more I’m convinced that God created a 9-month pregnancy to help women prepare to be mothers with the help of their own good mothers. If I hadn’t seen the transformation for myself, I wouldn’t have believed it.