The Last Week of Summer

Here we are in the last week of summer. The last summer my son will be a seven-year-old as he approaches birthday number eight in September and will be starting school next week.

I am experiencing highs and lows. I would be lying if I said I was not eager to regain my daily freedom and that I do not enjoy structure and routine the school year brings to our home. Early bedtimes, early rising, and knowing my child is in good hands and learning all the things to prepare him for life.

But I see and hear him voicing insecurity and thoughts of the unknown.

Will his teacher be a good match for his wildly curious, easily bored, silly, and vocal personality?

Will he make new friends?

All the “what if’s” and “what nots” we have all experienced as children and in adulthood.

We are preparing to attend the back-to-school bash tomorrow night where he will find out who his second grade teacher will be and meet new classmates— and reconnect with the old friends and teachers from school. An exciting time of nervous butterflies that will couple with realizing it’s not all that scary…. I am reminding myself.

He’s growing up.

He’s got this.

He’s a good kid.

He’s a smart boy.

He’s friendly and outgoing.

He’s imaginative.

He’s funny.

He’s my awesome boy.

So if you are like me and worry over your children and want to watch them succeed and have a place in the world, set your mind at ease.

You’ve got this.

But while other parents are preparing their kids already with routines and early lights out, we will be enjoying the last moments of summer.

Holding onto the fun and whimsy.

Leaving a sparkling trail of memories behind us.

– Alison Paul Klakowicz

Author of Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

https://www.amazon.com/Mommys-Big-Red-Monster-Truck/dp/1525530178

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

Alison Paul Klakowicz is an Eastern North Carolina native, children’s book author, blogger, podcaster and creative writer. She is a military spouse who resides in Fayetteville, NC with her husband, Adam, and son, Mak.

Off the Beaten Path: The Planking Traveler

Recently, I was invited to collaborate with Emily Adams on her fabulous and informative travel blog, The Planking Traveler.

https://theplankingtraveler.com/

Emily Adams demonstrates her signature plank pose

The theme of the collaboration— 12 Unique Off The Beaten Path Destinations For Your Next Adventure.

My favorite “off the beaten path” destination instantly came to mind— The Inner Banks of the Pamlico River, North Carolina— my native Eastern North Carolina coastal home.

Sunset capture by my mother, Julia Austin Paul, at hers and my father’s home on the Pamlico River

Take a look at the blog post here of the twelve worldwide destinations featured:

https://theplankingtraveler.com/2019/07/27/12-unique-off-the-beaten-path-destinations-for-your-next-adventure/

-Alison Paul Klakowicz

Author of Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

Alison Paul Klakowicz is an Eastern North Carolina native, children’s book author, blogger, podcaster and creative writer. She is a military spouse who resides in Fayetteville, NC with her husband, Adam, and son, Mak.

Renaissance Day Spa Rises From Ashes

Renaissance European Day Spa Staff with Owner Natalie Spencer

Fayetteville, North Carolina-

Despite devastation from a fire which caused Renaissance European Day Spa to close its doors for seven long months, Owner Natalie Spencer continues to keep a “bounce” in her step and attitude.

I recently sat down with Natalie to talk about the reopening of her spa after a fire occurred in October 2018 which caused the successful Fayetteville, North Carolina business to close due to necessary restorations.

Renaissance European Day Spa Owner Natalie Spencer

What struck me most about Natalie was her enthusiasm and optimism, the care and genuine concern of her employees as well as her customers; not to mention, the strong partnerships with area businesses she’s built, and the gratitude in her heart for those who helped lift her up during such a difficult time in life.

Natalie’s genuine appreciation of her community here in Fayetteville is infectious.

Listen to our conversation on Hodge Podge Podcast here:

https://anchor.fm/jalisonpaulyahoocom/episodes/Natalie-Spencer-Rising-from-the-Ashes-e4j81n

A Day at the Spa

I was thrilled when Natalie invited me to visit the recently reopened spa to try out some of the new as well as tried and true services the spa offers.

Natalie graciously set me up for a full day of pampering which was just what this lady needed in her life.

Thanks, Natalie. 😊

It’s not everyday I get to submerge myself in total pampering and relaxation.

My personal spa experience was fantastic and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

First, I was given the Mellow Moonchild CBD Body Nourishment (skin polish) part of the spa’s new Total Swellness services followed by a delicious steam bath, shower and massage that left my skin quenched and super soft.

Kim, the fabulous aesthetician who graced me with her healing hands, has been employed with Renaissance European Day Spa for thirteen years. She educated me on Farm Fresh products out of Texas to include the Mellow Moon Dip Body Mousse and Muscadine Moonshine Body Scrub. The smell of these products was heavenly— I was transported back to my childhood plucking grapes off my grandparents’ muscadine grapevines.

Next up was a classic Swedish Massage provided by Melissa, an extremely talented massage therapist who worked out my sore neck and shoulder muscles as well as stubborn hip and sciatic pain. The massage room was so relaxing thanks to a very comfortable massage table, soft linens, dreamy lighting and mesmerizing meditation music. I was able to easily let go of all my cares and concerns.

The hot towels placed on my tired muscles following the massage was transcendent. I will note the upper neck massage at the base of my skull cap was wonderful. I could feel the tension and stress melt away. I would recommend this massage by Melissa for anyone under a great deal of stress or anyone suffering migraine headaches.

One client I met said she’d waited seven months to receive a massage from Melissa since the spa closed last October. It was worth the wait to receive impeccable services. I have to agree with her 💯.

While enjoying the beautiful upstairs lobby area and sipping a delicious smoothie, I talked with a customer who was awaiting services named Valerie Walker. Valerie is a Fitness Instructor and Physical Trainer with Cape Fear Valley Healthplex, Minister at Rivers of Life Church, and primary caregiver for her elderly mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease. Valerie treated herself to a birthday Swedish Massage and Facial. She said she wanted to take care of herself on her birthday.

“We put all these expectations on ourselves— our bodies, and we need to treat it (our bodies) from time to time. We need to reward it for all the hard work we put it through,” Valerie expressed to me. I thought this such a poignant message and reminder for us all.

Valerie Walker, REDS Customer awaiting spa services on her birthday

Following the Swedish massage, I was treated to a new facial service offered by REDS: Hyperbaric Oxygen Facial, a noninvasive facial minus burning acids or painful injections. This was quite a unique experience. Intraceuticals developed serums that, when administered in conjunction with oxygen, visibly plump and hydrate skin to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The facial left me fresh faced which helped to reduce redness and some stubborn acne brought on recently due to travel and stress.

Hope Viega, Fayetteville resident and loyal customer of REDS receiving a spa pedicure

Following my facial, the lovely Jozette, nail guru at REDS, provided me some much needed toe and foot indulgence via the Happy Camper Pedicure. My heels haven’t been that “happy” in a longtime!

The Farm Fresh Peet Moss Masque and Light as Air Body Mouse and Hemp Oil Lotion left my toes twinkling. I chose a super fun blue color from the OPI collection that reminded me of the turquoise shores of The Crystal Coast on North Carolina’s Southern Outer Banks.

Last— but definitely not least— was time for some hair love by Haley, REDS Stylist Diva, who saved my dull locks with a fabulous shampoo and scalp massage followed by a trim and texturized cut.

The Brazilian Blowout Smoothing Serum Haley used on my hair is awesome and beats the July North Carolina humidity. This smoothing serum only available during hair service at REDS, left my hair tame and lustrous for days following my appointment.

I encourage everyone to visit Renaissance not only for stellar spa pampering, but also to support a locally owned and operated business that truly cares for the people of its community.

Beginning this August, Renaissance will begin a brand new program called REDS Gives Back. The program will support a different local charity each month by either raising monies to donate to the charity, collecting donated goods and/or through volunteerism. Clients of the spa can help as well.

Natalie expressed it was extremely important more than ever for the spa to support its community following the outpouring of support they received in the past months following the fire.

Also, military members need to take advantage of the 15% off discount on spa services in July before offers end.

The deals and kindness do not stop there… the spa is also offering some major promotions in August for teachers to help them get ready to return to school relaxed and looking fabulous!

Watch here for more information:

For more information on how to contact the spa, look here:

You can check out the list of spa services on the website here:

http://therenaissancedayspa.com/

Make your appointment today! You will definitely get your bounce back!

-Alison Paul Klakowicz

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

Podcast: anchor.fm/jalisonpaulyahoocom

Instagram @alisonklak

Twitter @KlakowiczAlison

Alison Paul Klakowicz is an Eastern North Carolina native, children’s book author, blogger, podcaster and creative writer. She is a military spouse who resides in Fayetteville, NC with her husband, Adam, and son, Mak.

Vote for Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck!

I am elated my children’s book, Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck, is in the running for a 2019 Reader’s Choice Award!

Please consider voting.

Click on the link below and go to page 11 then simply click on the book cover to cast your vote!

GO HERE:

https://www.tckpublishing.com/2019-readers-choice-voting-page/

Or here:

https://www.opinionstage.com/belprado1/vote-for-your-favorite-children-s-book1

THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

-Alison Paul Klakowicz

Author of Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

Hodge Podge Podcast: anchor.fm/jalisonpaulyahoocom

Instagram @alisonklak

Twitter @KlakowiczAlison

Alison Paul Klakowicz is an Eastern North Carolina native, children’s book author, blogger, podcaster and creative writer. She is a military spouse who resides in Fayetteville, NC with her husband, Adam, and son, Mak.

Carolina BBQ… Beach Road Pit Stop Heaven

Kenansville, North Carolina-

When traveling through historic Kenansville, North Carolina byway of NC Hwy 24 just off I-40 East make sure to make Carolina BBQ your lunch or dinner destination!

Wonderful Eastern North Carolina style BBQ and Seafood Buffet

My husband and I were recently traveling through on our way to the Crystal Coast of NC, when our tummies started rumbling and we made it our mission to seek out a good ole Eastern NC barbecue spot to quench our soul food Sunday craving.

Well, I can tell you we were thrilled to happen upon this awesome restaurant.

It has all the makings of your grandparents’ Sunday dinner table— pork barbecue, fried chicken, fried shrimp and flounder, chicken and pastries, collards, lima beans, Brunswick stew, sweet tea, banana pudding, hush puppies— you get the drift.

If you are in need of comfort food, this is your spot.

Not to mention, the staff go out of their way to make you feel welcome and satisfied with your visit.

Ample seating in the spacious dining room

This kind fellow, Jimmy (pictured below), went out of his way to greet two unfamiliar faces and make them feel a part of the Carolina BBQ community.

He instantly connected with us and took time to learn of the new folks wandering in on a late Sunday afternoon.

He was congenial, kind and quite the conversationalist— told us stories of days long ago when he served in the US Marine Corps, his retirement from the state of North Carolina as a probation officer and his pride of his wife and daughter who are both doctors.

Southern hospitality at its finest.

Thanks, Jimmy. You made our visit even more of a delight.

If you find yourself near Kenansville, go ahead and set your GPS to direct you straight to the door of Carolina BBQ and Seafood.

Good news… there is a second location of Carolina BBQ in Wilmington, NC too!

You will be living high on the hog if you give this barbecue joint a try.

-Alison Paul Klakowicz, BA, MS

Author of Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

Podcast: anchor.fm/jalisonpaulyahoocom

Instagram @alisonklak

Twitter @KlakowiczAlison

Alison Paul Klakowicz is an Eastern North Carolina native, children’s book author, blogger, podcaster and creative writer. She is a military spouse who resides in Fayetteville, NC with her husband, Adam, and son, Mak.

Joann Yost: Gold Star Wife, Breast Cancer Survivor, Mother, Business Woman, Guiding Light

Joann “JoJo” Yost, Perruque Boutique Founder and Owner

Take a LISTEN to our inspiring, and motivational conversation on Hodge Podge Podcast here: https://anchor.fm/jalisonpaulyahoocom/episodes/Joann-JoJo-Yost-Survivor–Warrior–Inspiration-e4d7ol

Fayetteville, North Carolina

Perruque Boutique Owner and Founder, Joann “JoJo” Yost, came up with the vision of her business while sitting in a chemo chair while fighting her own battle with stage two breast cancer in 2015.

https://www.wigsfayettevillenc.com/

Photographs of JoJo’s breast cancer treatment journey

Her mission: to make Fayetteville, North Carolina and its surrounding areas feel beautiful one WIG at a time.

JoJo assisting a customer choosing a wig due to hair loss from chemotherapy

Various high quality wigs, headscarves and accessories available for sale at Perruque

Private wig fitting rooms available allow customers privacy

Not only is JoJo a breast cancer survivor, but she is also a Gold Star Spouse. 🌟

https://www.goldstarwives.org/.

Her late husband, US Army Special Forces MSG Anthony Yost, was killed in action during a deployment in Iraq in 2005. He was the love of her life and father to their son, AJ, who was a toddler when his father passed away.

United States Army Special Forces MSG Anthony Yost

Anthony and JoJo

https://www.greenberetfoundation.org/memorial/anthony-r-c-yost/ https://www.fallenheroesproject.org/united-states/anthony-ray-charles-yost/

I had the pleasure to sit down with this extraordinary woman and chat about her struggles and triumphs after surviving her husband‘s death in combat, her transition to single-parenting, then beating breast cancer which inspired her to open her own business in order to create a safe harbor for others fighting for their lives— to provide them hope and help them feel beautiful on their journey.

Take a LISTEN to our inspiring, and motivational conversation on Hodge Podge Podcast here: https://anchor.fm/jalisonpaulyahoocom/episodes/Joann-JoJo-Yost-Survivor–Warrior–Inspiration-e4d7ol

-Alison Paul Klakowicz, BA, MS

Author of Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

Podcast: anchor.fm/jalisonpaulyahoocom

Instagram @alisonklak

Twitter @KlakowiczAlison

Alison Paul Klakowicz is an Eastern North Carolina native, children’s book author, blogger, podcaster and creative writer. She is a military spouse who resides in Fayetteville, NC with her husband, Adam, and son, Mak.

Cumberland County Public Library: Local Author Showcase

Fayetteville, North Carolina-

Trinity Bursey, Children’s Book Author

From Children’s Books to Science Fiction, Romance to Fantasy, Creative Writing Anthologies to Spiritual Inspiration, Poetry to Memoirs, Mystery to Anime Enthusiasts, Fiction to Non-Fiction, Cumberland County authors span all genres of literature.

On Saturday, June 15, 2019, Cumberland County Public Library Headquarters location downtown Fayetteville, NC, hosted the annual Local Authors Showcase where talented area writers groups and authors were invited to display their published books in an effort to bring attention to the growing writers community here in the Sandhills.

Alison Paul Klakowicz, Author of Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

I was honored to be a part of this event alongside fellow authors and local writers groups in an effort to support my peers, educate myself on local writer’s resources as well as display my children’s travel and adventure picture book, Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck: http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

Fantasy Fiction Novelist Rebecca Lang

The vast amount of literature created by Cumberland County residents is impressive. I was taken aback by the fortitude and lyrical artistry of the authors featured at this year’s event.

Jack Welsh and Lorraina Nyanza- Veteran Memoirists

I found myself walking around the Pate Room of Headquarters Library in awe of each of the individuals I met— who poured their heart and soul into creating meaningful, poignant and entertaining prose.

Members of Off the Page Writers Group and contributors to The Mayor’s Tales anthology

Writing can at times be a lonely walk. So it was wonderful to be a part of an event that connected individuals such as myself with one another in order to nourish fellowship and support.

Donald Kemp, Novelist
Robin Minnick, Novelist

Networking with other writers and bookish enthusiasts in the community is crucial in spreading the word about the wonderful people and resources here in Fayetteville.

Talicia Smith, Poet and Spiritual Devotionals

Vivian Boylorn, Poet

Roberta J. Humphries, Inspirational Novelist and Memoirist
Steve Kamradt, Memoir

It was wonderful to see folks of different backgrounds, cultures and experiences gather in one room with the same objective and passion to educate the public on the local literature available to them.

Patricia Blanks, Christian Studies

Elaine J. Martin, Barking Dog Press

Sarah McCormick, Novelist

David & Sara Rothman, Anime/Manga/Japanese Culture Enthusiasts and Novelists

Even better to witness the inclusion and opportunity to share our own unique areas of interest and expertise with one another as well as event visitors.

Members of Chosen Pen Writing Group

Video courtesy of Cumberland County Public Library:

Kathleen Wanamaker, Fantasy Novelist

I encourage Cumberland County residents to attend next year’s event at the library and encourage you to seek out local authors for your next book purchase and schedule an author event at your school or venue.

There are some very talented individuals right here in our community that would greatly appreciate your support!

You can check out books from the Local Author Section at the library. For more information check here: http://www.cumberland.lib.nc.us/ccplicinfo/mobile_website/m.homepage.html

-Alison Paul Klakowicz, BA, MS

Author of Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

Podcast: anchor.fm/jalisonpaulyahoocom

Instagram @alisonklak

Twitter @KlakowiczAlison

Alison Paul Klakowicz is an Eastern North Carolina native, children’s book author, blogger, podcaster and creative writer. She is a military spouse who resides in Fayetteville, NC with her husband, Adam, and son, Mak.