News

Nicole’s Notes: VB woman on a mission to become “The Next Great Baker”

June 23rd, 2014 at 3:52 pm by under News, Personalities, The Hampton Roads Show, Uncategorized

A Virginia Beach woman has been serving up treats to folks in Hampton Roads for a few years now and she’s ready to show the world she is “The Next Great Baker”. TLC chose Brandy Smith as a contestant on its network show which airs Tuesday, June 24 at 9:00 p.m.

Brandy Smith of Virginia Beach, contestant on TLC's "The Next Great Baker"

Brandy Smith of Virginia Beach, contestant on TLC’s “The Next Great Baker”

They’re having a viewing party in Virginia Beach. I found out about Brandy because I did a story with her cousin McKenzie a few years ago.

McKenzie emailed me and shared this about Brandy, “Her situation is different than most on the show, 2 days before leaving to film, she found out her husband who is only 40 has Stage 4 pancreatic cancer.  They have 3 young children and soon she will be the soul bread winner in her home.  Our goal in this premier party is to get her exposure for her incredible cake business.

Brandy Smith's cake

I talked to Brandy on the phone and learned the business is called “Sophisticakes” and it was born out of her love for creating cool 3-D cakes for her kids on their birthdays. She’s a trained artist so she says she created different designs. She told me she likes to create designs that nobody else can. Folks started asking her about the cakes, and before you know it she was taking orders for wedding cakes, groom’s cakes, and cakes for all occasions. She says someone she took a class with asked her to go to the casting for TLC’s “The Next Great Baker” and it was a long process that started in October, 2013.

She’s kept a positive outlook as her husband Jason fights cancer and hopes this appearance will get the word out even more about the business she loves so much. In fact, they’ve been traveling to Chicago for cancer treatment every other weekend for the past four months and says he is about to start treatment here in Hampton Roads. His disease is now stable and has not progressed.

Brandy Smith & Family

Brandy Smith & Family

Brandy said to me in an email, “We have been overwhelmed and feel truly blessed with the love and support our family has received from our friends, family, and community.”

She went on “The Hampton Roads Show” on WAVY-TV  Monday June 23 to talk about her quest and whipped up some strawberry balsamic cupcakes. Tune and support our local gal and follow her on Facebook to stay on top of her progress. Brandy told me she dreams of having a storefront business someday. Right now she gets her orders online only.

 


Hey Daddy, Read This

June 12th, 2014 at 2:09 pm by under 10 On Your Side, Community, Health, News, Personalities, Uncategorized

   “Many thoughts come to mind this  FATHER’S DAY 1993!  Father's Day 599693_10100713632756286_1292965230_n

How thankful I am to have a dad.. and all that you’ve done for me.

    You know my three children well.. their ages are 17, 10, and 7.

Kristen’s the oldest, and the there’s Dawn, and last, but not, least, is Kevin.

    My wife and my children are my greatest blessings, but let me brag about you,  dad.

 You’ve always been there for me, my brothers, sisters, mom, and I’m glad.

    While we grew up, you worked several jobs, ’cause you felt you had to do it.

We had what we needed and sometimes more- we just asked and you saw to it.

   I remember days you worked late, we knew you were home by the squeal of car brakes without fail.

Your arrival was usually good news, unless you had too spank my tail!

   Dad, you seemed to never miss church on Sunday…no matter what you did on Saturday night.

You said making time for parties and fun…and denying God was not right.

   Dad, you could fix anything… plumbing, electrical, the car, if we’d holler…

I knew you were smart, and you taught yourself, while trying to save a dollar.

   You liked to sit out on our steps… and watch the changing neighborhood.

You made your point of speaking to children and encouraging them to do good.

    If we were walking and you saw a weed in the sidewalk… you’d go back…

You always told me to pull it out… because, after winter, it would leave a crack.

   You graduated high school but once you told me you wished you had gone on to college.

Instead, you earned a Ph.D in common sense... the best kind of knowledge.

   I’ll admit, I took you for granted while growing up… you were always there.

And I was surprised when my friends would tell me they had no dad who cares..

   It was hard to believe that a man would make a baby… and simply leave…

but it’s happening every day… as more and more unmarried couples conceive.

   I’m just glad my dad stayed around… your example showed me the way.

I love you dad… and I want to say- thank you on this Father’s Day.

   I guess the best way to show my thanks to a very special man…

is by using your example, and working hard,

to be the best DAD I can.”

(C) 2004 Don Roberts, from the book, HEY DADDY READ THIS, IUniverse Publishing.


‘Round The Block

June 4th, 2014 at 10:28 am by under Community, Health, News, Personalities, Uncategorized

I did something very unusual Monday afternoon. I took a walk around the block, -with my neighbor. I’ll call him MIKE. He’s a public servant who happens to wear blue -and silver. MIKE arrived home at about the same time I was heading out. MIKE works crazy hours- so, we’ve got that in common. Another thing, he and his wife are raising a toddler, an infant, and a dog. I’ve been there, done that- flea & tick spray still in the cab. girl-on-bicycleMy kids are now grown and gone. But, they come back! And with their children! 5 of the 7 grands were with me on this day. We were headed out, the kids on bikes, for a ride ’round the block. And that’s when I saw MIKE roll up. He’s cool. But, sometimes I just don’t know. Maybe, it’s his job. Maybe it’s mine. We’ve had our moments- as neighbors will- “Breaking News again, huh, Don? Don’t you ever have any ‘good news?’” OUCH! (Here’s some good news: It’s called a “Good Fence!” ZING! ) Ha ha… yeah. I don’t believe our meeting this time was a coincidence. Considering the Breaking News of the day, I found myself looking for his piece of silver… to see if he had added another color to it – black. Not yet. Back to the task at hand, our children! They were ready to roll and set some new land speed records on this urban course! MIKE planned the same thing with his 3 year old, an adorable little girl, on a custom bike with no pedals- how cute! So, the 8 of us stormed the neighborhood! And while the kids did their thing, we, kinda did ours… two neighbors, two dads, two friends, just watching, and walking and talking. About what? What else? The weather, and our children.


Nicole’s Notes: There’s something about that duck!

May 26th, 2014 at 11:42 pm by under News, Personalities, Uncategorized
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The Rubber Duck on his last full day in Norfolk

Time to say goodbye to the Rubber Duck who has taken up residence in the water outside the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk. The Hague area of Ghent has been buzzing with activity and people since the  40-foot tall duck arrived on May 17, and the hashtag #chryslerquack has been used countless times as folks shared their selfies with him.  So, what is it about that duck? I admit, I’ve visited it each of the three weeks it’s been around. I’ve adjusted my running, bicycling, walking, and driving route just to check him out. When I first spotted him I was amazed at how huge he was. I told someone I could sit and stare at that duck all day. The bright yellow figure just makes me smile, and it makes me smile to see folks young and old- from all different backgrounds- get joy in the visit.

I posted the question on my Facebook page, “What will you miss the most about the duck when it leaves Norfolk?” Here are of some of the answers: “The smiling faces as people walked away”, “The fascination over something so simple as a rubber duck! It’s been wonderful to see how happy this duck has made so many people!”, “Just the simple fact of how cool it is! How often do you get to see a big yellow rubber duck floating in the water! I felt like a little kid, bursting with excitement when I got to see it.”, “How it has brought art and the museum to the attention of those who might not have known we have such an awesome, free place to go.”,”All the selfies with him.”.

Nicole's first picture with the duck

Nicole’s first picture with the duck

I realize a lot of folks don’t feel the same. From the beginning, the naysayers posted comments about it not being real art. It’s there because the Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman brought the duck here as part of the Chrysler Museum’s grand reopening. The duck has made stops around the world, including Sydney, Tokyo, and Hong Kong.

The duck spent some time in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the fall. Someone posted a question on its Facebook page asking where it’s going next. The posted reply is, Rubber Duck at Chrysler : “It’s a surprise! Sorry, I have to keep the secret.”

Deflated duck Tuesday morning

Deflated duck Tuesday morning

I ran by the duck Tuesday morning and saw a small group of onlookers, a few media folks, and crews in the water with a deflated yellow blob.

Nicole with deflated duck Tuesday morning. Photo by Hyunsoo Leo Kim, The Virginian Pilot

Nicole with deflated duck Tuesday morning.
Photo by Hyunsoo Leo Kim, The Virginian Pilot

I wonder how many people will track the duck and add its travels to their travel plans. Sure is tempting. For now, we’ll have to savor the memories and the selfies and keep smiling. :-)

 

 

 

 

 


Mom’s 96 years: a timeline of love

May 9th, 2014 at 2:29 pm by under News, Personalities
MomMarie1962

1962 at our home outside Pittsburgh

World War I had ended; Babe Ruth was just showing the sparks of explosive dominance on the diamond,  Mississippi had become the first state in the union to ratify prohibition, and a most remarkable woman was just beginning her long journey of service to God and family.

America was just asserting itself as a world power when my mother entered the picture in 1918.  A recent trip to Pittsburgh marked her 96th birthday, and Marie Schaad still had that authoritarian gleam in her eye, which always served as a warning to be on your best behavior–or else.  She possesses a narrow sense of right and wrong tempered by tolerance and love.   This woman’s life evolved like fine wine over the turbulent decades of the 20th century.  The backdrop of her memories could serve any student of history.  But modesty is another quality of mom’s DNA.  So it’s no suprise that she is a reluctant subject for an interview.

 

“Everybody’s celebrating my age,”  mom told me with an ever-so-slight tone of sarcasm.

I then asked about her earliest memories.

“I don’t remember anything anymore.”

“C’ mon mom, you used to tell me about going to movies with grandma.”

That was the nudge which opened the gate to about 1924.

“The first thing I remember is a clicking sound.  You know,  movies were silent in those days.   That was my first recollection of the movies.”

Some  recall traumatic scenes as a child.    For my mother, it was a flickering black and white image playing in a dark ornate theater in downtown Pittsburgh.

Mom and me at her April birthday celebration

Mom and me at her April birthday celebration

“I remember one thing that scared the devil out of me.   I was about 6.  At that time,  they had orchestras that accompanied the movies .   One  (movie) had a railaroad crash, and the music got louder and louder right before two trains collided, and that scared the life out of me.  I wouldn’t go to movies for years after that.”

But she also remembers what could have been a real-life gangster flick which played out in her neighborhood during that same decade of jazz and bathtub gin.  I wrote about it extensively following a previous conversation.  You can read it here.

Movies and entertainment, pop culture, if you will,  didn’t do much for mom.  Her memories during the Great Depression center around the home, and what it took to get by.  Many of you remember  stories from grandparents and great-grandparents.  I happen to be only one generation removed from that experience.  My grandfather went from building homes and supervising huge construction projects,  to barely earning enough to put food on the table.

“Grandpap couldn’t get any work.  He did landscaping for 25 cents an hour.   Uncle John had a secure job working for a paint company.  They used to bring us food.    I also remember eating a lot of stewed tomatoes with bread in those days. I got a job in a real estate office doing secretarial work:  typing and shorthand.  It was about $20  a month.”

It was during this segment of the conversation where mom talked briefly about 1930′s race relations and how it pertained to her job.

“We had a rental list–special lists for ‘colored’ people.   I would get calls, and the voice on the other end would ask,  ’Do you have anything for colored?’   Black people lived in the Hill District, (of Pittsburgh) and that’s the way things were then.  It took a lot of years to change that.”

Then there was the scene with my father on December 7th, 1941, which Hollywood couldn’t have written any better.

“We were in a movie Sunday afternoon.  We came out of the movie, and the newspaper boy was announcing the fact that we were at war.  It affected us because we weren’t married yet.  I figured dad would have to go to war.  That kept us from getting married. ”

At Lake Erie circa 1966

 

Mom’s patience is another one of her blessed qualities.  She and dad dated seven years.   He was initally declared 4-F because of his heart, but more men were being drafted in the final months of the war.

“I remember in 1944  that he said.  ‘If I’m not in the army by spring, we’re getting married.’

Not the most romantic proposal, but my father was a man of his word.   Mom and dad were married 31 years until he died in 1975.

I asked mom, a lifelong devout Catholic,  about the assassination of President Kennedy, what it meant to her losing a man who shared her faith.

“I remember Bernie (my older sister) coming up through the yard,  and she was crying.   I think I cried for three days.  It affected me that way.”

That meant something coming from a woman who always keeps her composure, and rarely did I see her shed a tear while growing up.  Maybe part of that comes from  mom’s generation.  Emotions were kept to oneself.  Family and work took precedence over leisure and laughter, although mom might be one of the happiest people I know.

She never complained about the daily load of chores that came with the title “housewife” in her day.

“It was everything.  The rooms need painted?   They were painted when dad came home.  I finished the upstairs.  I spackled the walls and put the textured paint and had dinner ready.  I cut the grass, and made dresses and curtains.    I didn’t have a dryer.  Grandma gave me her dryer when you were born.  I never watched soap operas–never got addicted to them.”

Quite frankly, with a schedule like that, there wasn’t time.

Mom on her 96th birthday in April

Mom on her 96th birthday in April

Mom has spent nearly a century on this earth embracing a style of feminine strength and simple dignity.  She was never one to put on airs, so it’s no surprise her secret to long life is really not much of a secret at all.

“Don’t smoke.  Don’t drink.   And don’t get upset over things.  I  just eat whatever I want to eat, and  I don’t eat too much.  Housework was my exercise.  Cutting the grass and yardwork.  I also have steps here too.  Steps going down to the cellar, and steps going upstairs.”

So much for gym memberships or zumba classes.   Mom has been blessed with physical health.  Besides her four pregnancies, she spent just one day in the hospital.   But mom does not live by bread alone.

“Faith is number one, I used to go to mass everyday.   Now I watch it everyday on TV.  My walking is not as good as it used to be, so I resort to television.”

So how did she survive a near century-long trip on earth?

” Lucky I guess.”

My two sisters, brother and I are the lucky ones.

 


Nicole’s Notes: Getting muddy to raise cancer awareness

April 24th, 2014 at 5:37 pm by under Health, News, Personalities, Sports

The weather is feeling more like spring so you may want to get out an run! How about signing up for a race? I’ve only one run in my life and it was a 5k. The good thing is, there are lots of them in our area. Erin Mathe from Dirty Girl emailed me after reading my blog on the “More Than Boobs” cancer fundraising fashion show in Virginia Beach that I emceed. She wants folks to support the Dirty Girl Mud Run Virginia Beach this Saturday, April 26 at Greenbrier Farms,  in Chesapeake.

2013 Dirty Girl Mud Run

2013 Dirty Girl Mud Run

The proceeds go towards Bright Pink, the only national non-profit organization that focuses on risk reduction and early detection of breast and ovarian cancers in young women.

dgKicking through mud

The race takes runners through an obstacle course that will get your heart pumping, challenge your body, and get you all muddy. Many of the runners and volunteers participate because of their own personal experiences with cancer. Elsa Weller is one of them.

Elsa with her dog Bailey

Elsa with her dog Bailey

 

She’s an 8-year cancer survivor serving in the U.S. Navy.

Elsa with her mother and husband

Elsa with her mother and husband

She’s running with her mother and a few friends under the team “Muddy Sailors”. Here’s what she shared with me:

 “In June 2003 I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  I was told by the doctors that I would have to undergo chemotherapy.   A bag a day for a whole week every other week. For the next six months. I was on active duty in the Navy at the time so I was stationed in San Diego California while my family was in North Carolina. While I was going through all my treatments my parents would come out when they could to help me out with taking care of me along with my sister and best friend.  I was very fortunate that I never got too sick or felt too weak to do anything.  On the year check up in June 2005 the doctor informed me that saw some cancer spots again in a scan and wanted to do some testing. I went back in for more tests and that’s when they informed me that I was diagnosed with Non hodgkin’s lymphoma.   I went thought another form of chemo and this time they wanted to do a stem cell transplant.  So on 1 march 2006 I received a stem cell transplant from myself.  My bone marrow was healthy enough to be harvested and treated and given right back to me.   After that transplant I have had no signs or symptoms of any type of cancer. I have been in remission now for 8 years and counting.   I do battle 2 different types of skin cancer as well. And I get treated for those on a regular basis. That’s what happens when you are fair skin person.    I have been in the Navy now for 12 years and I could not have survived without the Navy’s support  as being my family when my family was not able to be there. My parents were a big part of my recovery along with uncles and sister and of course my best friend. I wouldn’t be here without their love and support and just being there when I needed them.    With everything I deal with I have taken it in strides, the Navy life and my personnel life.     Being strong and never admitting that I was sick is has kept me strong and facing each challenge head on.. that is why I love mud runs as you head to each obstacle it is a challenge just like in life and once you are faced with it you have the option to conquer or let it conquer you. I am the type of person that doesn’t take NO for a answer or if you tell me I am not able to do something I will prove to you or anyone that it can be done.   I always say NO to cancer. It  will never take me and I will conquer it no matter how many times I have had it.  It will never beat. Me…!!!!!”
Elsa Weller at mud run

Elsa Weller at mud run

The pictures you see here are from a previous race.

DG happy huggers

If you don’t have it in you to run, you can always donate your time or money. Check out the Dirty Girl page for info on volunteering and more.


2 REASONS

April 22nd, 2014 at 11:01 am by under 10 On Your Side, Community, Health, Military, News, Personalities

Two reasons why I’ve been smiling while I walked the scenic NOLAND TRAIL in Newport News over the past week. I’ll be smiling again as I hit “trails” all over Hampton Roads in the next five days. ELIAS, my oldest daughter’s February blessing is on the left. And “LIL ROSCOE” (aka- LIAM) is my partner KATIE’s handsome boy, born last July. BABY Elias and mommy 16627_10152272982082930_123902686_n

These healthy infants have a great opportunity to grow to a ripe old age, and physically do whatever they want, thanks to the MARCH OF DIMES.  Wednesday through Sunday, I’ll be thinking of the boys as I pound the pavement with JIMMY RAY of “97-3 THE EAGLE.”  We start at the Country Club of Williamsburg, 7am, with the goal of reaching Patrick Henry Mall by about 11. And each day, we’ll take a bite out of the 80+ mile route, inching closer to the goal of the oceanfront. Check the link for each day’s effort.
During that first FOUR HOUR trek with JIMMY RAY, we’ll each have plenty of time to talk (I’ll do a lot of LISTENING) about how to solve every problem in the universe. But when we’re not flapping our gums, the quiet moments will be great for counting our blessings- two of which you see, here.

Liam - Lil Roscoe -2 1238940_4845738956387_724864554_n

Their moms knew what to do to help insure their successful births- thanks in large part to the work of the MARCH OF DIMES. In their words:   “We help moms have full-term pregnancies and healthy babies. If something goes wrong, we offer information and comfort to families. We research the problems that threaten our babies and work on preventing them.”
You may know someone who’s waiting for their little blessing right now. You can help them by supporting me and my walking buddy, Jimmy Ray. Better yet, just go right to the source, the March of Dimes. Send them a check -and on the memo line, just write in that name that’s your reason to smile.
Each day, our MARCH FOR BABIES will shine a spotlight on the MARCH OF DIMES and it’s support of research to prevent premature births and defects. Check out the link to the map of our daily route, follow our progress, cheer us on when you see us on the street AND PUH-LEEZE support the MARCH OF DIMES.  And to top it all off, join our MARCH FOR BABIES and WALK WITH US this SUNDAY, April 27, 2014, 830am at the VB oceanfront!


Nicole’s Notes: Free dental care, from the heart

March 12th, 2014 at 11:46 pm by under 10 On Your Side, Health, News, Personalities, Uncategorized

UPDATE : Racheal Judy emailed me today and said they broke a record over the weekend. The patient you see in this picture below is Melissa. She is thanking Dr. Tim Johnston, owner of Norge Dental Center, for saving 3 teeth that she would’ve lost in the next 6 months if she hadn’t gotten the proper care.

Norge Dental Care, Dentistry From The Heart

Norge Dental Care, Dentistry From The Heart

In the third year of the Dentistry From The Heart program, Judy  wrote:
 *   257 patients were seen
 *   over $100,000 of free dental work was provided completely for FREE
 *   913 dental services were performed (including exams, cleanings, fillings, etc)
 *   First patient arrived at 12:10 am to get in line.
 *   Event was supposed to end at 5:00 pm, but dentists stayed until 8:30 pm to make sure no one was turned away.
Look at these pictures.

What a way to start your new week – with a big healthy smile!

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There’s nothing like a clean fresh mouth! Some folks are scared to visit the dentist, but I just love how my teeth feel and look after my appointments. I realize everyone doesn’t have dental benefits or enough money to get the recommended cleanings and exams twice a year- and any other dental work that’s needed. And it can get expensive!

Staff member with patient

Norge staff member with patient, 2013

There’s a local group of dentists and volunteers working to make sure anyone who needs, can get dental care. The Norge Dental Center in Williamsburg is hosting its free Dentistry From The Heart event on Saturday, March 22 at its offices on Richmond Road from 8:00 am until 4:00pm. Fillings, extractions, or cleanings will be performed for those 18 and older who can’t get dental care elsewhere. Registration starts at 7:30 am. Patients should arrive early and be dressed for a long wait in line. Also bring chairs, blankets, snacks and water. Patients will be seen on a first-come, first-served basis. Rachael Judy from Norge Dental reached out to me a couple of years ago about this event and she’s been following up ever since. She emailed me this after the clinic last year, “Our very first patient came at 10:20 pm the night before, and slept there to receive care! His name is William and he drove from Gates County, NC.  He and a few others camped outside.  We served over 200 patients with free dental care!   James was our patient who traveled the longest distance……He traveled from New Jersey to receive care.  We were able to save a tooth he would’ve lost had he waited much longer.”

Judy said they had over a dozen dentists volunteer their time. They came from their own practices to help their four Norge Dental Center dentists serve more people. For more information, visit their website or call (757) 941-7682.

We’d love to hear from you after your visit. Post your comments and share some pictures with me on Facebook.

 

 

 

 


An Afternoon Start to the Evening News

February 28th, 2014 at 4:39 pm by under 10 On Your Side, News, Personalities

It seems we’re all affected by something I call “time creep.”  Everything is starting a little earlier these days, and that would include 10 on your side, which has just launched a 4pm newscast.   It’s an early appetizer of the days events, and news happening now.  I couldn’t resist snapping off a few behind the scenes photos.  See you at 4! 

The gang is ready for WAVY News 10 at 4pm

The gang is ready for WAVY News 10 at 4pm


The Newsroom: Photos Behind the Scenes

February 20th, 2014 at 9:46 pm by under 10 On Your Side, News, Personalities, Uncategorized
WAVY Photojournalist Drew Smith on a night story.

WAVY Photojournalist Drew Smith on a night story.

By now, many of you know how much I enjoy photography, which walks hand in hand with storytelling.  I recently spent a few spare moments in between newscasts capturing the scenes of co-workers undertaking the daily responsibility of being on your side.  I hope I captured some of the serious work and light-hearted moments of  The Newsroom.   See photos here.