Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Hey Saige and Andrew...Thanks!!

“We identify the flag with almost everything we hold dear on earth, peace, security, liberty, our family, our friends, our home. . .But when we look at our flag and behold it emblazoned with all our rights we must remember that it is equally a symbol of our duties. Every glory that we associate with it is the result of duty done.”
                                                                                                       Calvin Coolidge

I had the amazing opportunity last week to fly to Virginia Beach, VA to witness the birth of my first GREAT nephew.  A baby born to a young mother who selflessly followed her heart 2100 miles away from everything and everyone she knew.  Her "heart" being a man who bravely signed the dotted line swearing to defend you, me, & this great country, whatever the cost. 

I have long been hugely patriotic.  I cannot hear "Proud to be an American" without full on waterworks, or pass a soldier in uniform and not have the urge to just reach out and touch them (I guess I would liken it to the desire one would have to reach out and touch their favorite celeb or the pope)...they are truly my heroes.  I resist the urge usually, as they might have the urge to touch me back and well...they are trained in combat.  I try hard as a parent to instill the same sense of pride in our country and those that defend it into my children.  Sometimes I feel inadequate but, honestly, I don't know where mine came from.  My mother didn't directly speak of such things.  Maybe it is an innate compulsion?  I really just don't know, but I take every opportunity I come across to teach the importance of patriotism and thankfulness to those who serve.

During my stay I witnessed a small taste of their life, and my admiration only grew.

My trip began when I walked into a hospital room.  My sweet 18 year old niece braving "labor" without her family.  Relying on texts and Face Time for advice and answers.  In my heart of hearts it just couldn't possibly be enough.  Her husband, quiet and sober, doing all he could to comfort her while dealing with his own uncertainties. Prepared to do it all on their own.

 To my amazement, after the delivery, I learned that 3 of his military "brothers" had been sitting for 8 hrs in the L&D waiting room.  I don't think ANY of my family waited for 8 hrs in the waiting room.  More like, "Hey, call when it's close & we'll come back."  No, not here, these men were committed!  They are each others family. 

A drive to take the grandma back to their "home" revealed an 800sq ft, one bedroom apartment, and thankfully, a pull out loveseat for us.  Oh, the pull out bed.  Honestly, it was a relief initially, as I was fully prepared to sleep on the floor.  The relief was short lived as later we caught a glimpse of the 4 inch thick mattress, followed by the advice that it may actually be more comfortable on the floor as opposed to on the couch frame, followed immediately by the realization that it had a million teeny tiny springs and the disappointment that any cushion that may have existed was long ago mashed and displaced by someone's mother-in-law that, based on the condition, came WAY too often and stayed WAY too long!  This much mother-in-law time surely caused marital discourse and probably ended the marriage which is likely how the couch ended up in the thrift store.  Ok, I don't really know the history of the couch or the condition of the aforementioned marriage, but I do know that couch has been used...ALOT.   But the beauty of that loveseat, that coffee table, that...well...that was all of their furnishings...but the beauty of the whole situation was ok.  He is making what I can only imagine is pennies above minimum wage.  He isn't working at some menial job...he has committed 4 yrs, moved across the country, pledged his loyalty and life to this country...for minimum wage.  Who does that?  The fry cooks at McDonalds believe they deserve more than that.  But neither of them complained.  Instead, I heard talk of what it takes to move up and saw the determination and mindset to do so.  Such a pleasant change from the "everyone owes me" mentality.  The very people who we, as a free people, owe everything to, are the people working, fighting, and dying their way up to middle class.   

Remember those "brothers" in the waiting room?  I got to know a couple of them a little better.  Speaking with them brought me to understand that, while the core of most of these men are the same, their reasons for joining are vastly different.  Andrew (my nephew) admittedly joined after high school when he had no idea what he wanted to do or which direction to take.  I met 2 other men, one I will call "Priest" and the other "Spaghetti."  Priest wants to be just that...a Priest.  I suppose because of his young age, he was advised to go out, live a little, and make sure he truly wants to dedicate his whole life to the church.  He is VERY smart, educated, articulate, and well traveled...and still applying to seminary FYI.  "Spaghetti" is an Italian (obviously) from a well to do family in New Hampshire.  Though I spent much more time with him than I did with Priest...I learned a lot less about him.  Spaghetti had quite a "tough guy" persona...and I don't think it had anything to do with how bad I beat him at bowling or how much I may have bragged about it.  But really, he obviously isn't someone that opens up much. His traditional Italian upbringing leant toward "family" being very important, and even though we weren't HIS family, he wanted to be a part of the family scenario we represented and he clearly missed.  I suspect that his joining was directly related with doing something that would make his them proud.  Whatever the reason behind any soldiers decision to commit, be it education, exploration, indecision, or patriotism... keep this in mind;
That decision is equivalent to going to a store, putting your arm around a stranger, and saying..."if the situation arises, I will die for you today."

I only witnessed a simple life with some minor financial struggles, some heart wrenching home-sickness, a couple of amazing relationships that have become pseudo family, 2 kids digging deep to find the strength to do it alone, & one uber cute baby boy to make it all worth it.  But in my soul I know that there are others who have been asked to give more and  rose to the task. 

As I prepared to leave that little girl who grew up way too fast right before my eyes, as I hugged her and wiped her tears, and as I cried my own...I fumbled and searched for some adequate way to express how very proud I was of her.  How proud I was for all she gave up to be with the man that she loved.  For being brave enough to start a family so far from home and help. I tried to tell her, but I failed.

As any good Aunt would do, I gave Andrew his marching orders...nod your head and do whatever she asks even when it seems irrational, be strong for her, and take some baby night shifts.  I believe he is up for the job on all accounts.  Again, I failed to express how proud I was of the life decision that he made...though without him knowing, I reached out and touched him. 

Please understand that this post is relative to my little corner of the world, but intended for a stronger grasp of the whole and a genuine expression of how proud I am of Saige and Andrew.  It is in no way a broad description of every situation as I am sure they are all very different.  I have no personal knowledge of the life that these men and women live daily, I am a civilian from a civilian family.  But I am a proud American.  I am a patriot to my very core.  I hope to do more though I know it will never be enough.  And I pledge to be more vocal regarding my gratitude toward them, even the strangers, but I'll probably still keep from touching them...just in case. 

And yet again, as I read and proof this post, I can't help but feel this too is an inadequate representation.  All I have to offer is my sincere heartfelt THANK YOU.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A day in the life!

I am certain my hair is sticking up and there are twice as many grays after today!
I like to think that in general we are a fairly organized and scheduled family.  It just works better when everyone knows what, where, and when...BUT...there are occasionally days like today.  Let's see...where shall I begin?
How about 5 o'clock (things were pretty ordinary until then).
I left the office with the girls to go get Adriaan...Matthew had gone home with Aunt Tammye.  As I walk into the sitters house, my eyes are drawn immediately to the "spot" in the floor where there had obviously been an "event."  I was thankful to learn that it was not my child that was sick...I am anxiously awaiting the 3 a.m. wake-up call.
5:15 - Dropped Abi off at a birthday party.
5:30 - I went to pick up Matt, only to learn that his favorite Scooby Doo cartoon was on and he begged for 1 more hour...fine. 
540 - I ran home to peel the potatoes for dinner and put in the meatloaf I prepped at lunch (thank goodness).  Got the potatoes peeled, washed, cut, and put in boiling water at 6:00.
6:05 - Dirty favorite!
6:10 - Got a call from the ER...someone needs a drug screen
6:20 - Take basketball clothes to Abi for practice at 6:30.
6:25 - Get a text from Tammye...Matt is ready
6:30 - Take Ani to baseball practice
6:31 - Realize that Ani's baseball practice started at 5:30 not 6:30
6:32 - SIGH
6:40 - Pull into my driveway
6:41 - Remember I am supposed to do a drug screen
6:45 - Go to the ER with the baby on my hip...guy wasn't ready for test.
6:46 - Remember I have potatoes boiling
6:50 - Back at the house to drain potatoes and put in the meatloaf
6:55 - Arrive back at the ER...still with baby...guy still isn't ready...which is good because
6:57 - Remember I am supposed to get Ani at 7!
7:02 - Pick up Ani at baseball practice
7:10 - At the ER again...guy FINALLY ready!!
7:20 - Pull into driveway
7:21 - Remember I was supposed to pick up hour ago!
7:25 - Pick up Matt
7:30 - Pick up Abi from practice
7:33 - Learn that Abi has a basketball game on Thursday big deal...Matt has T-ball practice (which I coach), and Ani has baseball practice that night too...and American Idol...what about American Idol?!
7:40 - Return home to finish dinner...homework...and baths.

Life returned to some sort of normalcy at this point...but not before my eyes were crossing and my hair was falling out.  These are the days that I have to sit down, take a deep breath (or 20), and focus on the good and not the bad.

1. I am thankful for a WONDERFUL babysitter, she makes my baby happy!!
2. I am thankful for a vehicle to get us may not be new but as my dad would say...IT KEEPS MY BUTT FROM DRAGGING THE GROUND.
3.I am thankful for a wonderful community for my children to grow up in and parents willing to give up their precious time to coach my kids.
4. I am thankful that my children are healthy.
5.I am thankful for food to prepare
6.I am thankful for a job that allows me to be flexible
7.I am thankful for my my home and down the street.
8. I am thankful for my husband...I know that he is working hard to provide for our family while I run around like a chicken with my head cut off.
9. I am thankful for a mother that taught me how to cook and the value of providing a homemade meal.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Opportunities (Abi's b-day blog)

I picked up a VERY heavy hearted Abigail from school today.  I asked what was wrong and she just broke down sobbing. 
My local readers likely know of Josh Walton and his struggle with Leukemia...for those that don't, he is a teenager battling this terrible disease and this has not been a good 24 hrs for him. 
As she sat crying beside me, I had such a rush of emotions.  I was stricken with sadness for Josh and his family and for my baby girls heavy heart.  Anxiety for trying to find the right words to comfort her, while preparing her.  I felt proud of her compassion and sincerity for this boy. But the most powerful moment  came when God placed a little guilt on my shoulders.  More about that in a moment...
For now I will address my lack of the"birthday blog" I promised last week.  I sat here last Thursday, in this same chair, with full intentions of laying out her just wouldn't come!  I sat and randomly typed, deleted, re-typed.  I even tried to save and come back later and it wouldn't let me.  As I walked into the house this afternoon, thinking about sharing this blog, I realized, God was having me wait until I REALLY had something to say before I wrote.  Even as I sit here now I am unsure of how this will all come together...I am just trusting Him that it will.
Speaking of trusting Him...back to my twinge of guilt.  I think when non-believers have "epiphanies," they chalk it up to a good a idea...the proverbial light bulb, if you will.  I, however, do believe and I know that God talks to me...more than I listen (just being honest here).  Today, he very clearly advised me that my children cannot live and die by my faith and understanding alone.  I spend so much of my time sheltering my kids from the evil this world has lurking at every corner, and the sorrow that looms around us.  That is VERY much my job...please don't misunderstand me!  It's just moments like today, however, when we truly get to instill a lifelong reference.  In the silence of the car, with tears running down both of our faces, I realized this was an opportunity. 
On March 25, 2007 @ 10am, I got the phone call no mother wants to get..."Abi has been in an accident."  She was with my parents in Kansas at a rodeo.  At 7 years old, this child had already been riding a horse for 5 years.  There was nothing in this world she would rather be doing than barrel racing on her little blonde pony...Dodge.  And she was good!  I was helpless!  It had rained all night and the rodeo grounds were a sloppy, wet, muddy mess.  Her horse spooked...and as he scurried back he slipped, rolling over backwards onto Abi.  All I could do was PRAY and WAIT for my mothers updates.  3 Ambulances and 2 hospitals later, she was on her way home.  Not because she was ok...she was far from it.  I took her straight to the ER here.  Her condition was only worsening when they found the puncture in her bowels.  The dr. was very open with us regarding her prognosis and the eminent danger she was in.  Life-Flight was called in and as predicted her vitals crashed mid-flight.  She made it to Amarillo and went into surgery at midnight.  In the midst of the chaos and concern, I had an unfathomable sense of peace.  Why?  Well, Jesus of course, but also because my mom took the opportunity when I was little to instill lifelong references.  I didn't know what the light of day was going to bring, but I was not fearful.  I knew He had a plan.  Surgery was a success and 9 days later she was released. 
Now, this would be alot for an adult to face and overcome, she was a 1st grader.  At her 6 week follow-up she was released to resume her normal activities.  This included riding her horse, though it was unclear if that was an option in her mind. 
It took several weeks, but she finally asked if she could just "sit" on her horse.  She "walked" the next day.  Four weeks in she was full throttle.  As if nothing!  Who can do that?  What CHILD can muster the courage to fall down (hard) and climb back on?  Abigail.  John Wayne said "Courage is being scared to death, and saddling up anyway"...can't think of a more fitting quote for her. 
We are all tested...each in our own way.  Out of these tests come our testimonies.  And in that, our ability to help others going through the same. 
My child did not battle cancer.  But through my experience I was able to teach Abi today.  Because I almost lost a child I was able to speak with confidence to the situation she was experiencing. 

In the silence of the car, with tears running down both of our faces, I realized this was an opportunity...I simply said "We know God is able, but we also know that He appointed us a day to be born and a day to die and Jesus may be calling him home.  Let's just pray for God's will."

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Grown-Up Grilled Cheese

Ahhh...the simplicity of a good 'ol grilled cheese sandwich.  Maybe I'm just a big kid, but I still LOVE a grilled cheese.  Quick, easy, CHEESY...what's not to love? 
This recipe is like...a grilled cheese grew up, went to college, got a job, and BOUGHT A WHOLE NEW WARDROBE!'s THAT good!

Okra (MY way)

Holy Cow!  I haven't blogged since June has been one busy summer! With work, a wedding, vacation...oh yeah...and 4 kids, it's been CA-RAZY!
This recipe just may be worth the wait though.  2 ingredients...I repeat...2 INGREDIENTS!  This time of year backyard gardens are spilling over with veggies, especially okra.  Not that I have a garden.  But, my mom has a garden this year.  Not that my okra came from her garden...not that I have gotten ANYTHING from her garden...I'm thinking I need to talk to her about that!  Regardless, the local supermarkets are also overflowing with it AND if it's not summer, you can always find it in the frozen food section. 
I know that most of you will gasp in shock and maybe insinuate that I am un-American or maybe just un-Southern...but, I DON'T LIKE FRIED OKRA!!  There I said it. While I'm at it...I DON'T LIKE STEWED OKRA!!  It feels good to have it out in the open.  I like pickled okra.  AND...I love anything cooked in bacon grease...which brings us to today's recipe!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Lessons Learned

Well, today has been very educational for me. 

Lesson #1.  Even if the house is 76*...Adriaan must wear a pair of shorts to bed!  He apparently took off his diaper at bedtime last night...needless to say...lesson learned the smelly wet way!

Lesson#2.  Never let Matthew go to the bathroom unattended at Sea World!  No, I didn't go to Sea World today, but, I did take him and some friends to the movies.  As we were standing outside the bathrooms waiting on everyone to potty...Matthew takes a drink from the water fountain and describes the taste this way...Gross, this taste like the toilet water at Sea World!  I am unsure how much of this comment was from direct experience.

Lesson #3.  Not really a lesson per say...I was one of 2 people in the car that could touch my nose with my tongue!  Tatum rock!!

Lesson #4.  Taking 6 children to Amarillo, eating, doing a tiny bit of shopping, and going to a movie is alot like living in nature.  It is survival of the fittest and apparently...I need to work out more! 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Chocolate Caramel Cake


 We are to make a Chocolate  Caramel  Cake. Trust Me the Title is not the only that is good .
1st get some Chocolate CakeMisk, WhippingCream, HeathBar, and some Caramal.