Monday, April 28, 2008

These boots are made for walking

One of my favorite songs growing up was the Barbara Sinatra's (Frank's daughter) song "These boots are made for walking." As a little girl, I would put on a pair of boots and strut all over the house, singing this song - full of attitude and sass. Now fast forward, nearly forty years later, that song comes back into my head because over the weekend, we went to Fort Bragg and bought Nathan a pair of combat boots. It's been highly recommended that he break them in before reporting to West Point on June 30thFort Bragg is quite a place. If you're looking for a tattoo, a nudie girl joint or a hot dog, then I'd highly recommend Fort Bragg. I didn't find the place especially sophisticated or refined! For this suburban mama, I was missing some of my creature comforts but at least we were able to get Nate his boots and he's definitely walking in them.

When someone in the military recommended going to the mini-mall on base, I was excited thinking I could get some cool things at a cheap price. We had to get our car inspected, our IDs checked, driver registration confirmed just to get on the base. Pretty serious stuff. I didn't get anything special at the mini-mall unless of course you count th
at I did get hit on by some little Eastern Indian fella. He started talking to me while I was looking at work-out clothes. It was creepy and I certainly didn't expect it. At first I couldn't even believe it was happening. My mom heard me talking to someone and then saw me scooting over to her. Finding love at the commissary definitely wasn't on my agenda - ew! Just give me the stinkin' boots! 

Since I was absolutely forbidden to take random photos of Nathan trying on boots, (which I wanted to do for you, my blog friends) I had to be very conservative with my picture taking. Nathan took a few of the motley crew comprised of Isaac, Mom and me. I don't think any of us are fit for duty. The military isn't that desperate - YET! Thank goodness!

Now we need to order his dress shoes. The ones without polish because at West Point you polish your shoes to perfection. 
My own feet ache thinking about all the walking and running my boy is going to do in just two months. My heart hurts too but that's for another post...probably a lot more posts.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

West Point Mom = me

The wait is over...the package arrived...our son has been accepted to United States Military Academy - West Point! We were told that if Nathan was rejected, we would receive a phone call; if he was accepted, he would receive a package. Just as I was ready to go and speak in a middle school, my husband calls and says, "Nathan got a package from West Point." It must have nearly killed Mark to not open the contents but he resisted temptation. 

Mark captured the moment on camera. This is a very big deal. Our son will report to West Point bright and early 6:30 AM on June 30! 
He will attend six weeks of rigorous training 
(affectionately known as Beast) and after successful completion, begin his 47 month journey at West Point.
 I did not grow up in a military family so this is all so new to me. New terminology, new people, new experiences for all of us, especially our son. Our family will take him there and say goodbye and probably not hear much from him most of the summer. I am not crying as I type this which shocks me. I am proud, scared, overjoyed, nervous, excited, thrilled, sad and every feeling in between. I know the Lord is teaching all of us some lessons and has placed all these pieces together for His glory. I am the mama of a soldier, whoa. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Sew Much Fun! Robe Mania!

It only took 2 years and four months to make Aaron's robe. I finished it at last this evening. I bought the material for Aaron as a Christmas present with every intention of making him a special robe of his favorite professional football team. That was in 2006.

Recently upon hearing about me starting another random sewing project, Aaron retorted, "I'd rather you just made me the robe you promised me a long time ago." Gulp. 

As I have learned about many things in life, things aren't always as easy as they seem. That goes for swimming, parenthood, marriage, ministry and sewing. Last night I had a sewing lesson with Chriss (with two s's) and after spending countless hours pouring over the sewing pattern, I brought the neckline and collar to get some advice. We were supposed to work on placemats and napkins but this was a more urgent matter. Thanks to her help, we figured things out and tonight my boy is cozy in his snuggly robe. 

Before Spurny went to bed, I took a series of awkward robe pictures since I am not a great photographer and Aaron isn't the world's best robe model. 
Every time I sew something I have fantasies of making the same thing for friends and family. If I like you, watch out, one day you might get a pair of boxer shorts or pajama pants, or an apron or a robe.
Hope you are not scared! Put in your order, friends and family! 
My repertoire is expanding. I like learning new things and I am happy to give him a heartfelt expression of love. 

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Goodbye and Hello

We said goodbye to Aunt Helen this weekend. A feisty old gal who lived a colorful 84 years, went home to be with Jesus on March 11, 2008 and our family gathered in Front Royal, Virginia for her memorial service. Here is a picture of the person we lost. I wish you could have seen some of her very fancy photos from the past - wow! Let me tell ya, Aunt Helen could work it, honey!
Although our purpose was solemn, deep in the heart of Shenandoah Valley, God's face shined upon our time. Our family met 20 new relatives, Mark saw cousins and second cousins he hasn't seen since he was a little boy. I know Aunt Helen wo
uld have had a blast with all the fun we had.

I reflected on all the new people we had the pleasure of meeting. If it hadn't have been for Aunt Helen's passing, we might never have known each other. Never bothered to meet or hug or care about each other. Here is a picture of the people we now call kin.

We had seen Aunt Helen during Christmas time and thought it might be the last time we saw here this side of heaven. I will never forget the silver gravy dish Aunt Helen sent us for a wedding present. I believe the gift arrived about two years after our wedding and it was simply exquisite except for one big problem...the handle on the gravy dish wasn't attached. Although it has never been a functional item because most people don't like to have their fingers burned when getting their gravy, we have always hung onto it as a funny reminder of Aunt Helen's quirkiness.  

Neat things about Aunt Helen:

She was an avid doll collector. During her memorial service, even the pastor commented on the lovely collection of dolls she had procured over the years. She even named them and had great affection for each one. 

She rode as a guest on Air Force One, the presidential airplane!

She had an office down the hall from the Vice President and worked in the White House for many years. She worked for the Nixon, Carter, Ford and Reagan administrations. Quite impressive!

One time while working at the White House, she even had Robert Redford (for you young-in's, he's like an old Brad Pitt) come into her office needing directions! Hallo!

She loved Scotland and Paris. 

The last time we saw her, although Alzheimer's was robbing her memory and congestive heart failure was making her breathing quite labored, she repeatedly told us about the time she drank egg nog with her nieces in the White House. My boys fondly recall those moments we shared. 

My father-in-law, his niece and her husband have lovingly cared for Aunt Helen since she never had children of her own and hadn't been married in ages. Without them, Aunt Helen would have been deprived of many blessings. In the 19 months that Aunt Helen was in a special care facility, she was able to renew relationships and find connection with family. God allowed us to say goodbye and also to say hello and I think that's pretty special. Although that's not especially profound or anything, it has given me reason to rejoice. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Aqua Dud = Me

I feel like I'm never going to be able to do it. Today was the most discouraging swimming lesson thus far. My spirit, my body, my hopes sunk.  I feel like an aqua failure. Maybe I'm always going to be the girl out of water, the mom who can't swim. If you know how to swim, celebrate this gift, oh how I envy you. 

While at my swimming lesson tonight, I got a nasty flashback to high school math class. I remember understanding math and being so excited because it all made sense. For a few classes it was like it all seemed to come together and I was optimistic. But then things started to get more complicated and I had trouble keeping up. Little by little I got more and more behind. I didn't flunk the class but never went very far in that subject. Now three decades later, here I was, in the swimming pool at my gym having those same hopeless feelings. Only this time I'm a middle-aged wife and mama in a bathing suit. 

I was trying and trying but just didn't seem to be getting it. My arm was in the wrong place. My ears came out of the water. I kicked too hard. I kicked too softly. I breathed in water and felt a wave of despair waft over me. After repeatedly trying and failing quite terribly, it was my turn again. Coach Doug gave me the go-ahead and basically I froze. I just couldn't do it. And before I could stop myself, I felt tears filling my swimming goggles. Coach Doug must have known something was wrong and he came over and gave me a hug. 
Apparently I am a nervous swimmer. It seems implausible for me to slow down my strokes and I'm not going to give up but boy, do I feel like this is never going to work out. One moment I could envision myself this summer in the water, splashing and playing just like all the other people out there. Tonight I feel like I'm doomed to failure. 

As far as I'm concerned, (and I know some of you will disagree with me) well, quite frankly, I think swimming is more difficult than childbirth. I've grunted three children out of my body and although I didn't find the experiences especially enjoyable at the time, somehow I was good and proficient at it. This swimming stuff is proving a great challenge. 

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Why Nate is Great - 18 Reasons

18 things I love about my son - he turned 18 over the weekend. 
1. Nicknames. When Nate was a baby, practically from the minute he "popped" out, we called him Shakalanna, Sheiky Sheiky, etc.  He has new nicknames I am not privileged to share but they are just as weird. 

2. Spins and stuff - My son lets me hold his hand when we are walking in the mall. He will spin me around (just once) and let me put my arms around his waist. Not for too long but it sure makes my mama's hear
t sing. I feel like the most special person in the world.

3. Honor - 
I wish I had half the character my son had when I was his age. 

4. I love you - Every night, when his youngest brother has gone to bed, my kids have a ritual. Isaac, my 11 year old OS will shout from the top of his bunk bed, "Night, Nate, love you!" and no matter what Nathan is doing or whom he is talking to, he is sure to shout back, "Night, Ike, love you, too!"

5. Cooking - Nate is not the best cook but he can make a mean salad. He is rather clumsy in the kitchen which is funny because he is so adept at other things. His salad is killer, though.

6. Funny - If Nathan wasn't my son, I'd want him as a friend. He's witty and clever. We rarely run out of things to say. I like how he can make funny accents of people he has met. Like the Chinese lunch lady in middle school who would say, "One cookie, 35 cent." That one comment has provided us with years of laughs. 

7. Guns - Nate's got some sweet guns. He has served as my inspiration for getting back in shape. We compare guns all the time. I'll never catch up to him but that's ok

8. Disciplined - He is self-motivated and driven. 

9. Good speaker - Nate is an engaging speaker. He was selected to be one of the students speaking to the entire high school as part of graduation this year. I can't wait to hear him and will be sure to bring Kleenex as I cry tears of joy. 

10. Cards - Nate will make his own birthday cards on the computer for his friends. They are hilarious and so clever. They are slightly weird but beat any Hallmark card you could ever get.

11. Interesting - My 18 year old OS is well-read and intelligent. He can talk easily about current events, politics, religion, faith, music and much more. He is very opionioNATEd. Here is a link to his blog if you want to see what I mean. 

12. The way he treats girls - 
Nate respects girls and has a lot o
f female friends. 
He has done well with respecting the ladies and not leaving a trail of broken hearts along the way. 

13. Sleep - Nathan has an imperfect side though. He has to get sleep. If he doesn't, he's a stinker. 

14. Iron - my son irons. Someone is going to be a very lucky wife one day. 

15. People - Nathan takes pride in  a job well done. He has been mowing lawns for years now and has a very diverse clientele. I love how my OS appreciates different cultures and personalities. 

16. Family - What a blessing to have an 18 year old son who likes his family! We enjoyed a birthday celebration at our house. Mark and I made his favorite dinner - Chinese pork dumplings and he had five close friends join us. He didn't kick us out of the dining room, we all were together

17. Not a potty mouth. Yes, there is an 18 year old guy who doesn't drop word bombs and cuss like a sailor. How do I know? I gave birth to him! Woot

18. Jesus - My boy has a personal relationship with Jesus. He is not ashamed to tell others about his faith in His Savior. Nathaniel means "gift of God" and we couldn't have picked a more perfect name for our oldest son/olive shoot. 

All moms should be so blessed to have a child like him. Thanks Lord for this treasure!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


My boys are growing their hair for the upcoming high school play. We have about four more weeks to go and so far they look they have mops growing on their heads. We are normally a freshly shorn family and so this is quite a departure, seeing my two oldest OS with a full crop of hair. Aaron has announced he's getting a buzz cut the minute the play is over. It sounds like a very good idea at this point. 
Since I can't cut their hair I want to do something to improve something! So I find myself looking at my boys' eyebrows, in particular my 13 year old's - considering they look like two caterpillars are living on his head, it's not exactly a difficult thing to do.  

Last week I mentioned it might be time to introduce Aaron to the next level of manly hygiene - trimming the eyebrow hairs. He's so stinkin' cute but the eyebrows seem so unkempt.

I hinted to Aaron that it was time to try and coax those wily eyebrow hairs to move upwards. 

Do you think he looks like a fruitcake, (as his older brother suggested) with the upward reaching eyebrow hairs?

Or do you think it shows that my middle OS has an attention to detail and a keen sense of masculine pride?

I have since trimmed the eyebrow hairs and it made a big improvement. I'm also praising the Lord we don't have uni-brow! I don't think he could handle the pain.