Sunday, August 31, 2008

Three Little Words That Meant So Much

Who's that hot babe with the scooter? It's me! HA! Who's that hot guy next to her? That's my son! GA!

Now that I've got that out of the way...

There are several sentences I have come to treasure as a mom.
1. I love you.
2. You look pretty.

and then this one, my oldest OS said this morning.

3. I need you.

Moms out there, you know what I mean. Now when my son said this it didn't sound quite so mushy and the sentence was longer but the three words that resonated for me on Sunday morning were I need you. My mama brain processed the other words but those three words transported right into my mama's heart. 

The reason my son made this statement is that apparently one morning at West Point, an upperclassman took one look at his robe and noticed that it was "jacked' up. It isn't good to be "jacked" up in general but especially at the United States Military Academy. When my boy came home this weekend, he asked me if I could make the necessary repairs. "Mom, could you
sew my robe? I need you to fix it for me, please." 

After he requested my assistance, I asked him, "What did you say?" My son seemed confused by my question, so I tried again. "Nate, what were those three words you used just a minute ago?"

He just stood there oblivious to my persistent interrogation but not willing to give up, I prompted him some more. "Nate, you asked me to do something. Why did you ask me to do something??? Work with me, Son!" 

Finally he got it. "I need you.

It's different when you're a mom of little ones who constantly demand every bit of your attention. That season of life is gone for me. But when your 18 year old son says something even remotely like "I need you" a smart mama jumps at the chance. At West Point, I can't be with him to do his push-ups. I can't help him with Knowledge. I can't tell the people who yell at my son to please use kind words instead (HA!) The truth is there is very little I can do but love my son, support his choices and every now and then, with dwindling regularity, do something no one else can do. In this case, it was to fix his robe.

I took out my brand new Brother sewing machine (ain't she a beauty?) and got busy. I fixed the collar and reinforced the stitching. 

I took the front pocket 2/3 of the way off to sew on a patch. I mended a teeny part of the sleeve and then turned my stitching dial to 64 and added a little mama touch. I sewed a very tiny row of hearts on one of the cuffs. No one else will see them but I couldn't resist. I don't have too many opportunities to sew hearts on things 
as a mother of three sons. I had to "carpe diem" as my OS would say. 

There might come a time at West Point when he needs to remember that little tiny row of hearts or maybe I just did it for me. I don't know and it really doesn't matter. Nathan boards a plane early Monday morning and I will surely miss feeling needed by my precious Soldier and loving son. Hopefully he will have more mending on his next visit!

I need you too, Nathan. Thanks for making me feel significant with three simple words. 

Friday, August 29, 2008

Public Service Announcement

Warning: Portions of this post may be objectionable. They are not perverted or inappropriate but gross. Not gross as in violent or nasty but gross as in revolting and slightly amusing if you are into that sort of thing. If you have a queasy stomach or a sensitive constitution, read this post instead. Consider yourself warned. Thank you for your time.

Isaac had his first soccer match yesterday. My DH and I got into the car ready for this exciting event and the most foul smell poured out of the inside of the car. Like the smell took my breath away. It was a hot and humid day and it was almost like you could see little waves of odor emanating from the vehicle.

I waited for Mark to start the car and put my scooter in the back seat. No way was I getting into that car without some circulation. I've got enough to deal with with my broken foot and all. It was physically impossible to enter the car with this sensory assult. We were completely confused as to the origin of this smell, but then I spotted the offender. A small cup of applesauce was on the back seat. Apparently one of the guys left a bit of their lunch on my husband's back seat. My nose and every olfactory particle of my being was disgusted as I plopped into the front seat. Instantly my husband threw the snack item in the trash and we began our trip. Problem solved, right? Not so fast...

We attended Isaac's game (they won!) and immediately afterward returned to the car. We opened the car door and again, the nauseating smell returned, stronger than ever. I looked around hoping no one was too close because they would have wondered about the occupants and quite possibly called the police. I asked Isaac if he was the person who left the offending applesauce cup in the car and he confessed. We went to the grocery store and I scolded him for his carelessness. All of us were suffering because of his mistake. How inconsiderate, I fumed as I scooted among the aisles. 

My husband and Ike took the groceries out of the car when we got home and the moment I got into the kitchen, for the third time in less than two hours, that despicable, wretched smell had somehow followed us into our home. Ike was going to get it good, I thought to myself. 

Even though it was dinner time, I told my DH that I wasn't sure I could even stand to be in the kitchen. I am known for having a very sensitive nose but even Mark could realize our house stunk. So with unmatchable strength and courage, we began smelling the grocery bags. I even told my husband, "praise the Lord, I'm not pregnant, because I'd be losing it all over the place!" We counted our blessings indeed.

First we blamed the baby watermelon but when we moved the baby watermelon to the dining room, it smelled perfectly fine. Then we blamed the pork butt we had just purchased. Surely the name of that cut of meat made it suspicious but alas, when segregated, it was in no way repulsive. What was going on? What smelled? Who smelled? What were we going to do?  Ew!!!

Mark got to the last grocery bag and nearly lost his lunch. His head jerked
back, his nose turned, he grimaced and nearly dry heaved. At last, he had found the culprit! "Ugh!" he exclaimed. "It's the chicken you bought!"

"I didn't buy any chicken today," I replied...

Then a moment of vomitous reality waft over me. I had bought chicken TWO days ago...

The seemingly innocent package of chicken breasts had been baking in my husband's trunk for two days! How did it smell, you ask? Are you sure you really want to go there? (Here comes the gross part) Ok, well imagine spoiled milk, broccoli, French cheese, baby diapers and death all rolled up into a package of chicken and you have a mild idea of what we were dealing with. Please forgive my careless reference to French cheese. (Having lived in France and having eaten quite possibly hundreds of pounds of French cheese, I feel like I can say this with a measure of expertise and without criticism to Camembert and all my French friends who enjoy it.)

With record speed, Mark ran those rotting chicken breasts to the outside trash. Our house smells returned to normal, hallelujah!

I was looking for someone to blame and it turns out that it was an honest and innocent mistake. The applesauce was innocent. So was my son. And the watermelon. And the pork butt was cleared of all charges despite its dubious name. 

Morals of the story: 

1. Be careful to look for someone to blame, maybe there isn't anyone to accuse. 
2. Be slow to judge and quick to offer mercy. (We ended up laughing about this after the problem was solved.) 
3. And finally, and please folks, write this one down and learn from my family. 

Meat left in a hot trunk for two days smells absolutely disgusting. Sometimes those are tough and stinky lessons to learn on a hot summer day. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Brother Time

Before Nathan went away to West Point, a family friend gave our son an incredible graduation gift. 

Ron, who is a husband and father of two, sent our son a framed copy of a quote by Abraham Lincoln, which by itself was a pretty awesome gift for a guy who loves history. But it was what Ron included in a card that deeply touched my heart. My husband's high school buddy gave our son $100 cash.  

What 18 year old kid do you know who doesn't like cold, hard cash? Sah-sweet!

However, this bounty, wasn't for Nate to spend on himself, according to Ron's note, the money had one intention. Our son was required to spend that money creating a special time with his brothers. Ron also specified that this was BROTHER TIME, not mom time or dad time. I jokingly offered to hang out with them and Nathan quickly rebuffed that idea. You should have seen the excitement Aaron and Isaac had imagining doing some cool stuff with their oldest bro.

My son received many wonderful and generous gifts from family and friends. I do not want to minimize the kindness and love people poured into them, they are worthy of many blog posts separately. It's just that I had never heard of anyone, in particular, a guy, thinking about investing in brotherly memories. 

The guys went a movie, Indiana Jones (which wasn't that great, btw) and out for lunch. Oh, how I would have loved being in a nearby table and watching my three ka-nuckle heads yukking it up. With the $100 my three sons went fishing and bowling. The guys went to Chick-Fil-A and grabbed some ice cream. As the day crept by when we were going to have to say goodbye to Nate, these moments became lasting treasures.

Forever, I shall remember Ron's generosity and creativity. I was as blessed as my boys and I didn't even have a handful of popcorn or a lick of that ice cream. I think it's every mother's dream to raise children who sincerely love each other and so far, that is proving true. 

I've included a video of their bowling "match" and a few pics of the guys who were together days before Nate reported to the United States Military Academy and when they hung out as brothers on A-Day. 

If you are ever in need of a special high school graduation gift, consider this one, folks!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Scooter @ West Point

There wasn't a happier mama with a broken foot on a scooter in New York on Saturday, August 23rd. That's the day I got to see my boy who graduated from lowly new cadet status to plebe at the United States Military Academy.  I, along with my DH, mom and two younger OS saw Nate along with over 1200 of his fellow new cadets join the rest of the cadre in a memorable ceremony. It was a sight to behold. I wouldn't have missed it for the world. 

Saturday morning, my Soldier marched by me and it nearly took my breath away to see him in his uniform and white hat. My chiseled chin, steely eyed son marched by me and I was so pleased to recognize him in the sea of white and gray. "There he is! There he is!" I cried to my family. Like a badge of honor, I was thrilled that I, Nate's mom, saw him first. Thanks to my 
handicap, we didn't sit in the bleachers and caught a closer look at him as he walked on by. Also, thanks to my handicap, we got a sweet parking spot so I had that going for me. HA! 

June 30th is the day that I will always remember as one of the toughest days of my life. Saying goodbye was so intense. But August 23rd was one of the proudest because my son accomplished something most people will never understand. Surviving Cadet Basic Training aka Beast is very significant, I wouldn't have lasted ten minutes. But my boy did it, praise the Lord!

When I saw my Soldier walking toward us after the ceremony, I wish I had had wings instead of a scooter because I couldn't get there fast enough. I was peddling on my good foot as fast as I could. Good thing no one was in the way because I would have run them over. After six and a half weeks, having my son's arms around me, hugging him tightly, kissing those cheeks, I was proud and overjoyed. At long last, I could see him, touch him, spend time with my beloved child. 

We took him back to the hotel where Nate put on some civies (regular people clothes) and then fell asleep. There is a lot of stress as a plebe and I think he needed some downtime, a chance to decompress. When you are a plebe, feeling like a human being is a luxury. 

There is so much more to share and I'm savoring the memories hundreds of miles away. Stay tuned. 

Monday, August 18, 2008

How to Tell if Your Husband Loves You

This post is for you married ladies. Between us girls, sometimes we wonder if our husbands really care. Can we tawlk? Let me give you a fairly easy litmus test. Trust me, ladies, I've done this and now I know. You deserve to know how he really feels! 

1. Break your foot. Right or left, it doesn't matter. Break it good so that you will need a cast. 
2. Decide that you want your cast to be special, that you want to make a "statement."
3. Think of a snappy motto that you want to display. I have provided a helpful and patriotic example. 
4. Ask your husband/suitor to draw or write this motto on the cast. If he says, "ok," then he has shown you a certain degree of affection.
5. Do not stop there, girls!
6. Decide that your cast is not special enough. Go to a nearby craft store and purchase Aleene's decoupage paste.
7. Give your sweetheart a paintbrush and ask him to decorate your cast on places you yourself cannot reach. If he says, "ok," then he has shown you that he is a keeper, however...
8. Do not stop there, girls!
9. Look at your toenails. You'll notice that your toenails on said broken foot are blah. 
10. Get a bottle of nail polish and with your cutest facial expression, ask your DH if he'll paint your nails.
11. Give him time. By this point, you might notice a slight discomfort in your man. Push past this girls. Allow him a moment. Continue to make the most pitiful face imaginable. Note: you may need to do this up to a full minute but do not give up! If your guy takes the nail polish bottle, albeit reluctantly, congratulations! You know your husband loves you madly!

I have tried other techniques but after nearly 21 years of marriage, I can say that this method is fool-proof! Let me know how it goes or any other suggestions you have. I'm always here to help.



Saturday, August 16, 2008

I can't wait!

The first concert I ever went to was to see Elton John. I wore a multi-colored striped t-shirt that I had made just to look extra hot and brought my camera with fresh flash bulbs because I had to capture the moment. 

When Elton John came on-stage with his fancy glasses and strutted up to the piano, I seriously thought I was going to cry. I couldn't believe I was at an Elton John concert and well on my way to being a full-fledged, independent woman at around 14 years old.

I also thought I was going to cry at an MC Hammer concert and not because of the guy's funny pants. I happened to like MC Hammer at that time, thank you very much and I was a mother of two kids at the time and needed a night out with my husband. Let's just blame that one on hormones. 

Moments, events, concerts, parades move me. I get carried away and overwhelmed. There is an energy and excitement; it's like something big is going to take place and I'm getting to be a part of it even if it's as a dorky teenager or a mom. I can't help myself. 

Next week something very major is going to take place. 
I'm going to see my son. 
My Soldier. 
My boy. 

Sure, I'm going on a scooter with a broken foot and that wasn't exactly what I anticipated but I'm going to see my son. 
My Soldier. 
My boy.

I haven't seen my oldest OS since June 30th at West Point. Oh what an emotional day that was for me and thousands of other parents and well-wishers. I even have trouble recalling that day because of its intensity. 
Even though I was completely ambulatory at that time, I confess it was nearly impossible to walk away from the place. I left part of my heart at the United States Military Academy. 

Since June 30th, we've only talked with our son for a total of one hour in 6 1/2 weeks. We have received precious letters like manna from heaven but only 60 minutes total of slightly normal conversation. Not complaining but just saying, we have missed him dearly. Just the thought of seeing my child, hugging him, hearing his voice face to face beats any concert or performance I shall ever attend. Just the thought of connecting with Nathan again makes me want to weep with joy. I have ever experienced separation from any of my children for this long. 

But in a week I get to see my son. 
My Soldier. 
My boy...

Like a very wonderful and talented singer once sang (and I was there so I should know), "can't touch this!" Hammer time next Saturday! 

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Foot Claustrophobia and Anxiety

It's been over three decades since I have had a cast. As a young girl I broke my arm while trying to tie my shoes on a bike. If that doesn't make any sense, I totally understand. I'm still confused about how it happened "back in the day." 

But today I got the second cast in my lifetime. As an adult, having a limb encased in fiberglass is awkward. And for me, it's slightly anxiety producing. My foot feels like I'm wearing a shoe that's too tight. The problem is I can't take the shoe off for at least another five weeks. 

And that produces nervousness inside me. Seriously I'm having to breathe through my nose and try some deep breathing techniques to get over the wave of anxiety which grabs hold of me.

A few nights ago we had family devotions and read Philippians 4:6-7.  As I have contemplated these verses, I am personalizing them. "Do not be anxious about anything (Cindy, that means even when your foot can't move and is sore), but in everything, by prayer and petition, (Lord, help me get through this and give me a proper perspective) with thanksgiving, (thanks Lord for my scooter and my family and friends) present your requests to God. (Father, help me as I travel to and around West Point next week). And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."  
I confess sometimes Scripture is hard to live out personally.  I have to focus on something beside my circumstance and just know the feelings will subside. If I take this small trial a little bit at a time, I can handle this. 

Here's proof. Today I went to Trader Joe's by myself. Based on the comments and the looks I get, either I am astonishingly beautiful or an oddity. Most people aren't sure what I'm doing, it's only when observing the back of me (not my butt but my foot) that you realize there is a reason I am whizzing around on a scooter. 

Picture this: A 40ish woman with a broken foot in a scooter and a cast pushing a grocery cart. Eight wheels, one foot. It's not that easy pushing a cart full of food while simultaneously moving on a scooter. Making turns was interesting but I did it. Definitely not as graceful as a gazelle but I got the job done. 

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, including going to the grocery store independently with one good leg.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Another Celebrity Who Secretly Imitates Me

As if it wasn't bad enough, now a presidential candidate's wife is trying to copy me! 

Turns out that Cindy McCain has an orthopedic injury. It would seem I started a new trend. Let me connect the dots for you:

Her name is Cindy. My name is Cindy.
She sprained her wrist. I broke my foot. 
She is a fake blonde. So am I.
She's a Republican; me too. 
Her husband's name is John. My DH's name is Mark. They are both books in the Bible.

Is this a mere coincidence? Definitely not. Can you see where I'm going with this? Is it not astonishingly obvious?? 

If not, enjoy this brief video of me on one of my maiden voyages on my Free Spirit or FS as I affectionately call it! Notice my form, nice. 


Tomorrow is hard cast day. I haven't had one of those since the third grade. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Madonna, Flamingoes and Snails

I wish Madonna would stop trying to imitate me.  Last Tuesday, I broke my left foot. Today I learned that "The Material Girl" sprained her left ankle. Friends, this is not a mere coincidence. She must be reading my blog but really, she is taking her adoration too far. Be happy with the person you are, Mrs. Ritchie and leave me alone. Cha!

I have a new appreciation for flamingos - they rest on one foot. I assume the flamingo pose fairly often these days. Only my leg goes in the opposite direction. Just wanted to clarify. 

and snails. Did you know they get around on one foot? Hmmmm...Viva les escargots! You guys are my hero/es! 

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Different Modes of Transportation

Our family is experiencing new forms of transportation we never imagined. A year ago, we were a boring suburban bi-ped, mini-van/car/truck driving family. That has changed within a week. It is a contrast of worlds, with my son away at West Point and us here at home. Life often holds a lot of irony.  

Here are a few examples...
On Monday my oldest OS will be traveling by a Blackhawk helicopter to a new training site for Cadet Basic Training. A Blackhawk Helicopter travels up to 221 mph. This is part of the final leg of Beast. I know my boy is going to be excited about having this experience even if it makes his mama nervous, very nervous. 

On the other hand, I'm getting around differently. A non-electric wheelchair can travel about 3.7 mph. How do I know? I googled it. Since Saturday, thanks to a friend, I am traveling regularly by wheelchair when I am downstairs or out of my house. This might not mean much to you but until Saturday I'd been stuck at home. I hadn't been outside since going to the doctor to learn I had a broken foot. On Saturday I traveled to Borders in a wheelchair! FREEDOM!  I was probably as excited to be among the public as Nate will be getting a panoramic view of West Point and its environs. 

Then on Tuesday I will hopefully receive my Rolleraid, which is the BEST Orthopedic Leg Support Scooter around. It will have a basket and a water bottle holder! Wahoo! Who knew that a week ago something like this would seriously make me happy? I intend on being as happy as these two folks pictured in their advertising. Wee! I hope to be whizzing around topping 5 mph in no time at all. 
Nathan is sleeping with a rifle by his side. It's not good if he can't find his rifle so he always keeps it close on the field. 

I'm sleeping with my crutches just an arm's length away. It's not good if I don't have my crutches. That's when I resort to hopping, crawling or scooting. 

My oldest OS has thrown a grenade.

My middle OS threw a football and will see the hand specialist on Monday. He might have torn two ligaments on his thumb. 

How bizarre!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Pity Party Gains a New Member!

So far, Denise, Jenn, Nancy, Sharon are coming to the Pity Party! It's never too late to join, we're having so much fun! Woot!

Big news, the Pity Party has a new guest of middle OS Aaron! I guess he was jealous that I was having a Pity Party, he just had to join the "celebration." His birthday is in about 3 weeks but apparently he couldn't wait to have some attention. Less than a day after my PP was going full swing, Aaron decided he wanted a piece of the action.  

During football practice on Thursday, Aaron got his thumb stuck in a football helmet. I hate that when that happens. The thumb doubled in size and so for the second time in a day, Mark, my super duper DH, took a family member for x-rays. We had just finished eating dinner when Aaron began writhing in pain. 

By going to Urgent Care on Thursday night, we assumed this was going to eliminate the need for Mark to take Aaron to the doctor today. He is behind on work because of all of my problems and interruptions. WRONG! Of course, you guess it.  Mark and Aaron went to the orthopedist this morning. Urgent Care wasn't sure if our middle OS had indeed broken his thumb so for the third time in 24 hours, Mark is carting someone to the doctor. 

On Monday, he will take our OS to the hand specialist to see if he has torn two ligaments on his thumb. We are learning in a very interesting way that we are all "fearfully and wonderfully made." 

I have asked my disabled mom to help us out in the meantime. She has a knee brace, an infected toe and a host of other medical issues but praise the Lord, she was willing to come over for the next week and has been scrambling about the house doing whatever she can. We are a motley crew!  

We are currently recruiting new members of our family who are ambulatory. If you'd like to be part of this dynamic team and have two working arms and legs, we'd love to hear from you! No need to even send a resume, if you can walk or hold things, you're in! We won't even check your references! It's just that easy!  

Can you believe it? I guess misery really does love company! In all seriousness, folks, we could use some prayers. This is stressful, depressing, not to mention, painful and I'm needing a godly perspective right now.   

This was me minutes before getting the crummy news about my foot...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Pity Party Continues...for 6-8 weeks

Linda Ronstadt wrote a song, "Poor, poor, pitiful me." I like singing Linda Ronstadt songs which is good because it looks like this is going to be my anthem for the next two months. 
I woke this morning after a fitful night of sleep. I felt fairly optimistic going into the doctor's office, enough so that I thought about taking a couple silly pictures while on the way there.

My mood quickly changed after the doctor reviewed the x-rays. I have broken the fifth metatarsal bone. CRUD! Repeatedly the doctor told me I could put absolutely no pressure on my foot for 6-8 weeks. This is very problematic, how does that happen?

The biggest disappointment is that I will be going to West Point on crutches to see my son. I was going to drive to NY with my disabled mom and my two OS in two weeks. My husband started a new job and has very limited vacation time. Our plan was to meet him in NY and all go together. Now it looks like I'll be packing a wheelchair for me, and perhaps one for my mom. Thousands of people attend A-Day, nothing is going to make me miss seeing my boy but never, in my wildest imagination, did I think I'd be greeting him in crutches. 

Next week the doctor puts a regular cast on my foot. I never thought a silly turn of the foot would land me in a position like this.