Thursday, August 13, 2009
We've had many homes as the Army has moved us here and there. I've learned to be at home in a small apartment in a German village or a house just at the edge of the Ozarks where I watched horses graze out my back windows. I'm thankful for those experiences and all the others I didn't mention.
But I think that for every person, there is a one place on this earth that just feels like Home. Mine is definitely Tennessee. I was carried home from the hospital to a farmhouse in Rock Island, TN. Though my family built a different house on the same property when I was about 10, I lived there until I left for college at 17.
Throughout the years, as my own children have grown, we've always returned to the farm for vacations and visits with family and dear friends. A lot has changed over the years. My mom, who was the heart of our family, has been gone for over 11 years now. My dad has remarried. Old buildings have been torn down, new ones built. Familiar old trees that shaded me and my imaginary friends as we played together have died and been cut down. But the land itself does not change. I walk through the fields and the slope of the land is familiar and comforting under my feet. The smell of the air after a summer rain is exactly as I remember it from 40 years ago. And the falls at Rock Island (pictured above) are just as beautiful. I'll bet the water is just as cold as ever, too, though I didn't check that for myself on this trip!
I never understand how people can look at the earth that we live on, see the majestic beauty in both the grand vistas and in the tiny lichen that grow deep in the forest, and fail to believe that it was all created by God. I find it much more ridiculous to believe that any of those beautiful things happened by accident!
I'm glad I grew up in a beautiful little part of our big world. And someday, perhaps someday soon, I want to move back to those familiar rolling hills.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Well, we had a little time to unwind after the graduation celebrations, then it was on to Tennessee. One of the best things we did there was "Customs", the orientation program for new students at Middle Tennessee State University. It was an intense two-day event which included tours, overviews of the different areas of study, meetings with advisors for the students and information sessions for the parents. The weather in Tennessee was about as hot as it gets while we were there, but luckily they alternated walking tours of campus with air-conditoned seminars. I went with our daughter the first day, hubby the second day.
Soon after we arrived on campus and registered, my girl was off to take some placement tests. I stood on the front steps of the James Union Building and watched her walking away--around the curve and in front of Kirksey Old Main (see photo above). Kirksey was the business building when I went to school at MTSU and where most of my classes were. I think now it is all office space and one side seems to be closed entirely--our tour guide says the building is sinking into the ground at an alarming rate, so they're probably trying to decide what to do with it. It is a beautiful, historic building on campus, and personally I hope they find a way to save it. There was some feeling I had watching my daughter walk that same sidewalk I had trod hundreds of times, the remembrance of the excitement and energy of youth. As a parent I feel the weight of years of experience now...as I watch her walk away I worry--"will she be happy here?", "is it too far from home?", "have I taught her everything she'll need to know?" For every question, though, there's an answer--yes, I think she'll be very happy. Yes, it's far from mom and dad, but she'll have grandparents, friends, and cousins who live very near. And NO, I've probably not taught her everything she needs to know. Some of it she'll learn on her own and become more mature and independent because of it. And for other things, well, I'm glad we have cell phones and the internet!!
Her future's so bright, I think I need to wear the shades to look at her! For me, as a mom, it will be one more bigger opportunity to trust. Because there is One who loves her more than even I do, and He holds her days in the palm of His hand. May both of us, mother and daughter, learn and grow in the days ahead!
Saturday, June 6, 2009
WARNING: Proud Parent Alert!
On May 23, we celebrated our daughter's high school graduation. Where has the time gone?? It's hard to believe that she's 18 and ready to go on to college and start the next phase of her life. She finished well, graduating with honors. We were blessed to have loads of family and friends come to celebrate with us--she had 15 people who love her cheering from the cheap seats at her graduation ceremony.
The whole weekend was a busy blur, but SO much fun. I had 16 people in the house to cook for on Friday night. I made a huge lasagna, fettucine alfredo, and penne pasta with meat sauce, salad, and rosemary bread with olive oil for dipping. Then it was on to preparing for Saturday's post-graduation party and our Mexican buffet. Thankfully I had lots of food choppers, cooks, and even dishwashers on hand to help. As my grandmother used to say "many hands make light work". This was certainly true!
And in all the hoopla surrounding my daughter's graduation, I can't overlook my son either. He finished middle school with high honors for 8th grade. That means all A's, all year. He accomplished a lot in the classroom and was also a starter on the school's basketball team and a valuable asset to the track team as well. He was also recognized on honors night with a poetry award! One well-rounded guy.
I am super-blessed with two wonderful children, and I thank God that He chose me to be their mother. They've probably taught me as much as I've taught them.
For spring break this year, we traveled to Orlando once again. This was also a tag-along to one of Emily's band trips. They marched in a parade and did a recording session with one of Disney's professional musicians and had a great time. We picked Emily up in Orlando, saving her from a long bus trip home, and spent 3+ days at Disney.
Our first stop was the Magic Kingdom--we arrived about 6 pm on Sunday night and stayed in the park until about 1:30. Disney sure is different with teens, I must say. The lines were low and we got to do a lot, but we also got the "blooper tour" of the MK that night...let's see, something went wrong in Space Mountain and we got to see the inside of the dome with all the lights on....then in the middle of the Jungle Cruise our boat died and we had to be rescued and towed back to the dock...all of which, I must say, was really pretty fun and interesting. I'm sure if we'd had little kids they might have been scarred for life, as our jungle boat stopped right at the point where the huge hippo head comes out of the water and approaches the boat. (After about the third time, it stops looking so scary :)
Over the next three days we did the other three parks and although we all have a soft spot in our hearts for the Magic Kingdom, we probably have the most fun with our teens at Hollywood Studios. The Rock-N-Roller Coaster is something that we as a family can't get enough of! We rode it three times this trip.
I was really looking forward to riding Expedition Everest at AK for the first time, and I must say I was disappointed. I wanted it to be a LOT scarier. It did feel kind of authentic because it was so cold the day we went there--forget the water parks for this trip, please!
I truly enjoyed and appreciated this week with my kids, who are growing up at a dizzying rate. With DD leaving for college in August, I treasure family time even more these days because I know I'll miss it--this may have even been the last big vacation for just the four of us. All in all, a magical week!!
Friday, April 17, 2009
Look at these smiling faces.
This is why I facebook.
Because without facebook, these kids may have never met.
The "big kids" are mine, the "little kids" belong to a friend from high school. And I don't think my hubby and I (who graduated high school in the same class) had seen this particular friend since graduation. I won't say exactly how many years that has been, let's just say we hadn't seen each other in a long time!
Anyway, I had kind of heard what our friend Scott had been up to over the years through a mutual friend, but it sure was good to see him again. When I went to my last reunion there were so many people I didn't know. Makes me wonder if I have changed that much too! But Scott is certainly aging gracefully and I would have known him anywhere.
We recently vacationed in the area that Scott's family calls home. So we had the opportunity to meet for lunch. The guys mostly did the "catching up" part, and I so enjoyed meeting Scott's wonderful family. I already felt like I knew his wife (thanks again, facebook!), but it was great to get to know her in person, and their two kids are wonderful--an intelligent and kind son, and a giggly little daughter that I can only describe as a huge bundle of personality in a tiny, cute package. What fun they were! Almost made me sad that my kids are so grown up--there are so many little things that I don't even remember to miss until I get around younger kids again...
So, it was great to see Scott again, to meet his beautiful family, and to share a meal and conversation which covered everything from Disney princesses to Pokemon to guitars to Broadway to the Three Star Mall! It was a great way to kick off our spring break, which maybe I'll write more about later. Frankly, I'm still trying to catch up on my sleep more than a week later!
But every time I look at the above photo, I'll remember why I facebook. Do you?
Friday, January 16, 2009
There are two kinds of people...sports fans, and those who don't care about sports. Neither of my parents were sports fans, so I grew up in a "non-sports" home. Aside from the occasional softball game at a family reunion or being forced to play kickball by my elementary school PE teacher, I just wasn't exposed to sports at all. I guess I never realized most of them existed. For everyone I knew in the farming community in which I grew up, hard work was enough exercise--no one needed recreational activities to stay in shape!
That was all great...then I grew up and married one of those "other" types of people--a sports fan! A man who liked to watch sports, who understood sports, who even played sports....and I soon found that if I really wanted to spend time with him, say, snuggling on the sofa together, that it would be done while we watched sports. There was my problem. I watched. And since I don't enjoy watching a bunch of people running around doing stuff I don't understand, I began to ask questions. My hubby patiently answered every question, even when I know he must have sometimes wanted to "shush" me!
Fast-forward 20 years (ouch! It's been longer than that, actually!). We have two children, the younger of which is a boy. And guess what? He's a JOCK....has been since he could sit up and roll a ball across the floor with his Daddy. At age four, he started playing soccer. At five, basketball and teeball. Little league baseball at nine. Middle school basketball and track team....you get the picture.
Guess who's his #2 fan?? (His dad will always be owner of the #1 slot.) Who's at every game, cheering him on? Who's sometimes been seen sitting in the stands or on the grassy sidelines explaining to another mom what that last call meant? ME!!! I actually understand sports (okay, most of the time)! And my understanding has helped me to enjoy my son's games to the fullest. See, all that time I "wasted" watching sports turned out to be a really good thing. Investment, return. I like that! But it took me about 15 years to realize that way back when I thought I was wasting time, I was actually being prepared for something.
Don't we all want faster results? Don't we, like most three-year-olds, wish we could know "why"? It all boils down to trust. If we have faith, and try to live as God wants us to, He will prepare the way for us...even down to the minor details. All those years ago, I was learning to be a better mother to the son that I hadn't even imagined yet. And for that detail, I'm very grateful.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Hubby is gone this week, on another business trip. I spend most nights that he's away staying up way too late, watching TV or checking e-mail/facebook. I always regret it when the alarm sounds at 6 am though!!
Anyway, last night I got a wonderful surprise....an e-mail from my brother and only sibling. It was entitled "Wish you were here..." Seems he had been snowed-in most of the day and had spent some time going though old photos that my dad had taken. All these wonderful photos are stored in the form of color slides (I guess that was the latest technology back in the day). My Christmas gift to him was a USB slide scanner which will scan and convert slides to digital pictures. Almost all our family history has been packed away for many years, stored in such a way that we haven't been able to enjoy it.
So imagine my delight when I opened the attachment to my brother's message to find the above photo of the two of us enjoying the snow! I figure this was taken around 1970 or '71. Me and my brother, in our red sled (which was the coolest!) in the snow...bundled up against the cold by our mother much like the kid in "A Christmas Story" until we could hardly get out of the sled when we got to the bottom of the hill.
I don't really need a reminder that I love my brother dearly, but it doesn't hurt to stop once in awhile and count him among my many blessings. And I really don't remember much sibling rivalry--he's always been my playmate, my encourager, and my hero in many ways. No one else fully understands my quirky sense of humor. I was the Robin to his Batman, the Tonto to his Lone Ranger. He taught me to fling myself fearlessly down every steep hill I encountered--wildly steering a red wagon in the summertime, hanging on for dear life on our red sled in the winter. I never thought to be afraid when I was by his side. I think our closeness was fostered by the fact that we lived so far out in the country that we had no choice but to be playmates for one another most of the time. I still recall heated negotiations--"I'll play house for the next 30 minutes, then we're playing cowboys and indians for 30 minutes!"
Anyway, tonight's note was a sweet reminder of how much richer my life is because of my big brother. Yeah, we still try to push each other's buttons, but it's all in good fun! Thanks, brother, for making me smile....I love you, and I wish we lived close enough to go sledding together, too!