T(h)anks for the memories


Last week I began a small business called Olive Shoot Institute. Since January, I have been faithfully using a 100% biodegradable, organic laundry detergent called soap nuts. Now I’m selling those delightful non-edible nuts/berries along with a host of other cleaning supplies for personal and home use. Got me a Olive Shoot Institute facebook page too!

Just a sample of the products we are offering. I love doing this.

Seriously if you have known me for the last six months, I have probably talked to you about soap nuts. I don’t want to be one of those people who deluge friends and family with endless convos only about the products they are selling because that gets old but it’s exciting to begin a new endeavor. Whoever said that my OS are the only ones who get to branch out this year? Seriously!

So now my life duties include maintaining a website, shipping products and talking about the merits of soap nut stuff. This in addition to sending my middle OS off to college at Moody Bible Institute and the orange hair, freckle face OS beginning sophomore year in high school. While the younger OS are in the throes of transitioning, praise the Lord, Nate has adjusted to life away from West Point and as an Army officer at Fort Benning. To hear the voice of a happy child, be it the high-pitched squeak of a little boy or the deeper, richer tones from a young man, ah, it’s like massaged kale salad – zesty, fresh and satisfying. If you know me, you also know I am a BIG kale fan!

Nate sent me this picture of a little sumpin/sumpin he was making. Couscous with fresh tomatoes and feta! Impressive my little man!

Nate and I bond marvelously over food and domestic life. He talks to the Hubs about politics and tanks and recants to me the lovely meals he is preparing for himself and his housemates. It’s a good compromise. My 2LT is also a Dave Ramsey fan (so are we) and he follows many of Dave’s principles.

So when he moved to Georgia, Nate promptly got on Craig’s List, found a washer and dryer for only $100 and with nary a second guess, bought it.

How many guys send their moms a picture of their washing machine? And how many guys post a picture of their dead washing machine on facebook? I’m pretty sure there’s only one and I gave birth to him!

The guy was so proud of himself and talk about convenient! He loved being able to throw his stinky Soldier clothes in the wash and not have to traipse his clothes to a laundromat. But last week, the stupid thing died. On facebook, Nate bemoaned, “The spinner of my washing machine is now sideways. It has always sounded like a small man was in there but ran like a champion. Unfortunately those days are over.” Another person put it this way, “actually, it sounded like a small man was getting murdered in there ;-)”

So in memory of my OS’s short-lived first appliance purchase and in honor his thriftiness,  I’m saying “Tanks.” I mean, “thanks” to my readers
and I’m offering a 10% discount of Extreme 18X until August 22nd. You just need 1/2 TEASPOON to do a load of laundry!  Crazy, huh?

1.No harsh chemicals

2. No harmful toxins

3. Hypoallergenic

4. No need for fabric softener either. Clothes are fluffier than ever!

5. Only about .20 cents a load (you’re probably spending more if you add up your fabric softener)

6. Takes up a ton less space

7. And can replace 70-80% of your household cleaners, it’s that versatile!

8. Fragrance free but your clothes smell fresh and clean.

9. Perfect for HE (High Efficiency) washing machines.

I love this stuff, I love my OS and his silly sense of humor! You need that in the Army, trust me. Rest in peace noisy washer, you were good while you lasted. Enjoy the 10% discount, friends.

Traffic at Fort Benning. Not like regular people traffic!

Sew sweet

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“OUCH!” the Hubs screamed from upstairs. I wondered what in the world had happened and when he told me that he stubbed his toe, I must admit, I shrugged it off. Big whoop, everyone has stubbed a toe and it hurts like mess but seriously, it’s NO big deal.

Besides I was busy sewing my aprons for unknown people for an unknown purpose and if he wasn’t incapacitated, I had mounds of material awaiting construction.

However as the morning lingered, the Hubs continued to complain about his stubbed toe. When he eventually showed it to me, it was ghastly! Dark shades of red and purple melted together on his little middle toe, ew! It didn’t look stubbed, it looked mangled! Talk about gee-ross.

So how do you know you married a good man? When your hubs traipses your handmade aprons downtown with a broken toe and tries to sell them at local stores. That’s how you know you are loved.

The Hubs has successfully passed many “tests,” – last year when I broke my foot, he proved his love for me and then there are scores of other times that are none of your beeswax when he has shown me sacrificial, undeserved love.

How many aprons did he sell? I can hear you wondering. He sold nada. Nothing. Zilch. They didn’t kick him, his fractured phalange of the foot along with my aprons out of the stores, thank the Lord! Nor did they say they would never, ever consider selling such rubbish! But did it matter to me? Heck, no!

For me it’s the humbling image of a man who believed in me enough in me that despite his discomfort, was willing to limp down the sidewalk with my aprons in hopes that he could sell them for me.

Lemme tell ya, making these aprons has turned into a spiritual endeavor. I have so much to learn and tell, isn’t it amazing how God can use the simplest things to teach us?

The idea of my sweet hubs limping through our quaint downtown trying to sell his wife’s wares is seriously a better gift than if he had sold every last one.

Redemption para Senor Taco Cabesa (Redemption by Mr. Taco Head)

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It’s only taken 10 months for there to be redemption in my house. Say what??? I’m talking about coupon redemption, folks; we found redemption of the spiritual sort individually quite some time ago, which by the way, is a VERY good thing!

On my birthday, which happens to be January 27th so be sure to mark it down, my middle OS gave me a coupon for him to make dinner for the family. I read the fine print, “this coupon is a legal voucher for a complete meal on any non-school day. This must be presented to the giver before 3:00 on that day or before that day. The only other rule is that you must enjoy your meal and have a nice time doing whatever it is that you do while you are not cooking.” Isn’t that cool?

This morning I announced/asked Aaron if he could make dinner tonight. With only a momentary hesitation, he agreed.

Around 6pm, my middle OS began to make turkey tacos. He donned the family chef’s hat, tied the apron around his trim waist and set to work. I worked on some sewing projects and snapped pics to capture every moment as he unabashedly posed for the camera not fully realizing the apron he actually had selected. Take a minute and you’ll see what I mean…

Aaron was wearing a reversible apron I made in the summer. I chuckled seeing Aaron chopping onions, browning the turkey meat with the girly side of the apron in full view.

I think my OS forgot that the other side of the apron has something much more to his liking. Guitars. Aaron LOVES guitars and music possibly more than fashion. As soon as I pointed out which side he was wearing and he realized I had the pictures to prove it, Aaron reversed to the more manly print.

How interesting it was for me to see Aaron frantically running around the kitchen trying to get everything ready at the same time. HALLO~Welcome to my world! Moms, you know exactly what I’m talking about! Sometimes it’s so crazy trying to put food on the table. I believe Aaron had an epiphany tonight and we shall see how long that lasts. The aroma filling the house was quite delicious and although it would make a funnier post to say the meal was a flop, that would be a lie. Y’all, my boy can throw down! Tonight was husband training at its finest. Excuse me while I take a bow…

The true test of a good meal in our home is silence. If people aren’t talking while eating, you know it’s good. Take, for example, my angel food cake. You could have heard a crumb drop. And if a crumb had dropped, you would have heard someone licking it up! Tonight’s turkey tacos produced only the sound of crunching. In other words, we enjoyed mealtime.

I’m so glad I found redemption today and cashed in on my dinner coupon. In between bites, I bestowed upon Aaron a new nickname, thanks to a scrumptious meal, he is now crowned Senor Taco Cabesa!

Part Two – The room begins its transformation

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With Aaron’s room now fit for habitation, I decided that though it was clean, just being clean wasn’t good enough. The walls were pocked with holes and the room was bereft of any personality. And if you know my middle OS, personality is something Aaron has in abundance.

It was at that moment, that I decided we (as in the Hubs and Ike) were going to undertake yet another doozy of a job. We were going to give Aaron’s room an Extreme Makeover a la Wal-Mart style. Our deadline was to be finished by the time Aaron returned from a weekend trip to the mountains with a friend and his family. To my delight, everyone was in agreement.

Although I’m not a big fan of Wal-Mart and have rarely shopped in one for years, they have recently built one nearby and I must say, it is really nice. I felt certain that we could find something that could work without spending a fortune. I know better than to even walk into a Pottery Barn store, my flesh is weak enough that I’d surely find something wayyyyyy out of our price range. So the Hubs and I left the OS with the dirty kitchen to clean and found a bedspread, a rug and a few incidentals for Aaron’s room in short order.

I wasn’t sure exactly what we were going to do but then it all began coming together. Soon, the idea of transforming his room into a coffee motif of sorts drifted into my brain. There was some left-over paint in the garage and we decided to use a warm tan on three of the walls and to paint one wall a contrasting color, sort of like a dark turquoise. The once drab room was developing a personality!

Just to clarify, I must say that Aaron wasn’t a slacker. Prior to leaving on his mountain camping trip, Aaron exerted some effort into his room. He had patched up and sanded some of the holes on the walls but he wasn’t home for long to do much. Friday night the Hubs and my freckle-face, orange haired, nearly teenaged OS faithfully worked on Aaron’s room with nary a peep or complaint the entire weekend. Ike sanded, painted, even suggested decorating ideas which we actually implemented. As I looked around the house, I found things which would make the room flow even better.

Could we meet our Sunday afternoon deadline? Would the room look as cool as it did in my mind? What would Aaron actually think about the drastic changes we had made???

Ah, such a cliffhanger! I will tell you this, the whole idea was

inspired by this coffee cup…

O Happy Day!

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Today is a glorious day, a fantabulous day. A day when the sun is shining brighter, the birds are chirping louder, even the dark lines around my eyes seem to be fading away without the use of my trusty Bobbi Brown concealer. Why you ask am I such a cheerful soul? I’m glad you asked…



This afternoon when the younger OS got home, we fluttered around the house.  I wanted everything spic and span, no excuses. It was as if the King of England (is there a King of England??) or of some other foreign country was coming to visit. It struck me as funny because it’s not like Nathan has never seen our house messy before. I mean, the guy was an active contributor to the clutter in our home for 19 years but I wanted him to walk in and think that things looked nice, not as if he was a guest but just a treasured member of our family. He’s the kind of guy who notices that sort of thing.  I knew it would bless him. 

My oldest OS is home until Sunday and is just days away from becoming a yuk (second year student). A year ago, on this day, I was clutching Kleenex and struggling to breathe out of my mouth because the tears were overwhelming and pretty much non-stop. Our oldest OS was graduating on this day last year and I was wrought with emotion. Sadness, joy, pride, fear, love, excitement…I remember one night my mother visiting and all my feelings bubbling to the surface. I confessed to her, “Mom, I’m not sure I can do this” and I utterly broke down. My precious mom pushed aside her own feelings regarding her first grandchild finishing a chapter of his life and starting a bold new journey and she simply ministered to me and my aching mama’s heart. 

Somehow by the grace of God and I say that with all seriousness, I got through the graduation ceremony. And somehow by the grace of God, our family survived R-Day six weeks later including the long 10 hour ride back to our house without our cherished son.

And here I sit in my tidy house and tonight feels peaceful. Like that feeling you get when there’s a bad thunderstorm outside and all your babies are safe and at home. Or like when you wake up on Christmas morning and there’s presents to open and your kids are all getting along (at least until all the gifts are open). Everything is in its place, all is right with the world. 

I vividly recall those moments when Nate was a baby and I longed for the days when he would be grown and I’d finally have some peace and quiet. When he was on a crying jag or going full throttle on a temper tantrum, I wished he would just hurry up and get older. It annoyed me when older folks would chide me about how fast time passes. Inwardly I rolled my eyes at their comments. And now look at me! Those days are here and I find myself happy and sad. My DH calls me a “complex organism” when I get in one of these moods. Do I smack him or just humbly agree?

Nate’s friends will be over at the house soon and the sounds of young men will fill my house. I will live in this moment and find the tranquil beauty of it all. O happy day!

The VCR project


On the Honey-Do list I placed a humdinger of a project for my husband. Convert all of our old VCR tapes to DVDs. Sounds easy, right? HA! I get these crazy ideas and lately I’ve been on a mission. As I am cleaning out closets and purging the unnecessary, I have uncovered boxes and boxes and boxes of VCRs. They have littered our drawers and now it’s time to do something about it. “NOW!” she cheerfully bellows to her doting DH.  Double HA!

We ordered a VCR/DVD converter and after many attempts, my good man has figured it out. In order to preserve our marriage, I told him I wanted nothing to do with this project and have deferred to his good judgment, (most of the time). He has risen to the task and will hopefully be finished sometime before the DVD becomes extinct and I’ve given him yet another gargantuan chore. 

Completing this job, is not easy to do partially because we made it more complicated thanks to our very stupid video techniques.

I shall now confess… 

I mistook the on and off button and captured hours and hours of nothing. Example – when my brother got married, I lugged the clunky camera to the reception wanting to capture special moments of the happy occasion. Apparently I forgot to turn off the camera. I set the camera down on a chair still in “record” mode and now we have about 45 minutes of compelling close up footage of the upholstery. In addition to hearing all the background sounds of the wedding reception, you can hear the whirl of the video camera as it attempts to try to figure out what in the world it’s supposed to be taping! 
In addition, we didn’t label most of the VCR tapes. If you like a bit of mystery, this is the way to go. You will never, ever know what you’re looking at and that keeps things really exciting! 

And if we labeled a tape, one of us knuckleheads advanced the tape about 30 minutes and then taped new material from oh, say, 5-7 years later. In other words, everything jumps around. You are in a very funky time warp.

As crazy as this process has been, I am relieved to be retrieving old memories.  I’m laughing one minute watching my babies and tingle inside at the sight of their soft faces. Then I hear their squeaky voices and I want to cry. Although I desperately love my big boys now, I could burst into tears at this very minute as I wistfully recall those times. 

The little boy who was  is almost finished with his plebe year at West Point was a toe-headed leader almost from the start. Last weekend, this same child successfully completed an 18 mile ruck and earned a German Armed Forces Badge for Military Proficiency to don on his uniform.

The chunky toddler with a husky voice, is a tender-hearted musician /thespian/athlete. We have footage of him fake karate-chopping his baby brother as he swings innocently in the baby chair. Aaron remains my expressive boy but there’s muscle, arm pit hair, a young man is emerging.

And then there’s my Orange Love (Ike). In one movie, my youngest OS is sucking on his paci and I’m lugging him around on my hip. He can’t say a word but you still knew that Ike needed/demanded/expected something. Oh my, if I could just reach right into the television screen and squeeze him again – 

Dozens and dozens of tapes and memories await. I’m going forward but looking behind, it’s a bittersweet journey. 

Don’t try this @ home


The other day I was watching Good Morning America and there was a segment about using everyday products for unusual things. I saw an idea and I said to myself, I said, “Self, that sounds like a great idea!”

So last night just before bed, I took three pair of earrings and soaked them in ketchup. Usually we use ketchup for things like french fries and stuff but I thought what the heck, let’s go crazy. It’s the weekend after all. 

Here are the before pictures. 

You will observe that prior to the earrings being emerged into the ketchup, they look tarnished and dull. When I placed the earrings into the ketchup, then they just looked gross. 
I went to sleep and eagerly awoke this morning to see if my friends at GMA were right. 

My DH came downstairs and I told him to grab the camera. I wanted to capture the moment and it would hard for me to wash ketchup off of my earrings and take photos. 

So you be the judge. Do you notice any difference? 

Would you put your silver jewelry overnight in a couple of tablespoons of ketchup? I think the ketchup ate some of the tarnish off the earrings but not completely. Now I’m torn between trying it again or not. 

I have used silver cleaner before but it smelled so noxious. Then I googled and found that you can clean silver with aluminum foil, boiling water and baking soda but again, the odor nearly bowled me over. Think sulphur, think ew. It definitely worked but I was afraid if I inhaled too deeply, it would have corroded all the varnish off of me as well and I have a lot of tarnish!

Any other wacky ideas of yours are appreciated

Mrs. Davis gets a Snuggie


Aaron and his study buddy Brianna were prepar- ing for an up- coming test. I was in the kitchen minding my own business. Making a delicious and nutritious dinner while simultaneously listening to their conversation, you know, the things all good mommies should do. 

There was a break in their conversation when I overheard Aaron mention to Brianna, “Did you know it’s Mrs. Davis’ birthday tomorrow?” I can’t explain what happened next but in less than 10 minutes something really weird happened. On an impulse, I offered to make Mrs. Davis a birthday present.  I’m also not sure why I didn’t just volunteer to make a pretty card but for whatever reason, I offered to make Mrs. Davis a snuggie! That’s right, you heard it, I offered to make Mrs. Davis a snuggie!

Now I have never made a snuggie before but thanks to a quick google search, I found a free on-line pattern. Here it is for you if your son’s Spanish teacher needs a snuggie. It looked really easy! Mrs. Davis was going to love her snuggie, I knew that deep within my soul.  It would make her part of American pop culture and oh so snuggly. As we all know, snuggies are the latest craze. I crack up every time I see the commercial, doesn’t everyone? I realized the popularity of the snuggie when one day, while having sushi with my husband, I saw a group of teenagers at the Walgreens walking out with a snuggie apiece. That’s how I knew snuggies were da bomb. Here is a YouTube video about the snuggie. Please take a moment to

With no time to waste, I set to work on the snuggie immediately. Because I am a fabric fiend, I have quite a stash of material just waiting for a project. I knew immediately what material would make the perfect snuggie. Three yards of blue and green circles made of fleece. Oh yes, Mrs. Davis would look fantastic reading a book on the couch in her snuggie.

But before I could get it to Mrs. Davis, I needed someone to try it on. Aaron was busy studying, Ike is too small, Nate is at West Point, hmmm, whom could I find? That was when my husband fulfilled his lifelong dream and became a model. A snuggie model.

That man was really workin‘ it! As you can see, the camera loves him. Each way he turned, seemed to capture a new dimension to his personality.

We have here the pensive look.

This is the “I see dead people” look.

If Jesus wore a snuggie, I’m pretty sure he’d look like this.

We have coined this picture, the “Do I look chubby in this? shot.

It was sad the morning that Aaron dressed up on Spirit Day as Mr. Grumpy Box of Crayons and gave the snuggie to its new, rightful owner Mrs. Davis. The diminutive Spanish teacher’s mouth dropped open when Aaron stood and presented her with the much unexpected gift! 

She told her students that when her own kids stopped by for a visit, she modeled the snuggie and even took pictures of herself in the poses of the people in the snuggie commercial. 

Let’s hope she didn’t try and imitate the pictures we took of my DH because no one can look as good as my man in a snuggie

Extreme Makeover


So with the clothing problem solved, upon the gentle yet insistent prodding of my mom and sisters, I made an appointment to get my hair styled and my makeup professionally applied.

There have been two times in my adult life when I have felt pretty.

The first time I recall was on my wedding day. 

The second time was on the night of the All Academy 

I began the day looking like this…I call this Before

You don’t have to tell me, I know, there was A LOT of work to do…(I took this nasty picture today so my pink highlights have faded quite a bit and Ike looks even gnarlier than me so ew…)

In the early afternoon, Julian did his magic and
 successfully completed Phase 1. 

At first I thought he gave me some old lady hair but that would probably be a stretch considering I have bright pink highlights in my hair, right? Little by little, I could see the transformation taking place. I began to like what I was seeing in the mirror!

If you read my previous post, you noted that I did not attend any high school dances. My heart was expectant and I thought to myself, “This is what it would have felt like to get ready for a Homecoming Dance or Prom.” I liked the feeling! 

Then I took my dreary face and fancy hair to Bobbi Brown Cosmetics.

Walking up to the makeup counters always intimidates me. 
My insecurity bubbles to the surface and I just know they are judging my appearance. I feel like I’m reading their minds as they assess my face and think to themselves, “That lady needs more concealer, mascara, better foundation, etc.” I’m probably wrong but I approach cosmetic counters with fear and trembling. Yet all my nervousness disappeared as the lovely young woman worked her magic. She made me feel comfortable and feminine and I sensed she was as excited for me to go to the All Academy Ball as I was. 

So after about 45 minutes, Tamsin, the young woman at Bobbi Brown, completed Phase 2. As my 20 month nephew Josiah would say, “Taa daa!” I drove home from the mall and was surprised each time I looked in the mirror. “That’s me!” I marveled.

With not a lot of time to spare, I came home, squirted on a little bit of perfume, put on my pretty clothes and we dashed off to the ball. It was a Cinderella moment. 

Just days before I had asked my husband if there was any way we could cancel and not go to the Ball. I had nothing to wear and was convinced I would have a rotten time and feel ugly and disappointed. But you know what that would have done? It would have only reminded me of that old, familiar, resigned feeling I experienced so many times in high school. I know I would have just thought, “Cindy, that’s just the way it is for you” and I would have spent the night in front of the stupid box aka tv just like I did so many times before. 

Instead I entered an elegant ballroom with my husband. Aside from the time when Mark nearly wiped out on a small piece of red leaf lettuce that was on the tile floor, (it was actually quite funny!), we had a perfect time. I felt like a star sitting at the table with my handsome man and my beautiful son and his date. We enjoyed a delicious dinner, even got engraved wine glasses as souvenirs and danced the night away. There were a lot of pretty girls and women there that
evening but I felt like the belle of the ball. 

Plebe Parent Weekend is in March and I’m already getting excited thinking about it! I hope I don’t sound stuck-up or conceited that you can simply see that an Extreme Makeover took place not only on the outside but also deep within my heart. 

Once Upon a Time


Twenty one years ago, on a sunny late summer day, a happy, little blond woman married a happy, little blond man. She felt like the prettiest girl in the world and everyone told her so, especially her brand new husband. 

They exchanged vows and outside the church, they released balloons out into the sky. Not a very “green” idea these days but back then, it was perfectly fine. They went on a honeymoon to Portugal and Spain and spent a day in Morocco. 

While there, the new bride slipped on her flip-flop and cut the mess out of her toe. It bled everywhere and the happy, little, newly married blond woman got three stitches in her big toe while in Portugal. It was the beginning of an eventful life together

As you probably figured out, the two people I’m talking about are my husband and me. Today is our 21st wedding anniversary! It’s incredible to me to think I’ve been married this long and I rejoice at how the Lord has blessed our marriage! 

My husband and I were thinking about ways we have celebrated our wedding anniversaries in the past and I thought I’d share some of the more memorable experiences we have shared together.

1. On our first year anniversary, my husband arranged for a surprise trip to San Francisco.  I knew we were going on a trip but he didn’t tell me the location.  A limousine picked us up to head to the airport. He had roses in our hotel room, got me a few extra days off of work and had the best time. 

2. On the flip side, I vividly recall our wedding anniversary where we were moving into our first home. I was pregnant with our oldest OS and feeling pretty miserable. While my husband helped the movers bring our belongings into our brand new home, I ate pizza on the toilet in our bathroom. The lid was down, don’t despair! Just thought I needed to say that. I just ate pizza, people, I’m totally serious!

3. Then there was the time when I was six days post-partum with our second OS. Who knows what happened that day. We were well on our way to sleep deprivation and all the other associated “joys” a woman experiences just after having a baby. I’ll leave it at that.

4. When we had our 10 anniversary, my husband and I enjoyed a nice dinner out and then, to my delight, my hubby pulled out a small box. Women love small boxes. Especially if they have a shiny ring inside.
5. Cayman Islands was where we celebrated another anniversary. We saw baby sea turtles, we went to Hell, (a spot on the island) and snorkeled with sting rays. Correction, my husband snorkeled, I felt sick to my stomach under water. Nonetheless, it was a beautiful time. 

6. Last year, we fulfilled a long dream of mine to go to Camden, Maine. If you ever have a chance to go there, we highly recommend it. Coincidentally we were there for the Windjammer Festival and were able to stroll along the bay and see all the windjammers return for a final hurrah. We stayed at the Hartstone Inn and absolutely stuffed ourselves with food the world class chef and proprietor of the inn created. Here is the room we stayed in! Check out the sample menu! We ate lobster, lobster rolls, fresh blueberry ice cream, I’m 

salivating just with the thought of that amazing time! Scrumptious and stunning in every way!

7. And then of course, we’ll never forget the anniversary when Hurricane Fran decided to come our way. It was the night of our anniversary that the winds started howling. We lost power as a Category 3 hurricane pelted our area. It cut a path all over our town and the surrounding area. This time my tummy was full of baby #3 and I fondly recall our little family collecting together on the bed with our battery operated radio listening to the latest news. September 5th has become a very powerful weather event day for our part of the country.

8. And this year, we spend our anniversary with me in a foot cast. Not terribly romantic, huh? I don’t feel like the most beautiful woman in the world, I’m not sure that’s possible on a scooter. But I do know someone still loves me. That man I married 21 years ago, the guy who makes me smile and laugh. The guy that blesses me with unconditional love and sweet memories. Sickness and health, richer and poorer, bi-ped or scooter bound. 

In many ways, we have weathered the storms of life and we have seen the rainbows. Thanks for letting me share. We’re off to scoot and celebrate this special day!