Love and letters, part one


photo copy 5The response to writing my Soldier has been incredible.

Most of us do not understand how wonderful it is for a military person to hear from loved ones and friends.

The longer I am a mama of a Soldier, the more it sinks in.

For my son, he has loved every single message.

Here’s why. Imagine marching 800m through the swamps, then doing a 9k patrol base at night followed by a 17k back. Your letters matter to these weary men.

Picture getting 30 seconds to inhale an MRE (meals ready to eat) somewhere in the mountains but then getting a funny card from a friend delivered to you sometime during training. It can kind of make you feel like a person for a second. If there’s a stick of gum inside, even better!

So today I want to highlight some of the incredible letters and cards Nate has been receiving, I’m amazed at everyone’s thoughtfulness. We’re not done yet, so please keep writing, I feel blessed because of you.

Dog owners – Can you believe that Nate is getting a letter from a couple who adopted our emotionally disturbed greyhound, Toughie? Years ago, we were the owners of a retired racing greyhound. Poor Toughie was an emotional basket case and we had to find him another home. Before going over the Rainbow Bridge, Toughie found some infinitely patient souls to care for him. Now they are sending Nate a letter! Oh how he will chuckle seeing the name Toughie again!


Oh dear nephew, your cousin will cherish this picture forever! He will love all the detail and action! I love you and so does Nate! RLTW!

Cousins – This picture is from Nate’s seven-year old cousin, Jon. The more I look at this picture, the more I love it. Tanks, swamps, fish, words of encouragement, this drawing also has plenty of action and Nate is smiling through the whole thing. I’m not so sure about that in real life but I do know this. Nate will grin ear to ear because of this letter. According to Jon, Nate is the #1 23-year-old and I have to agree!

Katie and the kids she's working with this summer.

Katie and the kids she’s working with this summer.

Classmates and cool kids – One of Nate’s high school classmates is working with K-5th kids this summer.

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Daniel, this is a beautifully written letter. You are a really nice guy!


974857_10201224092465611_1526572933_n Stacey, this letter is a work of art. Nate will love it!


Thank you Alajah for thinking of my Soldier.

Since Nate is a strong example of perseverance, obedience, courage and integrity, determination, Katie had an idea.

Last week she talked to her kids about unconditional love. Then the kids sent him some snail mail. Just look at the adorable sentiments expressed by these precious children!


So bright and colorful! Much prettier than looking at the swamps! Thanks y’all!

Thanks to Katie and her efforts, Nate will receive 30 Scripture filled letters from these boys and girls. This will mean the world to him!

Brothers – Equally delightful are the cards my orange hair, freckle face OS sends his brother.

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It takes a unique mind to come up with this character. What a creative little brother!

Spermy the Whale is the featured character Ike created during his middle school years.

Spermy now makes regular appearances on correspondence with Nate.

In particular, Nate has specifically mentioned how much he enjoys getting these bizarre greetings.

Ike really makes some interesting cards...

Ike really makes some interesting cards…I know he enjoys sending them to his bro.

It would seem that Spermy the Whale is transforming from a gangsta with grillz and a gold chain to entering the business world sporting a briefcase and a professional tie. The grillz are now a thing of the past. Um, ok!

My joy multiples as a mom. On behalf of all the families we represent who have a son, fiance, husband, boyfriend or brother in Ranger School, know it is a highlight for us to know others care.

From Korea to California, Texas to Michigan, El Salvador to New York and all points in between, thank you, bless you. We should never undervalue the significance of sending support to our military servicemen and women.

Questions: If you have a special person in the military, how have letters and cards helped your loved one?  What are creative ways you offer support to others! Let’s share ideas!

25 out of 50 things I’m thankful for

I’ve always known how to have fun on my birthday! 

Tomorrow is a big day for me. I used to think 50 year old people were old. Now I think they are, well, they are…me as of January 27. 

Here is half of the 50 things I’m thankful for. 

Class of 2016 = woot

1. My middle OS has been accepted to Moody Bible Institute!
2. This means I will have a semi-regular pizza delivery boy! 
3. I had a wonderful experience speaking to a local MOPS group and I want to do it again! 
4. My topic was “Raising Mighty Oliveshoots” and I’m sensing the Lord is creating something. 
5. My oldest OS has done so well as West Point that he will be getting his first choice for his post and unit. This means that Nate will probably be going to Fort Carson in Colorado. I suggested “Fort” Cary (we live in Cary!) but he seemed disinterested. No worries though!
6. My orange hair, freckle face OS’s basketball team is currently in first place and his back pain is subsiding.

Few moments are as epic as when you
and your OS get to meet Mary Jo!

7. I’m going to MaryJo’s Cloth Store in Gastonia on Saturday with friends. Ignite endorphin levels!
8. I soaked some almonds overnight in water and evaporated cane juice. I drained the water and just before putting them into the dehydrator, I sprinkled cinnamon on them. They taste GOOD! 

I’m having a bibimbap birthday! 

9. We are having a Korean exchange student stay with us for the weekend and she is going to teach me how to make bibimbap
10. We’re also going to be serving squash pancakes and green onion pancakes. This should be interesting!
11. My six year old nephew Jon aka Goo, told me he has drawn me a picture for my birthday. I can’t wait to see it!
12. My aunt and uncle from Chicago sent me two birthday pizzas. I have them safely hidden in the freezer, only the Hubs seems to know. I do not want to share. Does that make me a bad person??? Do not tell a soul. 
13. I’m reading my seventh book since Christmas. Shablam! Current read – Saving Leonardo. Here’s a great quote “One of the greatest injustice we do our young people is to ask them to be conservative. Christianity is not conservative, but revolutionary…We must teach them to be revolutionaries, revolutionaries against the status quo.” Click to read this review that compelled me to buy this for my Kindle Fire. 
14. It struck me last night as I was sitting with my monthly writing friends, how immensely blessed I am with a diversity of friendships culled from many parts of my life. 
15. My house is neither immaculate nor filthy, right now as I type this, it’s right in the middle. 
16. I love my weekly Bible Study and the women I share life with. As I look around the table, I admire their strength, beauty and stories about leading redeemed lives. 

Bible Study just before the Army/Navy game!
Had to bring Nate!

17. My stepfather said he would go with me for my colonoscopy! I don’t have one scheduled but since I took him to his, he said he would accompany me on mine! 

18. I just finished reading a book about a vacuum cleaner and it made me cry. I thought about the stories my family’s appliances could tell.
19. When I told my mom that sometimes her birthday cards to me are so sappy, I could become diabetic, she didn’t get offended. She laughed and scoffed. We had fun! 
20. Loves it when the pastor speaks a sermon custom made for our family! 
21. And REALLY loves it when we apply the sermon to daily life!
22. So blessed to have a praying family. We rallied around one of our OS this weekend and prayed with and for him one night. I want to leave this kind of legacy.
23. Realized that I along with the Hubs are raising a first generation Christian family. I didn’t see that modeled in my own family and we’re super imperfect but still, we’re doing it!

A recent creation I made

24. My sewing machines and I are getting along. We are enjoying our time together.
25. I made a dinner this week for a teacher who has cancer. I wasn’t sure what to make and brought sesame seed crusted salmon, wilted spinach with a white wine sauce and quinoa pepper salad. She said her favorite thing to eat was fish! I didn’t know that! 

On the eve of a big day, it makes sense to have some jollity. Life is a gift. I’d love to hear from you, any of these 25 jump out at you?

The Highs and Lows of a Mountain Vacation, Chapter Two


About 20 minutes after having the BEST PARTY IN THE WORLD, we (that is, my sister, brother-in -law, hubby and mom) were tired and joyous. I had been giggling so much during the party, my cheek muscles hurt. It was midnight, we were happy but tired. It was time for bed at least that’s what we thought…

But then my sister Denise, heard her 2 1/2 year old son Jon rustling in his bed, coughing and acting listless. She picked him up and tried soothing him. Throughout the day, Jon seemed a little sick. During our party, however, he polished off five cookies without a problem. Now my little nephew was having some trouble breathing.  Denise thought he might have a slight touch of the croup and figured a trip to the doctor’s office tomorrow might be warranted.

Then Jon began to have even more labored breathing. He became more agitated and inconsolable. Denise and JD called their pediatrician’s emergency phone number but by then Jon’s breathing had rapidly worsened. We were all running around trying to figure out what to do. A sense of panic filled the cabin even though we all tried to keep it together. “I think he’s going to have a seizure!” Denise shouted to JD. Denise rushed Jon into the bathroom and we cranked on the hot water to create steam. I ran to the bedroom to get Jon’s beloved stuffed cow and threw it into the bathroom

But nothing was working. Jon’s lips were turning purple. We thought he was going to lose consciousness. Just 30 minutes before, we had been yukking it up and having a blast. Now we were in a frenzy as 911 was called. Here we were in a cabin high atop the Smoky Mountains with no idea where the nearest hospital was with a child who needed urgent medical attention. By the time the ambulance arrived, Jon had calmed down but now his face was pale, he was not reacting even when the paramedics were handling him. They found his oxygen saturation level unacceptable and Jon and Denise were whisked away to the hospital via ambulance. 

It was a long, long night. Repeated steroid injections and breathing treatments finally got Jon stabilized. They thought at one point that he was going to be admitted to the Children’s Hospital in Knoxville. My husband accompanied JD to the hospital while Mom, my boys and I stayed home with baby Josiah who happened to have a fairly restful night, thank you Jesus! It was past 2am before Mom and I got to sleep. Everyone who went to the hospital didn’t sleep. We were all zombies Monday morning. Jon slept for long stretches all through the day but was much better than hours before. Kids are more resilient than grown-ups, that’s for sure. 

Jon will be seeing a pediatric pulmonologist and he was acting his hilarious self on Tuesday when we all returned home. He was getting in trouble, bopping his brother on the head, drinking juice and talking up a storm. You would have never known he had been so sick. Apparently there was a point when his oxygen saturation levels were 50%, which is very poor. Now he’s our full-tilt toddler again! Hallelujah!

There were a few moments of levity at the hospital. Uncle Mark was quite the hit when he put a rubber glove over his head. JD took this picture on his cell phone. 

What a night, huh?

Uh oh…

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“I go diarrhea and then I say, ‘
ick,'” these words were uttered to me by my adorable nephew over the phone today. I think this is a generally well accepted fact for just about everyone, right? 

When 2 1/2 year old Jon and his family came to visit us on the fourth of July, apparently they left something special behind. It wasn’t a bib or a juice cup, oh no, it appears my sister and her family inadvertently left a stomach virus. My youngest son was its first victim on Sunday and now it looks like it might be claiming its second person. At this point Aaron is blaming it on a “bad burger” but I’ve got this sinking feeling, we are heading for trouble. 

I should have expected it. After all, it’s been about 30 minutes since Isaac was feeling slightly back to normal. We don’t want to waste any time, now do we?  This virus wiped out my sister’s entire family, now I fear we’re going down. She had some very funny blog posts (sorry, her blog is private) so if I look on the bright side, we might be able to get a few yuks out of this. Let’s call them “bloggable moments.” She likened the stomach cramps to child birth only with far less pleasant results. I’d rather not do that again, thank you very much. She also commented on the potency of my 10 month old nephew’s flatulations, therefore we will not be lighting any matches just to be safe. 

Tonight Aaron will sleep with the plastic bag lined trash can right near his bed as he lays his weary head on a towel-lined pillow case. He awoke us a few nights ago with a bloody nose so we’ll see what this evening brings.

Denise could have left her fancy dessert click here for recipe as pictured. That would have been nice. Who knew these nice people were still carrying vestiges of a virus? They all look so innocent and lovely. My sister and her family left wonderful memories but I doubt this is going to be one of them. I hope we’re not calling Jon using the same sentence. 

Sew Much Fun – Chapter 3


We are nearing record temperatures in our neck of the woods (100 degrees plus!) and I made another blanket. Last night, while in the living room, my husband  looks around and exclaims, “We have blankets all over the place and it’s summer for Pete’s sake!” Ex-squeeze me? What’s he trying to say? That he hates me and my crafting??? That he’s getting tired of random threads and piles of fabric all throughout the house??? Zheesh! At the time, we had five blankets in the room (one of them belonged in our bedroom). I thought this comment was pretty funny and a fairly astute observation. What can I say, we are a snugly people! After about nine months, I finally finished a coffee blanket I made in honor of Nathan’s senior mission trip to Costa Rica which is the reason we have at least one more blanket in the room. It was so nice to finally get that project done, Yay!  Surely there are better and more creative seamstresses out there but I am proud of my amateur skills and after working so diligently on my creations, it’s hard to put them up for the summer. 

So guess what I’m working on right now? Yep, a blanket. Only this one is for my darling 2 1/2 year old nephew Jon. The guy is totally obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine. He has a one track mind in every sense of the word. You walk into the house and you are offered a train. Just don’t ask for Mighty Max. You can probably place a delicate finger on Gordon now (that used to be his favorite) but that’s i
t. I don’t care how much Jon likes you and how many things you have done for him, Mighty Max just can’t be shared. And for another example of how Jon is full tilt on Thomas and the gang, the other day, he was outside playing with his dad and getting cold water sprinkled all over his back and you know what he exclaims? “I’m covered in coal dust!” 

Who could not love th
is guy. I am smitten and his little brother is the stuff of everything delicious and pure. I wonder what Josiah is going to be crazy about in the future? Will he like trains or another mode of transportation? Will he like penguins like his Aunt Deees (that’s me) or tree frogs (like his Cousin Nate)? Whatever it is, I’ll make a blanket for it. I’m ready for the next project!


Hide and seek


I can let him stuff his face with cotton candy and then conveniently drop him off at his house with a sugar high that hits da roof- I like that!

With all this college stuff looming in the horizon (can stuff loom?), I need a diversion.

Two-year-old Jon serves that purpose. So does his baby brother Si but this post is about a delightful time I enjoyed with Mr. Walking Backwards Guy (aka Jon). He likes to walk backwards every time he sees me.

One day while visiting my sister and the babies, Jon and I played a game of Hide and Seek.

We would take turns hiding and it was so funny to see him looking hither and yon for me. He had a preferred spot for me to hide which made the game rather unchallenging but still immensely fun.

When it was my chance to find Jon, I would pretend to be completely baffled trying to locate him. I looked in the curtains. No Jon. In a pair of shoes. No Jon. In a drawer. Astonishingly, no Jon.

Every single time he hid in the exact same spot. When it was my turn, I’d tuck myself under the dining room table and wait for him to “find” me.  He must have thought, “Wow, Dees (that’s his name for me) is pretty dense,” since I usually hid in the exact same spot. But that’s one of the hidden rules of the game with Jon.

I’m so glad he put up with my antics.

We would still be playing hide and seek if it were up to him. How does he do it? He makes everything hilarious!

Doesn’t this look like fun?

I can’t wait to do it again and again and again! Bet you can’t find me – HA!

Guitar Jam Session


“The babies are coming! The babies are coming!” I shouted as my two adorable nephews and sister began walking up the driveway. Mom had to go to the doctor again today and Denise and her guys decided to stop by while waiting to pick her up. I love seeing these two guys, I could write a blog about being an aunt almost as easily as I write about being a mom. A few moments with Jon and Josiah and life is good, really good. 

Five boys ranging in age from 5 months to almost 18 years old scurried around the house. Jon made himself comfortable and walked upstairs. There he huddled himself into Nathan’s room and felt like a real big boy in his Thomas the Train pajamas. Listening to the sounds emanating from there, I opened the door and saw Nathan treating his 2 year old cousin to an impromptu jam session complete with singing. Soon Aaron was joining in and Jon sneaked in a few strums on Nate’s guitar. Josiah was downstairs nursing having his own special moments 😉 
Btw, as a dutiful mom, I want to mention that my son does sleep with sheets on his bed. It was Monday and it is my washing sheets day. 

I’m trying to take care of my family like that cuz I’m not down with bed bugs and dust mites, ya know what I mean? Just didn’t want anyone thinking my boy was severely neglected. Oh, and one more thing, the bottles on his shelves, those are Izze drinks, a natural fruit juice made with a splash of sprinkling water. Completely healthy, non-alcoholic, refreshing and innocent. Ok, now go and enjoy the video clip knowing those little caveats. (I’m having trouble loading the video, technical difficulties, check back again, folks!)

Being a mom of three sons is a blessing, being the aunt of two adorable boys makes my heart sing!