The VCR project

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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. 

Angels Unaware

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p1040172When my OS began his exploration into attending West Point, so did I.

We were about to embark on an exciting journey and I had no clue what he was getting himself and the entire family into!

I was so clueless about West Point, the United States Military Academy, I had to google search west+point.

Where is West Point anyway?

That’s when I found it is far away. Far away as in New York. Far away as in a 10 hour drive, but about 15 hour of driving time if I’m in the car accounting for potty breaks and not including an overnight stay at a nice hotel. Yes, I am ever so slightly high maintenance.

It just so happened the Lord had placed in our lives a great couple, Gigi and Eric. Eric is a professor at West Point and we met here when he was in our state completing his doctorate degree and attending our church and Sunday School class. When the family left for a two year class assignment to Korea, we thought we would never see them ever again, this side of heaven.

But that was not the Lord’s will and soon, they will return to West Point. We will re-connect with them! When our son was accepted at West Point, Eric called us all the way from Korea and lovingly, honestly explained what R-Day was going to be like for us as parents.

In a word – HARD!

After speaking with him on the phone, I literally collapsed on my carpet, unsure of how I was going to handle parting with my treasured boy. And not only saying goodbye but doing it in under two minutes.

99068-photo250Enjoy this picture I took thanks to my Mac Photo Booth aptly conveying my sentiments last year.Very attractive, huh?

Since then we have pressed on. And we have been blessed. We have met amazing people who have extended themselves in ways I never expected. I see how the Lord’s hand has linked us up with caring families who have been there for us and our OS.

For example, Peggie, a West Point mom whom I never met when I called her because we have a mutual acquaintance. Peggie allowed me to cry on her proverbial shoulder. I barely got one sentence out of my mouth, before the Lacrimal Glands got activated. She was such an encouragement and she listened like a mama who’s been there, done that. And she still spoke in full sentences which gave me hope that I could actually live through this experience with some semblance of sanity.

aa0c5-p1070259Then there have been the Hoffman’s who take Nate out regularly when they visit their plebe at West Point. Patti gives our OS an obligatory hug from me and has loved my boy as if he were her own. This family knows no bounds of kindness. Such a beautiful lady who even did an eyebrow trim for my husband when we were all together at Plebe Parent Weekend! I love these people! How many of your girlfriends can you ask to trim your husband’s eyebrows??? Those friends are few and far between!

p1070333Merrily is a gem too. Although recently faced with the loss of her husband, she is a resilient mama of a very fine plebe. That lady is someone that from the minute she called me on the phone one day after communicating via her husband’s blog, I felt an instant connection to and we ended our first conversation saying, “I love you” and meaning it. 

 

And then there’s Kim. Kim works at West Point and she’s a grad. Very huah but in no way obnoxious. Kim understands what it’s like to be a cadet and she’s a mother which is a perfect combination. 

When Nate’s birthday rolled around on April 12th, Kim dropped off in our son’s room, a bouquet of balloons, a big birthday card and an ice cream party certificate. She has offered to take my OS out for pizza, invited him to an Easter dinner, truly extended herself in ways I could have never imagined. And we have only met once when she recognized me at A-Day. I had a broken foot and a scooter, so I was an easy target and she has been reading my blog for a while. I felt so fancy when she came up and introduced herself! Since then, we have kept in touch and when I have offered to reimburse Kim for her generosity, she quickly rebuffs my offer, saying she does these things gladly and free of charge. Oh, how I am blessed!

 
I am reminded of the Scripture found in Hebrews 13:2 “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” 
 
I reflect on this journey thus far and sometimes can’t believe how fast my son’s plebe year has passed! I praise the Lord because we have survived, occasionally even thrived. We have all learned things about ourselves, our strength, the importance of faith and prayer and developing an extended sense of family. 

 
Y’all, I am meeting angels. Not the fluttering kind with halos and wings but still divine messengers of God who have lighted this path with compassion. I hope you have been meeting some along your way as well, wherever it may be…

I love Scrabble, yes I do

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Scrabble is a great game for a word hound. I have loved Scrabble since I was in high school.

For Christmas one year, my parents aka Santa got me a French Scrabble game. I was the only one in my family who could play the game and so I played both sides of the board. Naturally I won and I know it might sound weird but I had a lot of fun. J’aime tous les mots ! I love words! While my plebe was home on Spring Break, guess what game he wanted to play with me? 

Here’s a very obvious clue.

 “Mom, do you want to play a game of Scrabble with me tomorrow?”
GAAA! Everything else I thought about doing the next day was quickly crossed off the list. My boss was going to call me, who cares? I would gladly and respectfullyblew the guy off and I told him so when he called me. I wasn’t going to pass up this opportunity. My son, my boy wanted to hang with me! And not only that, he wanted to play the world’s best game! Woo hoo!
I stink at most board games. I think Monopoly is fun but I don’t like how people try and scheme each other out of all their money. I like Battleship but my heart really sinks when someone destroys my ships. Sorry is a good game too but I’m sorry, that game should be called Spite as far as I’m concerned.
But Scrabble, that’s my game. That’s money as they say in high school.

And to crank it up a notch, I told my boy that not only would I play Scrabble with him but I was also going to cream him, basically “own” my OS in the process.
We went out for sushi and I felt like the luckiest girl with my miso soup, unagi (eel) and California roll with Nate.
With our tummies full of tasty delights, we headed back home for the duel.
The game started innocently enough but then the game got personal. Our obvious fondness of each other was replaced with raw competition.
If you have ever played Scrabble, you know how awful it feels to have a bunch of “bad” letters. But did I let it get me down? A casual Scrabble user might have wanted to quit. I mean, what do you do when you have this?

Let’s face it, 2 u’s, 3 o’s, one “a” and an “i” is a challenge. But I’m no Scrabble quitter. As I surveyed the board, I spotted a really amazing word. Do you see it?

 I spelled the word LUAU! I didn’t get a lot of points but the feeling of accomplishment was pretty stinking incredible.

The game proceeded and we both impressed each other with our word skills. But soon, to my astonishment, I pulled ahead. And I took pictures in the process just to rub it in.
Nate was tired so maybe that’s why I beat him. I had my highest score yet. I don’t care why I won, it was thrilling to beat my smart OS.
Final Scores:
Nate: 196
Me: 287

Take a look at the final board at the top of this post and check out all the cool words we used!

Smiles are everywhere

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While at West Point for Plebe Parent Weekend, we were continually impressed with the amount of things our son was learning. At this hallowed institution, it’s pretty incredible to think that our OS’s teachers know him personally and in this case, that’s not a bad thing or the exception.


We are on our best behavior as we toured the stately buildings replete with history and patriotism. I mean how can you act the fool when you have statues of Dwight D. Eisenhower, General MacArthur and other distinguished leaders all over the place staring back at you! 

But it was in Nate’s barracks, just prior to meeting his gf (and she’s quite a young lady!), our favorite plebe revealed a hidden talent, something he had learned from a fellow Soldier. 

Apparently during Beast all plebes learned to roll their socks in tight little balls. Not being content with mediocrity, however a fellow Soldier/prior service plebe showed our OS how to take his socks to the next level.


And that meant to make his socks smile. Even if Nate wasn’t able to make his face grin during Beast, his socks looked happy. 

His fellow Soldier/roommate taught him how to roll his t-shirts too. “It looks neater,” our plebe beamed. Ok, he didn’t exactly beam but we did as he demonstrated his new found talent

As Nate shows off his folding skills, I’m also happy to debut my first iMovie. Hope you enjoy! 

May you and everything in your drawers be deliciously joyous today!   
PS. I have no idea why the movie is yellow. Guess I’ve got a lot to learn!

I love a parade!

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It has been a long-standing joke in my house that one day before I die, I want a parade for my birthday. So far it hasn’t happened and considering my birthday is in January and I don’t live in Hawaii, the chances are slim to none that this will ever happen. 

But since becoming a mama of a Soldier, specifically the mother of a son at the United States Military Academy, I have seen more parades than I ever imagined. And I like it. I like it a lot. (said again in my best Jim Carey from Dumb and Dumber voice.) Yes, this is the second time I’ve recently used this quote in a post. 


So if I can’t have a parade on my birthday, I’ll settle for the next best thing…seeing my son in a parade. That is cool. Really, really cool. 

During Plebe Parent Weekend (PPW), our OS was in a parade which featured only plebes. You would have never known that these were the same young men and women who arrived at R-Day with that deer in the headlights look, trying to maintain composure as they were whisked away to places and experiences unknown and nearly unbearable. For most plebes, including our OS, these young men and women were relatively new to the parade thing prior to R-Day. But they now appear to be seasoned parade professionals. According to my OS, much to his dismay, they have devoted countless hours spent marching and executing each aspect of the parade. I know everyone in the filled to capacity crowd appreciated their hard work for it made for a very impressive spectacle.

First there was the drill team. My mouth gaped open as I wat- ched the trenchant skill of these young men. I was held in thrall as they effortlessly tossed the rifles back and forth to each other. I was dumbfounded as they performed an entire routine, not forgetting a thing, flipping the rifles in mid-air, grabbing them at varied places on the rifle and without missing a beat. Just when I thought their program was done and I was getting ready to erupt in applause, they’d press on and do another five 

minutes. I can only imagine the hours they poured into this flawless execution. 

Once they finished, I began to watch for my own VIP. My son was a Platoon Leader for his company and Nate was excited because he had a saber for the parade. I peered through the crowd and was surprised to see that indeed our OS marched with a very manly saber by his side but other stuff as well. 

Nate strode out into the field with his company also wearing a very large hat with really big feathers and he was wearing a red sash. If you are not a West Point person, you might be thinking big whoop, a red sash. You might even conjure up thoughts of RuPaul, but friends, shame on you! You would be totally wrong. It’s not that kind of sash, y’all! 

Here he was during PPW, out on The Plain, and Nate was wearing the same red sash which previously evoked terror and misery to the new cadets trying to complete Beast in the summer.

The dreaded red sash was an emblem of dread and intimidation until I saw it draped around MY boy’s uniform. From afar, the red sash and I had a healing, bonding moment, I guess you could say.

I felt pride and love overwhelm me and I know I was not alone. It was palpable as each person in the crowd peered to see their beloved child. It didn’t matter if your kid was right up front easy to spot or somewhere hidden in the middle, seeing 1000 Soldiers march in unison, it felt like we had collectively birthed each one of them.  A universal feeling of delight and appreciation warmed the cool morning air. So although my dreams of having a birthday parade are far-fetched, I have no right to complain on that day when I meet Jesus face to face. He has given me, as usual something above and beyond my wildest dreams. 

I LOVE A PARADE!

My son’s new girlfriend – March 2009 NOT May 2013

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For those of you who know my son, I’m sure this blog post will elicit a lot of interest. Nathan has a girlfriend? Who is this lucky lady??? Inquiring minds want to know!

Well before I introduce her to you, let me tell you how we first met. We had a tour of the barracks during PPW and Nate showed us his room.

He and his two roommates takw pride in the cleanliness of their room. Sparsely decorated unlike a traditional college dorm room, there are no empty beer bottles, posters and personal items filling the cramped quarters.

Nate has a picture frame collage we gave him during Beast that has an assortment of pictures of family and friends and that’s the only way you’d know it was his space.

So comfy, cozy, NOT

Overlooking Nate’s desk is a scenic view of Legion Square.

While doing homework, he sees others cadets walking to and from class and other daily activities.

He also witnesses crazy cadet antics which adds levity to the pressure-packed environment.

Water bottles jettison between the barracks. Milk cartons become white, liquid missiles catapulting in the late winter night. Fruit-flavored yogurts are hurled with wild abandon.

Sounds like fun!

But in the midst of all this bravado and hi jinks, Nate can sometimes be seen snuggling with his special girl.

What??

How can a cadet, let alone a lowly plebe hang out and snuggle with a girlfriend?

Well, it’s easy when your girlfriend is a blanket.

Nate’s gf is a Green Girl which is a West Point term for the green blanket covering every cadet’s bed.

She is the best girlfriend my OS can have right now.

She is always there when he needs her.

She’s affectionate but not overbearing.

She is low-maintenance and never jealous.

Based on this picture, I think it’s a long-term relationship.

When I met Green Girl, I liked her right away and that’s saying a lot as a mom of three sons.

I was expecting to have mixed feelings when I met my son’s special lady but I didn’t. I think this is a sign of my maturation. I knew the day was coming when Nate would have a girlfriend and I must say, I’m doing quite well.

Don’t you think they make a cute couple! We love you Green Girl, welcome to the family!

Next blog post…Smiles…learn an exciting folding technique that will surely revolutionize your life!

PPW – Mess Hall and Poop Deck

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I look at my life as a series of blog posts. If you are a blogger, you know what I mean. I scrapbook, although not as often as I’d like and I recall just prior to taking a picture, imagining the scrapbook page I would create. If you are not into that sort of thing, I have already lost your interest. My bad.

But going to Plebe Parent Weekend (PPW) was so bloggable. Poor Nate probably felt 
like it was kindergarten all over again as we took pictures with nearly everyone who cheerfully greeted him including his teachers. I’m glad he indulged me, I don’t think he had much of a choice. 

Since he is the first child I’ve ever had to attend college, I don’t know what things are like at other institutions of higher learning but it seems that a lot of famous people drop by West Point. During PPW, we got to hang out at one of the celebrity hot spots…the Mess Hall. 


We enjoyed lunch in the Mess Hall on Saturday and as our OS gave us a tour around the facility, Nate told us that Trace Atkins had stopped by the Mess Hall the other day. Members of the Glee Club sang with him and apparently recorded a video with the Glee Club cadets that will be appearing on the American Country Music Awards show. They will be performing the song “Til the Last Shot’s Fired.” Click here to see the link. You will also be able to download the song at iTunes and all the proceeds will benefit the Wounded Warrior Project. I really appreciate this man’s loyalty to the troops and the military. I have never been a fan of country music but I like this guy and might even watch the ACM Awards on Sunday, April 5th

He also said that recently Miss USA visited and gave the cadets a big “huah!” Btw, huah means “I’m pumped!”, “wow” and “yes” and is often used as a verbal exclamation mark at West Point. Seeing a pretty girl not in a uniform was a sight for sore eyes. Nate also said her assistant was just as gorgeous as she was! Miss USA was on the Poop Deck. I’ll just let that sentence sit with you for a moment… What’s a Poop Deck, you ask? It’s a balcony area overlooking the Mess Hall and I guess she encouraged the Corps with her beauty and charm. I will soon be blogging about Nate’s new gf so stay tuned. You don’t want to miss it.

As we sat down for lunch, our Soldier/OS told us about how during Beast, his plate had to be a thumb’s distance from the edge of the table. Things are more “chill” (relaxed) now in the Mess Hall and that’s a relief for many plebes. 

Nate instructed us also on how the milks all had to line up in a certain fashion. Can you believe it? 


And somehow when the numbers 1-4 flash, it signifies who can get up from the table. I think this light system could have been very useful when my OS were little.  Many moms would be interested in purchasing this light system for their squirmy toddlers. 


He also said it gets frustrating when people don’t pass the food around. DUH! This I found particularly interesting because this is the EXACT SAME THING I’VE BEEN TELLING HIM around our family table for years! I can’t tell you how many times I have to ask my OS to pass ALL the food around the table. It took my son eating dinners 10 hours away for him to finally figure that out!

West Point feeds about 4,000 cadets breakfast and dinner in less than 25 minutes. 

The famous and the worldly, the popular and the patriotric, the lowly plebes and the revered firsties have dined in this nostalgic place. Wow. 


And on this Saturday afternoon, the United States Military Academy fed us, how humbling. 
We had more time than the average cadet and had lively conversation with everyone around the table. 
We enjoyed a family style lunch with other plebe parents and cadets. We sat at a 10 person table right near the giant mural which depicted many military and historic facts. The history and majesty of it all is impressive and seeing Nate in his element was positively delicious.