Adventures with Flat Stanleyette, part two

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"I've never dehydrated anything before! This should be interesting!"

“I’ve never dehydrated anything before! This should be interesting!” Flat Stanleyette pictured with dehydrated cauliflower and an undehydrated butternut squash. Huh…

I certainly hope (and pray) that my niece, A., had a good day at school on Friday. Friday would have been a very important day to have a regular, wonderful time as an elementary school student.

These are soap nuts and this is the way Aunt Cindy and her family wash their clothes!

These are soap nuts and this is the way Aunt Cindy and her family wash their clothes!

My niece’s Flat Stanleyette hopefully arrived at school along with a box of surprises. Yesterday would have been a fitting day for happiness to fill a classroom…

Here are a few of the highlights –

1. Flat Stanleyette learned about soap nuts sold by Olive Shoot Institute. This is our family’s small business. This is the way we do laundry! At first FS thought we were crazy even though she appreciated the fact that soap nuts are 100% biodegradable, organic and natural. To think that there are trees in India that produce a berry which clean clothes blew her paper mind. However, when she noticed that our clothes smelled fresh and clean, our towels were fluffy and fresh, she became a true believer. Upon her insistence, I gave her some soap nuts to bring back home.

Flat Stanleyette noticed that sometimes Ike would like to eat a dorito.

Flat Stanleyette noticed that sometimes Ike would like to eat a dorito.

2. We kept her busy dehydrating and learning about preparing healthy food. She helped slice the fruit and vegetables, place it on our Excalibur dehydrator trays and spritz some lemon juice on things to keep it from turning gross colors. She helped make vegetable powders with our Vita-Mix and imagined all the ways they could be put into soups, etc.

3. Sometimes FS looked surprised when we told her we eat persimmons, kale, spinach and banana chips. We don’t always eat organic stuff or healthy things but we wanted her to try new things and expand her palate. When Flat Stanleyette returned home, she brought dehydrated banana chips, persimmons and apple slices. She was super excited to share them with the kids. Hope you guys liked them!

4. Our paper friend joined me in learning how to make fabric bowls. “Wow, this takes a lot of skill and patience!” she declared one afternoon. FS went to bed very tired that night with a slight headache.

A collage of fun!

A collage of fun!

5. It was her first time at a high school men’s basketball game and as expected, FS drew a lot of attention. Thankfully, her new best friend Erma helped her deal with all the looks and stares. Erma is a Guinea pig girl doll and proud of it! They both agreed everybody was probably jealous of their beauty. It was a fast-paced game and she is now the biggest fan of #21 whom she began calling “Lebron” even though he is an orange hair, freckle face teenager. The coach really wanted to get a picture with FS following their big win.

Flat Stanleyette and Erma became fast friends and cheered on the team!

Flat Stanleyette and Erma became fast friends and cheered on the team!

When writers are moms – two fancy girls


Check it out at!

People with vision and dreams have my great admiration. I have many aspirations but feel that I miss many opportunities. I will now pause to feel badly about myself…just a sec….

Ok, all better! (sorta). When I align myself with the focussed and driven, that’s when I get inspired. Lisa Browne Joiner is someone whom I enjoy very much. She became a published author this year when she and her West Point buddy Deborah L.W. Roszel did something extraordinary in my book. They wrote a book! It’s called The Mom’s Guide to Surviving West Point.

Pretty awesome, Lisa and Debbie had a book signing at West Point!

I recently asked Lisa some questions to glean wisdom should I ever make this dream happen personally. In some very small measure, I was able to be a part of this book because I was a guest author for Chapter 26 “More than a Boo-Boo – when cadets need more than a sick call.” I shall now pause again to give you time to reflect upon my greatness…Ahem, allow me now also a moment to thank my son, Nate for tearing his ACL while at West Point for the second time in five years. Without you, Nate, it wouldn’t be possible, thanks so much Sugar Boy. Mama loves you. ❤

The only thing I wish is that Lisa and Debbie would have published this book when Nate was a new cadet and we were just starting at West Point. I would have been the first one in line and acted like a human barnacle to those ladies so it’s probably a good thing for them that it wasn’t possible. I was so desperate for understanding and reassurance. These ladies have other plans for their writing and I’m privileged to know them.

Ok, so now back to Lisa –

What made you write this book? The facebook group had been going for about 2.5-3 years…one day someone posted “someone ought to write this stuff down!” and I thought, “Yeah, someone should…hey! I could.” So I did.
How long did it take? About a year.
Why do you think no one else has written something like this before? No idea! We were the first group to really get the moms connected and talking. Prior to WP moms on facebook, the moms didn’t really have relationships outside of parent clubs.
What did you learn in the process? I learned that even though I am capable of writing a grammatically correct sentence on the first try, it isn’t necessarily a good sentence. Also, you don’t have to share everything you know. Some information is best discovered on your own…some info was left out of the book as it would cause hard feelings.
What did your son say about you writing a book? He has been very supportive from the get go.
How did you pick your co-author? I knew Debbie from our parent club. We got to know each other in fb chats. She mentioned she liked to write. We planned a beach trip and decided we’d give it a whirl and see how it went.

Lisa and Debbie

What’s next? Debbie is working on a devotional book and a children’s book. I have a few children’s book ideas. The next collaboration book will take some research, so we’re taking a breather before jumping in. The next book is The Mom’s Guide to Surviving the Naval Academy. Estimating 2 years down the road.
What kind of feedback have you received about the book? Only positive. It’s making us so happy to see so many moms say we’ve helped.
Coolest part of the process? From the get go, we felt this was a God press. I’ve always heard you know it’s time to write a book when you cannot NOT write the book…and this book basically wrote itself. We just did the editing.
Advice for moms with hopes and dreams? You don’t know what you can do til you try! Go for it!
Advice for writers who feel like they have something to share but don’t know how? You have to sit down and write. There were times I was so frustrated that we weren’t done yet…then I realized sometimes I went days and weeks without writing a word. You have to write regularly to get anything accomplished.
Who has helped you along the way? Angele and Deb were the biggest help…and the moms on the fb page who told us what they wanted to know about.
What would you do differently? In hindsight, I kind of wish we’d written a book that had each chapter by a different author/mom. That might have been cool.
Any plans for regular updates? A blog? Speaking? I would love to do speaking…would love to travel to parents’ clubs and speak to new moms who are scared…but the moms that are there know as much as I do! Debbie and I just wrote it all down.

If you are a West Point mom and don’t know about this book, I highly recommend it. Congratulations to these fine ladies for persevering and helping moms on the Long Grey Line. Click here to learn more about The Mom’s Guide to Surviving West Point.

In the meantime…

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So many blog posts I have started and been unable to finish. I love to write and this is a wonderful vehicle of self-expression; however, I have begun to receive really gross comments on my posts.  There’s nothing that creates writer’s block more than pornographic comments on a seemingly innocent message. I have since made changes on my blog to prevent this from happening…I hope. I can’t even imagine typing some of the words I have seen on my comments, we live in a really sick world. What is up with some people!

And I recently had dental surgery which, when combined with lingering health issues, makes writing even more challenging. An extraction of a molar and then a dental implant on a pre-molar the same day on the same side of my mouth do not top my favorite things to do list. I have felt like a pork roast and that is something I never thought I would say. How does one feel like a pork roast? You know how the butcher ties pieces of meat together with string? Well, that is how my mouth has felt and yes, that is icky. The surgical strings my mouth are gone since last Sunday and I was thrilled and revolted all at the same time. And because I know it feels to have people describe things you’d rather not read about, I will spare you graphic details about the clove-dipped gauze I experienced on Monday. It’s fair statement to now say I have also felt like a ham. I haven’t had any complications, praise the Lord but as the doctor stated, my mouth is reminding me I’m not 18 anymore and recovery takes longer.

My grandma is settling into her new home but the transition is draining for all involved. If I want to make myself burst into tears while simultaneously feeling like a pork roast or a ham, (do not try that at home!), I can focus on the sad aspects of my grandma’s move. But I am consciously choosing to not dwell on the things that cannot change and be attentive to the blessings. My sister has poured herself out to my grandma and given sacrificially of her time and talents. My aunt and uncle have bravely loved Grandma even when she is angry, bitter and confused about why the change was necessary. My grandma looks beautiful and has moments of lucidity. There are good things that are coming out of this even if it isn’t easy.

In my next post I will share the cool things my cadet has been doing lately. He comes home tomorrow for Spring Break and I can’t wait to have our five-piece puzzle intact again!

More soon!

Pick my Post


I have several potential posts waiting in my fingers. I often feel like I have words stuffed in my fingers just waiting to be typed out. If you are a writer or a poet, you probably know the feeling.

So help me folks,

Should my next post be:

About brains?

About boxing?

About beds?

Those are the three options in my writer’s head as of noon Wednesday, Oct. 8th. I need help! Which one sounds the most interesting to you? I hope to hear from at least five people before I make my decision. Tawk to me, friends!

This One’s For You


November 2007 I was a civilian mom with little interest in the military. That all began to change when my son walked into my bedroom one afternoon before Thanksgiving and announced he wanted to apply to West Point. Ok, I thought as I stopped dead in my tracks. I didn’t even know where the place was, I googled to learn West Point was pretty far away.  Hmmm

Fast forward seven months and I’m quite familiar with where West Point is located. Got myself an EZ Pass as proof (I know West Point is located in NY but NJ tolls are a stinker!) It’s reality, I’m now the mama of a soldier. My son  is attending the United States Military Academy upon successful completion of Cadet Basic Training. The day my beloved son stepped away from my mother’s arms and into the Long Gray Line will serve as one of the proudest and saddest days of my life. Sigh…

Since my son has begun his 47 month journey at the United States Military Academy, I have been humbled by the kind and sincere people who have reached out to me.

To my mom who faithfully listens and pushes away her own feelings to allow me to have mine.

To my sisters, one who had tears in her eyes yesterday when she heard my son’s voice in the tape recorder listening to our 10 minute call from him last week. The other who despite a hectic schedule and a great disdain for writing letters is now sending her nephew hand-written notes. 

To my husband who reassures me that I’ll be ok even when I’m not sure.

To my aunts who send me Scripture and love.

To my two remaining OS who love on me real good and make me laugh and cuddle up next to me even though they’re nearly 12 and 14. 

To my friends who send cards, messages, phone calls and unbelievably ask me how I am doing, I hold those words close to my heart. My special friend Jenn has her own little warrior now as of July 8th but comments on all of my posts, almost without fail. 

And to countless strangers who are now in my family. 

I love hearing people’s stories. Some of you have been sharing your stories with me. From all over the world, people have been reading. Now, I know some of you are looking for “recon” that is, fodder for a certain New Cadet. Others are just curious. It’s been wonderful to connect with people from Russia, Chile, the Netherlands, Hawaii, Korea, Singapore, Egypt. The military weaves folks together. Our family has enlarged and we’re not even a month into it. 

Since most of you probably don’t read all the comments on my posts, I thought I’d share a small collection of comments I’ve enjoyed receiving.  

Today I simply want to share the post with you…these are from folks I will probably never meet personally but sense a kindred spirit nonetheless. 

Like this comment…

“As a ’92 grad who comes from a VERY close family like yours, know that the love you send does make all the difference. My dad wrote me a letter every day during my plebe year, just an anecdotal sentence or two as he drank his breakfast coffee. Some day, it was nothing more than a rant about the cat or a joke about my mom’s lasagna, but it was exactly what I needed to hear, on a consistent and caring basis. There were many times that those notes helped me remember who I was, and the the people who knew me best in the world believed in me.”

Another person shared,
“Our son is in the class of 2010 and is presently a first detail squad leader for “Beast” (yes, he was one of those cadets on R-Day). However, we consider it a miracle that he is there at all. You see, less than four months before his R-Day, he was accidentally stabbed in the chest with a hunting knife and underwent emergency open heart surgery. We nearly lost him. As a result, he was medically disqualified from the academy. Nevertheless, he didn’t give up. He worked hard to recover from his surgery and get back into shape. He applied for a medical waiver which was granted three weeks before R-Day. In spite of the pain from his surgery, he made it through “Beast” and His Plebe year. He is now going into his Cow year and has been on the Dean’s List every semester. I share this because we feel this story can serve as inspiration to others.”

And then this one which arrived today…

“I am a West Point grad from Class of 1975. One of the great things about West Point is the intensity of the experience, both good and bad. Your blog awakened that in me and brought tears to my eyes. My first month at West Point was really tough, the only reason I did not quit was because I could not bear the thought of going home and people thinking I could not cut it. So it does not surprise me that in the first phone call you got that weariness. Frankly, it took me twenty years after West Point to realize it, but it was true for me and is true for your son; he is in a great place doing great things and he will have experiences and friends that he will never forget. God bless him and your family. And to the cadre reading this, you too!”

I can’t wait to hear from more of you and hear your own stories. My sister urged me to start a blog over a year ago. She knew I liked to write so it didn’t take a lot of prodding. Writing is a release to me. A way to express and feel, the urge to write overtakes me at times. Words fascinate me. I collect them and I look forward to your comments and thoughts.