Thursday, November 22, 2007

It's Thanksgiving...

Today, I had printed out pages for each family member to fill out telling their name, their age today and three things for which they're grateful. Three was really for Dalton's sake. I, being of few words, (HA!) needed pages on which to list my blessings and those things for which I'm grateful.

I can't share Taylor and Reaves' pages with you because they're in North Carolina with their Dad. They're also with a friend and they're all going to a Panther's Football game on Sunday and a tailgate party. I'm grateful they're there, with their dad. I am thankful they are compassionate and feel the responsibility to be with him for the holiday so he actually celebrates Thanksgiving with family and not alone.

I"m grateful that I have a family still with me with whom I can celebrate. No matter our differences, no matter our troubles, we are in the same house, under a roof that keeps us warm and out of the rain and out of the cold and the heat. I'm thankful we have food to cook today, traditional food. It means we're not hungry and we're not dirt poor. I'm thankful that we have nice clothes to wear that are not "holey" . They're warm and clean and decent. That means we've had the money to afford something decent to wear and have the means with which to keep them clean.

I'm grateful for a wonderful group of friends, both on line and off line. I have friends all over the world and I love them all in so many different ways. From Holland to Australia to Canada to Venezuela. From Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, California, Iowa and nearly every state in between. Right here in Williamsburg are so many wonderful people. People who I love as much as it is possible to love a person in so many different capacities.

I'm delighted to know that I care so much for so many people who have a part of my heart. This means I learned to be accepting of people, and have been accepted, sight unseen. It is so mighty, and a powerful gift, to care so deeply for people without ever having met them in person. What a PRIVILEGE!

I'm grateful for an amazing family, extended and blood. My dad is just a fantastic man, father and friend. My almost parents and family are terrific. My mom left a great legacy of love when she left our world. She touched so many by simply offering them a smile; a smile filled with love and peace. My sister is a lovely girl and I miss her dreadfully. Though her family is going through some turmoil, she is my sister and I love her just as much as ever. I've been where she is, well sort of, and I want to just kidnap her, bring her here and keep her close to me until, well, I don't know until what..... But that feeling inside me makes me grateful. I'm grateful because I have a family and I love them. My brother in law is a great person too and my niece and nephew are terrific. My other "in laws and families" on Kevin's side are terrific (mostly - *grins*) and I love them too.

I have bills... So many bills! Bills I can't always cover. But I'm grateful for those bills! It means my family and I have had medical treatment, lights to see and power to cook, television to watch, internet and a computer to connect with my friends and family, water to drink and cook and with which I clean my clothes and body and home. I have gas to power my car to take my friends to the store when they can't always take themselves. I have gas to visit my friends and lend a helping hand where I can. I have bills to cover repairing that car to get me back and forth to see my father, shop for groceries, go to the doctor to help take care of myself and my family.

I have leaves; so many leaves to rake. Grass that needs cutting equally as bad. It's a sight to see and it's in need of help. But I'm grateful. It means I have grass, shade and a wonderful yard in which my kids can play and have grown up. It means I have a lovely place for Easter Egg hunts, Scavenger Hunts during birthday parties, a place to hang pinatas to play fun party games. I have a driveway for my car and a place for a grill and roses in my yard that make my heart happy in the spring. I have beautiful dogwoods that make me so so happy and daffodils that are so beautiful and perky and smell so sweet. I have crab apples that bloom their delicate, beautiful pink and white blooms. It's a yard with a driveway with a house with a family with love.

I'm so very thankful.

When I asked Dalton to fill in his page today, he answered these things.

My name is Dalton and I am 6 years old.
Today is Thursday, November 22, 2007 and it is Thanksgiving.

I am grateful for

my dog
my famley (family)
my cose bed (cozy bed)

It really is that simple isn't it. God bless him for keeping it real. For showing others just how simple and real and lovely it is. Thank you Lord for this wee small child who shows me love, just as it is, and how to be so amazingly grateful.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Fun New Crop

I've been hanging out at a fun new site (one of two actually) and they're having a great crop at then end of the month.

It's at The Scrapbook Site. These gals are so very talented and fun and absolutely kind as can be. I love it there!

TSS would like to invite you and yours to our HOLIDAZZLE CROP!

The crop will start on Friday, November 30th at 12 noon and will continue all weekend!!!

Lisa (the owner) has come up with some AMAZING prizes and you will have TONS of chances to win!

Join us for chatting, challenges, games, classes and more!!!

The Scrapbook Site

Friday, November 16, 2007

Good News and Bad News

Hi All! (As I greet you from behind my chair in hopes you don't throw something because I've abandoned you all so long...)

Well, let's see...

In the past few weeks, I've gotten a continuation of my Disability Hearing, I've gotten a referral to a Neurosurgeon, and I've seen the surgeon. I've visited my dad ALL ALONE! I spent two days in Richmond (one night) enjoying the company of that man who is more and more hilarious each time we spend adult time together.

So, let's see - that appointment. The surgeon said:

Well, you do have some back issues. First and foremost, if you had come here 10 years ago we would have done spinal fusion surgery right away. The problem is, we've found that we have created more trouble than we've helped. So, the good news is, you're not going to be operated on! YEAH!!!!!!!!!

He does think I have coccydemia (from a broken tailbone in 82) and that should be addressed with an orthopedist. He also says that of all the people he sees for my exact problem, he can only tell them all the same thing... you're going to have to ride this out with medication and epidurals if they work and if not, just keep going to your pain management doctor.

Okay, that's the bad news... continue on the meds that make me feel sick, lethargic, dizzy, drunk and all together out of sorts. Yuck............. But, that's tons better than being cut on.

I'm thrilled actually. I had resigned myself to it since my other neurosurgeon recommended it IMMEDIATELY, but I really didn't want to go through it. I'm just so glad I don't have to. The last thing I wanted was that kind of recovery time and those kinds of meds. Besides, the doctor said that of the people who had the surgery 10 years ago, they're all having to have more surgery now and it would just be making a bad situation worse. (Lord have mercy, don't make it worse please!)

So, Daddy took me out to celebrate with Janice and Richard Baldwin to the Peking around the corner from his house. It was awesome and we had a great dinner. We went home and while Daddy was watching his history channel, I checked my email. I promptly fell asleep at the computer... ugh.

When I went downstairs again, we were trying to talk and I kept nodding out. Daddy just laughed and sent me upstairs to bed. I literally fell into bed and didn't get up for several hours (potty time and back hurting) then back to sleep for another couple hours and potty break and change position. I woke up for the day about 8 (a luxury not often afforded me) and dressed, made the bed and got the make up on. That took an hour.... Can you imagine taking that much time just to do those three simple tasks???

Anyhow, we had a great time chatting over breakfast, then went into the den. I promptly fell asleep in Momma's chair. Daddy said despite my snoring I slept so peacefully he didn't dare wake me.

We went to lunch at a darling diner and had fantastic soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. We took a quick detour to Michael's to see about some Gum Arabic and then back to Daddy's. I was there long enough to potty, thank Daddy, hug him quickly and get back on the road.

I made good time on the road and look forward to seeing him again soon. I miss him dreadfully but the trip takes a lot out of me.

When I got home the kitchen was destroyed, a tornado had flown through the den and my desk was trashed. Needless to say I was pretty hacked. I slept for a bit (too pooped to pop!) and then checked email and a few messages then hit the stove to make a quick dinner (egg, bacon and cheese biscuits) and cub scouts. (Good thing the parents aren't required to participate... I surely wouldn't have gotten my attendance points...)

Then home, homework and bam... out like a light at bed time.

So that's what has been going on in the last few days. I'm thrilled it's done, thrilled with the doctor's advice and equally thrilled I'm home again.

Now it's time to scrap! I'm hoping this weekend affords me some creative time.

Peace and Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Monday, October 29, 2007

A long thought on my youth...

I'm not witty or quick with my words and sometimes, I admit it, I'm entirely too verbose. Given that my childhood has several horror stories in it, I tend to not chat about my youth too terribly often. This past week, I was asked to revisit my youth and figure out how to tell and scrap about my childhood without sharing a photograph. This is a journey I took with a therapist nearly 19 years ago.

December 1989

It began one cold December evening when I lost my sanity over my oldest son's refusal to do as I asked him. I came very very close to physically abusing him, and it wasn't the first time. Now mind you, my second son was not quite 6 months old and yes, I was suffering from Post Partum Depression, but that is no reason for physically abusing my child.

I removed myself from the situation and went upstairs to cry and try to figure out where in the world this behavior was coming from. It was the beginning of a lengthy and difficult journey that went way way back to when I was 8 years old.

I share this journey in bits and pieces sometimes, when I think it will be helpful to someone, or when it shows the mind's ability to heal from traumatic events. It shows how love and faith can heal the most damaged of spirits.

If you're interested, I'm going to relay this journey into my past with you. It's not all bad, it's not all good and some parts of it are downright scary. I've been purposefully sketchy, not naming the names of the participants because it just doesn't matter any more and I don't want to answer any questions from anyone else. Nor do I want to incite speculation as to the participants. After all, it's my story, I have that license, don't I?

Grab a coffee and put on your glasses. I thank you for reading if you're inclined to do so.

September 1968

I am eight years old. My sister and I have lived in our new home for just a few months. We have made friends with a number of neighbors, boys and girls, mostly boys. One boy in particular has two much older brothers. One of them is a drug addict. Daddy and his dad are becoming friends. Momma and his mom are also becoming friends. Truth be told, because we have a pool in our yard, we made a lot of friends. Most of them were really genuine.

It was nice to see my daddy relaxing after being away so much in his other job in the town from which we just moved. We were a happy family. Mom and Dad loved each other dearly. They loved us girls and were devoted to teaching us all the lessons life had for us, showing us how to learn, grow and thrive in a changing world. They took us to church where my sister and I both sang in the girl's choir and attended Sunday School. My parents were very involved in the church. They took us on family vacations and we lived life surrounded by love. My parents were exceptional people and excellent role models.

My school was not in the greatest area of our part of the city but it was a good school. Mom and Dad were careful to purchase our new home in a good school district. Typical of most "chubby" girls, I was picked on in the usual way, but so was my very tiny petite sister. When I was belittled for being chubby, she was belittled for being small. It was all okay though, because we had each other. When it was too hard to play with the neighborhood kids, we happily played with our dolls, played school, colored and practiced our piano lessons. Momma was a piano teacher so she was pretty relentless when it came to our practicing.

Our life was good. We were happy. All was right in our world.

Until the day one of the boys decided to play ugly. You see, he was feeling quite threatened at home. I, of course, didn't know this. But as an adult, I figured it out thanks to a wonderful therapist. He was physically and verbally abusive to all us girls in the neighborhood and could be to the boys who were less that physically fit too. We all tried to be nice and he was close in proximity to our house, so he was there often. One day, he was playing in our room while my mom was teaching piano . Without being too graphic, he demanded I do things and if I didn't, he would get his drug addict brother to kill my parents.

We all knew that his bigger brother was a drug addict. After all, he was a hippie and weren't all hippies drug addicts? We had found his needles and his funny cigarettes and his pills. We had seen his graffitti and his clothes and had smelled his sickeningly sweet oder. The look in this boys eyes, as he made his demands of me, told me he was serious.

While you may be imagining the worst, don't. It wasn't rape. It was close, but it wasn't rape. After all, he was only 8 years old too. How? you ask. How is it possible for someone so young to abuse someone the same age as he? When he threatens the life of the people you love most in the world, you do what he asks you too. When you're little, you depend on those people. They are your world. They take care of you when you're little and they love you when you're hurt and they kiss your boo boo's and make everything better. That is if you're one of the lucky ones, and I was. I couldn't imagine someone killing my parents, so I did what I was told to do, thinking it would all be over soon and it would go away.

But it didn't go away. It stayed around for five long horrible years. Almost daily for 5 years, I was demanded to do and to endure unimaginable things and the threats got worse. When his older brother overdosed on heroin, my dad was the one they called to help. His discovery of the needle and the drugs at that moment solidified my fear. The idea that this person was capable of obtaining the means by which to kill my parents had now been revealed to my parents. My next fear, and yet hope, was that they would discover what was happening upstairs in their own home so it would all stop. Unfortunately, that never happened.

In the mean time, I was growing up, my body changing, my heart and mind wanting and wishing to be somewhere else. Being away from home was a blessing, and fortunately, my being away from home consisted of two places "he" could never be. We went to church every Sunday, Monday and Wednesday. Sundays were Choir, Sunday School and church. Monday's were choir rehearsal and Wednesdays were piano lessons. Their family didn't go to church, much less that "stuffy place downtown", so I was safe there. The only other place he couldn't bother me was school. I loved school. School generally loved me too. I had lots of friends and while I still got teased it wasn't for being chubby. Now it was because I was built like a grown woman. Somewhat tall and buxom with curves that developed way too soon along with the other things a "woman" gets too. All received by this little girl way before her mind was ready for the hormonal rages my body went through. But at school, I could just be me. I could play my flute, I could be involved in school activities and get home late and he couldn't bother me.

It was the weekends and most afternoons I despised. I felt unsafe no matter where I was when I wasn't at church or at school. I felt like the world could see through the exterior of the little girl struggling into my mind and it made me suspicious and weepy. I began to get paranoid and sad but nobody wanted to see a little girl cry so I was always told, "There's no reason you should be crying. You should stop that." Mom was always wonderful about it, asking me questions about what was wrong and stroking my hair. Giving me momma hugs that only momma's can give the right way was a forte. She was the best momma. I love her so so much and miss her dreadfully. But momma couldn't help me. Momma would die if I told her what was happening, so I just kept my mouth quiet while my heart continued to cry.

And so, as I matured and grew, so did the intensity of the abuse. It got more emotionally abusive as he became more filled with rage. I often wonder, even now, what could have caused such rage in a child so young. The only thing my therapist and I could discern was that he was abused also. While I tried to always comply, there were just some things I couldn't do. I refused his demands on more than one occasion and his anger was terrifying. I was always careful to stay close to my parents during these times so he couldn't get near them. If they went to "his" house to visit with the other parents, I always went with them and stayed right by their sides. I wouldn't let them out of my sight. They claimed I was being clingy and I should go off and play. It typically took a good bit of coaxing to get me to leave their sides, but eventually, I would go and continue wandering in occasionally to put my mind at ease that both momma and daddy were alive and well.

June 1973

When I was 13, we moved. We moved into a completely different school district and I wss free! "Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, I am free at last!!" These words were on the tongues of everyone during those times and it became a phrase of significant importance to me. No one could know how happy I was. That year in school was wonderful. While I was the new kid on the block, my musical skills brought me some much needed positive attention and recognition. I excelled and became part of the All County Bands and went to state level competitions for my musical skills with my flute. Momma and Daddy bought me a new flute, trading in the gorgeous sterling flute that had been my mom's for this brand new model that held the pitch better and longer.

I was doing well in school and at church and my vocal skills were improving along as my body and voice matured. Music became the focus of every day. I was still taking piano lessons and practicing both piano and flute as well as continuing with the Church choir. We were all doing well and we were all happy. While being a young lady during the era of "Free Love", "Making Peace, Not War", teens smoking at school, marijuana and speed and a rise in teen aged sex, I was happy... I was faithful to my Lord and growing in my faith. I just felt as if God had finally delivered me from all the horrible things the last 5 years had brought me through. I learned in church that God heals all your wounds if you ask him to come into your life, repent of your sins in all earnestness. I wasn't sure what I had done to deserve what had happened to me, but I was sure that God wasn't upset with me. The one thing I couldn't get away from was the feeling that I'd never ever, no matter how much I washed or showered or took care of myself, I'd never be clean or free of the reminder that my body was nasty. Just when I'd start to feel good about myself, someone would say something derogatory and those feelings of unworthiness, being dirty, lacking in what ever social graces I needed to survive the new world of beautiful people, would come flooding back and I'd retreat into my own world. Each night, I'd pray that God would take these things away from me.

They always came back... always...

Summer 1975

When it came time for me to enter high school, it was my sophomore year. This was in the days of experimenting with Middle Schools, covering grades 7,8 and 9 as opposed to Jr. High schools covering grades 6,7 and 8. I had begun in the Jr. High system but had moved to a middle school, so I was not going to high school until 10th grade. I was further told that we would be starting marching band practice before school started so we would be ready to march in the opening football game. This was a most exciting thing for me and I was so thrilled to become a member of a new "more sophisticated world" of High School.

We began practice in early August. The hot sweltering sun helped me to maintain a more svelte body style as I got in even better shape learning to hold my body straight, my arms high and march. We marched on the streets in the neighboring subdivisions to the high school. We marched on the football field. We marched on the track. We marched in the auditorium. You name a place near or on the property and we marched on it. Our legs had shin splints and our stomachs were tight. Our lungs were hot with the air outside and the workout they got playing while we marched. I LOVED HIGH SCHOOL!!

About three weeks into marching band practice, I received a coveted invitation to a gathering after practice to go to Pizza Hut with the "in crowd" of the band. This crowd was filled with upper classmen and sophisticates. The captain of the wrestling team was handsome and a senior and first chair tuba. The trumpet section had a gorgeous first chair who was in the Key Club and very popular. The friends I'd made in the middle school band were among this crowd of new "inductees". And friends I'd made at All County band were in too. I felt like I'd arrived! Momma and Daddy said I could go but that if I were in need of a ride because my friend from our neighborhood couldn't bring me home by 10, I should call and they would come and get me.

It's a shame I had become a trusting person after only two years. I admit it. I wanted to be a part of something so badly, I had become reckless. I trusted this guy, the first chair tuba player. I thought he was handsome and I knew he was charming with good manners, after all he had opened the door to me when we entered the restaurant and he held my chair for me at the table. Only good boys raised in good homes did that kind of thing. And he was a senior! And Captain of the Wrestling team! And he was talking to me! I was elated to say the least. It might even be an understatement.

It didn't even cross my mind to object when he offered me a ride home. Didn't occur to me it would be something wrong. I had him know I had to be home by 10 and when 9:30 rolled around he reminded me we needed to get me home by 10. Even though I was only 10 minutes from home, I thought he was great for being so conscientious. I happily told my friends good night, I'd see them tomorrow and got up to leave with the person I thought was very sweet and kind.

He drove me home "the back way". He took me down a winding road that yes, led to my neighborhood but was more undeveloped than the main thoroughfare off which my neighborhood turned. About half way home, he took out a baggie of something and put it in his mouth. It smelled nasty at first, too sweet and eerily nasty pungent too. He began to chew it and I knew his prospects of getting a thank you kiss on the cheek good night had just ended because I wouldn't get near that smell. His prospects of a future date were slimming. When I asked him what that smell was, he nonchalantly replied, "Pot. Want some? Most people smoke it but I chew it. Not as much of a high but it's good enough for me."

Drugs??!! Are you kidding me? I thought I'd escaped all that! Fear began to well up inside me and I think he could probably smell it. He began to laugh and berate me for being so naive. When he asked me about my experience with drugs he was hysterical over the fact I had never tried a single one, nor did I choose to. I did tell him that the little exposure I had had to drugs was not good and I had no intention of becoming involved with someone who had a "habit" of chewing them or ingesting them. I suppose my "uppity air", as he called it, made him mad. He got nasty and told me that it wasn't my decision. After all I was JUST a sophomore and he was a senior and he dated who he wanted. It wasn't my choice. My fear started to get stronger and I breathed a sigh of relief when the turn to my house came up on the left side of the road. But he didn't turn left. He turned right.

He turned into a school parking lot. He got out of the car grabbing something from the back seat as he did. I sat in my seat refusing to get out. He put a blanket on the ground and came to my side of his car. I refused to get out. He yanked me out of the car and threw me onto the blanket. No amount of fighting him helped. It just made him determined. So I just stopped struggling and laid there. At least my arms and wrists and mouth and neck and legs weren't being beaten or held or strangled any more. The skin burns on my body wouldn't be visible for a few days but I could feel the burning under his grasp like fire from a hot campfire. If I stopped struggling, there was only so much pain involved. While he left me pure one way, he nearly choked me to death the other way. All the horror of my childhood welled up and exploded in my head. I was 15 years old.

When he was through, he told me if I ever told anyone what had happened he'd kill me and my family. That he was a black belt in Karate and had a license to use and carry nunchucks and would use them if he had to. I had no idea what he was talking about but those threats were very real. I'd lived with them for years. The idea that this had begun again made me acutely aware that I must be the ugliest, filthiest, most unworthy girl that was ever born. How could two such wonderful people as my mom and dad have had such a horrible daughter. What ever I had done, I must have been pretty bad to have deserved all the retribution I was getting.

This horrible person violated me with his hands and his mouth and his body for five months. In school, on school property, at band rehearsals he would track me down and lock us in a room near the band room and do what ever he wanted to me. He was horrible. And I grew more and more weepy, and more and more unsure of my self, and more and more sad. Just simply sad. I couldn't let people see me sad. If I did, they'd ask questions. If I cried in front of my friends, I'd blame it on a sad movie I remembered, or I'd make up a story about someone I knew being hurt. I'd pretend to be tired. I'd pretend to be worried about something. I told no one. He would continue making remarks about how easy it would be to kill me, how simple it would be to break my sister's neck because she was so tiny. She would be no match for his strength. He would tell me my mom was really pretty and how he bet she was a fine piece of "..."; how he would rape her if he'd get half a chance. So I told no one... I lived in fear and silence once again.

One night he came to my house when my parents were away. I was trying to break it off with him and was talking to him in his car. He got rough with me and told me to shut up and kiss him. I refused. He took his nunchucks out from under the seat and told me if I didn't, he'd go after my sister. About that time, my sister and her friend were walking down the street and saw me in the car with him. She saw him being rough with me. She was MAD! As tiny as she was, she was huge in fight. She and her friend jumped onto the car and started rocking it up and down to get him to leave me alone. He jumped out of the car and started swinging the nunchucks in the air screaming I'll get you! I'll kill you you little bitch! She was little and quick. He was MUCH bigger and high. She got away from him, thank God, and locked herself and her friend in the house. I escaped his car and ran and hid at a neighbors house where I watched him hit a tree in my yard with his nunchuck over and over, destroying the bard, and cried.

The following day, he broke up with me at school telling me he was setting his sights on my best friend. She was darling and pure as the driven snow and I told him if he hurt her the way he hurt me I would tell her father what he did to me and then we'd see what would happen. It was an idle threat and he knew it. He tried to go out with her repeatedly over the next five or six weeks. Thank God her father didn't trust anyone 18 asking out his 15 year old daughter and refused to allow her to go anywhere with him unaccompanied by her older sister and her boyfriend. They never did go anywhere together. Thank God.

I knew then that it was my fault. I was the dirty one and for some reason, I deserved what had happened to me. I prayed about it, a lot... all the time. I prayed that God would take these terrible things from me and make me clean.

Summer 1976

When I was 16, I had an ethereal experience at camp. Five other people and I were visited by the presence of Christ. We SAW Christ in the chapel and the only thing we could do was pray, cry and thank Him for sending his Son so that we would be freed of all that was unholy in us. I knew then that God had forgiven me for what ever I had done and I would be fine. Things got better at home. I got much better in school. i was less moody and more active. I began to make new and better friends and my jr. year I met the guy who would be the love of my life.

I went through a series of bad choices, depressions, abuse of my body with anexoria, bulimia and other destructive behavior with alcohol. I didn't like myself, much less love myself but I was okay. After all, I was the happy one! I was Ann Landers and Dear Abby for everyone. i was the one who gave the best advice, had the best shoulders and was the best listener. I was the one everyone, my friends and my aquaintances and people I'd never met came to for help. I must be okay, I had friends everywhere!

December 1989

So why was I so so sad? What could have grabbed me so hard inside that on that day, that sad, cold day could I have nearly hurt someone so small, so precious and so helpless. How could I, lover of all children, favorite most well paid and most sought after baby sitter for 10 years, have come so close to abusing my darling little boy. How is that possible? It was absolutely inconceivable to me that I could have done it, but I had. The Post Partum had dredged up all the unresolved events and feelings from the past

I spent the next three years in therapy. It was the greatest three years of my life. It was the road of self discovery and to forgiveness. It was a path of maturation to the adult I should have been rather than the little girl who had already graduated college, gotten married and had a child. I became the mother I had always wanted to be. I was successful in my career, a good and loving mother and a good wife.

I have since had a lot of obstacles in the road and lots of trials too. But my faith is unwavering. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, God did NOT cause those horrible times in my life but was, as I had always known, riding on my shoulder keeping my head above water. When I'd lose my mind into the abyss of my sadness, He was there to pull me up and keep me going. He carried me when I needed it, saved my life when I didn't want it any more and delighted me with a beautiful baby boy, a second baby boy and a joy inside my that I thought had been extinguished. Years later, he blessed me with a second chance, another beautiful child and even more joy. Yep, I've been through the gammit. So much more than is written here. But through it all, the one thing that has carried me was the knowledge that God put me here for a reason. There are lessons that I learned through my life that has empowered me to help others who have suffered as well, empowered me to learn how to take control of my life in productive ways, empowered me to love others and to know I'm worthy of and can now allow myself to be loved.


I am a child of God. I am lovable, joy filled, intelligent, wise, somewhat witty, charming, beautiful, Child of God. No matter how horrible my childhood and youth, no matter what anyone has done to me, no matter what illness takes my body away from me, no one can take away the freedom I have in knowing GOD is always there for me. While He does not lead me to all the situations in my life, with my faith and trust, He will lead me THROUGH it all.

Today I am strong. Today I have a strong open communication with my children. Today I've been able to effectively counsel young people, male and female, who have encountered similar atrocities as I have. Today I am a woman who is worthy. Today is today and a gift for me to go forward, fight, be strong, stand up, be heard and be loved.

I'm married. My relationship with my children is strong and pure. My love for them is stronger and deeper than anything I have ever known. My children tell me everything and they trust me with the information. I should have trusted my mom and dad. I should have. But that was then and this is now. I can't change the past, only learn from it. Today, I have such an amazing faith, a loving relationship with the Lord that has been growing since I was a very young child.

Thanks to God, I am loved, I am blessed and I am one of the lucky ones........

Friday, October 19, 2007

I've Been Tagged...

by Meghan...

7 Random Facts I must post.

So read them, comment on them & then check to see if your name is in the 7 I tag.
If it is, list 7 Random Facts about yourself & pass on the tag to 7 people.

1. I"m totally addicted to CSI type shows... Forensic stuff, the more detailed and gory the better.

2. I'm also addicted to true crime novels, with pictures of crime scenes. i like to take the evidence and try to solve the crime before the writer reveals the person responsible... I'm convinced, as a result of reading so many different books and accounts, that Darlie Routier did NOT kill her boys but her husband knows more than he's ever told.

3. I love make up. I truly love sitting at my little make up table that Kevin made for me and putting on my make up in the mornings. I was Make Up and Costume Mistress for the Drama Department at Longwood College (now Longwood University) for several productions and absolutely adored it!

4. I love the theater. I could be a theater actress for ever and love it. Play production is in my blood (family) and it would have been a dream come true to appear on Broadway in plays and musicals.

5. I love learning. I could be a professional student. I've always got to be learning something. If I go a day without learning something, I feel somewhat as though I've wasted a day. I know... totally wierd...

6. I adore scrapbooking, painting, organizing, crafting, wreath making, flower arranging, heck - I love crafting... I have owned both scrapbook businesses as well as a country craft business where I specialized in tole painted miniatures in pecan resin.

7. I love music. I think I'd shrivel up and die if I didn't have music in my life. It's always been a part of my life and I can't imagine a day without music of some kind.

So... now that you know more about me, let's know more about you.

I tag:


And if you've already been tagged, consider yourself well loved!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Well, it's been a full week now since I put my baby to bed and I'm not feeling as lost and I thought I would. I miss it, I miss my gal pals, but I also know that I've had more time for my family, I've done more playing, more cleaning, more scrapping, more "being there" than I have in a long long time. I've also been able to concentrate on getting some old difficulties handled and am on the way to not being worried about the outcome of some other problems. All in all, life is good.

Now for the good, bad and ugly.

The Good...
I've gotten word, finally, of the hearing date for my disability appeal. I've contacted an attorney and we're working towards getting my appeal represented properly to get approved for Disability/SSI income. The hearing date is Nov 5th but they are thinking we should wait and find out the results of today's doctor's appointment before posting a request for a change of date. Either way, I know this group will help and I'm looking forward to the hearing. I'm tired of robbing Peter to pay Paul since I'm not able to stand/sit/walk/function normally any more.

The Bad...
I have to go back on pain killers. I've been off them since April (my choice) and my rheumatologist has said that I MUST go back on something that will help me get mobile again. She is trying so hard to get me into a situation where I can help myself too and nothing can happen until I can move without being in excruciating pain. So, tomorrow I see the pain management specialist to help with this issue.

The Ugly...
I'm meeting with my "lady doctor" as my parents called it, to discuss the idea that if I"m going to be rid of one of my medical issues, I'm going to have to have a hysterectomy. One of my biggest problems caused by my being female apparently is chronic anemia. I've been anemic most of my life (since my jr year in high school) and it's gotten worse. My blood count is 8.3 (supposed to be higher than 10) and my "visitor" is getting worse and worse, so now they are saying I should just alleviate this issue all the way around. I'm actually hopeful that this will happen. I am way too old to have the issues I do. I've already had problems with cervical cancer and need to get this whole thing alleviated now. So wish me luck with the ugly. While I certainly am not wishing unnecessary surgery, with mom having passed away from ovarian cancer, I don't want to take unnecessary risks either. (Interesting fact: The longer you're on Birth Control Pills, the lower your risk of ovarian cancer... apparently the longer you ovulate and the more you ovulate, the higher your risk. I've been off b/c since 1995. So, since I was a smoker and increasing my risks of one kind of cancer while taking pills, coming off them and subsequently stopping smoking, I've increased my risk of cancer. Sheesh... you're darned if you do and darned if you don't...

So, nothing philosophical today and not waxing poetic at all. Just a personal update.

Perhaps later when I have more news. I'll let you know1

In the meantime, I'll leave you with a few layouts I've done recently for the Divaliscious Top Scrapper challenge. We'll be getting a new challenge this weekend I think so I'm looking forward to continuing this.

This one was made for a challenge to scrap a 2 PAGE LAYOUT with a minimun of 3 PHOTOS. The theme must be about your inner strength and you must JOURNAL on the spread.
My journaling reads:
In my life, I've been through the very good with all the right highs. I've also been through the very bad, with all the lowest of the lows. The only constant throughout everything was the knowledge that God would never leave me, never give me more than I can handle. More than that, I have always known that as long as I kept the faith, God would carry me through the fire and deliver me safely to the other side.

"The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?"
Psalms 27:1

This next one was another BOM type entry about who we are based on an inspiration piece. The inspiration is on the top and mine is on the bottom (duh - right? LOL)

I think you can figure out the journaling aspects of this one.

This last one was our initial challenge piece: - just to create a layout about anything we wanted to create it about... just to create...

This is called "Create Yourself" and I used it as a double whammy - it was also in the final issue of The View from Untamed. This is Taylor and Dalton the day we took Taylor to Longwood for his first day at college.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

When One Door Closes...

Well, a door is shutting and another is opening and I'm looking forward to some relaxation. This month has been so hard, filled with sadness, hardship, rough mornings, rougher afternoons and evenings where you just fall exhausted into a chair and hope you make it to the bed before you're asleep.

The highlights of the month include Dalton having an entire month of 100%'s on all his spelling tests; graduating another reading level and being a top reader in his class; getting 100%'s on all his math quizzes (who has all this in first grade? I'm dismayed at the level and qty of work they have to do.) and having a month of all happy faces in school. He got a badge from his teacher showing he is a great citizen and student. Too cute.

Last week had a call from my neighbor with whom I share some good times in the summer. Her granddaughter and Dalton are great friends and love to share play time so it's a great excuse for Donna and I to spend some down time together. Donna's sister has colon cancer. This is so sudden. She wasn't even sick or feeling badly. No fatigue, no pain. Just a routine yearly check up. They did some blood work and found her to be extremely anemic. Put her in for some routine tests to find the possible area of internal bleeding and found colon cancer instead. My friend, who just started a new job a month ago, was naturally devastated. This is her older sister and her best friend. The surgery went really well and Donna has flown out to be with her for the next three weeks or so to help her get home and get well. So many prayers are going out to their family.

My friend Michelle is in a relationship that is so good for her and her "guy" has finally taken the next step to say yes, they are indeed in a committed relationship. How funny to me that most guys are either really eager to be in a relationship or really hesitant to be in one. Her guy is the latter. This is a huge step for them and it is SO amazing to see her happy.

My almost daughter Aly has started college. I'm so so proud and happy for her. I hope she can maintain her focus and do as well as I know she wants to do. College is so hard, much less going to school full time and working too. I keep her so close to my heart and pray she is successful.

Taylor has officially been gone a month and we've missed him so much. It's been tremendously hard to go through an entire month without him. He surprised us last night by coming home for the night. His dad has given him a car to keep at his grandparent's house for coming home and that's just what he did! He came home! It was amazing to look up and see him standing in the grass with a huge grin on his face. I just grabbed him and hugged him so tightly and cried. Sometimes you don't realize how much you miss someone until they are back. Wow did I miss him tons. Dalton was thrilled to see his big brother and held on as tightly as I did. Taylor's put on a tad of weight but it's all muscle as he's been working out in LU's new Wellness and Fitness Center. He's been doing super well and looks amazing. When we walked back into the restaurant where we'd been eating when Reaves came and got me for my "surprise" my girlfriend Lisa looked up and her eyes got big. She exclaimed, "Wow! He looks like a man!" And he did... so mature and happy.

Reaves was delighted to see his brother too and we were all a bit disappointed when T left to go see Kim for the night but this is going to be the way it is from now on. Their relationship has gotten pretty serious and I'm happy for them. They are a darling couple and I'm proud of them for working hard together to keep this relationship on the good level it's on. Kim's a wonderful girl and we really really like her. I love seeing them together - they're so cute!

Speaking of Lisa, she's doing okay. There are good days and rough days. We've found if we can keep her busy, she's much better off than if she has time to sit and think too much. This is the way with any kind of loss though. Having something to fill your mind is always better than sitting there and thinking of nothing but that person for hours on end. We've tried to keep her occupied as much as possible. Night time is the worst, of course, and we try to be there for her. This is one of those hurts that will take time and lots of it.

And lat but not least, my baby is going to "bed". I've spend three years pouring my heart and soul into The Untamed Scrapper and as I've taken good stock in my family life, I can see where they have suffered. It is time to put Untamed to bed and let her sleep. As much as that hurts me, it's already proving to be a good decision albeit a hard one. I always felt guilty when I couldn't be on line every day. I felt guilty that the View was short, I felt guilty that I didn't have more for the girls. I felt guilty that I didn't have more to post about, I felt guilty about wanting better graphics and not having all the time I wanted to change things the way I wanted. I felt guilty about never having enough money to buy advertising the way I wanted. I felt guilty about so many things. One thing that ate me up was feeling guilty about not being with my own kids more, not being a part of more family things and not doing for my family the way I should have. That's the one that ate me up inside. It gnawed at me and chewed at my heart. It finally became too much and I had to make the decision I did.

The good part is that there will still be a blog... there will still be some fun challenges and scrapping and great eye candy. There will still be prizes and RAKS's and, we will be scrapping for fun! FUN People! I haven't scrapped for fun in so long I don't remember how much fun it really is/was. I don't remember the last pages I did just for me and not for the site using a set of guidelines, certain product, particular theme or technique. And mind you, I've not done a lot of scrapping in the last while.

This month I've actually created a few things just for the fun of it! (Well, not entire true - it's a contest on a yahoo group but it counts coz I WANTED to scrap for a change!) I'm working on this week's layout finishing it up today. I'm thrilled with out well it's coming out and I've enjoyed creating with no pressure. It's sad to not even want to scrap when that's so much a part of who you are. I need this for my own creative outlet and spirit. So now I'm getting to that and loving it.

So, with that, I'll leave you with a few final thoughts on one door closing and another opening.

Good things don't always last but that doesn't mean the good from them doesn't go on.

Good friends stay with you throughout adversities and challenge and good times too... that's how you know they're your friends - when they stick by you during the tough times as well as the fun ones. I can honestly say Untamed has brought me some of my most cherished friends.

While this is the end of the road for the site, it's not the end of the road for our creativity and the joy this craft has brought to us. Blogging is all the rage and challenge and scrappy blogs are such fun! When you've got the talent the Wild WOmen of Scrap have, blogging with them will be awesome.

So, be happy. Remember all the fun. Cherish the friendships you developed.


Thursday, September 6, 2007

The End of an Era...

Yesterday, the mother of one of my best friends past away. She was an amazing woman. A joy of a person.

Ive (pronounced Eva) was an immigrant, a war bride, from Italy. She was tiny and lively and great fun. Despite all her years in the States, she never lost her accent. It was thick and wonderful. She was full of love for her own Italian heritage and was sure to pass that love to her living children, Kenny, Robert and Lisa.

Ive never met an enemy. She was quick with a helping hand, an encouraging word. She always expected you to be your best, look your best, and put your best out for "public consumption". She never went out looking badly but rather always, despite her oxygen, always had on "her face", her nails polished and her nice clothes. She worked hard for the things she had and expected the same from you. Even when she was ill, she was busy. Busy taking care of others, of her precious, "Skippy" (her Yorkie) or taking care of the emotional wellbeing of everyone around her.

She was beautiful too. Honestly, so beautiful and proud of her beauty, as well she should have been. Her smile was brilliant, her eyes dancing with mischief, glee or just pure joy when ever her lips turned up in a grin. She loved her grandchildren, OH! How she loved her grandchildren.

Ive was about being thankful for all the gifts and blessings God had given her and not about being regretful for those things she didn't have. She knew she was a child of God and her life shone because of it. I swear you could see the woman's halo.

The fun thing is that my mom was just like her, minus the Italian part. Lisa and I were so fortunate, and indeed blessed, to be a part of these women; to have been raised by such extraordinary people, and, in fairness, equally extraordinary men. I can only hope that in our lives, we exude at least a small speck of the love and inspiration these beautiful women have shown in theirs.

Thank you mom and Ive for believing in the goodness inside all people, for showing us how to always put our best out there for the world to see; for loving us with all your hearts despite all our faults; for believing in us and for just being you.

Heaven got another angel yesterday and she's right up there with my angel mom. God loves you Ive and so do we.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

It's Done! (posted 8-30-07)

I've worked, manipulated, purged and moved until I'm cross eyed I think. Here's the end result...

What you can't see is that between the last photos and this one, someone gave my little one a gaming computer (ya, traditional desk top with a really deep heavy monitor keyboard, speakers etc.). There was no where to put it so they all elected my scrap table.

I finally decided since he's used his little table for nothing more than to gather "stuff" I would utilize it as a table for his monitor. I've got his own little computer set up right next to my area in the kitchen where he will be able to link into the router (once I get new phones - long story for another day). I'm delighted to have my scrap area set up! Now to get my friends up here!

Wanna come anyone?

What gives you comfort? (posted 8-28-07)

Over the years, I've had comfort in many different forms. I've found comfort in my daddy's and momma's arms as a child. I found comfort in my boyfriend's arms in my teens. I found comfort in my husband's arms. I've found comfort in my children's laughter and oh so tight neck hugs, in the songs of choirs and the company of good friends. But I think my real source of comfort comes from a much more ethereal source.

When I was young, (from 10 to 17), I went to a camp each summer called Nature Camp. It's a marvelous place, nestled between two mountains just outside a little village called Vesuvius, VA. In the 70's, this village was so small the population was in double digits and there were no street signs, warning signals or anything else to mar the gentle beauty of this little place.

There is one, lone road that leads into Nature Camp and if you don't know where you're going, you won't get there. The road leading in is shaded by old heavy hardwood trees with a thick canopy of limbs and leaves that seldom allows the sun to pass through.

Once into camp, it's a bustle of activity around each log cabin, a rustic museum, the pool and "field", the caretakers home and the Lillian Shilling Building where we ate, had evening program, and finished each night with a song, the Lord's Prayer and a gentle squeeze for each other. Between the field and the LS Building is a chapel, made from stone found in the stream just behind the camp. There are trees shading it as well as "pews" made from split tree trunks. There is an old fashioned pump organ in a little stone building to the left of the alter and a beautiful stone cross atop the alter area.

For the longest time, I found myself longing to just sit in that chapel where I first found my own way to the Lord. It was there when I was 14 that I had my first personal encounter with Christ and I found myself drawn to that place in times of trouble, doubt, need, comfort, pensiveness, or daydream even. I always wanted to get married in that chapel.

Not long into my college years, I was experiencing my own growing pains and I found myself seeking out the sounds of rain, gentle or strong, water falls, bubbling brooks and rushing water of rivers. It was then I realized that my comfort is not only with God but also in water, one of His greatest gifts. I am most at peace with water, nearly any kind of water, around me. To swim in it, to hear it, to feel it, to drink it, to be walking in it, to wade in it, but mostly to be surrounded by nature while I'm in it.........

I long to be in the mountains, next to a nice rushing stream. Surrounded by the gifts of God in the trees, the wildlife, the wide open skies with a life giving stream running right through it; there can't be a more comforting place to be. I can escape there in my mind when I need to, but my real comfort comes when I can experience His World first hand.

I am still comforted by a great many things, but I know, when times are darkest, it is with His guiding hand, I find myself drawn, either in person or in my mind, to water surrounded by blankets of green, tall trees, and light dancing off the leaves and bubbles of water.

Signed (I love you) sealed (with a kiss) and Delivered to Longwood (posoted 8-23-07)

What a great trip this has been!

I'm afraid I've misrepresented myself in some way and before I continue I want to say that in NO way was I ever putting my needs before my excitement, enthusiasm and pure delight for Taylor. I was only wanting to be honest about my feelings about my baby leaving home for these incredibly new and wonderful beginnings to his tomorrows. I am, was and always have been thrilled for him and even more delighted in the fact he chose to attend a university that has meant so much to our family. Not just my family but his father's family as well. You see, we have MANY generations represented at Longwood dating back to 1897. His father's family began their representation at Longwood in the 1950's when his grandfather became a professor at Longwood and later the chairman of the Science Department.

So, not only is Taylor taking his first steps forward, but he's doing it in one of the most wonderful places ever as far as I'm concerned!

That being said, here goes; our trip to Longwood.

On Tuesday Taylor and his dad got the Durango (Rob's) and my car loaded. Rob brought us breakfast, but we were way too excited to eat. Even Dalton was having trouble eating anything.

We got on the road about 10:30 with Taylor riding with Rob and Dalton, a television and our overnight things in the actual passenger area of my car with me. Between a coke and a television in the front seat of my car and a tire that was nearly flat that morning. I was treating my car with some kid gloves. Having checked all the fluids (yes I can and do this regularly myself) added air to my tire, topped off my gas tank, we were finally on the way.

Rob taught me a new way around the city so I can actually get to Daddy's without paying tolls and getting stuck in Richmond traffic. It will make for a much easier trip next time I go! The trip was relatively uneventful except for my growing excitement over the events that were to transpire in just a few short hours.

When we got to Longwood, our first order of business was to find parking (which wasn't so bad considering). We then proceeded to the financial aid office to finish up our business there. Then on to check in at the Student Union and pick up his student id. We laughed a bit over his photo, having been a bad hair day that day then walked back to his dorm. He's on the third floor so the general rule of "Heat rises, cold falls) was more than evident.

Now, neither Rob nor I are small people and with my physical limitations and the heat, they advised me to take something like, go to the room and stay there while they unloaded. (I was happy to oblige!)

We got to his room, his RA, Claire, introduced herself, gave us a few brief instructions about work orders, how to fill out his room report and Taylor began to size up his room.

I began unpacking per his instructions (he was being a bit of a pill really but I chalked it up to testosterone, excitement and raw nerves). By this time it was about 1:30 and poor Dalton was starving. I took him to McD's (which by the way is amazingly superior to the McD's that stood on the same site when I was attending Longwood) for a bite. When we got back to the school, Rob was leaving to go to his parents for a bit after having helped Taylor rearrange furniture while I was out. The new furniture at Longwood is really nice, solid wood furniture and heavy as all get out. He was beat and needed some air conditioning for sure. Since the Student Union wasn't officially open, his parent's house was a good option.

Taylor and Dalton and I then proceeded across campus to the Barlow building (which was an auxiliary gym when I was there) to the registrar's office. We turned in his class transcript from TNCC which transferred 3 credits and got him out of a business class he'd have to take (he got IC3 certified in high school which will help toward his IT minor should he pursue that).

Then back to his room so he could get his materials for his first work meeting.

The difference in his personality from when we got there to now was pretty amazing. He became my boy again. He was sweet, funny and, like I thought he would, he gave me a lingering hug good bye as we smiled and said our I Love You's. (yes, I got "I love you mommy." out of my sweet boy)

Dalton and I then proceeded to the new Campus Bookstore (A Barnes and Noble) and picked up a few fun things including a new Longwood Cup for T. He already had his notebooks and his books were going to be picked up by his dad that evening (I'd ordered them on line already). He had a new t-shirt we got in June and there really wasn't much to get there since they (he and his dad) were going to go to WalMart after dinner.

While we were there, he called and said the other parents were there at the meeting w/ their kids. I asked him did he want me to come back and at first he said yes, then said, "Nah... I'm good." I decided then I should go back to campus and wait for his meeting to be through to get a picture of him next to his new "home" with his brother. My camera had gotten so hot during the day, the batteries just wouldn't work. I had gotten new batteries at the book store so I could at least get some campus photos not expecting T to be available too! What a bonus!

We actually caught him coming back from his meeting and got a photo of him and Dalton together. He talked to me a little while longer and told me he'd miss me. We said we'd write bunches and he hugged me hard and long again.

Just as I thought I'd get emotional, the heavens erupted as though to help me and all the other first time moms with their tears. The skies opened up the winds whipped up clouds of dirt and tiny pebbles where they'd been working on a flower bed at the end of the street and we all got to shield our eyes and our emotional goodbyes with scurries in all directions to escape the impending soaking. We waved at each other, signed I LOVE YOU and went in all directions.

This also allowed us to escape driving away while he stood in the street watching and waving which, I'm certain, also saved our (all of us) emotions.

Taylor and Dalton in front of South Cunningham Dorm on "Move In Day"

He's so ready for this and I'm so proud of him. He's done well, gotten himself some fantastic grants to allow him to study at a great university. It's going to be a great year. He even reassured me that now that "Miss Thang" (his words) was in his life, there would be a lot less partying going on and a lot more studying so he could do well and come home more often. He has no Friday classes so he's hoping to get home more often than he would otherwise.

I can't say Dalton and I both didn't have a few tears. I can't say I haven't had a few since then. But I can say, and as I look at this photo it's more than obvious to me, I saw my son standing a little taller, I saw him looking a little more mature. I saw a young man in his face that was a little bit older than the young man I helped deliver to Longwood University at 10am Tuesday morning. I left a different person at Longwood at 5pm on Tuesday afternoon. Different indeed.

51 Hours and Counting (posted 8-19-07)

In 6 hours, my son's girlfriend, Kim, his best friend, Justin, and our family sit down to Taylor's "Going Away Dinner". He's selected his favorite, lasagna.

In 10 hours I'll tell him good night and cry myself to sleep over how much I'll miss my sweet son.

In 22 hours we'll begin the final preparations for his departure. We'll start packing up his suitcases with all the clean laundry. We'll pack his school things we've already purchased, the books that we've bought off the internet for his classes, his refrigerator, his microwave, his television and dvd player, his ironing board and iron, all his little "extras" for his room and his appliances.

That should take the majority of the day and, God forbid, if we've forgotten anything, our last minute runs to the store will be frantic at best.

In 32 hours his dad will arrive and we'll begin packing the car and his dad's Durango.

In 34 hours or so, I'll say good night to my son and cry myself to sleep again. It will a night filled with so much excitement, so many new dreams beginning for my sweet child, my sweet middle boy, my sweet home body boy, my sweet young adult son.

In 46 hours we'll be leaving for Farmville, Va. To Longwood University. To the town in which his dad and I met and fell in love. To the town in which he'll spend the next four years growing, learning, experiencing new things, finding out more about himself, maturing and preparing himself for the world. He's ready for this, though admits being a little apprehensive. He's excited. I know he's excited.

In 48 and a half hours, we'll begin unpacking his belongings and helping arrange them in his new "home away from home". He'll be staying in the same dorm in which I spent two years while I was at Longwood. He'll be on the same floor on which his Aunt lived her Sr. year at Longwood. He'll be walking the same campus his aunt, mom, dad, grandfathers, great uncles and aunts, great grandfather and great aunts have walked before him. He'll be continuing our history at this wonderful place.

In about 51 and a half hours, I will hug my son and kiss his cheek, while I try not to cry in front of his new "housemates". I'll be brave and "the cool mom" while I joke about him not ever wanting to come home again once he gets a taste of campus living. I'll crack jokes about him finding his way to the laundry room and the kitchen (and they are not, as he believes, only at his grandparents house). I'll remind him that email is a good thing and writing home once a week better happen if he wants spending money. Like my dad told me, no letter, no money.

I'll ask him if he's got his schedule (which he won't). I'll remind him where his password is hidden and to check his college email more often.

I'll make sure he's picked up his books and gotten his reading finished for his LSEM class that starts before the upperclassmen return.

I'll tease him about not being able to get books on tape to help with his classes knowing all the while he'll keep looking for them because surely there are books on tape for the sight impaired.

I'll remind him that you can't cram for your exams and quizzes (despite the fact that we all did and all kids will continue testing those bounderies).

I'll remind him to brush his hair more often (despite the fact he doesn't want to because he doesn't want girls to look at him). He only wants one girl looking at him and he'll brush it when she comes to visit or he comes home. (His words!)

And when I'm done being a real geeky mom, when I have delayed my departure as long as I can, I turn to my sweet son and I'll watch him stand a little taller. I'll watch him grow up a little bit despite himself, and I'll watch him come give his poor sappy momma another hug. He'll hug me hard and he'll tell me everything will be fine and he'll see me in a couple weeks.

In about 51 and a half hours, I'll get into my car with my sweet little boy, who will also be crying because his best friend is staying at Longwood, and we'll hug each other. We'll start the engine and buckle up, we'll wave good bye through the windows as we put the car in gear and drive away.

In 51 and a half hours, a new world begins for my child and for our family. In 51 and a half hours I watch my man/child through my rear view mirror as I drive away and lose about 10 pounds as I cry my way to my dad's house in Richmond. And I'll know he's got a tear in his eyes too.

There's That Word Again: Perservere (posted 8-8-07)

It's August 8th; it's really August 8th. That means in 12 days my boy leaves for college. Oh gosh, where did my time with him go? We've spent a lot of time together this child and I. He's a home boy, already planning his first visit home. He loves to hang out here and we have been known to spend hours talking together, watching sappy movies together, playing board games with Dalton and generally just happy to be in each other's company.

Day before yesterday, he paid me a high compliment. He told me his girlfriend was a lot like me. Holy cow! If there was anything in my body or person that resembles that gorgeous creature I thank God for it. She's a beautiful girl inside and out and Taylor's done a good job waiting for this one. He's dated some terrific girls, but this one is special.

Here's the deal... Freshman year in college is tough. It's a waiting game, a learning game, a money game, and a game of life. There are so many new factors involved with your freshman year in college than can just simply break a relationship. I know neither of them want that and their plans are that this will make it for the duration (four years not just freshman year!). Funny thing about plans... we sometimes have to revisit them. We have to revise and alter them. New experiences, new horizons, new situations all equal new plans. Having been in a similar situation, my advice to them both is to "PERSEVERE" and communicate. The only way I see this continuing is to communicate constantly and to set their minds on two things: Graduation (first and foremost) and staying together.

Without achieving the first goal, the second one will be filled with resentment, if they do manage to stay together. They can build from where they are at this point, which is actually pretty solid for two kids who are just stepping into the world, and make it stronger, better, broaden their foundation, and go up. And while they're building up, I hope they remember to look up. Look up for guidance, inspiration and answers and have faith that with His help, this will work if that's what is meant to be. They'll never make it without Him either. He's the root of all that is good and the foundation of all that is stable, capable of being built upon. He will guide them through this and enable their relationship to grow if indeed this is "the one". Fortunately, they're both pretty firm in their faith, and they're respectful of themselves, each other and the Lord.

I'm really proud of these two. Most importantly, I'm really proud of my son, my middle child, my home body boy. He's my pal, my sweetie, my protector, my funny bunny. He's just the cat's meow really.

Taylor, You're going places! I'm so proud to be watching you learning, growing and maturing into such a great young adult. This is only the beginning! The best is yet to come!

Epilogue: I was taking Taylor to work this morning, having started this post already, when he asked would I get him a sandwich at McDonalds. We're in the drive through and I ordered, which ended with a "Thank you!" from me to the order taker. He remarks, "You really are always nice to people aren't you, mom?"

I replied, "Well, I try to be."

He says, "No mom, I mean you're really nice. You thank people, you return your carts, you'll hold doors, you smile at everyone, you help anyone who needs you and you can, you're really nice."

I said, "Thanks T."

He gets quiet... We pull up to the back door of his work place, and he sits there for a second and says, "You know, I'm really gonna miss you Mommy."

Ugh ... it was complete with the "Mommy"... the one thing that gets me most... That was all she wrote. I ruptured. I just hugged and hugged him while I cried and cried and managed to blubber, "I'm really gonna miss you too Tay!"

Oh yes, I'm definitely going to miss you... Like you used to say when you were little, "A really whole lot."

Oh My Gosh! (posted 8-4-07)

I'm Rockin! Who knew!

My good friend Torreh, who's sense of humor and perspective on life is always one that both amuses me and helps keep me seeing things more clearly has given me the "Rockin' Girl Blog"! I consider this quite an honor and am in some highly regarded company. Names the likes of Kim, (Of Scrap-to-my-Lu and My Creative Blog fame), Jacquie (Dragonfly Designs); Abby (My Scrappy Happy World), Meghan (Meghan's Mindless Mutterings and Eventful Moments in Life) and more appear on this collection of charming and witty women.

So onward and upward we go as I attempt to find 5 more fabulous women on whom to bestow this great honor.

1) I choose my good friend Gabi. She's a terrific person and I have been blessed to know her for a good many years. She's charming, she's intelligent and she's hilarious. She's a talented scrapbooker, a member of my team. She'll also tell it like it is in a heart beat and I value that in a person. So Gabi - Here's to you! You can find her at "Going for Greatness".

2) Here's to my friend Paula. She's fabulous... just fabulous - her family, her talent, her outlook, her faith. She's an inspiration and an example to all who know her. You can find her at "Absolutely Me".

3) I have to give you to Fe McBride. She's a powerhouse of a scrapper seemingly finishing dozens of layouts in the time it takes me to simply get out my supplies. She's an avid sketch user and I think my biggest fan on Sketch It! Since I started my sketch blog, she's managed to get herself published every single month and has even been using my sketches (designed especially for her) on her digital site for challenges. How can I not be a big fan of hers too! Find Fe at "Bloom where you are planted".

4) Another darling person, though I don't know her well, is Pauline. She's just as kind a person as you'd ever want to know and another sketch fan. She too manages to get her share of the sketch spotlight in The View each month. She's fun, charming and talented too. (Do you see a pattern here? I figure if I surround myself with all these funny charming, talented people, it's bound to rub off on me eventually, yes?) Find Pauline at "A Little Bit about Scrappin Auntie".

5) Last but absolutely not least, I choose Julie. Julie is what I've always called an AmbiScrapper. (So is Fe by the way.) She scraps both paper and digital and is equally good at both. She works full time, manages to travel and be an amazing grandmother and still scrap more in a month than I can in 6. I've known Julie a long time too and I've always appreciated her candor and her style. You can find Julie at "Welcome to My World!".

Thanks again, Torreh! I hope I did you proud with my selections! My hat is off to all of you, and all the Rockin' Girl Blog recipients before me! Touche' !!

Making Progress (posted 7-25-07)

Oh my goodness what a week this has been so far!

I'm still working on my scrappy space but I've also been revamping the site. I've got the majority of it done so far and now have only the header here and the various miscellaneous pages left to complete on the site.

The room is coming along nicely and I'll soon be filtering into the kitchen to complete my work there. My desk is my last major area here in the scrappy space to be finished and I'm thrilled beyond belief about that!

I still have to get rid of the computer desk but I"m thinking perhaps I'll be opening enough space in the kitchen to put it there while it looks for a new home.

So, I'm bushed... REALLY bushed... and I'm so happy to be showing progress.

I'm getting there! (posted 7-23-07)

Well, it's getting there. You can actually see the table top today. I've completed organizing my closet, my cabinets, the book case and my stamps. The shelf near the window is also done now and I've moved the iris cart to the other side of the room to open up the kitchen space for me as well.

This will give me more scrappy space and snack area for crops too.

I'm happy with the progress and hope it is done by the end of the week. I'm anxious to scrap again and this is really making me even more so!

The Storm Before the Calm (posted 7-21-07)

Okay - so it's time to swallow my "shyness" and do something. I've been wanting to get The Spirit of Scrapping off the ground for forever. Unfortunately, it's not happening because I have a problem. I'm horribly shy.

I got a lot better about being a wall flower until I got Bell's Palsy three (yes, three) times in 18 months which left me with some permanent paralysis in my face. It's embarrassing. I know it, though most people say it's not noticable, I know it - and I'm self-conscious about it. Mostly you notice it when I'm really tired. When I smile it's crooked. My left eye closes when I yawn, chew or smile (more so than the right) and the left side of my mouth doesn't go up like the right side does. The result is something, of a Picaso.

In my opinion, Picaso and God are both geniuses so who am I to argue with a genius. This was evidentally what I'm supposed to look like at this age so here I am in all my asymmetrical glory. (Oh yes, did I mention I'm REALLY OCD about symmetry? I love symmetry. Things MUST be symmetrical for me to be happy or satisfied. Another reason this is really tough for me.)

So that being said, I'm swallowing my "Oh my Gosh I'm SO not symmetrical" pride/fear/shyness and putting out my first invitations to my first "class" or "demonstration" or "crop" or what ever you want to call it.

Well, the other problem is that one should have a place to hold one's crops to do this. Which means I must make my class room. Yeah... making a class room... In my house that's too small for the 5 of us that live here already, I'm making a classroom...

It's coming along. Slowly. REALLY slowly. Like snail's pace slowly. I decided I needed to clean, purge, show what a great organizer and decorator I can be. I also wanted to present an imaginative way of storing my beloved scrappy things. So, the result is this:

Yep, that's right. I've destroyed my scrappy space in efforts to clean, purge, organize and display properly my beautiful ready to crop/teach/party with my scrappy pals.

Please wish me luck. I am beginning to feel as though I'll NEVER dig out of this horrendous mess I've made. God forbid unexpected company should show up. I'd be horrified right now.

So this is what I'll be doing today. What about you? Have you made anything like this only to create something beautiful? PLEASE share it with me so I don't feel so alone! I NEED to feel like I'm in good company!

Man do I have a cocky little boy on my hands sometimes! (posted 7-21-07)

Well, I have to admit, I have a cocky little boy on my hands... I'm not sure why or when this happened but MAN! He's REALLY cocky!

Kev took him bowling the other night, which he thorougly enjoyed. Not just time with his daddy but it turns out he's pretty good at heaving the ball down the lanes. Now, he doesn't take a typical walk up and gently (but with force) roll the ball like one is supposed to when one bowls.

Let's get this in our minds shall we? Dalton picks up his ball, starts running toward the line and heaves it forward like a basketball. Now, his father tried to teach him to roll the ball, and truthfully when he takes time to roll it he does a pretty good job. He's not much in the aim department.(Well, who would be with the run he takes, cradling the ball in his arms hanging down in front of him.. He looks more like an arangutan trying to bowl with a very large bunch of bananas and his gait is oddly similar to that of an arangutan too... very disconcerting.)

Now all that being said, bumpers are a child's saving grace. If it weren't for the bumpers, the poor baby would have an average score of about 25, But, bumpers doing their jobs as they should for all small children, the child has a game average of 114 between Wed and Thurs. nights. Yes, you did see that correctly.... 114!!

Well, Kevin came home from their night two nights ago pumped up because the people who work at the bowling alley want Dalton to be in the fall league. Um.... have you watched this child?

And brag! OH MY STARS!!! (To be fair, I'm not sure who's the bigger braggart - Dalton or his father)

So Taylor, never to be outdone by ANYONE for ANY REASON (sound familiar), says, Dalton we should go bowling. Well, that's all anyone needed to say for little man. He's on that like white on rice. YEAH! We're going bowling!

Well, no, I say, momma doesn't have the funding for bowling tonight son.

But MOMMAAAAAAAAAA (pleading complete with puppy eyes)

No honey, sorry...


Dalton, Momma said no, not tonight.

Taylor: Mom, it's cool, I"ve got it.

Never mind that he's leaving for Longwood in a month and we still don't have his tuition covered, the child has competition on his mind and ego development too...(he can't stand a cocky kid - must be a mirror thing because Taylor too can be - not is, but can be - a cocky kid).

So, after dinner, off we go to the bowling alley.

Now, they're getting ready for leagues and if we go after 9pm the fee is reduced for adults and and and

Taylor says Yep! We'll be back.

Off to Tropical Smoothie to get smoothies (Mr. Moneybags again...)

Then to Ross to get some shorts for his trip Saturday (he and his best friend are driving to Nags Head for two days then to Gastonia, to see Rob, then home Thursday). Then to PetCo to see the pets and kill some time then to the bowling alley.

Three games he says. He pays for shoes and games in advance, gets Dalton his 6 pound ball (which of course he makes Dalton carry along with his shoes), and off we go to lane 38.

Now, this lane is so badly warped I don't know how a league plays here but it is, according to Taylor, warped HA HA HA Taylor is NOT happy. Dalton sets about heaving his ball down the alley (a whopping 5.25 mph was his fastest ball). Pins are just falling like slow motion dominoes... it's actually kind of amusing.

Let's give you a pictorial of my little guy and his "Dance of the Orangutan"...

Sorry about the bad color and quality but it was pretty dark in there and this was about as good as I could get it to be able to see this ritual.)

As you can see, he'd already knocked down (or rather dominoed) 7 pins - this was his attempt at the spare... and he got it.

What wasn't amusing was his attitude. "Oh yeah, mmm hmmm, I'm the man! Who's the man? I'm the man!" With a funky little dance.

Yeah - cute once or twice - more than annoying after two games. So, I gently remind him that NO ONE likes a bad sport and winning or losing, he's being a BAD sport. It's rude and obnoxious. He says "Sorry mommy!" and goes about his game. Third games wasn't so bad. What was bad is that he and his big brother were neck and neck. Now, giving it to Taylor, the third game he just basically was "throwing" the ball different ways to accommodate the warped lane. And in his defense, with Dalton's slow motion bowling, you could tell the lane was definitely warped to the right, then to the left, t hen back to the right. So, he was throwing different balls to see what really would work.

Never mind that the second game started out with a spare, a strike then a spare. He was proving a point. Yeah?

Here's my take on it...

Fact: Dalton's cocky becuase his daddy's cocky and thinks his child is a bowling prodigy. He pumped his chest up over it night before last and what little boy wouldn't be cocky after that display? It was like watching a peacock doing a mating dance. So naturally Dalton's going to be pumped up about it

Fact: Dalton uses bumpers and they help.

Fact: The same bumpers were up for Taylor and while he didn't use them often they did save the day a couple times for him .

Fact: Dalton beat Taylor two out of three games. Sad but true... Dalton scored a 107, 117 and 115. Taylor scored 101, 122 and 79.

Fact: Dalton's arangutan method of bowling might have something to it after all!

Yeah I've got a cocky little kid on my hands,but I think somehow, he may have earned it!

Well, Here He Is... (posted 7-21-07)

Here he is... I did get him to allow me to take a picture of him on his 21st birthday - so it's true - he really does exist. He still hasn't let me have one of him and me together, but I feel sure he'll give in.

So this is what we did on Sunday!

Kev and his Boston Creme Cake. We went to Lisa and Paul's after dinner on Sunday to celebrate with our friends.


Reaves, who hates cake, got a dozen Blueberry muffins, which he will eat with much gusto.

Well, It's Finally Happened... (posted 7.15.07)

I'm officially old...

I must be....

My oldest child turns 21 today. Technically not until about 8:52 tonight, but as a non-specific mention, he's 21. He'll have to let me have a picture of the two of us together today. It's a mother's right to have pictures of her babies on these special birthdays - the ones where it becomes all too obvious that they're not your little kids anymore. I mean, when did this really happen?

I don't recall when it happened that I missed this much of his life, though I don't think I have really. And I don't recall that he grew so tall so quickly, though I'm sure he didn't... I don't recall that I missed so many opportunities to tell him how proud I am of him or how marvelous I think he is - most of the time, though I'm sure I didn't.

I just wish we were able to keep them smaller, less jaded, less experienced, less "wisenheimer", less "old" just a little while longer.

Though 21 is not really a magical age, and nor is the 18 my middle one turned just a short month ago, the world somehow expects more, offers less, and is less tolerant of things that are seemingly aberrant when you're "21" or "18". I suppose the reasoning is if you're old enough to make a decision to drink, smoke, vote, go to war, carry a gun, etc you're old enough to be responsible for yourself. While most people feel this should be 18, I'm all for raising the legal age to 30, (not really) just to have my "babies" a little longer. I really wish my babies could stay my babies just a little longer.

I miss my little boys.

I miss when they called me mommy all the time, not just when they needed something.

I miss when they snuggled with me in the bed to watch a movie and eat popcorn.

I miss though sloppy ice cream kisses because you let them get a treat "just because".

I miss when going to the park to swing and slide were "the best days ever!".

I miss when they used to sneak out of the house to make footprints on the carport roof with their Barney the Dinosaur slippers that made dinosaur prints in the snow.

I miss when they used to giggle together and have tickle battles that Mommy always won.

I miss playing board games and "letting" them win.

I miss the sweet movies we used to watch together instead of the ones that will make a momma blush seeing "too much skin" in front of my boys who are so not boys any more.

I miss them understanding I had to know where they were going, with whom, what parent would be there and the phone number where they could be reached because I needed to know who was supervising and being in charge of the well being of my precious treasures.

I miss making oatmeal in the morning with apples and cinnamon and cinnamon toast and cheese toast.

I miss popcorn with parmesan cheese and so many of their other favorite snacks.

I miss chasing them around the house while they were running naked and free from me, giggling wildly because they "got away" after bath time.

I miss the innocence of their world that got a crack in it about 15 years ago and I miss the days before it was shattered 8 years ago.

I miss having these particular two little boys...

I love my men though. I love who they are becoming. I love how generous their hearts are and how they care so much for things they really believe in, even if we don't always agree. I love the passion of their convictions because it means I did my job in teaching them to stand up for those things in which they truly believe.

I love that no matter what they feel for their siblings at the moment, no matter what fight they may have had, they are still each other's number one supporter.

I love how they love their little brother and play with him, offer him help and tips on video games, give him their old video games and "special toys" and just generally give him good hints on being a "dude".

I love their manners when they're around other people.

I love that they remind their friends how to treat a lady and be chivalrous in a world that doesn't really celebrate chivalry any longer.

I love that they have old fashioned values when it comes to women.

I love that they feel like I'm the most important woman in their life still and they're not afraid to let me know that.

I love that even though they spend the majority of their time away from home, they're not afraid to kiss and hug me in front of their friends.

I love that when we end our phone calls, it always ends with an "I love you" from both of us no matter who's in the room.

I love that when their friends are complaining about their moms, my boys actually tell people they really like their mom. (Thank goodness for snitching girlfriends and the girlfriends of their friends who tell on them and remind me of how awesome my kids really are.)

I am so grateful for the chance I have had to raise these amazing young men. I'm so glad to be able to call them my sons. While they're not "there" yet, they're well on their way and I'm so lucky to know that they are good, solid, kind, caring, smart, giving people.

Yep, I'm sad, and I'm officially old. But I'm one lucky lady, so I suppose it's not all so bad.

Happy birthday sugar! I sure do love you!