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!

So What's On Your Summer Agenda? (posted 6-29-07)

I have so many things I'd like to do this summer. I so badly want to take a vacation. I've not been on vacation, the kind where you get to be lazy, no cooking, taking each day as it comes, no planning, just going and doing, in years. Literally, it's been 15 years since I was able to be on that kind of vacation. I desperately need it and I can't tell you how badly I want it! At the very least I want to take the boys to the beach this summer. It's a shame to live so close and never go! Sounds like a great day trip anyhow! As momma said, I"m old enough not to let my wants get to me".

The last time I went on vacation was 1999 when Daddy and I went to Paris. It was a trip he and Mom had talked about for years and when Momma passed away, Daddy was more convinced than ever he wanted to honor Mom's desire to go. He invited both my sister and me, as well as my "second parents". Both Ron and Bev went, but my sister's littlest was still a baby and the timing was bad.

Honestly, it was the most amazing trip of my life. It was only seven days, but it was packed with the most wonderful sites, sounds, tastes and experiences I've ever had. We saw museums I'd only dreamed of seeing, we went places I'd only read about, we tasted food the way the French really cook it, and we saw an old friend I'd not seen in ages (she met and married a Frenchman and had lived in Paris for some time). It was amazing to be in one of the oldest, most beautiful and history rich cities in the world. A place where art was so vital and was such a huge part of every day... I'm a big fan of the Impressionists and to be able to walk the grounds and magnificent gardens they walked, to eat at little sidewalk cafes where they may or may not have wandered, to see the same views they saw was, just extraordinary.

Riding along the Seine and walking amid the gardens filled me with the longing of lovers; their longing for each other, for lost love, for love yet to come. I was awestruck by the gardens that seemed to be everywhere... anywhere there was a small patch of ground a garden had been planted, gorgeous gardens.

The food was not so horribly rich I was gaining weight by the moment. It was rich alright, but you walk everywhere in Paris, so who can gain weight? And the chocolate... oh my stars the chocolate... the confections, the pastries... it was just sinful! But worth every step I took during the journey.

The weather was spectacular, with days topping out in the mid 80's on a hot day and the sun shining from early in the morning until after 10pm at night. The streets were busy all that time too. People so busy socializing, eating late, seeing the sights.

The cathedrals that seemed to dot every other block were just fabulous and you could not help but stop, sit and say a prayer for all who came into those blessed buildings, that they too would be blessed. You could hear the whispers of saints and royalty in Saint Chapelle (which, to me, was far more impressive than Notre Dame).

Walking in the Arc de Triomphe filled me with awe as my dad regaled me with his stories of having been in that very place, as well as the Trocadero, in 1945 on R&R during World War 2. Thinking of the soldiers who fought bravely for freedom for all people who stood on the same grounds upon which I was standing filled me with a sense of obligation, freedom, pride and sadness all at once.

Being brave, which I am not, I swallowed my stomach, gave up on my fear of heights for only a moment and decided to travel not to the first deck of the Eiffel Tower, and not to the second, but to the very top observation deck. It was so exhilarating to see Paris from such a vantage point! So badly I wanted to drink it all in over and over so I'd never forget a single thing I'd seen from the top of that awesome tower. It was an absolutely stunning sight.

I wandered around the grounds under the Eiffel Tower thinking of the number of people; artists, models, sculptors, kings, queens and "commoners", who had all wandered these same paths. All the history that has taken place in this city... all the love that has happened in this city, all the beauty in this city is just amazing.

My journey through the Louvre and Versailles as well as Les Invalides and Musee d'Orsay took me to places in my heart I didn't know I had. I was awestruck by the masterpieces hung in the halls, feeling as though I should sit reverently, thanking God for bringing me to such a place while I drunk in quietly every single piece I could feast on with my eyes and my heart. To see the art that surrounded every step you took in each of these places, whether it was a full suit of armor, a masterpiece by itself, or a fresco, a sarcophagus or the Venus de Milo, the Dancer or a painting or a painted ceiling; whether it was any single bit of architecture or just the air in Paris, it took me to new places in my soul. I drank it all in eagerly, like a wide eyed starving child, hungry for anything after having had nothing all day. My eyes sought out every nook and cranny, every brush stroke, every word of the plaques and notations, every ounce of art with which I could feed myself. I felt as though my heart had never known the magic and life I was seeing and experiencing when I was there.

To sit in front of the paintings in the Louvre and just feel the power of God and His gifts to these magnificently talented artists was overwhelming. Often I was seen wiping my face clear behind a bent head pretending my allergies were wreaking havoc on my sinuses and eyes. It was emotion more powerful than I'd ever imagined.

To wander amid the Impressionists at Orsay, with their lively colors, landscapes, dancers and style was breathtaking. I become a part of the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, (and yes, you and she do become a part of each other as her gaze follows you where ever you go in the room), and to feel the power of all those masters just lifts your soul.
And yes, the jewels were magnificent too! Oh My Gosh... were all those amazing jewels magnificent. How I wished I could be a courtier or a princess just to be able to put on the jewels and feel how amazing it must feel to literally be dripping in diamonds, pearls, rubies, emeralds and sapphires.

We were accosted on the banks of the Seine by the artists peddling their wares and I was filled with more awe as each artist seemed to be exceptionally talented. Never had I seen so much exceptional ability in one place. I'd heard talent before musically, but never had I seen the talent I was seeing. We were fortunate to have purchased some rather excellent oil paintings (on rolled canvas) outside Les Invalides. Imagine our good fortune when we later met the artist. His sister had been selling his paintings that morning, telling us of her brother's efforts to overcome the family's poverty and put himself through art school. We were sure it was just a story, after all, aren't most artists, starving artists? In our travels through the city that day, which found us by the art school, we noticed a young man who's painting style was so much like the paintings we had bought earlier. When we watched him sign the painting he was finishing, we realized it was the same artist. We were lucky enough to get his signature in pen on the backs of our canvases. He was appreciative that we were able to recognize his particular work for the hundreds of artists we had seen that day. Despite the story his sister told us, we were blessed to hear the same story again, told in his own words.

Being part of the generation who fell in love with Diana, I found myself drawn to the tunnel in which she died quite by accident. We were just wandering, having decided a day of organized tours was not what we wanted. We just decided to wander and I found myself drawn to one location. It gave me a sadness I couldn't explain. I sat down, just to try and think of what could possibly make me so sad on a day where we had visited some of the more atypical places in Paris and seen how the Parisians really live. It had been a wonderful day, leisurely and restful, despite all the walking we had done. We found ourselves in places of the city no one had marked on a map or had indicated were typical, tourist-y places. When I looked up, I saw the sign. We were at Place de l'Alma, just under where sweet Diana had died just two years earlier. I think all girls my age were in love with Diana as we watched her life and her maturity as a young adult Princess. She was beautiful and living a fairy tale. We later identified with her babies, her beautiful baby boys (and yes, I had my own two beautiful baby boys). I totally understood her heartache as her marriage disintegrated and felt the pain of watching what she had built be scratched at and picked at in effort to discredit her hard work. Yes, I was in love with Diana, the fairy tale Princess.

It was then I fully realized the memorial there was for her. I hadn't made a correlation to the huge brass flame (ironically, a replica of Lady Liberty's flame) with flowers tucked around it's base in memoriam to her beautiful life flame being extinguished all too soon. I just knew that where I was, was special somehow. When I read the memorial, the deeply sad emotions I felt made too much sense and yet they didn't. It was so very sad to me that I would feel that pain. There were other reasons why I was identifying with her pain that would become far more overwhelming to me after I got back home. While I was there though, I was simply struck with the heart ache of losing someone so vibrant, so alive, so good and so open despite her efforts to give her family some sort of privacy and normalcy. It was as though Diana were a close personal friend or family member. We left there after a while, everyone having had a chance to rest and reflect.

We found some fun cafes tucked away off the beaten paths at which to eat, to grab a sandwich and a water,(and to this day, if I ever see another menu that reads "jambon e fromage" I may scream). We just basically wandered away from the typical visitor locations. Sure we hit Planet Hollywood - Paris, but the other eateries were much more fun just because it was so "not" American.

All in all, I'd have to say my trip to Paris was, in a word, phenomenal. It was most definitely a trip of a lifetime and one I could never duplicate the feeling and emotion.

What A Weekend! (posted 6-25-07)

Well it's been another whirlwind week!

Taylor is officially a graduate. Funny how it didn't hit me so hard when Reaves graduated. I suppose since I knew he wasn't leaving home in the fall it wasn't so hard to take. Taylor is leaving though. He's headed for Longwood University and that means he'll be gone. Not just gone for the day and I'll see him tomorrow, he'll be gone... really gone... like I won't see him for weeks at a time gone... Somehow that's harder to handle. After all, Taylor is my "baby of the family". He was the baby of the family for 11 years so he's kind of always going to be the "baby". It's hard to realize that my baby is old enough to leave home and embark on this new journey. HOLY MOLEY!

He graduated the evening of the 16th, just 4 days after his 18th birthday. Another holy cow thank you. Because their class was so large, they held the graduation ceremony at William and Mary Hall (yes at The College of William and Mary). It was very nicely decorated and VERY full!

To our surprise, Taylor was the first one in line behind the Jr. Marshall's. He was the first seat in the first row on the left side of the stage so he was leading the procession. WOO HOO! How cool!

The speeches were pretty good. One student gave a very astute speech entitled "Expanding Expectations". The band was quite excellent, the choir was very mediocre (unfortunately) . The superintendant, unfortunately, was uninspiring but the principal was great.

Taylor tried to be "Taylor". When he got his diploma, his goal was to take off his mortarboard and blow his momma a kiss. Unfortunately, he tripped and didn't really do much but grab the mortarboard and catch his balance. God love him, give him A+ for effort.

And yes, to answer my own question, I've gotten old. Not only has my first baby graduated high school, I've begun to feel all those patriotic feelings "old people feel" when the Star Spangled Banner plays. I cry when singing the National Anthem. I cried when they played Pomp and Circumstance, I cried when they read his name, I cried when he told me why he tripped.... I've become my mother. Now in my mind, that's not all together a bad thing. To my kids, well, I'm old...

So I thought I'd share some graduation photos with you..

Left to right, Kevin, Dalton, Me, Taylor, Rob (his dad), Pop and Grandma (The Lanes)

What a Great Trip! (Posted 6/12/07)

So much has happened recently! It was a fantastic weekend filled with wonderful memories, great new beginnings and tons of information.

So we'll start with Friday...

Friday there was an assembly at the High School. Taylor's guidance counselor called me on Thursday and invited me to the assembly, the Senior Awards Assembly. I discussed my invitation with Taylor who assured me he was not up for any awards so he didn't think I needed to be there. I debated it and still thought there had to be a reason for the personal invitation, so I decided to go. Much to our surprise, Taylor was awarded a $300 scholarship from TCE (the business and technical department). WOO HOO! After the assembly it was a whirlwind of getting things ready to go to Daddy's for his 82nd birthday and Farmville on Saturday for Taylor's Orientation at Longwood. (Incidentally they call Farmville Farm-Vegas now, too funny!).

Once we got packed up, Taylor had just gotten home. We left here around 3:30 for Richmond and ended up telling Dad we would meet him at Arby's at Tuckahoe Village. We got to the West End early so we drove around a bit. We first stopped at WalMart so I could get a phone card. While in there, Dalton's shoes were untied and we stopped to tie them. Taylor, who's been working with him trying to teach him "Bunny Ears" method, showed him again and we stood patiently while he LEARNED TO TIE HIS SHOES IN WALMART! WOO HOOO!!!!

I showed the boys Canterbury Lake and reminisced a bit about all the good time there during our cold winters. Then drove him the back way to our old neighborhood and then to Arby's. We waited only a little while for everyone to come and were blessed to be in the company of some wonderful people who all share their time and friendship with Daddy and each other every Friday night. They are affectionately dubbed "the Friday night crowd" at Arby's and we were taken right into the fold when we started visiting Daddy on the weekends again.

After dinner we went home to Daddy's where he and I talked into the night. Just reminiscing... I didn't sleep well at all...

Got up at 4:30 (yes that is AM) and tried to rest and couldn't. Played computer games until about 6:05 when I woke up Taylor and Dalton and got everyone ready for breakfast and to leave. Daddy makes terrible coffee and I needed some desperately so I made a pot for the two of us and had a cup with him.

We arrived in Farmville at my ex-inlaws about 8:14 dropped Dalton off (they're such great people) and were back at Longwood at the Student Union Bldg by 8:30. So much has changed but it is still so full of wonder and awe, fun and good memories, amazing place... You can feel history there and the atmosphere generates excitement and other good feelings.

So, in the Student Union, they were taking pictures of the incoming freshman for their school id's they will get when they arrive in August. Unfortunately, the town had experienced a severe electrical storm Friday night and half the campus was without full power. Va Power was on the scene to fix it but had not found all the trouble spots. Which is why they couldn't get their ID's that day. It was also an indicator of what was to come - heat wise.

Jarman auditorium was the site of our first few meetings. Because I minored in Drama, I spent a great deal of time in this building and it was FABULOUS sitting there just below the apron and seeing the new lighting they have, how well maintained the stage is and just feeling those feelings again.

So anyhow, I was sitting in the auditorium loving being there remembering all the fun I had in there and I was getting HOT - REALLY Hot - like can't fan myself fast enough hot. That was soon dissipated by all the exciting news happening and so many new faculty faces to get to know. We were greeted and led through orientation by the new peer leadership which used to be the Colleagues and Orientation Leaders (which I was also while there starting my sophomore year as a Colleague and Jr and Sr as an Orientation Leader). They gave us old fogies some great time in a Q & A while the kids were off taking their placement exams, which by the way the computers died half way through and they were placed "as possible" into the classes that they were best suited based on their transcripts. Half way through our presentations and Q and A, the auxiliary power went out and the fans died and they opened the doors. It allowed such a nice breeze to flow in there and we loosened up a bit.

Soon we were to be reunited with our kids to meet for lunch in the new Dorrill Dining Hall - a great state of the art facility. Food at Longwood was never what I'd call inviting. Not even "Birthday Dinner" was something to write home about. This was WAY better than anything we experienced when we were there as students. Selections were amazing, the food quality was SUPERIOR and the drink options were all over the board from all natural flavored waters to sodas to all kinds of milk. Desserts were gorgeous and the ice cream was oh so good!! (Not soft serve, real scoop it yourself ice cream!)

The food plans are very expensive... Taylor chose a 10/150 plan. You get 10 meals a week that's all you can eat while you're there and $150 bonus dollars for the semester to spend in other "food" areas on campus including vending machines etc. Kind of worries me that he may not get enough food but I can recall not eating much in the cafeteria and hopefully he'll be full between his extra funds and the microwave and food in his room (which knowing Taylor will be plentiful).

The card they use is also re-loadable with "Longwood Dollars" that we can put into his account so he can eat at the snack bar etc or spend in the new Barnes and Noble bookstore (yes, I think EVERYONE has one of these now...)

We talked a bit together about the dorms and the pros and cons. He's elected to put the Cunninghams as his first, second and third choices (North, then South, then Main) since they're so centrally located. Frazier, though air conditioned, is three rooms to a suite and so far removed he didn't want to be that far away from the thick of things. Especially since he'll likely be on work/study and it requires all freshman work study to work in the dining hall. Can I tell you the memories I had of living in the Cunninghams?!? Such great times!

We then met for the afternoon in Bedford Hall, the Art building, since they had power and therefore air conditioning. It was cramped but more comfortable none the less. The students left to get their schedules taken care of while we learned about other campus programs and the computer program. They are required, as I'm sure most freshman at any college now, to have a laptop and we were given the specifications. Since it is a requirement, we are allowed to use Financial Aid dollars to buy IF we buy through the Dell/Longwood program which I'm not sure we'll do.. We can get just as good a computer through direct purchase for half the cost. The only difference will be the graphics won't have a Longwood graphic... ummmmm do they think kids don't know how to share graphic files? oh well... c'est la vie on that point... we will not be buying through the college...

After we were done there, we had dinner with the Lane's (my ex father in law was, at one time, Chairman of the Science Department and taught the Earth Sciences, she was a nurse at the hospital). Then home to Daddy's. We got back about 8:30 to Dad's and Taylor literally fell into bed. I think Dalton and I finally went upstairs about 9:30 or so.

Sunday saw me rising about 2:30..... yes.. 2:30 am. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't dream, I couldn't watch tv... I was just stuck. I played some computer games and went outside to cool down for a bit. Then inside to watch some television which was boring and I can't remember what I watched. Then again, I'm kind of a zombie at that hour of the morning, so I'm not sure I ever remember what I do during those sleepless nights.

So that was our journey! Filled with wonderful exciting things to see, hear, learn and do. I'm so happy Taylor has decided on Longwood. It's going to be quite an adventure!

How Do You... (posted 5-25-07)

do it, wade through the muck day after day? I could use some ideas. How to keep pushing through the muddy stuff, knowing that if you make it through the mud, there's an amazing meadow of all that is good and beautiful on the other side?

It really pertains to everything, like months of scrapper's block (the mud) only to keep trudging through and finding the perfect layout that you just created on the other side of all those treacherous months of wading.

Or a seemingly unending run of unhappiness in your job only to find your dream job just falling in your lap.

Or what seemed like forever your child had trouble with school and one day the light bulb came on and WOW! They got it! They really really got it!

So, let's hear your tips. I want your pointers.

I'm wading through some muck and I'm faithful that the meadow is on the other side. I'm actually certain of it! Most days that gets me through, my faith. Sometimes, I need more. Sometimes I need glimpse of the promise. If I'm really good and patient, I can catch a wee small glimmer of what's waiting for me. (Thank goodness for faith right?) Sometimes I need a little more. I think today I may need a little more. Not sure how to get over this hump but I know it will pass. Maybe a little hint where the edge of this big mud puddle is would be nice?

Anyone else wading through the muck lately?

What's On Your Agenda? (Posted 5-24-07)

I can't believe it's Thursday already. I've accomplished little to nothing that I can say, "Look what I've done this week." and point toward something tangible. Those weeks frustrate me to no end.

On the other hand, I did do about 6 hours of research for a friend on Tuesday and spent the better part of Monday and Wednesday researching scholarships and grants for my college bound child. It is only Thursday after all.

I have also address his graduation announcements and will be printing out all his photos to cut and send with them as well as his "cards". Geesh is it really this close??

I've updated my new sketch blog today and yesterday. It seems I've discovered the source of my inspiration. Like it is a big revelation, I seem to be at my most creative when I'm listening to music. Different types of music bring out my different sides. So, today after blogging, I'll be hoping to get creative with my hands and scrap, alter... something!

I can't decide what I want to do. Ever have those times when you know you're feeling creative, you've got plenty to do, but you don't know where to start? That's where I am. I've got plenty to get started with but can't decide where the "starting line" is.

Well, wish me luck. Here goes that word again... I'm going to persevere until I get there!

WOO HOO! LU here we come!

Oh my goodness! Can you say WOOT WOOT!

Well, Taylor held out and he won. His only choice of colleges or universities was Longwood University. He would settle for VCU (Virginia Commonwealth University) for a year and then transfer, he would have settled for TNCC (Thomas Nelson Community College) for a year and transferred, but he held out. He refused to make plans elsewhere, holding out for his favorite.

And he did it! We got word last week that the Admissions Committee had met and had extended Taylor an offer to attend Longwood University. Taylor's beyond excited. Heck we're all beyond excited! He comes in from school in the afternoon and says, "Hey Mom! Guess what?"

"What?", I say.

"I'm goin' to Longwood!" he announced with a huge grin. And most days, I get a hug to go with it.

It warms my heart to know that Taylor has these feelings. After all, his father and I both graduated from Longwood (it was Longwood College then!). We do have a good bit of family tradition at Longwood, but for him to feel that, for him to hold out for Longwood for the 11th hour... that's awesome to me.

I"m so proud of him and I couldn't wait to turn in his acceptance card and mail that deposit. As though it couldn't get there fast enough, (they're only 2 hours away after all), I sent it priority. I've never been so happy to mail off a check in my life.

So, when we send out his Graduation announcements, we get to include his plans to attend LU in the fall.


They Say A Picture is Worth A 1000 Words... (posted 5-18-07)

I promise I'm not trying to make my blog one of politics and controversy, though it seems that is what I tend to blog about most. Sometimes things just grab me and they have to be shared.

This amazing picture has drawn a lot of comments from readers of the Nashville paper, The Tennessean.

See Jay's letter below.

Dear Tennessean:

The Tennessean's April 5 photograph of young Christian Golczynski accepting the American flag from Marine Lt. Col. Ric Thompson is one of the most moving and emotion provoking images I have ever seen.

My wife and I attended funeral services for Christian's father, Staff Sergeant Marcus Golczynski, on April 4, along with our six year-old son, dozens of Marines, and several hundred others who came to pay tribute to this fallen hero.

As one would expect, many of your readers were touched by this incredible picture. Staff Sergeant Golczynski had previously served one full tour in Iraq . Shortly before his death on March 27 he wrote to his family that he had volunteered to do this a second time due to our deep desire to finish the job we started. In his letter he said, "We fight and sometimes die so that our families don't have to." Tragically, Staff Sergeant Golczynski had only two weeks remaining on his second tour. We look at the photograph of Christian every day. It is displayed prominently in our home. Our hearts ache for Christian and for all those who have lost loved ones in this controversial conflict.

Our nation is at a historical crossroads. Do we call an end to the struggle in Iraq or press on? Staff Sergeant Golczynski eloquently told his son how he felt about not giving up. Perhaps there is a lesson for all of us in this man's life and the choices he made. He was undeniably a man of tremendous courage and conviction. America must now choose whether to complete the job.

When looking at the face of Christian Golczynski I am reminded that doing what is right is not always easy and doing what is easy is not always right. Christian's dad knew that too.

James Drescher

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Now I know that plenty of you are not in favor of our Great President... and I hope that my standing behind him and what he stands for doesn't "ruin our friendship". We all have a right to our own thoughts and feelings, that's why we all have so much fun together - we're a wonderfully diverse group of people at Untamed who all make up a beautiful quilt of love. We share a love of our kids, each other, a craft and life. Our diversity is what makes us interesting and creates the lovely quilt we call The Untamed Scrapper.

It is at moments like these, when I read articles like this and see photos like the one above, I am reminded of where I live, why I live here and how much I love my country. I am so proud to be called an American. I'm proud of George Dubya, our troops and every other American who stands by ready to "finish the job".

We can thank Osama Bin Laden, Hitler, Sadaam Hussein and every other Monster who has ever attacked any human's right to live and live free from fear of repression of any kind for "the job" we're doing right now.

We are right, we are free, we are American....

The sadness and the pain. and the faith..... (posted 4-17-07)

The sadness and the pain. and the faith.....

My sadness comes from things far greater than the massacre at Va. Tech.

The face of security in all institutions of learning - particularly institutions of higher learning - has been changed for ever. All colleges and universities will be called upon to develop and show proper plans of evacuation, lock down, preventative measures that can and WILL be taken in the event of such a tragedy - or rather to prevent such a tragedy, no matter what that particular institution's "crime record" does or does not reveal.

No longer can those of us who were not directly affected by Kent State, Columbine, Lancaster, or any other school tragedy, feel safe because now this is about us. All Virginians will feel this violation for many years to come. All alumni of Va Tech have been violated. All persons who have had friends or family at Tech have been violated. This is now personal. No matter how tragic the events of the other schools, this touched our home.

We can no longer feel safe in the skins to which we have become accustomed. We lead our children to believe in the inherent good of all people and the opportunities that should be available to all those who avail themselves by way of hard work, determination and the reward of good grades and a sharp mind. They have questions now. They want to know why. We are the patriarchs and matriarchs of their generation and we don't have answers. Not only do we now question our own ideas and ideals, but our children who are looking for answers, will wonder why we have no answers. We will feel a sense of loss with our own children too.

There now will be question to every College and University President, every school principal, every security officer, "Why didn't they do more." They did exactly what they could do, exactly what they should have done and exactly what was necessary. It turned out to be larger than originally thought and there was no way anyone could have determined this. Unfortunately, that also means that no matter what we do, no matter what we say, no matter what we teach our children, we can never have all the answers. This is a rude awakening not only to our children, but to us, as their parents. We are their heroes and suddenly, we are now human - and therefore fallible.

We are now introspective. Sad, somewhat depressed. We are thoughtful now about those things that are most important to us. We feel a fierce sense of obligation and drive to protect. We have a huge amount of not just sadness but anger. We want payment - retribution - someone to somehow make it right and set the "natural order" back again. And it can't. No matter what we do, we can't make it all right ever again. We can take a step back and ensure that no matter who, no matter what, no matter the situation, more than ever it is important to recognize the value of the lives of those most important to us. With our thoughts, our actions, our responsibilities and most importantly, our follow through, we must ensure that those about whom we care most are keenly aware of our feelings.

We must also make sure that our children understand that life MUST go on. We must always remember that our goodness is ultimately our reward, no matter how untimely. We have to continue striving to be the best we can be. We have to remember that not all people are sick. That of all the places in the world to go, to learn, to live, this is a blip on the radar. To us it is magnanimous, but in the grand scheme of things, this is outrageously small. With the number of schools, the number of colleges and universities, the number of shopping malls, grocery stores, ball fields and parks, this is minute. We are still safe. We really are. We probably are just as safe walking out of our homes today as we were yesterday. We will grieve and we will learn and we will move on. Our character will strengthen and we will become better people as a result of having had the influence of this tragedy. We will teach our children how to trust. We will remember how to go on and feel gladness, joy, love, friendship, and life. It's still inside us. We will just have to reach a little deeper, try a little harder to remember. It's there where it always was. In our hearts where life is always a little better.

The steps of grief, those steps with which you and I as children who have lost parents are terribly familiar, are those we will once again have to take. Though we have not lost relatives or friends, we have lost family members. We have lost innocence. We have lost a bit of joy and reverence. We have to grieve those things in order to heal. And we must be there for those who have never had to endure this loss. We have to share our strength, our knowledge and our faith that we can move forward.

We have to grow in our own faith as we're tested beyond measure, and what a tremendous test of faith. In the words of a smart little 6 year old this morning, "Mommy, this sad thing happened and it is a sad thing. But mommy, those people will live forever. They will always be in our hearts where nothing bad will ever ever happen again to them. They will always be our heroes, Mommy. And we will always love them."

Enough to stop you in your tracks and feel brave again. To know that one day when I'm done being sad and scared and angry and struck by this horror, I will once again be brave. I will once again let my children go into the future with the knowledge that the world is inherently good. That truly, tomorrow could be our day and what is most important is that we have lived today the very best we possibly could. Remembering to keep the faith and spend some time on our knees.

Posted 4/14/07

Your importance as a parent

I decided, quite on a whim, to go see my dad yesterday.

Yesterday morning, as we were chatting as we always do each morning, we spoke about someone who truly has NO clue how lonely life is going to get in their future. He made a remark that struck a chord in my heart. He said, "X has no idea what lonely is. Having a beautiful home, a comfortable bed, a little bit of financial freedom, great friends, all that's nice. But without someone to share it with, it's hollow, it just lacks real meaning and substance. I'm so lonely. I'm really lonely."

Ok - when your dad tells you that, it just sends red flags all over the place. I couldn't make plans fast enough to surprise him for dinner. Since the older two boys' father was in town for the evening, and Kevin had to work today early, it was a great chance to take off, just Dalton and me and have some time with Daddy. So, that's just what we did... We nearly flew up to Richmond to be there in time for dinner... Didn't pack a change of clothes - grabbed a box of toys and our toothbrushes and left. It was a bit liberating. Really it was. To just GO because I wanted to was fabulous. This summer will be that way - when Dalton's not in school, it will be awesome to just go when I want to and stay as long as Daddy wants us to. Because we must do this.

It's not just because I love spending time with Daddy. It's not just because we miss momma so dang much (though we miss her so much it hurts). It's because while I miss her that much, I still have half my perfect parents. Daddy's still here to share his wisdom, his knowledge, his experience, his love and his smiles. Even his horribly bad jokes are a source of joy for me because he's my daddy.

And he's 81 years old and I don't know how long I've got to share time with him. I don't know how much longer I have to just pick up and go to Richmond to hug my dad, listen to him tell me the same story for the 1000th time, watch him smile as he looks at pictures of places he and Momma went together, remember things they did together.

I have my daddy for now... right now... not tomorrow, not next week... I have him for now... and for now, I must take the time I have to enjoy him and to tell him how much he means to me, how much I love him. I don't ever want him to go a single day without hearing how much my family and I love him. He is lonely, and hopefully, I can help lessen that a little bit. After all, Daddy helped give me life, I suppose I can give him my time. What a small price to pay for all the joy he's given me!

I love you Daddy. Thanks for the great night! I'll see you soon and I'll be talking to you tomorrow!