Thursday, January 27, 2011

They Gave Her a Driver's License!

I don't know who thought it was a good idea to give teenager's the ability to drive. I think they're on crack.

My teenager succeeded in proving to the state of Georgia that she is capable of driving. On the highway. By herself. Without us in the vehicle with her.

Sweet goodness and mercy.

That girl of mine has been itching for some independence and The Man and I put it off as long as we could. We really did. This is my baby. My 3 pound 7 ounce baby who came into this world early and has fought since day one to be herself. I don't see this young lady who has taken classes on driving, logged in supervised hours with parents and instructors, and taken tests to prove she can, indeed, drive a vehicle. I see my baby.

She now shares a car with The Man. He does that carpool gig to work and one of his co-workers live in our neighborhood, so they share that driving chore. This allows her to have the car to drive to school two to three days a week, depending on his driving schedule. She went to the office and applied for a parking permit for school and paid for it with her own money. She hasn't driven yet, her first day is tomorrow.

I remember driving to school. Oh, how cool I was to thumb my nose at that big yellow school bus that was freezing in winter and blazing hot in the summer. Times are different now than when I first got that precious piece of plastic back in the day. My friends and I would beg and borrow vehicles from family members and pick each other up so we could all be cool together. She doesn't have that luxury. For six months, she's only allowed to have family members in the vehicle with her. I am totally okay with that. I also grew up in a very small town, that at the time, had only one red light. My friends and I learned how to manage a vehicle on back country roads before hitting towns with decent traffic and more than one red light. Where we live is interstate, four lanes, six lanes, on ramps, off ramps, exits, big roads that curve over and under you and confuse the crap out of you until you drive them a couple hundred times. I, myself, am just now comfortable driving all these confusing roads and it took me almost a year!

The other day I sent her to get her sister from chorus practice. Not a big deal. I also asked if she would run to W*lmart and pick up a bag of rice for supper. Are you kidding me? She was all over that chore. (unlike house chores like kitchen patrol or cleaning her room) Now, the school is five minutes to the right and W*lmart is five minutes to the left when you leave our neighborhood. Easy peasy.

If you're not geographically challenged it is. My poor child would have a problem finding her way out of a paper sack. Sad, but true. My son has a built in compass like his father and knows his way all over town, but my teenager begs the use of the TomTom to go five minutes in opposing directions. I wouldn't let her take the trusty GPS because, come on! Five minutes away, Internets!

I should have let her take it with her. They got lost. Well, they missed a turn. A very important turn. Three times.


The first time they realized it when they were riding along, talking and listening to music and one of them states, "Wait a minute. These houses don't look familiar." Wouldn't that be a clue to turn the music down and hush? Not when you're a teenager and preteen who are in a vehicle with no adults and feeling pretty dang cool with life.

Suffice it to say, a thirty minute trip took about an hour. I didn't call them and they didn't call me. I honestly thought they were walking around the store. I'm glad I didn't know they were turned around and a tad lost. I'm even more glad they didn't call and worked together to find their way. Did I worry? Yeah, I did. A little bit. Then again, I know my kid is a careful driver and she would protect her little sister with her life. That kind of evens it all out, ya know?

The most painful part of the whole process was putting her on our insurance. Holy higher rates! It makes me blink hard and swallow fast when I think about what we're paying for that sweet darling to get behind the wheel. I still may have to enter a recovery program to fully get over the shock.

She is dying to get a job and make her own money to help with insurance and gas and all that is expensive. Seriously, the kid is all about working and not asking us for money. While I respect her for that and know she is sincere, we're not allowing it because she has two AP classes this school year and grades are way more important than a job at this point. Maybe next year when her work load is lighter at school. We'll see.

You all realize that I'm not old enough to have a child with a driver's license. Okay, let's rephrase that. I don't FEEL old enough to have a kid with a license. I am in total denial that time is starting to fly by for me and my next birthday is a MAJOR birthday that we won't talk about just yet.

I guess it's true that time stands still for no one.

Time to let that oldest baby bird of mine see what's outside this nest..... long as she doesn't speed while doing it.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Neighbor Greg has Retired!

My family and I were honored this past Friday (January 14, 2011) to attend the retirement ceremony of Neighbor Greg. For those of you who have never attended a military retirement? Gosh, all I can say is I am so sorry you haven't. I've been fortunate enough to attend four and each one is so special and different and just amazing. Last summer, Neighbor Debbie told me that her husband had finally decided it was time and he was putting in his papers to the military so he could head back in to the civilian world after twenty years of service. You want time to fast forward? Talk about retirement plans. It seems like we blinked and it was time to head to Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base to celebrate another twenty years of military service.

The Man was asked to give the invocation and benediction for the ceremony. Talk about pressure! The morning of the ceremony, we were sitting in the hotel room and I asked him what he was going to say. Had he written it down? Had he really thought it out? Tell me!!! He had not written a word down but had been thinking about what to say the past couple of weeks. GAH. Are you serious, man? You need to say this and that and let me write it for you because I am a WRITER. I BLOG! He graciously declined my kind offer and believed that he had it under control. I informed him that if he got too long winded? I would start a coughing fit and that would mean to wrap it up quick. He gave me a raised eyebrow and no comment.

We arrived at the Chapel and my sister, Neighbor Debbie came running out of the chapel doors. Makenna ran to hug her and she ran past Makenna straight to me. (classic cute moment) Oh, how happy I was to see her. We went inside where I was able to see their children (who I claim, too) and Greg's family. I kind of wanted to park myself on the front row because I feel like this is my family, but when you have SIX KIDS, there's no room, man. Three of the six have spouses. All three have kids, too. Dude, they took up three and half rows in the chapel for the whole family. How awesome is that??

The Man was invited to sit on stage with Neighbor Greg, the guest speaker, and the retiring officer since he was going to be praying. I grinned when my husband stood at attention in his sports coat civilian clothes. Hey, it's only been a year since he wore a uniform. In case I forget to mention later, he did an awesome job praying and I was so proud of him for doing such a good job. (and I didn't have to cough one time)

I kept my eye on Neighbor Greg because I could see how he was almost, but not quite, overwhelmed by the surreal quality of what was happening around him. I kept glancing at Neighbor Debbie across the aisle from me and she got teary from time to time listening to the great things being said about her husband. I really couldn't look at her much because I had potential to get all teary my own self and she told me if she looked at me and I was crying and it made her cry, then she would throw her shoe at me. I believed her because I threatened the same thing with her at The Man's retirement.

I just can't explain the reverence and love of country that just surrounds a military retirement. You get goose bumps from hearing the reading of Olde Glory (<---- click on that to see what I'm talking about) and you want to just bawl when you see those in uniform who are attending stand for certain parts so proud and true.

The most touching and tear inducing part of the ceremony was when Storm, the oldest son who is now serving in the USNAVY, walked up on stage in his dress blues to relieve his Father of the watch. They faced each other at attention while the Emcee read the relieving of the watch. No eye contact was made because, Internets? That was one intense emotional moment. When Storm said, "I relieve you, Dad." and Neighbor Greg replied, "I stand relieved, Son." ....well.....WAAHHHH is all I can say. I, and everyone else in the building, lost composure and proceeded to bawl. I can't even think about it now without getting blurred vision.

The VFW was where the reception was held and it was just perfect. There was a great turnout, good food, and fabulous company and fellowship. Our kids were off with friends and we were able to sit back and just enjoy ourselves to the fullest. (No, we did not get drunk. Jeesh.)

I just can't tell you how proud I am to know Neighbor Greg. Just to be able to tell him "Thank You" for all his service and sacrifice to our country. He has dedicated twenty years for you and me so that we could sleep in peace at night. There have been missed holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, school functions, and numerous other occasions he has missed to serve our country. I am honored to call him friend.

You rock, Neighbor Greg. I have all faith that you will succeed in the civilian world as well, if not better, than you have in the military.

Bravo Zulu, Chief!!! Fair winds and following seas.

* I do ask that you readers out there comment here if you can. I know many of you will come comment on my face of books page and I truly appreciate it but let's show some love and support to The Chief! Thanks in advance!*

Friday, January 07, 2011

Raising Paige

I have been a parent for almost 17 years. Wow. This coming April will find my oldest baby turning 17 whole years old. Lawd, it feels like not too long ago, I was 17 my own self.

I don't know about you parents out there, but there are many times in this child rearing gig I got going on that I wonder if I'm doing a good job or screwing three hopefully productive citizens of the United States up for life. I've made my fair share of mistakes as a Mama that make me wince to this day and wonder what the heck was I thinking?!? I have a feeling that my quota of making mistakes hasn't been fully filled yet since my youngest is six and a boy (compared to having two older girls). I admit to being terrified at times as I guide them through life and other times?

I want to high five my own self.

Some of you are friends of mine on the face of books, so you know a little about this situation. I am compelled to write about it...not for my own high five awesomeness...but for the amazingness that is my child.

Paige is a member of the Buddy Club at school. This is a club where kids in the high school help out with the special needs class. They help get the kids to and from lunch, go by the class to hang out, and basically be buddies. When we moved here last year, Paige found out about the club by accident when one of her new friends asked if she would help her get the kids back to class. Then Paige met the Buddies. She came home that day full of sparkly eyes and stories about the awesome kids she had met that day. There are limited spots for volunteers and my child went to the special education teacher that is in charge of Buddy Club and pretty much told her that she HAD to be a part of this club and would do whatever it took to be a member. Suffice it to say, her tenacity paid off and she got in.

I've heard stories about her friends that make me grin. There is one girl who loves to hug people. One of the special education teachers discourages hugging this girl and Paige told her flat out that she don't roll that way. If the girl needs a hug? She's getting a hug from Paige. You have the boy with Downs Syndrome that Paige loves loves loves. He loves him some Paige, too. Many times she would come home and talk about Richard. Richard and the wheelchair...his wheels to the world. Richard would use bare communication as talking wasn't in his realm. He was born normal, but received the wrong medication as an infant that would change his entire future. I can't tell you the Richard Stories I've heard in the past year of this character so full of mischief and life with a grin always on his face. (especially when Paige walked in the classroom- he was able to get his flirt on then!)

School started back for second semester this past Tuesday. Paige found out Monday night that Richard had passed away. He just got sick and his frail body couldn't fight it. She came downstairs and was just shell shocked. She didn't really cry, and I think that's because she was in shock and trying to process what she had just learned.

Richard's graveside service was yesterday morning. Paige came to me before getting dressed for school and asked if she could possibly attend. She had a doctor's appointment yesterday afternoon and was going to be picked up from school early anyway. I told her we would go because I could see that it was so important to her.

It was a dreary chilly morning. We both dressed up and headed to the graveyard a little early as we didn't know what the attendance would look like. She looked so sharp in her black dress pants. I gave her my dress trench coat to wear and I wore my cape. We walked up to the tent and there people milling about waiting on the service to start. She signed the register to show we were there. I told her maybe she should seek out his family to speak to them since after the service is usually so busy. I stood at the back of the tent by myself and watched my daughter go forward and find Richard's family. First, she found his Grandmother and Aunt and I saw her smile and start talking with them. I couldn't hear what was being said, but I know my girl used her manners and was telling them how she adored Richard. I saw the Aunt stand up and hug her. Paige walked back over to me when she was done and just started sobbing. I held her close and patted her back until she got her composure. I then suggested that she go talk with his parents, that they would love to know she was there. I had someone point out his Mom and there my baby girl went on a mission. I still stood back to the side and let her go forward on her own. I saw her wait patiently for the mother to hug someone and speak with them.

Do you know how hard it was to watch my child stand there smiling while tears went down her face? I saw this mother hug her more than once and keep a hand on her arm as my child told her how she adored her son and was so thankful to her for sharing him. It took all I had not to bawl right there as I watched my baby be an awesome young lady. The mother took her to meet the father and I saw him shake her hand and get teary as my daughter spoke briefly with him about his son.

The service was about to start when the special education head teacher and other teacher came up to the tent. I did a quick "How do you do?" and let Paige walk forward with them as the speaker began to talk. Oh, don't worry, I was only a couple of feet away and ready to jump up beside her if need be. I listened to this man speak about Richard with such love that I felt a huge loss that I never got to meet this kid who lived his life from a wheelchair. Tears just flowed from underneath my child's sunglasses as she nodded her head over and over while he talked as she did know exactly what he was talking about.

The service was very short and of the shortest I've ever heard. I don't think it could have been any better, though. I can only pray that my own service will be so perfect one day. I spoke a little with the teacher afterwards and felt even better knowing that she likes my child and would even go to bat for her at school for excused absence for the funeral service.

I didn't know, Internets. I just didn't know what an amazing thing my very own child was doing on her own. I really didn't grasp that she was opening herself up to love very very special people. I've seen her in the W*lmart parking lot stop to speak to one of her "Buddies" who was walking in with their Mom. I saw the Mom thank my child for befriending her son because it's so hard for a parent to let their child go to a public school where they may be ridiculed for being different.

I do so love that kid of mine. I am so proud of her for being such an awesome person. She was the proper young lady yesterday and I was bustin' buttons over how amazing she looked, acted, and carried herself.

Yeah, I wanted to high five my own self and say, "THAT'S MY GIRL!!!!"

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Wrappin' Up Christmas

I thought I'd take a moment to wrap up our Christmas 2010 season. (ha ha Get it? Wrap it up?)

This had to be the most stress free Christmas I can remember in a long time. Oh, how wonderful it was to move at a slow pace and just enjoy the two days given to us to celebrate the season. My father-in-law was able to join us and I am so glad he did. Santa even left him a stuffed stocking that he thoroughly enjoyed.
We started a few new traditions that I hope we'll continue to do as the years progress. The Man read the Christmas Story on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day we decorated a cake The Man had baked for Jesus' birthday. We put candles on the cake (no, not 2010..more like 20), sang the song, and all of us blew out the candles. I kept Christmas Tea brewing in the crock pot for a few days and it was heavenly to sip on it throughout the day. (Just realized many times can you legitimately use the word "Christmas" in one sentence or paragraph? I think I just set a record or something here.)

The kids were spoiled rotten and The Man and I totally justified it with two reasons. 1. Christmas last year was a madhouse and we wanted to make up for it. 2. They don't get stuff all year long in our house. Truly. You get a load at Christmas and a present or two for your birthday and the Easter Bunny leaves a goody basket, but that's it. Some times, in September, before Labor Day hits, they might get a little something. That doesn't happen every year, though.

I did manage to get sick on Christmas Day but it was manageable because I stayed right here in my home and wasn't out running here and there. Going to the doctor the following Monday proved me to have bronchitis. Apparently, I contracted a virus and it tore my throat up and settled in my lungs. The doctor advised me not to go visit my mother and grandmother until Thursday to make sure I was clear and full of antibiotics. That put a crimp in our visiting plans, but we readjusted and waited until I felt better so as not to pass the crud along to those who can't fight sickness all that well.

I was a little sad to put away our decorations this year. Now my house looks so bare, but it motivates me to really buckle down and see about decorating earnestly. I'm pretty sure this makes my husband sigh because that means I'll be shopping a tad more. I think I wear him out because I don't really impulse buy. I look and look and look and when I finally find that one thing I know needs to be in my home? I get it. For example, when I finally found the valances for my breakfast room, I got them. My living room window remains bare as I just haven't found exactly what I want to look at every single day. That naked window is really starting to bug me, though.

Hold up! This is supposed to wrap up Christmas, not talk about my decorating woes! I did take a few pictures of my decorating abilities and I suppose I shall share them with you. Now keep in mind, this is my first real bona fide attempt at decorating a mantle, making my own wreath, and such. I have waited so very long to have a mantle to decorate so you know I hated to dismantle it last week.
I'll be sharing some pictures now. I can't promise that they'll be in a good order because me and blogger have issues putting pictures on posts some times. I thought I'd narrate throughout instead of putting all my writing in one place. I hope you enjoy!

This would be the Fearless Two. Climbing the ladder to decorate the tree didn't phase them a bit. I admit to being a little jealous because I am skeered t'death of heights. Get me six inches off of the floor and my head gets all woozy. Side note: the past month has found my son loving to wear his Dad's tshirts. I don't know where this has come from, but as soon as he can, he's gone in our room to borrow one to wear at night.

Would you believe Paige takes after me in the fear of heights? I believe she was was one or two rungs off of the floor when she decided that maybe decorating up high wasn't her cup of tea.

My guys putting the tree together. See how my husband has a grip on my son's hand? That kid gives us a heart attack when the ladder is up. He will be at the top grinning before we can blink. Makes me toes hurt to see him way up there. Oh, and do you see those naked windows? Driving me crazy, man!

Dad turns his back and see what happens? Sweet Joseph and the baby lambs, it's hard to look at this picture knowing how high up he was.

I did the tree topper before they put the top section up on the tree. Normally, with the six foot tree, I would stand in a chair (woozy head and all) and decorate. No way was I climbing up 12 feet to do the topper. I thought it was on the large side....then they put it up and I realized it should have been FOUR TIMES larger than what it was. Live and learn and know what to do next time, I suppose. Also, I found myself gravitating towards white, silver, and red this year. I have no idea why, but everything I bought were mostly those colors.

Another picture with different lighting (will I EVER learn how to operate my camera??? I think not.) Lots of stuff going on here!

Waiting on me to start unwrapping ornaments for him to put on the tree. I also had to put this picture on here because he was just so stinkin' cute.

Soon as we got busy, you know Makenna headed to the kitchen to make the customary hot chocolate for us to sip on whilst we decorated and listened to Christmas music. She never lets us down!

I splurged and bought the 72 inch tree skirt (Lowe's) for the new big tree. This is what happens when the teenager gets hold of it. She is striking the pose for Christmas fashion. I think she's working it well.

Guess who found a new place to snooze? Oh, how that tree skirt is soft and a perfect place for a puppy to take a nap. Of course, this ended when presents started appearing underneath. She wasn't too thrilled about that happening.

Side view of my mantle. A lighted swag going over one edge. I took a decorating class and the instructor said to "think outside the box! Don't make everything in life symmetrical! Do something different!" So, I did. At first, it made me tilt my head because it wasn't even...then it grew on me and I really loved how it turned out. The poinsettias are clip-ons I found at Joanne's. The ornaments are el cheapos (maybe a buck or so a piece?) that I found here and there. The snow flake ornaments were bought last year after Christmas at Cracker Barrel. The red finials were also after Christmas at Cracker Barrel two years ago. This was the first time I got to use them. There is some silver disk garland found on vacation in Nebraska woven in the swag, along with a red berry garland. All glass is stuff I had around the house.

Front view of the mantle. My chair is across the room and I just loved sitting and looking at it during the day and evening. The vases on the table to the left are from Kirkland's and I leave them up year around. I had a few stems of red berries I just plopped in them and it looked good! So good, I left the berries in them when I put the other stuff away. Dontcha just love that magnolia picture? Yeah, I got that bad boy for Mother's Day a few years ago and I just love love love it.

There was a stocking for every breathing being in our home Christmas morning. I found plastic banister hooks at Lowe's and let me tell you, those things are awesome! They wrap around the railing and cause no trouble at all. For those of you out there who are remarking to yourselves, "Why, I would have hung garland from that gorgeous railing." God Bless you. I did think of that and consider it but Miss Hope has to take it one thing at a time. I fully intend to make that area awesome next year, but my decorating funds went towards purchasing the amazing tree this year and I'm perfectly okay with that.

Stupid camera wouldn't take a good night time picture so you can see how pretty it was all lit up. Loved the front porch and I'm standing on the porch at an angle with taking this picture. I have to decorate a little outside because I just dig riding around looking at how everyone else decorates their outside spaces.

This is The Tree. Oh, how I love that tree. Paige made the comment that she felt like Cindy Lou Who when she stood beside it. Heh heh. I know, right?!? I've always wanted a ginormous tree and with the huge open living room we have, I can finally have one. Oh yeah, I fully intend to enjoy that thing for a long time. (Please, Lord, keep my husband around because I can't climb the ladder to decorate it and he'll do it for me without complaining one little bit.)

This is the antique buffet in my dining room. The gold stuff in the pineapple vase were used for the tree topper in previous years. I hated to just keep it all in a container, so I just plopped it in the vase and thought, "Hey! Not bad!"

Here's my very first wreath I made all on my own!! That ribbon was a doozy to work with. It's a burlap material and very thick. I love it, though, and worked and worked until I finally got a bow made that I was good with. Since the ribbon was trimmed in gold, I used gold poinsettias and accents. I kept it on the simple side. I'm afraid the decorating instructor would be ashamed of me for keeping it traditional looking and not thinking outside the box. I'm pretty sure that the more I do stuff like this, the braver I'll get and more outside the box I'll venture. For now, this will do. I kept it on the inside of the front door. Who says you can't have a wreath on both sides of the door, huh?
I think that'll conclude Christmas 2010 for The Edge. It was an extremely blessed time for me and my family full of memories we'll treasure for a long time. I hope you had yourselves a good Christmas Season. Let's get this 2011 started, shall we?