I'm a single mom with two great kids living near Dallas, Texas. This is my life; day to day things that are probably only important to me. This is my record of my ups, my downs and the road that I've taken along the way. For whatever reason YOU'RE here, I hope you find something you can enjoy and/or relate to.
Every time a convoy leaves that gate it breaks my heart. I see them return with wounded. I see their destroyed vehicles dragged back in tow… in pieces. I belong out there. I became a soldier to be out there. I became Infantry to be out there. Out there is home. I came here to sacrifice, to pay for freedom... to bring justice to those who wish to take that away from my nation and my nation’s friends. And to those on the streets of Iraq who wish to harm me and my friends, my country and my countrymen, I say this; you better be prepared, because I have been preparing for this for twenty-one years. I will match your ruthlessness, I will surpass your destruction, I have exceeded your skill in tactics and weapons, your courage crumbles at the thought of mine, and long ago my faith and commitment to my God and my America crushed your petty god and your weak faith. I am coming for you. With a peaceful heart I will destroy you. The whites of my eyes are the last thing you will see before you kiss the feet of my God. --from Boots in Baghdad's journal http://www.bootsinbaghdad.blogspot.com/
I have to say good bye to a blog that I've enjoyed for awhile. It's bitter sweet, because it's Boots in Baghdad and he's going home! I'm so thankful that he's going home safe and sound, but I am going to miss reading his updates of what's going on where he is. He has said, however, that he will be putting a compilation of all his writings and pictures into a blog when he gets home. I'm hoping that comes into fruition because his eye with a camera is as good as his writing. God bless you Boots, and thank you from the bottom of my heart for the sacrifices you've made. http://www.bootsinbaghdad.blogspot.com/
I'm going to do some complaining in this entry...so just a warning up front, you may want to run in another bloggers direction. Okay, with that out of the way, this day has sucked from the moment I got up. There were THREE piles of diarrhea in the living room. Out of the three dogs, I've got it narrowed down to two. After walking Marko out to his truck (morning ritual) I came back in and started cleaning up the mess in the living room. Took awhile, nasty stuff. Got on the computer to find an email from Parent Connect (a great system that the school districts have that put the teachers grades directly into their system and alerts parents to any failing grades or assignments that haven't been turned in) that Charlie had 2 assignments not turned in and 3 failing assignments in two different classes. Oh boy, lucky for Charlie he was still asleep. By the time it was time to get him up, I'd calmed down a bit. A bit. When I woke him up, I told him about my email and he says...'Oh yeah, did I forget to tell you that I lost my art's supplies?' If you read my posts, this might ring a bell. His art's supplies were a mandatory purchase from an art supply shop and cost $60. He goes on to tell me he's not been able to find them since he took them to school...2 weeks ago! I feel that calm slipping away. Because Charlie told us last night that he had also lost the wrestling shoes we'd bought for him last week...before he even got them to wrestling class. He thinks he left them in his first period class, but didn't go back to check. The kid lives, and I'm up for sainthood. I lecture, I make a note of everything he needs to do at school and take him in 30 minutes early so he can try to find these things and talk to his teachers. I'd emailed them this morning and gave them a heads up. I come home before Casey leaves to go to school and turn my cell phone on, only to find out that my service has been disconnected. Great. Casey practically runs for the door while he hears me on the phone with Sprint. My phone was back on in less that 30 minutes. Thank you. I get a call from Charlies art teacher telling me that his supplies are in the cabinets with all the other kids art supplies, she's looking at them as we speak, and she doesn't know why he thinks he lost them and hasn't been using them for the last 2 weeks. Oh Charlie...darlin'. I go outside to get in my car to get a few groceries (yeah, 4th time in a week) and see that the trash had been picked up and the bag holding all those foam peanuts that had been in the box with Katy's painting this week, had busted and were up and down both sides of my street. So, I put groceries on hold and spend about 45 minutes picking these little suckers up as the wind is blowing them out of my reach like life is having a great time laughing at me. Paranoid? Yeah, so?? I'm at the grocery store and get a call from Charlie that he saw this kid walking around the school carrying the sack he'd taken his wrestling shoes to school in, and when he confronted the kid, the kid denied they were Charlies. But since it was a Target bag with his wrestling shoes (from Academy) in the bag, Charlie took it away from the kid and walked away. Any fists thrown? I ask him, he tells me no and to not worry about that. But, he says, he did forget to take any clothes for wrestling and he needs me to bring up some athletic shorts and a tee shirt. Thanks, I was wondering what else I could do today. So, after dropping groceries off and finding him his clothes, I take them to school. When I get home I walk inside, carrying a 25 lb. box of cat litter that I'd left in the trunk, and as I step inside the door on the rug I go sliding across my entry way feeling something warm and thick coating my leg. Vomit. I kid you not. (I've got it narrowed down this time to 3 dogs and 3 cats...so actually, I don't have a clue) I pick myself up and clean myself off, take the rug outside and hose it down, wash it off and hang it up. Going back inside I call my husband and ask him if he's too busy to hear me whine. Great guy...he listens. After we hang up I fix myself something to eat. Sitting down on the couch and finding something on tv to watch while I eat, I hear this gut wrenching familiar sound behind me. One of my dogs had vomited by the back door, on another rug. (So, now I pretty much have it narrowed down to one dog) Thank you, and here I was beginning to relax, what an idiot. So, putting my food on the counter, I take that rug outside, hose it down, wash it off and hang it up. I go back inside to see (and I promise you this is the absolute truth) 2 piles of diarrhea in the living room. I cleaned those up, threw my food away, vacuumed, swept and picked up the house and sit outside for 10 minutes until it's time for me to pick Charlie up from school. The good news for the day is that Charlie now has both his art supplies and his wrestling shoes again. (This is a $120 save for Charlie, because he was going to reimburse us if we had to buy these things again) He is, however, grounded for a week with no tv, phone, radio or guitar. He is to spend all of this time getting caught up on homework, studying and maybe reflecting on what he could have done differently. I'd wanted to post about what I'd read on The Humanity Critic's blog today (http://nappydiatribe.blogspot.com/), but I'll wait and do it tomorrow. I'm just plain cranky today. Yeah, I know...I hide it well. :) Besides, Casey just got home and said that his front right tire is flat and won't hold air. Is it too early for bed?
"If you are going to yank the tiger's tail you had better have a plan for dealing with his teeth." --I copied this from John Uppermans blog (http://uppermansblog.blogspot.com/) If you've not visited there yet, you're really missing out.
First of all, it's too late for me to be up with no interest in bed and eating Triscuits (the new Rosemary and Olive Oil Triscuits). But here I am and if I can keep my hand out of the box long enough, I'll get this post done. I didn't get to bed last night till late (yeah, a shocker there) and Mark let me sleep in this morning...so we missed church. It was really nice, thanks hon. Mark went for his routine bike ride and played hackey sack. He told me the other day that he's wanting to start competing and has looked some leagues up on-line. He'd be so good at it. He use to compete in freestyle frisbee when he was younger, and still plays frisbee golf. He's always played hackey sack. I compete at getting through my day with out injury, and I rarely win. Thankfully, the boys take after Mark. Later, Mark and I went to get some groceries. I'd already bought groceries this week, twice in fact. Apparently there is a difference in what I buy for meals and 'cooking'. Mark said he wanted to cook. I still don't get it, but hey...I've never claimed to be domestic. So, he was wanting to make chili again but where we went for groceries was out of ground turkey breast, so he didn't have to do the double batch again. Just made some with his red meat makings. My loss. I told the guys that I was going to go out for a bit and take some pictures. I guess I must have lost track of time, I was gone for awhile. But I had on my ear buds for my ipod and just enjoyed myself. Took quite a few roads I've never been down before and found myself in towns I've only heard of. I guess that was when I realized it was time to start heading home. Did get some great pictures though and will be posting them on my picture blog. While I was off doing my thing, the boys got together with some friends to play basketball and Mark spent the better part of the day 'cooking'. That's pretty much my day. Everyone is in bed, all is quiet and I'm going to take some p.m. stuff and try to call it a night.
Tonight was 'date night' for Mark and I. It was his choice in movies, and he told me last night that it was between Dukes of Hazard and The Cave. I looked at him like he was crazy and he reminded me it was his choice. I can see him taking Charlie to see Dukes, but not me. And as for The Cave, I can not watch water movies...don't know why because I love water. But, okay, he's right and it's his choice. So, he checks the time of the movies last night and says the only thing that could make matters worse..."Star Wars is still on at the theater!" I asked him if really wanted to see Star Wars and he goes on and on about how good the kids had said it was, and it'd be better to see it on the big screen than wait for video. Hey, no big deal...the important thing is that we get to have our alone time. I wake up this morning with a headache, and I'm thinking 'great, Star Wars with a headache. Just gets better and better'. Mark worked this morning and calls me to say he'll pick me up at 11:20 for the movie. (It turns out the Eagles first football game is tonight at SMU, so Casey asked Mark to take him and we decided to do an afternoon movie) I asked him to please tell me what we're going to see, and he tells me I've got to wait. I'm torn between dreading the movie and excited about spending time with Mark. When we get to the window, Mark asks for two tickets to...The 40 Year Old Virgin. YEAH!!! I love this man. He got me, I hate to admit it, but I honestly believed he was going to make me sit through one of those three movies. He had a huge 'gotcha grin' on his face, and I loved it. I also loved the movie. Too funny. We laughed so hard...the entire theater was laughing. It was better than I'd thought it would be and I'm looking forward to seeing it again. Sorry to say, it's not something the boys can see. They've wanted to see it, but it's really not appropriate. They disagree, of course. It's actually too bad, because it did have a decent message to it. Get a chance, go see it. Very, very funny.
This is todays post by: John Upperman Captain, U.S. Army 3-112th Armor
Friday, August 26, 2005 Wake up call My alarm clock went off this morning, and as usual I habitually hit the snooze button. About three minutes later we all woke to the sound of mortar rounds impacting. Needless to say I got up without hitting the snooze button anymore and headed straight for the bunker. Everyone is okay.This was a real wake up call. After coming back from leave one tends to be complacent as your mind is filled with thoughts of home and a renewed sense of anticipation of returning. The stark reality is that we have a way to go before we return home, and there are people out there who want to bring us harm. It doesn't really matter whether their motive is political, criminal, vengeance, or anything else. All that matters is that they want to kill us. The reverse is true as well...we don't really care about their motive. All we care about is ensuring that they fail...and they will.
I can't believe what I just heard. A female fashion designer actually said, regarding carrying a large bag, "How much do you honestly need to carry?" Are you serious? She suggested if you have to carry a large purse, to keep a smaller purse inside it. What?? Okay, actually, I could see that if I had the time to stop and reload every time I left the house or got out of the car. But, without a doubt, I know that whatever I left in the larger bag would be something I needed. It's not so much that a larger purse can be painful to carry and damage our posture as it is that the fashion industry should come up with a bag that is more carrier friendly. Sure, I have friends that carry smaller bags. Usually they're my bags I've bought and given up trying to carry so I give them away rather than see them sit on the top shelf of my closet. There are just things I need when I leave the house. First, I've got to have THREE 'easy to get to' pockets for keys, sunglasses and my phone. I don't like to share those pockets because I don't want to scratch the glasses or my phone. And forget putting them in cases to protect them...takes too much time to get to them that way. I can't leave the house without my phone. I've got kids, for one reason...and friends who need me as much as I need them, at times, to do a favor. I don't go anywhere without sunglasses. Period. Then every woman needs personal 'touch up' items. I'm pretty simple, so all I take is some lip gloss, a compact and nail clippers. Occasionally, depending on where I'm going, maybe a tad more. I, personally, have to carry a small notebook. I'm constantly making notes, and though my Day Planner has paper, I like keeping a notebook on me. Of course, there's my wallet, which is a part of my Day Planner. It has my phone book, my calendar, my cards (credit, insurance, DL...all that), my checkbook and pen, and my cash area. I need a big bag for my Day Planner because I can't go anywhere without it. I also have a spare set of keys to everything, some hand lotion, some perfume and I always have a bottle of water in my bag. Lastly, but very importantly, I carry a small bag for my ipod that the boys got me for my birthday. I honestly have this with me everywhere I go. I listen to it from the time I leave my house, in the car, into the store or wherever I'm going and back home. I love my ipod. These are my essentials. There is nothing here I could leave home without. Now, sometimes I take my camera. I love to take pictures of the most ordinary things, and usually regret it if I don't have it, so sometimes I carry it too. There have been a number of times (that I can count on one hand) that I have left my bag at home when my husband and I have gone somewhere. I've regretted it every time. Some day when I see someone out with a small bag, I may just have to ask to look inside. My bag is like another limb that I can't do without. I use it nearly as much as I do my limbs...come to think of it. Why men don't cary bags, I have no idea. Probably takes a real man to carry a man bag, just like it takes a real woman to carry one.
I have a friend, Dale, that tells me to "feel blessed". Stumps me for a minute, because my first reaction to this is, I am blessed. But then...the word 'feel' hits me. I know that I'm blessed. I've got so many blessings that there are not enough hours in the day to count them all. Do I feel blessed? Not as much as I should. The only one who is at fault for that would be me. It's an interesting concept...to feel blessed. There are definite situations each day that make me feel blessed, i.e....reading some of the MIL blogs, watching the news, driving through some areas of town... But as 'Monk' says, "Here's the thing": I amblessed. I think anyone who has read my blog, or who knows me, could agree with me on this. For nearly half of my life I've had the greatest man for a husband. We've had kids that have never known hunger or any real sickness greater than the chicken pox. We've never been without a roof over our heads or a dependable car to drive. We've never been without friends who cared or family that loved us. So, as much as a pain in the butt as Dale can be...and trust me, he can be, I'm really grateful for his "feel blessed" statements. Though it's not in the way he intended, he had a pearl of wisdom. Thanks Dale. I'm going to make it a point to feel blessed, because there is honestly no reason not to.
Today's quote is from: John Upperman Captain, U.S. Army It's a section of his blog (http://uppermansblog.blogspot.com/) that is such a reality check, I couldn't NOT use it. It's his first entry on his blog since his return to Iraq from two weeks at home for R&R. Besides, he told me I could use it. Thanks John.
We purposed ourselves not to get "stressed out" by trying to do too much. This was not a contest to see how much we could cram into two weeks. It was an opportunity for me to recharge my batteries and spend time with my family. The time went by at a pleasant pace and I soaked in every moment. Nothing was too little to appreciate. There are so many things I could talk about, but something as simple as watching my three year old son get into the kitchen pantry and pick out his "bweakfust" was amazing and amusing to me. My biggest daily task, above anything else, was to tell my wife how beautiful she is and how much I love her, and to hug each one of my kids. When friends had us over for dinner or took us out to eat I made it a point to tell them how much I appreciate their friendship (I don't think I've ever done that before). I made it a point to talk with my neighbors and not be in such a hurry to get back into the house. Those are the things I remember the most. It's not the trip to Sea World...it's the laughter while you're there and seeing the amazement in a little boy's face. It's not the dining out, it's the conversation you share. This deployment has taught me that it's the little things in life that make it worth living. It's all just a matter of perspective.
We all saw 'Four Brothers' today (my late birthday movie). Charlie and I loved it, Mark and Casey said..."It was alright". Honestly, I think it may become one of my favorites. I'll be seeing it again soon. Mark really seems to like the gift I got from Kathleen's and my shopping expedition yesterday. I'm really glad. I was a little hesitant about giving it to him, but he honestly likes it. I got him a spice rack that has a flat sheet of stainless steel as a back and the the spice containers are round stainless steel jars that have a rubber magnetic back to them so that no matter how you hang it or where you put it, they can't fall off until you take one off. The lids can turn to shake or measure out and are glass so they are see through. We've got the spices in the jars and labeled. There are 12 spice jars in all. You can lean it or hang it. Mark wants to hang it on the wall next to the stove. I won't be able to reach it, but I rarely cook anyway. Mark is an awesome cook, as was his dad. So, I'm thrilled that he likes his gift. Again, got it at LUXE...check the place out, it's very cool. *Update: pics of the spice rack
My friend, Kathleen, and I met for lunch today at Mi Cocine in Plano. My first time there, I ditto'd Kathleen's order, and it was good. What was really good was the company. I love Kathleen, she's funny and soooo much smarter than I am. Sometimes I wonder how I've made it this far flying by the seat of my pants. I'm so grateful for friends like Kathleen that inform me of really important stuff. I don't know what they get out of our friendship, but I'm coming out way ahead. After lunch we shopped. She introduced me to a hair salon and boutique called Luxe. It was very cool, I enjoyed it thoroughly. They had some really unique things, I'm already looking forward to going back. Had the most unusual pop-up books. I've never seen anything like it. Had pop-up's with-in pop-ups, a book on dinosaurs. I'm trying desperately to think of someone I could buy it for. :) I did get a sweet little bracelet and something for my hubby. They have a wedding album that was wonderful and I plan on getting it for Chelsea's and Chris's wedding. You can see their picture on my picture blog under Alpha Male. Anyone wanting information about Luxe can email me. You won't be disappointed if you pay them a visit. Other news today...Casey had their first scrimmage in Rockwall. Charlie pulled a bit of a disappearing act and has found himself grounded for a couple of days. Mark and I watched 'Wedding Date' tonight...mmmm, not so good. A few laughs, but not enough to recommend it. That's my day.
I had a visitor stop by yesterday. I know I kept staring while she was here, but I just can't get over how beautiful she is. I know she'll blush when she reads this, and swear at me under her breath, but there ya go...sorry Nikki. I had to stop once while I was talking and say 'you're so pretty'. See, the thing is, I've known this girl, young woman, since she was a child. Her family use to live across the street from us. I've been thinking since we spent the afternoon together yesterday, how blessed I am to have lived on this street for the past 20 years. I've got my best friends living on each side of me (how many people can say that?) and I've never had to worry about locking my car or my home. Anyway, years ago Nikki and 3 other girls (Abi, Kelly and Chelsea) all lived with-in 4 houses each way of us, all different families, all best of friends. I've watched these kids grow up into wonderful and beautiful women. We were all neighbors as they went from grade school to high school graduation before they moved off the street. When they were old enough, they'd babysit my kids, they've taken care of my animals and housesitted my home. I've known their boyfriends (loved some, closed my eyes and shook my head at others), known their joys and shared their fights. We've always stayed close. Nikki and Abi taught Casey how to ride his first bike. They painted faces at the kids birthday parties. There have been times I wanted to spank their butts, and times I've lit up with pride for them. Chelsea still lives next door with her mom. Nikki lives with her long, long, long time boyfriend, Abi and Kelly each live on their own. I can't express how proud I am of these girls, sorry...young women. Each is beautiful. No, I'm serious, not just cute or pretty...somehow they've each grown into gorgeous women. I'm so surprised at how well they're all doing, thinking back to how I was at 20 - 23, these girls are great examples of what our youth can do. I'm so proud of them. And I'm glad that they shared in raising my kids and that my kids have shared in what turned these girls into what they are. Our families all shared similar values, all cared about each other (and still do...nearly all of us are still on the street), and we've all taken a part in raising each others kids. Reminds me of 'It takes a village to raise a child'. I'm so glad that the girls have remained in our lives as they've grown up. It's funny though, because they talk about how fast the boys have grown. They can't get over that they're so tall...that they're in high school, that Casey is driving... Yeah darlin's, I know the feeling. Welcome to my world.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005 An abundance of American ignorance. You can expect some negative comments on Boots In Baghdad. I stumbled across WhyWeHateBush. So, I went there and wrote this: 'You are all incredibly stupid. Wow, I don't even know where to start. I suppose I should start with Iraq, because I am here right now. So you say Saddam had no WMD's? Perhaps you should ask the hundreds of thousands of Iranians, Kuwaitis, Kurds and Iraqis that suffered their wrath. So you say that Saddam Hussein didn't have links to terrorism? We have arrested dozens and dozens of members of Al Queida members in Iraq, not to mention the foreign fighters coming in from Afghanistan, Iran, Syria and Jordan all linked to various terror cells. If any of you really cared about what was happening in Iraq you would attempt to educate yourselves a little bit. Since the invasion the U.S. and other members of the coalition have helped accomplish the following: Build over 3,000 schools, now there are over 20,000 schools up and running with over 6,000,000 students being taught by over 300,000 teachers. We have given life saving vaccinations to over 3,000,000 children. Over 26,000 Iraqi businesses have been started. The Iraqi people have received over $25 billion dollars in oil revenues. Over 1,000 construction projects have been completed and 2,500 projects are underway. There are over 76,000 soldiers in the new Iraqi Army, another 12,000 in training. There are over 92,000 Iraqi Police Officers on the streets with 3,500 coming out of training every day. Iraq's stock exchange has been up and running for over a year. Not to mention a ruthless tyrant has been jailed and a nation liberated. I am an American Soldier. I dropped out of college and volunteered to come to Iraq. I have been here for eleven months. I can say without any doubt in my mind that I have accomplished great things this year. I have touched many lives and made a difference. I have defended the people of Baghdad (who want us here) from terrorists that want more than anything for the U.S. to leave prematurely so that democracy fails in Iraq. I have visited hundreds and hundreds of schools and hospitals and given them supplies and medications. I have trained and worked side by side with the brave soldiers of the Iraqi Army. I, with my friends in the U.S. Armed Forces have accomplished great things in Iraq for the people of Iraq. More importantly, we have been defending your freedoms. We have been sacrificing so that you can sit and insult us without consequence. So enjoy it. Because I can tell you first hand it isn't free.'
Unfortunately, the majority of my generation shares the ignorant sentiments represented at WhyWeHateBush. I started this web page specifically for them. They, however, are too busy talking to listen.
First thing this morning, after seeing Mark off to work, taking Charlie to school and seeing Casey off...I thought I'd download some new songs onto the iPod the boys had given me for my birthday. I've only done this once before, and it was under Casey's supervision, but I thought I could do it. I was wrong. Somehow, and I yet to know how, I deleted every song out of my library in itunes. So, I spent the majority of the day RE-downloading my favorite cd's and RE-buying my favorite songs. Again. Thanks honey, for being patient with me when I kept calling with questions.
I did get to take a break and have lunch with Terri at Olive Garden. I love Terri, she is so honest and sincere. Oh yeah, and a real hoot. :) I also enjoyed watching she and a guy across the restaurant flirt like teenagers. I told her to go after him when he left...but ships in the night.
The majority of the rest of the day I've been sitting on my butt here trying to get back my 'tunes'. I love my iPod. I'm still missing some songs that I can't even remember the names to, but I'll come across them sooner or later, and the 10 plus hours I've got downloaded on it now should keep me for awhile.
Please take a few minutes to read this blog. Yes, another blog! This guy is so unbelievably amazing. He is a twenty-two year old National Guard Infantryman serving in Baghdad. His writing is so far beyond his years, a complete joy to read. And he's writing about what he knows and sees first hand. Take another minute to look at his pictures. Awesome. And, again...you're welcome. http://www.bootsinbaghdad.blogspot.com/ A taste: Friday, July 15, 2005 thoughts on the press We went out this morning and did school assessments. School assessments consist of going to the schools in our area and seeing what they need, whether it be supplies or increased security. We have been joined by an Iraqi television journalist. He is a nice guy and will be with us for a few days. A couple of days ago we went into some of the poorer parts of our area and handed out several hundred chickens. There are pictures at Boots In Baghdad Photographs. I have a program on this web page that allows me to see which links direct traffic to my site. When I have the time I like to browse through them. A lot of them are forums discussing various topics in and around the war on terror and the situation in Iraq. A few days ago I came across an online forum hosted by an American university that was discussing the role of American journalists in Iraq. There were many differing opinions offered. One was that for a journalist to be objective when reporting international events, they couldn’t regard themselves as American citizens, only as citizens of the world. That may very well be the case. I don’t necessarily think that to be objective you need to go quite that far. I can be very critical of the United States when it is deserved. However, I love America. While it isn’t perfect, I believe it is closer to perfection than any other nation or civilization has been or will ever be. In all that I do, the best for the American people and the United States is my primary concern. This holds true in my thoughts and opinions regarding Iraq. I think in this instance it just so happens that what is good for America is good for Iraq. That, however, is a whole other post.I don’t have a problem with how a journalist chooses to regard, or disregard for that matter, their nation and their countrymen. I do however feel that there is a HUGE void in western journalism. Bad things happen here. There isn’t any denying that. However, good things, great and incredible things, are happening every day. If objectivity were the goal, why is there so little mention of the good? Now, I am by no means an expert in journalism, but I would think that reporting the good in proportion with the bad would be the key to objectivity.By only reporting the bad, an entirely different picture of the situation is created. The disservice isn’t so much to the United States as it is to the people of Iraq and the rest of the world. Perhaps a journalist's loyalty to the U.S. isn’t where objectivity is threatened, maybe it is the loyalty to better ratings and career advancement that are the problems.So, I guess I hope that as the Iraqi media follows the path of the western press, they don’t follow step by step. Just a thought. Okay, one more: Walking through a crowded market in Baghdad. The first time I heard a mosque’s call for prayer. Waking up to outgoing artillery. Jumping out of a Blackhawk into sector. Helplessly hearing your friends taking heavy fire three clicks away. Low crawling through the mud in the rain to get on a roof before the power comes back on. Watching a mother scream and cry while leaning over her wounded son. Experiencing Iraq.I guess what I am trying to say is if there is one thing I’ve learned this year, reading may serve as the foundation to education. However, the void of comprehension and understanding can only be filled by experience. I suppose that once you reach a suitable balance of the two, you begin to realize just how much you don’t know and just how big this world can be.
Charlie is listening to bands that are protesting the war...I'm a child of the 60's and 70's, so I can relate to this. Absolutely. I, too, am against the war. Though I know that there are those who, for whatever reasons, are in favor of war, I thank God that I can not relate to them. However, what Iam is pro justice. And, again, being a child of the 60's and 70's, I know that justice isn't free, but it is something worth fighting for. Charlie has taken my pictures of Martin Luther King, Jr. and hung them in his room. He has the American flag, that my grandmother was given at my grandad's funeral, hanging up, framed, in his room. Because of these things, I know that his heart is filled with a love for justice that has been passed down to him by generations of those who found it worth fighting for. When I was pregnant with Charlie, I sat on the floor while watching Eyes On The Prize, the series depicting the struggle for racial equality profiling MLK, Jr., with my hand on my belly, praying that Charlie would never be able to turn his back on some one in need. Through the years I've had the boys watch this series quite a few times. He's heard my Dad tell him stories of lying about his age so that he could join the Navy. How he dropped out of high school so that he could do what he believed in, and came back after the war to finish high school (older and wiser) with a class much younger than he. What I've tried to instill in my boys is that as long as someone is being denied justice, setting back and accepting it simply because it isn't on your doorstep is the same thing as siding with those denying others of the right of justice. I have seen both of my kids hold up for others at the risk of getting into trouble themselves, and I'm always proud of them. We've taught them to only fight back in defense of themselves if there is no other action to take, so it's not like we've ever supported violence of any kind. But, there are so many, for whatever reason, that will be beaten down with no chance of being able to get up on their own, unless someone takes a selfless stand to help them. Charlie (who will be 15 in December) talks about joining the military after high school and going to college afterwards. Do I want him to do this...not with any part of my being. Will I support him...absolutely. I asked Charlie yesterday why he wants to join the service if he is so against war. My baby said 'because I see how much the soldiers are helping the kids and the people in Iraq.' (We read on-line MIL blogs such as: http://www.dixiesappers.org/hhc/journal/archive.html, http://iraq.billhobbs.com/archives/006272.html, http://waynesworld2005.blogspot.com/, http://uppermansblog.blogspot.com/) I love this kid. I am proud of him. And...I support him, even in his choice of bands.
Casey and I went to church this morning, while Mark and Charlie stayed home. It was one of those messages that you are glad you got to hear. Wish Mark and Charlie had gotten to go too. Mark had made chili yesterday for he and the boys (he uses meat and I don't eat any meat but seafood and an occasional turkey breast) and they're all raving about it. Mark's chili is very well known and often asked for. So today Mark made me some chili with ground turkey breast. It is so good. I haven't ate meat since I was 13 years old, so I'm not sure I've ever had chili before. Mark's chili is spicy, very spicy...we all are huge fans of spicy. I've got to say THANK YOU to my sweetie for making me the chili today. Making chili twice in 24 hours...not an easy feat. Especially when he worked Saturday too. What a great guy.
I woke up this morning with a headache. I get them too often, no big deal. Fortunately, my family is a fully functioning unit on it's own...so no big deal. I wrapped up everything I needed to do, and then some, took some pain meds and went to bed, no big deal. I woke up around 7'ish and Mark is on a bike ride, Charlie is downloading songs on the computer and Casey...wait...no Casey? Charlie tells me that Casey went to the movies with some friends. What movie? Don't know. What friends? Don't know. I checked the driveway to see if there is a car gone, and yup...one is gone. Okay...I wait for Mark to come home and I ask him a couple easy questions. What movie did Casey go see? Don't know. Who went with him? Don't know. This 6'1" kid is still a kid...16 is still a kid. Is he more of a kid to me than to his dad simply because I'm a mom? Mark said he's just glad that he got out of the house and got together with some friends for a change (he can be a bit of a home body sometimes), and after all...it's Saturday night. Sixteen is still young enough to be accountable, even if they are an extremely responsible sixteen year old. So...apparently when I think things are 'no big deal'...I need to keep my eyes open.
Update - Casey went to see Deuce Bigalow with four girls from school. Poor guy. LOL Needless to say, he enjoyed himself.
Yesterday I wrote about Marko taking Charlie to see SOAD and updated it by writing how much he enjoyed it, unexpected as that was. This morning they both told me, separately, how great the concert was. Charlie's neck was a bit sore from jerking it back and forth (Mark called it 'head banging') but other than that, it was all good. This morning I heard one of my favorite Dallas dj's, Big Al, had also gone to the concert. This by itself was funny, considering the dj. So, I read about his experience on his blog...which sounded like he'd spent a couple of hours on the wrong side of the tracks in hell. You can read about it here ( http://www.kiddlive.com/blog/readblog.html?who=Al )...a good laugh, had my son not been there. So, I emailed this to my hubby, and I've got to post his email reply. Here goes: We saw the mosh pits and bottles flying. We saw one girl flash, but she had her back to us. Charlie was a little disappointed when he finally figured out what he had missed. All of the craziness happened on the floor. We were a good distance from that. Some girl behind Charlie kept pulling his hair. We did get sprayed a couple times with some unknown liquid from behind, and had cups and bottles land near us. The guy next to Charlie spilled his beer on him, he turned to me and asked if beer would wash out of his jeans, saying "I like these jeans." Yup, this is 'MY LIFE AS I LIVE IT'. Gotta love it.
Charlie's favorite band, System Of A Down, is playing tonight in Dallas. Mark got he and Charlie tickets a few months ago, as soon as it was announced they'd be here. Please make note that Mark is completely into classic rock. This is not the classification that you would place System Of A Down into. But, it's Charlie's favorite band. Mark had taken both the boys to see Rush when they came to Dallas a few months ago, which they all loved. Casey, however, has no interest in tonight's concert. Pretty much the same as Mark. So, I am extremely proud of Mark for taking Charlie tonight for two reasons. One, because I'd never, ever, want to go to this concert. Two, because it proves to Charlie (and me), once again, that his Dad is a wonderful man...and that both Charlie and I are so blessed to have him. Casey and I will be on our own tonight and so the next question will be, pizza or Thai?
*Update: Mark is now a fan of System of a Down (SOAD). Yes...I am serious. He is, however, glad he took ear plugs for the two warm up bands.
The boys tell me that tomorrow should be the first real day of classes. They've spent the last three days getting to know students and teachers. I'm just hoping that we're done with the supply lists. Every day so far, more lists have come home and frankly...I'm tired of the crowded aisles of Staples and Wal-mart. FYI, Staples is cheaper by far and easier to find supplies. I am surprised by the art classes they're taking. Casey's is at the high school and Charlie's is at the freshman center, but they're both required to purchase art kits from an art supply store, which I bought today. $70 for one and $60 for the other. Is that unheard of? Jeeze, it's a one semester class. That's more than both of their school supplies together. We're fortunate here that we don't have to buy their books or pay rental fee's. I know that some states do, so...I should hush my complaining, huh? I just don't get the major bucks for art supply kits for a high school class, whine...whine...whine.
Casey is doing great driving. Every morning when I watch him drive off, I feel so proud of him. I was thinking today that he'll be graduating in less than two years. How is that possible? I'll soon be watching him walk across a stage in his cap and gown with flashes going off all around us. 2007 then 2009. In 2010 we'll be empty nesters... It's funny. You know how your kids can seem to not need you whatsoever until you are behind a locked door. Never fails. And age just doesn't matter. When they were babies, I'd want to hire a babysitter just to use the bathroom or take a bath in peace. Oh, how I'd long for just a few minutes of alone time. Now isn't really that much different. And, being the lone female in a house of males, sometimes they just don't get the need for privacy. If a door isn't locked, it'll be opened. Every single time. Kinda get tired of always needing to shut and lock a door to have a moment of privacy. Wonder if that'll be something I miss in 2010... Nah.
I completely adore my family. Far from perfect, and far from not. I've so much to be grateful for, as my friends constantly remind me. I know I write about the boys, but hey...look at them! :) I try not to get too personal about them on my blog because, well, they already think I tell too much. They disagree with everything I write about them, but I write as I see it. However, I haven't written much about my husband. There is a reason for that as well. He's even more private than my boys, and he occasionally reads my blog and I'd never want to invade his privacy. Well...I don't mind invading it but I wouldn't want for anyone else to do it. I asked him last night if I could write about him, and he has given me his permission to share..."as long as it doesn't get too personal". I get a lot of emails from friends and family that I don't see regularly asking about Mark, so with his permission, I'll write about my Marko.
Mark and I found each other in Bible College in 1984 and married two weeks after we met. I got very lucky, Mark...not so much. But that's another story. Shortly after we married we decided to donate blood together, and found out by doing so that Mark had hepatitis C. We were young, not so bright, and pretty much broke as well. We never went to the doctor, and in all honestly, didn't have much of a clue as to what hepatitis C was. We have no idea how long he'd had it or how he'd gotten it. Neither of us were angels before we met, but Mark had a life threatening condition when he was born and was given a complete blood transfusion. So for all anyone can guess, he may have always had it. He's had blood tests for life insurance and minor surgeries in the past 20 years, but nothing was ever mentioned about it showing up in tests so we let it slide in the scheme of things called our life. Last year during a physical, it may have been Marks first volunteered physical, the hepatitis C raised it's ugly head and we were faced to deal with it. Since that time, Mark has had to go through test after test, a liver biopsy and taking medication, all in an effort just to get him ready for treatment. He will be taking part in a study treatment for the Liver Institute in Dallas. Mark rarely complains, though I wish sometimes he would rather than hold everything in, but he buckled down and has gotten himself braced for whatever he is going to need to go through. He is in a stage 4, which isn't good but it could be worse. I believe the last stage would be stage 5. There is a good chance of recovery for Mark, and that's what we're believing for. He started working out, seriously working out, and lost a good 30 lbs. He's more fit than when I met him...and he was fit then, trust me. There are some serious side effects to the treatment that he'll be undergoing and he's taking what precautions he can now to make those as minimal as possible. He's a good man, and I love him very much. I'm glad that he's let me share this here, and I'll keep it updated. Thanks to all my friends and family who ask about him and thank you for your prayers.
School started today, yup, that bright light you see is my smile. I drove Charlie and a friend to school at about 7:40 and joined the double lane road of parents barely moving to drop kids off at the freshman center. Charlie and Luis, like most kids, were getting out of the car and walking, leaving the parents to creep along alone till the traffic cleared a block and 20 minutes down the road. I came home to see Casey leave for the high school (junior this year), driving himself. I waved, he smiled and life is good. I've spent the last three hours finishing off some boxes for AnySoldier.com and I'm fixin' to head to the post office. I realize that I devote a lot of space here to the military...and to some it's not the most desired reading if you're stopping by to check in on my life. And to that, my dear friends, I say "get over it". There is so much good you can do just sitting on your butt, such as writing a 'thank you' to an anonymous soldier who would be unbelievably grateful...or sending a bag of gummi bears to someone on AnySoldier.com. If the only thing I do is motivate one to send one, then I'm a happy camper. God bless all of you whose hearts are touched by our hero's.
Lee Pitts Outlines His Experiences In Iraq From The Chattanoogan: Mr. Pitts said he was glad that he was able to spend time in rural parts of Iraq. He said most journalists focus on “chasing bombs” in Baghdad. He said this causes “readers back home to get a distorted view.” This is similar to “reading about the south side of Chicago and thinking it stands for all of America,” he said. That is absolutely true. And, since most of Iraq is doing very well, media who engage in this distortion are reporting the exact opposite of what is happening in the majority of the country. That deception is to be expected from political opponents of the war but media coverage should be about reporting the facts. Posted by Lance Frizzell at 10:27 AM http://iraq.billhobbs.com/archives/2005_08.html
I've mentioned Charlie's volunteering at the library this summer. We've been so proud of him for doing it. None of his friends volunteered, he did it all on his own. He signed up for every teen volunteer job they had. He never once complained or tried to get out of going. So...tonight was the night we wanted to show him how proud of him we are. We took him to his favorite restaurant, which I couldn't begin to spell. I can tell you it's steak, seafood and sushi. Charlie loves sushi. I guess I'm a food wimp, I don't eat any meat but seafood. An occasional turkey breast at the holidays...that's about it. And...I don't like utensils that's touched meat to touch mine. So this was a huge deal for me. They cooked the shrimp on the grill with the steak and chicken and used the same utensil. Marko didn't think I'd eat it. But, well, it was Charlies dinner so I kind of hated to not eat it. Gotta tell you, it was good. I also tried saki for the first time. I didn't like it at all...but I did drink it all. :) As stuffed as we all were, leaving the restaurant we saw a Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory...and decided to just stop by for a visit. A short visit. A $30, but wonderful, chocolate visit. The whole night was a very good time, thanks for volunteering Charlie.
Shopping! Back to school shopping...again. This is the week end before school that Texas doesn't charge any sales tax on school clothes, etc. I'd thought it started tomorrow, actually, and that by going today we'd be missing the crowds. My mistake. But it wasn't all that bad. Casey insisted that he didn't want or need anything. Charlie insisted that he wanted and needed everything. Charlie loves the tee's with his favorite bands (he got Metallica and System of the Down) and some by fender (they have skulls...why??) and some long sleeve shirts to wear over AND under them. He got a cute beenie with a bill on it... He's dressing between gothic and skater boy. Maybe gothic doesn't mean the same thing it use to, because he insists it's not gothic. It is to me darlin'. Casey just refused to look at or try anything on. We went into a pretty cool new store 'Buckle' and one of the clerks had gone to high school last year with Casey and he talked Casey into a shirt. Didn't look anything like what he's accustomed to wearing, but I really liked it. He gave in and got it. Here is the kicker for the day...and, naturally, it's a Charlie story. As we were leaving the mall, I sat in one of those automated massage chairs. I've never tried one before, but Casey has and told me I'd like it. As I put in my dollar for the chair, Charlie spots an area down the corridor that has about 4 to 5 guys giving massages for $12.00. I yell at Charlie not to do it unless he's going to pay for it. He keeps going. See, the thing here is...I know Charlie doesn't have the money because he's been doing extra chores this week to make some extra money on his allowance to take his girlfriend out this week end. So, I'm wondering whether I should bail him out or let him suffer the consequences. I decide (since he's already grounded for another matter) to let him suffer. Casey and I go to the food court, get something to drink and watch the show. Apparently, it's a 15 minute massage. When it's done Charlie gets up, smiles and thanks them, and starts to walk off. The man that gave him the massage grabbed him, and it looked like they had quite the discussion. The masseur brings one of his co-workers into the conversation and Charlie just stands there looking very lost. They point at a chair, and we see him sit down. We figure they'll go get security. He sits there for about 5 minutes and finally they tell him to go. Casey and I followed him for a bit before we let him see us. We had hoped he'd get into a bit more trouble. On the surface, it looks like he got away with a free massage. However, he was very scared and he's taking $12.00 from the allowance he gets tonight, plus a $5.00 tip, up to the mall tomorrow and paying them. He swears he didn't hear me say "NO" or say "you'll have to pay for it yourself, I'm not paying for it for you". Hopefully, he'll learn to listen more carefully. If not, we'll probably be seeing his picture up in the local malls with the caption 'GET MONEY FIRST'. In all fairness, he did feel really bad (again, he promises he thought I would pay for it) and it was his idea to go back to the mall tomorrow and pay them before I'd even had a chance to tell him he was going to do it. We went to the Guess store after the mall and I dropped the guys off while I shopped elsewhere. When I went back to pick them up, Casey had finally found something he liked. So, I'll consider today a success. New clothes and a new Charlie story. Gotta love it.
I've had many people sending me forwards lately regarding our military. Normally, unless it's an unusually funny joke or animal pictures, I'm not a fan of forwards. The few I've gotten in the past couple of days have been emotionally crippling and heart wrenching. They've also put me on my knees...thanking God for the men and women of our military. I am in awe of not only the courage and the selflessness of these amazing men and women, but of the heart they have for people. American people, yes...but their hearts have such a capacity of giving and caring that it envelopes every nations' people in need. Our soldiers are bearing the heat of 130 degrees to clothe, feed and give medical attention to the children of countries whose borders are so far from the ones touching our homelands. All the while clearing the way in that country so that the children may have a chance of growing up, and have something worth growing up for. God bless our military. God bless our volunteers who step outside their comfort zone to put the worth of someone else's life before their own. I'm a full grown adult, and I'm not clueless to the fact that many oppose the war, any war. How wonderful it would be to live in a world that came to terms with each persons differences and actually respected those differences rather than stepped on them. But we don't. And as comfortable as it may be to sit in front of their television watching CNN and passing their judgmental opinions of the actions of others, unfortunately it's that action that others take that make it possible to sit safely in their homes. I'm reminded of the song by Bonnie Tyler 'Holding Out For A Hero'. Remember some of these lyrics? "Where have all the good men gone, where are all the gods? Where's the street-wise Hercules to fight the rising odds? Isn't there a white knight upon a fiery steed? Late at night I toss and I turn and I dream of what I need. I need a hero, I'm holding out for a hero till the morning light. He's gotta be sure and it's gotta be soon and he's gotta be larger than life. Somewhere just beyond my reach there's someone reaching back for me. Racing on the thunder and rising with the heat. Up where the mountains meet the heavens above, out where the lightning splits the sea, I could swear there's someone watching me. Through the wind and the chill and the rain and the storm and the flood, I can feel his approach like a fire in my blood. I need a hero, I'm holding out for a hero till the end of the night. He's gotta be strong and he's gotta be fast and he's gotta be fresh from the fight. I need a hero. I'm holding out for a hero till the morning light. He's gotta be sure and it's gotta be soon and he's gotta be larger than life." So many in our world are literally crying out for a hero, and thank God for those who step up to the plate. Thank God for our street-wise hercules that fight the rising odds, for the white knights in their tanks and hummers, for those reaching out to those in need...for the strong, for the fast and the larger than life.
...and two of my best buddies in the whole world came banging on my door at 8:30 a.m. Their saving grace was that they came bearing gifts. Loved each and every one of the gifts (even the X rated stuff...thanks Mac). My hubby spoiled me with his gift and the boys gave me an ipod. Oh, and my sweetheart of a pal in Ohio, Katy, is painting one of her well sought after masterpieces for me. The boys are busy today with school registration. Casey is taking care of it all, with the driving and such, so that I can have my day for me. What a darlin. I'm so surprised that I feel as calm as I do about Casey's driving. I'd always thought I'd be a nervous wreck...but I have such a peace about it that it must be God. Charlie worked a double shift volunteering at the library yesterday. Actually, they had him training teachers for using the library. Impressive. Casey, my friend Terri along with her daughter Chelsea, and I went to Fridays for lunch. Chelsea told them it was my birthday and got me this desert that we all shared. It was some sort of chocolate cake/brownie with ice cream and hot fudge and caramel over it. I can honestly say, it was very close to being the best thing I've ever had in my mouth. When you go to TGI Friday's, find it. Trust me. Yeah...you're welcome in advance. More later...
The boys and I had lunch today at Applebees. This is their last week before school starts, and I think there is a definite possibility that I'm going to miss them. I sat across the table from both of them this afternoon and just stared in awe of the two of them. When did they grow up so much? First there is Casey, now driving and will be a junior in high school. The kid is so unbelievably dependable. Every morning he drives himself to football and straight home after. I've never told him to come straight home...but he always does. He recently had his first heart break, and that is probably the hardest thing I've ever had to go through with him. I remember how young love hurts. Next I have Charlie. Charlie will be a freshman. I've never known anyone with more personality, trying so hard to find his place in the world. He heard the term 'march to your own drummer' and took off running instead. Sometimes it gets him into trouble, but his dad and I always try to understand why. The top picture was Casey's first day of kindergarten. Charlie and I dropped him off in a room full of new faces and an adorable teacher. But...I'm a mom, and my emotions must have been apparent, to Charlie anyway. Charlie squeezed my hand and said "Don't worry mom, we'll get him back". I'll never forget it. That is one of my favorite 'Charlie stories'. It's classic Charlie. So, now, here I am with 2 kids over 6 ft. tall, both in high school, one of them driving, and I still see two little boys. My boys, and (thank you Jesus) my best friends.
My friend, Terri, and I spent the afternoon boxing and addressing packages for anysoldier.com. We are so blessed to be able to contribute to this program, it's such a wonderful feeling to help...even if it's in a small way. And to top it off, my friend Katy in Ohio called me as I was taping up a box to tell me how her home is turning into a warehouse from all the stock she has for anysoldier.com. And better still...she heard about anysoldier.com from this blog. Remember that 'wonderful feeling' I mentioned before? Insert it here too. :)
To tidy up this post for today, life is good and I am blessed.