A homecoming

This week there was a homecoming in my town. The first ever of it’s sort.

One where almost everyone turned out. One where the middle school kids all walked down to the main street downtown and lined the streets with flags in hand.

It was the kind of homecoming that I hope that I never have to experience again.

Freedom Riders

We welcomed home a fallen soldier.

He was so young… barely 20 years old and had just graduated from high school a mere two years ago.

High school football star, son, friend, and soldier.

He was honored by an entire community in so many ways this past week.

hearse

He was brought into town by the Freedom Riders, military, police, and family.

I didn’t know him and as a matter of fact I had never heard of him until I saw the story on the news. He was on his first overseas tour and was killed in Afganistan when a bomb thrown over a base wall by insurgents exploded.

Another young life lost… lost to a war that seems to have gone on forever. A war some call senseless. A war that others support.

police

I went to watch the procession out of respect and to honor someone who was doing something that they loved. Something that afforded me the freedoms that I have today.

Watching this was one of the most difficult things that I have ever experienced in my life. It was heart wrenching to think of his parents,  his family, friends, and teachers who all loved him.

It was hard because my sister is an active member of the military and so is my brother in law (her husband) and my own brother is a retired Marine. I can’t imagine this happening to my family… then again who does? We all know that it’s a possibility but never fully accept it.

 

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At then end people gathered to watch the military carry his casket into the funeral home with his family by his side. This is not the homecoming that they had ever dreamt of. This is not how his story should have ended.

soldiers

I stood off to the side as the local MP unit left and tried as best as I could to hold my composure. They were all young… I wanted to reach out and thank them for all that they have done, but the words simply would not come out. I know that it had to be difficult for them too. But a soldier must remain stoic and hold their emotions in.

I called my sister as soon as I was back in my car. I went over the entire event with her… amazed at how silent the town had become as soon as people saw the first flash of light from the police cruiser. I was impressed with how well behaved and quiet almost 1000 middle school students were as the procession came into town.

Old and young… military and civilian… all stood outside together in the fall heat waiting for the return of a fallen soldier. All stood silent with flags and hands over there hearts as tears fell from their eyes.

I told her that I could never do it. I’m simply not cut out to be in the military and didn’t know how she and her husband did it. She explained that it takes a certain kind of person and they do what they have to do. I know that it hasn’t been easy for her and that while she was overseas in Iraq if was difficult. She doesn’t talk about her time in Iraq very much… it’s something that she keeps closely guarded.

I worry that one day that procession will be for her or her husband. I worry that one day it will be someone that I know.

On being a parent

Well, it’s Monday again and in lieu of the Monday Menu (I couldn’t come up with something good) I decided to link up with Just.Be.Enough for a change.

It’s been a while since I wrote anything for their weekly link up but something just clicked this week… I’m not sure what it was. Oh wait, yes I do.

My sister called me Sunday evening and we talked as we normally do but then out of curiosity I asked if she had spoken with our dad in a while. I pretty much knew the answer… she hadn’t. But I wanted to hear what she had to say and if she was still upset with him, of course she was.

Each of us has a different style of parenting, a different style of discipling, and different ways of showing love to our kids. There isn’t much out there either to say that one way is wrong and another is right and we all do what works best for our families and our situation. Honestly, I think that we all make mistakes once in a while…. almost daily in my case. I know that I’m far from perfect and try to realize where I go wrong and not do it again.

My sister and I are pretty close and often a day rarely goes by that we don’t talk. In ways we are similar… scary similar and then in other ways we are so different, but that’s what makes us who we are. Raising our kids is one of the ways that we differ.

While she was home my parents got upset about the way her & her husband treated their son(s). They thought that my sister & her husband were to hard on the boys and didn’t treat them equally. My parents said something to them and caused quiet a stir that weekend… needless to say things were a little tense.

Did I agree with the way they treated the boys? No, but it’s not my place to say anything how they raise their kids. They’re not mean, they’re not abusive, or anything like that. What they are is strict and they mean business when they say something… they’re also a dual military family (20+ years in the service for them). I think that alone says something.

Did I agree with how my parents went about saying something? No, but that’s just them. Really, it could have been a lot worse…. my parents held back a lot. But they couldn’t hold it in for long and my dad finally called my sister and let her have it.

Long story short my sister is still upset and through our conversation she said something that stuck with me…. there are things that I do as a parent that she doesn’t like. She didn’t elaborate on it or even hint at what it was, but while I know we don’t agree on things it caught me off guard. What was it that I do wrong? What is it that she doesn’t like?

It’s been bugging me ever since I talked to her…. is there a lot that I’m doing wrong? Have I done everything wrong as a parent?

Am I enough?

I love my kids dearly.

I would do anything for my kids.

I try my best every single day.

I want only the best for my kids.

I listen to them.

I give them the best advice I have.

I set boundaries & have rules.

I am enough!

We’re all different as parents and we all do the very best that we can each day.

That said… I am enough and so are you.

Wordful Wednesday ~ My Michigan Memory

A couple weeks ago we took a vacation in Mackinaw City at a local campground/resort that we can always seem to get into no matter how long we wait to make reservations. It’s a practically perfect place with the campsites facing the water and great views of the Mackinac Bridge & Island…. the only thing that keeps it from being perfect is all the rocks that are in the lake (water shoes are a must).

There was always a gentle breeze coming off the water and you can hear the sound of the waves crashing on the beach and evening bon fires on the beach where everyone could gather round and share their day along with some delicious s’mores.

around the bon fire

Our days weren’t just spent laying around the beach enjoying the beautiful view though! We took off and played tourist in our own state and headed up to the U.P.!

Whitefish Point

 Our first stop was at Whitefish Point on Lake Superior. The water here is crystal clear and as cold as ice…. it’s one of the great lakes that really never warms up and is home to many ship wreaks and the ship wreak museum. Just going there to spend some time on the beach is worth it because it is such a beautiful place and worth the drive.

But if you decide to go into the museum (which you should) this is one of the items that you’ll be impressed with… and the main reason that we went because my youngest daughter really wanted to see it.

This is the bell that was pulled up from the Edmund Fitzgerald that sunk in 1975…. I’m sure that if you’ve ever listened to the radio you’ve heard the song about the ship wreak made famous by Gordon Lightfoot.

Edmund Fitzgerald Bell

Our next stop on our trip was Tahquamenon Falls.. or just the upper portion since the kids were getting tired and hiking wasn’t something that they wanted to do more of that day. Just a fact or two for you… the upper falls is one of the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi and has a drop of nearly 50 ft and is more than 200 ft across.

I just like going to take in the beauty of it and to hike the trails that follow it. 

Tahquamenon Falls

When were were there it was hot but there was a cool breeze coming off through the gorge and you could smell the pine trees…. it was such a clean, fresh scent. A smell that tells you that you are truly up north!

I leave you with one final picture… the evening sunset over the Mackinac Bridge.

sunset over the bridge

 Have taken a family vacation yet? What did you do?

Guess what…. of course it’s Wednesday and I’m linking up with Angie from Seven Clown Circus and Amanda from Parenting by Dummies!

Wordful Wednesday ~ Where has the time gone?

Today my oldest daughter drove her first car home.

Today I smiled as she got out of her car and fondly remembered myself at the same age.

Today I wondered where the time has gone.

Cait1

Where did this baby go?

Where did those chubby cheeks and baby smiles go?

How did we get to 16?

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I look at this little face and wonder where the time has gone. I know that it didn’t just fly by while I was sleeping because I have so many wonderful memories, so many pictures, and so much love to have missed any of it.

My hope for her is that she knows how much I love her.

My hope is that she knows how incredibly proud I am of her and all that she has accomplished.

My hope is that every dream she has comes true.

cait-fall

But for all my love & pride in her I have fear.

I’m afraid of her growing up and not needing me anymore.

I’m afraid of her going away to college.

I’m afraid that I won’t be able to help her when she fails at something.

Cait

Look at her….

Isn’t she beautiful?

I think she is…. but the again I’m biased.

In my heart I know that all will work out perfectly, but sometimes it’s hard to not wish for more time with that chubby cheeked baby.


Wordful Wednesday ~ Today

Today is the first day that you start daycare… you’re a big boy now and will have so much fun.

Today you will make new friends with all the other 2 year olds in your classroom and come to love your teachers.

Easter Scavenger Hunt

Today you will sit at the table like a big boy and eat lunch with all of your new friends and teachers.

Today I will worry that you will be scared and unsure of your new surroundings even though we’ve visited the classroom a couple of times.

blowing bubbles

Today I will worry that you’ll cry when daddy leaves and you’ll be all alone with new people.

Today I will also worry that I am failing you because I am not home with you like I was with your sisters.

Today a new page in our lives begins.

Playing in the sand

I know that this is the right thing to do for you and that you are going to learn and grow so much from being in a structured daycare and that you will enjoy it in time.

I’ve seen the things that the other children can say and do and was surprised. I couldn’t believe that they could recognize the names of their friends on flash cards…. I couldn’t believe that some of your new friends could talk in complete sentences that I could fully understand. I know that you will be sitting in that circle with them and doing the exact same things as them in no time.

playing with the buzz quad

Pretty soon you’ll be rattling things off in complete sentences and telling us about your day and how much fun you had.

This first day is going to drag for me as I watch the clock tick… waiting for that magical hour when I can leave work and finally come and get you and gathe you in my arms. All day I will wonder if you’re okay but I won’t visit yet because you need to get adjusted, but I will call to check on you. I need to for my own sake really… I need to know that you’re alright and now having a meltdown.

As the days turn into weeks I know that things will get easier for the both of us. All you need to remember is that we love you so much and that you will learn a lot and have fun.

 


Random Thoughts for Wednesday

Today’s post is going to full of random thoughts…. why? I guess because I have a lot on my mind and some things I can share and others I can’t. So we’ll just go with what I can share for now.

I was super lucky and was able to get into Melissa’s (@MelACulbertson) incredible class, Content Brew . It’s only been two days but I’ve already learned a great deal from the class, which by the way is a go at your own pace so I don’t have to worry about not being able to keep up! But this is what’s got me…. my content sucks. I decided a while back to post on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday leaving Tuesday and Thursday open for reviews/giveaways if necessary and then the weekends are always off. After filling out the content calendar I realized that what I have is barely my own… Monday is recipes, Wednesday is usually a Wordful Wednesday link up or Pour Your Heart Out, and then Friday I usually save for the fiction prompts over at Write on Edge. There is nothing that is full of depth, emotion, or something that has readers coming back for more.

I mean it’s not like I don’t have anything to write about…. I have 4 kids ranging in age from toddler to teen! Geesh… if that isn’t blog fodder I don’t know what is!

I think that this is what it comes down to. Time. The amount of time that I have to actually sit down and write a couple of posts is pretty limited. Okay, it’s non existent. I manage to do a post the night before it goes live and that’s it and any planning further ahead doesn’t happen much.

The random thoughts continue….

This past week summer has come early here in Michigan with temps in the mid 80’s. Yes, you read that right….80’s so we’ve pretty much skipped spring this year. Temperatures that are 40 degrees above normal! The good part about this is that I’ve been able to put to use some of the cool tips and tricks I’ve learned in the SITS  Pinterest Challenge with Courtney from  Click it Up a Notch and because of it my pictures have been a lot better!

Andrew

If you’re looking to create great pictures for yourself, your blog, Pinterest, or whatever I’d  highly recommend checking out the series!

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Random proud mom moments….

We’ve also had some proud mom moments this past week. My middle daughter, Natalie, has had district band festival and DI (Destination Imagination) recently and did incredibly well at both! At DI her team had to come up with a skit complete with a set, music, costumes, and everything in between on their own… no adult help at all. Her group had a lot of fun with their challenge and with the secret challenge… each group is presented with a challenge where they have like 5 minutes to come up with a solution for it and spectators are not allowed. In their age group they came in 5th out of 14 groups. Pretty good if you ask me!

Natalie

For district band festival the entire 7th grade band performed for judges and then took part in a sight reading. At the end of the day they received a score of straight 1’s which is the highest score that you can get. Our school district has a long history of music excellence and have never gotten anything less than a perfect score.

Natalie

More randomness…..

I’m hoping that the Content Brew class really helps me out because I need it! I want better content… something that will grab people’s attention… something that will want them to come back for more…

I hope that soon I’ll be able to share some of the things that I can’t talk about right now…. because sometimes getting another person’s perspective and thoughts on something is great.

Alright, enough of the randomness for today.

                

Today you are two

Today you are 2 Andrew.

Memories, milestones, and so much more has been achieved in the past year.

How do I summarize it all into one post, how do I explain all that you’ve done, all that you’ve accomplished? I don’t think that I can.

Andrew 3

My little baby is quickly turning into a little boy.

Every day he learns something new and changes in a little ways.

Every day his smile and laughter warms my heart.

Andrew 2

He makes everyone laugh, even his sisters who I know adore him greatly.

He’s a little sponge and seem to pick up some of the silliest things from them as well.

He is full of light and love and happiness.

Andrew 1

As we look ahead to the next year what new thing will you learn?

What new things will you teach us?

One thing that I’m sure of is that you are a true joy to us all and we love you more than you know.

Happy Birthday, Andrew.

What’s in a name

When I was pregnant with Andrew my husband and I (and the girls too) went back & forth so many times that I wasn’t sure if we would ever pick a name for him. We just couldn’t decide what to name the baby or I should say that we couldn’t agree on a name.

Before we knew what we were having we had a huge list of boy names and a smaller list of girl names and had to go through a process of elimination which… was very difficult! I seriously thought that once we had the baby that we would never be able to leave the hospital because we just couldn’t agree on a name or worse yet the nurse would have to name the baby. Scary thought, right?

Once we knew what we were having our list was narrowed down a bit. A boy. We were having a boy.

We made it through my entire pregnancy without a name or almost all the way through it. Then one day while at the circus, a mere 2 weeks before he was born,  a decision was made! Yes, you did read that right…. at the circus. No, we weren’t going to name the baby after one of the clowns or anything like that.

At the circus

My husband wanted to name him after himself…. a jr. and I wanted to name him Grayson and we just couldn’t find a happy middle ground. But it was my husbands grandmother who helped us out that day. She suggested that we name him Andrew… after her father. It was such an easy decision at that point! We finally had a name…. Andrew Noel. Andrew from my husbands side and Noel from mine.

andrew

Not Andy. Not Drew. Just Andrew. At least for now it’s just Andrew… maybe in time it will get shortened.

Did you have trouble picking a name for your baby? How did you & your spouse come to an agreement for a baby name?

 

This is a featured post written by me on behalf of Bounty. The opinions and story of naming my son are all mine.

My Grandma

Her family came over from Scotland and settled in the thumb region of Michigan and lived there for more years that I can remember.

She lived a life that was long and full and she loved every minute of it.

Parents, siblings, husband, children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren were all part of her life on a daily basis. Year in and year out she was surrounded by family.

Full of life, love, and the joy of travel. It wasn’t uncommon for her to take off on a whim without letting anyone know…. then again she would also check herself into the hospital if she didn’t feel well without telling anyone too.

My memories of her are dear to me and I hold them close to my heart, pulling them out like pictures and flipping through them from time to time. Remembering the times we spent together are special to me…. but few. Fewer than I would hope for, but more than others I suppose.

There were things she missed that I had always hoped she would see, but her heart was tired. It was her time.

She is loved and missed dearly by all.

My grandma

Daughter. Wife. Sister. Mother. Grandmother. Great Grandmother.

She watches us and all we do.

She smiles with us and cries with us.

She loved and was loved in return.

She is at peace now.

 

Write On Edge: Red-Writing-Hood

In a mood

I don’t know what it is lately but I’m in a mood and I can’t seem to shake it.

Maybe it’s the weather here in Michigan. It’s cold (bitter cold this week), windy, gray, and almost always overcast… dismal is a good way to explain it. Where I’m at we don’t even have snow to make it somewhat tolerable and the sun sets so early that it’s like it’s night all the time (I’d hate Alaska… a lot).

Maybe it’s the kids. When you have four kids ages 16, 12, 9, and 2 (well 2 at the end of the month) and everything is non-stop go…go…go… Or NO! Whine…. cry…. scream…. complain…. and my favorite yet…. mouth off.

Maybe it’s the fact that I feel like I don’t measure up to my kids standards sometime.

Maybe it’s my husband’s business. He owns his own business and it’s doing really well but it takes so much of his time that there are times I feel like I’m a single parent. He’s always working…. doesn’t matter of it’s a weekend or not. If a customer needs something he deals with it.

Maybe it’s my job. I realized today that I haven’t had a headache in over 2 weeks…. know what that means? While I was on vacation there wasn’t the stress of work hanging on me. It’s work that is causing my headaches.

Like I said… I don’t know what it is. But it had my stomach in knots last night and in tears for almost two days. All I know is I want things to be normal… is that to much to ask for?

Here’s the absolute worst thing of all. Blissdom is coming up in February and I may not be able to go now that I’ve figured out the total cost and it kills me…. I want to go for so many reasons. I want to meet up with all the wonderful people I’ve met online, I want to learn & grow so I can further my goals, and most of all I want to meet my best bloggy friend ever, Jill.

What do you think? How do I get out of this slump? How do I change the mood I’m in?

*** Don’t forget to enter the Red Gold Tomatoes Giveaway! ***