Sunday, April 13, 2014

Mountain Man March 2014

I haven't done this in a long time - it's been over two years!  I am so mad about all of the things I will probably forget about now because I haven't written them down! I changed jobs a little over two years ago, which has made carving out time for this online journal nearly impossible. Hopefully I can start setting aside some time to jot down some more memories...

During this hiatus, Anthony has gone to and completed Air Force Basic Training for the Air National Guard, he is in college, and is also a volunteer firefighter in the small town where he is living for college. This weekend he and Tony, along with three of their other buddies from their air base, participated in the Mountain Man March to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project.  

How amazing this experience was... 

They entered the Mountain Man March as half marathoners, heavy.  This means they opted to march a half marathon in their uniform (awful work boots included) with 35 pound packs. Anthony and Charlie decided to make their packs a little heavier to challenge themselves.  Anthony's pack weighed 46 pounds and Charlie's was heavier than their scale would weigh - so at least 50 pounds. I never asked how many people were participating in this event but I did hear estimates in the 800's though.

Each team walks in memory of a fallen soldier.  LTC Frank Bryant, Jr. was an Air Force Academy graduate/pilot who was killed in action 4/27/2011 in Afghanistan.  What an honor for them to walk for him. 

Here is the team that I am so proud of... Brian, Charlie, Tony, Bert, and Anthony. 

While I sat on a small wall outside of Cooter's in Gatlinburg I saw many, MANY teams making their way up the sidewalk.  The teams ranged from high school and college ROTC teams to these full timers/old timers. One of the rules of the march is that you start as a team and you end as a team - your team has to cross the finish line with 20 seconds of each other. While I was watching the teams reach the end of the march, I noticed several different styles.  Some of the teams had not stayed together but joined back up right before crossing the finish line. I saw about three teams with team members who were struggling but did not choose to split up.  They had someone on either side of the struggling team member helping them - pushing, pulling, dragging, carrying - whatever it took. Similar to their training of "no man left behind."

I also noticed that regardless of their mental state as they were approaching the finish line, they got a little spring in their step when they heard the cheering and encouragement from the crowd.  

I was very proud of these guys as they crossed the finish line.  They had a team member with some mean blisters that developed in the first mile and they had to adjust their pace.  I saw them showing great admiration for a man who finished a race while being in a great deal of pain.

And look, they are still smiling!

At the end of the race, they get to meet the family members of the soldier they are honoring. This is Amie, LTC Bryant's sister.

While sitting at Cooter's watching these teams finish this race, I noticed two things.  
We all need teammates - it's hard to go it alone. It's nice to know you are going to cross the finish line together no matter when you get there or what you have to overcome. I also realized the importance of encouraging words. Just noticing/acknowledging someone's struggle and giving them a shout out takes very little time and hardly any effort but the benefit is immeasurable. How many times a day do we pass up the opportunity to make a difference by giving someone an encouraging word?  

Friday, September 2, 2011

Our busy, BUSY summer

We have had a busy, BUSY summer. I could write several pages on each thing we did this summer, but.... who has time for that? I started a new job, which I think truly is one of the great stressors in life. Tony has been gone and is leaving again for two months. Alex has had, and by Alex I really mean Alex and I, have had lots of homework. We've had hail storm damage to the house for which we are getting a new roof. We've had to replace a heating/air unit, which came with a faulty drip pan, which then flooded Alex's room upstairs, necessitating a water damage team to come here with some big, BIG dehumidifiers and fans, which makes it sound like a helicopter is taking off from our roof. And this doesn't really even scratch the surface of WHAT ALL we have done this summer.

We went to the beach on about 1-1/2 weeks notice right before I started my new job. Tony was in Spain so he didn't get to go but my mom and I took the kids, read books ALL day long in our lounge chairs, and experienced, unbeknownst to me, my last peaceful, easy moments of the summer.

Alex got a tattoo, which said princess complete with a tiara. The girl who did the henna tattoo told her not to touch it for two hours or it would smudge and there would be nothing she could do to fix it. We didn't even make it out of the store before her arm swiped through it... The girl tried to fix it but it ended up a little smudged.

We decided there is no other way to do the beach than to rent the umbrella and chairs. They are worth it, no matter the cost.

Alex played a little softball. Okay, a lot of softball.

Alex also had shoulder surgery one week before school started back. And slept all day that day, and stuttered and staggered on the pain meds all evening. It was kinda funny. Here she is sssssleeping. Her cousin, Brennan, came by and watched Soul Surfer with her that night.

Her best friend came by the next day and brought her a pillow pet.

School started. This is the first first day of school I haven't had to drive anyone. In ten years...

She gets to wear this beautiful accessory every day for six weeks.

Then there's Maggie. Aka Stupid Dog. She stepped on something in our yard and practically cut the pad off her foot. Anthony took her to the vet, which cost 274.00. That was on a Thursday. By Sunday morning she had chewed the cone off her head, taken off the bandaging, and removed all of her stitches. She then went back to the Emergency Pet Hospital, where we spent 216.00 in order to get her sewn back up. We got sedatives for her this time in the form of a little doggy Valium, which we thought would help but these stitches also lasted about three days. Anthony took her back, again, and for 60.00 they glued her foot together and told us to keep her in the crate until it was healed, which she had been in the crate the whole time anyway. Not to mention every time we took her outside to use the bathroom, we had to wrap the foot in a plastic bag to keep it from getting wet or germy...

It was so funny though! She ran into EVERYTHING with that cone on her head. She was probably sore the entire time. And her ear always looked so cute all mashed down like that!

Getting ready for school/work was a lot of fun. Alex can't dress herself or fix her hair, and for the first few days we had to hold her eyes just right so that she could get her eyeliner on. She was limited to ball t-shirts cuz "this stupid sling ruins all my cute outfits"...

Anthony and Tony bought themselves a 1953 Wyllis jeep. Another project. Great...

They drove it around for a little while but now it's in our basement in several hundred pieces. It will be restored back to the Air Force Jeep it was 58 years ago.

One night I got the privilege of seeing this beautiful family. This is the family I spent three weeks with in Japan right after I graduated from high school. One of the best trips ever with one of the greatest families ever. It had been 22 years since I had seen them. I feared I would never see them again but I did! And they were exactly the same. I was sad to learn that her grandfather had died, in his 90s, about the same time my grandmother died. Now I have to start worrying that I will never see them again. Again.

Anthony has fought some Civil War battles in Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, and Kentucky including the 150th anniversary of Manassas.

We have had some fun softball practices for everyone else, extremely sad practices for Alex. She is so sad that she can't play right now but we are down to 4-1/2 more months now. And therapy at 7 a.m. three mornings a week is gonna get her there.

She actually got to pitch these water balloons.

You gotta start somewhere...

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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

My Blogging Hiatus

I took a forced blogging hiatus this summer. I changed jobs, so had to give up my work computer.

Tony had the laptop all tied up on his summer trip.

To Spain.

Without us.

Poor, poor Tony.

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Thursday, June 2, 2011

My Perpetual Birdie Flipper

This weekend Alex's Diamonds team wasn't playing. But this team was... And she likes to pick up with them. She had a great time with them and played in two games on Saturday morning, getting this beautiful hit that resulted in a triple. A stand up triple.

After the game she and Ashlyn laid around in the parking lot listening to their Ipods and texting their friends.

In the second game there was a walk. An attempted steal. And an ugly slide. A very ugly slide. The ugliest of slides.

After the game, after the coach had talked to them, she came to me with tears in her eyes and said she couldn't move her finger. Sure enough, she couldn't. What is it about her that makes her wait til after the game to tell me. Or after school. Or after batting practice. Apparently no one but me can be told that there are injuries needing attention.

After the game we made our way to the hospital - which wasn't easy. We were following the hospital signs that took us directly through a Memorial Day car show\parade. (Good thing she wasn't having a heart attack with all the detours we had to take). Then, we sat in the waiting room eating candy, sharing with a little girl who had hit her head, watching a drug seeker trying to get a new prescription, a heroine addict, and an old man and lady who couldn't hear it thunder. Literally. Apparently she had busted her ear drum and she couldn't hear ANYTHING but then neither could her husband. Alex's friend Ashlyn and her mom went with us to the emergency room. While the girls were being humored by watching this gentleman and his wife "whisper" to each other loud enough for everyone in the parade to hear, and we were lecturing them about the hazards of illegal drug use, the hard of hearing older gentleman took his leg off. Both girls almost fell out of their seat! I'm not sayin there is anything wrong with taking your leg off in public but I am sayin that it could traumatize unsuspecting teenage girls.

Finally we saw the doctor who diagnosed an avulsion fracture of her finger and we left at the same time the busted eardrum lady did. She was leaving against medical advice because her husband couldn't wait in the waiting room that long because "he had lost his leg." We could hear that much through the door of our exam room. Alex and I decided that's why you probably shouldn't take them off in public...

You can't make this stuff up.

Anyway, no, the tape isn't too tight her finger is just that much bigger at the knuckle. And now when she drinks something or holds something with that hand, her middle finger is sticking straight up.

Everything looks better with pretty, newly painted pink fingernails... Even when you are being flipped a birdie!

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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

I had a great Mother's Day today. I went to church this morning with my two beautiful kiddos and husband and then I enjoyed lunch with my sweet and beautiful Momma and Daddy. Then, for dinner we went to Tony's parents to top off our "can it get any better than this" Mother's Day. Between lunch and dinner I spent some time outside on this beautiful sunny afternoon.

Alex has picked up a new hobby on nice sunny afternoons. Can you spot her? On the roof right next to the chimney? Sunbathing. Sunbathing on the roof.

Sunbathing on the roof seems to be a necessity now that we have this beauty. There is definitely no lying in the yard with her around.

Or, I guess you can if you want to smell like a wet dog.

Or throw the tennis ball over and over. And over. And over...

Her real treat is getting to play in the water hose.

And my real treat is getting to watch them...

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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A volleyball game, a dance, and hail damage

So, it's Al's senior year of middle school and apparently that's a big deal. She has a graduation coming up soon, they are on their "senior trip" now, and last weekend they had their "prom/dance." Several weeks ago they announced the date of the dance, which is when we first realized there was a slight scheduling conflict. The dance was scheduled for last Friday night, which was also the night of our county wide volleyball tournament. Hmmm, what to do? Her first instinct was "forget the dance, we're playing ball!" And, since her choice was to play volleyball we didn't bother shopping for a dress. As time passed, she started toying with the idea that maybe they could go to the dance after the volleyball game and just miss part of the dance. So, maybe we needed to shop for a dress after all. So we did. We spent one whole Saturday at the mall and tried on every dress they had... By this time, though, the sizes were very picked over and the dresses she loved weren't in her size and the dresses in her size she didn't love.

Then it happened. Like a ray of sun shining down from heaven, THE dress was hanging on a rack just waiting for Alex to find it. It was on the wrong rack with lots of other dresses but somehow she found it. Since we were tired and had tried on 4596 dresses that day we were very excited that she had found one. I hadn't bothered looking at the price tag because all the dresses we tried on that day had been in about the same price range and since we were doing our shopping so late most were even on sale. But, the dress sent from heaven above was the only dress in the entire mall that was not on sale. And it was the most expensive one we had tried on that day. Of course, we went ahead and got it cuz that's what you do when you're worn out from dress shopping and this is the 4597th dress you have tried on. And when your daughter puts it on she declares "this is it" and you can almost hear angels singing. Oh and don't forget the ray of light that guided us to it. I paid for the dress and we headed home. And she was happy.

The End.

No, not really.

After we left the euphoria of the "moment of the dress" I came to my senses. In the next couple of days I shook off the haze induced purchase and realized I had just paid a bundle for a dress that she was possibly not even going to get to wear. After all, the volleyball tournament bracket had been posted and at the least they were going to be at the dance for 15 minutes and at the most they were going to be there for an hour. It was time to take the dress back and pay the electric bill.

Now, to find another dress! Ughhh.... She played softball every weekend after the initial dress shopping day and had volleyball every night during the week. On the Wednesday before the dance, and after her sweet dates mother had asked several times what color she was wearing, we decided to lay out of church and try to find a dress.

I told her we would probably get struck by lightning.

I don't suggest laying out of church to go dress shopping. While we didn't get struck by lightning, we did almost get blown away by several waves of tornado-ish storms. We got one call from Tony saying he and Anthony, two dogs, and a cat were heading to the basement. The next call was that the storm they had just weathered was heading toward Knoxville, which is where we were. We continued to get calls throughout the evening to stay put and wait until the storms pass. We found a dress, listened to huge, HUGE hail hit the skylights, ate a Cinnabon, listened to the rain, bought shoes, listened to the wind, bought jewelry and then the mall closed early. We were forced to leave.

We ran to the car in monsoon-like rain and huge lightning streaks. When we turned on the radio we learned that these tornado warnings didn't expire until 1 a.m. What to do? We were 45 minutes from home? Another storm coming through and expected at our mall any minute? So, we drove into the parking garage and hid out in there through the next hail storm. We waited in there until Tony called and told us if we left right then we could probably make it home in between storms. Probably. And we almost did. We got really close to home, encountered a few roads that were closed and had to detour, and it was pouring rain, and lightning was flashing, and Alex was pretty sure she was blinded from one of the lightning flashes. She was begging me to stop at anyone's house. Just pick one. At some point I think I muttered, "This is what happens when you lay out of church." As there were lots of cars trying to get home at that point Alex said, "What do you think all these other people did?" Surely they had committed an infraction as terrible as us? Worse maybe?

We finally made it to Tony's parents house, holed up with them for a little while, then we did make it home between storms. Finally. By about 1o:30. Just in time to weather the last passing storm in the comfort of our own home. Later we found out an EF-4 passed within a few miles of our house and somewhere in the neighborhood of 31 tornadoes had hit in East Tennessee.


We. Got. The. Dress.

We opted for a little less formal dress since she wasn't sure how long she was going to be at the dance but she liked it and it looked beautiful on her.

They played volleyball at 6 and 7.

Got dressed in the bathroom.

Turned somewhat into prissy girls in dresses.


But the end product turned out beautiful.

She and her date looked great for their one hour of the dance. (He even came to watch volleyball instead of going on to the dance early.)

And he got her flowers.

They finished off the evening with dinner.

With 20 of their closest friends (some had already left when we got this picture).

I think this will be an 8th grade dance she will never forget.

Oh, and the hail damage all over the hood, roof, and trunk of my car? Totally worth it...

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

List of Lasts

Lately what has been on my mind is our list of lasts. It's so easy to remember when Ant and Al did things for the first time. Their first tooth, their first steps, their first pump knot, their first day of school, etc. But do we remember their lasts? The last time they came in the living room and squeezed into the recliner with Tony? Did I realize that the last time I took Ant to get his hair cut was the last time I would take him to get his hair cut? He now has his driver's license and doesn't need me to take him any longer. Did I realize that last time I took him to school would really be the last?

Last week we had another "last" that we almost missed. Alex has a growth hormone deficiency that was diagnosed when she was 3, and every night since then she has been taking growth hormone injections. We knew it was getting close to time to stop the injections as she had hit all the milestones she needed to hit in order to stop taking them. We were waiting on that last hand x-ray to see if her growth plates had closed. If they were closed, she was done. The doctor told us we would get a call in the next few days with the x-ray results, which would give me time to mentally prepare for her "last" shot. With uncanny hospital speed, that only happens when you don't want it to, the hospital read her x-ray that same afternoon and we got the call. "She doesn't need to do her shots any longer!." While it was good news it also meant that we had missed the "last" one again?!?!?!

What did we do? We did what any other parent would do. We lied. We weren't goint to miss this "last" shot. Tony gave her her first shot 10 years ago and he did her last shot, too. We went ahead and gave her a shot, took this lovely picture, and finally have a documented "last." Right after her shot, we told her it was her "last" one...