Saturday, July 31, 2010

Happy birthday, adored one!

Today my fabulous girl in charge turns sixteen, and I am a little freaked out, as usual, by the speed with which the years have flown by since I welcomed this dynamo into my world.

She has always been my dark-eyed beauty, and carries a serious demeanor wherever she goes -- this fools people into thinking that she is not just as big a goofball as the rest of us.

She holds her hugs close, so when I receive one I know she means it, and each hug is doubly dear.

She is brilliant and organized and logical -- a triple threat.

She loves to be on stage (here she and the tall boy ham it up), she loves to argue -- and she loves to win at any game. Good thing for her she usually does!

A natural athlete, she is strong and graceful.

Whether on the softball field . . .

. . . or in the ballet studio, she moves with power and beauty.

Her little sister has always wanted to be like her -- and glows with happiness when they spend quality time together.

She informed me long ago that "it's so hard to be the middle child," and I am sure that she finds it frustrating to be such a swan among us ducks and geese -- but we feel so blessed to have her in our lives.

If you are ever fortunate enough to meet this beautiful, loving, smart young woman -- who can't wait until she is old enough to change the world -- I know you will agree with me:

I'm the luckiest mom.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Beast Barracks

So my nephew the soldier is firmly entrenched at "Beast Barracks" -- the summer boot camp that begins his four years at the United States Military Academy at West Point. On "R Day" last week, he and the rest of the Class of 2014 were received by the Academy and formally sworn in to the United States Army.

I wasn't at the actual ceremony, but I was able to watch a video of it; I got goosebumps when I heard the military march music and saw the regiment march across the Plain.

That's my sister's tall boy -- the soldier -- in the front row at the end on the left. You know -- the tall one.

It's funny to think that just the week before, he and my tall boy were sleeping until noon, heading out to lunch on a whim, and strolling the beach looking for girls in bikinis seashells. Things are a little different now!

During his remarks at the ceremony the Commandant of West Point pointed out that these young men and women volunteered to prepare for military leadership at a time of war; that really made me stop and think how grateful I am for all of them and their willingness to say, "Here I am, Lord. Send me."

I will ask all of you to send all your prayers and positive thoughts and good wishes to the soldier and his companions for the next few weeks. Beast Barracks is hard, man! It calls on inner strength and a positive attitude when the tasks seem grueling and never-ending; when family and friends are far away, the whole endeavor can seem that much more daunting. I am so proud of this young man -- some time I will tell you just how hard he has kicked ass for his whole life -- and I know that he will get through this; I just pray that he continues to know it too!

Image Credit:
All photos courtesy of the United States Military Academy at West Point

Monday, July 5, 2010

Fireworks -- cul-de-sac style!

OK, so it's true that my family lives twenty miles south of Washington, D.C. and we have the opportunity every year to go into the big city and watch some fireworks that are, let's face it, pretty spectacular.

You don't get the chance every day to see a live concert featuring the National Symphony Orchestra, along with famous Hollywood, Broadway, Motown and Nashville types -- and oh have mercy, but the "1812 Overture" with cannons fired by soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Regiment -- The Old Guard.

tangent: Members of The Old Guard are among the most elite soldiers of the U.S. Army -- whose job is to protect the nation's capital, to serve as honor guards at military funerals at Arlington National Cemetery and -- their greatest responsibility and honor -- to stand perpetual vigil at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington.

Well, I have been to the Capitol to watch the glamorous fireworks, and I'm sure I'll go again some day. But these days I prefer a suburban Independence Day celebration.

Because, really -- it's hard to beat a cul-de-sac filled with neighbors who have all gathered to watch stuff blow up.

About six families all converged in front of our driveway last night, with the fireworks they had purchased from the Marching Band Boosters Club fireworks stand or the Send a Gymnast to Nationals and Use a Ten-Percent Off Coupon booth.

Virginia law prevents us from sending any explode-y stuff up into the air.

We do get to play with sparklers, though!

The tall boy loves the neighborhood festivities because he gets to be the go-to guy for all explosions.

The tall boy's Uncle Godfather came over with his family to watch the fun. And to drink a little wine out of a jam jar, because that's how we roll.

Another beautiful thing about the cul-de-sac fireworks is that somebody always brings a special treat. Sometimes it's margaritas and sometimes it's glo-sticks.

Gotta love it either way!

The grand finale was this monstrosity of a bucket o' fun; how swell is it that this particular one-wick extravaganza is called "These Colors Don't Bleed"?! It tells you everything you need to know about fireworks in the South. Even the wussy Virginia South where you can't fill the skies with "These Colors Don't Bleed" -- you can just fill the cul-de-sac.

Check out the fireworks refuse littering the street as my Teenage Doppelganger lights the monster finale!

Nope! These colors don't bleed at all!

I hope everyone had a fabulous Independence Day!

Image Credits:
"D.C. Fireworks" courtesy of
"NSO 4th of July" courtesy of A Capitol Fourth
"Guard at the Tomb" courtesy of

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Medicine in Margaritaville

So remember how my sister fell the day before her tall boy graduated from high school?

And how she had to have surgery on her wrist and was completely freaked out because she thought she might have to miss her firstborn's graduation?

And how she was totally stoned on Percocet for the entire commencement experience, and then had surgery first thing the following morning and then hosted a swingin' graduation party that night but doesn't remember a thing about it?

Ah, yes -- good times! As you can see from the look on her face the whole thing has been highly amusing for her -- where amusing = a painful and annoying hindrance to getting anything productive done as well as a complete cramping of her beach-loving style. Tra-la-la!

Well, while we were at the beach the time came for her to have her stitches removed. And here's the beauty part about my family: my step-brother is a doctor. So a text reminding him to bring a suture removal kit to the beach was all I needed to hear about and I was so ready to record the proceedings! Because really -- what's a beach get-away without a minor surgical procedure? And let me just emphasize that the look on my sister's face is so hilarious -- because she has a long history with various doctors for various reasons -- and is perfectly capable of telling Uncle Doctor that he has screwed up. Not that he did. This time. Just kidding, Uncle Doctor!

The process was pretty straight-forward, but what you don't see is the five-year-old counting the sutures as they came out -- because hey! We're a family of educators and we will never pass up a learning moment!

There were actually several cousins leaning over Uncle Doctor because the scene was cool yet gross yet cool -- and we're all about creating memories for our kids in my family. If this hasn't already shown up on some cousin's Facebook I will eat my flip-flips.

The best part was when Uncle Doctor, who is all about the sterile environment (in his swim suit, because that's how we roll) said, "OK, now that the stitches are out we need some hydrogen peroxide to clean this up."

We all stared at him blankly.

"Purell? Oxy-Clean? Anything?"

Then he had an epiphany: "Vodka?"

Aaah! Vodka! Now he was talking our language! (And can I just report that the Bloody Mary's and the Eggs Benedict were fabulous.)

A few steri-strips later . . .

. . . . and some Derma-Bond ( a.k.a. Super-Glue -- who are we kidding?) for good measure . . .

. . . and my sister was good to go. Thank you, Uncle Doctor!