Thursday, December 8, 2011

Stained Glass at CGSC Bldg - Fort Leavenworth

It seems like yesterday, but it was actually more years ago than I care to admit that my beloved Freshman roommate took a stained glass class. She would be up into the wee hours of the morning chinking and saudering; cutting and arranging. It was intriguing to watch. Since then, every work of art in stained glass reminds me of her.

Where I was with OaG for Thanksgiving, we took a walk through the CGSC Bldg to look at their art and international gift collection. These were two of my favorite stained glass windows from the day.

The Civil War Scene. We liked that the McLean House at Appomattox was in the background. That was the site of our first date.

The tribute to the Army Wife. I may just use this in my blogger header when I redesign.


Left you hanging, didn't I?

Since my part 2 is now conflicting with the words I'm writing for Rob during our wedding ceremony (and I want him to hear if from me rather than a blog first), you will have to wait.

(dodging the rotten tomatoes you are mentally throwing at me)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Why OaG? (Part 1)

Full Disclosure – I am finding there is ever increasing truth in the phenomenon of “wedding brain”. A professor of mine warned our entire nursing class about entering into any kind of relationship while in the program. It was good advice. I’m a focused student, but this semester has been much harder, as class difficulty, GPA expectations and amount of time needed to think about my future have all increased dramatically. Right at this moment, I am drafting this blog post while I avoid my 15 page paper about abdominal surgery adhesion and bowel obstruction risk. You would too, right?

And now, for the topic at hand. Childhood friends, college roommates, current classmates, family members and coworkers have asked some great questions during the course of my relationship with OaG. After getting past the initial ones like “When is the big day?”, “Where are you getting married?”, “You’re moving to…. KANSAS?!?!?” the most frequent question has been, “How did you know he was ‘the one’?”.

I think that’s a great question. And, it’s something that has been good for me to process. There are two separate sides to the answer. One is that of the spiritual confirmation (matters of the heart). The other, is that of the qualities of him and of our relationship (matters of the mind).

Falling in love with OaG wasn’t a singular event. He was the first to say the words, and it took me a little time to catch up. But, I can tell you the exact moment my heart softened toward him.

It wasn’t at our initial communication via eHarmony (I didn’t tell you that’s how we met, did I?). It wasn’t our first phone conversation. It wasn’t the first day we spent together walking the grounds of Appomattox Courthouse National Park. Nor was it when he called for a second date afterward. In fact, during all of those times, I viewed him simply as a chance to keep my dating skills from getting too rusty. Sure, I was happy to get out of the house, and I was glad to do a little civic duty by entertaining a visiting Army officer to our state. But, I wasn’t interested in anything more. He was from out-of-state, had been divorced and had full custody of his children – all complications I was really not looking to add to the peaceful and studious life I had recreated for myself following my father’s passing.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Like Sands through the Hourglass...

So are the days of my life.

Our wedding website has many handy features. It allows us to share the "Story of Us" and details about accommodations, times, etc. for the big day. One feature, that unfortunately comes with the template and is not alterable, is a countdown to our wedding day. 55 today, in case you wanted to know. This ever shrinking number on the home page of our wedding website is bittersweet.

The sweet is that I will marry a great man in that many days. I will live a life of "we" instead of "me". I will move. I will transfer schools. It is the official first day of an almost completely new life. It's the day from which point forward, I can fall asleep in OaG's arms, and that is something to look forward to.

The bitter part of the countdown is it serves as a painful reminder that I'm not always meeting my own high expectations. In my dream world, I would be exactly where I want to be in life on my wedding day. But, alas... despite a dizzying pace for the next 55 days, I will still come up short.

By going back to school at this time in life, it means I'll be a college student and a newlywed. I keep doing better on restoring my health, but I will likely not fit back into my goal pair of jeans by wedding day. I don't have the savings I'd like to at this age. Hmmm.... those might be the big three that occupy my mind.

Here's where I could use your comments. Where did/do you want to be in life when you got/get married? What goals were easier to achieve together than alone? How did your wedding day impact goals you had previously or did you develop new ones?

In Case you Love Someone who is Really Old

I'm working an overnight shift and dispensing random advice to any readers out there. This is coming from the position of working as a CNA for the last year and a half (this chapter cannot close fast enough) while going back to school to be a RN.

Most CNA work involves the very old. I've mostly worked with rehab patients who come to our facility for a short time for physical and occupational therapy. Many had hip or knee replacements. They do not need hospital care anymore, but they aren't ready to go home and function normally yet, so they spend some time with us. But, I've also worked on our long-term care floors (read: nursing home). In either case, 99% of the patients I work with are over the age of 85.

You may have a parent, grandparent, great-grandparent, aunt or uncle out there who is such a person. If you do, this unsolicited advice is for you:

1. If you buy them clothing, make sure it is knit fabric and very stretchy. It gets very hard to move limbs around and force them into rigid shirts and pants when they reach this stage of life.

2. They are always cold. If you are thinking of a gift, I suggest a sweater or throw blanket.

3. WRITE THEM LETTERS. If I could show you how proudly these folks display correspondence from loved ones on the wall and how eager they are to tell you all about the person who wrote it, you would have already sent your letter. They love to know they aren't forgotten and to still feel a part of the family.

4. If you are sending food, check first to see what kind of diet they are on. It's a bad idea to bring someone their old favorite box of chocolates if they are now diabetic, on a puree diet for swallowing difficulty and unable to consume this tempting treat.

5. If you can, visit. Talk to the staff. Make it obvious that your loved one has loved ones, and you are watching to make sure they are taken care of properly.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

*Hold Music*

I've been pretty stressed and overwhelmed the last week or so. So, while I restrain myself from airing my stresses here, I bring you more pictures from last week's visit.

It's been established that pics of the kids are ok. I just need to come with aliases for them... Hmmm.... My dad called me and my sisters #1, #2 and #3. I think I will stick with that pattern. As an introduction to the family, there are four boys and a girl. That's right. #4 is the lone girl. She's a little more than excited to have someone teach her how to crochet. I'm glad I can help her in that regard in her house full of boys.

#3 on the go cart at the pumpkin patch

#3,4,5 on the little train at the pumpkin patch

#4 as a pumpkin

#4,5 helped me make chocolate chip cookies while OaG napped

#4,5 - crazy drivers!

#5 tames the wild tire horse

#5 at the JV football game. He has a thing for American Flags and wanted me to take a picture with my phone of every one he spotted. I convinced him to get in the frame with the flag here.

OaG explaining the finer points of braking in a go-cart to #4

Friday, October 14, 2011

Taking Care - The Key Story

When I bought my Rav4, it came with two sets of keys. One of them was lost during an exceptionally great fall day in exceptionally long grass in an apple orchard with Angela. We had hours of great conversation, several bags of fresh picked apples, a few pumpkins and then a lengthy wait sitting on a log while my sainted neighbors drove out to bring my spare set of keys (in DC traffic out 66 on a work day - get how sacrificial that was of them?). Since that day, about 6-7 years ago, I've been using my "spare" keys.

Some time in the last few weeks, my remote keyless entry died. It was a sad day. But, it had served me for several years, so I shouldn't have been suprised when it was just too tired to go on. I've always heard that those remotes were really expensive to replace, so I just resigned myself to the remainder of my life being spent using an actual key to unlock a car door. Revolutionary, right?

On last week's visit, though, OaG apparently noticed my plight. While we were in the PX, he sneakily waiting at the jewelry and battery counter and flipped what I didn't realize was the old battery of my remote to the sales associate. She promptly found a new one. And within a few minutes, my remote was magically working again. Oh happy day!

I'm very excited about the ease of entering and locking my vehicle again. But, I'm most touched by the way my sweet fiancee saw a need and got to work on it without making any fanfare. What a guy.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

3 Hands

I am accustomed to keeping my hands busy. School, work, service, blogging, playing with my cat, Teddy.... I am even good at multitasking. When I am determined, you'd be hard pressed to find someone that can get more accomplished with their two hands.

But, on this past visit, I had a brief comical realization. We were walking at the pumpkin patch. My left hand was in OaG's right hand. My right hand was around the left hand of one of the kids. And... my low rise jeans needed to be pulled up just a smidgen. Oops! No hands available.

I may need a third one to succeed after the wedding.

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Visit

My university granted us a very short fall break last weekend, so I hit the great American freeway system and hightailed it over for a visit to OaG and the family.

The drive out on Thursday looked like this a great deal of the time (some combination of fog and/or construction barrels through all of western VA, WV and KY).

The fall colors were coming alive on base at Ft. Leavenworth, although it was unseasonably warm. We took in a couple of Leavenworth Pioneer football games...
... and spent a few hours at a farm/pumpkin patch/corn maze on Saturday.

I took more pictures, but they include the kids, and OaG and I haven't discussed the issue of pictures of the kids in this kind of public setting. So... maybe you'll see more... and maybe you won't ;-)

We made a little progress on the wedding during this time, too. Wedding bands are now ordered. The church has been walked-through. The reception space was scoped out.

All-in-all, it was a grand time. I really enjoyed spending the time with my hunky fiancee and
getting to know the kids a little better. I also got to meet more neighbors and friends from the school and church setting. I've always been blessed with fantastic friends through my life, and I feel like Ft. Leavenworth with continue that trend.

I will have one more visit out there, during Thanksgiving, before the wedding. That seems so far away, but I know how fast the time has been flying already. Wrapping up this semester and moving could take much, much longer anyway... I should be grateful for time.

By the way, is it just me, or did the new Facebook format just delete the way to import a blog as notes?

Monday, October 3, 2011


I had a moment on my drive to campus. You know the kind of moment I'm talking about. It's the kind that *should* have dawned on you before, and it's like you already know it, but all of a sudden, you *really* know it.

I was waiting at a stop light and uncharacteristically flipped my radio dial from NPR to a music station. Pink's song, Perfect, was on. As she belted out the emotional chorus, I teared up.

Pretty, pretty please
Don't you ever, ever feel
Like you're less
Less than perfect
Pretty, pretty please
If you ever, ever feel
Like you're nothing
You're perfect to me.

I've always felt very strongly about validating and encouraging young women. Sentiments like this song resonate with me. But, along my drive, the gravity of having one young woman, in particular, that would become very suseptible to my influence really hit me. I will have a step daughter.

Several of the talks during this last weekend's General Conference carried messages that I know I needed to internalize. One of them that felt particularly relevant was actually spoken to fathers about raising girls. You can watch it here. I remember thinking it was great information and advice, and I felt a sense of peace knowing OaG was listening to it at the same time I was.

Earlier today, although I've known that getting married means becoming a stepmom, I *really* got it. Whew! Big responsibilities. I hope I can keep up my strength to help do whatever I can to aid in them growing up to be their very best selves and ready to conquer the world (or at lease do a whole lot of good in it).

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Decision

Today, I bring you a story about my engagement ring. Well, perhaps more of some musings on my engagement ring.

OaG did a stellar job picking my ring. It had been a long time since I had really thought about what kind of a ring I would want. And, even when I thought I did know what I wanted (which was actually a garnet), it turns out that I couldn't love anything more than the one that is on my finger.

It's simple. It's classic. And, it's a rock that, frankly, I didn't expect. I love my ring. What I've come to appreciate more about it, lately, is this: It is the symbol of a decision.

I had always planned and dreamed of being married someday. Like most girls, I facilitated many a nuptial of my Barbies and later on brainstormed accent color choices, cake flavors and play lists for receptions. My parents were a wonderful example to me of commitment and love. I guessed that I'd be married somewhere before the age of 21 (yikes!). When life turned out differently, it threw me for a loop. For a time, I really felt something missing. But, over the years, I grew very comfortable on my own. It's easier that way, I decided. It reminds me of a favorite C.S. Lewis quote:

It's taken some adjusting on my part to think, again, about truly sharing my life and all that I am with someone else. And, on those rough days, when the distance of most of VA and all of KY and MO between OaG and I seems like an ocean apart, I appreciate my ring as the symbol of making that decision to make a change. To work toward being more than I am on my own. To honor my faith, my family and myself. To embrace a future I didn't know was out there.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

To Do

Let's see....

  • Ceremony site - Check

  • Reception site - Check

  • Dress - Check

  • Wedding Website - Almost

  • Register - Work in Progress

Still on my mind...

  • Flowers

  • Cake

  • Photos

  • Budget

  • Licence

  • Social Security Change

  • Finish applications to 3 different nursing schools

  • Move

  • Dr. Appt

  • Homework, Homework, Homework

If you're married, what are the things you are SO glad you made time to get right, or wish you had done that you didn't?

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Weekend

I look forward to having a weekend again. For the last several years, my weekend consists of working straight through, because campaigns don't operate 5 days a week and now because I focus on classes during the week and catching up on work hours over the weekend. I dream of a day that my Saturdays are filled with freshening up the house and then fun time and my Sundays truly a day of rest.

This past weekend was especially trying for me. I worked overnight on Friday and Saturday nights. My body doesn't adjust well to switching up my sleep schedule, mostly because I can't sleep during the day. In addition to the weird hours, I've been fighting a cold. It isn't a terrible one. Just enough to make me feel weak and tired, and grumpy.

It got me wondering how in the world I would manage the same situation in my new life to come. Readers, what are your tricks for getting through hectic schedules and feeling under the weather and still be a present member of your family?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Barely Famous

OaG popped the question on 9/11/11 - The 10th anniversary of 9/11. It helped to make a new memory out of what has been a difficult day for me for the last ten years.

One of the experiences we had that day, out in Shanksville, happened to be while a journalist was talking to us. He wrote for the French News Service and his story carried us to readers in Canada, Qatar and the web. You can read it here (you'll have to excuse the misspelling of OaG's name). I tend to believe there was Providence at work to make this happen.

Here are a couple pictures from that day

One of the nooks in the memorial for momentos

The field where the plane went down - it will stay as is and accessible only by family members of the passengers and crew.

A few past writeups having to do with that day:

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Reason

I will delve into many other aspects in coming posts, but I want to make one thing clear from the beginning. There is one thing (or person) that makes this whole crazy adventure worth attempting. Meet my fiancee, hereafter known to this blog as Officer and a Gentleman (OaG).

I wasn't expecting to meet someone right now. And, I certainly didn't plan to make these kinds of changes in my life. But, sometimes life does that to you.

He's the unexpected person I feel like a team with, not only in getting things done, but in looking to the future. He makes me feel incredible. He's accomplished in his career. He's one heck of a dad. He's the reason this all seems possible.


Right now, I'm in the middle of a semester of nursing school. I work 20-30 hours a week. I serve in my church. I just got engaged, and that means planning a wedding, a move, a transfer of schools and preparing to completely live a different lifestyle.

So, what did I decide to add to my plate? A blog. Here's hoping this is a forum for processing my thoughts. I hope you will join along. I'll need your comments.