Tag Archives: love

Mad Mix

18 Jul

Mix TapeLike many young guys wooing a girl in the 90’s, Andrew knew the swoon power of a good mix tape.

The first one he ever made me arrived in my dorm room mail – along with a catalog for BMG CD’s and a deal for a long distance phone card. It was 1996. I was a freshman at West Virginia University while he was a junior eight hours away at West Point. I thought it was the best mix tape I ever received. Not only did HE make it for me, it held some of the most heartfelt and rockin’ songs – especially since we were just friends “with potential” (Who knows that movie?!) at the time.

At least, I thought it was the best mix. My feelings about that tape would all change a few years later when (after successfully winning me over — with mix tapes of course) I was helping him pack up his things before he moved to Georgia to start his Army career.

I’ll get back to that in a paragraph or two, but first I need to tell you about what would become my most favorite mix tape of all.

We never really did become a couple that year. He came to visit me at college once and we both had a wonderful time but my heart wasn’t quite able/ready/sure of itself to be fully his then.  If Facebook existed at the time, I would’ve been guilty of “It’s complicated.” Because of that and the cold way I acted toward him, I received what I have since dubbed the “I Hate You” mix tape. It was filled with songs of agony and heartache and anger. It made me roll my eyes and huff and puff when it was first sent to me because I knew I was wrong. He now tells me he borrowed the CD’s of friends to make it because he needed to have just the right songs.

A few of them included:

Nine Inch Nails – “Something I Can Never Have”
Pearl Jam – “Better Man”
Tonic – “If You Could Only See”
Counting Crows – “A Long December”
Nirvana – “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?”
Soul Asylum – “Promises Broken”
Smashing Pumpkins –  “Crush”
Radiohead – “High and Dry”
Guns ‘N Roses – “Patience”
Tim McGraw – “Don’t Take the Girl”
Spin Doctors – “How could you want him when you could have me?”
Radiohead – “Creep”
Jewel – “You Were Meant for Me”

He must have forgiven me and I must have made the right choice because here we are now, about to hit our 14th wedding anniversary. Even after all that AND it turns out that the first mix tape was actually not the first mix. You see, when helping him pack, I discovered his song list on an index card and that he had made that same mix tape for another girl before me.

Stupid mix tape.

That’s why I really love that Mad Mix. It’s all mine. I earned it. And, as he would say, it worked.

Papa Talk

23 Mar

“We talked for 41 minutes!” A happy Nia processed in her brain as she looked at her phone after hanging up with her Papa.

She couldn’t wait to call him that night. She wanted to talk to him about what she learned in class about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. She knew Papa is better than google or any book she could read when it comes to history. Forget about playing a game with trivia with him, unless he’s on your team.

I know she will always treasure their talks. I think he will too. After their history lesson, he sent me a text. “Thanks for letting Nia call. Were you trying to get her sleepy by talking to me?” Silly, smart Papa.

Papa

Our Trip to C-Town

26 Jun

There’s a lot of space under that bed …

“I’m not going to Crazy Town tonight,” Andrew told me as we settled in our beautiful, historic room at the John Rutledge House Inn for the weekend.

I had just asked him to look under the bed to make sure nobody (or ghost body) was under there.

Not even in Charleston, SC for 30 minutes and I’m already testing his reasons for marrying me almost 12 years ago. Fitting, because this trip was serving as the honeymoon we’ve never taken. Two days after we were married, Andrew left for six weeks of training in California. Then, a few resting months after that, he deployed for six months to Kosovo. After that, we set off together to buy a house and have a baby and then another deployment to Iraq and well, 12 years later, here we are in Crazy Town.

We wanted to go somewhere within reasonable driving distance, somewhere we’d never been and somewhere featuring one of our favorite things, good beer. Charleston was hosting a beer festival during the weekend our children would be in West Virginia with family so it was on.

We enjoyed our drive there and back. It featured discussions about General Sherman burning stuff (forever an inside joke between us now), me reading us history facts about Charleston, and talk radio by the megabyte that Andrew has stored on his phone.

10 and 2

We didn’t arrive at the Inn until midnight but enjoyed goofing off in the ballroom for a minute and sampling the complimentary brandy and sherry.

Statue Pose

The next morning, we ran through the city before others were awake and garbage was collected. The streets felt like ours for a few minutes and a few blocks. We talked when I could (I was running after all) and spotted incredible buildings and stores we might be interested in checking out during our later walk. We even ran alongside rivers where they meet up near a beautiful park.

After our run, we had a delicious breakfast of our choosing brought to our room. It was glorious. We filled out a card and put it on the doorknob before we fell asleep each night. We didn’t skimp on our selection.

Bedroom Breakfast

We loved our walks through downtown – even a painfully long one for me in flats and at high noon when we missed the trolley to the beer fest. This 2+ mile walk came after our 4+ mile morning run and 2+ morning stroll. We needed that brew.

Cheers, we made it!

We arrived at the fest excited to sample and enjoy. It wasn’t exactly what we were expecting but we still had a great time with each other. We talked with people and devoured cheese fries and then decided to head back to our room early – in a taxi. (Best $8 of the trip.)

We had plans to dine somewhere fancy that evening. I even packed a strapless dress and heels, ready to hit the night life. Only thing – we decided to rest for a bit. That was around 6:30. We woke up around 9:30, too zonked to move out of bed.

The next morning, Andrew went for a solo run while I sank deeper into the heavenly memory foam mattress because I hadn’t changed positions much through the night. We enjoyed another bedroom breakfast and then walked next door to go to church.

Rolled out of bed and into church

Up for another stroll, we set off for more exploring and I’m so glad we did. We discovered a large market area and bought treasures for the kids. After a good early bird (without the discount) dinner, we headed home, feeling content and so lucky to have been able to spend that time together – even if it neared Crazy Town for a bit. Besides, I think he already agreed to go there with me when he said “yeah, sure” at the altar.

Time to start thinking about our next trip …

My First Mother’s Day

13 May

I celebrated my first Mother’s Day two Sundays after Nia was born. Andrew couldn’t be with us that day but he made sure to send his two girls a sweet surprise. While in Iraq, before computers and phones were available for soldiers, Andrew found a way to order me my favorite flowers (daisies) and Bean a dog stuffed animal. He had them delivered to our home right on time for Mother’s Day and it made me feel loved, appreciated and connected to him even though we were so far apart and he hadn’t even met our daughter yet.

I found a picture that shows his gifts to us. The dog watched over her on top of her bassinet and the flowers dressed up the table next to her, near the couch where I sat:

Baby Bean with Doggy on her Bassinet

Bean still keeps the doggy close. His nose is worn and he shows her years of hugs and travels. She takes him with her on trips, tucking him in her pillow case and feeling comforted as soon as she snuggles him. She knows that “soldier daddy” got him for her and she cherishes that so sweetly. I know there will be a time when he will be moved to a shelf and then a keepsake box, but right now, nine Mother’s Days later, her special doggy is resting at the top of her bed as she sleeps – watching over her like he did as a baby.

Snuggles Special Doggy

Why Is Nine Afraid of Seven?

29 Apr

Because eight was so great.

Department Store Catalog Pose featuring her Fashion Creation

I know nine will be too, I’m just going through the typical parent emotion of watching the years fly by. To see Nia’s sweet, smart and caring spirit adapt to and try to understand different experiences as she figures out how to respond and feel. To see her become her own person, create her own sense of style, humor and thoughts. It is wonderful, but wild.

Trying to be serious during a fit of giggles.

Her eighth year was full of firsts and new emotions. Riding without training wheels; keeping her Barbies in the drawer and, instead, spending more time with the door to her room closed to sing and dance to the latest pop music; watching less cartoons and more human-acted TV shows and movies; falling in love with Grease (and even seeing it live as a play – thanks, Aunt Ree!); and wanting to put a little more distance between her mom or dad as she plays outsides or explores a store. (I never let her out of my sight!)

Little Mall Shopper

Now, as she starts on her ninth year, I hope she handles her new adventures and challenges with the same thought and heart that she has shown so far. She tries her best, loves a good joke (which I attempted for her with the title), knows how to laugh at herself and how to make others laugh, and most beautifully, is caring to all.

Sharing the love while she sleeps.

Waiting on a Catch

21 Apr

The feeling is so distinct. It has been years since I experienced it directly but I remember it each time I watch Nate on the baseball field. It’s like I can almost sense it through him.

He waits – eager, aware, knees slightly bent, ready to run, glove out, his free fist punches it to make it awake and prepared for something spectacular – a catch.

"Baseball Ready" by Dodgers' Mom, Amber

I remember what that felt like. The want of it is incredible and powerful.

Let’s go, batter. Hit it to me. I dare you. With the clang of the bat, the ball flies above the field. Above the pitcher. Above Second Base. It’s close to me. I got it. It’s mine! I run for it. Empty glove out. The slap of the ball. Heavy glove. Cheers. Elation. Ready for another.

I wasn’t a star softball player. I would actually call myself average but that doesn’t take away from that feeling. Now, I as watch Nate, I know he feels it too. He wants to field that ball. He wants the catch. He will dive out in the air for it. He’s made a few and missed a few, too. It seems the ones you miss make the ones you snag so much sweeter.

I’m thankful Nate and Andrew let me play outfield for them when they practice. I still can’t shake that feeling. Come on, Nate. Hit me a pop-up.

Waiting for my Catch

He cried, then I cried – in baseball

18 Oct

I thought he made it. He thought he made it. It was such an exciting sight. Cheers from both sides erupted as we all watched him take off for Third base as the Second basekid on the other team chased him. That Second basekid had to dive for Nate to even have a chance at catching our speedy number 8. Nate was almost there. I screamed and jumped. The other child dove. I screamed and jumped. “He made it! He made it!”

“You’re OUT!” The umpire’s call proved me wrong.

My arms fell to my sides. Nate stood on Third in shock. He shook his head in disbelief and sadness.  His head folded under the weight of his helmet as he was guided off the base. Tears slid down his cheeks. Tears slid down my cheeks.

I’m sorry, Buddy. I know it won’t be the last time you are disappointed on the diamond. I can only hope your little heart doesn’t break each time – for both of our sakes.

But He Loves Me

16 Sep

He is Caleb. He’s been her buddy since Kindergarten. He seems like a nice, young man. He makes her laugh. He asks her if she’s ok when she cries. Caleb.

I never would’ve found out that Nia and Caleb had moved from like to love (that’s what she tells me – that she loves him and he loves her) if it wasn’t for her trying to quickly get the “I love Nia” note from her backpack. She didn’t want to show me at first because she thought I was going to be concerned. When I told her it was ok, she allowed me into her love life and handed me the note, grinning. I told her it was sweet and that it was cute that he gave her a note. I also told her that I hoped they would still be friends even when he doesn’t write her notes anymore. She said, “But he will, momma. He loves me.”

Sweet girl, I’m sure he does. I’m sure he does.

Daddy Do All

12 Sep

It’s a quote I’ll never forget. Our young neighbors said with a smile, “Mr. Andrew’s always trying to help somebody.” They couldn’t be more right and I hope they and our children will someday try to do the same thing.

Whether it’s killing a bug for me, running through the house and down a flight of steps to catch a screaming Nate hanging from the monkey bars, taking my car to get gas in the middle of leisure time, carrying all the groceries upstairs in one trip after he did the shopping because I didn’t feel like it, cooking dinner for us or fixing my car – I could never thank Andrew enough for all the ways he helps us and makes us feel protected and loved.

Like the kids said, he even makes every effort to help others. When it snowed here and our neighbors got stuck, Andrew ran up the hill with carpet pieces to throw under their tires. He’s given other neighbors a lift when they needed to go to the store, cut their grass, pushed a stranger’s stalled car off of a busy street, handed other strangers in the checkout line money when he saw they were short on cash and – one of my favorite kind acts – is that he never takes the closest parking spot because he says someone else who needs it more should have it.

Yes. I am totally bragging and it’s not the first time. Last year, I told the tale of the Knight in Starched Khakis and how he helped a stranded family in need. I can’t help but brag. I really love my friend. He’s a good influence and I wish others were as considerate as he is.

Just today he did two more things that compelled me to collect all these positives. He played ball with Nate while sitting on the couch still watching football and enjoying his adult beverage. Why is this nice to me? Because I appreciate that he still participates with us even when he really wants to watch his Denver Broncos for a few minutes.

Today, he also jumped in front of a hit baseball to keep it from hitting our pregnant friend in the stomach. The ball was coming pretty fast and left a mark on his arm so we are so thankful he blocked it. Despite the save, he was still upset with himself for not actually catching it. (The picture below doesn’t really capture it but you can kind of see the stitches from the ball.)

Andrew, I’m so grateful and inspired because you always try to help everyone. I just hope we’ll be there when you need it.

One Decade Down

2 Sep

When we told Nia we’d be celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary today, she accurately and adorably pointed out, “Your marriage is older than me!” Sure, it’s not as old as others but I still think our years have a lot of stories to tell.

  • We were separated more than we were together during the first three years of our marriage but we made it work. I was a loner in Savannah while the Army had Andrew on months of training in California, an overseas mission in Kosovo and a war in Iraq. Even when we were at the same address, our job schedules kept us apart. He spoiled me by chauffeuring me 40+ miles for my weekend producing job, just so we could spend more time.
  • The time apart in the military also meant we’d be apart for Nia’s birth. It was too much for both of us and Andrew decided a civilian life was best for our family life. I know that decision was so very difficult – I’ve always felt he was born to lead and he was such an awesome soldier – I am forever grateful.
  • From Army Captain to Best Buy Sales Manager, career number two kept Andrew close to us but still wasn’t ideal for him or us. Career number three was. So much so, baby number two came into our lives.
  • Nate’s birth was so special for both of us because we got to experience it together. We didn’t find out what we were having. We both wanted it that way. (We found out with Nia because we wanted to make sure he knew while at war – just in case.) Nate’s birth had complications and an emergency c-section was necessary. Andrew didn’t waver and I will never forget the moment we shared when the doctor told us everything was ok and that we were having a boy.
  • Soon after we became a family of four, the third career offered Andrew a promotion and a relocation. This change meant I could be a stay-at-home mom while he brought home the bacon. It was wonderful until it came to an end with a layoff. It may sound odd but this is probably one of my most cherished times together. Who would think a layoff would bring such happiness? Sure, we were concerned but we both looked at it as an opportunity and a chance to spend some quality family time together. We encouraged each other as we both looked for jobs and never took ourselves too seriously. We loved to watch the movie “Fun with Dick and Jane” – quoting it and seeing the hilariously sad reality in it. (Never getting any ideas, of course.)
  • After only a few weeks of unemployment, we both found great jobs (career four for Andrew, two for me) but it meant a big adjustment to our family. Nate would now need to go to daycare again. Nia would need to go to after school. We conquered this together and continue to work hard at it.

There are so many other challenges and adventures we’ve experienced together but through it all we’ve taught each other so much. How to take better care of one another. How to be a team. How to best deal with my paranoia and worrying issues. How to not fight because there are crumbs on the counter, empty cups around the house or other quirks. How to try to be a parent.

I know the coming years are going to continue to try us and to teach us. With Andrew as my partner, best friend, favorite and love, I can’t wait. Besides, I figure he’s stuck with me for another five or six decades. Then, we’ll really be older than Nia.

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