From Veteran’s Wife & Momma to Military Mom & Empty Nester

Bradley left for Parris Island last Sunday.

This is no picnic on a beach; my son is training with the best to become a United States Marine!

Y’all, Audley & I are so proud! I’ll admit, I am a wee bit nervous. I know how hot Southern summers are; the heat index is 103° today here outside Atlanta! Can you imagine the South Carolina coast? He’s a tough kid choosing to leave this time of year. Audley went to Oklahoma for Army boot camp and then when he changed branches went through boot camp in Great Lakes, Illinois for the Navy (yes, my hubby served in both; thought the Navy had better schools & made the switch), so his weather experiences were a whole lot different!!

Serving & supporting our country is very important in our family.

Leaving Day … June 10 from the recruiting center in Athens

Bradley’s going to answer to a whole new level Of authority, a level that as strict as I was on my kids, he can’t fathom! He kept telling everyone I prepared him for the DI’s.. yeah he doesn’t have a clue!

The 12 weeks he has remaining ( it’s hard to believe one has already passed!) are going to be weeks of massive transformation; he’s going to learn to make a “rack”; an epic #momfail based on the condition of his room after he left!

{Y’all it was BAD!!}

While he is transforming into a Marine, Audley & I will make the transition into empty nesters. We have never never experienced “just us”. I became a full-time Momma the day we said “I Do” and for 23 years my identity has been Audley’s wife and eventually the mom of four amazing kids! It’s kind of exciting to discover the adventures hubby and I will enjoy together without having to plan every detail around lacrosse, wrestling, band, color guard, soccer, baseball, and youth group.

Unlike so many couples who fall apart at this stage of life because they cant adjust I am sure we are going to be just fine and dive into adventures we never experienced as newlyweds! We have worked hard over the last 23 years to keep us and our marriage first so that we aren’t two strangers living together. It’s kind of exciting.

Out in a canoe at Watson Mill Bridge State Park over the weekend

Now that graduation and the busyness of the spring has passed I’m planning to do a much better job of blogging! So for those who have stuck around, thank you!! I hope my summer content inspires you to dive into adventures and enjoy where you are in life both at home and out and about!

Graduation 2K18 & the Future

For the third time in three years and fourth time overall we have celebrated another graduation in our little family.  Last weekend was so special as siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends all celebrated this youngest child of ours.

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Audley and I couldn’t be more proud of the four children we’ve raised and the young adults they have and are becoming.

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If you follow me on social media (you really ought too!), you know our Bradley has enlisted in the Maine Corps and leaves in just 6 days for boot camp at Parris Island, SC.

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This was not a decision made lightly, but one Bradley has carefully weighed and considered.  Bradley’s decision was made in part because honestly, the military is in his blood.  Audley was a Navy submariner, his grandfather in the Army national guard, his great-grandfather & that whole generation of great-great uncles on both sides of the family were in the Navy, Air Force and Army serving in WWII and the Korean Conflict, and his great-great grandfather served in WWI, with other direct descendants fighting in the Civil War and the Revolutionary War.  Service for what one believes in and in this country is in Bradley’s genes; it just comes natural.

Bradley’s decision was also made because he absolutely despises school and he realized that there was no reason to borrow or pay money to be somewhere he didn’t want to be. He isn’t interested in trade school right now either as he isn’t bent that way.  Bradley is a natural born leader, a protector, and a servant.  He desires to take care of others and a college classroom is most certainly NOT going to satisfy that need!

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I applaud his decision.  Not everyone is cut out for college, yet society (or the student loan companies) seem determined everyone needs to go!  As parents we should not make our kids into what and who we think they should be in their careers, but lead and guide them in the direction their personality and desire takes them.  Bradley has chosen service to his country; a country he is actually very proud to live in.  As a matter of fact, about 20 of his classmates have made that same decision!  They are joining the guard, the Navy, Army and a total of five will be Marines with my son; one just left for boot camp just three days after graduation!

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Some of Bradley’s friends have chosen trades.  Kudos to them!  You do NOT have to have a four-year degree to be a success in life!  Ask my husband who works with welders, steelworkers, and the like everyday and are making 6-figure salaries.

Now before you start passing judgement, I am not anti-college.  First, I have a bachelors degree (although I’ve never used it) in Public Relations and Mass Communications.  After serving six years in the Navy,  Audley, first studying to be an EMT & Paramedic (these are both license programs), now has his Master’s degree and a list of letters from professional certifications behind his name that have benefitted him greatly in his career of construction safety.  Our oldest, Samantha, has an associates in general ed which allowed her to sit for certification programs, giving her a career in the medical field that she absolutely LOVES!  MacKenzie will graduate with her bachelors next year in Exercise Science (a field which she is passionate about) and plans to sit for a couple of certifications, one allowing her to train athletes.  Madeline is also working on her 4-year degree although I’m pretty sure she’s majoring only in Lacrosse right now, but having a lot of fun on that scholarship!   Each of our children chose their own paths into adulthood, including two who married at 20 years old!  We’ve encouraged them to follow their dreams , supported them and offered guidance when we saw they needed it.

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Samantha & Justin; December 2012

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MacKenzie & Michael; June 2017

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Madeline looking fierce in white!

When I graduated college the keynote speaker made the statement that “if you don’t love the field in which you are working, get out of it and find a new path”.  Unhappiness in a career affects you not only at work, but in your personal life as well.

So here’s to you Class of 2018!  Don’t let societal peer pressure dictate which path to take.  Follow your passions and your heart into a career path you love.  Be a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher.  Become a personal trainer, a welder, a photojournalist.

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Bradley with his recruiter

And if your heart says be a Marine, by all means, BE A MARINE!

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A Letter to my Son

I’ve been a little preoccupied the last several weeks as this season of life is swiftly passing by.  In just one week my youngest child and only son will walk across the stage to receive his high school diploma …. and in three weeks he will leave for Parris Island as he has enlisted in the Marine Corps.  It’s just a little emotional around here right now.

{OK, it’s just me that is  little emotional.}

Today is Bradley’s senior picnic, and as a part of the traditions at Loganville is the receiving of senior letters from friends and family.  I wanted to share my (rather long… sorry) letter that I wrote to Bradley as he enters a whole new world in the coming days.

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May 2018
Dear Bradley,

When you came into this world you taught me to look at things in a whole new way! After having three girls, I didn’t know what to expect of this chubby darling boy God knew I needed. In a way I have dreaded this day for 18 years now, but at the same time I am so excited for your future that I can’t help but beam with pride between the tears. You have grown up to be an amazing young man with a future so bright others should be jealous! Everyone loves you, is proud of you, and I absolutely know that you will be able to do wonderful things in this life, not only in leadership (you are a natural born leader), but by being your own kind hearted, loving, intelligent and entertaining self!

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First Day of Kindergarten

I’ve loved watching you grow and mature these last 18 years; growing into a responsible man, but also maintaining your irresistible ­mischievousness of spirit. My word how you have always been, and I hope will always be mischievous! From sandwich incidents at school to thinking you were being sneaky to visit grands, I can’t begin to count the number of times you have managed your way out of trouble because of your wit and that twinkle in your eye. You’ve tried my patience, been my conscious, a fitness cheerleader, accepted change with little complaint (although your heart hurt) and stepped into the roll of a man while helping around the house while your dad travelled.

Through all your life I have talked to you freely about everything. That is because I love you. While I always wanted to shield you from the darkness of the world, I also wanted you to know that things aren’t always what God had intended for them to be. By being open with you I hope you learned the difference between right and wrong, what God expects for you in your life, and know you can always come to me with anything. Just for a moment I want to talk freely with you again as you graduate and leave for boot camp.


Live a Life of Love. Love is not just romance; it is a way to live your life. Love is so many beautiful things as pointed out in I Corinthians 13 (patient, kind, self-sacrificing, etc)… You can take these principles of love and use them in all aspects of your life, even boot camp believe it or not. Living a life of love means every person you encounter will see God in you and know you truly care for people.  You can live a life of love and still be a man.  Love is not weakness; it is strength.

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Live a Life of Purpose. God wants us to lead purposeful lives and lives that reflect Him. There are so many ways to do this, but it’s mostly living your life with a set of values and beliefs that God expects of you. I hope you have grown to have your own, and not just relied on your dad and I to give you a purpose. Have passion in all that you do and set priorities so that you accomplish all the goals that you have for your life.  Be the strong man God intended for you to be and you will be a world changer.

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Life a Life with No Regrets. See the world, love passionately and give of your time and efforts to those you are close too, as well as strangers. Not everyone will appreciate it, but at the end of the day do not regret anything you have done. At the same time, don’t hold grudges. Life is too short to spend hating and not forgiving others. They may not reciprocate the actions, but when you look back over your life know you have forgiven and don’t regret how things went. In the same manner, see all that the world has to offer; from history to culture your adventures in the Marine Corps and even after when you return to the civilian world will be amazing. Savor every moment and DON’T FORGET TO TAKE PICTURES!!!


Live a Life Being True to Yourself. Don’t let the world influence you into doing the wrong things; you influence the world into doing the right! Unfortunately peer pressure doesn’t disappear when you walk out of high school and into the adult world. Sometimes I think it is worse as an adult. Stay true to the values and morals you have been raised with and maintained over the years and don’t let some other Marine, girl, job, or even Christian (you know not all are who they say they are) influence you to turn away. I have said it so many times, you are a natural leader. From the friendships you have chosen to the wonderful work ethic you have developed, we know you can lead.  Be that leader.

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Live Life my son. Climb a mountain, learn to sail that boat, earn your pilots license, work for promotions, try that foreign cuisine, learn to scuba dive, preach a sermon at least once, marry the girl who completes you … don’t be afraid to live, experience, and share your life! When you are older and telling stories to your children and grandchildren I want you to be able to tell them you truly loved and lived! Don’t look back and say “I wish….” LIVE. And yes, I am repeating myself, TAKE LOTS OF PICTURES!

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I know you will do the right things in life because you were raised to do so. Always remember to keep your temper and your given word, stay faithful to the Christ and the Church, and always be loving.

I Love you so much my son,
Mom

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Spring Entertaining

Easter weekend swiftly passed and spring is officially arrived in my book!  Time for open toe shoes, bare legs, sandals, white and cute hats to finish up the most casual or dressy of an outfit!

It’s also a great time to entertain guests; both family and friends.  Between Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Memorial Day, graduations, and in our family birthdays galore, there are so many reasons to open up the door!

Looking ahead to a season of hospitality, I thought it would be fun to share a few tips to help you organize your next event with little stress.

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It’s really quite easy to pull together a dinner to welcome spring or celebrate those you love, despite the desire to be just like Martha Stewart!

**First, the menu, which isn’t as difficult as it seems! While you don’t have to go this route, traditional spring meals often include ham, lamb or chicken.  These can be prepared several ways (I love variety) and carved right up for serving.  Spring vegetables include asparagus, fresh leafy greens, artichokes, radishes, avocado, Vidalia onion and broccoli, which should be at their freshest and of course most flavorful time.  Shopping for food that is in season immediately takes a load off of your mind because you aren’t searching for elusive veggies or disappointed in the taste!

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**Speaking from experience, prepare foods your familiar with so that you aren’t upset and fretting over how a new dish has turned out.  Save the experiments for family supper one night.

 **If you are hosting family (and plan to prepare it all), think of and prepare recipes that they know and love … in our house it’s three cheese mac and cheese and roasted green beans on the menu.  Between shopping seasonal and preparing family favorites, your menu should come together fairly fast.

**Knock out most of your prep work and make desserts the day before, leaving just the main course for the day of a gathering.

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**Any dinner you host doesn’t have to be formal; a wonderfully prepared buffet or potluck dinner can be just as elegant.  I always loved the spreads at my aunt and uncle’s house over the years as she ordered everything, from Costco, Sam’s or Honey Baked Ham; laid out a beautiful sfeast and enjoyed the entire day with the family!  Aunt Jean knows how to entertain stress free; let me tell you!

{Sometime’s it is just worth it to let someone else do all the work.}

**Don’t be afraid to delegate; typically guests are more than happy to bring drinks, and appetizer, a side dish, or dessert.  Take a load off of yourself.

**If entertaining families, have games and toys for children to play with, or ask parents to bring their children’s favorites.  This will help entertain little ones and maybe keep them from being bored.

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Grocery store Blue Willow dishes collected in the 1990s are probably my favorite dishes to use!

**Decorating your table is a wonderful and memorable way to make your guests feel welcome. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to set a pretty table.

**Mother’s Day, a birthday dinner, or the Easter holiday is the perfect time to showcase your best dinnerware, glassware, flatware and linens if your desire.  I love to pull out my Noritake china purchase at an auction years ago by my mother-in-law, but I also adore  a basic white plate topped with a fun salad plate. With either choice of plate adding the crystal glassware that belong to Audley’s grandparents is such a special touch.

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Simple white rimmed plates from Pottery Barn match absolutely everything!  Here they are paired with bunny plates from Williams Sonoma.

**For outdoor gatherings and those gathering for the guys, an old fashioned cookout is perfect! With all the variety in paper and plastic products now, setting up a table or theme is as simple as ever.

**Maintain a beautifully simple color scheme.  Spring inspired plates, patterns and a touch of greenery make for an unforgettable table setting.

**Keep the table uncluttered by using a buffet to display and serve drinks, side dishes or desserts.  Decorate it to match the theme of the dining table.

**Bring your home to life with flowers and glowing candles; both of which create a welcoming mood.  Seasonal flowers in April and May include tulips, daffodils, and lilies which bring the beauty of spring inside. Some of these you may be able to cut from your own yard, or you can usually find these popular flowers at your local grocery, very inexpensively!  Candles are plentiful at the Dollar Store or clearance at Target.  I love to buy them when on clearance to put up for later use.

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Table decorated with tea-lights and succulent pots.

 **For an easy springtime table, bring the outside in with greenery such as grass, ivy, fern, or even succulents.  Fresh yellowbell branches from the yard are stunning on a buffet or mantle!

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**Decorating can be done in advance: set the table, arrange the centerpiece and add special touches a day or even two days before.

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The glassware I’ve used here belonged to Audley’s grandparents; the etched flowers fit the season nicely!

It doesn’t take a lot of stress and money to treat your family and friends to a celebrations they will long remember.  Just take on what you know you can handle, use what you have, and make plans to celebrate the spring!

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