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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Savoring Christmas

The house is so very quiet today.

There is no rushing around finding or wrapping the last gifts, planning menus, baking sweet treats or preparing for guests.

Audley has returned to work, Samantha has returned to Tennessee, Michael and MacKenzie have returned to South Carolina, Madeline is delivering pizzas and Bradley is engulfed in any number of college bowl games down in the den.

 

It’s really quiet.  And as I sit here on the sofa, twinkle lights on the tree, listening to a little Dave Koz I’m at peace thinking what a wonderful Christmas holiday it was.

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Almost all of our kiddos plus the grand-dogs

We’ve always traveled for Christmas, but the last couple of years has found us at home for a quiet celebration with just part of our family.  This year we were blessed to have all four of our children and one son-in-law (the other is a police officer who sacrificed his holiday to serve), as well as my parents in for Christmas Day!  It was all so exciting for me.

The dynamic of holidays change as the kiddos get older, head off to college and get married.  It’s not bad, but it is a huge change from being woken up at 6 AM to check out what Santa brought, to sleeping in and casually opening presents around noon.  Instead of toys littering the living room floor it’s tools, clothes and hammocks, and fitness gear.

While some would cry over the changes, it’s still all so beautiful to this mom who savored every moment.

“The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.”

~Burton Hills~

Watching my son open Peach Bowl tickets that he had no clue he was getting was pretty sweet, too.

Y’all he had tears in his eyes.

(The video flips correctly when you hit play; turn it up for his reaction!)

We’ve started a few of our own Christmas traditions in the last couple of years which include our fully set Christmas table in the dining room.

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Here we lovingly serve up homemade pizzas that everyone has assembled and cooked before.

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We also all take in a movie together.

Go see the Greatest Showman.

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Really.

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Go.

I loved watching my kids (hubby included) play games together.

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“Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas.”

~Peg Bracken~

I loved cooking with my girls.

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And I loved watching my kiddos spend time together.

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Despite time swiftly passing and our babies becoming adults, some things never change, and I truly treasured every moment of our holiday.

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The kids still leave cookies for Santa out…. Apparently he has quite and appetite! 

And I’m also savoring the quiet!

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I hope your holiday was blessed and memorable as well!

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Family Birthday Celebration

It wasn’t until my kids started going to college and getting married that I understood how much it means to my own parents to have all of their kids in at once.  You really don’t think about those times when you’re living the everyday chaos of raising four kids, until one day you wake up and the house is just a little quieter and your schedule is just a little emptier.

It happens so fast!

Audley turned 46 while Madeline and I were in Cuba last month, so I wanted to make it up to him with a fun dinner celebrating him!  I found a weekend all the kiddos were actually free at the same time (really difficult when we’re spilt between three states), and planned a dinner party for us to all enjoy!

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Since we were celebrating Audley, I didn’t want him to have to man the grill and cook his own birthday dinner, so I put together a simple and lovely menu consisting of his home cooked favorites:

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Pork Roast cooked in cast iron (Click here for the recipe with picutres or print Comfort Food – our Favorite Pork Roast here)

Potatoes & Carrots

Corn on the Cob

Crisp salad filled with farmers market fresh veggies

Sister Schubert’s Dinner Rolls

And of course a yummy birthday cake from Kroger bakery (picked out by the 20 year old child)

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I wanted to set a pretty table, but how do you do that for a man without being too frilly?  It took just a little thought, but was totally doable!

I layered my table linens, using a white tablecloth for the base, then topped it with a denim table runner.

After scouting the floral section at Publix, I found several bouquets with day lilies, sunflowers and really fluffy greenery (I have no idea whats it’s called) that looked pretty, yet not overly feminine.

I cut the flowers down and used stemless wine glasses for vases.

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When doing centerpieces, while the large ones are beautiful, it is important to remember that you need a line of vision for your guests to promote easy conversation.

These short arrangements really worked well for creating a line of vision while still looking pretty.

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I also used small galvanized pots of succulents, wooden platters, and a rustic lantern to round out the table decor.

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The yellows, greens and denim all looked so lovely together.

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To finish off the look I set the table with our simple white wedding china and antique glassware that belonged to Audley’s grandparents.

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While Bradley generally doesn’t pay attention to the little things, my girls loved the set table.  They all live such hectic and busy lives with school and work, it was so nice just to sit down and enjoy the food, conversation and uninterrupted family time.

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Audley’s parents were able to drive down from Tennessee to celebrate with us as well!

I have always tried to set special tables for the family as our kiddos were growing up for holidays and birthdays and any other special day I could conjour up. It’s nice to know that it was appreciated and something they now look forward to when they come home!

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Our kids have grown up, and our family size grows as well!

And while they enjoy being treated special, I’ll savor the few weekends we can manage to have them all together at once!

Have a wonderful weekend!

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