Thursday, September 25, 2014

The First Step



There is a Dutch proverb that goes like this: He is who outside his door, already has the hard part of his journey behind him. It's a proverb about taking that first step which, without a doubt, is the hardest step of all.


Recently, I was given the opportunity to travel with Joe to California and take a tour of Vandenberg Air Force Base and witness a test launch of an ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile). It would be an adventure, to be sure, but every time we travel and leave the boys behind, I start getting apprehensive. Anxious, even. To the point that, at the last minute, I almost backed out.


For days I had a mental conversation with myself: Should I go? Yes. Should I stay home? Again, yes. Joe really wants me to go, but what if something happens to us? What if something happens to one of the boys? So no, I'm not going. Besides, what if ... what if ... what if ...


A few days before the trip that I was going on (or not), I was talking to a friend at Bible study about these worries. She politely listened, then pointedly and matter-of-factly said, "Oh no, you need to go."


And she was so right. Life is too short to spend time worrying about all the what ifs. I once heard a speaker who said that when we worry, we become our own false prophet; that worrying is expecting the worse ... which is stealing from the joy that is present now. And for someone who loves to travel, who loves to head into the unknown armed only with a map, some guidebooks, and a spirit of adventure, I was letting fear take over the very essence of who I was.


So this past Sunday, I stood outside our back door at 5 a.m. with my carry on ... and took the first step on what turned out to be a three-day adventure with a capital A.


A picture is worth a thousand words, so I will let the following speak for themselves. Like I said, an adventure with a capital A.





Here is the raw video of the actual test launch we were fortunate to witness. Earlier, we were escorted on a behind-the-scenes 7-hour tour which, among other things, included the actual LCC (launch control center) of that night's missile test launch.


Stopping along the Pacific Ocean during our drive from
Los Angeles to Vandeberg Air Force Base.


Touring Vandenberg Air Force Base. One of the control centers.


Vandenberg Air Force Base


Just up the road from our hotel was the quaint town of Solvang,
established in 1911 by Danish settlers.


Solvang is Danish for "sunny field", and it is a little Copenhagen
in the middle of sunny California.


While in Solvang we had a Danish hamburger
 (with lingonberry sauce) and a Danish pastry. Both were delicious.


Santa Ines Mission, one of the oldest missions in California.



The Way of the Cross at Santa Ines Mission.


Shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe and Juan Diego
at Santa Ines Mission.


Marine layer is a dense, heavy, and wet fog that is common in the area.
It appears at any time, and the mass of rolling, boiling, churning clouds is
very Stephen King-ish. A little creepy.


The Chinese Theater,
Los Angeles.


Hollywood Walk of Fame
Hollywood Boulevard, CA


Um ... guess who I ran into?


The Santa Monica Pier.


Route 66 officially ends at this precise point
in Santa Monica.


Sunset on the Santa Monica Pier.
After this photo we headed to the airport to catch the red-eye back to the East Coast.
The red-eye ... very LA of us, yes?


AFTERWORD: If I had given in to my anxieties, I would have missed out on all the above and what a sad thing that would have been. Instead, I came home with a sense of wonder and awe. There is a great big world out there ... a beautiful world to behold and explore. All you have to do is take that first step.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Doctor who?



It's funny how God made boys.


Take our guy, for example. He likes to pick up dead bugs, has to be reminded to use soap (and shampoo) in the shower, and uses the words silent but deadly, atomic, and machine gun to classify you-know-what.


And yet, he gets totally squeamish with blood and guts.


Last year, the fourth grade science chapters dealing with the systems of the body totally grossed him out ... especially the digestive system. All that food digesting and moving through twisted, coiled intestines was enough to make him gag. Then the very fact that the large intestine could be up to five feet long just about did him in. Of course, we all found this terribly funny. It got to the point when we would just yell "Intestines!" and he would clutch his stomach in horror.


Yesterday I picked him up from school, and right away I could see something was up.


"Mom," he gravely announced. "Today was so gross. In science we studied ..."


And he paused because he had to swallow hard.


"We studied tendons!" he continued.


"What's wrong with tendons?" I asked. "We all have them."


"I know," he responded between gulps. "But they are stretchy, like a rubber band. That just makes my skin crawl."


Oh dear Lord, I think, please help me not to laugh.


Today wasn't much better. Evidently, in science they watched an educational video about cells and a doctor cuts a piece of skin (a skin graft?) and looks at it through a microscope to show the different kinds of cells. Oh the horror. He actually looks pale.


"Well, you know, you have cells right now swimming all over you," I inform him. "You can't see them, but they're there."


"STOP TALKING ABOUT IT!" he yells. "I'M TRYING TO EAT MY OREO COOKIES!"


Like I said, there's no telling how God made boys. Snips and snails and puppy dogs' tails ... and a whole lot of stuff in between.


A Day in the Life of a Boy
by Norman Rockwell

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Perfect Time


A Girls’ Trip to Italy … it was always a dream of mine, but I kept postponing the idea because I was waiting for the perfect time. Then this summer, during our big family road trip in which every day was an adventure waiting to happen, I realized that there will never be a perfect time. The only thing that happens when you wait for the “perfect time” is that time slips through your fingers; furthermore, how do you know it’s not the perfect time unless you move forward? With those thoughts in mind, after we returned home I announced the Girls’ Trip to Italy for 2015. It took a leap of faith.

Yesterday, a good friend of mine stopped by – a lovely surprise on a rainy Sunday afternoon – and officially announced that she would be joining the group. So far we have 11 confirmed travelers, with more expected this week. It's been an exciting, scary, thrilling adventure ... and we haven't even left home yet.
The perfect time? How about now?

Saturday, August 30, 2014

A Morning Conversation, BC (before cappuccino)





Timothy: Top Gear is, like, my favorite show. Both the American and the British one. I want a Lamborghini. Or maybe a Bentley. Do you know how fast a dragster goes? Well, it's like 220 miles an hour, or something. A Bugatti is cool, too. Let me see your iPhone and I'll show you a picture.

Me: Look. No more talking about cars. Between football and cars ... talk about other things.


Timothy: You just say that because you don't like cars. What kind of cars do you like, anyway?


Me: Smart Cars, Fiats, and Mini Coopers.


Timothy is speechless. How uncool could his mom be?


Me: Oh, and I also like vintage Vespas.


Timothy sighs. He has a lot of work to do to catch me up to speed.





NOTE: All these photos of smart cars were taken by yours truly when we were in Italy three years ago. It became a game. When we got home Timothy and I made a poster of all the Smart Cars we saw on our trip. Also note the last one ... a Red Cross Smart Car.






















Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Happiness is ...



a son who calls home from college yesterday ... not because he needs anything or has a question ... but just to talk and tell me about his classes.


son #2 who drives his baby brother to school, and says the morning prayers with him in the car.


son #3 who still wants me (and only me) to go over his spelling words with him.


Friday, August 22, 2014

Proud of My Golfer



Notice the photo below. After Joe plays a round of golf, he leaves his scorecard on the kitchen table so we can oooh and aaah over his golf score. It's usually there for about a week.


But this particular scorecard is special. Inside is the evidence of a glorious round in which he shot a 75.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Missing a Presence



Today we dropped off our college sophomore at Clemson University.


And it's a strange thing, because despite being home for the summer, he wasn't. During the week he worked from 6:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. as an engineering intern, every Friday night he had a group of friends over to hang out (or he went out), on weekends there were beach trips and/or camping trips, and the times when he was home ... well, he was catching up on his sleep.


Basically, he flitted in and out and, really, seemed to be gone more than he was here.


So why, then, this evening when we are here and he is at Clemson, does the house feel so empty?


Settling in at Clemson ...
and enjoying the spaciousness of duplex-living.
Love you, Nicho!