Another Difficult Thing

A few weeks ago, I wrote about one of the most difficult things I have ever done which was to go through Army Boot Camp in Ft. Knox, Ky. I also mentioned at that time that another difficult thing I have experienced in my life was watching my son struggle with a life-changing illness.  Before I get into the specifics of the illness and how it changed his life, I need to give you a little background information about my son.

Ever since my son could walk and talk, he  aspired to be just like his daddy; a West Point graduate and an Army Officer. Year after year, his Halloween costume was a pair of his dad’s BDU’s (Battle Dress Uniform). He always dressed  up as a soldier.   As a very young child, he wore his snow boots on the hottest summer days because they were his “Army” boots.  There was no arguing over how hot he would be; soldiers wore their boots, and he was wearing his.  I was grateful at those times when I could get him to take them off long enough to get into the shower and to go to bed at night.  Every stick or piece of wood was  fashioned into some sort of “Army” weapon because soldiers needed to be able to protect themselves.  He built an “Army” forts somewhere in the house or yard regularly.  There was no deterring him; throughout elementary, middle and high school, his goal remained the same: to receive a U.S. Military Academy appointment just like his dad and become an active duty Army officer.  Not even the events of September 11 changed his mind.  On the contrary, they solidified his intent.

For whatever reason, I always got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when my son would speak of his plans for his future. I always doubted that his dreams would become a reality.  I doubted his ability to realize his dream because I did not think he would be competitive academically.  Chris was a good student; he had a very strong work ethic.  However, as an educator myself, I knew there were other candidates out there that were stronger academically and … I just did not think it would happen for him.

I never verbalized my doubts to my son.  I always encouraged him to follow his passion, his dream.  I told him he could accomplish whatever he set his mind to, as long as he was willing to do the work.  At night when I went to bed, I prayed my intuition was wrong, and Chris would realize his dream.

When he did not get his academy appointment right out of high school, he decided he should attend a military prep school. New Mexico Military Institute (NMMI) in Roswell, New Mexico was his choice.  He would spend two years there working on an Associate’s Degree in Science and on attaining his academy appointment.  If the appointment did not materialize, then he would enter the military via ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps).  This was his plan B.  I liked his plan B; I entered the military through ROTC.  ROTC officers received the same pay, responsibilities, etc. when they were on active duty.

At the end of his first year at NMMI, he once again failed to receive a Military Academy appointment. At a time when most people would give up (including myself), Chris soldiered on.  He would not give up.  In addition, his father and I continued to encourage him.    He would apply one more time.  He had one more year to complete at NMMI, which meant one more year to try for an academy appointment.

Soon after his final year at NMMI began, Christopher learned he was awarded an appointment to the United States Merchant Marine Academy. Tears streamed down all our faces!  It was not a West Point appointment, but it was okay by him.  He would enter the military via a military academy.   His dream was about to come true!

I’m going to stop my story at this point and move on to my card.   You will have to come back on Saturday to read the rest.  🙂

I call this card Bright & Beautiful Shooting Star.  I was inspired by a card I saw on Split Coast Stampers when I created this one.  Hope you like it.

Bright & Beautiful Shooting Star

Again, come back on Saturday to hear the end of my story.  Until then…

Happy Stamping!



Getting Off A High Horse

Last weekend, my husband and I along with friends visited Estes Park, Colorado. Estes Park is the home of the headquarters for Rocky Mountain National Park.  I would have to say that Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park are two of my most favorite places to visit in Colorado.  The town has a population of about 6,000 and it is a popular place for visitors during the summer.  It is probably popular because of the park, which is a great place to camp and admire nature.  I have been there many times to do both.   Although we did not camp this time, we did visit Bear Lake in the park. In addition, we strolled along main street and visited many of the specialty shops Estes Park has to offer.  We also planned a little horseback riding expedition on Sunday morning.  We had an excellent dinner Saturday evening at Smokin’ Dave’s BBQ & Taphouse with our friends.

Sunday morning, as we were waiting for everyone in the group to arrive at the ranch where we planned on riding, I happened to mention to the woman in charge of the event that I was always a little nervous when I rode a horse. To be honest, horses frighten me.  They are bigger and stronger than I am, and what frightens me is that I might lose control of the horse.   I told her that I had ridden several times before. I mentioned I always felt a little frightened of the horses. As a matter of fact, one of the times I went horseback riding when I was younger, it was at night and my horse got a little frightened by something and took off running, or galloping and I was knocked off the horse when it ran under a tree and I was struck by a low hanging branch.  I told her I was not hurt, but I was frightened to death.  Just as an aside, in my life whenever I have enjoyed doing things, it seems something has always happened to take just a little bit of the joy out of it.  Falling off that horse took some of the joy out of riding.  I know when you fall off you are supposed to get right back on, and I did.  Nevertheless, it still scares the bejesus out of me.  As I was showering that morning I was wondering why I agreed to horseback riding this weekend in the first place.

While conversing with this woman, the wranglers start bringing the horses to the corral. I comment on one of the horses being pretty and she says, “That’s Pearl.  She has been with us about 20 years.”  I could see over Pearl.  She was light chocolate-brown in color and petite and about four hands tall. That would be 4 feet in regular language because one hand is equal to four inches. One measures a horse’s height from the ground to the top of its shoulder. I said, “That’s what I need.  A horse that’s small, and old, and slow…just like me!”  We had a good laugh together.   I am 5 feet tall and you could say…older.  J  Notice I did not say old.  Ninety is old, and I have a way to go before I am 90!

Finally, the wrangler in charge of our party starts assigning horses. He mentions we needed to remember our horse’s name because that would be the one we would be riding.  My friend Karen, about my height, gets a horse first.  The wrangler says, “Karen, you will be riding Pearl.”

“Okay,” I am thinking, “I am cool with that. There are other small horses.”

Everyone has a horse when he finally looks at my husband and me. If you know my husband, you know he has a slight physical handicap, but nothing that keeps him from being active. It does make it difficult for him do some things, but it does not stop him from trying.  My husband is about 5’10” and he gets Dillon, a big horse.  My husband and I exchange quick glances.

The head wrangler looks as me and says, “Ma’am, you will be riding Oleo.”

“Okay.” All the smaller horses assigned, I ask, “Which one is Oleo?”  .

“This is Oleo, Ma’am,” says another wrangler. “He is my horse.”  I could tell by the way he said, “He is my horse” that this man truly loved this creature.”  I almost felt guilty for having to ride him.  Who was I to come between a man and his horse?

I look at Oleo who is a beautiful golden brown color and bigger than a house! My husband says teasingly, “Oh, Josie. Oleo?  Smooth like butter.  You are going to slide off!”

“Well, thanks for the vote of confidence, sweetie.” He knew I was a little nervous because I had told him so earlier.

Oleo stood about 17.75 hands tall. That is taller than I am! I mentioned earlier that I am only 15 hands tall (60” or 5’).   I am not exaggerating when I say I COULD NOT see over Oleo!

The wrangler asks, “Can you put your left foot into the stirrup, and I will help you mount?”

Seriously? I respond, “Ahhhh, No!” I have not been able to elevate my leg so my foot would be even with my head since I taught aerobics when I was in my 30’s.  Even then, I was not able to do that without any kind of trouble.  I have never really been THAT flexible.

He says, “Let’s go over to the steps then.”

HELLO! I am assessing the situation to myself, “If I have to climb a stepladder to get onto this mount, then that is a horse of a different color!”

I climb to the top step, and I mention to the wrangler that I am a little scared and concerned. He says, “Don’t be scared, Ma’am. If you are scared, Oleo will sense it, and he will think he has reason to be scared.”

Well, that reassured me. NOT! No matter how much I tried, I now was even more anxious.  I had visions of this horse being petrified  of me and doing menacing things as I rode him. I put my left foot into the stirrup, grabbed onto the saddle with both hands, and heaved myself up whirling my right leg around back to the other side.

“You’re kidding, right? “ Oleo’s back was about as wide as the Grand Canyon. It smarted to sit with my legs spanning such a wide expanse.

“You know what? I think I am not going to do this,” I said to the wrangler.  “My feet don’t even reach the stirrups.”

“We can adjust them, Ma’am. It’s gonna be just fine. Oleo is a good horse.”

“I’m sure he is.” I know I offended him, but I insisted, “No, that’s okay…I don’t really have to do this. My gut tells me not to do this today.  It’s not as if I have never ridden before.” And I am thinking to myself, “Not no how! Not no way! This ain’t happenin’ today!”

I have learned to follow my gut. Had I learned to do so earlier in life, it would have saved me a great deal of trouble.

Getting off a high horse is just as difficult as getting on it.

Another Christmas card is posted here.  It is a simple one.  Sometimes the simpler the better as far as I am concerned. In other words, less is more.

Cut Out Festival of Trees

When I made this card, I punched the tree image out of the white card stock before I ran it through the Texture Boutique Machine.   I then stamped the tree image on another smaller piece of Whisper White card stock and lined it up with the cut out.  I then adhered it to the card base.  I used Stampin’ Dimensionals to adhere the embossed card stock  to the Garden Green base.

Hope you enjoyed your visit here today.  Thanks for stopping by.   Until next time…

Happy Stamping!







Need My Head Examined

No, I didn’t bump it.  I think I am loosing it!!  I retired after 21 years of teaching  this past school year.  I knew that I would want something to keep me busy, as if I don’t have enough, so I applied for a few jobs as  a teacher assistant in one of our school districts.  I knew it would be a job easy to do and stress free.  That was my biggest thing…I wanted something stress free.  Being a substitute teacher for the district was also an option, but for some reason I chose to do this.  So, for the last 4 weeks I have been a Title 1 Educational Assistant in a Title 1 school.  All that means is that the school I work in gets extra federal dollars because it has the qualifying amount of low income students.  These dollars are to be used to help bridge the achievement gap between these students and others that are achieving at higher levels. Let me digress for a moment.

Although no one will ever officially say that higher income students perform better than lower income students, they usually do.  Why is that?  Maybe because the families of students that come from a higher socio-economic background can afford to do a lot of things that low income families can’t.  Things like, take your kids to see a play, the zoo, etc.  In other words, they can afford to  experience some of the  THINGS in life that you wouldn’t think would help a child achieve.  Maybe higher income families put more emphasis on education.  Maybe they can afford to have one parent stay home and help kids with their home work.  Maybe it is a lot of things.  Who knows?  Just know that no one will officially say the amount of money a family does or doesn’t have affects the achievement of its children even though in my experience it does.

Any way…I’ve been working as a part time 4th grade Title 1 Educational Assistant for two teachers.  Corralling a class of 35 fourth graders is like corralling bees.  They are everywhere and have something to say about everything!  They can be just as disruptive and disrespectful as some of the older kids I used to teach, but they got something going that the older kids don’t.  They are cute (most of the time), and they still like their teachers, and for the most part they still like school.

So why do I need my head checked?  Well you see…the school is about to hire another 4th grade teacher, because the two classrooms have too many kids in them.  I applied for the position, and I am scheduled to interview for it tomorrow.  My reasoning is, I know the kids already, they’ve already been disrupted by having a sub take over their class for the past week and a half, and I feel like I can do it.  Heck!  I KNOW I can do it.  But my stomach has been aching, and I’ve been dreading taking on that big of a responsibility again.  We’ll see…I will probably not even be offered the job.  Sometimes I hope that I am not because then I won’t have to decide and I can say, “Their loss!”  🙂

Here is my card for today.  I realized I got this stamp set for free at convention, and I haven’t even used it.

Bright & Beautiful - 1

I used two of my favorite colors on this one; Crushed Curry and Lost Lagoon.  Although, Stampin’ Up! hasn’t had a color I haven’t liked yet!

Hope you enjoyed your visit today.  As always, I enjoy hearing what you have to say either about what I’ve written or what I’ve created with my stamps.  Until next time…

Happy Stamping!