“Only You Mom!”

“Only you Mom!” is what our daughter, Allison, said with a laugh when I called her while standing on a sidewalk in Little Havana.  You know, Little Havana that’s a part the beautiful city of Miami, Florida. I will get to the story in just a minute! Hang on …..(Little sidebar inserted here: We have found that having an empty nest means that Briant and I get to travel together..just the two of us as a couple!  Not as parents : ) We did’nt really have a “regular dating” experience because we were dated with 4 children in tow !!  Seriously, for real. I know it sounds really old-fashioned.  We had a relatively short engagement because we had to get married to have time together! Just kidding, not really.  No, It’s true, the children were mostly always with us. We did go on a honeymoon to Jamaica alone, and I felt like a virgin bride I was so nervous.  We do know that could not be true because I had given birth to two children in my earlier marriage!

OK, so here goes the story… back to Little Havana.  Hubby and I took a little vacation to South Beach Miami just after Easter this year.   Just the two of us and it was great!  We stayed in a little Art Deco style hotel right on the beach that was probably built during the 1940’s.  It was awesome, and the weather was perfect. One of the things we like to do when we visit a new city is to take “an organized tour”. HaHa.  That seems so much like old people!!  We are old people!!  We particularly enjoy the double decker bus types.  The “Hop-On” “Hop-Off” kind which I highly recommend !  You really learn so much more about where you’re visiting.  We had a really good day touring around Miami Beach enjoying the gorgeous views of the water, the fabulous homes of “the beautiful people”, and a delicious lunch somewhere along the way!  Our tour ended in Little Havana (the Cuban area of Miami) and Briant and I decided to check out some of the little cafes along the street.  As we were walking along the sidewalk we heard some really good live latin music coming from somewhere close…  I absolutely love to watch good dancers, so I was thrilled when I spied a couple salsa dancing inside of this really small bar where a band was playing.  I told hubby we needed to hurry over to where we could see the dancers, and we did!  As we were standing outside of this popular bar “Ball and Chain” (btw it is a famous place) watching the obviously professional dancers in traditional Cuban dance costume, we noticed a second couple in the back dancing at a “slower pace”.  They looked fairly young, and they were wearing regular street clothes. Well….they were not just dancing, they were “pecking”at each other every now and then AND hugging quite a bit.  I found the scene kind of amusing myself so I took out my iphone and started “videoing” the whole scene. The first couple dancing were just amazingly talented so I took quite a bit of footage of them, and then I moved to the “other two” …. After a couple of minutes with my iphone held high in the air, a rather official looking person with a HUGE camera on her shoulder stopped me. She walked over and said, “Excuse me, you are not allowed to take videos here.”  I said, “Oh, why not?” She answered me with, “Because we are filming a tourism video.”  This of course just made me want to video them even more for some reason : )  By personality I am quite curious….SOO, I moved to a different spot in the crowd where I continued to video the second couple in the back.  They were just funny to me for whatever reason ? I guess I just could not figure out what they were up to…dancing by these incredibly talented professionals, and doing more “smooching” than dancing…. in the middle of the afternoon!  I figured there must be a really good story here and I certainly did’nt want to miss out ; ) I kept on videoing until Briant was obviously ready to move on down the street. As we were about to cross the street in Little Havana,  I heard a woman saying, “You know that was Rachel from “The Bachelorette” filming for next season!” I stopped in my tracks!  Well, I don’t watch television much at all, so I had no idea who Rachel was!  I called one of our daughters, and she immediately knew Rachel was the “Bachelorette.” Allison  laughed and said, “Only you Mom!” She asked me to send her the video.  I was so excited when Allison confirmed that I did indeed have “unseen footage of Rachel from “The Bachelorette”! HA! I was excited to have “a story” so I posted it on YouTube that very day. This was Rachel’s “Hometown date” with Bryan!   As of yesterday, my two videos posted from that scene have over 40K views so far!  What a fun memory from one of our first vacations as “just us”.  I knew then we certainly did’nt have to have 4 kids in tow to have a great time in Miami Beach ; )

Stay tuned …

The Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me

Yep, that’s what Gladys Knight said.  And it’s true, this family is the best thing that ever happened to me for certain.   Briant and I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary last month which means the WilderNest is 17 as well!  How time has flown…I told someone the other day (I don’t remember who) that when you’re in the throes of raising children “the days go by slowly, but the years go by quickly.”  I remember those early years when  I was sooo busy, especially during the school years when all four kids had extracurricular activities.  I rolled around town in my minivan (later in my big SUV:) dropping off and picking up our kids until night many days. In addition, they visited their other parents regularly so the schedule was pretty tight around our home.  Believe it or not,  I loved every minute of our organized chaos..especially the carpool.  I’m sure our 4 will never forget the times when we were running late for school, and as Will recently said, “Time just seemed to stand still” for us.  And that was even if we stopped by the Burger King drive thru for breakfast !!  Of course time really did’nt stand still, but obviously those days were magical for our family… I treasure those magical moments, even that really bad day when we ran over our neighbor’s mailbox with our “then new” SUV…well, that’s definitely a story for another post : )

This summer has been good.  It has been a time of reflection for me, even though our schedule as a married couple has been extremely active.  My annoying chronic illness has reared it’s ugly head since about April which means a great deal of fatigue and tiredness.  Translation:  I have felt pretty rotten and had more down time than I would like.  My family has been amazing…I have felt the love and support from each of my loved ones even on my worst days.  We are closer than ever; and we still have so much fun when we get together…it seems like we never stop laughing.  Humor has always gotten our family through many times that really were not that funny!!  I believe every second of time invested in building “our nest” has paid us back with more love than I ever expected.  So really,  they are the best thing that ever happened to me.

 

 

 

 

 

As promised I bring you…WilderNest moves to a new tree

It has been a long month.  Thankfully, we do not know what lies ahead of us in life because if we did…well, it would probably be a bad time, as we say “downeast”. Seriously, this month has been full of both unexpected loss and unexpected blessings. My husband approached me a few months ago with the idea of selling our family home. He cited several very good reasons, and I listened.  This was BIG for both of us.  Big for him because he knew I might just run around wailing and crying like a big old baby if he brought up the idea of moving! I have to admit that did happen once:/ yikes !!

I did not wail and cry. Nor did I act crazy at all. Previous discussions about moving had not gone so well as I was truly irrationally stubborn. This time I really was open to the idea of building a home to suit our changing needs. I happily agreed we should just go for it and call our realtor guy ! I was really thinking to myself that certainly we had plenty of months before our home would sell…translated into plenty of time for me to get used to the idea of leaving behind my nest where we raised our family. Where so many happy memories were made. We contracted our lovely family home with the realtor and put the big and colorful “for sale” sign in our yard.  Spying our newly installed sign,many neighbors flocked to our yard to find out where “the Wilder’s are going !!!” Well, the unexpected happened ! Our house sold in what seems like just a few weeks to me. My mother says it was months… The excited buyers wanted us to be “out in 30 days”because they were ready to take possession of the WilderNest and move on with life. They even had a punch list of little things they wanted repaired in the house during those 30 days…what a whirlwind. So while Briant and the realtor diligently worked on the “dreaded punch list”,I was working on finding out just “who” was going to be living in our home. I was so happy when I learned the new family included at least one small child. I was so excited to know the neighbors would get to watch and enjoy another child grow up on Carefree Lane ; ). Still it was bittersweet leaving my home of 16+years. Briant and discussed feelings at length, and we both agree that  I have a problem equating my emotional security with “a house or a place”…subconsciously of course. Probably it started during my late teenage years… an insecurity about moving from one home to another.  Certainly during my first marriage I never wanted to move from that house.  Then, when Briant and I married in June,2000, I told my sweet new husband it would “take some time for me to bond with the house because I had lived in my former house 11 years”. He must have wondered  what in the world he had gotten himself into marrying me. Lol. If he did indeed have those thoughts about me, he never said a word. Briant was always patient and supportive of my issues and causes….as we like to say:) Our new family was our first priority from day one of our marriage. Fast forward a bit to the first weekend we were completely out of our house. It was a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon when I received the phone call from my mother. My grandmother had died in her sleep just minutes before with family by her side. My grandmother  had suffered a long illness, but my mom said she passed from this earthly world very peacefully.  I could not believe she was gone, and for a few days I would think of something I wanted to tell her and then remember that I could not. Not right now anyway. I miss her so much.  Many of my favorite childhood memories include her as well as my other grandparents. They were all a large part of my growing up years and had a huge impact on my life. I feel so fortunate for having them all. I believe this was a turning point for me, losing my dear grandmother and leaving my family home. Both of these events were emotionally charged  and difficult yet I learned and grew from each experience. Memories shared raising our children and blending our family on Carefree Lane…and then all of the memories I treasure of time spent with my grandmother. I realize the memories are stored in my mind and not in a structure. I hold them forever in my heart no matter where I go.

The entire family is excited about building a home in a new subdivision where we can take our treasured memories and make new ones!

It is peaceful here in our cottage where I can see Bogue Sound from my window.  I have finally (at age 50) given up my irrational fear of moving ….I have always known that family and the people in your life are what is most important…not material things.  It is definitely the people “who make the nest”and not “the tree”that matters most.  I am certain I will handle any future moves just fine…well, as long as I’m not more than 20 miles from here : )

Briant and I are very thankful for the many blessings in our lives, and we are looking forward to Thanksiving with the four grown up kids and spouses : )… AND, we now have 5 fur grandkids !  Our nest will be full again for a few days…..just the way I like it. Hopefully, some human grandkids will visit the nest before too long !

I drive your truck

While running some errands this morning I was eagerly waiting for an update from FOX News on Hurricane Matthew.  Instead, I learned that Taliban insurgents had recently attacked cities in the Helmand Province of Southern Afghanistan. During those  moments when thoughts of Hurricane Matthew destroying the people of Haiti, my mind drifted back to about this time 5 years ago.  For most of 2011, I was constantly waiting for updates on the war in Afghanistan.  I was glued to FOX News on television more than I like to admit. I would study the news people looking for clues on their faces. (I’m not sure what clues, but I certainly thought I might see one!).  Every time I would hear about heavy fighting in a certain location I would run to my globe and find the place…then if I really became anxious I would start making phone calls…first to my husband, then to our brother in law, and any other friends who were military.  I was a mess because our younger son, Will, was in Afghanistan with United States Marine Corps.  I was scared to pieces and I did not handle myself the best.   My heart and mind were so heavy with worry and anxiety while he was in the war. There were days when I literally felt like I was going to explode. The Bible specifically tells us in Matthew 6:27 “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”.  I knew this is in my head, but my heart was having a hard time internalizing it if that makes sense. All I could really do was pray !  Not to make light of that time at all but a large Diet Coke with extra ice was helpful sometimes.

As a mother I had not wanted Will to join the Marine Corps.  My husband was an Infantry Officer during the first Gulf War and was in Iraq when Will’s (biological) mother gave birth to him.  I am certain it was bittersweet for Briant when our son wanted to more or less “follow in his footsteps”.  Yes, my worst nightmare came true when Will said he too wanted to join the infantry.  I tried everything to discourage him. I know that was a very unpatriotic attitude, but I was being selfish. I wanted our son to be OK, and I knew that if Will joined the Marines he would select Infantry and  go directly to Afghanistan.  My mind could not comprehend why he would want to do something that could kill him at the age of 19.  My girl friends were all upset for me at the news that Will might be going in the Corps….in fact, one of my closest friends asked her grandfather , a World War II veteran why “Briant would let Will go in the USMC during a war”.  Her grandfather simply said, “well, who else is going to go, if not young men like Will?”  My own husband gave the most unselfish answer I had ever heard to that question. Briant said, “why not my son?”  Wow! I was amazed at his strength.

I eventually settled down for a time anyway…however, each time a strange “government looking”car came around the curve into our neighborhood I held my breath waiting to see where it was going…hoping it wasn’t coming to our home.  When the phone rang late at night I was actually happy because the Marines were able – via sat phone – to make phone calls to home occasionally.  Will called us a few times, and I looked forward to and hoped for those calls all the time.  One of the best calls we received was on Thanksgiving Day.  Our son called and described what a nice day they were having.  They had cooked a chicken that had been running around the forward operating base (FOB) that was home to a dozen Marines. It was a good addition  to their delicious menu of MRE’s…ha ha.  Those of you who have tried MRE’s know they are not too appetizing! The young Marines all sounded upbeat on that Thanksgiving Day, and then again on Christmas Day.  The Lord was there with them even though we cannot understand the whole concept of war and especially sending our sons there to possibly make the ultimate sacrifice.

I can say that while he was gone I prayed constantly for his protection, as did so many others who know Will, and I believe the Lord has a definite purpose for Will.  Later we learned just how “close” it could have been .  Will is a man of few words.  He does not talk about the war much at all.  I know he has shared some experiences with his Dad, and also with his brother in law (another former Marine). Maybe someday he will talk more about his experiences, maybe not. They are his, and not ours to share.

While our son was in Afghanistan he left his squeaky clean white truck in our garage.  Sometimes when I wanted to feel close to Will I would go out there and sit in his truck and listen to the radio.  It had his sweatshirt neatly folded on the backseat, and everything looked as if he could walk up any minute and jump in the driver’s seat.  You see, Will and I had taken many “rides in the truck” during his earlier years when he needed/wanted to talk “about something”….like maybe a girl : )  We usually started out by stopping by our local McDonald’s and getting a large Diet Coke.  We would then ride for a while , just listening to the radio.  Eventually, Will would start talking ūüôā I would listen and then share my motherly wisdom : ) until he was ready to drive back home.  Oh I missed those truck rides while he was in the war!  I prayed so much that we would have many more in the future, and sometimes the fear of him not coming back from Afghanistan would nearly overpower me.  Going back to an earlier post about bonding…this showed me clearly that you definitely do not have to give birth to someone to bond with them as “mother and child.”  I truly love Will the same as Robb, the son I gave birth to : )

Fast forward a bit….Will did indeed arrive home safely, and oh was this family happy!! We all went to Camp Lejeune to welcome the Marines, and it was amazing watching those 1000+ march in on that cold winter day.  They were much thinner and paler than when we saw them leave the same base 7 months earlier.  Somehow, they also looked more mature.  I guess war “grows you up some”.  I will always remember how much joy our family felt that afternoon.  We actually drove his truck to Camp Lejeune to pick him up that day : )

It has been over four years since that cold day in March, and Will is now a student at a University a few hours from here.  He is much wiser than many young men his age, and definitely heavier from being well fed and working out at the gym.  Not much of a physical resemblance to that guy just coming from Afghanistan.  We see him pretty often, and we text and talk on the phone of course.

One night last week he called home and we were chatting about this and that…I could tell he had something on his mind, and eventually he let it out.  It had something to do with …you guessed it…”a girl”.  So, I listened with a mother’s ears and gave my opinion when asked.  After a bit, we both agreed that we just needed to “go for a ride in the truck”!

 

 

Is love color blind?

If you’ve been reading my blog posts you have probably figured out that I am much more a “feeler”than a ‚Äúthinker‚ÄĚby personality. I was born this way. ¬†The person crying during a sad movie, that’s me. ¬†The mom who cries when she spies a homeless person on the street in dirty clothes without shoes, that’s me too. ¬†I feel things very deeply. ¬†More deeply than I prefer many days. It’s really difficult for me to ‚ÄúFEEL‚ÄĚso much! ¬†Seriously, sometimes I exhaust myself coping with my strong emotional reactions to ordinary life! At times, I become completely exasperated and irrational about the behavior of other people. When I truly believe in my heart that a person is being hurt, or if I think they are on a path to self-destruction I hurt for them. ¬†My heart bleeds for the underdog. My husband is much more logical than I am in almost every way possible, and I am thankful. Two very emotional ‚Äúfeelers‚ÄĚ would probably be a disaster case in our household, especially when we were blending our nest years ago. Although Briant is very logical, there are some issues he is very sensitive to and for those, our family is blessed. ¬†When he has a concern about one of us‚Ķbecause he cares very deeply, this big strong man can become as sensitive and as emotional as can be. ¬†Relationships are very important to both of us, and this difference in our natures is probably the fundamental reason behind the ‚Äúsuccess‚ÄĚof the WilderNest. Things like sad movies about wars, and commercials showing abandoned puppies don’t make my thoughtful husband cry. ¬†He is amazingly rational and logical the majority of the time. ¬†Often times he must talk me “down from my tree”when I am overly emoting, if that makes any sense. I give a great deal of credit to Briant and his logical nature in keeping our relationship balanced and stable. ¬†This balance has created a peaceful atmosphere in our home (most of the time) where good communication happens. I believe good communication between every person in the WilderNest is fundamental to our love for each other, and our ‚Äústick to it ness‚ÄĚ over the years. Even though the nest is basically empty these days. I blogged about compromises recently, and there have been many in our home‚Ķ ¬†Actually one of the compromises Briant and I made early in our marriage (besides where the dog would sleep) is that we would try to meet somewhere in the middle when making decisions or in dealing with problems, translation… meeting someplace between “basketcase “(me:) and “logicalthinker”(him:). ¬†Usually we can do it, but not always. ¬†So, you’re wondering what all of this has to do with love being colorblind. ¬†I will have to admit one reason I chose that title was to get your attention so you would read my post. Seriously, I want to share the second kind of blending that’s been going on in our family most recently.¬†It is very exciting and really cool in my opinion. ¬†Two of our children married outside of our “cultural backgrounds” two years ago, so…. We are once again”blending”and it is awesome and amazing! We call this blending phase 2! ¬†We have grown from blending children from our previous marriages, to blending ‚Äú children in law” from other cultures with our culture, and us with theirs. ¬†It has been the biggest blessing so see three of our adult children find their mates! We are so pleased with their choices for marriage partners. Our biggest concern and our prayer was that they would marry Christians, and that they would continue our Christian heritage as they start their own families. We never discussed much about the “cultural heritage”of their mates at all. ¬†In my opinion, being exposed to different “ways of life”is interesting. Getting to know Maria and Edward has broadened my world view. I enjoy studying geneaology, and I am over the moon with the idea of “mixing it up a bit‚ÄĚ (if you know what I mean : ) Not all folks feel the same. ¬†Admittedly, there have been some emotionally intense situations when I have reacted to comments from people expressing their opinions on race, immigration, mixed marriages, etc… the ethnic jokes are not so funny lately. (not that they ever were to me personally). ¬†Once again, my sweet and logical hubby is usually able to help me see more objectively, and to not take offense when it’s just not necessary. I am overly sensitive at times, but my heart is in the right place. As a family we have truly relished in mixing our White Anglo-Saxon heritage with the Spanish-Mexican-American heritage of our lovely daughter in law, and our precious son in law. ¬†We have been able to try new foods prepared by my daughter in law, Maria. ¬†I’m talking about real “Mexican food”…not like the food you get at Taco Bell. ¬†We have experienced the plight of the Latina woman who disapproves of “their men”marrying “white women”. Sorry, but it’s true. It happens. ¬†Our extended family has also embraced and welcomed the new diversity. There is one very special person who has been supportive and unconditionally accepting of our 4 kids during our original blending, and now during blending phase 2! ¬†Disclaimer: All of the extended family members have been wonderfully loving. Today, I am just focusing on one of you:)

¬†This incredibly accepting person is my Daddy. ¬†He is not just my father, he is truly one of my closest friends and confidantes. I have watched him grow into this fabulous father and grandpa who completely accepts and enjoys ALL of the grandchildren, biological,married into, blended in phase 1, and blended in phase 2! ¬† I point this out because he is a man who came from a very rural area in NC , and he was not raised with a very broad world view. ¬†No offense, my grandparents were wonderful country folks and I loved them dearly. ¬†He also grew up in a”white culture‚ÄĚ. ¬†It was the south during the 1950’s and 1960’s… the schools were not even integrated where he lived until 1965. There were no Mexican people working beside him on his grandpa’s farm each day during every summer. It has been heartwarming for me to watch him embrace all that he has learned from the “kids”especially the Spanish language. He actually knows only a few key words of Spanish: ). I think secretly… he wishes he wishes he was bi-lingual, but at 71 I doubt that’s going to happen! Personally, I enjoy the authentic Mexican food our daughter in law cooks more than I want to learn Spanish!¬†¬†I was visiting Daddy recently at his little shop where we often sit and solve the world’s problems. I don’t remember what we were actually talking about on that particular day, but I do remember this much. ¬†Daddy looked at me thoughtfully from his “perch”, and he said, “you know, those jokes they tell at the breakfast table where I eat…they just aren’t that funny anymore.” He was referring to a small diner where he’s been eating at the same table every morning with mostly the same folks for many years. ¬†I thought for a few seconds about what he said.
I looked up at him, and I responded…”Well, Daddy it’s interesting how when people you love are the object of those jokes it’s just a different story, isn’t it?”

Bonding is serious business

Webster defines “bonding”as 1. the formation of a close relationship(as between a mother and child or between a person and an animal) especially through frequent or constant association. 2. the attaching of a material (as porcelain) to a tooth surface especially for cosmetic purposes. Another source, the health of children.com defines bonding as the formation of a mutual and psychological closeness between parents (or primary caregivers) and their newborn child. Babies usually bond with their parents in the minutes, hours, or days following birth.

According to the Encyclopedia of Children’s Health, bonding is essential for survival. Obviously, bonding is serious business no matter how you look at it! The bonding between infants and their mother’s has been the subject of many research studies…so much that there have been many methods of childbirth developed to enhance and speed up the process of bonding. According to research, an insecure attachment between an infant and his/her parents is detrimental to the emotional health of an individual.

Naturally, when my husband and I were engaged to be married we were concerned about how our new family would blend, but also how we would bond with each other. ¬†I remember reading a book during that time that said it usually takes five years for a blended family to truly bond! ¬†I’m not certain exactly how long it was before you could say we were truly “bonded as a family”, but I do know we did it! ¬†We started out on a very positive note because during our dating and engagement, it was a “family affair”….The 4 kids liked one another from the start and we spent as much time together as we could before the wedding. ¬†We got to know each other’s children, and they got to know one another before we all just jumped into the new nest. When the time came for us to all live together as a family were comfortable and excited to say the least.

Briant and I are very family oriented, obviously. lol….we really enjoyed our children growing up, and we still do! ¬†It is not uncommon to have them all visit on the same weekend (grand-dogs in tow). ¬†Allison, our youngest, recently had some minor surgery. ¬†It was sooo heartwarming to me when Elise told me she would be staying overnight with Allison and her husband just to help out and be supportive. ¬†To watch how close the 4 of them are as young adults (spouses included) is amazing…definitely a blessing. ¬†And I will have to admit….. Briant and I do feel a bit proud : ) ¬†Maybe a better word would be “successful”!!