07th Jan2013

Happy Birthday, Miss 16 {In the Family Room}

by Daenel

Happy Birthday, Miss 16 {Living Outside the Stacks}

Dear Miss 16,

Girl, you have been a source of joy and laughter since the day you surprised us at the doctor’s office. Nothing like going to the doctor’s for a tubal ligation and finding out that you’re pregnant… We should have known then that we were going to be in for a ride.

I remember when you used to crawl up in my lap, curl your fingers around my blouse and go to sleep. I’d sit there for hours, stroking your hair and wishing you’d get up so I could get something anything done. Then one day it all stopped.

You stopped sitting in my lap, you stopped being my sweet little girl who swore she could fly because she was dressed as an angel and had wings. Do you remember that? Running around the yard flapping your arms and yelling, “I can fly, Mommy! I can fly, Mommy!”  

You’re now a beautiful young lady with a quick wit and a snarky tongue. A while back you asked me “Besides me, which of your other kids did you want?” The truth is, I didn’t want any of you little buggers but now that I have you, I couldn’t imagine life without you. I love you all. Peering at you over my glasses. Every single one of you.

Thank you for 16 years of laughter.

Happy Birthday, Miss 16! I really do like you!


PS There will be no blowing out of the candles on the cake; you know how I feel about that!


17th May2012

Hanging with Miss 18 {This or That Thursday}

by Daenel

Earlier this week, Miss 18 and I decided to go on a photography walk in the historic section of Cape Girardeau. You can see my pictures by clicking on the bold words.  We love it down there because of the old buildings, the views of the Mississippi River and the fabulous antique shops that line the streets… Right now, though, my favorite place is the Cup N’ Cork, a hip coffee house that also serves wine.
Cup N' Cork

I’d visited the Cup N’ Cork earlier with a friend of mine and enjoyed the ambiance, I thought Miss 18 would enjoy it too. I also thought it’d be a nice “thank you” for letting me photograph her…

Miss 18

Miss 18

Miss 18

Miss 18

We had so much fun playing around with different poses and camera angles. Also she’s such a good sport! What you can’t tell from the pictures is that she was being attacked by bugs the size of small birds.

Do you have a favorite place to shoot?

I’m linking up with Deb of deb duty photography for This or That Thursday.

13th Jul2011

Guest Post: My Daughter Shares Her Feelings on Moving

by Daenel

Brya's Guest PostAs you may know by now, my family is in the process of moving to Missouri from Pennsylvania.  This whole event has been a whirlwind ~ everything is just going so quickly.  But this move isn’t just happening to us adults, it’s happening to the our kids too.  And, sometimes as parents, we get so caught up in how we feel about things that it rarely occurs to us to ask our children their opinion about events.  After talking to my daughter, I decided to give her the opportunity to share her feelings with my readers.

My dad told me things were going to start moving really fast. I didn’t think he meant lightning speed! I thought waiting for everything to be signed and official would be the hardest part. It was more…annoying, than it was hard. I mean, maybe it was fine for everyone else, but for me, waiting isn’t my forte. But then when everything was all official, my dad started throwing dates at us. My calendar was stuffed to capacity! Ok, so that was a major exaggeration. But that’s how it felt to me.

When we attempted to move almost two years ago it seemed like a lot more saying and a lot less doing. This time it’s the complete opposite. This time, we actually have the “For Sale” sign in the yard. We have people looking at the house. We have packers coming to pack up the house. We have ID’s (which was all I really cared about). We have  plane tickets. We’re ready this time.

The last time we attempted to move, nothing was ready. I don’t think anyone was ready. My dad told us that year that there would be a possibility of us moving. I never thought anything of it. When he told us that he was offered a promotion, I was in tears. Happy for him, sad for us. I wasn’t quite ready for us to move. I was afraid to leave my friends. I was afraid of change. I was relieved when he told us we couldn’t move due to timing problems. Relieved and then a little upset. I had already gotten a tiny bit used to the thought of us leaving. I had already told people.

This time, I’m ready. We’re ready. The timing is right (for the most part). I’m okay with change and I’m ready for an adventure. It’s kind of like reading a book. With every page, you never know what will happen next (that is, unless you’ve read the book before). There’s no turning back now. At this point, we can only move forward. That’s what life is about right?

I wrote a poem about the move:

There’s a place out there
That I just can’t seem to find
There’s a place out there
it’s just not mine.

I’m stuck in a rut
Can’t wait to see
The plan that God has for me
I yearn to go but I’m scared to leave
This place I call home
The only one I’ve ever known

There’s more to it
I can’t explain
but the thought of me leaving
brings on all the pain

It’s bitter sweet the thought of it
to think I’ll soon be on my way
but I know it’ll hurt to say goodbye
on that sweet and sour day

But it’s  time to move on
Try something new,
People to meet and
Things to do

Spread your wings
Fly like the birds
Know that your actions
Speak louder than words

Miss 14 is the youngest of five children and an aunt to 2.5 little people.  When she’s not texting her friends, she can be found writing short stories or entertaining her family with her snarky wit and charm.  A member of the National Junior Honor Society, Miss 14 plans to become an oncologist with the goal of curing cancer.

03rd Apr2011

Miss 17 is Going to The Haven

by Daenel

Miss 17 and the Hubs at LHU2On Saturday, the hubs and I took Miss 17 for a final tour of Lock Haven University before we drop her off for good.  This was my husband’s first time seeing the campus, so this trip was more for his sake than for my own.  Like I said the first time I wrote about our visit to Lock Haven University, I immediately felt comfortable on the campus and felt like this would be the right place for my daughter.  But, more than that, Miss 17 felt at home.

Symone at LHU

First stop on the tour? Music and theater. Priorities?

This Open House was much more spectacular than the first one that we attended.  First of all, there were a lot more people (I think this group consisted mostly of high school juniors and a few seniors) on campus.  We got the chance to meet different faculty members, talk to representatives from the various clubs, etc.  Also the atmosphere was a lot more relaxed (I think that had something to do with it not being cold and rainy like it was the first time we came down, instead it was a balmy 47 ~ and I’m being serious, after the 20 degree and below weather we’ve been having, 47 is practically summer).  We met in the student center where there various tables set up by major, social group, University departments, etc.  Miss 17’s first stop was at the Music/Theater table.  Did I mention that my kids all like being on the stage?  Yeah, remind me to tell you about their penchant for drama someday.

Lock Haven University EagleDuring the presentation, current students answered questions from parents and potential students about the university.  There were some pretty good questions ~ “Why did you choose Lock Haven?”  “What is security like?”  “Is there a drug and alcohol policy?”  Questions about specific majors were reserved for meetings with the various department chairs.  At the end of the presentation, question and answer session, the LHU mascot performed for us.  He did this whole dance routine after we were all encouraged to do a little LHU chant.  It was pretty cool to see everyone getting pumped up.

The one downside to the whole tour?  I found out that the monkeys are no longer on campus.  It took everything within me not to cry.

At the end of the day, the hubs agreed with me that Lock Haven University is the best place for our daughter.  We feel that the environment is safe and secure, she’ll get a quality education and there are enough extracurricular activities that she’ll be able to develop her natural talents and, perhaps, develop interests she didn’t know she had.  Furthermore, she’s far enough away from us to flex her independence and close enough to call on us when she needs a shoulder.

Do you have children going off to college in the fall?  How did you decide where to send them?  Are you ready to let go?

01st Nov2010

I Started Crying at the Reference Desk

by Daenel
Symone and Me

Symone and Me

Earlier this evening there were 4 missed calls on my cell phone, two from my husband and two from Miss 17 as well as a text message that read: “Call Symone!”  My heart started to race…  I’m at work, what in the heck is so important that it warrants four phone calls and a text?

So I called home and was promptly told “Mom, I’m putting you on speaker phone, ok?  Is that ok?”  I’ve taught my children to warn people before putting them on speaker, it spares people from any potentially embarrassing moments. I agreed and all I heard was “mumble…. static… mumble…. that was Grandma…. So what do you think?”  Um, what?  After having Miss 17 repeat herself four times (that must be our karmic number or something), I finally heard what she was saying…

“…..pleased to announce your early acceptance….  Lock Haven University class of 2015!”

I started crying at the Reference Desk, my baby was accepted at her first choice. I’m so not ready for this.

22nd Aug2010

17 Years Ago Today…

by Daenel

SymoneI gave birth to my first child.  Like all mother’s I remember that day as if it were yesterday….

It was a hot and sticky day and I was stationed at Fort Polk, Louisiana and I was 4 days past my due date.  To say I was miserable would be putting it mildly.  I woke up early that morning with a slight tightening of my stomach but nothing that indicated that labor would be occurring any time soon.  My doctor had scheduled a check up for later that afternoon, so I went to work and waited for my appointment.  I was literally praying that the doctor would induce labor.  Being pregnant in Louisiana ain’t no joke.

My sponsor took me to my appointment at 11:30 and he sat there while the doctor hooked me up to the fetal monitor.  When a soldier arrives at a new duty station, they are assigned a sponsor to help them navigate through in~processing and get acclimated to the new area.  My sponsor was wonderful, he knew I was single so he and his wife decided that she would accompany me in the delivery room to have the baby.  During my appointment, my sponsor was cracking jokes and had me and the other pregnant lady in the doctor’s office laughing so hard the doctor couldn’t tell if we were having contractions or laughing so he banished my sponsor from the office.  After we calmed down, it was determined that I was having “mild” contractions but the doctor assured me that the baby probably wouldn’t come for awhile.  So he gave me a choice ~ I could go home or stay at the hospital.  I chose to go back to work.

Symone and Mom

Around 3 PM I felt “something” and alerted my co~workers.  They suggested that I go back to the hospital, which I did.  The nurses checked me in and the doctor checked me out.  “It’ll be at least 13 hours,” he said with authority.

One hour and forty~seven minutes later, my daughter was born.  We barely made it to the delivery room because the doctor kept saying “It’ll be at least 13 hours.”  My sponsor’s wife made it just as I was giving the final push.

I didn’t know what to expect when I found out that I was going to become a mom.  No one had ever looked at me and said “Now there goes a woman who should be responsible for another life.”  Truth be told, I had never looked at myself and thought that.  In fact, I was never really sure that I wanted kids but when the nurse placed that baby in my arms, I.  Fell.  In.  Love.Symone and Mom

On 23 August 1993 at 4:47 PM, I found my heart.  It hasn’t always been easy and there have been times when I’ve wanted to lock my daughter in a cave until she reached 21 but we survived.  So today, on her birthday, I just want to say “Happy Birthday, S’monster.  I love you.  And I’m proud that I’ve had the opportunity to watch you grow into the beautiful young lady you are today.”

12th Aug2010

Second College Visit: Lock Haven University

by Daenel

Today Miss 16 and I went on a tour of Lock Haven University and we both fell in love.  The drive down was fairly uneventful, actually that’s not true ~ I did break out into song and dance during our 2 hour drive.  Miss 16 sat quietly staring at me while shaking her head.

On the way down we wondered what the campus would be like and if we’d like it.  Miss 16 said she hoped it would be something like the scene from Oz ~ that we’d drive through the rain and Emerald City would burst through the haze.  Well, it wasn’t Emerald City but it was The Haven.

At the Admissions Building, there was a friendly student waiting to greet us and hand us a Welcome Packet with all the information we’d need for the day.  Inside, staff greeted us immediately.  They pointed us to the bathrooms (two hour drive with A LOT of coffee) and then offered us more coffee, tea and hot chocolate.  May I pause here to say thank you to the Lock Haven folks who put out plain and French Vanilla creamer?

The admissions presentation was well prepared and engaging.  The admissions counselor interacted with the prospective students as well as the parents.  He spoke to the interests of the students (social clubs, education, living quarters) while keeping in mind the concerns of the parents (cost, education, security).  At the end of his presentation, he stayed behind to answer any further questions that parents or students may have had.

Our tour guides were current students of the University and they were the most amiable bunch.  Our guide showed us the computer labs, the library (ahhhhh) and the living quarters (which were clean, even the bathrooms).  The dorms were your standard dorms except each dorm has swipe key entry as well as security guards on duty.  Love that.   We even saw some of the classrooms (we had to peek through windows because the doors were locked) and then he took us to the place that sold me ~ the psychology department.  They have monkeys.  MONKEYS!!!!!  Ok, if you don’t understand my love for monkeys, read this.  I am kidding, I wouldn’t help my daughter base her college choice on monkeys, but it is right up there at the top of my list.

Here’s the breakdown according to Miss 16:

~ Far away (hmmmm, til she needs something)
~ Atmosphere
~ Diversity (she saw the football players)
~ Study Abroad (how far is she trying to go?)
~ Bigger campus
~ City Nearby
~ Security
~ Dependable and followed through with contact information

~ Far away (awwwww)

09th Aug2010

First College Visit: Wilkes University

by Daenel

I took another step towards letting go of Miss 16. We visited Wilkes University today.  Commence wailing and moaning.

Our appointment was at 1 PM, the admissions rep didn’t meet us until 1:17. I’m the type of person who is early for everything, especially when other people are dependent on me.  Needless to say I was slightly peeved and told Miss 16 that we were leaving if our rep didn’t show up by 1:20.  It’s not like we just showed up, we had an appointment…

Anyway, the rep (along with two of her colleagues) met with us for about 20 or 25 minutes.  I took notes while Miss 16 asked and answered questions.  They discussed the admissions process, financial aid and scholarships, as well programs for incoming students, social activities and education requirements.

After our session was over, we waited about 15 or 20 minutes to go on a tour of the campus.  The campus tour was actually pretty nice.  It could be the history buff in me or the Italian/New Orleans influences but the buildings were incredibly beautiful.  Some time when we’re not on a mission, we’re gonna have to go back so that I can take some pictures. And, of course, we loved the library.  They’re a Mac campus, so all of the computers in the labs and the library are Apple Macs.  Miss 16 is a little nervous about that because she’s used to the PC but I told her not to worry she’ll learn.

Here’s the breakdown according to Miss 16:

~ Offers my daughter’s major (Psychology and Special Education)
~ Scholarships based on need and merit
~ Successful mentoring program for incoming freshmen
~ Offers 24/7 tutoring
~ Classes are small (20 to 25 students)
~ Close to home
~ Choice between on~campus or off~campus living
~ Can have a car as a freshman

~ Rooms are unattractive (a few of the rooms we visited had food or something on the floor, for the record, I don’t agree that the rooms were unattractive ~ I liked them.  But Miss 16 is used to her room at home so we may have to have a discussion about what dorms are really like.)
~ Actual service is lacking and/or slow (remember we had that 17 minute wait)
~ Communication reliability is questionable (we never received our parking permits or any information from the University regarding our appointment even though they said they’d send it)

Despite the rocky start, I did like the campus.  I noticed a lot of security cameras (great for this overprotective mother), all of the living quarters were swipe~key entry.  The campus is very compact (most of the classes are held in two buildings) which means that my daughter wouldn’t be wandering from building to building for different classes.  The campus is in the heart of Wilkes~Barre (off the Square and the River Commons) so there is an active social calendar.

I wish that we had had the opportunity to see the classes in session or talk to a few professors, but it’s summer so I completely understand.  Overall, I liked the smallness of the campus and liked that my daughter would be close to home but that she’d also get the experience of living independently if I let her live she chooses to live on campus.

Our next college visit is later this week….

04th Aug2010

Open Houses, Campus Tours and Learning to Say Good~Bye

by Daenel

Daughter and MotherThis morning I sat at my desk with my Droid in hand as Miss 16 rattled off 2 weeks’ worth of appointments for Open Houses and campus tours.  gasp Open Houses and Campus Tours?!  Where did the time go?  Wasn’t it just yesterday that I brought home this precious little bundle of baby, totally unsure of how we’d both survive?  Now she’s telling me that she has mapped out my life for the next 2 weeks because controlling my life for the last 16 years hasn’t been enough.

My daughter is graduating from high school in the spring and I don’t know if I’m going to survive.  I’m fighting back the tears as I type this right now.  I mean, my daughter, is graduating.  Yes, I realize that I have three more at home just like her but….  Well, I’m just warning you now be prepared for tearful posts about my daughter leaving home.  In 7 months.

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