BRAT - (noun)

Brat- (noun)

1.A child, especially a spoiled or ill-mannered one.

2.A child of a career military person.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Miles and miles (and miles) of fun!

Every summer we travel. It's just what we do - go see the Grandparents, maybe a weekend away. But this summer we have been on the road more than usual. Between the #1444 reunion, trips to see all the Grandparents, getting Elizabeth off to college, and a couple of other trips thrown in there, we have been on the road a lot in the last 7 weeks.

Bill was driving the van the other day, and he was amazed that he would have to change the oil again so soon after just changing it at the beginning of the summer. So, I sat down today and added up all our milage from the summer. From July 4 until August 18, we traveled approximately 4369 miles! Good grief - it's no wonder I only want to stay home in my pj's this week!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Night Out!

Sometimes, we just have to leave the "brats" at home and get out for a date night. Last night, Bill and I went to Wolf Trap to see The Four Tops and The Temptations. It was such a fun evening! We took a wonderful picnic, complete with bottle of wine, and had dinner in the picnic area just outside of Wolf Trap. It has been so hot here all summer, but last night the weather was perfect. I won these tickets at a Silent Auction for Elizabeth's chorus back in February, so I have been looking forward to this night for a long time. Bill and I saw these 2 groups on one of our first dates, some 21 years ago, so we felt like we were reliving some fun memories.

We sat in the box seats instead of on the lawn, and to be honest, I think the lawn might have been a little more fun. We had a great view of the groups, but it was a little "stuffy" up there, if you know what I mean. However, there were a few songs, that we just couldn't help ourselves, we had to jump up and dance a little. Sugar-Pie-Honey-Bunch, Just My Imagination, My Girl... they don't make songs like that anymore. Bill left today to go TDY (that's travel for those who don't speak "Army"), so those sweet memories of last night will have to last me for a couple of weeks.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Off to do her bigger and better thing...

The title of this blog was not my original title, but Elizabeth's facebook status on the day she left for school. It is probably a song title, if I know my daughter. I think it's appropriate - can't wait to see what God has in store for her!

This week we moved Elizabeth into her living learning center at Duquesne University. It took me about 3 days to realize LLC on the orientation schedule meant Living Learning Center, or what I would have referred to as a dorm. We drove up Tuesday morning, leaving the younger kids here in the wonderful hands of Bill's Aunt Betty. (Thank you again Aunt Betty - you are the best!)

It took about an hour from the time we got in line until we were actually unloading stuff into the LLC. We thought this was normal, all part of the process, but it wasn't until later we found out a transformer had blown on the street just in front of Duquesne, making traffic really heavy and slowing down the whole process.

We were met in front of Elizabeth's dorm, I mean LLC, by 2 friendly girls with a big laundry cart. They helped load up everything and we managed to get almost all of her belongings up in one trip. Elizabeth is in a quad, with 3 other roommates. Her room is huge, especially by college standards. Each girl has a bed, wardrobe and desk. They also brought 2 fridges, a microwave, coffee maker and t.v. They have an additional walk in closet for the girls to share since it is such a large room. As everyone was moving in, we noticed a lot of people kept looking in and saying how lucky the girls were to have such a large room. Bill started teasing people, telling them they had their own bathroom, their own kitchen, etc.

Elizabeth's roommates seem to be very nice girls. Beside Elizabeth is Ilene - she lives just north of Philadelphia and is a nursing student. Next is Leanne, also from the Philadelphia area, and she is an education major. And at the end of the group is Rachel, from Buffalo, majoring in Bio Chemistry. All 4 girls arrived within a half hour of each other, which worked wonderfully as they tried to negotiate where to put everything. I loved how these girls interacted in those initial moments - it's a bit overwhelming, to walk into a room having never met these people and yet realize this is who you will be living with for the next 9 months. And then, you have to make some pretty important decisions before you even know anything about them, like who sleeps on the top bunk, where do we put all this stuff, etc. They were so kind to one another - I could see right away why the college choose these 4 girls to live together. They all seem very laid back, very relaxed in their expectations of one another. I think they will be good roommates.

You may notice I am referring to my oldest as Elizabeth and not Lizzy. Until she was in 3rd grade we had always called her Elizabeth. On her way out to a new duty station, she decided she was ready for a change, and introduced herself as Lizzy. I resisted for as long as possible. I had given this child a beautiful name, I had never allowed anyone else to attach a nickname, so I was not thrilled she had shortened it! Eventually even I gave in and began calling her Lizzy, at least in front of her friends. So, I was pleased when she decided to go back to Elizabeth in college. It's a beautiful name for a beautiful girl.

There were meetings and events planned for the parents as well as the students. On Wednesday, we attended several meetings as they gave us a lot of information and outlined the colleges expectations of our students. I liked Duquesne when we visited last January for her music audition, and I was already very happy with her choice of schools, but I have to say, after what was presented to the parents in those first few days, I now LOVE Duquesne. I believe it is the perfect fit for Elizabeth!

On Wednesday we attended the Matriculation ceremony. It was a beautiful ceremony, where the students and their parents are officially welcomed into the Duquesne "family". It was wonderful to hear the college leadership challenge these kids to work hard and excel in their academics, but even more importantly, they were called to a life of service. They were challenged to leave the school as better human beings, going out to serve their communities. I loved that we prayed with our children and for them, extending a hand of blessing over them as we sang a beautiful hymn, "The Hand of God". There are the words-

"The hand of God shall hold you, the peace of God enfold you, the love of God that dreamed and formed you still surrounds you here today; The light of God beside you, above, beneath, inside you, the light that shines to guide you home to the loving hand of God."

Of course, I couldn't sing a word of it, although I felt every bit of it in my heart. I cried through the whole ceremony, and I was embarrased to be so emotional until my sweet husband leaned over and whispered, "It's o.k." That was his way of letting me know it was o.k. to cry, let it all out. And I saw quite a few mom's reaching for their tissues at the same time, even a Dad or two wiping away a tear.

After the matriculation ceremony we kissed her goodbye. She still looked a little overwhelmed, but I spoke with her yesterday and she was sounding more like herself. It was hard to say goodbye, knowing I won't see her every day, but I am so proud of the choices she has made, so proud of the young woman she has become. I know I am leaving her in good hands, and I believe with all my heart this is part of God's perfect plan for her life. I miss her already, but I couldn't be more excited for her!

You might think this baby picture is an odd way to end a posting about your child going off to college. There is a sweet story attached to this picture. On Tuesday night, the 3 of us went out to eat, and as we were walking out of the restaurant, I heard someone say, "Bill Cole! What are you doing here?!" I turned to see one of Bill's West Point classmates and an old family friend, Jim Fritsche, standing in front of us. As soon as I saw Jim, I knew what he was doing there.

When we were stationed at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, I first met the Fritsche's. Ramona and I were both pregnant with our first children. It was fun to watch our tummies grow together, attend each other's baby showers, and I remember well holding my 5 day old daughter in the hospital as we watched Jim and Ramona rush down the hallway to welcome their daughter Amanda into the world. The picture above is the girls,(Amanda on the left, Elizabeth right with her mouth open) less than a month old, and now they live 2 floors apart from one another. I hope they become friends. I believe God planted that little seed of friendship in their hearts 18 years ago.

Summer Fun - Part 4

On our last day at Cape Cod we had a family cookout. It was nice to see some familiar faces, and some new ones as well. Some of Bill's family members live in Massachusettes, and we often see them when we go to visit mom. Bill's cousins, Elizabeth and Tim, live far away and made a special trip to the Cape to visit. It was wonderful to see them and meet Tim's family!

The boys had a lot of fun - eating, playing capture the flag and hide-and-go-seek. It was a fun day!
Elizabeth & Michelle bonded quickly. I think they had a special place in each other's hearts. Elizabeth was adopted from Korea as an infant, and Michelle seemed drawn to her from the moment she arrived. It was sweet to see them together.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Summer Fun - Part 3

Last week we took our annual trip to Cape Cod. I love our time there - as a southern girl, I only experienced Myrtle Beach as a little girl. Cape Cod is totally different - it's doesn't have all the "glitz" and excitement that many beaches have, but in my opinion, it's so much better. It's a great place to truly relax, to reconnect with my family. My kids think no trip to Cape Cod is complete without a trip to the Brewster General Store. They have penny candy and cheap toys. My kids love the junk, I mean treasures, they purchase there.

Michelle was old enough this year to play mini-golf. We went late afternoon instead of in the evening, and this turned out to be a good move. Much shorter lines are a big plus when playing with a 3 year old.

Of course, the princess had the pink ball!

Yea, this was pretty much how it went.

We had a fun evening at the Bass River Beach, playing on the playground and eating sandwiches while watching the waves.

These next pic's are at one of my favorite places on earth - Mayflower Beach in Dennis. It's a great beach for kids - when the tide goes out, it leaves some fun pools. We skimboard, look for small fish and crabs, and splash around and have fun.

Michelle loves helping water flowers. And of course, a long standing tradition at the Cape is eating ice cream. Ah, just wish the week was longer!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Summer Fun - Part 2

For the last couple of years, Dad (Bill) has competed with a team from his office in the International Leapfest Competition in Rhode Island. Last Saturday our family got up early and left from Cape Cod to drive down to see Daddy jump out of helicopters. It was a hot day, and the winds picked up as the day went on, but Bill's team did very well.

Bill is the 3rd jumper, the highest one if this picture. The object of the competition is to have 4 on a team, and after you land you run to the center of the drop zone to touch a circle in the middle of a large X. The person and the team with the shortest time on the ground win. Each team jumps 3 times.

Daddy preparing for a soft landing, and then a quick dash to the center!

The Cole's along with Grammy Cole after jump#2.

Josh is proud of his Dad and loves all things Army. It was a very fun day for a 9 year old boy.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Summer Fun - Part 1

The last weekend in July, my extended family always plans a reunion in the Appalachian Mountians of North Carolina. My kids love going to Fontana, to reconnect with cousins and family. My grandfather Merritt was the youngest of 19 children, so you can imagine how many descendants there are in my family. The picture above are just his family (minus my youngest cousin Rebecca.)

It's always amazing to see the next generation coming along. Michelle found quite a few little girls to run around with for the weekend. We were trying to settle everyone down to sleep, so our DVD player and a "Hello Kitty" video came in handy.

There are several traditions we do year after year at Fontana. One is eating watermelon together at the park. My kids love watermelon, and it is usually the first time of the weekend we all get together, so it's a fun time to reconnect.
Another tradition is jumping into the water behind the Fontana Dam. It's hard to explain in words just how cold this water truly is. It will take your breath away, that is for sure. This year, we had a record number of "jumpers". I think it was because the weather was so hot all weekend. It's usually much cooler in the moutains, but this year is still reached the 90's every day.

The kids have so much fun playing miniature golf, swimming, eating ice cream and playing with family!
Here Josh is pictured with his best buddies! Walker (in blue) is Josh's only first boy cousin, and they are only 8 months apart in age, so you can imagine how close these 2 have become. Keaton (orange shirt) is an extended "cousin", but only a year older than Josh and a lot of fun. Isaiah (green shirt) is my first cousins' son. All these boys are age 7-10. Don't they look like trouble waiting to happen?!

We usually have a large family dinner on Saturday evening with a talent show. We end the talent show by doing the Hoakie-Pokey and then by singing "Good night Irene" in honor of one of the beloved aunts. It's always a lot of fun to see grown men and women (as well as the kids) doing the Hoakie-Pokey.

This last picture is my favorite! My parents, brother and his family, and our family.