Living in Memphis…

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My oldest son is a home owner… what?!?!? Now don’t get your hopes up about it being a grand place that you can go spend the night in just yet. As of right now, it has no bathroom, kitchen or even an attached front door. But what it does have is tons of potential and a pretty fantastic owner.

Will has essentially settled in Memphis Tennessee where he will be teaching the fourth grade in an inner city school starting this August. While I don’t love that he is going to be living nine hours away, I do love that he knows what he wants to do and is not afraid to do it. So now that he has his dream job, he decided the next item on his list was to buy a house. (Obviously, making a list of life goals is a first-born thing… being a youngest child myself, I never made a list of life goals, heck I don’t think I’ve ever made a list of anything other than groceries!!) But my Will is a quintessential oldest child. He makes lists and actually does the things on them… I know! How crazy is that?!?!?! So this amazing child who graduated from Georgia Tech in only four years (even though he changed his major and managed to be on the Dean’s list his last five semesters), got his master’s degree in one year (and somehow got not only the schooling paid for but also got a stipend to live on) now has a fabulous home right near his new school. Y’all, I could not be more proud of this guy. He was truly a joy to raise and even though he was our practice child for all intent and purposes, he turned out AMAZING and I only wish I had two more just like him (I kid, I kid! I’d take three more just like him….)

It came as no surprise to me when I was on the phone with him recently and I was teasing him about not getting to see him more often when his Wendy side came out. He quickly said “I’m just doing what you raised me to do MOM!!” Ahhhh…. How I love that boy!

Luke and Europe In A Nutshell

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I could write a nice long rambling blog about everything Luke did while studying abroad in France but why? Especially when he says it best:

To spend even a week in a European country is an experience of a lifetime, but four months? Well, according to my calculations, that’s the experience of 16 lifetimes, and that’s exactly what I did during my spring 2014 semester. Oh, and I forgot to mention, it was more like 13 countries. I lived in the small French city of Metz, right where Germany, Luxembourg, and France all meet: the perfect launching point for a semester filled with the works of masters such as Michelangelo and van Gogh, the ruins of ancient empires such as Greece and Rome, and the fine wines of France and Italy. I have walked the Cliffs of Mohr, skied the Swiss Alp’s Matterhorn, and been amazed by Gaudi’s masterpiece: the Sagrada Familia. From Dublin to Athens, Barcelona to Amsterdam, and all in between, I have seen more in my 21 years than a lot get to see in a lifetime. But as I look back and the reality of it all sets in, I realize that, more than the places, the people I met were the ones that changed me. They are the ones that, in some way, will stay with me forever. I’ll always remember the five Scots that helped me take Dublin by storm, and Ashley, the Australian who I toured the underground tapas world of Barcelona with, and then the Nigerian street vendor from Athens who sold me the bracelet I still wear, and his story of how poverty has defined his life. I’ve seen the best that Europe has to offer and tasted some of the best food in the world, but it took me over 15,000 miles of travel and a semester abroad to discover what is life’s greatest potential for adventure: the human race.

Blink and They Grow Up On You…

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It seems like just a week ago he was going to pre-school for the first time. How is it possible that he’s now graduated from Georgia Tech with his undergraduate and Union University with his Masters? Oh yeah, and he has a job… a real job. You know the kind with benefits, a 401K, retirement plan, insurance and responsibilities. Better him than me!! I kid, I kid. Super proud of this guy.

After getting his undergraduate degree, Will knew that he wanted to get his masters in Urban Education because let’s be honest, he has been drawn to Memphis Tennessee since the first summer he went there with our church for a mission trip (I blame you Roy McVeigh!) Teaching has also been on his radar since he was in middle school and since he worked as a tutor at GT it just solidified his love for teaching (it also convinced him he wanted to work with younger kids… ones who weren’t quite as stubborn as college athletes.) Will found a graduate program much like Teach for America, only in our opinion better, called Memphis Teach Residency (read about it here and feel free to support them as well!) The beauty of this program is that they mentor and coach you through your one year graduate program and then see you through your first three years of teaching. Who wouldn’t love someone to walk you through your first few years as an adult?!?!?! Great program full of great people and Will is blessed to be a part.

You know I’m proud of all three of my boys but I feel a bit sorry for the younger two. Not only did Will graduate from GT in four years, with honors, he has now graduated from grad school and he’s been financially independent for almost a year… and he’s not quite 23. Yep, he’s set the bar pretty high. Good luck with that Luke & Matt…

In My Swagger Wagon

The Swagger Wagon's 2012 Senior Trip

The Swagger Wagon’s 2012 Senior Trip

I still drive a minivan only we call it the swagger wagon. Yes, I realize that I have no children at home and one would think that by the time all of your children are out of the house that you have earned the right to drive a nice adult car but then the van comes in handy and you just can’t part with it. Y’all, this swagger wagon is practically family at this point, I mean it has taken us on vacation to Florida every year since 2007, moved one child to Georgia Tech four times, another two times, one move to Furman, gone on the senior trip with the class of 2012 (without me- yes my son and his friends begged to take it), moved a child to Memphis, brought home some amazing antiques inherited from my darling mother-in-law and taken us on more road trips than I could ever name.

No one sets out to purchase a minivan when their kids are out of car seats, but as I was searching for my next car in late 2006, I realized that with the length of my oldest son’s legs at the time, there were very few choices he could fit in. It was a light bulb moment people! As we tried to squeeze all three boys in the back of a smoking hot candy apple red Volvo, I quickly noticed that Will’s chin was resting on his knees and decided maybe we should pursue something a bit roomier. Right then one of the boys saw a van with the sliding door open, a drop down TV/DVD combo and heard the words, “You can even plug in any video game system and play while you travel.” It was game over at that point. Game…Over… To humor the kids we walked over to check out the vans and I realized that not only could my long legged son fit comfortably, but there were enough seats to keep them all separate. It’s the little things in my life people….

Many times we have discussed getting rid of the swagger wagon and each and every single time I think about how handy it has been. Plus, when you buy a van with half grown kids, you can afford all the whistles and bells. Can I say I really love my heated leather seats? Not as much as Tim but if I’m being honest, on some super cold days it’s been close people….real close.

He’s Leaving On A Jet Plan

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Luke is heading off to France TODAY to study abroad next semester. Yes, this is the child that typically loses his phone once a day. Forgets to charge his phone so that it goes dead making it much harder to find. Leaves his wallet at home when he goes out with friends or on a date. Feeling my pain now?!?! Seriously, I take comfort in the fact that he is heading to Georgia Tech’s Lorraine France campus. Meaning the professors all speak English and his classes are real classes (i.e. they apply to his degree so he is not just wasting time.) Honestly, what is there to worry about? He is a great student and has been on the dean’s list every semester of college… while majoring in engineering at Georgia Tech (not an easy feat people!!) So truthfully I know he will not only have a blast but be diligent about his studies… still it’s so very hard to imagine putting part of my heart on a plane and know that I will not get a hug or see his handsome mug in person for at the least four months.

I asked Luke, “How am I going to put you on a plane and send you off to France for four months?” In true Luke fashion he said, “You’re going to hug and kiss me first.”

For him it is a BIG adventure. For me? An exercise in letting go, putting my words into action, allowing my son to grow up. Heart wrenching.

Today is the day. Wish me luck…..

My Boi Kittle

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I gave birth to three sons, but in reality we have a fourth son. He came into our family when he was about seven years old and not matter what we do, we cannot get him to leave! Yeah, this is not a “Blind Side” kind of story. Nope, this it’s more like Eddie Haskell from Leave it to Beaver…I kid, I kid! It’s really like Fred and Barney from The Flintstones. Two guys who are good separate but better (and full of trouble!) together.

Will Kittle (Kittle in my house since i already have a Will) played soccer at the YMCA with Luke when they were little boys. They became fast friends who despite going to different schools until college, remain best friends to this day (I like to think Kittle is Luke’s Lynne… except they break more stuff and eat more food!) So as is want to happen, over the years of the boys being together, he just became family. I can’t even begin to count the nights he spent at my house nor the meals he’s shared with us and vice versa at the Kittle house. So much time together that both my other two boys are almost as close to him as Luke is.

Now don’t misunderstand, it has not always been smooth sailing with these two. Oh no! There was a time amidst broken school bus windows, destroyed furniture and conversations with the youth pastor about their latest “incident” at church when I thought I would pull their hair out if they didn’t calm down and straighten up! But not only did they straighten up, Kittle and Luke have become fine young men who are both excelling at Georgia Tech (yes, Ga Tech even though for most of his life, Kittle, bled the red and black of the University of Georgia BullDawgs!)

I love the fact that even if Kittle is only home a few hours, we get a visit. Heck, he comes by to visit whether Luke is here or not. Like I said, he’s our fourth and cheapest son… we’ve yet to pay a dime for his college tuition! Now food on the other hand…