Tuesday, November 29, 2011

#145 - The Red is Hidden

Thanksgiving week madness included the need for me to paint the walls of our formal dining room.

I had always loved this "California Poppy" red color, but the paint job had never really been finished and the baseboards had been messed up from the tile job...they needed a fresh, clean coat of white paint so badly they were screaming for a cover-up!

So, I would wait until late evening, after the dogs had been put to bed so I would not have tufts of dog hair leaned into the wet wall paint, and I began to put on the four coats that it would take to cover the red color.

I first out-lined the edges of the area that I would be painting. I decided to go with the same color that was on the upper walls because I was pressed for time. I actually have a lovely burgundy color I'd love to put on the walls, but this house won't be mine for much longer, so it really doesn't matter if it's beige or burgundy, as long as it's fresh and ready for anything to blend in with the paint color.

An old metal planter had  leaked and left an area of rust on the grouted floor, so I've got to buy some grout/rust cleaner and get it out of there! But, back to the walls, as the walls are becoming more and more blended in with each coat of paint, I become more and more delighted. This process takes patience. It's not easy to cover up red walls with a lighter color of paint.

Beyond the red walls, each coat of paint makes the unpainted baseboards look even more horrendous. I am aching inside as my baseboards look neglected!

Finally, the day before Thanksgiving, as I'm rushing around cleaning --- disinfecting toilets, dusting and doing things that can only be described as "Spring Cleaning," I am so happy to find my formal dining room looking a more refreshed!

And the baseboards are singing praises of thanks!! It feels great to see the results of my quick, fast work. Just don't look behind the china cabinet...that area will be "off-limits" until the house is sold and I'm doing some quick catching up behind closed doors --- after the massive piece of furniture is moved.

Until then, there will be a dash of red keeping my secret.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

#144 - Top 20 Current Thoughts About Life

Here are my Top 20 Current Thoughts About Life...meaning these can change day by day. Yes, I am a woman and glad for it! However, most of these are solid beliefs that I have stuck in my soul.

1. Treat yourself by using the good China for your grilled cheese or tuna-fish sandwich.

2. Wear that perfume, even when you have nowhere to go.

3. Sing, even if you can't carry a tune, be brave, feel the music, and sing.

4. Go without make-up and realize that less make-up means less wrinkles, it's the pay-off.
(That one doesn't apply to you Mike).

5. For men:  cuddle with your woman while there is still time and ability to do so!
(Okay Mike, you can use this one with Whoa-Man).

6. Do the right thing in life, but don't forget that you ARE human and imperfect; forgive yourself.

7. Never get too old for loving, frisky moments -- make it happen.

8. Laugh at yourself; enjoy God's sense of humor.

9. Read real books...the electronic ones can't be passed down through generations quite the same as the real thing. It's nice to hold a book and to know that your parent or your grand-parent sat somewhere and turned those same pages with their eyes scanning those same words...probably feeling the same things you feel. Don't get too electronic crazed that you forget the things that you'd LOVE to have in a power outage or a natural disaster...books...made from trees.

10. Always keep doing something you love...just for take you away from everything.

11. Be proud of your curves, don't try to wrap your bones only in skin and tissue, embrace those curves! Of course, if you're lacking a few curves, then embrace that thin frame and the absence of bathroom scales haunting you!

12. If someone keeps letting you down, then perhaps they were never the person who was supposed to lift you up, so move on!

13. Listen to the rain, think about how it is falling from the Heavens and seeping through the earth and know there is depth to all things in this world. A raindrop may seem small and meaningless, but small things add up to make big differences. To me...a raindrop signifies this concept. So does one teardrop.

14. Take family pictures that you can look back on with happiness, then have everyone take one more picture--- the funny face version that you can look back on while laughing out loud.

My sister Robin and her beautiful family.

15. Savor moments of silence, but also appreciate moments of conversation that will one day come to an end.

16. Read the Bible; it will give you perspective, even when you are fighting it tooth and nail.

17. Grit your teeth and tell your children that mistakes are inevitable and sometimes teach the most powerful lessons, then you have to sometimes let them fall so that they can learn to pick themselves back up on their own.

18. Okay, this is a tough one...Even if you are rich, always try to find a way to be more frugal. It's a fun challenge. Spending too much money is a trap that never brings lasting happiness...not having to buy extra Ziplock baggies can bring lots of extra smiles and space in the kitchen drawer. Gasp.

19. Do SOMETHING new every week --- stretch yourself in new ways --- try a new recipe, watch a new show, visit a new church, read a new genre, dance around the kitchen, let yourself laugh out-loud while's the best kind of laughter.

20. Be a friend to yourself. After all, you're born with YOU and you die right along with YOU. So, every now and then, make sure to be really nice to yourself and don't feel guilty about taking care of YOU.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

#143 - My Path is Directed

My oldest daughter, Heather, was able to come to town for Thanksgiving, along with her sweet fiance, Henry. It was a joy to get to spend some time with these two awesome kids.

Heather and Henry are engaged to be married and it makes me realize how quickly my first child has grown up. She's 23 years old, but it seems like yesterday that I held her in my arms and she magically filled my lonely days as I lived in a foreign country as a military wife --- not living on base. At the time Heather was born, we were living in Germany and my husband served in the Air Force. We were very young.

As my husband spent a lot of time either working on base or hanging out at the American Legion or playing basketball, bowling or hanging out on the golf course, I mostly stayed home (we only had one car) and I was able to spend precious one-on-one time with my little Heather, soaking up her endless smiles. I don't think any other mother could have been more fulfilled by a baby than I had been with Heather.

Heather and her cousin, Shaye.
However, I would find myself in shock after I gave birth to my second daughter because I could not imagine my heart to have such expanding room for the same kind of love to take shape all over again.

But, in that foreign country where I didn't even speak the language, she filled the empty spaces of my heart with a love-power I'd never experienced. The American Legion might have held my husband's attention, but my attention remained firmly rooted at home, on family, and on raising my daughter.

Thank God for motherhood! When I had Heather come into my life, it was as if God gave me a hearty kiss upon my cheek as he showed his delight by blessing me!

And when I gave birth to Stefanie, my second daughter, I knew that God was now looking upon my face AGAIN and kissing my other cheek with His sweet blessing. Two blessings!

But, this Thanksgiving, the thing that touched me the most is that I am BEYOND blessed that my two daughters see me as a loving mom who is always eager to be soft-spoken as my first nature...if I'm not soft spoken, my daughters KNOW that something has seriously gone wrong; it is my first nature to do anything but speak kindly and calmly. And, oh yes, I've had some pretty out-spoken moments with a couple of people in my life and had some raised voices with some sailor lingo here and there, but I often realize that these people do not have the capacity to bring out the best in me, so it's best to just stay away from them. Roarrr!

I can tell you one thing, you sure as heck don't want the same things at 40 years of age that you wanted at 20 years of age. Wisdom can be painful, but beautiful.

This Thanksgiving season make me ponder some things...If I ever feel the need to be angry or to raise my voice, I ask myself, "What toxin in my life is making me feel as if I need to go against my nature? Is it the person who cut around me to take the parking space I'd been waiting to get with my blinker on for the past several minutes worth my moment of losing myself? Is it the family member to whom I've been loyal and stood by through thick and thin, yet I am still forsaken in their eyes worth losing myself over? Is that moment of feeling like yelling at two Great Danes as they break yet another board at the fence worth losing my cool over? Well, maybe.

But, the good news is, for me, I am very flexible, very adaptable, very accepting of a challenge, not afraid of change, and I am always open to embracing the beauty in life that God brings my way. And He does bring it. Even if it doesn't come in the manner in which it is supposed to arrive, God will bring it. I'm not a Holy-Roly person, but this Thanksgiving has made me pull out mushy appreciation that I have for God's great sense of humor and His way of taking care of us that is sometimes unexpected.

He will bring you love, tenderness, kind-hearted words, a soft touch with a smile, and He will put someone in your path who can appreciate you for who you are...your faithfulness will be rewarded, maybe not in the way you expected, but it will be rewarded. God is cool like that. I have deep Thanksgiving for that kind of love and devotion.

I Thank God for showing me the true face of loyalty, protection and love.

For those of you out there during this holiday season who are surrounded by a few toxic people you cannot get away from so easily, have faith that God will take care of you. He will. Sometimes, you must find your joy in other things, different people and new places. The joy in your heart cannot be stolen, it can be altered for a bit, then you can give Thanks for all that you do have and realize that your future is full of good moments that cannot be corrupted by another.

It's funny that Thanksgiving is the time when we also have time to appreciate our friends. Sometimes, we look at certain family members, and it's terrible, but we KNOW that we're only together out of obligation, the connection is so shallow and meaningless...but true friends are there by choice and care about you as a person as you care about them. True friends see the best in you. They actually hurt when you hurt and are ready to listen to you as much as you listen to them. It's awesome.

In my moment of Thanksgiving, I realized that enjoying my peaceful moments and to be around those who love me most is the BIGGEST blessing I can enjoy. Anything outside of that is to be limited. I've been through too many huge hurdles in life to let some toxin rot my heart inside out. If you have a family member who simply isn't in a "loving" relationship with you, don't feel bad about it. Let it be. Enjoy the shallowness of it and don't mourn to have more...accept it for what it is and move on...learn to be thankful that there are other people out there with whom you can connect on a meaningful level and direct your energies to them, they might be ready to soak it up, they may really need it. You'll be happier for the change.

I've hit the over-40 stage and have realized that there are some people who you can never please; who will never feel as if you have given "enough" to them even though you've given them everything you have to offer; and there are some people who don't appreciate what they have until it is lost forever and there's not enough time left on this earth to get it back; and there are some people who must reap what they have sown while you cannot help them...don't go down with them.

Having family with the same name sitting across the room from you does not always mean there must be a connection. If it isn't there, it isn't there. Let it go. Don't have false expectations of people who can't give you what you'd like, especially if they are unwilling or incapable because there are people out there who will, eagerly. Learn to discern the difference so you won't waste precious time in this life.

I've learned that it is not selfish to take care of your heart, physically AND emotionally.

Anyway, I woke up early this morning with my oldest daughter on my mind...sad that she had to leave last night to go back to her own home. I had been so relieved to get her text message after 1:30am to say she and Henry were safe at home, hours away. Then, I felt a double blessing at knowing that she is both a family member and a friend to me. She's so gentle with me and so precious; yes, we've moved FAR beyond those teenage years! Ha!

The glorious part of our connection is that I see the best side of her and she always sees the best side of me. That kind of love is what makes the world go round in a more beautiful way.

She makes me feel good about myself as she knows that my heart has goodness in it and that I have love ready to be given freely and in abundance to those who are closest to me. I treasure her and appreciate her loving perspective of me. It makes me want to always be the best mommy in the world that I can be to her, even if she reaches 50 years of age one day, I will rise to the occasion.

So, thank you my first-born baby for being such a blessing. For reaching out and giving me the tenderness that life sometimes forgets to show and for the connection we share that cannot be diminished by miles of Texas terrain.

These days, my future looks different to me than I had expected. Isn't that the way of life? A curve ball, a hidden path, a treasure map discovered in your most bleak moment...but, I'm finding that each new moment is pretty exciting.

And, I know God is directing my steps, so I will end up in the PERFECT spot, surrounded by love and tenderness.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

#142 - Mama is Finally a Friend!

Having grown-up children is such a new experience for me. Since I am such a huge consumer of words...meaning...I'm a voracious reader, I should have been reading, long ago, about how to be a parent to an adult. It's sometimes more challenging than when the kids were little because I feel so parental, yet that stage is not wholly mine to embrace any longer. These days, it's more of being a friend --- the thing I dare NOT try to be while they were in the middle of growing up, THAT is the thing I must be to my daughters during this phase...a friend.

It's nice.

It's difficult.

It's hard to not have a room to send them to so I will know they are safe when I am petrified.

It's great to have two new beautiful friends, young friends, very young friends that I can't keep up with.

My oldest daughter Heather is engaged to be married to a nice young man who is trying to make his own mark in this world and doing a nice job of it.

They make a sweet couple. Heather is a determined young woman who is very intelligent, has a good heart and I love our long talks on the phone, just like I used to do with my own mother. Sometimes, Heather reminds me so much of myself. Did I mention that she's amazing?

The great thing is that I like her fiance Henry. And, let me tell you, this Mama is not easily won over. Ask Henry. He's paid his dues and he's hung in there and he's been so sweet to me in spite of my guarded attention. These days, if he and my daughter have an argument, I will, of course, chit-chat it up with my daughter, but in the end, I am also conscious of Henry's side of the story.

And my youngest daughter, Stefanie, she is such a fun friend to have as well. She is blessed to also have a sweet boyfriend.

The two of them are working on finishing their degrees. Brice, her boyfriend, is a guy who is always ready to light up a room with his smile and a contagious laugh. He's a lot of fun to be around. And, he's good to Stefie; he listens to her and really makes it known that she's a priority in his life. I like that about him because Stefie is a sweetie.

Yesterday, Stefie actually took me on a date to see "Breaking Dawn." Her and I had read all of the Twilight books and became fast fans of Stephanie Meyer's prose. We love her creativity and modern fairy tale style of writing. So, we love going to the movies and watching the latest motion picture version of the books we enjoyed. On the way to the movies, we stopped at Walgreens to buy some candy and a drink to smuggle into the moves. Yes, we are penny-pinchers as well. And we had a GREAT time at the movies together, even when the people about five rows below us brought in a BABY in a baby carrier. What?

Hey people...we had to PAY to get into this place to see this movie and to NOT hear the things we'd hear at home, such as barking dogs---ours and the neighbors --- the dishwasher in action, the doorbell ringing as the solicitor waits to try to sell something and DEFINITELY not a baby.

I had TWO babies of my own; I love babies, but I never took them to the movies with me so that they could interfere with someone else's time AWAY from their babies. But, before the movie began, Stefie and I ended up sitting through advertisements on the big screen and as we were whispering that we sure hope that baby doesn't start crying in the middle of the movie, my little Stefie gets a bright idea and pulls out her IPhone to show me something.

After a quick internet search, even though we could barely hear anything over the LOUD movie theater advertisements, she put her IPhone between us so she could show me, the old gal, a popular and very inappropriate YouTube gal, Jenna Marbles, as she did a particular post about an unwelcomed baby in her apartment. After getting over the shock of the "F" bombs throughout the video, I did think it was funny that Stefie found that particular blog post to pull up at that particular moment as we were sitting in the movie theater in that particular "baby" situation.

The horrible part we were watching this YouTube video and laughing hysterically at our situation with the baby a short distance away...the advertisements in the movie theater suddenly came to a complete STOP and the theater goes into dead silence just as Stefie's IPhone is screaming with Jenna Marbles imitating the sounds of a baby with "WAHHH, WAHHH, WAHHH" and some other choice words. We could not hit the screen of her IPhone to stop the sounds fast enough. It was as if we had a bright spot-light on our misdeed.

These are the moments when you know God has a sense of humor and you're hoping that the couple with the baby does too.

We finally get the IPhone's blaring SURROUND SOUND to shut off and we laughed even more hysterically at the discomfort we felt. I was ready for the couple with the baby to look backwards at us with double expressions that could kill. Believe me, I had my hands and fingers prepared to start pointing at Stefie as I said, "SHE did it!"

The terrible thing one would have known that we were watching a video...all it sounded like was as if someone behind them was sarcastically imitating the irritating side of a baby with the "WAHHH, WAHHH, WAHHH" screeching sounds. Someone of us.

Thankfully, we made it out of the movies alive. As a parent myself, I thought the young couple showed great restraint. Such maturity, except for the part about bringing a baby to a movie that cost us $20.00 to see.

Anyway, the baby DID start crying during one of the most crucial moments in the movie, but they did some fast responding to limit the crying so it wasn't that noticeable.

One day, I'll be surrounded by babies again. I love all the sounds of a baby, just not in a movie theater. Until then, I have a couple of great new friends to share a few shocking moments with because my kids and I know how to have a bit of fun together. I'm always ready for a good laugh. As a parent of adult children, I've learned to laugh a little harder and a little easier, even when one of my kiddos whips out a video with "F" bombs. I guess it's digestible because Stefie doesn't cuss whatsoever; she does not have what I call a "potty mouth syndrome."

However, if she did cuss these days, I guess my only recourse is to give the classic Mama-Says-You-Are-In-Trouble-Stare.

Otherwise, I can be friendly and give out unwelcomed lectures. At this stage, that is my favorite thing to do. Lectures. My daughters usually are good-natured about it. There are times when they are wise and know that they need to listen to what I have to say to them. Other times, they say, "I need to talk, no lectures, it's time to switch on the friend mode and leave the Mama mode in the distance."

Oh Lord. Brace yourself. Put on your "friend" hat because it's time to put away the bib.

Why didn't I read the books on being a parent of adult children? I'm winging it here! I'm inexperienced, but this part of growth in my life is a lot of fun!

And speaking of babies and being a daughters will be mothers one day and they better not ever take their baby to the movie theater. There might be a mother of grown children seated behind them who is all too eager to watch the movie without reminders of poopy diapers and spit-up. So, if you have a baby and want to see the movie, my advice is to wait until it comes out on DVD.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

#141 - What am I Eating?

For the past several years, I've partly decorated my kitchen with the chicken-rooster theme. I guess I was headed for the day of owning chickens. I didn't think we'd take the chicken plunge in our backyard here in the city limits, but we did.

Getting to see the real thing as I look at my windows into the backyard is indescribable. Of course, I can still look at my wall art and other chicken mementos and feel as if the coop is around an imaginary corner. But, there's also a REAL one right around the corner --- in my BACKYARD!

My sign on the wall that says, "Fresh Eggs" is no longer a wish that I would like to come true. It is a reality for our kitchen. Fresh eggs are indeed available, every day. Granted, the colder weather has taken us from 4-5 eggs laid per day to 3-4 laid per day, but we're still in the Fresh Egg category every day around here.

I love having eggs in the fridge that do not come from the grocery store. At first, I admit, it was difficult to eat an egg that came from the backyard throat would close up and I had a hard time getting past the REALITY factor of the business end of a chicken laying an egg. I was a typical example of a city person too far removed from the truths of farm life and the source of our available food. Having the authentic thing, chickens, in my backyard soon cured me of my comfortable detachment.

My city-induced mental barrier was short-lived, as soon as I tasted my first few Fresh Eggs, I was hooked. These days, if I had to eat an egg from the grocery store, especially after eating such incredibly fresh eggs for so many months, I think I'd have to do some powerful mental exercises to make myself swallow. I can't even stop to consider all of the other foods that I am swallowing while not REALLY knowing where it came from, other than from the grocery store with a bar code attached. I'm not so comfortable with the blind trust that I've incorporated into my life thus far. The blind trust is beginning to fade.

My roasted chicken --- chicken purchased from
the grocery store. I hope to one day have farm fresh
chicken processing so we can eat with complete comfort
of knowing where our food came from.
So, as far as the eggs go, I hope the chickens keep laying eggs every day. However, I know that the cold weather slows down egg production. And, we have seen it happening to our chickens, as mentioned already. As for us Southerners, I don't know exactly what that boils down to because we don't have the same patterns of crop issues, livestock issues and such as does the North. I guess I'll find out first-hand how it will work out as I also absorb bits and pieces of information gathered along the way.

The weather here in Texas is like a roller-coaster, one day it is cold, the next it is sweltering...I'm sure this confuses the chickens with their egg production. I have no idea. Maybe these warm days will encourage the chickens to squeeze out a few extra eggs that otherwise would not be formed.

And I will keep eating those eggs with delight while trying to not think too hard about the other food I am swallowing from sources personally uknown to me. FDA, don't let me down!


#140 - Wild Kingdom in My Backyard

A nice day outside in the backyard with the dogs and the chickens is a lot of fun. Howdy, the Australian Shepherd is constantly busy...always scanning the yard, watching must be torturous to have an Aussie's mentality.
Howdy is watching it all...

As for the Yorkie...when we first got Belle a few months ago, she was in bad shape and not so friendly to other animals. Belle the Yorkie had an especially bad start with the chickens, a very bad start. Her first week at our house found her suddenly chasing a chicken, round and round in circles in the backyard, she was in full attack mode. We could not catch her. She did catch the chicken. She ended up with a mouth full of feathers from her glory moment of snagging a chicken by the butt, however, the glory soon turned to gagging and spewing as the feathers were choking her. I hope that foul experience is what contributed to her not wanting to pursue the chickens for another bite.

And, Belle is a smart little dog. She watches Howdy's behavior and copies him...down to the fast-motions of circling and herding of the chickens every morning as they wait in the coop to be let out into the yard. She observes and thinks she's an Aussie.

Belle is so complacent with the chickens these days that she will sit in the backyard and let the chickens peck her backside; she doesn't budge or flinch: it's as if she has submitted. I think our Big Mama chicken whispers in Belle's ear that she better do what they tell her to or she'll be sorry.

But, that same chicken dare not come up to Howdy's back and try to peck. Howdy will make his dissatisfaction known fast. A curled lip, some snarls and a jerking motion lets the chickens know to BACK OFF. They can get close to him, the chickens can lay up against him, but they better keep their peckers to themselves!

Miss Speckles loves Howdy. She likes to stay by his side. I think he's pretty smitten with her as well.

But, when you have a face like Miss's expected for the onlooker to be smitten and ga-ga over her. I admit, I find myself swooning over Miss Speckles CUTE little speckles! So darn cute!

Even though Miss Speckles is the "mistake" of the family...we didn't intend to bring her home, she was accidentally mixed in with our batch of chicks that were to be our future laying hens, the Buff Orpingtons, regardless, I am nonetheless grateful for unexpected blessings. She lights up our days. Of all the "planned" chickens in the backyard, the "mistake" chicken has turned out to be the most wonderful one of all.

And, I have a little video of us all playing peacefully in the backyard. Well, I get mowed over a couple of times by the dogs while playing ball, but it was fun. The Great Danes in the yard behind our house must have some kind of bark collar on them at the moment because their barking is under wraps, except at night-time...go figure. But, our Yorkie dog, our little Belle, can be seen in the video as she's running to bark at the back fence and this is because the Great Danes are jumping on the fence.

I was going to walk over the the fence for an up close shot and video them jumping on the fence because it is scary...the boards bend inward and are stressed nearly to the breaking point. So, I decided to let the dogs handle the inspections and the snipping while I keep my distance.
Poor Howdy, you can see the working dog in him...he would love to just keep playing ball, but he's obviously got too much on his mind in the yard. Still, he likes to stick by me or keep me in his vision.

Belle the Yorkie, well...she'd swallow me whole if she had the chance...the little turkey. Cute little turkey she is.

Lyla or Big Red...she is simply walking around and checking everything out. But, she's not to be underestimated.

We once had roofers at our house and one of the men walked around back to get me out of the backyard and Lyla went into full attack mode. The guy said, "I THOUGHT she looked like a friendly dog, until now."

I always wondered why she acted that way toward that man...we had a house full of workers since our home had been destroyed by Hurricane Ike, but for some reason, maybe a sixth sense reason that only a dog can whiff...this man hit her bad side in a big way and she let him know it.

So, Lyla is my best dog ever, but she sure can be a force to be reckoned with --- must be the Boxer in her.

When I'm outside with the dogs and the chickens, I feel at peace. I love the dogs and they love me. Most of us know, the dogs won't blame you for everything that goes wrong in their life; they can't yell at you (WaHoO!) and they have no desire to say things such as, "You are such a mean person because you won't let me peck you blind!"

Yes, it's a pretty good deal that these animals offer. During rough days, such as yesterday, the true tenderness and kindness that I receive with such honesty is from these little animals...a lean-to hug from Howdy, a head in the lap as Lyla gazes up at me with those big brown eyes and Belle jumping to get settled in my lap as any respectable lap dog should. And I must say, that as I made my way through my mother's birthday yesterday, a day when I wished she were here so I could hug her, I closed my eyes and imagined that hug.

My daughters and I shared our birthday rememberings about my mom and their grandma. We shared tender, loving moments of authenticity. Geesh...I love those moments! Living with those who care enough about you to notice the rough times and be tender-hearted on your behalf makes those hard times more endurable.

And if you have a bad day and you were alone, I'd recommend having a little pal in the backyard such as Miss Speckles. It's great to have Miss Speckles in the backyard to go visit a while. She's a chatty gal and I respect her little birdy self.

Okay, to hit home as to what I'm talking's the "peaceful" video of some backyard moments from this weekend. Brace yourself! haha!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

#138 - One Sad Town - One Lost Son

Today, November 19th, 2011 would normally have held my attention as my mother's birthday, well it would've been her birthday (in words) for her years were halted over five years ago when she  passed away from breast cancer. But, something more important than remembrance of a mother's birthday has taken place today.

My blog buddies, I have felt compelled to write about what has happened in our area lately. Our community has lost one of its up and coming young men who had made the choice to serve his country with bravery by standing up for International safety. His choice to serve helped us to live another day in peace...keeping our shores safer because of his strong stance overseas in Afghanistan.

This morning, I left the house by myself to muddle through the confusion of where to go among the many people in town who were standing roadside at various locations, ready to give Cody's procession strong support. I decided to go a very short distance, just to the block of the funeral home and to stand with a few other nice people who know this young soldier died much too young.

I made instant friends with the people standing around me as we waited for the funeral procession to make its way toward our direction. So many people were holding American flags, or wearing some of their old military accessories, people of all ages, some holding home-made signs...all wanting to show the family of Cody Norris that this community honors that young man.

The citizens of LaPorte, an industrial town connected within Houston's Greater Metropolitan area, definitely suffered a tremendous loss of one of our own young men...Cody Norris gave his life while serving in Afghanistan. Cody Norris went to the same highschool as my youngest daughter Stefie, but he was a year younger --- Cody had only graduated last year.

It's nearly inconceivable to me that this young soldier of only 20 years old has lost his life while serving in Afghanistan. His first tour of duty.

Cody was a 2010 graduate of LaPorte High School where he was in ROTC and a member of the Color Guard Rifle Team. He was also a member of the Military Museum.

He enjoyed working on his 1952 M37 Army Truck which he drove to and from school. He enjoyed paintball, Deer hunting, playing video games and Hibachi food. He was always bubbly, happy and just silly. He was always energetic, light-hearted and made everyone smile.

Following his brother's footsteps, he joined the U.S. Army and won the expert marksman badge during basic training.

He served as a 240B Machine Gunner with the 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor Regiment, 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division out of Ft. Riley, Kansas.

He is survived by his father, Reese Norris; mother, Terri Norris and step-father, Kenneth Rogers; brother Michael Norris; grandparents, Robert and Patricia Vegil, and Geneva Pynes; other relatives, Velissa Vegil, George, Linda, Sadie and Andy Lane, Pam and Zach Norris along with numerous other relatives and a host of friends. Visitation will be Sunday, November 20, 2011 from 4pm - 8pm at Grandview Funeral Home.

Pfc Cody Norris arrived via military transport at Ellington Air Field today with full honors around 11:55am and partly escorted by his own brother, Michael Norris, who is currently in his last year at West Point...this family is a military family.

This heartbreaking homecoming reminds us that we are to be thankful for the men and women who serve and make the ultimate sacrifice. I felt it to be a personal duty to support this family in the tragic, yet honorable homecoming of their son and I was stood tall there today on the street and to put my hand over my heart and to shed tears of sorrow as all of us feel --- the shared regret over the way this turned out for Pfc. Cody Norris.

My buddy for the day, standing next to me --- part of the motorcyclist
that were heading our way, over 200 motorcyles. This former Marine
is not riding because he's guarding the entrance of the funeral home.
And, he's more than ready to take on any protestors.
Below you'll find a video I made of Pfc Norris and the procession of vehicles to include over 200 motorcycles.

At the start of the video, I have tears coming down my face and my heart is beating so hard and fast that it's making the camera jump with each heartbeat, but once you see those 200+ motorcyles making their way to the funeral home, it is incredible. The police had all of us on foot to move in and stand on Spencer Highway for a respectful body-block of all traffic during the procession. The very end of the film ends up sideways because I was just dropping my camera, not even aware of whether or not I had quit filming.

Our community is heartbroken for this family and we pray for God's powerful mercy to help this family make it through some of the hardest times they'll ever know.

Congressman Ted Poe was honored to give tribute on Capital Hill for Cody Norris - Video can be seen:

Thank you Pfc. Cody Norris, you are our hero, a warrior and you will not be forgotten by your community and beyond. is done. For today and in the days to follow, may God give the family of Pfc Cody Norris much needed rest and a peace that defies comprehension.