Monday, July 4, 2016

Arlus - A Memoir

I feel a profound sense of gratitude for our veterans and soldiers throughout our nation's history. While I always admire their sacrifice and willingness to serve, it becomes magnified through the remembrance of how our country was founded. When we celebrate our great nation through the power of unity, thanking God for our freedom, singing songs of commemoration and even watching the glittering explosions of fireworks, my heart is completely filled with a sense of pride. Even when our nation is struggling and faltering, we can push this aside for the sake of looking back at everything it took to make America what it is today. 

I have mentioned in the past how important this is to me, as I have a husband who serves in our military, as well as two grandfathers who served in the Korean war and in WW2. I am so incredibly proud to look up to these men in their strong foundation in Christ, as well as in their service of country, which is why today's post is especially dear to my heart. 

My dad's father, Arlus D Brady, passed away in 1997. I was pretty young, but I remember him well for his ornery attitude and absolute love for those around him. Sunday lunches with grandma and grandpa after church were a treat, and it's memories like these that built my childhood. 

I wish I had gotten to know him better, but I feel like he gave me that opportunity this year. Arlus kept some brief journals and plenty of mementos, from his birth in Wyoming in 1913 to his memories with family in his last years. In January of this year, my mom asked me to create a memorial of sorts that would combine these items in one organized place as a gift for Father's Day. Without my dad's knowledge, she gave me a box of photo albums, scrapbooks, letters during the war, etc., and I began to turn them into what would soon become my grandpa's memoir. 

The book took about 5 months to complete as I deciphered his handwriting and researched the timeline of his life. Having only edited for grammar and a bit of chronological re-ordering, his words are truly his. It's an incredible feeling to have been the copy editor alongside my grandpa as I really got to know him like I never have before. To read the letters between my grandparents as they went through years of war and separation was absolutely incredible. 

When the project was finally done, even I was surprised at how well it turned out. did a fantastic job with the printing and it looks absolutely professional in a way I didn't expect. My dad was in tears when he received it and has been perusing it since Father's Day. It's been a lot of fun to discuss the contents with him for the last few weeks- especially since I caught a lot of glimpses of my dad's personality through reading grandpa's words. 

The best part of this is that mom purchased extra books so each of us get a copy, and as each grandchild is born, they will get their own copy of their great-grandpa's legacy. 

The book includes postcards, photos, maps, comics, cards, landmine flags, tickets printed in German, handwritten letters, articles, journaling and even a letter from General Patton! 

My favorite part is by far his letters to my grandma. They were so in love and I was privileged to witness them stand by each other's side until death did them part. 

I know not everyone was able to face their memories of the war, but if you have any clippings like what my grandpa left behind, I would highly encourage you to take the time to record them. It's pretty amazing to see it in published form. From his birth certificate to his last words of "To God be the Glory," his and my grandma's legacy will live on for generations. 

I only wish that Arlus and Ruby were able to see how much of an impact they have made. Although I'm guessing God might let them know. :) Have a beautiful Independence Day and take a moment to thank God for our freedom and for those who worked so hard for us to have it. 

If you would like to purchase a copy of this book, it is available here. If you get a chance to read it- please let me know! It would mean a lot to me to know that his legacy is reaching even more people. 

Friday, July 1, 2016

Is this Heaven?

No, it's Iowa! But good guess. ;) 

It didn't take long after moving in to our new place for my energetic, hard-working hubs to build a raised garden bed for all the produce he had in mind for this fall. We're big fans of produce and, while I can't keep a houseplant alive, he has two green thumbs. He decided to plant quite a variety with hopes that some of it would flourish, but just about everything flourished, so we now have a little bit of everything popping up! 

These photos are a tiny bit dated, as they are almost ready for picking now, but I wanted to give a good reference to the "baby" phases of the plants so I can post the finished product in a while. 


Rhubarb (only good for pie!) 



Sunflowers (just for fun)

Local geese were curious about what I was doing! 

Some peppers gettin' jalepeno business!

Yellow squash

And raspberries! 

I've been told not to eat raspberries for the first few years, but I took a risk and tried one a few days ago and it was delicious! So, it very well could be poisoning me or something, but it was worth it. :) 

We're pretty jazzed to try out everything! We also have red and green bell peppers, pumpkin, watermelon, green beans and tomatoes (gross). Any suggestions for some fantastic garden additions? I'm thinking the next level should be a cherry tree! 

I have to add that I'm completely amazed by the hub's talent once again. The raised garden beds have been wonderful for our "crops". They really help with weeds and you don't have to bend over so far to check their progress. Plus, he rigged a soaker hose to wind throughout the beds and put that on a timer so each plant gets the right amount of water each morning. HUGE time saver! 

I hope you all have a beautiful weekend- I can hardly wait for Yankee Doodle Pops tonight! It's a must-do in Des Moines for Independence Day! We all gather on the lawns surrounding the capitol building and listen to the Des Moines Symphony while eating amazing fair-type foods before the fireworks finale. It doesn't get much better than that. :)