Thursday, July 31, 2008


There is nothing glamorous or fashionable about Cadet Basic Training. It is gritty and not terribly pretty. At this point in CBT aka Beast, you're worrying about squaring away your room, chewing in five bites and keeping a low profile with the cadre. Your attractiveness is not even on the radar. 

Today I offer proof that CBT is rough and not for the vain. I'm enlisting the help of my adorable son, Nathan...
New Cadet is currently sporting the fashionable Army eyewear affectionately known as BCGs. I discovered this picture of him today and it was taken during Wednesday night fellowship at Chapel. What are BCGs

Glasses = BCGs

I guess they are called that because they are not terribly flattering. You don't have to worry about the ladies when you're wearing BCGs. Our son was dreading the BCGs and it's the first time I've seen a picture of him wearing them. Now I see why. He's still my pretty boy. He's singing praises to the Lord and I don't know of a more beautiful sight. 

Face Painting Fun

Since my oldest OS (oliveshoot) wasn't able to attend our family reunion, I didn't want him to be forgotten. He is never far from my heart and thoughts. I was wearing my West Point Mom t-shirt but I thought it might not be enough. He had to be with us in a more meaningful way. I looked around and saw all the kids getting fancy face painting during the Talent Show.  That's when I got a GREAT idea.

I'm going to get a face painting! My cousins Melissa and Matt are talented artists and they don't just paint little balloons on kids' faces. Oh no, Melissa and Matt customize their face painting skills to fit each patron's personal interests and needs. Melissa had already created a bracelet painting in USMA colors but that wasn't enough for me. I am the mama of a soldier. I needed an ARMY face painting. I offered my middle aged cheek to Matt and let him at it. 

After our abysmal performance as Isaac and the Tender Tones, (for which I hold no bitterness) I needed something to lift my spirits. I held perfectly still and Matt told me I was his best customer of the day as he carefully painted the ARMY logo on me. I told him I think there is a niche market directed at face painters for the over 40 crowd.  He has four kids so this might be a way to make some nice cash on the side. He said he'd get back to me about it. 

Afterward we went to the Skate Street Center for go-carting. There were a lot of interesting people there. Muffin tops, mullets, tattoos, cigarettes, facial hair, the Amish, the bikers, you name it, truly quite a curious assortment of humanity. In other words, I fit in quite well. No one gave me a weird look and even if they did, I wouldn't have cared.

When we returned, my brother-in-law asked me if I went out in public like that. It didn't cross my mind once to even wash it off. I was representin' my boy and a mama's gotta do what a mama's gotta do. 

In a future post, I'll offer you another way I included my son in the family portrait. Feel free to use my creative ideas to remember your special person far away. It won't bother me a bit. 


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Highs and Lows of a Mountain Vacation, Chapter Two

About 20 minutes after having the BEST PARTY IN THE WORLD, we (that is, my sister, brother-in -law, hubby and mom) were tired and joyous. I had been giggling so much during the party, my cheek muscles hurt. It was midnight, we were happy but tired. It was time for bed at least that's what we thought...

But then my sister Denise, heard her 2 1/2 year old son Jon rustling in his bed, coughing and acting listless. She picked him up and tried soothing him. Throughout the day, Jon seemed a little sick. During our party, however, he polished off five cookies without a problem. Now my little nephew was having some trouble breathing.  Denise thought he might have a slight touch of the croup and figured a trip to the doctor's office tomorrow might be warranted.

Then Jon began to have even more labored breathing. He became more agitated and inconsolable. Denise and JD called their pediatrician's emergency phone number but by then Jon's breathing had rapidly worsened. We were all running around trying to figure out what to do. A sense of panic filled the cabin even though we all tried to keep it together. "I think he's going to have a seizure!" Denise shouted to JD. Denise rushed Jon into the bathroom and we cranked on the hot water to create steam. I ran to the bedroom to get Jon's beloved stuffed cow and threw it into the bathroom

But nothing was working. Jon's lips were turning purple. We thought he was going to lose consciousness. Just 30 minutes before, we had been yukking it up and having a blast. Now we were in a frenzy as 911 was called. Here we were in a cabin high atop the Smoky Mountains with no idea where the nearest hospital was with a child who needed urgent medical attention. By the time the ambulance arrived, Jon had calmed down but now his face was pale, he was not reacting even when the paramedics were handling him. They found his oxygen saturation level unacceptable and Jon and Denise were whisked away to the hospital via ambulance. 

It was a long, long night. Repeated steroid injections and breathing treatments finally got Jon stabilized. They thought at one point that he was going to be admitted to the Children's Hospital in Knoxville. My husband accompanied JD to the hospital while Mom, my boys and I stayed home with baby Josiah who happened to have a fairly restful night, thank you Jesus! It was past 2am before Mom and I got to sleep. Everyone who went to the hospital didn't sleep. We were all zombies Monday morning. Jon slept for long stretches all through the day but was much better than hours before. Kids are more resilient than grown-ups, that's for sure. 

Jon will be seeing a pediatric pulmonologist and he was acting his hilarious self on Tuesday when we all returned home. He was getting in trouble, bopping his brother on the head, drinking juice and talking up a storm. You would have never known he had been so sick. Apparently there was a point when his oxygen saturation levels were 50%, which is very poor. Now he's our full-tilt toddler again! Hallelujah!

There were a few moments of levity at the hospital. Uncle Mark was quite the hit when he put a rubber glove over his head. JD took this picture on his cell phone. 

What a night, huh?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Highs and Lows of a Mountain Vacation, Chapter One

Today's post is about one of the highs of our Smoky Mountain Family Reunion. I will soon write about the low and trust me, it was definitely a low point for all of us. 

During lunch at the Apple Barn, (which took 45 minutes for a five mile journey- OY! The traffic is INSANE!), I decided we needed to have a party. Not just any party. I wanted to have THE BEST PARTY IN THE WORLD! Talk about pressure! At eight o'clock our guests arrived and we greeted them with left-over gifts from Nate's send-off party and left-over necklaces from my stepfather's 50th birthday party. Plus left-over gifts that we didn't even order but arrived in a package with all the stuff we bought for Nate's send-off party. No one seemed to care, it just lent to a festive mood. Note the chili pepper necklaces most of our guests are wearing. 

My brother-in-law is an attorney by day but we learned he has a potential second career. Professional Bingo Caller. We didn't know about this hidden talent. Maybe JD and Isaac and the Tender Tones can have a gig sometime soon. Maybe not. I have included a video segment for your perusal and I'm sure you will agree that JD's got some mad Bingo calling skills. 

We had family in one room playing Bingo winning amazing prizes ala Oriental Trading Company and another bunch of family in my mom's room playing Pit. 

According to family legend, Grandma Muth used to say, "there is no family when it comes to cards." Uncle Brad brought Pit, a frenzied card trading game that he has hung on to since the 70's as the ugly orange bell and groovy box indicates. Who knew this gentle man has a ruthless side? Who knew that normally demure Aunt Nancy turns into a wild woman with a deck of cards? 

It wasn't until midnight that all our company left. We hugged each other and commended ourselves on such a fun evening! We were ready to all go to sleep. Was that the end of our evening? Not even close, stay tuned to Chapter Two aka The Lows of a Mountain Vacation...dum dum dum dah (cue omnimous music)...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Tennessee Talent Showcase

Friday marked the day when my mom's extended family all descended upon Sevierville, Tennessee to begin a five day family reunion. After nearly a decade, over 50 kin from Florida, Illinois, Michigan, North Carolina, South Carolina came together and made memories. It has been a wonderful time even without my beloved son. I will blog shortly about my attempts to include him in the reunion though. He was never far from my heart or mind, that's for sure. 

Saturday was the day of our Talent Show. As many of you faithful readers know, it was going to be the first live performance of Isaac and the Tender Tones. The crowd seemed suspenseful and impressed as we arrived in the family room in our matching, homemade costumes (sewn by one of the Tender Tones!). We heard snickers and laughter but I'm pretty sure it was just jealousy on the part of the less gifted ones in the audience.

Well, I'm not sure what went wrong but let's just say, Isaac and the Tender Tones still need a little practice. After repeated practices and last-minute changes to our songs, we, well, there's no easy way to say it, folks, we bombed. It started with a certain "Tender Tone" (aka MY MOM or maybe it was me?) getting the giggles and folks, it pretty much went downhill from there.

Our rendition of the George Gershwin classic, "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" was fortuitous.We should have called the whole thing off. Our song from the Broadway hit musical "Tomorrow" was lackluster but highly dramatic. The Tender Tones began singing after Ike had already played the first stanza. He wasn't sure what we were doing and looked confusingly at us but it was too late to inform him of our last minute musical changes. Being the consummate performers, however, we persevered. I don't think it bothered anyone, including us but shockingly, we did not win in our talent show category. Hmphf! We do need a lot of work, as you will see. 

It's hard to have a bad time when you're in the Smoky Mountains in a beautiful cabin with delightful, loving people whom we are privileged to consider family not only because we're related but also because we know Jesus. 

Here's just a brief clip of the first and quite possibly, only performance of Isaac and the Tender Tones, we hope you enjoy. If interested in hiring us for your next event, please feel free to leave a comment and my booking manager aka husband, will get back to you.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Wednesday Nights

In the middle of the week, after a day of rules and corrections, carrying rifles, marching, chewing food in five bite intervals, etc., etc., how sweet it is to go to Chapel on Wednesday nights. Yesterday we received two letters from our son and it soothes my heart to hear he is attending regularly. This is one of the few things my son is doing which do not produce anxiety in my heart and for that I say "amen!"

On Wednesday nights, my son and other interested NCs have a first name (their very own!) and are allowed to even find a bit of a personality! What a privilege! Most other times, New Cadets are not afforded such luxury. You and I take these things for granted but you don't if you are a lowly New Cadet

A place of smiles and fellowship, being refreshed by the Word of God, fresh cookies and caring people. If I were a NC, I think I would live for Wednesday nights. 

That's also where you will find Barry and Barb Willey with Officers' Christian Fellowship aka OCF. Each summer in Wednesday, they join the chaplains and after worship time, the cadets get free time to relax, eat sweets and drink sodas. Then they can get in a line and the Willey's take a head shot of the New Cadet along with anyone else they want and then Barb sends the pictures to anyone they choose.  What a treat! This is a wonderful ministry at West Point and it's great that Nate has plugged into the community. Today we received a picture of our son from Barb. It was the first thing I looked for in my email box this morning. Nate is smiling! He looks happy! He has friends! I am overjoyed!
Last night apparently my son sought Barb out and made sure he got a picture. He even asked for his buddies to be in the picture which makes me want to cry, (I'm tearing up right now). I am so thankful for the Willey's. I love their servants' hearts, they are reaching out not only to the cadets and New Cadets but to their families. I am comforted knowing my son had a mama's arms around him even if they weren't my own.

According to Barb's facebook, she was up until 4am downloading photos knowing eager parents would want to receive the photos. I can relate. Although I wasn't up until 4am, last night I received a late night email from a student needing a "word of faith." She was hurting and needed some encouragement. I wrote her back immediately because she needed to know someone cared. 

Isn't that what we all want? To know someone cares? I sure do! In a letter from our son, Nate wrote about how Colonel Cook's sermon on Psalm 121 was so applicable. "I will lift my eyes to the hills, from whence comes my help?" He said, "it's pretty cool when you're at Trophy Point and you have hills surrounding you." Nate will always have beautiful memories of how God's Word was so alive during his time at West Point. The Lord is caring and providing for our son, he feels God's presence in this place. Maybe not when the cadre are screaming at him but he is finding a peace that passes understanding. God always cares, always understands, is 100% dependable. 

Today I lift my eyes and hands up to the Lord and offer a word of blessing upon friendships, old and new, near and far and the body of Christ working together for His glory and kingdom.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Isaac and the Tender Tones

We are soon leaving for a family reunion to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. My mother's large extended family and the resulting very prolific brood will be gathering at cabins, hoping to avoid black bears and having wonderful fellowship together. Saturday afternoon, according to the official itinerary, we are having a talent show. After a short while of brainstorming, believe it or not, our gang has found a little bit of talent, go figure!

This weekend our family will be showcasing the following talents:

Aaron playing either the mandolin or the guitar.
Me demonstrating how to make a burp cloth - (the crowd will surely go wild!)
And then the musical sensation, Isaac and the Tender Tones which is quite possibly going to be the highlight of the entire time we are together. 

We are looking forward to the fun! I know it won't be American Idol but it will be giggles galore and that my friends, is something we all could use!

Aaron will not be performing this talent but it is unique...

Saturday, July 19, 2008

This One's For You

November 2007 I was a civilian mom with little interest in the military. That all began to change when my son walked into my bedroom one afternoon before Thanksgiving and announced he wanted to apply to West Point. Ok, I thought as I stopped dead in my tracks. I didn't even know where the place was, I googled to learn West Point was pretty far away.  Hmmm...

Fast forward seven months and I'm quite familiar with where West Point is located. Got myself an EZ Pass as proof (I know West Point is located in NY but NJ tolls are a stinker!) It's reality, I'm now the mama of a soldier. My son  is attending the United States Military Academy upon successful completion of Cadet Basic Training. The day my beloved son stepped away from my mother's arms and into the Long Gray Line will serve as one of the proudest and saddest days of my life. Sigh...

Since my son has begun his 47 month journey at the United States Military Academy, I have been humbled by the kind and sincere people who have reached out to me.
To my mom who faithfully listens and pushes away her own feelings to allow me to have mine.

To my sisters, one who had tears in her eyes yesterday when she heard my son's voice in the tape recorder listening to our 10 minute call from him last week. The other who despite a hectic schedule and a great disdain for writing letters is now sending her nephew hand-written notes. 

To my husband who reassures me that I'll be ok even when I'm not sure.

To my aunts who send me Scripture and love.

To my two remaining OS who love on me real good and make me laugh and cuddle up next to me even though they're nearly 12 and 14. 

To my friends who send cards, messages, phone calls and unbelievably ask me how I am doing, I hold those words close to my heart. My special friend Jenn has her own little warrior now as of July 8th but comments on all of my posts, almost without fail. 

And to countless strangers who are now in my family. 

I love hearing people's stories. Some of you have been sharing your stories with me. From all over the world, people have been reading. Now, I know some of you are looking for "recon" that is, fodder for a certain New Cadet. Others are just curious. It's been wonderful to connect with people from Russia, Chile, the Netherlands, Hawaii, Korea, Singapore, Egypt. The military weaves folks together. Our family has enlarged and we're not even a month into it. 

Since most of you probably don't read all the comments on my posts, I thought I'd share a small collection of comments I've enjoyed receiving.  

Today I simply want to share the post with you...these are from folks I will probably never meet personally but sense a kindred spirit nonetheless. 

Like this comment...

"As a '92 grad who comes from a VERY close family like yours, know that the love you send does make all the difference. My dad wrote me a letter every day during my plebe year, just an anecdotal sentence or two as he drank his breakfast coffee. Some day, it was nothing more than a rant about the cat or a joke about my mom's lasagna, but it was exactly what I needed to hear, on a consistent and caring basis. There were many times that those notes helped me remember who I was, and the the people who knew me best in the world believed in me."

Another person shared,
"Our son is in the class of 2010 and is presently a first detail squad leader for "Beast" (yes, he was one of those cadets on R-Day). However, we consider it a miracle that he is there at all. You see, less than four months before his R-Day, he was accidentally stabbed in the chest with a hunting knife and underwent emergency open heart surgery. We nearly lost him. As a result, he was medically disqualified from the academy. Nevertheless, he didn't give up. He worked hard to recover from his surgery and get back into shape. He applied for a medical waiver which was granted three weeks before R-Day. In spite of the pain from his surgery, he made it through "Beast" and His Plebe year. He is now going into his Cow year and has been on the Dean's List every semester. I share this because we feel this story can serve as inspiration to others."

And then this one which arrived today...

"I am a West Point grad from Class of 1975. One of the great things about West Point is the intensity of the experience, both good and bad. Your blog awakened that in me and brought tears to my eyes. My first month at West Point was really tough, the only reason I did not quit was because I could not bear the thought of going home and people thinking I could not cut it. So it does not surprise me that in the first phone call you got that weariness. Frankly, it took me twenty years after West Point to realize it, but it was true for me and is true for your son; he is in a great place doing great things and he will have experiences and friends that he will never forget. God bless him and your family. And to the cadre reading this, you too!"

I can't wait to hear from more of you and hear your own stories. My sister urged me to start a blog over a year ago. She knew I liked to write so it didn't take a lot of prodding. Writing is a release to me. A way to express and feel, the urge to write overtakes me at times. Words fascinate me. I collect them and I look forward to your comments and thoughts. 

Monday, July 14, 2008

Ten Reasons Why It's Better to be a Dorky 6th Grader than a Plebe

1. You are a higher form of life. There is nothing lower than a plebe (well, almost). Note chart: 

2. You can enjoy unlimited chews. No one is counting your bites. You can even swirl food around in your mouth and it's all good. 
3. You can sass at your superiors (although still highly discouraged) and not have to do push-ups. You may suffer other unpleasant consequences but not push-ups. 
4. You can also pass gas and not have to tell everyone or make noxious fume hand signals in the air to everyone around you. 
5. You have a first name and you have heard it said in the last 24 hours. 
6. You can say "Hey!" "How's it going?" "Hello, my friend!" or even make up your own salutation. These are just a sample of myriad greetings available to you as a dorky 6th grader! 
7. Your bed can be slightly messy and you can sleep under the covers.
8.  You do not have to memorize your mama's dinner menu six days in advance. 
9. You enjoy unlimited time for bodily functions! Woohoo!
10. You shower alone.

Four Reasons Why It's Better to be a Plebe 
than a Dorky 6th Grader

1. Cool uniforms with your name on them.
2. Better fireworks. Click here and here for details.
3. Honor, duty, country.
4. Huah. If you need a translation, you just don't get it.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Phone Call

Let me offer a big shout out to the cadre, I understand I now have a "fan base." I'm flattered, nervous, paranoid, gee, thanks... I'm watching every word I say for fear of more push-ups coming a certain NC's way. 

After a weekend of waiting, we finally got the call from our son. Now I find myself in a foggy, numb state after speaking to him. Time passed so quickly, just 10 minutes of conversation, 600 seconds and poof, it's over. 

I wished he sounded more happy but I'm glad we got to talk. This is not summer camp where he gets to hang with friends and play archery so I should have expected it. The tone in his voice sounded weary and perhaps a little grouchy. I think I'd feel the same way if I were in his shoes/boots/low-quarters. 

Days of waiting and now I feel blah. When he said, "I have a minute left." I just kept telling him, "I love you, baby!" because I wanted to make sure I told him that before he had to go. The house is emptier without him, I feel sad in my mama's heart. 

We tape-recorded the conversation which might sound really cheesy but considering I've already listened to it twice, I'm glad we did. My extended family can hear our conversation and I noticed I felt better after my mom heard his voice and tried to discern how he was doing.

I'd appreciate continued prayers for my son and the challenges he has ahead of him, some that are particularly difficult for a mom to even imagine. We are getting Army Strong one way or another and can do all things through Christ who strengthens me/us. 
Picture taken from West Point chapel. Shoes are not mine, they are the Superintendent's. 

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Waiting for Nate...

Thank goodness I'm not a smoker because if I were, I'd have blazed through a carton of cigarettes by now waiting for our son's 10 minute call from West Point. I know my son is going through Cadet Basic Training aka Beast but my mom had a very astute observation recently. She told me, "You're going through your own Beast." Sure, I'm not getting screamed at, I get to chew food in unlimited bites, I'm not up at 5:30am but she was right. Parents of New Cadets go through their own Beast. Moms are so wise.

I have hesitated even to go out to the garage to grab some meat from the freezer for fear I might miss his call. We don't live in a sprawling mansion so I have no idea how I could miss his call but I grabbed the ground pork and bolted back inside.   

I've cried because I haven't heard from him. I've cried because I'm going to. I've cried because it's going to be too short. I've cried for the parents whose new cadets have talked longer to their girlfriend or boyfriends than their moms and dads. Waa waa waa, ok, I'll say it, I'm a cry baby. 

I haven't hit the gym in two days because I can't handle the notion of not hearing his voice. So many questions, so many stories, so little time. My husband had to pick Aaron up after mowing some lawns this afternoon. He returned, eyes wide open and stepped into the house, "no call," was my reply. His heart was both deflated that there was still no word but relieved that he hadn't missed hearing from his boy.  

It's nearing dinner time and still no word. We had friends over for dinner and a played few games of Wii last night which provided a nice diversion. Tonight I'm just sewing and waiting. I'm waiting on the Lord's timing which is always perfect and I'll be sure to post afterward...stay tuned. 

Five Piece Puzzle, Sort Of

For years now we have called ourselves the "five piece puzzle." We have said that there are only five people in the entire world with our last name (which for confidentiality reasons, I'm not using here). We are surely not saying we are better than any other person in the world, but we've always wanted our OSs (olive shoots) to feel special, that being a member of this family is a blessing.

Now that our oldest OS is off at West Point, doing West Point-y kind of things, we are establishing new patterns. On Thursday we went to a local soccer game. It was sad getting only four tickets for the game but nice to do something fun.  We scrambled out the door, I grabbed the camera and then I 
picked up one more thing. I got a picture of Nate and brought him along to the game, sort of. I placed the small picture frame into my United States Military Academy Bag (of course.)

We arrived at the soccer center and took Nate out of the bag.  As usual Nathan was fun to have around. I mean we seriously had a great time with him. The people around us probably thought we were a bunch of goofballs and I secretly wanted someone to ask me what we were doing, but alas, no one did. Shucks. But we had a blast. Correction, Mark and I had a blast pretending Nate was by our side.

I took pictures of Aaron and Nate in random poses...the contemplative, model-like shots were among my faves. 

Sometimes our oldest OS can be a little fussy so boy oh boy, were we surprised when Nathan actually wanted to get a picture with the team mascot Soar. Soar was pretty excited about it too. I think they might be BFF

Nate even sat on his dad's lap which is something he hasn't wanted to do for ages! As you will see, we all had a five piece puzzle type of night. 

There is a movie, Lars and the Real Girl, I want to recommend which my husband and I loved. It's a little strange but very endearing. It is not inappropriate, I don't think there were any swear words or nasty stuff although the original premise might sound suspicious, check it out! 

Don't worry about me, I am not delusional, I am in touch with reality, aware of my surroundings and such. I'm just a mom who misses her boy and thinks sometimes laughter is easier than tears

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Oh Happy Day!

On July 9, 2007 while just exiting a streetside restroom in Lima, Peru, I got mugged. My pricey camera was pulled off my shoulders and back and that was probably one of the most startling experiences of my life. The bad guys weren't trying to hurt me, they merely wanted my camera. I and my trusty 14 year old warrior girl Caroline, who is American but I call her one of my Peruvian daughters, fought off the robbers. I screamed and kicked them where the sun don't shine and a few other places but ultimately they ran off with my camera. Not a good day, duh. 

Fast forward a year, I'm back home and this July 9th is joyous. Yeah, we have a stomach virus wreaking havoc on our family but it's all good. Our son wrote us! In our mailbox, I discovered not one, not two, not three but FOUR letters from our boy! There are not enough exclamation points to describe how I feel to read his words and glean his personality. Here are just a few and I'll try not to be obnoxious !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I count it a privilege that our NC (military word for New Cadet) took the precious time to write. Some parents have yet to hear from their child and I feel for them deeply. I do not take it for granted that we have these paper treasures from our soldier and will guard them close to my heart forever. 

As we gathered around the family room to read his letters, I thought to myself, "this is what it used to be like before email, AIM, facebook, texting." 
Writing letters is a forgotten art and in some way, I have enjoyed putting pen to paper. I'm a writer so it comes fairly naturally but my two remaining OS certainly aren't but what sweet messages have poured from their fingers. Aaron sends funny drawings, Ike sends Scripture. Aaron writes about the day's happenings, Ike shares that he has thrown up. My DH dashed another letter out to Nathan as soon as he read Nate's messages. They are so beautiful, I have no choice but to weep. 

I will write shortly about some of the contents of his letter. Without violating his privacy, I think some of you would enjoy knowing a few details but let me tell you the latest on the toe.
Although still purple, his big toe feels much better since he got it drained. Getting a toe drained doesn't sound like fun but I'm relieved to know he's ok. I wrote him that he had so many prayers that not only should that toe be healed in Jesus' name but quite possibly he might have grown a third big toe as a spare! 

Please keep praying not only for our family but for the other cadet families out there eagerly awaiting news from their NC. It's tough when no news comes your way. In a few days, we anticipate phone calls and I can't wait to hear his voice.  Major props to my homeslice Beth Anne who documented the first few moments when the letters arrived, love you, BA!

Getting letters from your son is better than getting mugged in South America, that's a fact, Jack!

HUAH big time!

mama of a soldier

Romans 12:15 "Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn." 

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Uh oh...

"I go diarrhea and then I say, '
ick,'" these words were uttered to me by my adorable nephew over the phone today. I think this is a generally well accepted fact for just about everyone, right? 

When 2 1/2 year old Jon and his family came to visit us on the fourth of July, apparently they left something special behind. It wasn't a bib or a juice cup, oh no, it appears my sister and her family inadvertently left a stomach virus. My youngest son was its first victim on Sunday and now it looks like it might be claiming its second person. At this point Aaron is blaming it on a "bad burger" but I've got this sinking feeling, we are heading for trouble. 

I should have expected it. After all, it's been about 30 minutes since Isaac was feeling slightly back to normal. We don't want to waste any time, now do we?  This virus wiped out my sister's entire family, now I fear we're going down. She had some very funny blog posts (sorry, her blog is private) so if I look on the bright side, we might be able to get a few yuks out of this. Let's call them "bloggable moments." She likened the stomach cramps to child birth only with far less pleasant results. I'd rather not do that again, thank you very much. She also commented on the potency of my 10 month old nephew's flatulations, therefore we will not be lighting any matches just to be safe. 

Tonight Aaron will sleep with the plastic bag lined trash can right near his bed as he lays his weary head on a towel-lined pillow case. He awoke us a few nights ago with a bloody nose so we'll see what this evening brings.

Denise could have left her fancy dessert click here for recipe as pictured. That would have been nice. Who knew these nice people were still carrying vestiges of a virus? They all look so innocent and lovely. My sister and her family left wonderful memories but I doubt this is going to be one of them. I hope we're not calling Jon using the same sentence. 


I collect typos

To the pooper who wrote a really dumb message on my blog- shame on you! So much for that whole honor thing, huh? I thought West Point raised people of integrity, if you are reading my blog again, Mr. Nasty Bitter Guy who claims to have gone to USMA, go call your mom. You mentioned that you don't even speak to her don't need to write on my blog, just go and fix things with the woman who grunted you out of her body. I can't imagine her deserving such mistreatment and one day you will regret your actions. Been there, done that, my friend...sounds like an apology from YOU is in order...

and while I'm at it, welcome to the gun show! HA!

Now back to regularly scheduled blog posts...I collect typos. Here is one I found at a deli in Fishkill while we were dropping our son off at West Point. It made me laugh which is more than I can say I did about the stinker who left the blog comment which I have since deleted. I ate a really good portabella mushroom sandwich. They make good typos and sandwiches!

Hope it makes you smile, I thought it was pretty funny!

Monday, July 7, 2008

MOMents of time

Friday morning the phone rings. When I inquire who is calling, the official sounding man gives his name and then says he's calling from Washington, DC. My heart drops as I hand the phone to my husband...

Even though my son is in New York, a sick feeling blackened my heart. The phone call was just a guy doing a survey and so my stomach returned to its original location and I started breathing again. This is not a fun feeling.

Today I'm checking my facebook. I check my facebook ALL the time and I check everybody's status ALL the time. Do you have a facebook? How many friends do you have? Do you like pieces of flair? I LOVE pieces of flair! Sorry, I digress, well I'm checking everybody's status and I notice that something is different on my son's facebook. His status has changed since last night. I have no idea how or why or even who did it. To my knowledge he doesn't have computer access. I have his password and I know I haven't touched his facebook. I was instructed not to do a thing unless absolutely necessary. So who did? A million questions are buzzing through my head. (Note: as of 9:45 this evening, I have learned that if a facebook status is inactive, it automatically expires. This means Nate is probably just fine - glory!)

When I got his letter over the weekend, I peered at each word he wrote trying to detect even the slightest hidden message. I read the words he put on paper but were there things he wasn't able to say. You know those things that only a mother can notice. Is he ok? Is he stressed? Is he rushed? Lonely? Sad? Happy? OY!!!

These are the moments, the MOMents when my faith is stretched. I call on my Savior to remind me that our All-Knowing, Omnipresent God is there for my son even when I am not. I have a friend whose husband graduated from USMA and was stationed in Saudi Arabia. I remember her telling me of being fearful of "the call" or "the visit." Praise the Lord she never experienced these things but now I get it. Even a week into our 47 month experience at West Point, I can better empathize with many military things.  

My DH and I have raised a strong and resilient young man and we serve a mighty God.  
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Philippians 4:6 

This is a special bag I bought at West Point. I love how this bag has all the names of new cadets printed on it, including my son! 

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Head to Toe Prayers

The United States Military Academy requires its cadets to send a letter out to parents within the first few days of Beast (Cadet Basic Training). Today we were overjoyed to get a coveted letter from our son.

We haven't been able to talk to Nate since saying our farewells. Apparently next week we will get a 10 minute call from him. I will be sitting by the phone on the specified days and potential times until I get to hear his voice.  

In the meantime, a one page handwritten letter will suffice. In the letter, Nate indicated he had had a tough day and received a lot of "personal attention." One thing you don't want at West Point is "personal attention." The mom in me wants to make the 12 hour trek in my mini-van and just pick up my boy but that's not what he wants or needs. He will prove it to himself that he can do all things through Christ who strengthens him. 

What Nathan needs is prayer. Specifically for his big toe. He smashed it a few days ago and it has turned purple.  This might seem like a strange prayer request but for a new cadet going through Beast (Basic Cadet Training), it's a huge deal. I cut my big toe on my honeymoon in Portugal, and trust me, big toes are very useful. For the remainder of my honeymoon in Portugal and Spain, I walked around with stitches on the bottom of my big toe. That's when I learned the value of phlanges (ew, big, fancy word!). My son is learning the truth behind God's Word found in Psalm 139:14 "I am fearfully and wonderfully made." He needs his big toes and probably will never take them for granted again.

If you read this post, please lift my boy, head to toe, inside and out, body and spirit up to the Lord along with all the other cadets.