Living the Dream

Living the Dream

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Baby Boys and Plebe Update

I was so good in keeping everyone in the loop on all things Hallie during Beast.

Then the school year started and she really got busy.

She's taking like 19 hours and playing volleyball and traveling practically every week.

Plus inspections, learning random knowledge (that she has to know at any given moment), different personalities all around her, clean uniforms, and maintaining grades.

Nothing about this school is easy.


She is so homesick and for some reason (I can't even recall why) we made the decision that she would stay in NYC for Thanksgiving and come home for Christmas.  Don't even ask me why we thought that was a good idea.  FOR. THE. LOVE.

It will have been 6 months when that girl finally steps back on Oklahoma soil.  6. Six. Months.  (that's too long)

She's embracing the suck, and getting it done.  For the last two years, she has multi-tasked as hard as she could with volleyball, work, high school, vo-tech and concurrent college, so they say the hardest thing about being a plebe is learning time management.  She had that down to a science before she went, so she has really just embraced it, and trying not to be a procrastinator (which is our middle name).

I will just be super glad to have her home in 6 weeks.  Cannot wait.

On the other coast of the USA, you will find my pregnant daughter, Kip.   I was CERTAIN this baby was a GIRL.  I just KNEW IT.

WRONG.  They called me and yelled "It's got a PENIS" and I almost dropped the phone.  Then I was sooooo OVERJOYED because I LOVE me some grandsons!

The only one NOT thrilled with the news is my diva granddaug, Brielle, who believes she is a human.

I'm pretty sure, she will come around.  She liked DD, ok, even when he tried to eat her tags on her collar.

I love me some little boy humans,  and big old diva granddaugs.

Deaton is getting so big.  He's 2 1/2 now, and calls me "Lols" instead of Lolly.  I'm still not sure how I feel about it.  Just pretty big for his britches.  Told him we were going to a party last weekend and he piped up, "What kind of party?"  He's so sweet and funny and ornery and rambunctious, just the perfect blend of all of it.   He's a great negotiator ("DD, it's time for bed"  "Just four more minutes, lols?"  or  "Ok, last book, then time for sleepy",  "Wait, just two more books")  and becoming a pretty picky eater  ("No eat that, my no like that, lols")

So, life is pretty fun with grandsons.  I'm looking so forward to meeting the newest one in April.

But first, let's get that Plebe home for Christmas, and get that Kip and Brandon here, and move to the ranch, (oh, did I tell you we GOT IN and are FOR SURE MOVING!?)  Yeah, that too.

SO, 2017 has turned out to be a pretty good year for the family.   2018 is just going to be over the top.

I Mean, fo' reals.

God is certainly good,  all the TIME.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Day That You said Yes

I'm cleaning drawers like a cleaning fool.

And I stumbled on this today, and cried in my floor.

Some may not even get it, but I'm adding it to my blog, because there is not One Day that goes by that I am not proud of my Lacey.  (or all my kids, but today it's Lacey)

I helped her with an event for her non profit that she heads as Executive Director... Legacy Parenting Center.  She had a "Trivia and Tapas" event in Shawnee, and basically put the entire evening together, with the help of some Junior Service League girls, and several volunteers, and our favorite hostest with the mostest, Nona Merriman.

It was outstanding.  Her heart is so open for helping families, and babies, and families with's just amazing to watch her go.

And it all started because she said Yes to the unknown, the journey with her baby, Laynie.  When all the medical world told her No......she said Yes.

And I found this poem I wrote her in my stuff today as I was cleaning drawers.....

When You Said Yes

A whole new world was coming our way
Everything clearer day by day

Not our control, but One much higher,
And surrendered we'd become, our belief on fire. 

Born to our family, a tiny gift
and in her presence,
our hearts would lift.

God knew what He as doing when He picked
you from the rest,
God Knew what He was doing,
Because you said Yes.

A life created to teach us all,
to make our walks, more loving, more tall
of a tiny gift that made Prayer a call...

The day that you Said Yes. 

Thank you Lacey DeeAnn for saying Yes to Jesus, everyday, in every way.  It's such a blessing to not only call you my daughter, but my best friend, too.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Must be Something in the Water

I've been reading back through my blogs from five years ago (5 years ago!) when the kids came to live with us.

Whoa, those were some interesting times. 

So, what is my family up to, you ask?

Every time one of those ads come up with kids needing homes, I always try to reconfigure my house in a way that I can stick more kids in here.  Because at the end of the day, it ain't about me.  It's about helping people.  And people to me, are kids. 


God Willing, and the creek don't rise, and the community votes me in, The Take-outs and I are moving north.  To Guthrie.   To Peppers Ranch.

Read about Peppers Ranch Here

I drive almost every day to Guthrie anyway to work, so it makes total sense to move 10 minutes away from work.  (5 if they ever get the bridge built)

My kids will have a built in community of kids just like them, going through the same thing, living life on a RANCH, with horses, golf carts, fishing, community, tutoring ON SITE, and most of all, a big enough house we can live in and actually not sit on top of each other, whilst we are doing a netflix binge. 

And I will be able to take in a few more kids and help them, and love them, and show them life is more than their circumstances. 

We still have to go through an interview or two more, but I would appreciate your prayers and good wishes going forward.  My prayer warriors move mountains for me, and looks like we will be moving a few more over the next ten years. 

Now I'm not sure that "Sound Mind" part really applies here.  Pretty sure I'm not of sound mind right now.   I'm overloaded on Supernatural peace and power that comes from above. 

What I've learned from this journey on earth, is this, you don't have to be equipped with all the education, all the extra room, the extra time, etc, etc... God equips the called. 

If you have a desire to foster, I promise there is a kid out there needing to be living with you.  If you have a stirring in your heart for something more than your currently truly being the hands and feet of Jesus, answer the call. 

DHS Website to get more information about fostering

If you can't take kids full time, you might consider Emergency Placements, Respite (YES PLEASE, and MESSAGE ME DIRECTLY FOR THAT NUGGET OF INFORMATION, FOR YOU SHALL BE MINE) or even simply as Donating to Peppers Ranch, so they can find more crazy people of sound mind to live in the three new houses they are currently building.   Over 100 children live on this ranch.  That's 100 kids that are being given a chance of seeing what life looks like without neglect, abuse, drugs, etc.  That's 12 houses of foster/adoptive parents that are CALLED and EQUIPPED to love kids.  (Yeah that averages out to about 8-10 kids a house)  (Don't let me do the math for my house).    Sound mind, Sound mind, Sound mind. 

It's all good, so we are taking this party north.   I have 10 years of accumulation I have to pack in the next 7 weeks.  Boxes, boxes and boxes are needed.  If you have these things, let me know.   I've decided if I haven't touched something in a year, it's probably going to be donated, or sent to our local dump.  Can't move it all. 

Prayers and more prayers, people.  Prayers for the doors to fly open and my house to sell, and let the adventure continue.

Living the Dream, baby.  And boy, are we going to have some fun blogs over the next few years.  WWHHHEEEEEE, let's DO IT.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Health is a Gift

As a salesperson, I have had so many friends come to me with their products and encourage me to sell them.   Almost weekly, someone had something they loved they wanted me to try.

You guys have NO IDEA how I have struggled with this post.  It's been literally years in the making.  Because I don't want you to think  "Oh she is just selling something".

KEEP READING.  For the love. of love.   Keep reading.

I've seen  Reliv and Zeal and Mary Kay and Rodan & Fields and Monat and World ventures and Scentsy and .... and..... and. 

There were things about all the above that intrigued me, but with my schedule I have limited time, resources and patience.

Then Scentsy tripped my "House Beautiful" trigger and I sold it for about 5 years.  Really low key, never pushy, just "Hey I sell scentsy if anybody wants anything" kind of selling.

Now I'm getting older and my memory is getting bad, my middle is expanding and I have aches and pains that make my daily life not so great, and worst of all.... hot flashes.

So, when I'm reading through facebook and all it's many posts, I see several of my friends, start drinking Plexus and taking their products.

And seeing results.

I'm intrigued, and enjoy reading their successes, but still not inclined to "take the plunge" so to speak.  Still too tired, too stressed, and no $ to take on any new "self indulgent" pleasures.

Until one day I read from a daughter of a friend, whom I had been praying for that was seriously ill, how after having thyroid surgery, she started a plexus regime, and it changed everything.

People, I had to try it and see what all the hype was about.  I'm wasn't going to "sell it", just "Try it" and see if it does anything for me.

Has a 60 day money back guarantee, so what have I got to lose?

Turns out, it made me feel (and act) 20 years younger.
I took the product (on and off) for about a year.  I'd take it until I ran out, then go a couple of months and buy some more.

The significance of how I felt when I was taking it, and how I felt when I was not WAS STAGGERING.

It's so subtle, that you may not even realize you feel better, until all the sudden you have so much energy, you feel so much better, your aches and pains have eased and you feel like you are 40 again.  LOL.   In fact, I think when I finally realized it was Plexus was when my brother's significant other commented, "How do you do what you do, and HAVE SO MUCH ENERGY?" and it went off like a light bulb.....  It's PLEXUS.

I COULDN'T BELIEVE IT.   I had credited more sleep, less stress, everything but Plexus.

So I deliberately stopped taking it.  For almost a year.  (People, this experiment and experience has grown over time), just to see what happened.

I had fallen back in the spring, twice pretty much in quick succession (no plexus, brain fog) and had my chiropractic genius work me over.  She did great, but I had a deep sciatic nerve pain in my butt that couldn't let me sit in my car.  This was a problem, as I sit in my car for up to 3-4 hours a day, driving back and forth to work.  It was to the point, I wasn't sure what I was going to do.

Then, I remembered the pink drink that used to make me feel so good, except I didn't credit the pink drink for making me feel good, because HEY,  I was THAT good.     (LOL, for the love)

So I started mixing up the pink drink in the morning, and drank THAT instead of my half sweet/half unsweet ice tea I drink EVERY MORNING  (which was a huge step up from the DDP I use to drink everyday from age 25-46)

Ok, so what I'm about to tell you, you can believe or not.  In a week, I realized I could drive in my car with no hip pain.  I was making it all the way to and from work, and actually bounding out of the car, instead of falling out of the door and taking 10 steps to get walking properly.   My brain fog cleared.  (well.  mostly cleared, I still have children at home that eat my brain cells for breakfast.)  I was HAPPY again, and no MOOD swings (man this is huge for me and my family loves this deal).  I was sleeping like a baby at night, and all the feet tingles I experience daily from lack of B vitamins and D vitamins in my depleted system, all but disappeared.

It's a christmas miracle, In July.

Now if this had been a life threatening illness, I wouldn't be embarrassed to ask for prayer or share with you my results.   But because this is a MULTI LEVEL MARKETING company, I have stressed and stressed over, "Will my friends think I just want to SELL them something???" and I have finally decided to quit worrying about this, and just tell you my story  (Which is kinda what I always do anyway).

In some ways I wish it weren't an MLM, because in some cases, that immediately turns some people off.  BUT I WILL NEVER PUSH YOU TO SELL IT.  EVER.

I just want you to FEEL BETTER.  There is no reason in the world this wouldn't help everyone.  It's AMAZING.

And here's the deal.  When you join my team, and when I say join my team, I mean, you can buy product from me, you can become a preferred customer (and get a better price) or you can become an ambassador (like me).  I jumped right in, (2+ years ago) and got it as cheap as I could, and never did a thing with it. (ask my upline)  But to get the best results, you have to give it 60 days (and still get your money back if you decide you don't like it).   But I am BETTING,  YOU WILL LOVE IT.

It's stupid how much you will love it.  Because, you need to love yourself enough to get healthy.  I spend over $100 a month on Sonic sweet tea.  That's embarrassing and impressive all in one sentence.  I bet if you really put a pencil to it, you spend at LEAST $120 a month on drinks, snacks and food that you buy outside the home in a month.

Why not use that money and get yourself healthy?  Once you get your gut in check (which is the ROOT of all things overweight and unhealthy in your body) you will find your body fat down (which is what shocked me) and your mental clarity, overall feeling of goodness and your body aches and pains down to a minimum.

The whole reason I got into this deal, pickle.. (see what I did there?) was this friend, Samantha, had a complex thyroid condition and celiac disease, and by taking a solid regime of Plexus and the products they offer, she is off most of her meds  and in the best health of her life. Look at this picture (shared with permission)
The giant man in the second picture is her husband, Brad.  He is Tyler-size (6'7) (and yes she is a pixie and yes, I have given her crap for taking the tall men) and was a pro athlete.  He believed that diet and exercise were the only way to get healthy for years.  He watched his tiny wife literally change before his eyes, and humored her by drinking the pink drink with her.  He had some job changes that made his anxiety level go THROUGH THE ROOF (anyone have those?) and committed to his wife that he would seriously start doing the Plexus thing faithfully.   He lost weight, and has SO MUCH energy.  He's not a huge gym rat, or hard core dieter.  (In other words, the boy likes his wings and beer).  But this man doesn't go one day without his pink drink and backs this product 100% (and has become an ambassador as well)

TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR HEALTH.  If you want to lose some weight, if you want to quit hurting all the time, if you want a mental boost, IF YOU WANT TO BE PART OF A FUN TEAM (with me) Contact me.

Check out my website here:

The first step of your healthier future starts today.

If I didn't believe in this stuff, I wouldn't be using my forum that I so love and protect to promote this product.    I push Jesus on this site, and family and love and hope.  You need health as much as any of those other things, and this product can help get you in optimum shape.  Get healthy.   Drink Pink.


Tuesday, October 10, 2017



Kip and Brandon are having a BABY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My grandma heart overfloweth.

God is faithful.  These two have been trying for two years to have a baby, and on the eve of beginning fertility treatments, this angel baby from God is brought to the two most deserving people I know.

THE ONE TIME Brandon doesn't go to the doctor with her, she FINDS OUT SHE IS PG.  OF course.  Of course, she can't believe it, so the doc has to bring in the pregnancy test and show her.  She is still not believing it!

God is so faithful, friends.  Even in the waiting, the endless waiting, HE IS SO FAITHFUL.


How she told everyone.  Pam (Brandon's mom) and I have been longing for this day since the day they got married.  I mean, WE ARE PUMPED.  (duh)

SO... she and Brandon drive up to Don & Pam's driveway and Brandon calls them and says, can you come outside, we want to show you something??

Screaming, whooping, tears, and that was just Don.  HAPPINESS IS A NEW GRANDBABY!

That stinker daughter of mine, KEPT IT FROM ME for a week, because she knew I was going to see her in Dallas when we went to see Hallie on A-Day!   (Ed. Note:  Yes, people, I have known this superb news for a while and my daughter has been teaching me the art of PATIENCE, never one of my top virtues, so PRAISE THE LORD, she has shared her news!)

As Lacey & I are arriving on the escalator, I see her at the top with her faithful video camera.  Me, thinking she is videoing us for HALLIE, am acting like a total dork wagon, in the big fat middle of the Dallas Love Field airport, and Lacey is yukking it up beside me.  Well Lacey is SOOO busy trying to "Out Dork" me, that she totally misses Kip unzipping her jacket to REVEAL THIS....

And when I stop and my mouth falls open and I'm like  "WHAT???? REALLY???"   Lacey, in total ignorant bliss echos,  "REALLY????"  still in full ACTING mode for "Hallie's video" and watches in disbelief as Kip and I run into each others arms and dissolve into tears together.   Lacey is standing there dumbfounded as the Least-emotional two females of the family, are boohooing in the big fat middle of the airport.  She grabs the video camera and says something like,  "Wow, We are doing this!"    STILL CLUELESS as HECK about the enormity of the moment.   Finally Kip and I step back from each other and I'm wiping my tears and Lacey says, "Wow, you guys were really happy to see each other" and I realize she is totally ignorant of what is happening.   I point at Kip's shirt and say,  "LACEY DEEANN, GET THERE FASTER" and as she looks at Kip's shirt, she FINALLY sees it, and we have another emotional meltdown in the middle of the airport.  

I put a subtle clue in my "A Day" blog, with this picture, and NO ONE saw it but Jessi Sutterfield, whom we called immediately from Dallas to share with her.

 If you look at Kip's phone you will see an ultrasound picture for us to ooh and ahh over.  More tears.

Both of my girls, are going to be mommies. Lacey, already one.  Kip, coming soon!   The. Very. Best Day. Ever.  

Our flight was delayed, and it was ALL GOOD because we TALKED AND TALKED and CRIED and Talked about it until we had hashed it all out.

Later that night as we were laying down and STILL TALKING ABOUT IT, Lacey threw out, "I am SO GLAD I came, I would HAVE Missed it",  to my total dry sarcastic return, "You kinda did".  We laughed until we went to sleep.

Good times.  

Then when Hallie found out, it was just precious as can be.   Take a look.....

There is NOTHING more wonderful than a GRANDBABY!  And friends, my cup runneth over.  

God is SO good.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Private Hembree turns 19

I was lucky enough to sneak to Chicago this past weekend.

When I made my reservations several months ago, it was with the intent to surprise Hal and show up at her tournament for her birthday weekend.

To watch her.

Then she ended up in a boot.

And I still went to Chicago.

And watched her.

Sit on a bench and take some serious stats.

And watched her.

Lay beside me on my bed and talk my ears off my body.

And watched her.

Ride on a stationary bike for 20 minutes to get her cardio in.

And watched her.

Pepper with a fellow player like she was the boss of that ball.

And watched her.

Tear up and cry as I drove off from her Saturday night.

And at 7:11 pm on 9/11 my youngest born will be 19 years old.

This sweet bald baby is 19!  Every year that I write about her on her birthday I go on and on about how I can't believe how fast she is growing up.

And now she has done it.

Grown up and moved away.  This kid is doing things I would have never believed possible.  She absolutely blows me away.

She told me that she wasn't sure how she was going to get everything accomplished.  "There's so much to do, so little time.  It's just almost impossible."

Here's my words to you, young skywalker.....

You may be overwhelmed now, my daughter, but your hard work and laser focus made the dream of West Point a reality.  For someone who had never touched a volleyball before the age of 14, and worked with a laser like focus and determination I have never seen in a teenage human before, to become the best volleyball player you could be, makes me know for certain that you will handle the rigors of this life you have chosen, with the same determination and focus you had to make the dream happen.
Don't become so stressed in the "doing", that you lose sight of the "experience".  You are one of a few women that have chosen this life.  Don't let others dictate what you should decide for yourself.  You know your heart, you know your self worth, no one else knows it better than you (or me).  There is NOTHING, I repeat, NOTHING you won't accomplish.  (except that first land nav)  (and even then,  you went back out and KICKED IT'S BUTT) SOO, with that being said, You know what you want, you are on the precipice of having it, just be brave enough to reach out and take it.
Your sisters believe in you, your brothers believe in you, and I know, by experience, that there isn't ANYTHING you cannot do, when you set your mind to it. Just let God guide you through, and nothing on earth can stop you.
You is smaht, you is kind, you is Impo'tant.

Happy birthday, my love.  I will see you in October.


Monday, August 21, 2017

The Okies take New York- Acceptance Day

Kip had decided pretty early on that she would accompany me to Hallie's Acceptance Day ("A" Day) to watch her sister march with her fellow cadets and take her place in the class of 2021, alongside the others.

Lacey didn't think she could take time off from work, so the last thing Hallie knew (and was living day to day, looking forward to) was Kip and I heading to NY in August.

She kept herself moving, knowing that day was coming.

Her sister, Chaurley, (her oldest sis on her dad's side) lives in NYC and also planned early on, hopping on the train  on Saturday morning and heading to the plain to meet us, and watch the new cadet become a private, marching with her 1200 classmates

Well.  Another sister and one boot later, plans changed.

Lacey, Kip and I have a 3 way message stream that we text on constantly,  In one of our texts talking about plans to NYC, Lacey flipped her stuff and decided that she had to go.  "I CANNOT STAY HERE WHILE MY SISTERS and MOM are ALL TOGETHER ON THIS IMPORTANT DAY".

Ok, well everyone knows what an incredible secret keeper I am.  I mean, for really.  I LOATHE it.

After first day of school obligatory pics with the takeouts in Norman on Thursday, Lacey & I headed out for Dallas Love Airport, to go meet Kip for the last leg to NYC.

When I was trying to decide what Hallie needed at school, I kept adding stuff and adding stuff until we ended up looking like a small circus at the car rental place.

6 suitcases, 3 backpacks, 3 purses and one ukulele.  Hallie had asked me to bring her guitar, too but I had to politely decline.  (Should I bring the piano also??)  It felt like I did with that big brown suitcase.  Whoa.

About 3 pm on Thursday, our sister friend, Jessi, text me and said "Why aren't you uploading pictures? It's weird", so we decided we better put some pictures on social media.

 Here was what we posted,
 Here is what was really going on!

Two sets of pictures that whole first day and most of the second.

The girls had never been to New York, so the plan was to get there Thursday night, take in Times Square due to late arrival and get up early on Friday and do a bus tour and see the highlights.  

Headed to Times Square on Thursday night and you just can't describe it.  Smells, people, lights, buildings, more people and activity.  Construction was at a minimum where we were this trip, and for that, I am eternally grateful.  The funniest thing that evening was the painted blue lady in Times Square.  She literally walks around in a g-string, her body painted red, white and blue with a big N Y on each butt cheek.  I have seen these ladies (cough) everytime I go there, but I was tickled to see the girl's reactions.  Kip averted her eyes, but Lacey couldn't take her eyes off of them... "It's like a train wreck, you don't want to look but you can't stop staring".  I rolled.  It's not everyday you see blue boobs with stars painted on them.  Mercy sakes.  Only in NYC.

Friday morning rolls around and it's just raining straight down.  Boo.  No bus ride for us.  We walked and took pics, still a fun morning.  

 Highly recommend this hotel, it's just a block from Times Square and such a good deal.

Headed to West Point about 1 pm.  Kip and Lacey had been snapchat-ing with Hallie most of the day, and Hal has this fun icon that you can actually see her location on the app.  So we had to put Lacey in "Ghost" mode so Hal couldn't see her driving toward her!  The girls loved the drive to WP, it is just so beautiful and green and again, no real words to describe it. 
We ran to our AirBnB (we stayed in their studio apartment by the pool) It was exceptionally nice.  I have had some pretty excellent stays from AirBnB, you should check it out for your next trips.

We decided to head to WP to look around and see if I could get a parent ID (LOL, 3 hour wait since every other parent there decided to get one too) and to head to a parent's meet and greet over by the Library.  Met up with Jack Greer's parents and sis, visited with them (so fun) (can't believe I didn't take a picture with them) and headed to the event.

On the shuttle ride over, the ever watchful Kip was on her phone looking at the snapchat live mode and decided we were right next to the building that Hallie was currently in.  I won't lie, we screamed on the bus.  Kip immediately sent a snapchat to Hallie saying, "We think you're in here, with the building circled)

As we were gathering our wits about us, just so thrilled to be breathing the same air she was breathing, we took a minute and took a selfie...

and walked into the parent deal.  SO MANY people, SO LITTLE food, we just milled around for a second, said hello to the Barkers (from Washington OK) and then a "talk to you later: to the Greers, and headed out the door.  As we stepped outside, Kip said, "Hey I just got a snap from Hallie and she took a picture of our building!"  I was still processing those words, when Lacey goes, "Who is that waving to us?" Kip said, "Are they waving to US?" and Lacey finally saw the boot and screamed, "oh my gosh, It's HALLIE!"  (in my defense, they all look alike)

At that moment, the words were still circling my brain, and all I heard was "There's Hallie" and I'm not going to lie, once I spotted her, there was NOTHING going to stop me from getting to her.  I ran straight out into the street, screaming, with little regard for any of the cars, trucks and pedestrians on the road. All I saw was a smile in ACU's with a boot and I was getting to her. 

Oh People.  How sweet it was. 

We got a little footage, but we were so busy making a scene, no one thought to get anything on camera.  But, I've never had a sweeter hug.   Her take,  "That day had been the worst day ever, everything that could go wrong with my computer, did and I shouldn't have even been in the building.  I got Kip's snap and knew that you must be close, so when I went outside, I saw Lacey coming out of the building and thought "Dang, that looks like Lacey, but Lacey isn't coming, and then I saw Mom and Kip and knew it was you.  I asked my officer for permission to wave at you, and WOW, the day got WAAY  better!"   

Side note: as we were running across the street in front of cars, we were yelling  "Can we do this, can we talk to you? IS it OK??" not really caring what the answer was, we were getting to our girl!

We had a good 56 seconds with her before the volleyball van whisked in and took her away, but what a perfect 56 seconds.  

Day. Made.  

Of course since everyone within a 10 mile radius heard us screaming, and immediately after the van took off, and we were standing there, I'm pretty sure still squealing because we were in such shock we had really seen her and looking at what pictures we had  just taken having to pinch ourselves and make it "real", a couple came up and said, "Was that your new cadet?"  to our loud and excited, "YES!"   They were so cute, and laughed with us and said, "We should have taken pictures for you, and you are so lucky!  We've been looking for our cadet for two hours and haven't seen a sign of him."  The husband said,  "We are so happy for you, but kind of hate you too.  Damn it."

This is super sleuth Kip checking Snap Chat trying to figure out Hal's location
As the van rolled away, Lacey yelled, "I don't have to lie anymore!  NO MORE SECRETS ever...let's make a pact!"   Yes, please.

What's so cool about that place, is EVERYONE is in this thing together.  They've been to the wall, they've conquered the beast, they've missed their cadet and seeing you with your cadet makes them feel closer to theirs.   We were strolling down the plain, I was showing the girls around, and there was a couple face-timing on speaker with their cadet, who was in his barracks across the way, standing in his window talking to them on his phone.  We all waved to him and were so excited for them.  It's just a big family.

Saturday morning we grab Chaurley at an obscure train platform (it felt like a cow trail getting to it) but it was so fun to have her with us and so beautiful, what an adventure.  We got her, and headed to WP.  We weren't sure of the plan for Hal, we knew she wouldn't get to march, but was hoping that she could be released to go to the fieldhouse so we could hang out with her during the ceremony.

It totally happened. 

While everyone else at West Point, sweating with 5000 other people in the bleachers, doing boring things like watching people jump out of helicopters and most of them seeing their cadets for the first time in 6 weeks, we were sitting with ours, munching on gummies and pringles in the Gillis Fieldhouse .   

Legit.  No regrets.

We ran into her squad mate Grant Williams at the Diversity Luncheon we went to (I'm still wondering how this white male with glasses is "diverse", but we were happy to meet him) and Hallie cracked up, afterwards, when she looked at the picture "He looks so happy".  Well duh!  He met us!

At 1:00 the volleyball girls got together and scrimmaged, of course with Hal being in a boot, she didn't get to participate, but she kept some mean stats.  They have three injured players right now.   The team is amazing.  

Hallie is BUFF.  Solid, 100 percent muscle. 
This is the back of her. 
Here is the front of her, in her official Army volleyball photo for the website.

When the scrimmage was over, we got to take her back to the house and feed her all kinds of food, and stare at her while she talked to us.  We did this for about 4 hours before we took a break. I'm serious.  Very little tv when that girl is around..   It was the Hallie show.  

We all had front row seats. 


We went to Walmart and met about 15 of her cadet friends and their parents, all of us vying for the same storage units and school supplies.  Tons of fun.  About midnight we all ran out of gas, so we drove her back to her barracks (as close as we could) and it took her two trips to haul all the crap we bought and brought for her.  That's no bueno in a boot.

Kip and Lacey got up at 5:00 am (yes a mere 5 hours later) and headed back over to get her.  She had caught the stomach bug her roommates had had the prior day and was throwing up out both ends when they got to her.  We kind of didn't care though, bringing this sick chick in our midst.  What's a little norovirus between friends?   Another run to Walgreens for all things medicine, got her fixed up for her own little medicine cabinet for her barracks.  She started feeling better around noon, and we cautiously fed her and headed back to WP to get her back in time for her 2:30 briefing.  Man, 20
hours is not enough time to spend time with someone you love and miss.  We crammed an immense amount of laughter in that time frame, and she spent most of it awake.  I heard stories from other parents, "our cadet slept most of the time."  Well my cadet talked the whole time, and we just loved it.

She didn't feel great in this pictures, but I insisted on stopping and getting some with the view in the background.  Just gorgeous day, and how we loved seeing the baby sister.  

We made the goodbye brief.  She needed to get moving and we needed to not cry.

How incredibly proud I am of her three sisters.  I listened to them laugh at her, and listen to her, and give her such wonderful advice.  They are all such great Jesus lovers, and poured into our cadet and gave her vision and solid wisdom for her time ahead.  It was a privilege to witness that.   

I don't think there will ever be a time she walks away from me now, that I won't experience heartache.  I know I will see her in Chicago in a couple of weeks for a game, but every visit will now need to be spent with intention.  Every second of every visit counts.   I've learned this from Kip, who taught me how to make that work, with her living so far away.  We will make this work.  Lacey kept saying, "She's just going to college in another state now.  She can do this, We can do this.  Why are both of my sisters on opposite ends of the world??"

I don't think I have ever been so proud of her.  This kid has had some proud moments for me over her lifetime, that's for sure, but the way she has handled this experience, hurt, injured, homesick, no military experience ever, held a gun once before she left and now is becoming an accomplished, self assured human (she's always been this to a pretty high degree, but NOW.....wowsers)

Chaurley saved our bacon when we drove back to New York, getting us to our hotel, helping us get the car back and walking us to the subway to show us how to get around.  She is amazing and we just loved spending time with her and laughing and laughing. She is building a wonderful life with her husband, Danny, and I cannot say it enough how much easier this whole experience is, knowing Chaurley is a  mere hour train ride away from Hallie, if ever Hal needs her.   

So, after dropping the car, the three okies took the subway to central park and laughed some more for three hours.  We did a night bus tour (which is definitely the way to go when you are crunched for time and are too tired to walk another step), had some Ray's pizza, got in bed by midnight, up by 4 am and landed in Dallas at 8:45 am.  

Talk about cramming in as much as humanly possible in 72 hours.  We did the dang thing.  And I would do it all again tomorrow.  I thought about how early we got up and how much we accomplished in a day.  That's  Hallie's life in a nutshell right now.  

Hallie Lauren.... you are an incredible human.  You are handling all the things being thrown at you with grace and excitement.  You is kind, you is smaht, you is important.   Keep being a light, be exceedingly kind to everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) and please study more than you use to in high school.  23 hours of classroom training is more than most,(Most take 12-15 hrs and aren't a D-1 athlete on top of that)  but you have prepared yourself for this task the last two years, with your whirlwind of activity you made yourself do.  You.  Are.  Ready.    Now take that training and go Go GO.

Your mama will be right behind you, cheering you all the way!!!