Living the Dream

Living the Dream

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

How to Tackle Beast with a stress fracture....

My day started at 6:30 am.  My phone rang, and it was my tallest daughter, calling her madre.

Quite early.

Didn't care.  HI BABE!

Seriously haven't ever given a second thought to immediate gratification in the technology world until the past 6 weeks.  Always have taken for granted my unlimited access to my kids.

Then BEAST happened, and the phones went away.  Yesterday, late evening, sanity in the form of phone communication was restored with the advent of her phone given back to her.  FOREVER.

So, yeah, I was thrilled to hear from my kid, even though it was early.

A funny while we were talking:

"Mom, this squirrel is trying to attack me. It's walking straight for me.  It's literally
inches from me, GO AWAY SQUIRREL"

Me:  "It must be an army squirrel, ain't skeered of Nuthin"

I thought I was hilarious, she didn't even hear me.

Fast forward to noon thirty, my phone buzzes, text.

"I have a stress fracture."

"What does that mean" says the dumb mom, 1 million miles away from her daughter.

"I'm out for six weeks, in a boot.  No practice, No games, No A Day"

That wasn't her.  That was me.  She called me, later, after leaving the doctor's office, crying, which made me the saddest I've been in a while, and all I could keep saying was "I'm so sorry".


I'm beyond impressed she made it as far as she did.  I'm serious.  Tonight as we were rehashing the appointment, now that the shock and disappointment has faded some, she said doc came in and said, "yeah, you definitely have a stress fracture in your foot, but did you know that your big toe was broken too?"

"Uhm, yeah.  I've kind of been doing beast with a broken big toe"

Doc stares at her.  Stares some more.  Sighs a little.

"Well, now you have to wear that boot and get them both healed."

And the whole wide world said,  "Amen".

Who knows why all this is happening?  All I know is God has a plan that is perfect for US and sometimes we are like, "Why is this happening?   Why did this happen now?  How come there are three kids instead of one?"  (LOL)  But here is what I know to be true.

Sometimes you gotta ride through a heckuva storm to get to the gorgeous rainbow on the other side.

God's got a plan, and my hope and heart is with Him and Him alone.

Kip and I are heading to A Day on Friday.  Instead of celebrating her in the parade,sitting in the bleachers with 5000 other people, we will celebrate her just as hard, wherever she is.  We'll find her.  Kip can find anyone, anywhere.  This we know.

God is Good, All the Time.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

And the BEAST is slain

THEY DID IT!  The Class of 2021 has completed the BEAST.  Now all they have to do is their 12 mile march back tomorrow.

yep, you read it right.  12 miles.

And Hallie is SO BUMMED she can't be there.  Yep, you read that right, too.  Thoroughly, completely bummed.  She is REALLY going to be bummed when I tell her that her company won the competitions, and have the honor of leading the entire class back tomorrow in the march back.  COMPANY D is where it is at!  (Dang that dangling participle).

Every year, each class comes up with a motto they carry through their 4 years.  This year, the class voted and here is their motto.

Man, I just love that.  So many meanings to so many people in that one statement.  Powerful.

So since my last blog, a few things have happened.

- Hallie received her boodle box from me and one from her dad.  Her needs for blankets (me) and junk food (dad) have been met.
- She got a boot to walk in, and lost the crutches.  She is feeling much better about it, and told me today that the foot felt fine, no pain at all.  (we shall see)  MRI is Tuesday.

She is loving volleyball (as I knew) but is anxious to get her squad back from Buckner. (where they have been for the last 2 weeks of beast).  As happy as she was to be in "out of the woods", she definitely suffered from FOMO the last week.  For those of you that don't know what that is  (Fear Of Missing Out).

She calls her friends from Oklahoma her Okla"homies" and adores spending time with them when she can.  She is anxious to get to her barracks (equivalent of a dorm room) and get a drawer, and a closet and quit living out of her pack.  She gets her phone TOMORROW and look out, she won't sleep a wink Monday night for being on the phone all night.

Kip and I are heading for New York on Thursday of this week to go see Hallie march out on "A" day (acceptance day) and turn from a "New Cadet Candidate" to a "Plebe" or "Cadet".   When you send mail from after August 19, drop the New off her name and just send to

Cadet Hallie L Hembree
PO Box 1732
West Point, NY 10997-1732

She is allowed "Boodle" now.  Basically that means, send her a box of yummy stuff.  She likes everything chocolate and nothing peanut butter or peanuts  ( I KNOW, who's kid is she?).  You might wait a couple of weeks, then pace yourselves.  :) 

So next blog will be either after New York, or after we find out what is up with her foot.  She is convinced it isn't a stress fracture, she was jumping in her volleyball shoes with her steel plate in it to keep the weight of her body off her toe, and she think she just strained some ligaments.  Kid is determined to play volleyball this season, and so far all she has proven to me is nothing stands in her way, when she makes her mind up.

An upperclassman stopped her yesterday, as she was walking after volleyball, and said something like, "New Cadet Hembree, you impressed all of us with your fortitude during beast.  Very commendable".   

Duh, kid's a bada$$.  

FOUR DAYS, people.  I don't know if I'm more excited to see Kip or see Hallie.  I think it's a toss up.

They did it!  The Class of 2021 done kicked some beast's butt.  

And all the parents of those cadets, said A M E N.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Finding Strength

I was sitting in a lunch meeting today when my phone rang with an outside number I didn't recognize. I have learned to answer any call from any number at any time, just in case it's Hallie.

It was.


My heart raced out of my chest.  

"They think I have a stress fracture in my foot".


"Well, kid, I can't say it isn't expected. You have a big broken toe. Everything you do is geared to NOT put weight on that broken toe.  You're going to be ok."

Cue the crying.

On both ends.

Her concerns.....

-she will be out for the entire season
-she will look like a wimp to her teammates
-she absolutely HATES crutches
-she feels completely 100% alone in this

So here I am, 1 million miles away, in a lunch meeting, so how do I comfort her, "Call your sister and call me later in the day".

I have never felt so helpless in my entire life.  I know she's grown and all, but I'm 56 and my mom still introduces me as "her baby".  So I get it.

This is the kid that taped her broken toe and conquered beast.  This is the kid that never let a rolled ankle stop her from playing volleyball....ever.  She cannot stand to be hurt or stand out as "different". Of all the things in the world that could be "worst case scenario" for's this.

So she's on a bike riding, and lifting weights for her upper body until Tuesday, when they can get an MRI and see what is going on.  I'm praying for something small that can heal lickety split.

But mainly I'm praying to give me the words to say to my heartsick daughter when she calls me again.  I know God has her plan.  I know that everything in this world happens for a reason.  I know that His way is Perfect.  I know all this.  But when you are standing in the middle of a storm, it's really hard to believe that His way is perfect.  All you see is the storm.

So I need everyone to pray with me that she has some peace in all this.  She got the deal done.  She is in West Point no matter if it's in a boot and on crutches, or full out playing volleyball, we don't have to worry at this point of being sent home.

Now we heal.  I. Can't. Even. begin to think of her on crutches very long at's a mile walk to everything.  Crutches are going to be a bear.

Pray warriors.  Pray for healing and emotional fortitude.  Specific prayers.

God's got this, and I need her to believe it too.

Thanks and love.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Life.Church comes to Norman

After almost 15 years of driving almost 45 minutes (at least) each way to attend church, imagine my delight and surprise when about this time last year, it was announced that NORMAN, OKLAHOMA would be getting their own


When Lacey started at UCO in 2002, she started attending Lifechurch in OKC (NW 178th & Penn).  She had gone a few times and said, "Mom, you gotta come up here and check this out."

One time in and I was sold out.   I drove to OKC campus for about 3+ years, meanwhile, Lacey was part of the staff at OKC, then moved to Edmond campus (SE 2nd st & I-35, you know the BIG CROSS) to take a position there.  I have met so many amazing friends during those first 7 years, they were big influences in my Christian walk for sure.  I attended back and forth between OKC & Edmond until the Midwest City campus was opened, and then attended there.  Later, Shawnee was opened and with Tyler on staff, and my grandson heading to the Garden every week, that's where you could find me and my tribe.   We visited Moore and SW OKC, but never really found our "home" there.

So, you can see why having a Lifechurch practically in my backyard seemed so huge to me!!!!

Fast Forward to today.   Opening day and HELLO....let's DO THIS.

Never mind the dozen or so chins that I have in this picture.  The girls tell me to aim the camera from above for selfies, but I am just NOT the sharpest tool in the shed in all things photoraphy.


It's 7:45 am.  Gina is running for the Lifekids hall so she can serve in a kids room.  Zachary has his three (count them, 3) tags on for the three services he is just about to marathon in.   Steven and I are jumping outside at the front doors, yelling WELCOME to all the people coming to the 8:30 am service.  Today, it was a bit rainy and overcast (perfect weather for "Oh, let's stay home), but instead, we had NEW FAMILIES head to lifechurch and Steven and I got to welcome them.  What a fun job.  On the opposite door was a new friend, Brittany (from Slaughterville) whom I had met last Thursday at the Core Group meeting.  She and her husband sat behind me, and I guess she watched me video the worship team and asked me to send her a copy.  So, bang, new friend.  How thrilled I was to see her and her sweet daughters, opening the doors right out front with me  (I promise I am going somewhere with this).  Her husband was inside directing traffic and I hadn't met him yet at this point.  After the traffic dies down, Steven and I go in and sit down beside TJ (her husband) and visit with him a bit.  She comes in with the girls and I take their picture.  (I do better with other people in the picture than myself).   So, we bonded.   She couldn't shake me out of her head (WHO CAN, I ASK?) and she totally stalked me on the Host team page and found me.  She sent me a text later that read, "I looked you up on the host team page.  I had to find you!  I love your spunkiness!   (Side note:  That's a nice way of putting YOU ARE LOUD AND OBNOXIOUS)  We have a couple of friends in common!  Thanks again for the video.  After seeing some pics I've come to realize this is a small world!  (Ok, PEOPLE GET READY)  Are you Laynie's grandmother? I still have my hopeforlaynie bracelet.  I donated blood several times in her name.

WHAT!!??? and then sent me this picture.

Small world nothing!  GOD IS GOOD.

So, Laynie is still rocking and rolling and bringing people together.  That is what I am talking about!

Served at the 10am service in Lifekids, checking in NEW families, and let me just tell you.  They SHOWED UP.

Still checking in families pretty strong at 11:30, when Viv (the lifekids pastor) said, "GO TO CHURCH."  (kind of bossy) :)   Steven and I went in to find a seat and to our complete AMAZEMENT....there WERE NO SEATS!  Auditorium holds 1000 and EVERY SEAT WAS FULL.  They sat chairs up in the lobby and about 50 people sat out there!   IT WAS JUST A BEAUTIFUL thing!

But here's the icing on the cake for me.  Over 2500 people came to church today.  33 people were baptized !!  But hold on to your hat.....68 people raised their hands and gave their life to the Lord.   SIXTY EIGHT people.  At 1130 when I was there, we were all just clapping our hands together and cheering as the hands went up ALL OVER THE PLACE.  It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever witnessed.

When people say they are uninspired at church, or religion is boring, or God doesn't have a place for them, then they have never been to a Lifechurch.

God loves you where you are.  There is NOTHING you can do to make him not love you.  If you live in the Norman area, and you think church isn't a "thing" you can get into..... I'm asking you to just come once to our church.  Just once.  If you don't see a difference, feel a difference, then I won't ever bug you again.

But if you are longing for something else, if you feel something is missing in your life, if you are so overburdened with the weight of the world and feel like you can't go another step....I'm asking you to come over and have a donut and a cup of coffee (or sweet tea) and just see for yourself.  

That's all I'm asking.

Because God is Good, All the Time...... and Norman, Ok (and Shawnee, and OKC, and MWC, and Yukon, and Mustang, and South OKC, and Moore, and Britton Rd, and Tulsa (several), and many other states (go to the website Life.Church) and find you a campus.)  is inviting you to come and WITNESS for yourself.

What have you got to lose?

Lifechurch Link

Go online and watch a message.  Watch today's message (Different).... It's powerful and maybe just what you need.

Whoever finds God,  Finds Life.

The BEAST has been Slain- Week 5

I knew Thursday, August 3rd was the day that "The gates of heaven would open, and the volleyball vans would come and get them".... but what I didn't know (nor did they) that on August 2, ONE DAY EARLY... the vans arrived and drove them away from the Basic Training better known as BEAST.

I just cried my face off when I heard that.  Then an unknown number appeared on my cell phone, and lo and behold it was my New Cadet Hembree getting her 3rd phone call!

All. Is. Well. With. My World.

From what I understand, they had to turn in weapons, do some paperwork, re-take their physicals, Hallie had to have her toe x-rayed for the zillionth time (to get fully released to play, that didn't happen, btw) and then they were showered with love, snacks and good wishes from the older girls on the team, and I was one happy mama.

She. Did. It.

Now her world is going to look a little different until A day on the 19th.  She will be practicing volleyball three times a day (hopefully getting released next week on toe deal), and weight training in between.  Right now she is resting, as all of them are, because come Tuesday (monday they are taking pictures for the website and team stuff) it's GAME ON beast mode, Volleyball training, and the coach needed them 100%, and seriously, they were at about 10% coming out of beast.  Sleep deprived, hungry, physically and mentally exhausted.  She gave them 4 days to get it together, and then BOOM, it's all her doing the mental and physical training.  (She is 9 months pg, due like today, so I'm not sure how much she will be doing).  Hallie is READY.

Heard from her today for a sec, and seriously,  "I'm kind of bored."

I guess after having every second of every minute of every hour of every day, packed full of impossible things to do, a few minutes to lay on a mattress and look at the ceiling, trying to rest your body would be "Boring".

I like boring, personally.  I LOVE to be bored.

I also found out that this tank has gained 8 pounds of muscle mass.  "I'm not fat though mom".

Oh, Ok.  I really thought you would be.    NOT.

On August 14, all the cadets will be marching back from Buckner (where they do their field training) and move into the barracks (Army's version of dorm rooms), and get ready for classes.  They will get their ipads, computers, and best of all, THEIR CELL PHONES!  Seeing her face whenever she can call, will be such a blessing (for her AS well as for me!)

So, Thank you friends, for the LETTERS (She got SO MANY!) and the well wishes.  After August 19, she can get boxes of BOODLE (which is anything you think she would enjoy, like cookies, lip gloss, iTunes cards, more cookies, etc).  She loves everything except peanut butter.  Wouldn't like anything peanut butter.  :)   Send them to her PO Box and she will forever love it and be grateful.  (She LOVES HER SOME SNACKS NOW)

As for this mama, PHEW, she made it!  

Praise the LORD almighty, and pass them potatoes.  The Beast is Slain.

Let the volleyball season begin.   Some games are livestreamed on the West Point website.  Look it up.  Her picture will show up on the roster in a few weeks time (#6 I believe)  :)   WOOHOO

Black Knights Volleyball Schedule 2017

                                                               GO    ARMY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Bearing the Beast of "Burden"- Wk 4

After our excellent call a week ago, I was completely ready to roll through August 3 with no contact.


Then I saw a post of the Parents Page on facebook that we should "KEEP our phones charged and ringers up this weekend, FOR A QUICK call".

Well I did that.   I had my phone charged, and ringer UP.

I was distracted, moody and somewhat of a mess.  I KNEW we were in the final weeks and we wouldn't be talking.  Did I know she wouldn't write ONE THING TO ME LAST WEEK?

Well.  She.  Did.  Not.

Maybe it was because she was so busy being gassed in the tear gas chamber (nicknamed House of tears) she couldn't write me.   Here are pics from that glorious event

She could have at least written me and said  "Dearest Momsie, this is the worst summer camp you have ever sent me to!  Love, Hallie"

But nothing.  Shelly Walker got a letter from her son Cade Mashburn (from Edmond) and a great pic on the website....

Cade is on the left, looking to be copying off his fellow squad members notes. LOL

Traci Greer, another mom from Muskogee, heard from her son, Jack.  TWO BOYS WROTE THEIR MOMS.  DID my girl write hers???   Oh no, she didn't.  

I did get this after her mass athletics the other night.  I examined every square inch of that picture and decided she needs to sit up straight and she has some bruises.  I also appreciated that they had their hair in ponytails, which much be a huge relief for her to be able to let it down occasionally.

Today, they marched out (8 miles) to go to the final two weeks of their training.  They passed the class of 2020, doing their run in from 12 miles (heard that is tough, I.can.t.even.) and the camaraderie and good wishes being yelled at the new cadets (2 more weeks!  You've got this!  Finish strong!) coming from cadets that JUST RAN 12, no words.  

So here's the picture I saw on IG this morning.  Just happened upon a new page that I hadn't been stalking, er, admiring....  and   BOOM, there's my kid.  

So you can totally tell the difference between Kip's research- (with typing and arrow) and my finger painting and terrible handwriting.  Bailey is the 6-4 middle blocker volleyball player, you can't even see Monica, except her hair whispies and one eyeball of Hallie.  Directly in front of Hallie is her friend Nick (who I found first because he is 6-7) and I knew Jack had to be close by and yep, there he was.  So in this picture, they are clearly NOT in formation because everyone of them are in different squads.  But, in my sadness of not talking to my girl (even for a minute), there was proof of life (as Traci calls it) in the PICTURE OF OUR KIDS.  YES.  

It's the little thing people.  I love that whispie in the background.  For Hallie, this Thursday will mark the end of her training with her squad in the field.  She will head back to WP and get busy training for volleyball season.  I'm hoping she gets her phone back (a personal hope, a small one, a genie wish, if you will) and we can at least text or something.  It won't be long until she has her phone back for real (August 14) and then HALLELUJAH, let the phone calls begin.

I say all this, though, in all seriousness, even when I am whining about missing my Hal, I think about my precious cousin, Shannon, and how she would give everything in the world she owns to be able to talk/see/text her sweet Austin.  She wouldn't whine that she only gets to see him 4 weeks a year, she would be thrilled, so even in saying how bad I miss Hallie....there is no comparison.  So I am thankful, OH SO THANKFUL that I will be talking to her in a few days.  (P.S.  Shannon I love you so, and how your heart must ache.  I can't believe it will be 5 years he's been in heaven,  this Labor Day.  I just admire and love you so).

With that said.   Keep it in perspective you dumb weirdo mom (bordering on hovercrafter) and hang in there.  

At least I didn't have to go in the gas chamber.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Slaying the Beast in Two- Half Way There

I couldn't sleep last night.  I was so excited to hear from Hallie today.  This marks the halfway point in training, where they are "rewarded" with an ice cream social at a "sponsor's" house and are given phones to call home.

Because Hallie is an athlete and her "sponsor" is her coach, they are given their own phones back, and HOW SWEET IT WAS to see that "Hallie" ring on my phone today!  (tears spurting here, just typing that)

Before the call though, as I was sitting down in church, these photos came over my phone, and DAY WAS MADE AGAIN.  (unknown 316 area code, so thank you, squad leader for pics of my kid)

She told me on the call that she fashioned this teepee for she and her roommate using duct tape, parachute cord, and her multi tool.   "Mom, you would have been so proud."   Sister, I totally am.

I shot them to Kip and Lacey (and Mark and his gang) and isn't wasn't too long until Kip shot this back to me.

There is NOTHING, I repeat NOTHING more awesome than living with a Nancy Drew.  She is a researching genius.  Kip just says, "It's so easy to google them, they are top of their classes and athletes, there are tons of articles on the internet about all of them".   Yeah, like any of the rest of us, have time for that, so we just let her do her magic and read all about everyone.  And take questions to her.  LOL.  In fact, she's made Hallie a name for herself with her funny pictures, and random facts she sends Hal about her squad mates.  Some would say "World class stalker"  some would say, "Research Genius".   Potato, Pohtahto.

Anyway, we talked to Hallie about 35 minutes on Facetime, with Kip Facetiming on Lacey's phone, and my phone recording 20 minutes of it, so I can play it back and listen, when in a week or so,  I get to missing her so much I think I will puke.   For that 35 minutes, she ATE THE WHOLE TIME.  She shoved in pizza, cookies, cake, more pizza, then finally had to go find some water.  I was pretty impressed.

She is eating and we are sitting around watching her eat, and talk 100 miles a minute.  It was glorious.

Pretty much bullet points of conversation-

-she stinks.  No amount of showering can remove that ick smell.  Especially when showers are about 4 minutes long.  Plus her sports bras have taken on their own life (even washing them in the shower, they still stink).  So much sweat, everything sweats, all the time.  However, the communal showers, "So many naked girls, so overwhelming (I'm rolling on the floor here).  No Ryan Reynolds in "The Proposal" nakedness, that's for sure"  WHERE DOES SHE COME UP WITH THIS!?

-this past Thursday, 6 mile ruck (uphill, 45 pound pack on their back, football players crying, the hardest thing they will do in their four years of training) , with a 5 mile land navigation, then 2 miles back to sleep, went to bed, slept in the rain, felt really moldy, Friday, got up did a 5 mile land nav and then a 2 mile land nav, then a 2 mile ruck to the new place, then got in TROUBLE FOR TALKING and had to do an hour of PT.   On Friday night, the new cadets did a roast of their cadres for their final night and she said it was hilarious.  Slept outside again, using leaves and dirt as sleeping bag and sleeping bag as blanket, she got so cold.  Saturday woke up, had to do the 3 mile land nav TWICE due to freaking out being in a swamp and totally LOSING her map.  Then 2 miles ruck to their transportation.  And she still hadn't showered since Thursday, had to change into PT clothes and go to Mass athletics, so she went to volleyball with leaves in her hair and had so much mud on her she was shivering. Afterwards, Three layers of soap and a quick hot shower later, she was clean.  That was the last three days of my kids world.

-she said that Body Pain is just a way of life now.  She wasn't doing push ups correctly (using triceps), so she has had to learn the correct way to do them, and still very much sucks at it, but is learning.  I. Can't. Even.

-Breakfast signals "time to breathe" for her.  Getting woken up at 4:30 am and heading outside for PT just "ruins a good day".  She said she wants to quit every single day during that time, because it's just out of the scope of anything good and normal.  But by the time she gets to breakfast and sits down to eat, she knows she will be able to power through whatever the day holds, and then just gets it done.  When she was sleeping outside the last few days (in the Forest, she calls it,) sleeping in "Kid Sized sleeping bags"," hugging a piece of metal" (has to hang on to rifle so cadre won't take it during the night, or there are consequences) that  "No amount of bug spray helped",  her sisters and I were rolling !!!!  She said she and her squad mate Grant, saw a shooting star and he whispered, "Make a wish" and she  said, "I wish we didn't have to do PT in the morning" and she said next thing she knew, it was 6:00 and getting woke up with, "Good morning, NO PT FOR new cadets today, everyone get ready for breakfast", and yes..... Hallie took full credit for that and she and Grant told everyone in the whole company.

-Church service on Wednesday night and Sunday morning are her favorite.  She says the pastor is amazing, the songs are "her songs" and just loves everything about it.  She says the preacher spoke on, "He Brings you to it, and helps you get through it" and that it spoke right to all their hearts.  I think it's because they get some Jesus, some snacks and some fellowship time, and that makes our girl very happy.

-Even though she doesn't get to talk to us, she hears us in her head.  She says "I have conversations with you guys everyday and it's like I don't miss you, because you're right with me".  (tearing up again).  She sings worship songs when she is rucking to get her through.

-When asking her about volleyball season starting on August 3, and they will be in the field doing training, what does that look like, she replied,  "They will come in a van, and the gates of heaven will open and we will drive right into it".   In other words, 24/7 of volleyball training take the last two weeks of beast.  And she likes everything about that.

In Mass Athletics, I got a few pics sent from someone, and they were welcome sight for this mama.  Everyone looking healthy and happy and that is what I talking about.

All I know is this girl of mine has finished 3 weeks of the toughest training in the United States, and has accomplished it with a broken toe.  She admits some of it "wasn't pretty", and "it's the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life", but finishes with, "I know this is all for a higher purpose, and that I will be better and stronger than even I imagined I could be".

She goes into the Gas Chamber on Wed of this week.  (tear gas with mask and then without)  It's a rite of passage at training.   I watched the National Geographic: Surviving West Point series on Amazon (ordered it up) this past week and bawled all the way through it.   My girl is a bad ass.
No other way to say it.  She has already grown up so much, still very much a goof ball (can't lose that quality, I KNOW) but WOW, what an incredible human being she is.

August 19th cannot get here soon enough for me.  Acceptance Day.  Prayers for her continued ability on her broken toe, Strength inside to handle the change of cadres this week, and ten more days "until the gates of heaven open and they come and take me away in the volleyball van".

I believe if anyone can do it, that girl can.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Slaying the Beast - Week 2

I can't even begin to explain how weird life is right now.

It's just weird without Hallie.

After the phone call on Monday, I got those two letters and shared with everyone on the blog.

Tuesday, nothing.

Wednesday, nothing.

Thursday A LETTER!  I danced in the driveway, went straight to my room, and shut the door and cried.  Before I even opened it.

That's my girl-  Super resourceful, opening and re-taping with her cloth athletic tape for her toe, to add another letter in there.   I laughed and laughed.  (through the happy tears).

And here is what I learned in her letters:  (in no particular order of common sense, because she kind of writes in bullet points)

-She really likes her squad leader (that's a praise right there)

-She was able to purchase a fan for her room (no a/c in the barracks where they stay)  (Mom side note: they are at west point for the first 3 weeks in their training and they stay in the dorms (aka barracks.  No a/c for these new cadets, toughen them up).

-She talks in military time now.  (I have to subtract 1700 - 12 o'clock to ascertain it is 5pm there)  Geez

-They line up for everything!  And she misses her freedom, for example, permission to ask a question, permission to scratch your nose (!), permission for EVERYTHING.  At mess, when they eat, if she wants water, she has to stretch out her 'paw" (fist) until a sergeant or lieutenant calls on her and asks what she wants, and then she says "Permission to address the table" and IF they say yes, then she says "Table, can you please pass me the water".   (Mom side note:  BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH,  gasp, BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA)

-They have to put their silverware down between each bite.  She said it's hard to get full.  And they have to stare at the crest of their plate and can't look around or talk.

 She said the food is good though, (Even though most the time she's not sure what she is eating) (AGAIN BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA)and that mess is her favorite time of the day (Go figure, lol)

-She has 4 minutes to change clothes.  And when they don't get that accomplished, they have to do pushups.  Tons and tons of push ups.  She says she is becoming a push up master.

-She is so tired, and loathes the morning time.  They wake them up at 4:20, and get ready and head out to physical training.  They get yelled at the whole two hours (because I'm pretty sure the sarges and lieutenants aren't any happier being awake that early either) and then she says after they eat breakfast, the day gets much better.

-She only got to know the names of the people in her squad (9 of them) on the 8th of July.  That was going through some of the most intense, crazy days (5 days) without even knowing the names of the people getting yelled at with you.  She said now that they know each other's names, it's so much more fun.  She really likes her squad mates (7 boys and 1 other girl, who is her roommate) (and side note: though Hallie lives with them and knows nothing about them, Kip knows about everything there is to know about all of them....props for her sleuthing skills).

-Volleyball is her happy place.  Her teammates are like sisters, and they all have bonded so tightly, and when they get to go there together, they laugh and have so much fun.  The assistant coach text me the other night after they had been together and said, "Your girl is doing great, and so funny.  They shared with her how they are made to "Motivate their socks" by yelling at them to stay up or they are going to give their socks push-ups."   That made my day.

-In telling me about the 5 min changing of clothes and how someone was always late, and they had to do pushups and do it again, she likened it to "Fashion school, learning the quick change".

This is Ana (from Hawaii on the volleyball team with Hal) working from her book of knowledge and stretching out her "paw" with a question.

I was on the phone with Lacey on Friday, and when she checked the mail, lo and behold there was a letter from Hallie, and I got to experience Lacey getting a letter, the squealing, jumping up and down and happy tears.  Tyler ran outside, thinking something had happened to her, and when he heard it was a letter from Hallie, he shook his head and walked back in the house.

Lacey's letter said a bunch of the same thing but one thing I loved in Lacey's letter was this statement, "I like what I'm a part of, and I know we are headed to do big things, and that encourages me everyday"   and she ended with  "I'm going through a really challenging but exciting time in my life, but I'll make it through."


She is in the front bottom left with her hand extended.  And I can bet I can tell you what she is doing.  Before she went, we attended a picnic with the Oklahoma families that have attended WP or currently have a WP cadet.  Some of the older cadets took them aside and gave them words of wisdom and advice.   One that REALLY STUCK out to Hal was that you SWEAT a LOT and if you let the sweat build up on your back (under your camelback full of tepid water she swears is going to give her cancer some day), you develop a rash.  They encouraged them to get what they call "Salt scratchers" buddies and make sure every evening, someone scratches the salt residue left on your back from the packs or you would get a bad rash.   That really stuck with Hallie, and I bet you half a million dollars she is reaching back to move her pack so the sweat doesn't pool on her back.  She loves the uniform, says it is super comfy, but so very very hot.

No mention of toe, so I'm assuming she is getting the work done.  All I know is I stubbed my toe the other day, and needed a 4 hour nap to recover, so again, this girl impresses me.

I asked for everyone to send her a letter of encouragement last week on Facebook, and if you haven't had time to drop her a letter, please do.

New Cadet Hallie L. Hembree
PO Box 1732
Company D- Platoon 1
West Point, NY 10997-1732

Send her a cartoon, a funny card, if you don't know her personally, don't worry, just tell her how you know me or the family and tell her she's got this!

She has 1 more week on campus, then she takes to the woods.  (that should be interesting stories).  She is lucky that she only has to stay in the woods 1 week, then she has volleyball training starting on the 3rd of August.  So she will be back for that.  I hear though, that the field training is the "fun" part (cough) of beast and I'm kind of sad she will miss that portion.  Who knew my girl would love to play with weapons and march in boots?  (She has named her weapon, Gunner, too BTW)  Only Hallie.  LOL

She's settling in, she's rocking a braid, she's making friends, her toe's on the mend, I get a phone call one week from today, and at that point she is halfway there.

Monday, July 10, 2017

July 10, 2017

Today marks the 7th anniversary of Laynie's angel day.  It doesn't seem like any time has passed, and yet it seems like a lifetime ago.

Lots of purple headed our direction today, many that have joined us for 6 years, in our wearing of the purple in honor of our girl.

Lacey thought it would be way fun to take the kids to the new splash pad in Shawnee, as it was "Grandparent's day", so we meandered over for a couple of hours, and the kids and DD had a ball.

So much fun, in fact, we are all in bed by 9:00 pm on a Monday night.  We might start swimming everyday.

But the very very Very VERY VERY best part of the day was a 2 minute phone call at 12:58 this afternoon.

New Cadet Hallie Lauren Hembree called her MAMA.  And it was terrific.  I recorded it on the iPad so I could listen to it over and over.   I have lost control, people.  It's a free for all freefall now.

And it's a good thing she called me, because I got a letter in the next 30 minutes from her, and if I had only GOTTEN THAT LETTER, I would have probably been freaking out.

Phone call insider info first.

-Kid sounded upbeat.
-Kid said that her broken toe was doing "great" and they were working with her in physical therapy every morning to get it healed.  Said it felt "Great and could bend".
-Kid loves her roommate (who has no name as of yet, in letter or on phone).
-Kid settling in and enjoying everything so much.
-Kid got SHOES THAT FIT her feet AND toe, and is marching all over the place in no pain, whatsoever. (PRAISE saith the mama)
-Kid said Having fun and "IGNORE the LETTER YOU WILL GET because it was R DAY".
-Kid didn't say "miss you mama" only, "Love you MAMA, talk to you soon"


About that time, I heard the mailman drive up and I'm sure he was taken aback, since in the 8 or 9 years I have lived here (I can't remember) I have never RAN TO THE MAILBOX and GREETED him like a COMPLETE AND UTTER LUNATIC like I did today, and he sort of tossed the mail at me as he rolled by.  I think he thought I was going to accost him.


When I opened it, it had 2 letters in it.  One from R day and one from 2 days later on Wednesday night.

R Day's letter made me sad.  She was hot, exhausted, overwhelmed and had almost lost her sense of humor.  She had carried that FREAK BIG backpack for 8 (what she said, might be exaggerated, probably felt like 12) hours.  She only had to report to the Cadet in the Red Sash TWICE (which was amazing with all that yelling going on).  She got her toe xray'd and they had told her no running for two weeks (which didn't happen) and was thrilled she got to keep her stash of Ibuprofen and Zyrtec (it's the little things).  Said everyone yelled at her every second, but she wasn't too bothered by it (side note: volleyball coaches got her prepared for this, THANK YOU JESUS) but she said in her lowest moment, when she was really struggling, a Sargent yelled at her "New Cadet, WHY are you HERE?" and her answer she wanted to say was, "Well I have no freaking idea", but she told him, "Because I want to become the best I can be for myself and my country." and it clicked in side of her.  She said, "I realized I can do this."  She encouraged me not to worry, but it had been the longest day of her life and it was only 14:47 when she wrote it  (almost 3:00 in the afternoon). She said her squad mates "seemed nice" but she didn't really know yet, since no one can talk to anyone (!!!!)   She was relieved it's only for a few weeks (this tough, insane schedule)and then volleyball will start and she will have something familiar again.  They will however, as plebes, only be allowed to talk in their dorm rooms (barracks) or class.  No talking outside.  Hallie. Is. toast.

The next letter was written 2 days later, and it was a tiny bit more upbeat.  She had been to the church service that evening and had run into Jack Greer and Cade Mashburn (Oklahoma cadets she is friends with) and got to spend two hours with them, and have a COOKIE!  She was good.   She said she needs everyone's prayers covering her daily, because it was HELL.  Everyone yells at them for everything, and she really likes her direct command, but the command above was pretty scary.  She said that they made them stand outside with their book of knowledge held in the air and hold it ONE HOUR.  Said she was so tired by the time it was over, her arm was shaking and she had lost every single bit of her knowledge just trying to survive it. I tried to find a picture, but I swear to you that I'm so OVER going through the zillions of pictures parents have posted, I just can't.even.

These were taken Saturday night, when the cadets were given a "free evening" (if you will) of the West Point band, and some fireworks.  It was live streamed so I sat in the floor at Lacey's staring at the screen, willing Hallie's face to come across.  I hadn't gotten a letter or heard a word, so I was looking for crumbs, people, looking for crumbs.

I'm not going to lie, I couldn't even really eat my pizza for the giant lump in my throat.  I was watching the same thing with my girl, at the same time.  (Even though Tyler declared it the "lamest thing he had ever seen").   Deaton called it,  "Hallie's movie", asking his mommy the next morning, "I 'anna watch Hallie's movie".  The fireworks at the end were spectacular, and afterwards, because a bunch of parents were there, I spent hours Saturday night combing through pictures, looking for my kid.  Very stalkerish.  Very obsessive.  Tyler has labeled me, "Obsessively cray cray."

Here was the picture ON facebook.  THANK YOU STEPHANIE ROPER.  (whoever you are)
Can't everyone see her?   (Think of Rachel on friends, trying to see the baby in the ultrasound)
This was when Tyler decided I had crossed over into another dimension.  I think I leveled up (yet again) in the Waldo search.

West Point Band & Fireworks   (Hallie is about 1:20 in, watch that girl march by and NO LIMPING!) and ROCKING A BRAID!

A mom said she is watching for the 100th time, National Geographic's West Point, (like 9 episodes) and I am going to get on Amazon firestick and see if I Can find that jewel, and see what is UP.

All I know is my girl is having a blast, even though it is the hardest thing she has ever done in her life, she is rising to the challenge (even injured) and getting the hard work done.

I have never been so proud of her in my life.

I sure have some amazing kids. Reflecting today,  Lacey and her life with Laynie; fearless, brave Kip, traveling all over the world on a mission trip; and now Hallie, marching with men and a few other women.

Amazing life.

Thank you, Jesus.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Finding the Humor Where I can

My blogs may be a bit redundant for all on Hallie watch but I am determined to keep a day by day blog of how we handled all of this "Beast" stuff for her to read when it is over and done.  And since she refuses to be on Facebook (even though she has a page), this will be the only way for her to know what was going on during her time away.

Today is Wednesday, July 5.  From what Hallie & I tried to learn before she left to go, everything she was told was Day 1 & 2 are the hardest, just get through those.  It will be interesting to know if that was true or not, but for the mom at home, I'm hoping that is true.

I couldn't help myself.  That totally could be the West Point version of the Abbey Road album cover.  Those of you too young to know what I'm talking about...

So anyhoo.  Today was weird.  I would be great in spurts and then bawl my face off.  The good thing is all the other moms are going through the exact same emotions.  For the most part.  One mom actually wrote "I had to mow the lawn so I missed him there".   WOW.

In my Waldo search of pictures today, I only found one, but it was a dandy, and also part of the slide show the parents were presented at their parent meeting on R day.

Look at that form.  Look at that outfit.   LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THAT BACKPACK!  I'm proud of her for being able to stand there!   Whoa.

So, in keeping with my super sleuth Daughter, Kip.... I sent this picture to her and she immediately text me back and said...  (I KID YOU NOT)   "That's Dylan Allen that Hal is saluting to in that pic, mom, her 1st commanding officer (or whatever) whose in charge of D.  Remember they announced him and Sarah Meier."

OK.  That leveled her up YET AGAIN in the WHERE's WALDO game we all play.  Not only does she find obscure things, she KNOWS TOTAL STRANGER'S NAMES.

WHOLE NEW LEVEL for this one.

Found this gem also.  I'm telling you I weeded through about 1000 pictures looking for faces I recognize (like 7 so far).  I have to appreciate this one.  I love the fact they make them all wear grandpa shoes and socks (you know, like the ones grandpa mows in) with their training clothes.  Hallie's are currently 3 sizes too big to fit that stupid broken mess toe, so I'm thinking that's all God on that anyway because the extra span in the front of the shoe will help balance her with that small house she is carrying on her back.  She has to wear two socks and three layers of moleskin and 2 innersoles in the left foot and the right foot is just groovy.  Laughing thinking about it.

Surely one day this will be funny, right?

Speaking of albums with pictures, for those of you crazy stalker types with oodles of times of your hands, here are the three flickr albums you can peruse and look for pictures for me.  As I have gone back to work, I only stalk about 20 minutes a day, as opposed to the 23 hours and 12 minutes of the last 2 days.  Knock yourself out, and be sure and tag me when you find one.

And another great thing.  What their company names are!!!!  Hallie is a........ DUCK.  I was feeling rather sorry for my little duck, until I saw what she could have been, like a GUPPY, or a Gopher, so she can be a Duck.  Which was Lacey's first word, so how sweet is that?   (See how I turned that around there?)

And if you think you're a busy person, and your schedule is SOOOOOOO full, you can't cram another thing in your day?????  Take a look at this basic training schedule for these cadet candidates. And quit feeling sorry for yourself, you slacker.  YOU DO NOTHING in a day, compared to this.  And you can call your MAMA or your DADDY or your SISTER anytime during your busy day.  Not these kids.   Let's just wake up and not have a minute until 10 pm.  I'm tired just reading it.

This made me happy for a minute when I saw it on one of the million Facebook pages I now frequent.  Seeing these worn out cadets sitting down together and NOT CARRYING a PACK the size of New Jersey made me feel relief for them. Look of the sea of bald heads.  I mean, really.  I have a hard time finding the guys now, because, seriously, they all look pretty much the same.  WHICH WAS THE POINT.  I get it.

 And it's just hair?? RIGHT?  I also heard today that the medical cuts were made yesterday, and unless she is walking home and didn't call me, I'm thinking she made it.  (PRAISE).  I also know that they got 2 hours tonight to go to the church service of their choice, and she better have not gone to the MORMON church for the PIZZA.   Jesus take the wheel.

Friends, I'm trying to find the humor in this today.  I'm trying to do whatever I need to do, to keep my hair from falling out.

She's got this.  

And so do I.