Living the Dream

Living the Dream

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.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017


Looking for something in Google Docs today, and totally found this.

One of her essays for admission.   Cry along with me.

Q- West Point and the Army are committed to the idea that respect for others and an understanding of diversity are important leadership traits. Why will you be successful in working with leaders, peers, and subordinates of a gender, color, ethnicity, and/or religion different from your own?

As a child I was taught that everyone is equal no matter their color, ethnicity, religion, or culture. I have wondered why people try to find the negatives in our differences, rather than using those differences as advantages to make our society stronger. Diversity is capable of being a huge strength in our world, and should be seen as something that makes us stronger, rather than something that breaks us down.   
I have grown up with a single mom who has inspired me to be anything I can imagine.  She has always told me I can do big things, and has taught me there are no limits to become anything and everything I want to be. As a single mom, she is very independent compared to other women that I have met. She brings home the only paycheck, she cooks our meals, she helps us with our homework, and she teaches us who we can grow up to be. I know that I am capable of doing anything because I have been raised by a mom who does everything, and has taught me to be an extraordinary woman, person, and leader.
When I turned 13 years old my mom decided she wanted to foster children. It was heavy on her heart to help the kids who have no home and were living in city shelters. My first foster sibling’s name was Gina and she was 11 years old when she arrived. She is Vietnamese and grew up in a home where they completely followed the Vietnamese culture. She was very different from me and it honestly took some getting used to at first. To have someone who came from a completely different culture, ripped out of their house and thrown into yours is a very hard experience for everyone involved. Gina was inconsolable the first day and wanted to leave the minute she arrived, but once we found her brothers, Steven, age 7, and Zachary, age 3, and were able to move them in as well, they became our family and never left. After their parents gave up their rights, my mom adopted Gina, Steven, and Zachary two years later, and it has been such an awesome experience growing up with them. Although we came from different backgrounds and cultures, we became a family fairly quick because we all wanted the same outcome: for them to have a better and safer life.

I know that I will be successful in working with people of different gender, color, ethnicity, and religion apart from my own because I have experience with different cultures, even in my own household, and I could not be more excited to work in a diverse atmosphere such as West Point. I know I will respect everyone I meet at West Point, because I respect them already for making the courageous decision to attend such an amazing school. If given the opportunity, I will feel so honored to work with anyone there, no matter what their background is, because I know we will all be there for the same reason: to become the best leaders possible for the United States Army.

Because of the Brave- Beast Begins

My day, July 3, started with a text at 3:15 am.

That was 4:15 am in New York.  Hallie was up and moving toward her reporting time.

We talked on the phone, kept it simple.  I told her to go out there and kick some Army butt, and not to forget that she was a light, and God's girl, and NOTHING could get in her way of her dream.  She said, "OK" and sounded like she meant it.

Lacey texted me shortly there after with a "We've got this Mom", and next thing I know her little ghost emoji on Snapchat is stationary at "West Point, NY".

I'm not sure what she was worried about most, not having her phone (!) or missing me.

I will go with missing me.

I appreciate Gretchen Denk and her daughter, Monica Eckford for taking Hallie in for the evening.  This was Gretchen's final picture this morning.

I think these girls went on in without a 60 second goodbye from Gretchen (just too emotional) and held on to each other for support for the first few minutes.  (I have no way of knowing this, I'm only guessing).

Good thing I worked from home yesterday, because I was a mess.  Lacey headed to the lake to distract herself from feeling (smart girl) and Kip and I were zero productivity yesterday, due to stalking every single West Point facebook page, twitter account, instagram, you name it, we stalked it.

This will get better with time,  RIGHT?  It's going to be a long four years.

I won't lie, every time my phone rang my heart skipped a beat yesterday.  I'm thinking that if she makes it through today (July 4) and the physical assessment test of running, and pushups with that toe, she's going to make it through.  From what I understand, there is a lot of testing and classes the first couple of weeks, which will be perfect to let that toe heal.   Never mind the 5 am wake up call for an hour and a half of PT.  (I'm blocking that out).

I can't tell you the amount of pride I am feeling.  Look at these stats....

301 women!  That is Huge, and they could have put 1 Native American (Hallie is Potawatomi indian) LOL.  How did they miss that?

Anyway, I looked at this picture about 15 times, until Kip shot it to me and said, "Look at the eyebrow behind the guy.  Isn't that Hal?"

Why yes it is!  I would know those whispies anywhere!! Kip's "Where's Waldo" game is strong.

My new friend, Traci Greer from Muskogee (her son Jack is a CC, too) sent me updates and live streamed several things, so I felt like I was there.  Mistie Burris (her daughter, Abbie is a CC) also kept the pictures coming via facebook and I was so thankful to be able to actually feel what was going on.  

In the luxury of my air conditioned house. 

Without the walking.

And the sweating.

So thank you from the bottom of my heart.  I will do the same for you if I ever find myself at West Point without you the next four years.  

The parade was the culmination of a long day, and as I watched the 1200 cadets walk by, I thought to myself....."We will never find her"  Where's Waldo will kick our booties.  

Kip was AMAZING at that in her childhood, and it served her well today.

This came flying over my phone shortly after she got home and could watch the parade in it's entirety.  That's stopping the screen and saving a picture and zooming.   

She also may or may not have found all her squad mates on instagram, and all things internet and knew a whole bunch about all of them.   Freaky, stalking Mom stuff.   She's going to rock being a mom someday.  Her kids don't stand a chance!!!!

So much to learn these next four years, so much to enjoy.  These cadet candidates are all unique and amazing in their own right.  This should be an incredible journey.   And for the 10 of you that read my junk, we will have a ball.  

This 4th of July starts a new season in our family's life.  We have the pride that goes along with serving our country, and the sacrifice it takes to have the freedom we all take for granted.   Fireworks will be bittersweet for me this year, but the pride of her commitment and the honor of the challenge will carry me through the next 10 years.