On June 27, 2016 my first born son left home to start his journey of becoming a United States Marine. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t one of the most challenging days of my life. I have always been a supporter of our military, and consider myself to be a patriot, saying goodbye was much more difficult than I was prepared for. As parents, we spend 18 years preparing our children to follow their dreams, fulfill their destiny, become responsible adults, etc. No one prepares us.
Over the last few months, we have received several letters from him. I have learned that “no news is good news” and to trust in him, his drill instructors, and God that he will conquer. Boot camp for the Marine Corps is divided into three phases, I believe that to be true for each recruit as well as their loved one’s. I cannot speak to what my son and his fellow recruits have endured throughout the first two Phases, but I’m sure there is enough information on the internet for you to get the point. As each phase unfolded, so did my emotions.
After the goodbyes were said and tears dried, he was gone. For the next 36 hours I waited impatiently for “the call”. “The Call” is simply a call home to reassure loved ones that they have arrived safely to their destination. “The Call” lasts no longer than 20 seconds, is scripted, and leaves no room for any additional communication. I literally collapsed after receiving that call. It was like someone ripped my heart out. In 20 seconds or less several things were made very clear: 1. My son was no longer in the care and control of the the home and upbringing I held so dear; 2. The transformation had begun, quickly; 3. The next time I saw him he would be a Marine, not a civilian.
The first phase was challenging, anxiously awaiting a letter, learning to not wait up…he wasn’t coming home, wondering what he was doing, worrying-constantly, questioning everything-why did I sign those papers? did I prepare him? was this the right decision? Our family dynamic needed to adjust and change, we now have two kids at home, not three. We had to adjust everything from the chore list to meal planning, to grocery shopping. There was a void in our home, and nothing was going to fill it.
We learned to settle into our new situation. We struggled at times. We cried, we fought, and most importantly we persevered. We started sending and receiving letters. We learned to trust in something out of our control. I read each letter a minimum of 100 times. I sent letters much more often than I received them. I learned that it was more important for him to have motivation and support from me than it was for me to hear from him. Just like him, we made it through.
Happy Father’s Day to all of the Dad’s out there! It’s not an easy job, so please know you are appreciated. I was blessed with a great Dad who showed me how to work hard, appreciate what I have, and to always put my family first.
Thank you Kevin for being an amazing Dad and Step-Dad. It’s been an honor to watch you grow as a parent. I know the sacrifices you make everyday so that our kids can have everything they need. From the countless hours on the little league field, to the many loads of laundry, to the many hours of driving…all of the sacrifices are noticed and much appreciated. It’s been an honor to watch you grow into the caring, compassionate, strong parent you have become.
I’ve been sick, really sick. Over the last few weeks I have battled extreme fatigue and an overall feeling of yuck. Last week everything seemed to come to a head resulting in a compilation of illnesses. I suffered from a respiratory illness, stomach virus, and strep throat…simultaneously. Needless to say I haven’t been very active in the kitchen, but have watched countless hours of the Food Network, The Cooking Channel, and anything else to kill the time and keep my mind off of my misery.
While watching all of this food based television, I was inspired to make a semi-homemade version of my mom’s famous chicken and dumplings. It was just what the doctor ordered, almost as good as my mom’s 🙂 I’m usually a little more creative in the kitchen, but this is one of those meals that is best in it’s traditional form.
Chicken and Dumplings Ingredients:
1 Rotisserie Chicken
1 tbs butter
Celery, Onion, Carrot-to taste
Salt $ Pepper-to taste
2 48oz boxes of Swanson Chicken Broth
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 cups Bisquick
2/3 cup Milk
Remove Chicken from bone, cut meat into bite sized pieces
In large pot, add butter, celery, carrot, onion, salt and pepper-sweat vegetables, add chicken, chicken broth.
Bring to a boil
Boil on simmer for 2-3 hours until vegetables are tender
Add Cream of Chicken Soup and stir until dissolved
Combine Bisquick and milk to form soft dough
Drop spoonfuls of dough into boiling soup-cook uncovered for 10 minutes and then covered for 10 minutes
Mykenzie is 14, she’s smart, funny, full of life, enjoys dancing, fantasizing about One Direction, driving her parents crazy, and spending time with her friends. She’s my easy button…so far!
She has always been very serious about her academics. She studies hard, puts schoolwork before everything else, and always does her best. She often over stressed about upcoming assignments, standardized tests…she strives for perfection in all that she does. I have no idea where that comes from? She has even been known to cry and worry because she “failed” a test…she only got 99% not 100%!
She will be going to high school next year, and recently received an invitation to join the program that will prepare her for the college of her choice. She will be required to take honors and AP classes, volunteer, and be a part of a very rigorous academic program. I’m confident she is up to the task and will do great. She’s a girl on a mission, she’s bound for success and wants to be a pediatrician someday 🙂 I’m so proud of her and all of her accomplishments and look forward to her high school journey, watching her blossom into a young, confident woman, and sharing in the ups and downs that life is going to bring over the next few years.
I have spent the last 12+ years of my life watching my son play baseball. So many weeknights and weekends with the wind blowing, sun shining, snack bar food, etc. I have sat in the bleachers, cheered, made great friends, laughed, shared in his joy of a win or that great play, felt his disappointment with each loss and error, etc.
Last week my son took the field for the last time. It was bittersweet, for all of the times I said “I can’t wait for this season to end”, it was sad to see it actually come to an end. I wasn’t sure how he would react to his final game, after the game he sat at the field for well over an hour contemplating the reality of his final baseball game. When he finally came home we chatted for awhile about what it means when something that has been so important in your life will never be there again. I tried to offer words of wisdom, faith in that the journey ahead will be just as important and life changing, and let him feel the pain. I don’t think I really did much to help him make peace with his reality, but I hope that someday he recognizes that I shared those emotions with him.
Prior to the game, they announced each senior and recognized their family. Here’s the picture his family.
I feel so blessed that because of technology, the occasional blog update, etc. we are able to share special moments with friends and family even if they live far away. It’s always nice to know when our friends and family on the east coast are celebrating the milestones in life that create memories.
Sometimes pictures, messages, and brief conversations just don’t cut it! This summer, we are honored to have some of our dear friends visit for a week. I’ve been feverishly planning this trip down to the last detail. Yes I know…it’s a disease I have :).
Since we never get to celebrate birthday’s or special events with this family, I’m planning a birthday party….for everyone! Here’s what I’m thinking, I will make several birthday cakes (I’m hoping at least a few of us can agree on the same cake/frosting combo), we will have birthday party activities, maybe even balloons, streamers, hats, etc. We will sing happy birthday to all 10 of us, take lots of pictures, and hopefully laugh until our cake filled bellies hurt 🙂