Monday, May 31, 2010

On Memorial Day...

Let us remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice so that we may live in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

One More Medal

Monday evening (the 24th) Spud, The Colonel and I were invited to dinner at the Twin Isles Country Club (nice) by the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA).

This dinner was in Spud's honor (as well as 5 other ROTC cadets from other schools) as a recipient of a MOAA 2010 NJROTC award or scholarship.

Spud was awarded a MOAA medal for having demonstrated exceptional potential for military leadership as a member of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC). The $1,000 scholarships were given to two cadets who were college-bound, graduating seniors. Maybe Spud will get one of those next year.

This is Spud and The Captain (head of Spud's NJROTC unit).

At our table were a retired Air Force officer, a retired Marine officer and their wives. The average age of these couples was about 70. They were very friendly. We chatted about our military experiences as officers and officers' wives...where we were posted, our favorite posting...that sort of thing.

The couples were proud of Spud and curious about his plans for the future...what branch of service did he want to join...each retiree rooting for his own branch of service.

There was a 50/50 drawing after dinner and the retired marine's wife grabbed the tickets out of her husband's hands and gave them to Spud just in time for one of the ticket's numbers to be called. Spud won $10 cash. Winners could only win once (there were three drawings with each drawing worth more cash), so Spud gave the remaining tickets back to the couple, but there was not another winning number among them. That was so nice and thoughtful of the couple. The same lady gave Spud her dessert of apple pie a la mode.

Another medal and another reason to be proud of Spud.

Congratulations again and way to go!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sunday, May 23, 2010

On Ribbons, Medals and Command

This is what Spud's chest looked like before the NJROTC awards banquet held on April 29th.

The whole clan, minus one, would attend the banquet. G-Pa, G-Ma and AB were in town but Yam had one last day of college left and would not be home until the next day (when the whole clan, minus Spud, because he would be at school, would help her move out of her dorm...see previous blog entry).

We had heads-up from Spud that he could be receiving several awards and that there would be a change of command ceremony (a first for the NJROTC unit) that he would be a big part of so I wanted to make sure we had front row seats. We arrived early, chose seats at the front near the head table. G-Pa and I had our cameras at the ready. Being this close to the action was going to make it easy to jump up quick and snap pictures when Spud's name was called. G-Pa's camera battery chose to die after only a couple was up to me to capture the rest of the evening.

Spud did indeed receive awards. He was awarded ribbons, medals and his second Charlotte High Letter. His ribbons included one for Naval Science III Outstanding Cadet, Distinguished Cadet, Color Guard and Aptitude. He received medals from the VFW and The Sons of The American Revolution and he also was awarded the USN Surface Warfare Medal and a Marksmanship medal.

Spud's change of command ceremony was very nice, it reminded me a bit of The Colonel's. The old commander read the special order for the command change and then saluted Spud, as he was now the new commander of the unit.

Spud then said a few words as the new commander. He said he was looking forward to the upcoming year; the best year yet. He told his troops that one of his goals during his time as commander is to have the unit earn distinguished unit status.

The whole family couldn't have been more proud of Spud as he assumed command and wish him all the best in the upcoming year as new commander of the NJROTC unit.

Congratulations Spud!

Friday, May 14, 2010

An Honor Flight Honor

Spud had the honor of being chosen to be a guardian for four WWII Veterans on their Honor Flight. He and the vets (plus another 70 vets and 12 other guardians) made the one day trip to Washington, D.C. on April 24th.

The Colonel and I dropped Spud off at the departure point at O-Dark-Thirty (4:30 AM). They were supposed to return at 11:00 PM that evening, but Spud called us from D.C. to let us know their flight was delayed and we did not see him until about 2:00 AM the next morning.

Spud said his charges gave him no trouble throughout the entire trip and this fact made his first visit to D.C. an enjoyable one. The first memorial they visited was the United States Marine Corps one (the Iwo Jima flag raising statue). Spud said his favorite memorials were the Korean War and Viet Nam War. He walked up the steps of the Lincoln Memorial thinking, "I can't believe I am in Washington, D.C." He said he would like to go back one day.

He had one regret concerning the trip...they did not land at Ronald Reagan Airport soon enough to allow a visit to Arlington Cemetery or to see the guards change at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Here are some of the pictures Spud took to remember the day by...

Seeing Spud's pictures and listening to him as he told us all about his day in Washington, D.C. made The Colonel and I remember our trip to D.C. nearly 24 years ago for our honeymoon. We'd like to go back one day too. There is so much to see and do in our nation's capitol.

The Colonel and I are happy that Spud was able to go on this trip and proud of him for being chosen as a guardian for veterans on their Honor Flights.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My 18th Mother's Day

Yam and Spud handed me a gift and a card on Mother's Day morning as I was drinking my coffee.

Yam had thoughtfully written the word MOM in a fancy, pretty script upon the pink envelope. The card read...

MOM- We were going to get you a really nice gift for Mother's Day...but then we remembered-you already have us! Happy Mother's Day. (I totally agree, but it is always nice to open something too.)

Yam's personal note...Mom have a lovely day today. Thanks for everything.

Spud's...Hope you feel better and enjoy lunch! (I had been to the E.R. the day before with kidney pain and nausea and did not know if I would feel up to lunch, let alone lunch out. I am on the mend now with antibiotics and pain meds).

When the kids handed me my gift I could tell it was a book. I love books, I always have something I am reading.

I tore away the (birthday) wrapping paper as Yam apologized for the paper snafu.

Beneath the paper was Seth Grahame-Smith's book entitled Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter.

I had not heard of it. The cover art was perfect if somewhat gory. Abe stands on the front cover with an axe behind his back and there are blood stains around him and the back cover shows the backside of Abe, still clutching the axe as well as the severed head of a vampire. Like I said, perfect, but gory.

For a split second I was wondering what kind of mother am I that my kids would give me such a book...but they know me...I like historical novels (yes there are many real historical facts woven into this story) and I like a good vampire tale.

I had been reading another book but quickly put it aside and started this one. I am over halfway through it already. The man who wrote this book also wrote Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. You know I'm gonna have to read that one too.

I did feel well enough to eat lunch out and my babies took me out to Olive Garden where I ate delicious Ravioli de Portobello. And after lunch we went to the mall.

A lovely day...just me and my beautiful babies (The Colonel was visiting his mom for her Mother's Day).

Thursday, May 6, 2010

15 Years Ago in Oklahoma

April 19th marked the 15th anniversary of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

I remember that day very well.

We were stationed at Tinker Air Force Base at that time and living in base housing. The Colonel was away from home on a mission, so it was just Yam (almost 4), Spud (almost 2) and I at home.

The bombing happened at 9:02 AM...I had just gotten the kids breakfast dishes cleaned up when I heard a loud boom and felt a slight shake as the windows rattled. (Our base house was roughly 8 to 10 miles from the bomb blast).

"Hmmm...odd", I thought. We lived on a military installation, but I had never experienced this before at Tinker. "Maybe they are having an exercise and executing a mock bombing raid", I thought again.

Just as I finished my thought the phone rang. It was my good friend Darla.

"Do you have the T.V. on?"



"Okay...Oh my God...I'll talk to you later, bye."

Darla was right, the bomb's aftermath was terrible. I sat in front of the television watching in disbelief. Just a couple of months earlier I was inside that building applying for Spud's Social Security Card and I had both kids with me.

The phone rang again. It was The Colonel.

"Are you and the kids Okay?"

"Yes, fine, just a little shook up, literally."

"The base has been shut down for security purposes and I will not be able to get home for a couple of more days."

"I expected that, don't worry we're fine and safe."

"Love you, see you soon."

"Love you too, bye."

The bombing claimed 168 lives, 19 of them children under 6 years old. Who could forget this picture?

680 people were also injured due to the blast. 324 buildings within a 16 block radius were destroyed.

86 cars were burned or destroyed. The glass in 258 buildings was shattered. It was estimated the bomb caused $652 million worth of damage.

When The Colonel made it home a couple of days later, we drove downtown to see what we could of the damage. Understandably we could not get very close with all of the cleanup and investigations still on going. What we could see was horrible, sad and unbelievable. You could see the path and force of the bomb's blast by looking at the damage done to the buildings down town.

About a month after the bombing Darla and I, with our kids in double strollers made a trip the bomb site. The Murrah building was fenced off, even so, we were able to get fairly close to ground zero.

I took these pictures, which I later put into a scrapbook.

Being this close to ground zero was a bit over whelming. Seeing first-hand the destruction and subsequent loss of life caused by some one's hatred saddened me.

Man's inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn!
-Robert Burns

The Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial at ground zero

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

One Down...

Yam is home from college for the summer. She came home on the last day of April.

Her year as a college freshman went by in a flash. It seems as though we just helped her move into her dorm room yesterday.

We had plenty of hands to help with the move-out. G-Pa, G-Ma and AB were here. They were here to help because the night before they were in town for Spud's NJROTC awards banquet and change of command (stay tuned for that blog).

Yam's last final exam ended around 1:00 PM so The Colonel, G-Pa, G-Ma, AB and I headed down a bit early so that we could have lunch at Five Guys...a hamburger place. The burgers were delicious and the excellent, hand-cut fries were served in copious amounts (one large order fed four adults).
Lunch over and bellies full, we continued on to the college campus.

We did not have to wait long for Yam to be done with her final exam.

We went to her dorm room and began to help shuttle her belongings into our truck and G-Pa/G-Ma's vehicle.

Here is G-Pa with a load.

And there he goes for another load.

It did not take long to move Yam's belongings out of her room and it was an easy task not only because of the extra hands, but also because Yam's room was on the first floor. We did not have stairs or elevators to contend with. When we had all of her things out of the room, Yam, with the help of G-Ma and myself tidied up the place. Yam's Resident Assistant came for a room inspection at 3:00 PM and Yam passed the inspection with no problems.

We got a sneek peak inside Yam's dorm for next year. We did not see her specific room, but the one next door. It has the exact layout but mirrored, so we got an idea what she'll be (we'll be) moving (her) into next fall.

It should be an easy move-in (and move-out again), as next year's room is also on the first floor.

I bet this summer will go by as fast as Yam's freshman year did.