color: SOME SOLDIER'S MOM: May 2009

Saturday, May 30, 2009



and with Mr. Z

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009


observations from days 1, 2 and 3:

I prefer the 75 mph speed limit on the interstates in AZ and NM than the 65 and 70 that are in place in TX, OK, AR & TN

so far we have seen cows (dairy & beef), horses (those Palominos and painted ponies are my favorite -- although we did pass a few Arabian horse ranches and those sure are some lean and dazzling animals!), burros, donkeys and a few sheep.

road kill: coyote, deer, armadillo, raccoon, possum... a beautiful golden retriever with a collar & tags. Please keep your pets on a leash or in a secure yard. That one broke my heart.

Lots of turkey vultures... and a spectacular Golden Eagle... a small falcon perched to strike on the limb of a tree.

Paid $1.98 for regular gas in AZ, $2.58 in OK... $2.35 TX... $2.19 also OK... $2.29 TN...

Arkansas will not have to water lawns any time soon... our hearts were broken with the number of planted fields mostly under water... they have had a foot +/- of water in May... streams, creeks and irrigation ditches filled to the brim.

Despite forecasts of rain for our journey west to east, we apparently have been chasing the rain because we had a few drops of rain back in NM, but mostly clear skies.

I have been reminded how horrible humidity is. Back home it's typically 20% humidity this time of year... the humidity in Okmulgee, OK last night was 88% (yuck!)

Left the Creek Indian Nation with a few dollars more than we went in with... small casino, but worth it :-)

In Dickson, TN -- the heart of moonshine country -- we had the best Chinese food we have had since leaving New York 5 years ago... go figger (Wang's).

we miss Tom Terrific.

The time and miles fly when you're driving with the love of your life and the man of your dreams...

Arkansas -- too much rain

There is something both comforting and inspiring about seeing a farm, barn and barnyard animals to a girl (and her beau) who grew up in the midwest

Saw these big birds on the TX-OK border... then heard about a plane running long at Vance AFB and we wondered if it was one of these?


claims to be the largest cross in the western hemisphere... in TX... it is HUGE... and inspiring.

on to VA in the morning...


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Hi-Ho-Hi-Ho!! It's On the Road We Go!!

Off on an All-American cross-country trip... a daughter's medical school graduation... son soon redeploying from a Navy cruise (you'd think it was a cruise boat or something but I assure you there is no Lido deck)... Atlantic City... New York (many dear friends to see! and adopted sons and their new babies!!)... new Yankee Stadium... Massachusetts (more family!!) Niagara Falls (Canadian side!)... Michigan... Illinois (still more family!!)... Nebraska (A-dub!)... Colorado (still more family!!) and we have mapped out the casinos along the way (ok, I've mapped them!!) Not sure how we're going to live a few weeks without our dear sweet and growing-up-too-fast Thomas! I'll maybe blog from the road and put up some pics... but I have a new mini-laptop and not sure how that will hold up!

Helping Grandpa

Can I touch this, Grandpa??

It's a BUGGG!

Look! Bird, Dad!!

Thomas taking his Dad for a walk (seriously... we do not walk Tom -- he walks US!)


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day 2009: Thank You

In 2005, I wrote

We Honor You

On this Memorial Day, I personally honor and thank the soldiers, marines and sailors in my family:

My Dad - who left high school at 17 and joined the Army – 82nd Airborne – and lost his left arm above the elbow at the close of WWII. As children, we called that my Dad’s “broken arm”. HOOAH, Dad.

My dear husband – from a small farming community in central Illinois who enlisted in the Navy at age 19 and spent the next 24 years in the Navy. He earned his wings, served two tours in Vietnam and was spit on, ridiculed, called foul names but still considers his years in the Navy to be the epitome of what life is about: duty, honor, country. BRAVO ZULU, dear husband!

In 2006, I wrote about Sgt. Kenneth Schall:

Terri Schall told us the story of her delightful and brave son who had a passion for the work he did in the Army. She told the story of his tenacity -- how he had crawled out on the 2nd story window ledge at his barracks to harass and convince a buddy to accompany him for a late night pizza after he had been turned down by the buddy five or six times.
and CDR Kirk T. Walsh

After graduation from the University of Colorado with a degree in Political Science, Kirk Walsh was commissioned an Officer in 1962 and enjoyed a 20-year career as a naval aviator -- flying aircraft including the Huey and Cobra helicopters and serving two tours in Vietnem.
And in Yes, In My Name, we remembered those close to us...

I know I say this a lot, but holidays have new meanings for me beginning this year. The change in my outlook is not just a one-year change, but a life-changing epiphany. The day
our son was wounded irreversibly changed the intensity with which I view each day, but especially holidays. Thanksgiving and Christmas had new meaning, as did New Year’s Day and Mother’s Day. And certainly Veterans’ Day.

However, I think one of the most significant changes for me is how I will view and celebrate and feel Memorial Day. My family has always remembered Memorial Day. Thanks to my mother, our family learned early to honor those that serve. We attended Memorial Day, Independence Day and Veterans' Day parades in our town: some years we sat and cheered from the curbs as we waved our American flags, while in other years we were participants.

In 2007, I let the words to one of my favorite songs speak for me in Bang the Drum Slowly

Bang the drum slowly play the pipe lowly
To dust be returning from dust we begin
Bang the drum slowly I'll speak of things holy
Above and below me world without end.

And last year, I shared President Bush's Prayer for Peace.

On Memorial Day, we honor the heroes who have laid down their lives in the cause of freedom, resolve that they will forever be remembered by a grateful Nation, and pray that our country may always prove worthy of the sacrifices they have made.

Memorial Day 2009: To those who gave all in service to our country, we thank you. We honor you. We remember you.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Our Miss Java

Back in 1999, the family made a decision to get its first dog. I was working from home, the oldest children were out of the house and there was just Noah, so we said, "OK, what the heck... it won't hurt to look. We went to the local animal shelter in NY on a cold and blustery spring day JUST TO LOOK. In the second cement-floored cage, sat this pretty little soaking wet collie-shepherd mix... about 16 months old. She didn't bark or claw at us as most of the dogs did, but she approached the wire gate with her tail wagging all the rest of her and reached her snout through the wire and licked DH's hand. That was it. We were in love and Java was added to the family that day. We have never regretted it a single day.

We quickly discovered that she loved to run wildly in circles and be chased -- we called it "WILD DOGGIE!!!" And until her health and eyesight began to fail -- even after she had blown out both her knees and her hips deteriorated to constant clicking sounds -- she never refused an opportunity if someone said, "Wanna play WILD DOGGIE! WILD DOGGIE!!"

She loved the snow. She would sit out in the snow for hours. She would run in the snow, roll in the snow, jump through the snow. The more snow there was, the more she liked it!! Java never met a lake, pond, stream or muddy puddle that she didn't like either!! Once we were walking around the grounds at West Point and she took a great leap right off the top of a huge boulder to the lake 20 feet below to try and catch some ducks as they flew by us!! (It was difficult explaining to the MP why we hadn't yet gotten the dog OUT of the lake... she was having too much fun -- and I wasn't going in after her!) Java would not have hurt the ducks (if she'd managed to catch them) because she saw every creature as a gift from God as someone to play with! Squirrel, gopher, coyote, dog or cat... she just wanted to play!

And we learned through the years that Java did not have a mean bone in her body. She never growled, nipped or bit anyone -- ever. Even if you stepped on her tail or bumped into her or took her bone or her toys. She lived to give love. And even though we loved this dog more than any pet we ever had, we still got more love than we gave -- and she was happy in loving us. I knew how lucky we were to have her in our family and every day I would get down next to her and rub her ears (Jave LOVED having her ears rubbed) and I would say, "Have I told you today how happy I am that you came to live with us and how how happy you make us?" And I meant it.

Today, I lay on the floor snuggled right up next to her on her favorite blanket in the vet's office and talked softly and cried and stroked her ears and her chest and told her how much we loved her and how happy she made us... and I told her about all the family's favorite dogs that would be waiting to jump and play with her... and she sighed a deep sigh and pressed her nose to my neck... and I asked her to wait for me at the Rainbow Bridge...

Rainbow Bridge


JAVA, February 14, 1998 - May 21, 2009

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.

There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.

There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals that had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.

The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. Her bright eyes are intent; her eager body quivers. Suddenly she begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, her legs carrying her faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again.
The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

2009 National Memorial Day Concert


The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) presents the 20th Annual National Memorial Day Concert on Sunday, May 24 at 8 p.m., Eastern Standard Time. The concert will feature musicians such as Katharine McPhee, Trace Adkins, Denyce Graves, as well as readings from Katie Holmes, Colin Powell, Laurence Fishburne, Joe Mantegna, Gary Senise and Dianne Wiest. For more information, visit the National Memorial Day Concert website. Please check your local television listings for the exact date and time of broadcast in your area.

I love this concert. I watch it every year. It is not only good entertainment, but the images of the crowds are very moving and very patriotic.

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Monday, May 18, 2009

National Memorial Day Parade

There was a time in our history when parades were an opportunity to honor and celebrate something. Grandparents, children and grandchildren sat on the curbs in every town across America and waved their flags, saluted and cheered -- especially on our patriotic holidays -- Memorial Day, Independence Day, Veterans Day. Sadly -- very sadly -- that had not been the case for a number of years... especially the part about celebrating our military and our veterans... although I can safely say that is not the case in our town -- which openly, notoriously and without shame salutes, celebrates and thanks America's Heroes every chance it gets!!

This year I am spreading the word about The National Memorial Day Parade which will take place on Monday, May 25, 2009 at 2:00PM on Constitution Avenue between 7th and 17th streets NW, Washington, DC. The parade has been held every year since it was re-established in 2005 after a 70 year hiatus in our nation's capital.

It is the largest Memorial Day Celebration in America and will have more than 250,000 in attendance honoring those who have served and sacrificed. There will be marching bands, veterans units, and uniformed military personnel from around the country.

The parade will also feature a special tribute to the U.S. Navy, and include Navy vet and Oscar winner Ernest Borgnine, fellow actors and veterans' supporters Gary Sinise and Joe Mantegna, and music star Lee Greenwood. Also participating is Edith Shain, the nurse from the famous World War II “V-J Day in Times Square” kiss photograph. (How excited do you think she will be??)

For more information, visit

I hope you can be one of the many this Memorial Day who line the parade route in DC and salute America's Heroes who gave all for our Freedom. And if you can't make it to DC, I hope you will take the kids and grandkids -- and your neighbors and friends -- to the closest parade and cheer widely for those that gave all and for those that carry on.

x-posted at Milblogs

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Monday, May 11, 2009


I know a bunch of "will-be-daddy" guys and some soon-to-be mommas who will welcome this news!!

Paternity Leave

What is it?

The Army's new paternity leave policy gives fathers additional time to be with their families when a new child is born. The policy, which was signed into law under President George W. Bush on Oct. 14, grants married Soldiers up to 10 consecutive days of non-chargeable administrative leave after the birth of a child. Paternity leave must be taken within 45 days of the child's birth; deployed Soldiers must take the leave within 60 days after returning from deployment. Leave not taken within the established time frame will be lost.

Single Soldiers who father a child out-of-wedlock are not eligible for paternity leave.

What has the Army done?

The Army recognizes the importance of families being together during significant events such as the birth of a child. It has developed a flexible paternity leave policy that allows male Soldiers to support their spouses during the joyous, but possibly stressful, time of adjustment following the arrival of a new family member. It also provides Soldiers returning from deployments uninterrupted time with their child to begin building bonds that will last a lifetime.

The policy allows Soldiers who have taken annual leave in connection with the birth of a child since October 2008 to request up to 10 days of leave be restored/re-credited to their leave account. Soldiers must provide documentation to support their claim (e.g., DA Form 31 or LES) and submit it through the unit S1 or Personnel Administrative Center.

My question is, "Does this apply to adoptions as well?? (It should!)

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Monday, May 04, 2009

Outside Looking In

Except for the occasional (negative) story buried somewhere on page 25 (or unless you read Milblogs), you hardly ever hear about Operation Iraqi Freedom any more. No one even calls it that -- it's just called "the war". But it is important to remind people that the War goes on and that there are still soldiers -- importantly, Citizen Soldiers -- who are still deploying and leaving This World for That World... and leaving loved ones to carry on Between Two Worlds.

Talking to Stacy and her new daughter-in-law Kristy today and reading Melinda's posts made me all teary-eyed and I was reminded of that idiot Pennsylvania Congressman's comment a few years back about how the War "needed to get personal". How much more personal can it get than mothers and wives and children saying goodbye to their much-loved soldiers? How much more meaningful can it be for those who must sleep alone and/or be the single parent or to worry about their sons and husbands and daddies for the next twelve or fifteen months??

Stacy and I talk regularly and I am in touch with a number of other milmoms and milspouses via email... and while I have most definitely "been there, and absolutely done that", I am not "there" this time as I have no relations deploying this year. I am not discounting the Navy son's current at-sea deployment... but he's not boots on the ground and neither he nor we will worry whether the contracted and meagerly-paid Ugandans providing security have been adequately trained and armed, nor will we worry whether our son will have hot meals, safe showers, or whether he will have to duck for cover. Nor will we worry whether his combat or security operation has all the requisite Iraqi approvals. (As if just serving in a combat zone were not worry enough!!)

Of course, we and our daughter-in-law and their daughters miss our son (and he, us and them) while he is deployed; and, of course, we worry because being on a large Navy ship has its dangers and perils. But this time -- with these deployments -- I feel on the outside looking in. Yes, my heart speeds up when I think about Stacy's son Michael going again (he was last deployed when Noah was in Iraq) and when I think about Melinda's DH; and yes, I am often misty-eyed trying to find the right words of encouragement and solace for my close personal friends as well as for any number of moms, dads and wives (even a few sisters!) who have emailed.

My heart especially hurts for Melinda's daughters who must do without their Dad's loving arms and whispered encouragements and who cannot fully understand their father's Mission and commitment to it. I am saddened that Kristy will miss out on this most precious first year of marriage and I pray that this deployment will serve to strengthen their bond for all the years to come.
I worry for Stacy and Melin and Kristy and all the other moms (and dads) and wives and children (and brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins) who will have sleepless nights, and suffer through the agonizing days, weeks and months of counting down to redeployment and homecoming. I do not envy them the hours of waiting on the beeps and boops and rings of telephones and computers to talk to a loved one and to know that they are OK.

Make no mistake: talking to Stacy and thinking of Kristy and Melinda brings back every twinge, palpitation, caught breath and skipped heartbeat of deployment. While all of us who have experienced the part of being HERE while they are THERE like to fool ourselves that we have buried and dealt with those emotions, they are never far away; the waves of fear and the tingling of tears are much closer to the surface than we care to admit, and they rush up and smack us and consume us with the least bit of prodding. when your Guy is here.

I will most definitely be there for Stacy, Kristy, Melinda, M1 and M2 and their Guys just as they were there for me and My Guys. I have fired up the old supply cabinet and replenished my boxes and labels. And I ask each of you to re-commit yourselves to taking REAL efforts to support our Troops overseas and let them know that we have not forgotten them. You can start by stopping by Stacy's and Melinda's blogs and letting them know that they and their soldiers are in your thoughts and prayers... and then GO HERE. You can make a difference.

x-posted at ParentsZone

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