Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Bravo Zulu, sailor!

What a year it has been for my sailor. Well, technically it is a little over a year since he left for boot camp in Great Lakes. I have been  fortunate enough to be present as he has marked some major accomplishments. The first was his graduation from boot camp last September. That was an amazing, but short visit with our new sailor. PIR (Pass in Review) is a awe-inspiring ceremony and was our real introduction to being Navy parents. The next big thing for our son was his graduation from Nuclear Field A School and his promotion to 3rd Class Petty Officer last February. 

Two weeks ago we headed back to Charleston to see our sailor's graduation from Nuclear Power School. What a joyful time! He looked so handsome in his dress whites. I am so very proud of all he has accomplished. Power School is a challenging 6 months and he has earned the smile you see. 
The ceremony was incredible. It was held outside on a perfect September morning. 
 These young  men and women can hold their heads up high and feel very proud of the hard work they have done to reach this point. More instruction awaits them and it can be as much as year until they are out in the fleet aboard nuclear-powered aircraft carriers or submarines. But on this day, there are hugs, smiles, sighs of relief, salutes and handshakes! 

And then~ a weekend of fun, relaxation and celebration! 
 Yes, I took a million pictures! 

 USS Yorktown

Folly Beach

It was a weekend to treasure! 
Now our sailor is on grad hold~ working on base
as he waits to class up for his next level of schooling.
It has been a momentous year~ a year of joy and tears,
of pride and much heartache.
For our sailor it has been a year of hard work and 
self-sacrifice, of learning Navy ways and becoming a fine sailor.

This boy makes me proud.
 I miss him so much, but he is a sailor now. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

a year later...

 my son and his girlfriend at Dallas MEPS

Last year at this time I was sitting in a rather surreal place, Dallas MEPS , with my son, his girlfriend and my husband. Well, actually, for most of the time our son was off doing his final processing to leave for Navy boot camp. All around me were young people with stickers on their chests... Army, Air Force, Navy, USMC, even a few with Coast Guard~ all of them set to embark on a life-changing adventure that very day. Dallas MEPS is, of course, huge. There were lots of kids (yes, they sure looked like kids) and family members. But some were alone. That made me sad.

I thought to myself, if the nervous energy in this building could be harnessed, it could power a city.
The future sailors, airmen, marines, soldiers and coasties were at turns joking, laughing and often quiet and obviously a bit fearful and reflective. They were all about to enter a great unknown, a time of trial and then on to different schooling and then off to serve their country. They looked so young.

My son, came out and sat with us from time to time. He was exhausted. The night before he had been in a hotel with a large group of Navy recruits. His recruiter had driven him down mid-afternoon the day before. And that was the first good-bye. We joined him that evening for dinner and then good-bye number 2. Next was the BIG good-bye, the REAL good-bye. I was not looking forward to that.

We watched as his group was called and sworn-in. It was very moving. The room was packed and every parent must have felt the the same sense of pride and sorrow that washed over me.

Finally, after several heart wrenching hours at MEPS, groups began to be called. The young, brave  men and women began to line up. Buses filled the parking lot downstairs. Finally it was our son's turn to stand in that line with his sad little sack of deodorant, toothbrush and phone charger~ and his first set of military orders clutched in his hand. He looked tired and he looked 12 years old. He was 18.

As his group left the building one way, we family members made a stunned, nearly silent exit to the bus area. Huge buses sat running, with doors open like great, hungry jaws set to swallow up our children. So we got our quick hugs. I was strong, no crazy crying, but tears in my eyes and a lump the size of the moon in my throat. The girlfriend, poor thing, fell apart. I understood.♥

And then my son, my sweet, sweet boy stepped onto that huge bus bound for DFW airport and into his future. My heart has never quite repaired the rift. There is a tender place in it that aches for him always.

A year has passed, amazingly, astonishingly!! I saw my son at his PIR (boot camp graduation), at Christmas for 9 wonderful days, and at his Nuclear Field A School graduation in February. We are going to see his graduation from Nuclear Power School in September. You have only to read a bit of this blog to know how much I miss him and how proud I am of him. He strong, brave, smart and independent. He is a 3rd Class Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy studying in what is known to be one of the most challenging programs in U.S. military. He has accomplished so much in one short year. And I have learned to treasure every phone call, text, FB message and rare visit.
Onward and upward my sweet, brave boy!♥

Monday, July 30, 2012

another countdown

The military, I have learned, is all about numbers.
The Navy has bred a love/hate relationship 
between me and countdowns.
Since the day my son signed his Navy contract
I have been counting down... departures, arrivals,
tests, scores, graduations, leave... 
And now the countdown is to Power School graduation.
It will be a great milestone for my sailor! He still has 
some BIG,HARD tests to pass, but hopefully we will 
be in South Carolina on September 14th to see
him and his shipmates in their dress whites GRADUATING!

Of course, that will also be he start of another countdown.
My sailor will have a period of "grad hold" that could be weeks
or months, then he will go on to Prototype... 6 months of
learning and working on a real live, functioning nuclear reactor. 
No big deal... ;)

So, I count... the months, weeks, days and minutes
until I see my sailor! And I count my blessings.
In his almost 1 year in the USN, my son has accomplished 
so much. I am so proud of him.. and all my kids.
 I am very blessed to have great kids and a good life. 
♥I count myself lucky!♥

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Monday, July 2, 2012

things that make a momma smile...

My son has been off on his "great adventure" 
for 11 months!
Sometimes I feel like he left yesterday, but 
more often it feels like he  has been a sailor
for a very long time. 
I miss him. Nothing new there,
but there are things things that warm my heart~
like the photo above.♥
My sailor/pirate is in green
and he is dressed for a day of sailing.
Yes, finally he set foot on a BOAT!!
Okay, not a NAVY boat, but a boat nonetheless!
It makes me happy to see him fitting in some fun
and outdoor activity with some of 
his shipmates. You might have to be a 
nuke mom to totally appreciate this. 
My son is over halfway done with part 2 (of 3)
of his nuclear schooling. He has a lot to be
proud of, but still a ways to go. 
He is working hard and he makes me so proud.
It makes the "missing him part" at bit
easier to bear. 
February was a long time ago. That's when I 
last saw him. If all goes well, he will
graduate Power School on Sept. 14th.
I am counting the days! 
The Navy continues to teach not only my son,
but me as well. I have learned so much
about faith and letting go.
I have learned that you can live 
with your heart in two places at once.
And that makes me smile.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

anchored by love

Children are the anchors that hold a mother to life.

That's me, yours truly, with all my sweet babies.
This photo is from last Christmas, the last time we
were all together. It will be next Christmas before
we will all be together again. That's a long time. 

Today was my first Mother's Day since my sailor son 
(that guy in stripes in the middle) left to serve.
It has been a good day, but tinged with a bit 
of heartache. My sailor called me! In fact,
since my birthday was just a few days ago
I have actually talked to him several times in the 
past few days.He sounds good.
Power School is going well. He is sounding
more confident and less exhausted.
That makes me very happy.

Honestly, I do not love my nearly empty nest,
even-though I KNOW that healthy birds
leave the nest. I can't help it. I miss them.
I hate the silence. My 15 year old is not a 
noisy kid and he is at that "shut the door
and hide out in my room" age. 
I stay busy and I truly count myself blessed.
But oh how I miss those sweet faces, those silly 
kids, those beautiful hearts that anchor me.

On my birthday my husband and kids and I had 
a wonderful evening. We all missed our
sailor boy. My husband ordered our sailor's 
favorite dish and ate it in a weird sort of tribute 
to him. LOL...Okay, we are sort of odd...
I admit it.

I remind myself, that I have 4 wonderful kids, 
that I am blessed beyond any earthly measure.
I am so grateful that the love we share 
anchors us all. 
Who could ask for more?

Monday, April 23, 2012

good stuff

So... my sailor is in his second level of nuke school~ Power School. 
He is super busy. Along with a very challenging school, these sailors 
still have to do their "Navy stuff". No rolling out of bed and falling into 
class late, unshaven, in shorts and a t-shirt... No skipping class. And 
there is still PT and other Navy things that fill their days. Evenings are
for studying. All materials are classified, so studying is done in the classroom.
All of this added together equals limited communication. 
It is hard, to be honest. But you learn to appreciate an answered text...
it may be answered many hours (or even days later) and then there 
is the rare phone call. You adapt... pray a lot... get support and understanding
from your Navy mom "sisters"...
 and for me~ I stay busy! 

My happy place (aside from the beach) is CREATING! 
I have been enjoying making Navy related jewelry lately. 

Stamping metal (embossing?) is really fun. 
It also makes me happy to know that I am creating
for Navy moms, wives, significant others.
I have a shop on Etsy... Son and Sea Shop
I keep my prices low and US shipping is always free.

It will be a long time until I see my sailor, but I am so proud of him.
He has accomplished a lot in the almost 9 months since he shipped.
I miss him so much every day, but I have to focus on the "good stuff". 
There is so much to be grateful for. And I am. ♥ 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

sisters of the heart

So, as of 4/8/12 my son has been in the Navy for 8 months. 
It is rather surreal. 
I am very proud of what he has accomplished.
Nuclear Field A School is done. He is a 3rd Class Petty Officer.
And now he is in the 2nd level of his schooling... Power School.
He seems well adjusted to military life.

He seems impossibly far away.

The nature of nuke school makes communication spotty. 
School days are long and study hours take up much of the limited
"free time" the sailors have. 
I have to be honest... there is a huge hole in my heart.
I don't mention it, except to my "sisters"~
my Nuke mom friends. 
We buoy one another~ laugh, cry, pray, share too much~
and build a bond that is so deep and strong. 
I love them.
That is the condolence prize...
the gift of true friends and I am so grateful for it.
Still, I miss my sailor every day... miss him thundering down
the stairs and drinking all the milk. 
I miss his loud truck and I miss
cooking for him and talking to him.
We won't see him until late September.

My Navy sisters will keep me afloat.
And I will do the same for them.

Friday, February 24, 2012

A School~ check!

Going to see my sailor graduate from Nuclear Field 
A School was a great experience!! 
I am so grateful that I was able to attend
and share this moment with my son.
The graduation ceremony was impressive. 
My sailor is very proud of his "crows" and red chevron
that indicate his new rank of MM3.
He is a 3rd Class Petty Officer!
He worked hard for this!

Yes, I took a zillion pictures! 
The one above is inside the legendary
Rickover Building. I did not, for the record,
have my soul sucked out of me, but the sailors claim this 
building does just that. ;)
It was so good to see the base and know where my son lives.
Behind him is the Subway where he eats OFTEN! 
He introduced me to the guys and gals that work there
and they were so sweet and friendly. 
I met some of his buddies and passed on mama-hugs
from their moms. 
We visited the USS Yorktown- a WWII era aircraft carrier.
It was so fun we went back the next day 
with some of my son's buddies.
It was cold, but beautiful in Charleston.
And we got to go to Folly Beach, which was so pretty!
We nearly froze, but it was worth to see the beautiful Atlantic! 
What a blessing it was to spend these days with my son.
But let me tell you this...
goodbye does not get easier. 
My sailor starts his next level of schooling,
"Power School", in April. The next time I see him
will be September or October ~ the longest
time not seeing him so far. 
I remind myself that he is doing well,
that this is HIS journey and his life
and I am filled with pride and happiness.
Still, I miss him every day. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

half a year later...

~class 1203-A
My Navy mom journey continues...
On Monday my son passed his A School Comps at 
He graduates on Friday and will be a Third Class Petty Officer.
He has a lot more hard schooling ahead of him, but this
is a great accomplishment. Nuke school is generally regarded
as one of the most academically demanding school in the military. 
My sailor has had his ups and downs and has worked
so hard to get to this point in his training.
Along the way he has adjusted to military life, lived far
from family, maintained a long distance relationship
with his sweet girl, learned to do laundry and made some 
friends for life. His visit at Christmas was a joy
for our entire family. 
As for me~ I have stayed BUSY and have somewhat
adjusted to my nearly empty nest. Now 3 of my 4 
kids are launched out into the world. 
I miss them, but I know this is the way of the world. 
My other 2 grown kids are close by and I see
them often. My sailor is far away and so busy with 
nuke school and Navy life. His days are long.
Thank God for technology. I am grateful for texts, 
FaceBook and phone calls to keep us connected. 
But truth is, I miss him all the time.
I am so proud of all my sweet kids. 
I am blessed beyond measure...
and~ I am going to Charleston to see my sailor graduate! 
Oh, happy day!!!