2019 is Coming to An End

2019 is coming to an end. After the insanity of the year, I’m not quite sure how to classify it. Was it good, bad or a mixed bag? I started the year with an incredibly hyper thyroid – thanks RAI. By the time mid February arrived, my thyroid and the associated hormones were dead and gone. Therein started the process of bringing my thyroxine levels back to normal.

In November, my last appointment, my levels had stabilized and were within the normal range. Victory was mine or at least partially. It will still take one to three years for the Graves symptoms to abate. Meanwhile, my antibodies are high, so the disease is still active. My goal is to find remission in 2020. Nevertheless, partial victory or not, it is still a victory. Mark one for good year.

In July, I transitioned from working mom to stay at home mom after nine years three hundred and sixty two days with the firm. It was a decade of achievement, change and philanthropy with some of the of the best people I know. Obviously, I was sad to leave the friends and relationships behind, but it had become untenable. I guess initially this could be marked as bad except for….

My oldest decided in June that he wanted to join the Air Force. We were thrilled he had a roadmap for his future, but sad that he may be moving away. As you know, he’s now left for the Air Force and is kicking ass at basic training. If I had been working, I would have regretted every day I didn’t spend with him. Fortunately, I wasn’t working so I got to spend my time with him.

One of my favorite memories from this year is the trip we took home, aka Jake’s Farewell tour, in October. The sole focus of the trip was to connect with our family, especially the grandparents, before he left for basic. Our grandparents, including Jake’s great great Grandma, are getting old. There is no telling when Jake will be able to return to Minnesota to see them.

This trip was soul nourishing. Words cannot describe the emotions I felt as my Great Grandma held Jake’s hand and told him she loved him and was so proud oh him. Or the emotions I felt when Luke’s grandfather afflicted with Alzheimer’s beamed with pride and remembered Jake as Steve (my FIL) told him Jake was joining the military. Unquestionably, these moments will reside forever in my heart.

Jake and I had so much fun with his cousins, aunts and uncles and grandparents in Minnesota. It really would have been hard for it to be a better trip. We got to see my a Uncle Craig and even his new grandson Grayson, who is just the cutest. Additionally, we were able to spend a lot of time with Grandma T and uncle Mark. Jake has always had a very special relationship with his great Grandma T as she babysat him while I was in college and throughout my early career. Their bond is special.

The trip ended too soon and we were soon faced with the Thanksgiving holiday and his impending departure. My whole family had already plan to come to Florida for Thanksgiving, which was perfect. We celebrated all the big holidays in one weekend and even got family pictures.

No matter what else happened this year, Jake leaving for BMT was a seminal moment. The days leading up to his departure flew by while the days after have dragged. We’ve cried copious tears of happiness, pride, sadness and longing. Sometimes the tears combine all of the above emotions. Our family will never be quite the same, but Jake is on his way to a bright future and we couldn’t be prouder.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t give mention to our newest family member. Our dear friends John and Hanh has their beautiful, sweet Ava on the 15th of December. She has brought so much love and light into all of our lives. We’re blessed to be a part of all of their lives. Meanwhile, Ava and I are best buddies. She’s in Tampa visiting her auntie until January, but her beautiful mama sends me pics so I can see her.

As 2020 begins, Jake’s career with the Air Force will figure heavily in the happenings. Of course, there will be several hockey tournaments and games interspersed in there as well. 2020 will bring graduation from BMT, tech school and FDS. FDS you ask – it’s final duty station. Later this spring we should find out where Jake will be stationed.

2019 is coming to an end. This year there’s no grandiose resolution. Instead, I’ll be focused on getting my health back on track, staying fit and being the best damn hockey/Air Force mom that I can be. As for 2019 being good or bad, I’d have to say it’s been challenging yet stellar! Happy New Year from our family to yours!

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Week 2

Week 2, WOT 2, is coming to an end today. For us, week two brought a Christmas Day call that was simply the best. Of course, their are mixed feelings of joy and missing him, but we’re grateful that he is doing so well. Ordinarily, the trainees don’t get to call home to week 3. Hopefully, we will get another call in the coming week. This call can come any day before lights out. Needless to say, I will be carrying my phone everywhere next week.

In week 2, airman are given their weapons and they start learning to assemble and dissemble them. Jake said it was relatively easy save for some rust on the weapon. Their practice weapons are fake m-4s and are kept in their forms. Next week they’ll start going to the range to practice with their M-16. They’re also learning to march and working on drill. Here’s a video on week 2: WOT2

This week they spent their classroom time learning about the core values of the Air Force, history of the Air Force, human relations and the organization of the Air Force. Additionally, the ABs have started their BMT jobs. Jake’s job is chaplain guide. He is responsible for marching the “baby flights” to chapels and helping the chaplain as needed. He loves it!

As for us, the Air Force Mom BMT group continues to be a saving grace. It’s nice for us to understand what he’s experiencing week by week and on a daily basis. Finally, tomorrow will usher in WOT3 and bring us one week closer to graduation!  We love you Jake!

Term guide:

AB: airman basic, his rank during basic training.

BMT: basic military training

MTI: military training instructor aka drill sgt.

WOT: week of training

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Introducing Flat AB Jake

Introducing Flat AB Jake our personalized, more handsome and improved version of Flat Stanley. Let me bring the uninitiated up to speed. For those of us whose kids went through elementary in the last decade, we were subjected to literary character Flat Stanley that travels the world. Each kid in class brought a paper Flat Stanley home for a weekend to take wherever they went. The kids would then take pictures or document their travels in a journal. 

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I got the idea for Flat AB Jake through the Air Force Moms BMT page on Facebook. By the way, This group has been a godsend. Instead of the character, you make your airman into a paper “Flat Stanley.” You take them where ever you go and then take pictures. When you write your airman next, you include the pictures of you and your Flat AB.

We made them up on Christmas Eve. I printed two versions a large headshot and a smaller standing pose. I printed it on card stock, so the paper would be relatively firm. My hubby, who is a rockstar, cut them out using an exacto knife. Needless to say they came out better than I expected.  Since we were going to church with Mel, Jake’s girlfriend who we adore, and her family I was able to bring her both versions. She loved them! Fortunately, I was also able to get a picture of Flat AB Jake enjoying her duet (O’ Holy night and it was awesome.)

As we move through the weeks of training, you’ll see AB Jake make numerous appearances. It’s beneficial to always have him near, but it’s more beneficial for him to see he’s always in our hearts and on our minds. We had our first Christmas without him yesterday and that was tough! As a family we did, however, get some pictures with Flat AB Jake.

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We did get the best present a parent could ask for yesterday: a call home from our airman. I was near tears as my phone started to play Teen Spirit, which is my custom ringtone for him.  It was a spiritual experience.  He sounded amazing. To hear the confidence and happiness in his voice was beyond reassuring. I felt a weight literally being lifted off my shoulders as he told us he had found “where he belongs.”  He met the PT requirements his first week out and is now working with his FLT to exceed them together. He is wearing the blue belt as described in my week one post.  Jake described with joy how close he and his fellow airman had become. It was clear in that phone call that he had made several life long friends.


Perhaps the best part of the call was that it happened while we had Christmas Company. Jake has a lot of people in his corner and a lot of them were able to speak with him and wish him well. My sister in law, who is a genius and makes the best cheesy potatoes, suggested conferencing my parent. We were able to do that successfully and my parents were able to hear first hand how well he is doing. More than anything hearing his happy voice made our Christmas wonderful. It’s still tough to imagine that he’ll miss most Christmas celebrations in years to come, but he’s a part of something bigger than himself, loving it and service his country. We couldn’t be prouder of our AB Jake!

Merry Christmas Eve Eve

Merry Christmas Eve Eve or as they say in Norway merry little Christmas Eve. With only one day left between us and the Christmas holiday, I find myself woefully unprepared. Nor do I find myself with any desire to brave the South Florida retail scene or roads. Of course, after getting a flat tire on my way to yoga, it’s not like I’m super mobile.

I have finally started my holiday baking. Although I’ll be baking significantly less than last year. This year I’ll be baking two or three different cookies versus last years’ smorgasbord of baking. Fortunately, I may even be making a double batch of my famous caramel rolls. We’ll see!! I’m waiting on the final headcount from the hubby.

Today I spent a peaceful, serene day with Ava. There’s something about holding and rocking a newborn that is soothing for your soul. We hung for a bit while mama headed to her doctor’s appointment and vet appointment. Newborns develop so quickly. It’s awesome to see how she’s grown and developed from Friday to today.

I was going to cap my day with a peaceful and zen yoga practice with Debbie at Open Heart Yoga, but my back tire did not cooperate. Instead my knight in shiny armor came and put on my spare, so I could get home safely. Fortunately, I have a yoga silk, so I was able to do some stretching and inversion work.

Meanwhile in San Antonio, Jake started WOT 2 or week 2 of basic training. We’re hoping to hear from him via letter, carrier pigeon, marching band or a phone call. There’s some speculation on the Air Force Mom BMT group that’s the MTI’s will let them call home, but it’s not guaranteed. My fingers, however, will stay crossed in hopes of receiving a phone call. Anything that would help me gauge how he is doing at BMT.  I miss my boy!

 

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Blue Christmas

It will be a blue Christmas in our household as we celebrate our first holiday with Jake away from home. We’ve never been apart on a major holiday like this, so undoubtedly it will be tough on all of us.  I’ve found it hard to get into the joy of the season.   In fact, I haven’t even decorated the tree or put the tinsel on the railings.

For Jake his blue Christmas will likely include the issue of his dress blues, but also the loneliness of celebrating Christmas away from family and friends. This holiday season keep the airmen, Coasties Marines, sailors, and soldiers serving our country away from family and friends in your prayers. Being lonely during the holiday season is the worst! If you’re so inclined, please send Jake a holiday cRd at the address below.

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Week One

Week one, otherwise known as WOT1, is well underway at JBSA Lackland. The ABs are no longer know as skittles as they’ve been issued their ABUs, PT clothes, sneakers and combat boots. They also had their first official PT test to establish a baseline. Afterwards, the ABs are given a colored belt based on their performance. Hopefully, Jake got a blue or green belt. You can see a video on week one here.

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They also start their military education in week one. This covers everything from who they should salute to the military code of justice. Based on the pictures I’ve seen online, his classroom looks nicer than some colleges. Additionally, he was also issued his weapon a M-4 training rifle. This rifle can’t be fired, but will be used to teach the airman how to disassemble and reassemble their weapon. This week they also learn about nutrition, suicide prevention and reporting procedures.  Lastly, they’re getting used to living in their new digs.  Fortunately, Jake is in the new dorms AKA Disneyland.

We haven’t received any mail yet, but we know he is super busy. We’ve been trying to sending daily letters from all of us. We each write separate letters and mail them together. Today I wrote him a letter from our puppy Athena. Whenever Jake would come from work, school or Mel’s house, Athena would greet him with sneezes. It was so cute! Athena is definitely missing him. Hopefully, he’ll enjoy her letter.

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At the homestead, I’d like to say it is getting easier, but it’s not. The hubby and I find ourselves in our feelings all the time. Fortunately, I’ve stopped eating my feelings. My body is feeling the emotional stress thanks to the autoimmune disease, so I’ve dialed it back a bit this week.

My thyroid is relatively steady, but the symptoms will take 1-3 years to abate. Oh goody, said no one ever. Needless to say, with all that’s been going on, I’ve had trouble sleeping. Consequently, after being inspired by my niece and nephew this fall, I bought a Warmies microwaveable French lavender stuffed elephant. It’s filled with beans or corn and smells wonderful. When you hear it up, it functions as aromatherapy and heat therapy for sore muscles or joints. Needless to say, I’ve been sleeping much better since my I bought this.

I wrote earlier this week about the birth of Sweet Ava. Her arrival has brought so much joy to our world. Luckily, I got to spend some quality time with her and her mama yesterday. It’s amazing how the fear, excitement and anxiety of being a first time mom come back to you after almost twenty one years. In my opinion, there are few seasons in life as difficult or as beautiful as becoming a mom. Consequently, I’m glad that I’m able to help out.

Tonight I’m chilling at home watching The Office and missing Jake. He will be at BMT throughout the holidays. If you’re so inclined, please consider sending him Christmas card at the address below:

Countdown to graduation: week 1, 7 weeks to go

Week One video: https://youtu.be/2PPFxVFvBhs

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Weekend One

Weekend one without Jake was, thankfully, super busy. I can’t get over the fact that I can’t speak to him or that he doesn’t come home at night. Both the hubby and I keep expecting him to come home. Needless to say, I’m glad that our schedules were full from morning til night. This way my mind was distracted from missing Jake. Also, I posting his updated address as I discovered a few errors in it – thank you Air Force Moms BMT group.

Friday night Colin went out with his friends from school, so we ordered pizza from Nicoletta’s. Nicoletta’s is a neighborhood owned restaurant in the shopping plaza, so we’re anxious to support it. Our neighborhood group is full of restaurant killers. These jerks feel the need to complain and urge folks not to patronize a restaurant after they’ve had a poor experience. Perhaps they haven’t realized that they can keep their opinions to themselves. Seriously, given the level of complaining from these individuals, it wouldn’t be a leap of logic to conclude that they may be the problem. Nevertheless, the gluten free pizza form Nicoletta’s was divine. The only other local gluten free option is Domino’s, which is a hard no.

Saturday morning Goalielocks and I headed south to Kendall for practice. The practice days are long, but they’re also a lot of fun. I love the parents on his team and he truly adores his team. In between sessions, J and I grabbed a Publix salad and ate at the rink. We then indulged in my addiction (Dunkin) before watching the second practice. Meanwhile the Mayor and his team were volunteering at Feeding South Florida.

Post practice we made the trek home, so I could get ready for the Mayor’s holiday party. We’re so fortunate that both boys are on teams with great kids and family. It makes the season so much better and more meaningful. We had a blast and I ate way too many cookies, which I shouldn’t be eating. Santa even made an appearance. I spent the majority of night chilling with the moms, which was fabulous. Being surrounded by good friends from morning to night was exactly what I needed.

Sunday we were back at the rink for Goalielocks’ games. It was another early start to the day, which sucked. The boys didn’t have their best effort, but Goalielocks had a blast. We also got to see some of our favorite hockey families, which is always a great time.

We did another scary moment after one of our players was checked from behind headfirst into the boards. The check was finished with the defenders stick on our center’s next that never ends well. It’s that kind of bullshit plays that cause serious injuries and make the game look bad. I understand people get hit on clean checks, but this wasn’t that scenario. I was worried that he had been knocked out in addition to the neck injuries.  Anyway, I digress.

Afterwards, Goalielocks went to lunch with friends and we headed home to check on our friends’ kids. As we had driven to the rink that morning, we got the call that our friend was in labor and en route to the hospital!! So exciting!?! Can you think of a better distraction for a sad mom? I don’t think so!

The hubby ran over to check on the kids, while I did laundry, ordered groceries and did the dishes. He ran down some items to the hospital for our friends. By the time he got home, Goalielocks and his friends were back from lunch. We had a bonus of three hockey players in the house. They’re a bit loud, so they made Athena nervous. Consequently, she may have pooped on one of their shoes and right in front of the front door! Sweet Piggie was stressed.

We spent most of the evening anxiously awaiting the arrival of our newest niece. I was a bit worried when our friend had been pushing for over two hours. Thankfully, she was able to deliver the baby without needing a c-section. When I got the text that she was here, my eyes were musty with tears a joy and gratitude.

Upon receiving the text, I was ready to rock and roll. My hubby, who was a bit calmer, told me to simmer down and check with John. So I did and we were out the door in minutes. We picked up his daughters and took them down to see their beautiful baby sister.

It was the first time, I was back at the West Boca Birth pavilion since the Mayor had been born. Needless to say, it brought back many great memories. We checked in at security and quickly headed back to see the new arrival.

Man let me tell you, the new addition, Ava Deborah, to the family is beautiful. She’s petite with the cutest cheeks and that sweet newborn cry. I can say sweet since it’s not my newborn. I think we all know the sweetness of that newborn cry is short lived as the fatigue set in.

The most beautiful part of the evening being present for one of the happiest moments of their lives. If ever there were people deserved to be happy, it is them. At any rate, sweet little Ava stole my heart. I can’t wait to hold that sweet angel again!

As we hung out in the hospital room, I was filled with gratitude for all the changes the last week had brought: Jake embarked on the path to his future and our dear friends brought a beautiful life into this world. So many tears this past week have been sad and mournful, to cry tears of joy and gratitude last night for the gifts this year has brought was everything. All in all, we survived weekend one, but I wish Jake was here to share it with us. Meanwhile Jake started WOT1 yesterday – more on that tomorrow!  Weekend one is in the books!

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Week 0

Week 0, otherwise known as the first week of basic, is underway for my Airmen Basic (AB) Jake. During this week, Jake is getting all his paperwork completed, moving into his dorm, getting his vaccinations, his new clothes including his ABUs (camo,) starting PT and of course getting his first Air Force haircut. Unfortunately, the Air Force no longer posts pictures from BMT during those time at JBSA Lackland. I’ll have to wait until graduation to see his new haircut.

While Jake is adjusting to life in the Air Force we’re trying to adjust to our new life at home. To keep myself occupied and sane, I’ve been spending a lot do time at the yoga studio and in the gym working out. During this time, my phone and pocket notebook have been close at hand in case Jake called with his address.

Last night I met friends from Kaplan for dinner and drinks. I sure do miss my colleagues tremendously. It was a welcome distraction for this new military mom. I enjoyed a nice sirloin salad and a vodka soda. The bar had both the Florida Panther game and Thursday night football on, which was awesome.

Undoubtedly, the best part of my day yesterday was when Jake called home with his address. Clearly, this is the best part of week 0. I had my notebook with me and was ready for him. Of course, my dogs thought this would be the best time to bark incessantly at a falling leaf. Nevertheless, I was successful in getting the address. For this call, the ABs have to stick to a script. Fortunately, the recruiter prepared us for this call, so I wasn’t taken back by it. Nonetheless, it would have been nice to ask how he was doing.

One of the most important ways to support ABs during basic training is by sending cards or letters. I know Jake would appreciate hearing words of encouragement from all our family and friends.

Here’s his address:

AB Lorbach, Jacob L

331 TRS/FLT 147 3D1

1320 Truemper ST. Unit 369571

JBSA Lackland AFB TX, 78236-0609

Here’s a brief look at week 0.

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Adjusting

It’s day one without Jake and we’re all adjusting. Some of us, aka me and the hubby, are having a harder time adjusting to our new normal. I still expect Jake to come in and give me a good night kiss every night. This morning I had to stop myself from ordering his bagel from Dunkin’.

So how are we coping? Well, if you consider steam mops, dog accessories, yoga and brownies as coping, then I’d say I’m coping pretty well. Except I’m not at least not yet. By the time he finishes BMT, I’ll have accepted our lives as they now exist. Hopefully, it won’t take daily brownies to get there since I’m gluten intolerant.

For the puppies’ sake, they’ll be quite happy when I’ve complete the adjustment process. This will mean I’m no longer putting them in multiple cute holiday collars in a day or shopping for their Christmas outfits.

As I prepared to go to sleep last night, Jake called to let us know he had made it safely to San Antonio. For this phone call, he was allotted a generous forty seconds! Nevertheless, it was forty of the best seconds of my life. The kid sounded great! Hopefully, he’s able to carry that attitude through the rest of BMT.

This week, he’ll be getting a haircut, his uniform and a bunch of paperwork completed. We’re anxiously awaiting his call home with his address. As soon as I have it, I will share it. Mail is what gets airmen through BMT!! Finally, thanks again for all the love and support as we continue adjusting to this major change in our lives.

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He’s Off

He’s off!! After a morning at MEPS (military entrants processing station) my boy is on his way to San Antonio. It is seems so surreal. I still expect him to come home from Mel’s and watch The Office with me. Yep, the river denial is where I’m currently at.

Let me tell you about our experience at MEPS. Think a combination of the DMV and ER waiting rooms. Now imagine driving over and hour to get there and having to wait in a small, hot crowded lobby with no A/C and I bathrooms. Fortunately, they opened the doors to us just after 8:30.

Once into MEPs we went to the holding room with the rest of the shippers’ families. It was an interesting to observe the future servicemen and women work their way through the process. The holding room where we were at was also used to house the shippers and soldiers waiting to test.

There were three vending machines, a big flatscreen tv with two bins of snacks underneath and a sign for applicants only. It is no wonder we can’t have nice things here since nobody could either read the sign or just didn’t care. Perhaps our favorite part was the screaming baby whose parents didn’t realize you can get up and move with the baby or even take the baby outside. No, they just let her wail. Thankfully, we were called back for the oath ceremony before we completely lost our marbles.

One of the best parts of being at MEPS was seeing my confident and ready to go. His confidence was my reassurance. The ceremony room was small, but I was still able to get some good photos and videos of the event.

While he was taking the oath, I did my best not to cry since I was standing in front of him. Needless to say it was near impossible. The moment they took the oath was beautiful and exciting. Watching it live I was caught up in the emotions of him leaving. In contrast, I think future viewings will bring tears of pride and joy. At this point, I can’t rewatch it. It’s too raw even though I’m rowing my boat on the river denial. Watching it again will only make it more real.

After the ceremony, we were given five minutes to spend with our airmen. I never imagined five minutes could pass so quickly. We took some great photos in the ceremony room and chatted. Jake was excited to start the air hockey tournament he had organized in the shippers lounge. My boy was ready to go!

As the five minutes came to an end, I didn’t want to let him out of my embrace. Ultimately, I had to let him go since the military frowns on tardiness. With that we walked to the door and we went out the door and he went into a doorway to the right. This was a holding room where they would stay until being moved to the shippers lounge.  I still can’t believe he’s off.

We left MEPS proud military parents with temporarily broken hearts. We are beyond proud of our boy and the future he is building for himself. I haven’t ventured upstairs to his now vacant room, but I’m sure by the time I do Goalielocks will have already moved in. As we speak, he should be nearing his final approach into San Antonio. Now the real fun can begin! Lastly, we are so thankful for all the texts, calls and social media love. Your support means everything! We love you Jake!  Aim High!

countdown clock: he’s off!

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