Seven Days

Seven days!!! Seven days is the number of days left until Jake graduates basic training. I can’t believe this BMT journey is coming to an end. After next week, I’ll retire the weekly WOT posts.It seems like he just left yesterday, while also feeling like he left a century ago. Admittedly, the last eight weeks have been tough as we adjust to our new “normal.” I miss having him home everyday!

Nonetheless, this transition for him has been fantastic. As the weeks have progressed, he has grown immensely. Truly, every time we talk to him, he sounds more confident and mature than the last. It eases my kind to know he’s found his place in this world and that his future is bright. However, it doesn’t make me miss him less.

Jacob chilling atop Mt. Ulriken in Bergen

As he moves on to Tech School, we’ll be able to have more regular contact with him. I think that will make it a bit easier on mom and dad. In the days and weeks since he’s left, we’ve been enveloped in a community of love and support. Thank you to everyone for your continued love, support and prayers for Jake. They are appreciated.

P.S. the main picture is of Jake and his Uncle Jon meeting an Air Force Pilot. It was taken in 2000 at an air show in Duluth.

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WOT 7

WOT 7 – can you believe it? That means there is only one WOT left! It also means that this week is BEAST week. BEAST stands for Basic Expeditionary Airman Skills Training. Basically, it’s a mock deployment where the airman trainees get to apply what they’ve learned in basic training. It’s basically a simulated war that runs from Tuesday to Friday.

For this week, they’ve left JBSA Lackland and are in the field. Where they’ll sleep in tents in one of four camps at the annex. The tents, in true Air Force style, feature heat and air conditioning. Additionally, while breakfast and lunch will consist of MREs, DFAC will serve them a hot dinner.

Of course, since this is taking place during a simulated war, their meal could be interrupted by incoming fire. The camps could be assaulted by conventional weapons from air or land as well as chemical and biological weapons. Additionally, the trainees are trained to identify IEDs and are exposed to them as part of the simulation.

For the entire time they are in the field, they have ruck sack, mopp gear, body armor and helmet, their canteen, 3 MREs and their M-16 rifle. They need to be ready to respond to any threat to their completion. Moreover, this is more than a simulation for the airman trainees. It is a competition! Doing well at BEAST means additional accolades and hopefully a town pass for Sunday.

WOT 7 is a fun week for the airman. I cannot imagine living in a tent for any amount of time, but I can see how they would enjoy it. I look forward to Jake sharing his BEAST experience with us when we see him in 8 days! Truly, I can’t hide my astonishment or my excitement that graduation is almost here. It feels like time has been crawling since he left!

As an addendum to last night’s post where I proclaimed my hatred of push-ups, I did 60 plus push-ups today. Apparently, Kayla Itsines thinks push ups are great. (I don’t understand her rhyme or reason for this because pushups are awful, but she does love them.) Thus I completed all 60 of the regular push-ups and 60 lay down push-ups that were a part of the circuit. By the way, lay down push ups suck even worse than the regular ones.

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Week 4 of the PT Challenge

It’s hard to believe we’ve made it to week 4 of the PT challenge! Since Jake left for basic it feels like time has both stood still and moved at light speed. What is not moving at light speed is me running. While I had a much better run this morning, I’m still far from the 14:26 needed. This morning my 1.5 mile run took 16:13 minutes. A big improvement over last week, but I still have a lot to do.

Since Jake is graduating next week, vice decided to continue the challenge until I get the required time. First of all, it gives me a specific training goal, which is important. Secondly, I am really enjoying my return to running. I’m not running six days a week like I was years because it would be too much for my body. Additionally, I want to ensure my exercise habits are more balanced than they were before my diagnosis. This means 3 days of BBG (strength training,) 3 days of running and 6 days of yoga.

As for the pushups and sit-ups, I still hate them. However, the strength I’ve gained by completing Kayla Itsine’s Beginner BBG program has helped me succeed here. I’m up to 33 sit-ups and 18 pushups. I could probably do more pushups, but they seriously suck. I did, however, do some vinyasa yoga today and plenty of chaturangas in class. That should make up for a lack of over achievement on the push up front.

Yesterday marked day 1 of the BBG program. After 8 weeks of BBG beginner, I thought I was ready to graduate. However, the first workout of the full BBG program kicked my arse. My legs were super sore this morning. Needless to say, the workout was super effective. Tomorrow will be BBG day two targeting the arms and abs.

While I’m busy trying to meet the PT standards Jake exceeded, my airman trainee is in the field for BEAST week. While he’s immersed in a mock deployment situation with his squadron, we’re counting down the hours until we see him again. My mom and I have been collaborating to ensure we have everything he made need for graduation weekend. I cannot wait! More on BEAST week tomorrow.

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Broke A Record

This weekend I broke a record. For the first time since I’ve had my Prius, I went through a tank of gas in one day! Needless to say to it was quite the busy weekend. Our weekend started with a trip to Miami for Goalielocks’ hockey practice Saturday morning. It’s always awesome leaving the house before 6:30 am on a Saturday.

Practice was good and ended quickly. Since his game wasn’t until 4:00 pm, we headed back home to relax. I wasn’t feeling fabulous , so I chilled on the couch until it was time to go. To be fair, I also booked a hotel and packed a bag for the evening since Goalielocks and I would be staying in Miami that night.

The game Saturday afternoon was not fabulous. Apparently, the other team added some players from their junior team to the U16AA team we played Saturday. Yeah, it totally made a difference. Goalielocks was mighty busy all game long. The end result was ugly, but I was proud that he never gave up. I did, however, have a proud mom moment as we drove to the rink and the Mayor played some great music!

Post-game Goalielocks took a shower at the rink (a first) and got ready for the hoe-down. He was volunteering with some teammates at the Soroptimist International of Homestead’s annual fundraiser the Blue Jean Ball. This event coincides with the Homestead Rodeo. Naturally, my country boy was loving the theme as the music.

While the boys worked, I hung out with my fellow hockey moms. It was fun to watch the boys work the popcorn and hot dog stand. Every time a patron would ask if the hotdogs were done, one would respond “I don’t know.” Needless to say, they kept us entertained throughout the night. Of course the live music didn’t hurt either. By the time we left the event, hit up the local MacDonald’s and made it back to the hotel, it was already 1:00 am.

My plan was to wake up and make the Mayor’s 8:40 am game in Pompano. However, since we had such a long date and got to bed so late, I decided to let Goalielocks sleep in. Unfortunately, it meant I had to miss all the drama in the Mayor’s first game. Apparently, a mom lost it and had to be kicked out. I can’t wait to see the video of this glorious blunder.

I let Goalielocks sleep until 10:30 that way we could pack up, pick up coffee and head to the next game with time to spare. We made it to the rink with plenty of time to spew. Unfortunately, this means nothing when it comes to picking out the optimal viewing location. Simply put this rink has no good places to watch the game.

It wasn’t the best hockey game I’ve ever watched, but I simply love watching my boys play. Truly, it’s is awesome to watch them working hard with their team and playing the game they love. Of course, I loved watching him score a beautiful goal.

When I see my Mayor play, I have no doubt that he loves the game and his teammates. In fact, we’ve been really lucky this year. Both boys have a great group of parents and kids. It makes for an awesome season.

Our weekend ended with yummy Korean pork sandwiches at our dear friends house. I was especially happy since my girlfriend Hanh and her beautiful baby are back from Tampa! Sweet Ava has grown so much and is still so cute. It was a wonderful evening with our extended family! In the end, I broke a record by driving more than 350 miles in a day.

Meanwhile in San Antonio, Jake has headed to the field for Beast week. This is one of the airman’s favorite parts of basic training. I look forward of hearing his impressions of the week. We may even get a phone call from him on Friday after they return from the field! Only 10 days left until we will see our airman again!

Lastly, I’d ask that you keep my family in your prayers tonight. My uncle Craig lost his battle with lung cancer this morning. We are devastated. I’d also ask for prayers for our family friends that are potentially facing some major health issues. Thanks!

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He’s Graduating!

We interrupt your morning for a blog post with breaking news. Jake called and confirmed he is graduating! He aced his PT test and his flight was awarded the Commander’s Excellence award. I cannot even tell you how much older, more mature and self assured he sounded tonight. Our hearts are full and our eyes are misty with pride!  To everyone that has sent him well wishes, kept him in your prayers and continually checked in on mom and dad, we thank you!

Tension Tamers

Tension tamers have become an essential part of adulting these days. If you’re like me, you carry all of your life’s stress and tension in your shoulders and neck. Since my Graves diagnosis, the pain in my neck and shoulders has increased. Apparently, your thyroid hormones like to f*c& with your body in a myriad of ways.

Since most of us have issues with tension in our neck and shoulders, I thought I’d share some of my favorite tension tamers. These items have been extremely helpful. Here’s the list:

  1. Trigger point massager: this simple contraption from Gaiam is great at taking at knots in your shoulders and back.
  2. Tune Up therapy balls: these little miracle workers can help you release muscle and soft tissue tension all over your body. They’re very effective in relieving tension headaches. I’ll be posting a Vlog soon on just how do do this.
  3. Yoga Mat: best place to stretch and utilize your Tune Up therapy balls.
  4. Bolster: the bolster is a great tool that will allow you to settle into restorative poses that will reduce tension in your body.
  5. Foam Roller: I love using my foam roller to roll out my trapezius muscles when my upper back, shoulders and neck are tight. It feels amazing!!!
  6. Shiatsu neck/back massager: this is an essential tool for days when the tension in your upper back and neck are at its highest.
  7. Massage gun: so these things are all the rage. I decided to give it a try. I’ll be posting a full review shortly
  8. Essential oils: I like using Chill Pill by Aura Cacia to relax and reduce tension. A small pat on the forehead or in a diffuser will do wonders for your relaxation.
  9. Tiger Balm/Salonpas patches. These are perfect to wear at night for some relief while you sleep. It is a bit of an unspoken rule that you don’t wear them to work or school. Unless, of course, you want to smell like Ben-gay all day.
  10. Hand warmers: this is my favorite hockey mom hack. I carry all of my tension in my left shoulder right under my bra strap. Accordingly, by placing an activated hand warmer in that place, the heat starts to melt the tension in my muscles.

These are just a few of the tools, I keep in my tool belt to fight tension. On a macro level, I’ve gone back to my yoga practice and stretching daily to alleviate muscle tension before it begins. Yoga has been an essential part of my recovery and my quest for remission.  All of my  product recommendations are below and range in cost form $6.00-$129.  While it may seem like a lot of products, it’s a lot cheaper and a healthier alternative than popping NSAIDs or other medications.

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Detroit Weekend

Our Detroit weekend has absolutely epic. We ran into a bit of a snafu getting the rental car, but they were able to upgrade us into a vehicle that could actually fit our luggage and handle the snow. Victory! Our hotel was about twenty minutes west of the airport of of I-94. Fortunately, our hotel was on a golf course overlooking Ford Lake, which made for beautiful vistas.

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The weather when we landed was chilly, but not terrible. Our first game was at Yost Arena one the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor. I found the arena to be beautiful, but quite a bit smaller than Mariucci Arena at the University of Minnesota. Unfortunately, the boys didn’t play their best hockey and we fell to the Gulf Coast Flames. The irony here, of course, was that we flew all the way to Michigan to play another Florida team.

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As we left the arena, the flurries had begun. In the overnight hours, the storm that had battered Minnesota, dropped eight inches of snow in Michigan. The golf course was absolutely beautiful. Growing up there was nothing better than looking out my backdoor and seeing the pristine, newly fallen snow. Saturday morning those memories came back as I gazed out over the freshly fallen snow covering the hotel grounds.

Thankfully, the roads had been cleared by the time we left for the Mayor’s game. Again it didn’t go great, but was a better effort than Friday night. The weather was perfect with temperatures in the 30s all day long. We enjoyed a quick late lunch at the hotel. That evening we were headed into downtown Detroit to see the Florida Panthers take on ten Detroit Redwings.

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So I had a great rental car, but I didn’t want to drive into downtown Detroit. Clearly, it’s on the list of cities I never want to get lost in. Consequently, I opted to ride with the assistant coaches in their large van (aka Frenchy’s bus.). They had window decals made with the Panthers logo and Frenchy’s and they were on fully display. I had to make fun of them both for being dorks except for….

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When we got to downtown and came to a barricade, our driver rolled down the window to ask security where we should go to find parking. The security guard, seeing the logos, waived us through the barricade. Consequently, we parked right in front of the stadium next to the police van. We all swore on all things holy that the can would be towed while we watched the game.

As for the game, there were some shenanigans with a guy from Windsor. That story from our Detroit weekend, however, will take up a full blog post. The boys had a fabulous time and the Cats brought home the W. Now it was crunch time, would the van still be there? Would there be a ticket on the windshield? How much would an Uber be from downtown to our suburban golf course?

We made our way out of the stadium anxiously awaiting our collective fate. The boys raced to where we parked. Alas, victory was ours and the van was still there. A new problem presented itself, however, in that all the pedestrian traffic leaving the stadium was in the alley where we parked.

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I envisioned us sitting there for hours waiting for the pedestrian traffic to clear. We finally caught a quick break in the traffic and we were able to pull out of the parking spot. No sooner had we pulled out of the spot, when the police cruiser parked near us turned on it’s lights. We were accepting in our fate. Obviously, we were about to get a ticket. Or not… Shortly after the cop put his lights on, he escorted us out of the alley and through the roads of Detroit. That’s right folks we had a police escort leaving the stadium!

The boys were over the moon excited as we ere escorted back to I-94 by the police car. Truly, us parents were also over the moon. What an experience to share with our boys and each other! It was so incredible how it all unfolded. Hockey trips can be expensive, but these moments that create incredible shared memories are what it is all about. I’m incredibly lucky to share this experience with my son.

Of course, Sunday brought more hockey and some hockey drama. The Mayor forgetting one skate at the hotel is going to be it’s on post. In the end, our weekend in Michigan was pure magic. As a hockey mom, I can’t think of any other place I’d rather be than with my kids at a hockey tournament. After all, it only last last for a short time.

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WOT 6

WOT 6 is here, which means we only have two more weeks until he is finished!!! I can’t believe it’s been six weeks since we said goodbye. This week is a big one! In WOT 6 they take all of their tests to determine if they’ll graduate. Thankfully, he passed both the EOC written exam and clothing inspection. I haven’t heard from him since he took his final PT test Tuesday night.

In a couple of days, we should receive the WOT 6 call. I cannot wait. This is the call where the trainees confirm that they are graduating. Additionally, we’ll be discussing his graduation weekend wishlist. Moreover, we’ll be asking if there are airmen that need to be adopted for the weekend. Unfortunately not all families can make it to graduation, when we adopt an airman it ensures there’s no man left behind.

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In addition to this week’s testing, the trainees are preparing for BEAST week. In week 7, they’ll be in the field putting all their learnings to the test. To get them ready, they’re completing FEST (Field Expeditionary Skills Training) training this week. This training includes basic rifle fighting techniques, crawling through a sand course, moving in columns and using proper hand signals.

Additionally, they’ll be doing CBRE (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and high yield Explosives) training this week. This training includes a trip into the gas chamber. The trainees start their experience with full MOPP gear and gas mask on, but must remove it once the gas is turned on. Finally, they must give their reporting statements before leaving the chamber. Sounds like a whole lot of fun that I don’t want to have, but this prepares them for what they may encounter in their careers.

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Since there is a WOT 6 phone call, you can be sure that my phone will be attached to my hip. I’m so excited to hear how he did on his PT test and if he’s ready for BEAST week. Additionally, I want to be sure we plan his graduation weekend in accordance with what he wants.

So far the only plans we have, outside of the graduation events, is making him homemade cookies. Please keep him in your prayers as he finishes WOT 6 and heads into the field for Beast Week.  Lastly, I have to give a big shoutout to the Air Force MOMS BMT groups for being an excellent guide this process.

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It’s Test Day

It’s test day here in sunny, but chilly for us South Florida. When I woke up this morning, exhausted from the weekend on the road, I was trying to think of every valid reason why I shouldn’t run or workout today. Truly, I was exhausted and couldn’t imagine the thought of pounding the pavement for two miles.

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Fortunately, coffee solved my motivation problem and I quickly changed my mind. After all, the weather was undeniably perfect for a run. While the weather conditions were perfect, my run was not. My time was improved over last week and the first mile felt pretty good. I ended up chopping a minute off of last week’s time. It may have something to do with the great Metallica riffs I was enjoying.

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Unfortunately, I still have 2.5 minutes to chop off my time.The one drawback of the run was me. Sadly, I have some soreness in my knees after yesterday’s dash through DTW (Detroit airport.) Apparently, when you return a rental car, you are also supposed to return the keys. Of course, I didn’t discover the keys in my purse until I got to my gate A12.

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I called Hertz, who instructed me to give the keys to the shuttle driver. That was all I needed. I left my stuff with my Mayor and booked it back to the ground transportation area. I only had about 20 minutes before they started boarding. Honestly, it felt great to run after a couple of rest days.

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In the end, I made it to the shuttle, back through security and back to my gate in less than 20 minutes. The only snafu was having to get patted down by security since my back was now so sweaty. Clearly, I apologized to the TSA officer for having to deal with me and my sweatiness. She replied that it was okay and that she’s seen much worse. So much for picking up a pre-flight Starbucks. It kind of felt like I was in a movie.

In the end, I knew I was taking a calculated risk in running today. After all, we ended out trip in Michigan with some White Castle sliders on Eight Mile Road. I know what you’re thinking and you’re right. It’s absolute insanity to eat White Castle before hopping on a flight.

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Thankfully, the Mayor and I are accustomed to the burgers, so I felt the risk was minimal. However, running a significant distance the morning after could be categorized as either brave or stupid. Spoiler alert, I survived the run with no intestinal issues.

Needless to say there’s no place like home. My skin is thrilled to be back in a place with humidity. Meanwhile, I’m ready to continue with the solid workout routine I’ve created. I’ll devote probably a couple posts to our weekend in Detroit because it was that awesome. I had aspirations of posting everyday, but the schedule and my energy level suggested differently.

So final test results for week 3: 16:51 for 1.5 mile run, 15 pushups and 28 sit-ups! Clearly, I have room for improvement. Next week, I should hit the sit-up number. The run, however, is going to take a few more weeks. Lastly, please keep our airman in your prayers!! It’s test day for him as well and this week is critical!

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On The Road Again

We’re on the road again! The Mayor and I are on a bird headed to Michigan for a weekend of hockey. This will be my first hockey tournament experience in Michigan, so I’m excited to see something new. As we speak, we’re currently cruising at 36,000 feet and I just finished the Downtown Abbey. I know I’m totally late to that party, but the movie was wonderful.

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Meanwhile my Mayor is excited that the landscape will be transformed into a winter wonderland with a big snowstorm tomorrow. I, on the other hand, am not excited to have to drive in a snowstorm. Part of the reason I moved to Florida in the first place was snowstorm avoidance, yet here I am! Hurray!!!

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The weekend is coming and that means another WOT is winding down for Jake. I can’t believe he’ll be starting WOT 6 on Sunday. Next week he’ll take both the written and physical tests that determine if he’ll pass BMT. Please keep him in your prayers as he and his squadron move into this challenging week. I’ll be posting updates of our trip throughout the weekend. To all those traveling this holiday weekend, please stay safe!

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