Post Grad Let Down

Since we’ve been back from San Antonio, I’ve been experiencing somewhat of a post grad let down.  After eight weeks of hyper focus on Jake’s progress through BMT and regular updates from my Facebook support groups those days are over.  There isn’t a daily support group for Tech School like there is for BMT.  Fortunately, there is a base group, which I found to be quite helpful.  Tech school is a much different journey than BMT and is more individualized.

As for graduation weekend, it was the most incredible weekend of my life.  The first day began super early with the Airmen’s run.  I know I wrote it about it before, but it was just so cool that I had to mention it again.  I loved seeing Jake running with his flight and singing the Jodies as he jogged. Being on base was just as cool.  Lackland is ginourmous! (Is that even a word?). Afterwards, we watched him become an airman during the coin ceremony.  Before the beginning, there were fight jets and cargo planes taking off and flying over the base, which was wicked cool.

On Friday, we watched the Airman’s Parade, which is when the training squadrons pass by command in formation to be reviewed.  It was such a neat event.  Unfortunately, it was super cold and windy, so we were a bit uncomfortable as the wind whipped against our backs.  Fortunately, for Jake the wind was not as bad on the actual field.  I absolutely loved the parade, in spite of the cold, and was so proud watching my new airman and his wingman on the parade field.

The whole weekend everyone was nice.  Everywhere we went people were nice and happy.  It’s crazy when you think about how much time you spend in line, traffic, how crowded the base was and the tight timelines you’re dealing with.   Amazingly, the happiness and pride that comes with seeing your Airman again and watching them graduate BMT, seems to put everyone in a permanently positive mood.  Even when my hubby purposely took up two parking spots in order to ensure my brother would get a spot, nobody batted an eye.  The only comment was on how smart he was for parking that way.  It is such a unique and uplifting experience!

The first time I saw my Airman’s graduation picture, I cried with pride and joy.  He looks so grown up and confident.  Seeing him in uniform all weekend was incredible.   The transformation he underwent in the 8.5 weeks at Lackland was absolutely amazing.  He left us nervous and anxious.  When we got him back for the weekend, he was happy, confident, self assured, decisive and disciplined.  Thankfully, he made a lot of friends on his BMT journey that will be his friends for life.  I loved seeing him interact with his wingmen.   Knowing and personally witnessing that he is where he belongs was beyond comforting to my hubby and I.

Of course the best part of the weekend was spending time with my Airman and our family.  His girlfriend M travelled with us for the weekend.  Can I tell you how much we enjoyed our time together?  Can I tell you how much I loved seeing my son and his girlfriend together?  Seeing their love and support for each other through the weekend was the stuff mother’s dream about.  I love them together!

Our time off base was well spent hanging out with the grandparents, Uncle Jon and Aunt Brandi and of course J&M2 (my nickname for Jake and his girlfriend- they’re J&M2 because my bro and sister in law are the original J&M.). We played Phase10, Uno, took a trip to the Alamo.  It is small, but the grounds are beautiful.  Friday night we had a wonderful lunch/dinner on Riverwalk.  Everyone was so nice!  They treated Jake like a king!  People were constantly thanking and recognizing Jake for his service and commitment to our country.  Saturday’s food was the ultimate in “everything is bigger in Texas” maxim.  We had a 3 pound cinnamon roll and an 37 inch diameter pizza.  Both were as tasty as they were large.  I’ll write more about that in a future post dedicated to why you should visit San Antonio.  I loved San Antonio!

Nonetheless,  grad week is over and the adrenaline is gone.  I loved my weekend so much and the tap out of my airman was priceless.  There is a lot of worry when your child is in BMT because there’s minimal contact.  That first time you see and speak to them after BMT is magical.  Now he’s in Tech School and there’s still a lot of worry, but also relief in being able to speak with him regularly.  So well I may be suffering from the post grad let down, I am beyond proud of my son and happy that he has found his place in the greatest Air Force this world has ever known.   We are so proud to be Air Force parents!

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My Airman

I am proud to say my son is now officially my airman. Today he and his fellow recruits transitioned from trainees to full fledged airman. It was a culmination of a tough 8.5 weeks. As well, as the culmination of the work he has put in since last summer.

Watching today’s ceremony was incredible emotional and uplifting. Words are not adequate to describe the feeling. Certainly, words cannot describe or fully encompass the emotions that come when you first tap out your airman. As we walked towards Jake this morning, the anticipation was beyond belief. When Mel rapped him out and they were reunited was a priceless moment.

We got to spend our day with our Airman on Base. While there’s plenty of stuff to do, it is also incredibly crowded with every other BMT family. Needless to say, we are looking forward to spending some quality time with Jake off base tomorrow. Of course, we’ll be attending the Airman’s Parade and taking pictures before leaving JBSA. Here are a few of my favorite pictures from today.

We Made It

We made it to San Antonio after a long, but fun day of travel. Our AirBnB is the cutest old house in all of San Antonio and in close proximity to everything. We did a trial run out to JBSA Lackland, so I think we have a handle on where to go early tomorrow morning. And now after a long day of traveling we’re off to bed since we have a very early wake up call tomorrow.

WOT 8

I can hardly believe it, but WOT 8 is finally here!!! It feels like we dropped Jake off at the recruiter’s office a lifetime ago. At the same time, it feels like it was yesterday. Now our count down is in days!! I will see my boy in three days!!! Yahoo!!!!!!  Yay WOT 8!

For our airman trainees, this week is all about wrapping up loose ends and out processing. After all, he’ll be on a bus to tech school early next Monday morning. From a training perspective, they’ll learn about educational benefits, be briefed on town pass and continue to practice for graduation.

As Jake wraps up his BMT journey, we’re busy making preparations for grad weekend. Sadly, it appears that gluten is the devil for my stomach. I say sadly because there’s a cafe in San Antonio that serves a 3 lb cinnamon roll. Can you imagine how aromatic that roll must be? Yummy!!! There’s also a restaurant that serves a 42 inch pizza. Finally a pizza that will serve my entire family!

Lastly, we’re so appreciative of all the support we’ve received since Jake’s departure for BMT. Your support has meant everything. In this vein, I’d ask you to hold Goalielocks’ teammate in your prayers as he begins his battle against Osteosarcoma. Cole is a wonderful kid and his family is fantastic. As he and his family fight this battle it is imperative that they know they are not alone.

Six Days!

Six days until Jake officially graduates BMT!! Only five more days until we’ll see him for the first time since December 10th! We are over the moon excited for our trip to BMT graduation.

The best part of our day today was when Jake called. Unsurprisingly, his call was very purposeful. He wanted to be sure we had all the important information we need for graduation. Fortunately, we now know exactly where he’ll be standing for the coin ceremony and airman’s parade. This makes our graduation experience so much better as we can ensure we’re positioned to see him.

Thankfully, we did have a few moments to chat about how he’s doing and BEAST week. He was disappointed that his squadron took second. His flight did outstanding with only one demerit. Unfortunately, the other flights in his squadron did not perform as well. On more than one occasion he mentioned his annoyance with their performance. His squadron did win the PT challenge at BEAST week, which he was pretty excited about. His flight has performed very well, so they were afforded a third town pass.

I asked him what he wanted to do while we were there. He said the one thing he wanted to try was Whataburger because everyone has been talking about it. Meanwhile our plan for BMT is to ensure we integrate whatever he desires in to our weekend planning. Once we fly back, he will hop on a bus to tech school where he will spend his spring.

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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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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