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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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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WOT 5

WOT 5 is here and I can’t believe if. On one hand, I can’t believe it’s going so fast. On the other hand, I can’t believe it’s going so slow. This week is the last full week of PT before Jake’s final PT test in week 6. Needless to say, this week is critical. As they complete this week, they will also be preparing for the written tests that are administered in WOT 6.

In WOT 5, the airmen are learning a lot including the Air Force’s mission. They’re learning about the laws that govern armed conflict. Additionally, this week they’re learning how to prepare, cope and recover from combat. Moreover, they’re continue to learn about their role as airman and how they are support the mission. It is well known that BMT is very tough physically, but there is a lot of knowledge the airmen trainees must take in and process before graduating.

Week of training five also brings the official “dress blues” photo. I can’t wait to see how he looks in his uniform. Clearly, I’ve already picked out a couple of spots where I can proudly display this photo. We’ll also have an opportunity to buy a disk of the photos taken from WOT 0 to WOT 6 at graduation. Hopefully, we can preview the photos before we have to purchase it.

Today was tough. I found myself missing him quite a bit. Unfortunately, I woke up with a horrible tension headache that left me feeling daffy for most of the day. Thank god I went back to my yoga practice in October. My Wednesday class is all about loosening how tight muscles and improving mobility. My teacher Christine is amazing and I’ve gotten some great tricks from her. Consequently, I used my therapy balls to release my neck muscles. It worked amazingly!

Clearly, today was an emotional day. One of those days that just smacks you in the fsa day for no reason. At any rate, I’m anxious to see and hear from Jake again. He doesn’t have a lot of time to call or write. Although, he should be able to call us during WOT 6.

And now have three more WOTs until graduation week. Twenty two days before we’ll see him in the airmen’s run; twenty three days until he graduates. Unsurprisingly, we’re counting down the days! Lastly, I’d ask to keep Jake in your prayers as he goes into the most critical phase of Basic Training. Please pray that he continues to be physically, mentally and emotionally strong as well prepared for his exams. Thank you for all your love and support. It is so appreciated!

Previous Training Weeks:
Week 0
Week 1
Week 2
Week 4

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