Monday, January 19, 2015

The Crucible

If you know me well, you know that the past couple of weeks have been pretty stressful.  We have had a lot going on, but the underlying stress is coming from Parker being at the MCRD SD.  That stands for the Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego.  He is undergoing 13 weeks of intense training to see if he has the right stuff to be a Marine.  Basically the first week doesn't count, so when you see week counts, it is based on 12 weeks of training.  This is week 11.
Parker is in the 2nd to top row on the left.  You can see him in the first few seconds of the video.  What we learned today is that 3245 is the Honor Platoon.  That means they have won the most awards and performed the best of the six platoons of the Lima Company.  Quite an honor.

video




Last week had a couple of real high points.  On Wednesday we got about an 8 and a half minute call from him because his platoon had scored the highest on the written knowledge test.  That was a very big deal.  It was so good to hear his voice.  It was very calm and measured- not at all like mine!!!  He told us that he had the flu and was really worried that he might get dropped back, but he was able to recover in the time allowed and all was well.  He was excited about getting fitted for his uniforms and getting a real Marine haircut- a high and tight.

Then on Thursday we received two letters in the mail.  He told us that he had baptized someone and conferred the Melchizedek Priesthood on someone.  What great news!  He also said that he had had pneumonia a few weeks before.  That did not panic me because I read that ALL the recruits say they have pneumonia when they really have a cold.

In the phone call when I asked him if he was concerned at all about The Crucible, he responded, "It's only two and a half days."  Yes, but. . . there's quite a bit that happens in that length of time.


I found this video.  Although it does not look like fun to me, Parker probably thinks it is like Scout Camp on steroids.  Judging by the foliage and the fact that there are women recruits, I am guessing this video was made at Parris Island, SC but there are the same types of obstacles at Camp Pendleton where they will do their test.  One thing that caught my eye is when they all step over a log.  My dad taught me that as I was growing up.  He was in the Army- probably learned it there.




I have an hour-by-hour schedule of the event so that I can be in a full-bore panic for the full 54 hours!  There are about 420 recruits in the Lima Company. About half of the moms and dads are on a Facebook site where we can share information.  One of the things that we have done is set up a prayer list so that someone will be praying for the boys every single hour.  I have three times and I have an alarm set on my phone so that I won't miss them!

One tradition is that you keep your porch light burning and a candle burning so that your recruit can find his way home.  We left our Christmas candles in our windows and they are blazing.


We also have a little display in our home to keep our minds and our prayers on Parker and the other recruits.  Since these are not real candles we will let them burn for the whole time. 


Our understanding is that if we do not get a phone call by Thursday night, we can be assured that our son completed The Crucible and has become a Marine.  I am praying that that phone stays silent!  I am not at all worried about his determination or his ability to complete such a difficult task.  I am a little concerned about his body holding up, but I have placed my concerns in God's hands and every time I feel myself getting a little worried, I pray.

So, if you don't mind, pray with me.  For strength, determination, and health for all the men of Lima Company.  Go Lethal Limas!


Saturday, January 10, 2015

The Road to the Marines

 
 One of Parker's senior photos- where he is NOT holding a gun!

Quite a few people have asked me why Parker wants to join the Marines.  I can't speak for him, except for what he has written in his letters, but I can share my own thoughts and observations.  Here's what I know.  When I look at photo albums it starts being funny because every page you turn there is a photo of Parker wearing wither Red, White, and Blue or camo.  It is rare to see anything else until high school when he added wrestling t-shirts to his wardrobe.  And his hair has always been short since he had a say about it.  Sometimes even shaved.  The other thing that is obvious as you turn the pages of the many photo albums is that we have traveled a lot.  Parker has been to 38 states and 5 countries.  He knows what America is all about and he's seen what is part our borders.  He knows what he stands for.


Parker was, and is, a tough and tumble kid.  He was scaling the refrigerator at about 18 months- which was a problem for me since I was 8 months pregnant with Reed!  He was always dirty and would make anything explode that he could- flour in the kitchen, baby powder in the bathroom... you get the idea!  He always wanted to be outside.  Right around his 4th birthday we bought a new-to-us motor home that was straight from the 70's and came with the 8 track tapes from the era.  He decided that camper was his and he wanted to go camping all the time!  As we traveled he learned great tunes by Johnny Cash and the Carpenters.

Parker was in kindergarten on September 11, 2001.  He was already a patriot and that event galvanized his 5 year old heart against the bad guys who threaten our country.  He was a vision in red, white, and blue and he wore this pin that we made together every day for months. I was surprised to see the school pictures with the flag he had built out of Legos that he made at school- I didn't know anything about it, but Mrs. South said that he kept it in his cubby and would not let anyone take it apart to re-use the Legos.

At that time in his life, all Parker wanted to be was a firefighter.  We watched "Here Comes a Fire Truck" over and over.  Ed and I can still sing all the songs!  For his 5th birthday Ed had put an old hydrant over our irrigation water spigot in the back yard.  We bought the right size hose and Parker could water the garden like a fireman.  When the fires burned after 9-11, our Fire Department was sending some guys to New York to help.  Parker had his dad unhook the hose in the backyard and he gave it to Fire Chief Dale Ekins to take to NYC to help put out the fires.  A few weeks later the hose was returned along with a FDNY hat that Parker wore all the time.






Parker shot a .22 for the first time in 2002 when we were in Illinois at Uncle Bob's house.  Loved it.  This is his 4th grade school photo from 2006- 4th grade.


Parker loved being in the Boy Scouts of America.  He loved the campouts and the hikes.  The harder the adventure was, the happier it made him.  He earned his Eagle and for his project he built a fire pit in North Lake Park.  His favorite part was the Camping Merit Badge.


The photo on the left is from the 50 mile bike ride.  It was a cold miserable day in September, but he did it!  Can't remember if he was 12 or 13.  He earned his Eagle at age 15.

Parker started wrestling in high school which is a brutal sport.  He learned to be tough both mentally and physically.  Of course Reed had to follow in his big brother's footsteps.  When they would come home from practice, Reed would be moaning and say "That was the worst practice ever."  Parker would come in with a big grin and say, "That was an awesome practice!"  The funny thing is, I don't think he ever liked wrestling despite the fact he was on the team for four years.  It was all about pushing himself to the limits in a sport that most people just can't handle.





Parker has always loved shooting.  He is our varmint control manager at the cabin and is pretty lethal with a pellet gun.  I can't even begin to imagine how many rodents have had aerial burials down there at his hands.
In November of his Junior year (2012) he was lifting.  He went down into a squat and started to come up and got stuck.  His first knee surgery was to remove the bone spur that had finally gotten long enough to dig into his IT Band muscle.  He recovered quickly and was able to start wrestling in January.  Interestingly enough, he was much better than he had been before surgery.
This is my favorite photo of Parker wrestling.  I love the intensity in his eyes as he was waiting for the ref to call the pin.  You can see the scar from the first surgery in this shot as well.

In April of that same year he went to one of those trampoline places where he managed to hurt his knee.  The doctor we went to was an idiot.  He did an ultrasound, pronounced that he would be fine with some physical therapy and sent us on our way.  I still can't believe I let that happen.  He did PT for a couple of months and then went to Vandit Wrestling Camp in June.  His knee dislocated 7 times in the first two days.  After doing some more PT, finding the doctor again who had changed offices, and finally getting x-rays and an MRI, we were sent to the head of Sports Medicine at the University of Utah Orthopedic Hospital who did a huge surgery on P's knee on September 25th, 2013. (For more on the TTT surgery, READ THIS.)  Parker became the poster child for a perfect recovery.  The doctor said he had never seen someone heal so completely and quickly from that big a surgery.  He cleared him to wrestle on January 6, 2014!
These are the scars from the second surgery.  He had two dissolvable screws to hold the new "tendon" that was made out of his hanstring and two big old screws holding his tibia together after they broke it and reshaped it to better hold the patella. Unfortunately Reed blew out his knee on January 7th and we had another knee surgery in the family.  Parker got tweaked in one of his matches and his Dad called an end to his wrestling career.  I left on a cruise with both of them on crutches! 

As any good parents would, we tried to talk to Parker about going to college or serving a Mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  He was pretty quiet about his plans, but we knew he was thinking about military service.  Things came to a head in April of his Senior year when he asked us to go to the recruiter's office and sign paperwork to allow him to join the Marines since he was only 17.  After many conversations, and a few tears on my part, we did.  This was important because it allowed us to start down the path of getting his knee cleared.  To be honest, we never really thought they would take him since he still has two screws in his knee.  But he was in such good shape that they thought he would be just fine.

This photo was taken during Parker's junior year of high school.  You can see that he had taken the "military thing" to the next level.  And that there was a new sense of seriousness.

Parker left in June to go work in North Dakota on a road project for his Dad's company.  He spent the days hauling rebar and running up and down the hills with Survey equipment.  By the time he came home in October, he had lost about 10 pounds.  He was supposed to leave on November 17, but all of a sudden the date was changed to November 2.  We were on the hustle to have family photos and to get everything ready.  Which, since they can only take a Driver's License, a Social Security Card, $20, and the clothes on their backs, it was pretty easy!

Getting sworn in for the second time (active duty) at the MEPS in Salt Lake City.  November 3, 2014.

It was hard sitting at MEPS and knowing my boy was leaving and that he would come back totally different- a man.  I am actually kind of excited to see if he picks up after himself. . .  This little kid who was at MEPS because his sister was going into the Army became enamored with Parker.  This is the last photo I took of him before he left.  It make me happy that he was so kind to this kid.

It is fun to sit back and think of all the influences in Parker's life that led him to want to serve his Country.  We are pretty patriotic and I think Utah is a very patriotic state- much more so than Maine where his Dad and I grew up.  Ed and I are both the children of men who served in WWII.  My brother served in the Army and my niece served in the Navy during Desert Storm.  Parker will be the first Marine in the family tree.  I think our tree is getting a lot stronger- and better defended!






Friday, January 2, 2015

Another New Year!

I can hardly believe that 2015 is here!  It really is true that the older you get, the more quickly time seems to pass.  This last year is like a blur- except for the two knee surgeries.  Those periods stand out in clear, dreadful detail.  And Parker leaving for Boot Camp.  That was a little traumatic for me!



I feel certain that 2015 will have its ups and downs, but I know that attitude is everything, so it will be a great year.  I am looking forward to:

Parker's Graduation and 10 Day Leave
Daniel and Tanika's new baby boy arriving in March
Ed's Birthday/ Our 24th Anniversary Cruise in April
Danaca's graduation from UVU on May 1
Dalton's Graduation from Lehi High School in May/June
Dallin and Frazier's baby arriving in June
Reed will be a Senior in August

This is one of those BIG EVENT kind of years.  I'm sure there will be lots of fun, quiet moments, too.  I just can't even anticipate them yet!

As for resolutions, I'm not that big a fan, but I do have some:

1.  Be grateful and let people know.  Write lots of thank you notes.

2.  Give 15 minutes a day to Heavenly Father.  No matter what.  This can take many forms, but it needs to be EVERY day.  (I've skipped a few in the past.)

3.  Either figure out how to make a photography business work, or forget it.  It can't be a half hobby like it is now.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Our Christmas

I never got around to posting our Christmas card for posterity, so here it is.  A bit late, but better than never!

We had a little help from DiAnna to get this photo taken.  
Since we are down to the three of us, we just had to do something funny!

And here's our Christmas Update.  Definitely not a letter.

Of course, by now we all know that the knee surgery count is woefully inaccurate since Reed blew out his other knee on December 15. . . yeah. . . the same day he had an x-ray to see if he could be cleared to wrestle on account of his broken hand.  The answer to that was, "Ah. . .you aren't quite ready yet,"  which of course, Reed totally ignored.  For the record, Reed broke the knee AT wrestling practice, but he was not wrestling.  He was running ladders.  I always said running was dangerous.

We had a very nice Christmas.  Ed's sister Judy came out from Maine and stayed for 13 days.  I felt bad that we had a pretty low key visit since Reed was firmly implanted into the couch.  She did become well acquainted with Doug and Brenda Wilcox because Brenda came over to work on Reed's leg to decrease the pain.  She taught me a new crochet pattern and I have started a baby afghan.  We also played a LOT of Hand and Foot.   We all love that game.  The dogs laid around and loved all the attention that they could wrangle.



Reed received a Playstation 4 and a couple of games.  For his birthday we gave him an iPhone 6 because we just did not feel that giving him the golf stuff we had bought would be a good fit for a kid who had surgery that day and was missing a golf trip to St. George.  He got the golf stuff for Christmas along with an iPad Mini that we got for a song as a gift with purchase kind of thing.

I received a beautiful chestnut Coach purse that was stocked with a couple of gift cards and a $100 bill!  I got ink cartridges for my photo printer.  That might not sound like a great gift, but it was.  That printer takes NINE cartridges (4 that are shades of black!) and they are expensive critters.  I also got a frying pan with a non-stick diamond coating.   
  
Ed got a surveillance camera for down at the cabin.  I think my skinny dipping days are over because I am afraid that someone will hack our feed!  I'm pretty sure they would get more than they bargained for. . .much more.  He also got a WiFi music system that he is installing down at the cabin so we have some good music when we are there.  

It was a beautiful day with the snow falling continuously.  I had two favorite moments.

1.  Around 10:30 I got a call from Sister Clausen who is a Senior Missionary at Camp Pendleton.  She told me that she had spoken with Parker that morning and that he seemed happy and well. SHe also gave us some idea of what was going on there that day. That made my whole day.

2.  In the afternoon Colby and Danaca came over.  What do you give a married couple who has no space for stuff? A trip.  They were happy with the plane tickets because they thought they would cover the trip to Parker's graduation.  They looked a little stumped about the hotel nights, but Danaca just about exploded with joy when they opened the gift cards for 3 day Disney passes.  It was a riot!  We are sad that we did not video her reaction because it was so out of character!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

In Despair

It's late on December 23rd.  I have been hustling and bustling for the past few days with Christmas events, projects, and tasks.  I stayed up after everyone else went to bed to wrap a few presents that showed up tonight courtesy of Amazon and Brown (UPS).  And then, before I went to bed, I decided that I would jump on FB for a minute to see what everyone was doing to prepare for the holiday.  I truly expected it to be a feed full of happy faces and holiday cheer.

But no.  It is filled with posts that are disagreeable and hateful.  The message is always the same.  This is MY OPINION and if you don't share it, you are WRONG and STUPID.  I was called a jerk for carrying a gun.  I was assaulted with rude images about Christmas by someone who professes to be all about love.  I saw someone who expressed an honest concern about a situation be skewered by his "friends."  It happens all the time.

All I can think about is the third verse of "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.

And in despair I bowed my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

So, I have taken action. I just realized that I can unfollow people and still stay friends with them.  That way I can go check on them when I feel prompted to, but I don't have to be assaulted by their negative posts.  The funny thing is, it is not usually
THEIR words.  It is the crappy, hateful memes that they share.  I feel bad about this, because I want to know what is going on in the world and to understand all the different facets of the problem.  I want to hear opinions that make me uncomfortable and challenge my view of the world.  But I am no longer willing to let those people pretend that they are acting out of love and concern when they are really just being hateful.

My gift to myself this Christmas?  A more peaceful and kind FB feed.  Unfortunately, I will miss out on some information from family and friends.  Oh, well.  Hopefully I can get back to the last two verses in the next couple of days.

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."

Till, ringing singing, on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Adversity


"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

I have always adhered to this statement.  Thinking otherwise is just too darn depressing, but in reality it isn't necessarily so.  We meet adversity on a daily basis, but usually in small doses.  Sitting in a traffic jam may help teach us patience.  Having a reprimand from a boss helps keeps us humble and may well point out a weakness that needs to be strengthened.  These things help us grow.

We often hear that "God doesn't give us more than we can handle."

I'm sorry, but that is just not true.  Not all adversity comes in small doses.  Sometimes is is massive and terrible and overwhelming.

If we could handle everything that happens, we would never ask for His help.
If we could handle everything that happens, we would never be stretched and wouldn't grow.
If we could handle everything that happens, our faith would never be tested.

We came here to be tested.  To learn.  To grow.  To develop faith.  To learn to give and serve and to learn to be humble and receive.

None of these lessons come easily, but we do "handle" them.  Sometimes we accept the challenges with grace and sometimes we react in anger and hurt.  Sometimes we stretch and meet the challenge head-on and sometimes we withdraw into ourselves and hide from the problem.

Some people get stronger and then reach out to others.
Some people get angry and bitter at the unfairness of the challenge.
Sometimes people decide that they are not willing to be challenged anymore and remove themselves from the situation.

None of us particularly enjoy adversity.  But the worst is watching other people that we love have to deal with adversity.

I have a friend who seems to have a never ending stream of unbelievable challenges in her life.  A few she has brought upon herself, but most have been the result of situations far beyond her control.  I don't think she feels strong, but I see a totally different woman now than I knew just a few years ago.

Right now I am watching Reed be challenged with injuries.  I don't know why he is dealing with this.  He had surgery on his right knee in January after it dislocated during wrestling practice..  It was painful and difficult.  It tested his patience, his obedience, and his attitude.  Apparently he didn't learn enough because last month he broke his right hand.  And then yesterday he dislocated his left knee.  Here he is facing another missed season.  And yet, he has chosen to have surgery.

Last night he was mad and frustrated.  There were some tears and raw emotions.  He was asking, "Why me?  Why me again?"  It is a horrible thing to watch as a parent.  Because it is all true and all too real.  As the hours ticked by he began to understand the challenge before him.  His humor began to haltingly return.  He was willing to accept a Priesthood Blessing on his behalf and expressed gratitude and love to his dad and his brother, Colby.  This morning was as whole different story.  A few hours of sleep had allowed him to fully accept the challenge.  All traces of anger were gone.  There was no mention of how unfair it is that he is once again missing an activity he enjoys.  When given a choice to let things go or to have surgery, he decided to accept the additional pain of surgery in hopes of more complete healing.  I have to admit that I am stunned by his positive attitude.

I worry why he needs these lessons.  What will he face in the future?  Who will he need to help?  What is the purpose of these specific challenges?  I may never know the answers to these questions.  But if he is willing to walk by faith, so am I.

In the words of Joseph B. Wirthlin, "Come what may and love it."

Photo from http://www.landeeseelandeedo.com/

Friday, December 12, 2014

National Hot Cocoa Day

I have it on good authority (that would be Facebook) that Saturday, December 13 is National Hot Cocoa Day.  I had some of the most amazing hot cocoa ever made at our Relief Society activity on Wednesday night.  Jenette Burr made it and was willing to share her recipe, which actually came from the blog www.mrshappyhomemaker.com.  It is to die for good.  My friend Nicole HATES chocolate (I know. . .she's crazy) and even SHE LIKED IT!!!!!

If you make this and love it, go give some love on the original post.  

Creamy Crockpot Hot Cocoa {Best Ever!}
Ingredients
  • 1.5 cups whipping cream
  • 1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 6 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups of chocolate chips (milk chocolate OR semi-sweet depending on how sweet you like it. I have a heck of a sweet tooth, and I love the milk chocolate, but others prefer the semi-sweet)
Instructions
  1. Stir together the whipping cream, milk, vanilla, and chocolate chips in a crockpot.
  2. Cover and cook on low for 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until mixture is hot and chocolate chips are melted. Stir again before serving. Garnish as desired.