Scott’s Story Time – Swearing In

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This is the story of my son joining the military. I am so proud! It began with his buddy, JD, starting the process of enlisting last April (2013). JD was joining the Coast Guard Reserves and Scott decided to join him. He started seeing the recruiter in September. He was required to take a computerized test (ASFAB) to ensure he scored high enough in various knowledge and skill sets for the job he was hoping to get. Then he had a physical. The boy weighs less than me and I’m at least four inches shorter than him (sigh).

Eventually he was accepted into the same Coast Guard Reserve unit as JD, up in Sandusky, Ohio, ultimately to be trained in law enforcement. Scott seems pretty excited about patrolling on a boat with guns! You go defend us from those Canadians trying to sneak into the U.S. by way of Put-In-Bay!

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(Thanks to Josh for this wonderful photo!)

They decided to wait until after the holidays to enter basic training, which is in Cape May, New Jersey. Basic Training for eight weeks, in New Jersey, in winter.

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Not sure what these guys were thinking!

They were supposed to leave on January 7th, but we had some bitterly cold, record low temperatures, and flights out of Port Columbus were grounded. Their departure was rescheduled to January 14th.

So, Monday afternoon, Scott and JD came to my house and from here I drove them up to the Embassy Suites by the airport. Let me tell you, it’s a damned good thing that Uncle Sam got discount rates and covered their rooms. All the little recruits were put up in style for the night!

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The only difference between my room and Scott’s was that they had two queen beds to my one king. With my military discount, and adding tax, it still was over $200 for maybe twelve hours’ stay! The recruits all got a free dinner and breakfast to round out the nice accommodations. Now, I will admit that, having been prior Air Force, myself, and on flying status, I got to stay in some pretty nice hotels during my career. The Coast Guard may treat their members just as nice. I feel sorry for all the kids who leave for Army or Navy basic training this day! I don’t think they will have it so nice again in their enlistments!

Speaking of enlistments, Scott and JD joined up for eight years! Because of that commitment, they will get to come out of basic training at the E-3 pay grade.

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So, the boys were given an 0430 wake-up call with an 0435 repeat call to be sure they were up. They had to check out, report for breakfast and be done eating by 0530 when the busses left for the MEPS station. Sounded like very few kids in the crowd got much sleep. I know I didn’t. I had worked night shift on Sunday, got about a three-hour nap Monday morning, and tried to go to bed Monday night at around eight o’clock. I was awake again by eleven and tossed and turned all night hoping for a few more z’s. They never came back.

I followed the bus to the MEPS building.

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From there, it was more waiting (for me) while the recruits went through various stages of in-processing and out-processing. Most had another quick check by the physician and Scott was, again, scolded for his lack of weight! I told him he had better plan on eating everything he can shove in his mouth each and every meal while he’s gone! I want to see a few more pounds on him by the time he graduates!

Finally it was time for the recruits to swear in. Scott and JD were in the first group. They gave us family members a lot of freedom to take pictures and video if we wanted. Scott was so very serious this whole time!

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I opted to video the actual swearing in instead of taking still shots, as I thought that would make a better memory than just a few photos in a scrapbook (you know I’ll be making him a scrapbook!).

We got to spend a few more minutes with them before we were ushered out.

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(Wow, I really did need some sleep!)

Scott signed his life away and his enlistment was final. (He got a copy of this certificate a few weeks back, but it’s all I have to include in his scrapbook later)

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I could have driven myself over to the airport to spend a few more moments with him, but they wouldn’t be outside of the secured area for long, not to mention I’d still have to deal with airport parking! I was running on vapors (I did not get breakfast), and the pups were waiting for me to get home and let them out. I gave Scott some last hugs and best wishes then headed home.

Not sure what time he got to the airport or left from there, but the itinerary has them only flying as far as Philadelphia, then getting on another bus for a couple more hours’ drive. Apparently there are no airports any closer to Cape May than Philly. I figure I will just drive out there for Scott’s graduation. He’s allowed to drive back home with me then, as his technical school training got pushed back to September. If he flew, we’d still have to pick him up from whatever airport they let him fly into.

I can’t wait to see him in eight weeks! I want him to do well, but, I gotta say, as the second-hardest basic training of all the branches, I feel for him! He’s got a pounding ahead of him! (This is why I joined the Air Force!!)

But when it’s all said and done, he will proudly wear the uniform of a Coast Guard seaman!

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God bless you, Scott and JD! Stay strong. Stay safe. See you in eight weeks!

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Story Time – Linguistic, and other Remeniscences

Not too long ago, I saw a post on my facebook newsfeed for a quiz in which you were asked about how you referred to various objects, or what phrase you used to describe something. The “test” was for the program to see if it could tell what part of the country you lived in (or grew up in) based on your answers. It started with whether you might say “you guys”, “yous”, or “y’all” (among a few others). It asked whether that house diagonally across the intersection from yours is “catty-corner” or “kitty-corner”, and whether you call freshwater lobsters “crawdads”, “mudbugs”, or “crayfish.”

Oddly, part of me wanted the program to fail. I mean, with the NSA spying on everyone already, do we really need another method with which to be identified? After taking this quiz twice, it was unclear if the program is really accurate or not; the first time I was given three cities that is said were “close” to where the program thought I lived, none of which were close. The second time I took the quiz, believing I answered everything the same as I had before, it gave me three new cities, one of which was remarkably closer to being correct. If you’d like to take the quiz, use this link:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/12/20/sunday-review/dialect-quiz-map.mobile.html?_r=1&

In any event, it got me thinking about things I grew up “knowing” and saying, and wondering if I’d taught my kids to use the same words, or if they picked up different sayings through their peers, teachers, and other folks in their worlds. I also wonder how much I’ve told them about things we had in the past that no longer exist, at least not in the sense that they would consider using them nowadays.

One thing I remember saying and doing was spotting the cars driving with one headlight out while cruising after dark. We called them “pididdles”, and if you saw three in a row, you got to make a wish. To this day, I “collect” my pididdle wishes just like I wish on the first star I see on a clear night.

While I grew up calling any submarine sandwich a “hoagie”, I have expanded my vocabulary and will alternate that with “sub” at times. My first exposure to such sandwiches was with a local restaurant the used the them “hoagie” and Subway, Jersey Mikes, and Jimmy John’s weren’t around yet. There are other word and phrases I have come to say differently as my own personal horizons have expanded. There is a convenience store called United Dairy Farmers around here. I grew up calling it “the Dairy Farmers” as that how everyone in my neighborhood referred to it. After moving away, and even after returning to my area, I now, more often, call it “UDF” like everyone else does.

“Pop” and “soda” have always been interchangeable, and I will waffle between “y’all” and “you all” depending on the company I am in, or how lazy or tired I might be.

As a kid, when playing hide-n-seek or any other game where you want to call all the players back in, we never yelled out “olly olly oxen free” – we yelled “olly olly in come free”. Seemed to make more sense as a kid that if you called the others in that way, they knew they weren’t going to be “it” for coming in out of hiding.

Of course, as society and technology advances, certain things are lost forever that our kids and grandkids won’t have the pleasure of knowing anything about lest they read about them, or we elders continue telling them all about it. I would like to think that my boys, both in their early twenties, know a bit more about some “lost treasures” than their peers. But will they pass on the tales to their own children or grandchildren some day?

Eight-track tapes where still around when I was growing up. The players didn’t come standard in cars, but my brother installed one in his car and tortured me with the alarm clock bells of Pink Floyd every morning as we drove to school. Even cassette tapes are a thing of the past that many young people these days are unaware of. I remember having an old reel-to-reel tape deck, using it to record songs off the radio because buying an actual vinyl LP was expensive to a kid with no real allowance or job to speak of. I hated that the DJs always talked over the intro and ending of my favorite songs! Of course, the little 45s were cheaper, but you still had to get your mom to take you to the store, as there was no “downloading” any tunes electronically.
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Betamax was a competitor of VHS when it came to video tapes. The physical dimensions of the beta tapes were smaller, so certainly not interchangeable with a VHS player. For reasons I don’t really remember, beta didn’t last, kind of like laser discs when CDs and DVDs became the next best thing. Some folks still have VHS players/recorders and there are ways to connect those to your computer if you want to convert the videos to a DVD format, or just keep them stored digitally on your computer.
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Of course, how many homes still have old rotary phones with a hand-set that you can satisfyingly slam down when you want to end a call dramatically? Even the push-button style still allowed for that wonderful feeling that disconnecting a cell phone – or even a cordless phone – cannot achieve. Most kids don’t have a clue that the alphabet on the phone’s keypad actually meant something totally different in “old days” than a means of sending text messages. Phone number exchanges actually were words rather than numbers. The first two letters of the word were paired with four or five numerals to make your home phone number, but folks used the whole word when giving out their phone number to friends, who all knew exactly what they meant. “I can be reached at ENglewood 3-1234.” You didn’t even have to dial it all yourself – you could just have the operator connect you. And many people had “party lines” in order to save money on phone bills. This was like having multiple telephones in your home – if you picked up the extension in one room, not knowing someone in another room in the house was using the phone, you would be able to listen in or be part of their conversations. Party lines worked the same way, only the phones were in different houses. As a kid, if we wanted to make prank calls, but the neighbor was using the phone, our fun was spoiled…unless we could manage to lift the receiver again, quietly so they did not realize we were listening in. Of course, giggles or other sounds would give us away, and we would hang up quickly before scolding ensued!
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If you have favorite words or phrases that are unique to where you live, but are fading out of use, take note of them and share them with your kids. Tell them about stuff you had and used that no one sees, let alone uses anymore. If nothing else, they may learn something new and interesting (maybe!).

Tell them about the little aluminum trays with a hole, rubber ring, and wooden stick that you filled with chocolate milk and stuck in the freezer to make your own popsicles.
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(I used these a lot!)

Share the games you played as kids that maybe aren’t around anymore – “Green light, Yellow light, Red light, STOP!”, and “Mother May I?” come to mind. Did you play “Ghost in the Graveyard” or “Kick the can”?

Share TV programs that you loved as a kid, or that you remember watching with your grandparents even though you may not have loved those shows! Who sat through and hour of “Lawrence Welk” because you knew that you’d get to watch “Hee Haw” later?

Is any of this important? Not really.
Is any of this interesting? Perhaps even less so.

But I am amused by it all, and so I am sharing. I want my kids to remember me and all the things that made me “tick.” Some of my best memories were of times when all these things were simpler and we enjoyed life more. I want my kids to know that less really can be more. That wishing on pididdles is just as legitimate as wishing on stars.

And I want their wishes to come true.

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Story Time – A different kind of Hero

This year, thousands of our military members will not be home with their loved ones for Christmas. They have a strong understanding of duty, honor, and country. They don’t begrudge us our time with our families because they are the ones keeping us safe so we CAN celebrate with them at this time of year. We thank them from the bottom of our hearts and pray for their safety and for their families. It is with great respect and thanks that my family will be together this Christmas, my nephew granted some leave during this season from his military training, and my own son not scheduled to leave for his basic training for another two weeks.

But today I want to talk about a different kind of hero. I work with them every day.

No, I’m not talking about doctors or nurses, though they most certainly deserve the title of hero as well.

I am talking about the parents and family of our most critically ill babies and children, suffering in hospitals all over the world instead of gathering around a warm fire, delicious food, and twinkling lights on a Christmas tree. Some children will recover and eventually go home to spend future Christmases in their loving homes, more grateful than most families for having spent a past Christmas scared and hurting.

Some families will not get to take their child home and their future Christmases will be forever marred by the indescribable pain of loss.

Today, my heart and prayers are with a specific family who sit vigil at their beautiful son’s bedside waiting for the Lord to call him home. I cannot write this without shedding tears of sorrow for the pain they are suffering right now. Yet through it all, they hold tight to each other in love and support. They allow us to share in their grief, embracing strangers as family. I cannot imagine the hell it must be for someone to give all control over to others, knowing that the outcome will not be a happy one.

What to do you say to friends or family that you know going through such sorrow? It’s impossible to know any words that will take their pain away.

I spent my night trying to give comfort where I could, knowing that, while it was appreciated, it was far too little…I could not give them what their hearts desired.

And so I pray. I ask the Lord to please give the family the release they need or please give them a miracle that will make this Christmas memorable for the best reasons. I don’t know what God’s plan is for this family, or anyone, but I trust he knows just how much we can all handle and that he will give this family just the right amount of time with their precious, precious boy.

So, as you all sit down to your holiday meals this year, put aside petty bickering that might be a part of your family traditions. Don’t you dare complain about a gift not being exactly what you asked for. Don’t indulge yourself into oblivion without remembering those who will not do anything but sit at their dying child’s bedside in a strange, cold place asking for nothing and everything, knowing that Christmas will never be the same again.

Say a prayer for our troops, but also say a prayer for these other heroes. Remember them today and everyday. If you know someone personally that is going through this, be there for them. No words are necessary. Knowing you are there is enough. And as time goes on, stay by their side and let them talk of their child to you as much or as little as they want. Allow them the memories and the gift of sharing.

Christmas is about love and the gift of life. We all will do better to remember that and return to times when just being together as a family and celebrating God’s gift of His son to us was the most important thing about this season.

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Merry Christmas!

There are only 10 days left till Christmas! This is one of those years where I’m doing absolutely nuthin’. I’ve got no guests coming to my house, so I did not drag out the tree or decorations, did not string lights on the house, haven’t even tried to get Ripley to wear a Santa hat. In a way, it’s peaceful.

Oh, sure, I’ve done some shopping, mostly on-line because I hate crowds, but got a few things at real brick-and-mortar stores because someone asked for something more easily obtained that way. The giving spirit is certainly alive and well even if the decorating spirit is not.

This week, I guess I will try to see about baking the pups some special treats, and make enough for the other dogs in our family’s lives. That’s the extent of my “holiday baking,” a task I never got in the habit of. I guess I could count the couple-dozen Toll House cookies I popped in the oven today (half of which Lyle and I already ate!). Good thing I don’t plan on baking for others…they’d get crumbs!

I didn’t get around to making any home-made Christmas cards this year; a few people got some that were left over from last year, but most folks just got a photo card collage courtesy of WalMart. My crafty mojo seemed to go on extended hiatus this past summer and I struggle to get anything crafty done. As such, my family will likely be disappointed not to get home-made calendars this year. I would have put more effort into those except that I have hardly any photos of extended family to use in them. I could give them all calendars featuring Ripley and Carley, but I doubt they’d enjoy those as much. My niece posts lots of nice photos on facebook but I think she uses that “instagram” thing and, when I order prints using those, I inevitably get shots with people’s heads cut off. Apparently instagram is not set in a typical 4 x 6 template.

My work schedule puts a slight crimp in the holiday gathering plans – I am off Christmas Eve but still have to work Christmas night, so will spend a lot of the day sleeping in. We are planning a “Ludwig” get together at my brother’s house on Christmas Eve, and my nephew will be home from his Army technical training school. Can’t wait to hear him tell about his basic training experience! The “Baker” get-together won’t happen until the Saturday after Christmas, but at least we all have that day free and clear and can just focus on good food and great company!

Once again, Sean won’t be home for the holidays. He’s back in Wisconsin (third time’s a charm, right??). I’ve sent him his gift package already. I’m not sure if he’s opening everything yet or saving it till Christmas, but I didn’t wrap the gifts inside the shipping box, so he’ll see what he’s got whether he opens things up or not. He’s in for a rough winter this year, both because it’s Wisconsin, and because he and Chris lost their jobs. I say a little prayer every day that he stays healthy, happy, and strong, and that they find work soon.

Scott is still preparing to leave for his Coast Guard basic training in January. There’s a potential glitch in him not having his high school diploma on hand, so hopefully a copy of transcripts is sufficient so the recruiter doesn’t have to delay his enlistment. Of course, winter in New Jersey?? I could understand a delay for a bit!

Not sure if I will post more before Christmas or not. If not, I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!
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Canning spot videos

My new blog page, http://www.preppinwolf.wordpress.com, isn’t (yet) equipped to manage videos, so I am linking this page to that one where I want some videos to be available.

This first one is just 10 seconds showing “gentle rocking” of the vent pipe weight on my pressure canner:

This second video shows the bubbling of fluids in the jars after processing is complete:

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Scrapping for December 2013

My first layout is from some sketch I’ve had for a while, so forget who to give credit to. It worked out great for some photos I had of Carley:

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Here are a couple of layouts based on sketches from Let’s Scrap…

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This next one is from Paper Secrets: (and these photos are all still from July – I’m way behind on my scrapping!)

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This one is from Sketch-n-Scrap:

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The next layouts are from Colorful Creations. A couple of them have sketches, but sometimes they just give you instructions and you make up the page to include whatever detail(s) they ask for:

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This sketch came from Sketch 365, but was from November’s challenge (I never got around to it last month):

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This sketch is by Jennesa Francis (Sorry if I misspelled your name!). I’m not sure if she designed it for Sketch-n-scrap or Paper secrets – I forgot to write it down when I printed a copy:

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This last layout was just me throwing a few pics on paper – no sketch to connect it to:

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I think that’s it for now.
Thanks for looking!

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Story Time

As I approach the beginning of another trip around the sun, I look back and see that my life has taught me there are no absolutes. Flexibility and open-mindedness are just two of many keys to survival in a world that is constantly changing.

While I have felt honored to be included in many groups over the years, both in my real life and in various communities on line, I find inclusion is also flexible, some days less than others. More often than not, it is the wide range of personalities that keeps different groups entertaining and worth that inclusion.

Sometimes, though, you say or do something that makes you realize that you have either out-grown a group, or, perhaps never really fit in to begin with. The choice to be made at those times is “do I stay or do I go”? Is inclusion important enough to alter your views to line up better with the majority? Or, are your beliefs worth standing behind?

While core values shouldn’t have to be compromised just to feel like you fit in with a particular group, one should try to accept that some differences of opinion will always exist and that neither side is “wrong” or “bad” for their beliefs. For so many issues in life, there is no right or wrong, black or white. There are certainly more than fifty shades of gray.

I have always thought that I was accepting of others whose opinions differ from mine. I enjoy lively debates on a wide variety of topics and I believe I acknowledge positive points others make even when they don’t necessarily “jive” with my views. Sadly, there are times when, despite your acceptance of another’s opinions, it is clear s/he will not accept yours. In the past, I was much more likely to heighten a verbal debate into more of a confrontation, which can really only happen with the other party is also game for escalation.

These days, I find that such escalations only drain me of mental energy that is best reserved for more constructive pursuits. I have learned that it is better, at times, to walk away than to try and prove my worthiness to be included. When I feel like I am taking a defensive stance on a given topic, no matter how small it may be, then I know it is time to make a change. Perhaps that sounds like “giving up” or “throwing in the towel”, but by whose standards? What one person may view as me “running away” from an uncomfortable situation thereby giving the impression that I am weak, I believe is, rather, a show of strength that I do not need to be defined by the company I keep. I do not need the acceptance of many others to note my worth. Within my small circle of lasting and true friends I know that I am valued beyond compare.

At the end of the day, I want to look in the mirror and see a person who willingly chose to be a better person, not by bringing others down, but by lifting them up. When I no longer feel lifted in return, it is certainly not in weakness that I walk away.

Strength comes from knowing how to stand, comfortably, alone and not feel lonely. Surrounding yourself with people who are not uplifting to you may imitate inclusion in a group, but it is no cure for loneliness, and perhaps self-doubt. Who wants to live like that?

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