March 28, 2012

Things Parker Says

Me: (picking up a piece of wood off the twins floor that was made in one of their shop like class) This is nice.
Parker: you can have it if you want.
Tyler: but it's mine!

March 20, 2012

Graduation (read Family Day, below this post first)

Another early day.  We wanted to leave the hotel by 6:30am.  3:30am west coast time.  Sigh.  I got up at 5am to get ready.  I spent a half hour curling my hair.  That was an unfortunate waste of time.  5 minutes in the humidity and it was straight as an arrow again.  Double sigh.  On the bright side, I got to see Rebecca again! 

We got out the door on time and to the depot before they opened the "stands" on the parade deck.  We waited in line, then went through the metal detectors with our id's, airport style. Booyaa!  We get to our stand, the one for Platoon 4007.  They are rather small.  I knew there was no way the entire platoons families were going to fit.  Brian and I were first there so we saved seats.  We hadn't talked about that with Rebecca's family the day before but we figured it was a safe assumption that they would want to sit with us.  We got a choice spot, I was very excited.  Then I looked down to see the metal bench was wet.  I hadn't even said anything yet and the guy in front of us hands me a towel and says he has bug spray if we need it.  His son-in-law is a Marine so he knew what to expect. (Apparently, they hose the seats down.)  I thank him and he says to thank the hotel.  Awesome!

It was around 8:30am, graduation started at 9am, and we still didn't see Rebecca's family.  We were saving an entire row and the stands were completely full and people were filling in the standing room only spaces.  I was sure we would have to defend our saved seats with a stick but not one person asked about them.  Everyone was very respectful and there was a family vibe going around.  It felt good to be there.  Of course, I start worrying that Rebecca's family have changed their minds and don't want to be around us and we are saving a row of seats for just two people.  Thankfully, that didn't turn out to be the case.  They were just running a bit late but they made it before graduation started.

The graduates marched in.  They looked great.  Rebecca was in the front row of her platoon in the the first spot, closest to us.  There were a bunch of ceremonial things going on but I couldn't take my eyes off Rebecca.  I was filled with such pride and love.  I am so incredibly thankful she has invited me into her life.  I watched her, wishing my grandfather, who was a Marine, could see his great granddaughter become a Marine.  I know he would be proud of her.

Graduation ends and we all file out onto the parade deck to take a ton of pictures with our Marine.  Following graduation the new Marines get a 10 day leave.  Rebecca was going to Puerto Rico with her dad and a friend.  I was sad that I wouldn't get to spend any time with her on her leave but was so happy she got a vacation.  She earned it.  Anyhow, her flight left later that night so we didn't have much time with her.  We decided to take her family to lunch as a thank you.  Rebecca chose The Olive Garden.  Lots more storytelling going on.  It was fun to watch her talk about the things she had been through.  You could tell she was proud of her accomplishment.  The time came to leave and Rebecca's mom wanted us all to pray over Rebecca before they left.  Our hotel was right across the street so we found a quiet room and prayed over her.  Mine was short as I could barely get words out of my mouth through the tears.

I asked her for 5 minutes alone.  During that time we gave her the gifts we had brought for her.  We got her an iPhone on our family plan.  We didn't want anything to get in the way of staying in contact.  I also made her a camo blanket with her graduation date embroidered on it.  She had nowhere to put it so it came back home with me until she is in a more permanent place.  I also had a gift bag full of all sorts of different chocolate bars and candies.  Rebecca considers chocolate to be a food group.

It is time for her to get in the car so I give her a big hug and tell her that I love her.  She said she loved me too.  My heart melted.  I gave the other family members hugs goodbye and then Rebecca asked for one more hug.  That did it.  Tears were freely flowing.

Brian and I stood in the parking lot for a long time.  Him hugging me while I cried.  What an emotional few days.

The tree lined roads leading into Parris Island.

We got to see the sun rise while waiting in line.

Standing room only and the Marines all in line.

Platoon 4007.  Pictures are blurry. They were hard to take.  I had to dodge and weave around everyone
else taking pictures.

Rebecca's platoon about to walk in front of us.

It is an aweful picture but I just love the excitement between the three of these Marines.
 Rebecca and Mackenzie were friends and enlisted together.  We got to know Mackenzie
 when she came up to Oregon with Rebecca.  She was there the day I got to put my arms
around Rebecca again.  She will always be a part of that memory. 
I'm so happy for them both!

A happy Marine!

March 19, 2012

Family Day

It has been an emotional journey.  So many emotions in such a short amount of time.  We fly into Charleston at midnight.  The car rental place was off airport even though they advertised they were on airport.  That took awhile and the driver said she was too tired to help us with our bags.  Not that we wanted help but she was just so matter of fact about it that it was funny.  Perhaps it was just the Valium.  She asked us what we did for a living and the guy on the bus with us said he worked with something that had to do voting.  So the driver, wisely, brought up politics and asked us who we were voting for.  The guy said he couldn't vote because of the job he held.  This upset her greatly.  She went on about infringing on his right to vote and how important it was that he should have a vote.  When we turned it back on her she admitted she had never voted.  Oh, the irony.  Again, very amusing to me. We had an hour and a half drive to Beaufort, South Carolina.  By the time we checked into the hotel and got ready for bed it was 3am.  The pillow felt good.

I awoke bright eyed and bushy tailed at 6am.  (They need a sarcasm font.)  I was tired but I didn't care.  I was going to see Rebecca again.  It was worth it!  Surprisingly, I wasn't nervous about the impending meeting with her parents.  We arrive on post about an hour before the ceremony before the Marine's get on base liberty.  We were walking around looking for a seat. There were about 500 recruits graduating so there were a lot of people. I hear someone yelling Theresa.  That's nice for Theresa.  I glanced over and there's these women waving in my direction.  I look behind me to see who they are waving at.  It became clear they were waving at me and yelling Janiesa, not Theresa.  As soon as I actually focused on them I knew they were Rebecca's family.  They had saved us seats. 

I couldn't believe it.  It was such a kind gesture and was totally unexpected.  I know how many people were praying for that meeting that I shouldn't have been surprised, but I was.  We walk over to where they are and I sit down next to Rebecca's mom.  I say hi to her dad, sister, and aunt.  I knew her aunt from summer camp and that is how I came to know the Flotos.  Rebecca's mom and I chatted over the hour and I spent most of it in a kind of surreal bubble.

The ceremony starts.  The recruits, who are actually Marines as soon as they pass The Crucible, march in in grand form.  They all look the same.  They had their cover on (hat) so you really couldn't see faces.  The guy in charge started talking.  I didn't really pay much attention to anything he was saying.  I was just focused on finding Rebecca in the masses.  There was some yelling from the DI's and then on base liberty began.  We had from 10am - 3pm to spend with her.

I see her walking towards us and I had to fight every instinct to go running to her.  I knew I needed to let her family go first.  That was hard for me.  Liberty begins.  We ask Rebecca what she wants to do and she says she wants to eat a cheeseburger.  There is a burger place that they had to run by everyday and the smell was intoxicating.  Well, every other Marine had been intoxicated because the line was long!  It took about an hour of waiting in line but we had a rapid fire question and answer time with Rebecca.  We learned a lot about the life of a recruit.  Wow!  These are a group of very strong women. While waiting in line I resisted the urge to hug Rebecca.  I felt it would be disrespectful to her parents but I am a very hands on type of mom, so it was hard. 

We sit down outside to eat.  The bugs are unreal.  They are everywhere and they bite!  More stories during lunch.  The more she tells us the more impressed I am with her.  What an accomplishment this is.  It is a title that is truly earned.

She gives us a tour.  We see where she lived, trained, and ate.  The bugs continued to bite and were not easily distracted.  I was glad to have long sleeves on.  It was hot and humid but it was better than being bitten by bugs.

As we walk around Parris Island we rotated through conversations with everyone.  Her family was so kind to us and we were so thankful to be a part of family day.  I told Rebecca's mom that if they wanted some alone time with her that we would respect that and leave.  She said no.  She wanted us to be together.

Liberty is over and away she goes.  Then away I went to the "gift shop" to buy everything with the word Marine on it! 

We go back to our hotel and try hard to stay awake.  I didn't make it very long!  Tomorrow is graduation day!!

She is in there somewhere!

I think she looks so much like me in this picture!

The thing Rebecca said she was looking forward to most was seeing the Parris Island sign in the rearview mirror.  I tried to get her a picture of it.  The brick wall with the white post like thing is the Parris Island sign.  I had only a few frames to get it as the Marines standing guard didn't look very patient.

March 15, 2012

That figures...

My first day of full time and Parker gets sick in the night! I stayed home with him in the morning and then Brian took the afternoon. Poor guy still has a fever of 102. :(

March 14, 2012

It's official...

As of today, I am now a full time working mom!

March 11, 2012


PFC R.L. Floto

Flip Side

We made it to the flip side!  The airplane not only stayed aloft but generously gave me a fever this morning.  Thank you 737.  I will treasure it always!

Because my father-in-law was so gracious and gave us his free flight on Southwest we had to hop around the country the way only Southwest can.  We flew from Portland to Sacramento.  Sacramento to Chicago.  Chicago to Charleston.  On the way home it was Charleston to Chicago.  Chicago to Portland.  Here is the thing I have learned from all those flights.  I hate flying to Chicago.  I think Satan and his minions hover in the air around the airport laughing at the faces of fear through the plane windows. 

As I mentioned before, I am terrified of flying.  My doctor gave me some Valium to take the edge off but the thing that helped the most were my post-it notes.  I had four of them with verses about anxiety.  Anytime I felt anxious I would read through those notes over and over and over again.  Every time we changed planes the first thing I did was put up my notes.  I had more than a few crazy stares but I didn't care.  God's words gave me such a peace that passes understanding.  Most are the "standard" verses about anxiety, but the Holy Spirit led me directly to this one.  Matthew 6:27, "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life."  I had to laugh at that one.

Our first flight into Chicago had some nasty wind shear.  It was bad.  There was non stop verse reading going on.  It was like the pilot was driving a car and couldn't decide what lane he wanted to be in.  We would swerve to the right and then to the left.  We would turn 15 degrees and change lanes over and over again all the while banking hard when making a turn.  The plane was bouncing up and down.  Several times I looked out the window and only saw the ground.  That is how sharp the banking was.  No sky at all, just houses.  I would close my eyes thinking this was it, we're going down.  The guy sitting next to Brian was saying he flew into Chicago all the time and this never happens.  He kept saying something was wrong.  I was too busy saying my verses to say anything but I looked at him with eyes that said, "shut up and do not speak again if you want to live."  It worked, he didn't say another word.  Obviously, we landed safely.  I wonder if God will let us blog in Heaven?

On the second time into Chicago the pilot had the flight attendants sit down 3 different times for their safety.  Bumpy is not an adequate word for it.  It just cemented in my mind that if God wanted us in the air he would have given us wings.  We land and had to change planes and I needed a Starbucks.  Badly.  I needed my comfort drink.  No Starbucks in the airport.  It was official.  I hate Chicago.  I am sure that the ground part of Chicago is wonderful and beautiful but from the air, no thanks.

Flying into Portland is always bad.  It can be a sunny day and you bounce up and down and side to side.  This is normal and expected.  The flight attendants work right through it, business as usual.  As we approach Portland the pilot tells the flight attendants to sit down for their safety.  Snap, it is going to be rough!  I am reading my verses but popped another Valium.

Valium sedates you to a degree.  Because of my fear of flying my adrenaline is pumping the entire flight which counteracts the sedation of Valium.  Once we landed in Portland the adrenaline stopped and sedation began.  Brian had to keep asking me if I was ok.  I feel asleep in the car and Brian woke me up when we got home, only he told me that this was the third time he woke me up.  He had taken in all the luggage and everything.  I walked in the house, gave my boys a big hug, walked up the stairs, fell on the bed and woke up this morning.  With a fever.  All in all, I am glad to be on the ground.  I am glad to be with my boys who missed me.  If Rebecca were here it would make everything perfect but she is in Puerto Rico relaxing with friends and I am happy for her. 

Thank you, Lord for your protection.  I can't get through a day without You!

March 9, 2012


Words. I have none. I am still sorting through all the emotions I am feeling but I know I feel pride. I watched my beautiful daughter graduate from a recruit to a full fledged United States Marine. Listening to the things she went through I am certain she has more strength in her little finger than most have in their entire bodies. Rebecca is an amazing woman!

Nineteen years ago I thought I would never see her again. That broke my spirit. Most people think the rape changed me, but for the most part they are wrong. Losing Rebecca did that. I remember my arms literally aching to hold her. There are no words to describe that pain. But today I held her. My arms ache no more, however, it was so hard to let her go again. As she was leaving she stopped and asked for one more hug. I thought my heart would burst.

Like I said, I am sorting through so many emotions. I'll be back and with lots of pictures! I still have another emotionally exhausting day as I have to get on two more airplanes. See you on the flip side!

March 4, 2012


I made a list of all the things I need to get done before we leave for South Carolina on Wednesday.  So. Much. To. Do!  Anthony commented the other day that he didn't understand why I have so much to do.  He said I just need to pack and get to the airport.  So, I asked if he wanted clean clothes for the week.  If he wanted food, etc...  It is funny how kids think this parenting thing is such an easy gig.

They don't know all the hours we put in thinking, worrying, and praying for them.  They don't see the sleepless nights over decisions that have to be made.  They don't have to figure out how to make the paycheck last for the entire month.  They don't understand how often our desires and wants get put on the back burner for them.  They don't see us planning all the meals, shopping for them, and then preparing them.  The homework we have to help with for the second time.  The laundry, the cleaning, the making sure their needs are met, the games and practices, the taxi service we provide, the agony of seeing them hurt or sad, or the ability to say the same thing over and over and over again.  They don't see the heartache of having to discipline them or the time we spend teaching and training them so they will succeed as an adult. 

Pack and go!  What a joy that would be!!  Fortunately, we are blessed with a wonderful woman who is willing to stay with the boys.  Thank you, Sarah!

Here we go...

I am so excited to be able to go to Rebecca's Marine Corp. graduation.  However, I hate flying.  When I say hate I really mean more like terrified.  The stress of flying makes my body sick days before I even have to get on a plane and it even invades my dreams.  So, it started last night.  The flight was going great and then I hear the engines cut out and we are suspended in air for a moment, like the feeling you get on a roller coaster in between the climbing and falling part of the ride.  Then the falling happens and I wake gasping for air right before we hit the ground.

People always say to me "flying is the safest mode of transportation."  Really?  I had never heard that before!
My brain knows flying is safe.  I have read the stats.  So why does the irrational fear overtake the knowledge?  Why does my brain have two different opinions on the same thought and why can't I control which one should prevail?

Please, dear friends, pray for the knowledge to win!

March 1, 2012


This picture really didn't turn out the way I wanted it to.  The concept being two halves of identical twins.  I'll have to try a different approach.