Navy Son – moving through training

I think I have written before about my trepidation about my kid joining the Navy. I have nothing against the military. I soooo appreciate our armed forces. I just never saw this son as a military man. He is sensitive and quiet and shy. I was also worried what may happen in this political climate. But I soon realized that anything can happen at any time -and he signed up to serve his country. He wants to be doing this.

Boot camp seemed to go so fast and was also so long at the same time. For me it was waiting for letters and phone calls. For my son it was waiting for letters and being able to make phone calls home and waiting through three two-week quarantines because of Covid! But at the end of June he made it! He became a sailor in the US Navy.

We are so very proud of him. And as a mom I am nervous still and I think I will continue to be. It is just a different thing to have a kid in the military. And if you don’t have one you just don’t know. Thats why there are loads of Facebook groups for mom of military kids. Its a great help I can tell you. And the groups are not only a comfort but a great source if info for this newbie military mom.

My son will be on subs. He will study to be a MT (missile tech). Right now he is completing sub school in Connecticut. Then he moves to Kings Bay Georgia to A school. This is where the MT training begins.

The Navy moves on its own time. I am getting adjusted to that. I get frustrated because patience is not my best trait. I was asked to send an important document to my son at his base – and it is now lost there somewhere! I can replace that one – but another document is now needed and I don’t want to send it! There is no replacing it as it pertains to my son’s international adoption and many items cannot be replaced if lost. I said I would drive it there! But you know Covid and no visitors- no leave – etc. I just have to chill. This is the military way. I am a parent but I don’t hold any authority. If the Navy says I need to send something I have to do it. So not I am trying to find the safest way to send this document.

I don’t know when I will be able to see my son. We haven’t seen him since March. Some families have gone a couple years without seeing their Sailors. At first the time went slowly and I was really missing my kid now it is better. I have moments of really missing him but mostly I am dealing with it. It is nice to be able to FaceTime some. But when he is on the sub there will be that time of no contact – except by email I think- but that is sporadic. That will be tough – an adjustment. I am learning to be more flexible I suppose – maybe…sort of.

It is hard- and I write about this as a mom and about my feelings. I deal with these feelings and accept my worries and fears because I know this choice for him to be in the military was his and it was something he really wanted. I also know it is a good thing. However fearful I am for him at times and however much I miss him – I still think this was a good path for him to take. He was lost- college wasn’t his thing, working and doing community college wasn’t his thing. Serving his country and getting education, a salary, and great benefits it a great choice- and it will have to be his thing for at least 6 years!

I see his growth in this short time. He is still the same sweet kid- but he’s is building confidence and learning skills. He’s been to new places and met new people. He has been pushed out of his comfort zone. And he has done it with great courage. I am very proud of him.

The Sailor

In May of 2001- eight months after my son was born in a far away place called Kazakstan – this little boy was placed into my arms in front of the airport terminal from where he had just arrived. My first child – my son. You have dreams for your kids when they are that age- you lay out a path in your head of what their life can be. I will tell you none of my three kids took a path that I envisioned for them! But they are making their own way – taking their own paths.

It is not always easy as a parent to let them make their choices. You want to help steer the boat- but in the end you realize you can’t. You can help at the dock to set them a-sail – you can be their anchor when they need reassurance – – but they have to decide their course. It has not been easy for me to let go and let live – I am not that easy going. But I am doing it- trying to keep myself from trying to steer the boat. Basically I am learning to shut up! Each of my kids is on a different path and I am learning you just love them right where they are.

Maybe this Navy mom is learning.

Tanks

Dear Navy Son,

Thanks for that Tanks. Well one tank I should say. You know the one -that fish tank that looked like a swamp that you left me to take care when you went off to the Navy? Yes that one- the one that has two angelfish and two whatever they are called fish swimming in muck. Yeah- you knew mom would not let that tank stay that way. You know when any live animal becomes my responsibility it becomes imperative that they live in the best conditions possible.

By the way-do you recall the amount of money we spent all those many years ago on a crab-itat for a beach hermit crab (Crabitat -google it) ? No you had no idea because you were like eight. A $4 hermit crab required a $150 home because that is what I do! I provide luxury! I am nuts. And wasn’t the man at the beach super impressed when we told him -when we saw him at his store at the beach years later -that your hermit crab lived over two years in that palace we built him? He was super impressed he laughed- tried to sell us another. No thanks!

Yes so back to the fish you left me. Thanks again! I bought a new tank – what a great thing to do during a pandemic! All the rescue dogs are gone and most of the breeders have years long waiting lists so for me it was a new fish tank!

Yep you knew it. Twenty gallons. New filter, airstone, heater, etc. My previous fishkeeping skills began to come back and I began to get interested in the chemical balances that are needed to keep a tank healthy. I got the tank through its first nitrogen cycle (look it up) and finally transferred your fish to the new tank. Sadly the no-name fish died. Yeah they took one for the team I am afraid. We gave them a proper sailor burial in the toilet. Oh sorry you are a sailor now so that might not sit well. We flushed them…lets not glorify it. Truly I was sorry they didn’t make it but the change from the swill they were living in to the pristine tank was too much. I did learn along the way. So their demise was not in vain.

I will tell you- angelfish are pretty and pretty boring. I have not added more fish to the tank bc I hear angelfish aren’t always nice despite being – well – angels and I was having chemical issues with the tank as it adjusted to the fish. So we watched the fish basically float inert in water. I mean they don’t even care about food. I have not once seen them eat but they must because they are alive. I have learned less is more when it comes to feeding – and for them seriously – like no food seems like it would be ok- but I jest because they are living under my care and I will care for them so well! Not feeding is not in the vocab. But I have read I can limit feeding to every few days and they will eat algae in the tank – they will be fine. Who knew!?

I found this out only after I put a 7 day feeder (seemed excessive for two fish) in the tank when we went away. Came back to algae!! And a dirty tank. Turns our those feeders are considered crap by fish keeping experts. _ like my fishlady in Petco. Lesson learned fishlady- lesson learned. I now feed them limited amounts and my house sitter fed them twice over our last getaway and the fish and the tank were great.

Why then did I do this next thing?

Once I had the biology in the tank looking pretty good despite the algae -I decided to get snails as they are algae eaters and we had a bit of alage growing – and snails are kind of cool. So I read up on snails and their reproduction habits (don’t want 1000 snails like happened to me as a kid in my guppy tank- nightmare) and found out that Nerite snails won’t reproduce in fresh water. Fishlady told me they can reproduce but the baby snails won’t live. That depressed me. But I decided to take a chance on the snails because I thought maybe snails would be more exciting than the angelfish! Snails- more fun – really?

The fishlady bagged up the snails for me. I decided on a whim to add live plants to the tank. Well why not. I read they provide oxygen (under water too!- who knew?) and are just generally good in tanks. So she bagged up the plants and then funny enough she noticed a little hanger on in the bag. A tiny crab. A fiddler crab. She was going to take it out. But it was so cute! How much is it I ask? I can see dads brain chugging – another freaking thing to care for! He is not in love with the fish. And I can’t bring him to the fish tank loving side when he has to help me clean it by lugging buckets of water to and fro and he gets no enjoyment out of the tank because the angelfish are BORING! But this was a CUTE CRAB! Maybe it would be fun!

So yep it is home living here. In the tank. I learned I needed to make the water salty- not sea salty- just had to add aquarium salt and make sure the PH was right and the alkalinity was good. Yep biology! Fun for mom!

Anyway the tiny crab is cute. As heck. Dad likes! And I read they need friends – not dad – the crab (but dad too). It does some dance ritual all the time so I thought it might need a buddy. Well I read that so I know it to be the case. Well the dance ritual can be a mating thing to attract the gals with his big claw – and also as a defense to scare other big clawed male crabbies away!

So fishlady ordered me some gal pals for crabby. His name is Paddy. Yes original (thanks Spongebob). They arrived yesterday!. I am not sure the girls have noticed Paddy- he has been working away with his dancing. But they are adjusting to the new digs. And if I am honest one lady is missing and I am hoping she didn’t jump out of the tank. Like the eel – the one whose whereabouts we have never figured out!? I think she is just hiding someplace and will show up when she is more used to the tank. Fingers crossed.

Paddy – the crab -doing his dance!

The crabs are way more exciting than the angelfish and Dad is finally getting some enjoyment from the tank. Oh and also the fishlady told me that two angels in a 20 gallon is too crowded for them. I can’t add any more fish safely. What? They may kick other fish butts if I put them in with them. How did your four fish live in that ten gallon crud hole? I was skeptical about this 20 gallon being too small. But began to wonder should I get them a bigger tank? I had read that angels need bigger tanks but they stay in like 1/3 of the tank most of the time…remember they are boring. But then fishlady said the right words…

…sale on tanks…big sale… huge sale….so we are now the owners of a 40 gallon tank. New filter too – a good one- cost more than the tank. Need other accessories and a stand and then we will have a real bargain tank on our hands. Yeah- it will be a palace for the angels…. and I will have to get the tank all in balance again- biology! Truthfully I am going to have to get the verve to begin this again (and you know I will keep the 20 gallon too- so more work for dad!) so in the meantime I am loving the crabs….they kind of look like spiders with all their legs – a little ick but the rest is cool.

Oh and thanks again son for the tank… it been an unwanted endeavor but yes fun for me – and now for dad.

love you …

mom….(and dad – most of the time- jk 3/4 of the time)

XXXOOO

Funk

Upgraded tank.

The other day Kevin and I went on a bagel trek to Frederick, MD- its about 18 miles from us.  For some reason the local Panera has closed. I have not been able to find real bagels other than Panera. I am not sure of the details of their closure but I wanted “real” bagels and I wanted to get out of this house for a bit- so off we went.

I know this probably was not an essential trip – though it was tied in with getting chicken feed and meal worms- and I really wasn’t keen on going so far for bagels but we did.  Wanting real bagels is not a real problem – i can hold out and eat toast or english muffins..but for me the bagels are just a way to feel some normalcy again. Get in the car, stop at Starbucks—get a coffee — grab some bagels from Panera– grab other essentials.  On Saturday AM when I realized the Panera closest to us was closed I was bummed because in my head when I woke I had that task in my head. We get to go get bagels. I needed to feel “normal”—so we went a bit further to Frederick to get them.

What is not normal is that when you leave your house you now carry a face mask, maybe protective gloves, you probably have hand sanitizer in your car and some lysol wipes or something like that.

Sometimes it can almost feel normal on the way to run an errand. .Kevin and I can chat and listen to music. We notice the lack of traffic but we can be in a bubble for a while that feels almost normal.  I love that feeling! But then we pull up to the shopping center and there is a line at the Aldi’s grocers. People stand six feet apart, donning masks (some gloved) all waiting their turn to get in because now we cannot just walk in to a store – there are limits to how many can go in- if you can go in at all.

At Panera a few doors down from Aldi- they are doing curbside pick-up.  It is convenient- but so impersonal. And it has to be for everyone’s safety. It sucks but needed. I thanked the young woman who handed over the bag of bagels to me. I had my mask on because she came to my side of the car. I tried to look grateful with my eyes as I told her to stay safe. I then complimented her on her mask fabric choice. It was cute…. but then I said “I can’t believe I am complimenting you on a mask”.  She said ” I know crazy , right?”  and we went on our way.

I am not sure if my funk began then because this is crazy-  or maybe it had been festering over these last couple weeks.  Things feel off for me.  Maybe it is because I am so over this whole thing – but I know this virus will not be over us for a good while.  We also found out my son in the Navy has been quarantined with his division because someone got Covid-19. My other two kids are out of work because of the shutdowns. Also, my horse is acting a bit off.  And I setup a new bigger fish tank and transferred our current fish- which were Navy son’s- and two didn’t live- too much shock. Such a small thing – I know. But flushing those two fish just made me feel crummy. Who knows what pushes us into the funk. I mean the virus is enough. Seeing the suffering is enough.  There is nothing I can do to stop this thing. Lack of control is scary.

I think maybe it is really dawning on me that the world as we knew it is now gone – and life has changed for good.  Like my life before and after my cancer – there is a definite division.  At least for a while things will be quite different for the world  in how we interact in public.

It is hard to watch the suffering every day. It is hard to feel at the mercy of something you can’t even see.  What will the toll to human life be?  There are so many ways  this virus can devastate us including death.  We see the toll rise each day.  And there will be a balance on how things progress to reopening – so we can hopefully live life again- on the other side of the divide.

So today I am in a funk. Some days it is just really hard….its normal to feel these feelings. This isolation takes it’s toll. The financial worries take their tolls. If you are feeling badly never be afraid to reach out to someone for help.  Even a chat with a friend can be comforting.

I do understand that this has happened before over and over throughout history – we have many before’s and after’s, the Spanish flu, world wars, natural disasters , 9-11…. We are human- and we adapt.  But it is jarring and a change – a new shift in what we knew as reality. So it is stressful and scary. And on some days very overwhelming- I just want to pull the covers over my head and sleep- so I can forget for a while.

Instead, I write.

 

 

 

 

Navy Son- Phone calls

 

Recce Dog

Reece wonders how you all are doing….

HI. How is everyone? Are you holding up during this pandemic?  I can tell you that I am trying to do many things to keep myself from getting too stressed or scared. I have tasked myself with building a new website for our business. I think that will give me sufficient time to not be thinking about this virus. I am exercising, and riding my horse. These things balance me. If I read too much news I am become overwhelmed. I have tried to limit myself to certain times of day to watch or read any news on the pandemic.  If I spend too much time thinking about things my mind go bonkers.

I have been spending some of my time on Facebook pages dedicated to support the loved ones of the Navy recruits that go through the training center in Great Lakes Il. They train over 32.000 navy sailors yearly. Thats amazing.  I am sorry I won’t get to see the place. Covid-19 wrecked graduations for these sailors – and so many other 2020 grads in the world.

The RTC is a well-oiled machine. At the moment they are trying to battle outbreaks of the virus by quarantining new recruits before they begin training and they have had to quarantine divisions if an outbreak occurs. This significantly slows the process of getting new minted sailors out the door to get them to their career training which can take up to 15 months in some cases- and  there have been delays for those waiting to go to training. The Navy has had to make changes on the fly to deal with this unknown enemy.

I have depended on these FB pages to provide me with updated info but also to give me support during a very stressful time. One day we are talking about getting mail and then another about PIR (grad) gifts. Some days wives or husbands need support as they struggle with the separation of their spouse or moms just need a virtual hug.  We share photos and joys of our SR (Seaman Recruit), we celebrate when a family gets the “I am a Sailor” phone call- as that’s the only real celebration these sailors get right now.  And we get rumors about this and that and the admins help navigate those.  And sometimes we get wind of the best rumor of all – phone calls.

The SRs don’t get calls very often. In normal bootcamp (aka no virus around) that SRs get to call a loved one four times. Once when they get to bootcamp- a quick scripted call- I got that one at 3am; then at around three weeks- that one can be longer; and again at five weeks; then the “I am a Sailor” call. Of course if there is an illness or injury they are able to call home as well.

During this pandemic the protocol has changed a bit. We have had three calls already. The I am here call, then the one we had on my 21st anniversary with my hubby- that call was a shock – I wasn’t expecting it .  Luke had no idea it was our anniversary but I told him he gave us the best gift. We spoke for over 30 minutes and it was emotional. Luke had just gotten out of quarantine and was working through P days – aka processing days. There you do just that- get processed- medicals, banking, payroll, etc. He was facing some fitness tests that were making him a little nervous. When we hung up I cried happy and sad tears. I had no idea when I would hear from him again. But I had the relief of knowing he was doing ok for the most part.

The relief is short-lived.  Some worry and stress begin to build up as time marches on. I wrote him a number of letters and hoped we would get one from him.  There were messages on the FB pages that reported some new cases of the virus. If your SR is ill they will call -and you so want a call- but not that call. But with each scheduled (non-emergency) call comes a celebration on the pages. When our SR calls we usually see many reports of the calls from the division. It is a nice place to be because we all know the feelings we are having.

This past Saturday Kevin and I were sitting on the back deck and my phone rang and I saw the Illinois exchange and I grabbed the phone. There had been a rumor on the pages that calls were going to come over this weekend.  I was not counting on it because we had heard from him only two weeks ago. But the call came!

I put the phone on speaker and set it on the table.  Since we had just gotten a letter the day before I knew he had passed the fitness and swim tests.  I knew he was so proud when he received his uniforms with his name on them. But we talked about it all and more. He is still coming to the realization that he is really doing this. In this call he sounded like a different person. I hear the confidence in his voice. The happiness that he is making friends and the pride of his accomplishments.  This is assurance that he is where he needs to be.

I look forward to meeting this new person sometime soon I hope. I had been told that the Navy will transform my kid. He will come into his own. I believed that but didn’t think I would see it this fast. He has always had a good heart. But he was lost as lost could be. Now I think he is found and is developing a sense of self and is now on the life journey of learning more about himself through experiences. I am amazed.

The lifelines for families of loved ones serving in the military are letters and calls – more letters and more calls.  When will we get the next call? I am thinking maybe the weekend of May 17- Kevin’s birthday weekend. That would be great – but we cannot count on it. There is rumor they may graduate early if there are no setbacks, so perhaps the next call will be the “I am a Sailor” call?

All we can do is get ready and wait.

 

Bob Cat (aka Kiwi)

You know it is never a dull moment here. And with the stay-at-home  orders because of the Covid-19 virus  you just want things to be dull.  But it seems for us it just never is. I wrote in a blog post a while back that we were missing  one of our cats. He is our sweet barn cat Kiwi- a black tuxedo male. We have had assorted cats over the years here and I love the tuxedos! And now Kiwi – Bob – has the label most expensive of all barns cats here at Glory View Farm!

If you hadn’t guessed as yet – Kiwi- came back after being lost for about 4 -5 days. About 5 weeks ago I was in the barn and feeling sad that he still wasn’t back – it feels empty when an animal dies or goes missing – they each fill a space.  All of a sudden I had this feeling I should to go outside and look for  Kiwi. I didn’t understand that niggle but I know when I get it to give it a listen.  So I went out of the rear of the barn to the fence line and I was looking in the field at nothing but emptiness when I heard a faint meow. I didn’t see anything where I was looking but the little sound was coming from my left which is the dry lot where the horses loaf when not out in a pasture-  I assumed it was our other cat Pearl calling for dinner. I looked around and didn’t see Pearl. I heard it again- so it must have been real. But where was it coming from?

Kevin stepped out of the barn and I asked him if he heard a meow – and just as he was going to answer I spotted Kiwi by the right side of the shed in our dry lot. I told Kevin I saw him and ran through the barn and walked around behind him just as Kevin- who by then had also spotted him -walked to the front of him. Something was off.  Kiwi was having trouble walking forward. He seemed very stiff. I was afraid to lift him but had to take the chance he might bite me if he was in enough distress. I thought his backend was injured but I was able to pick him up without him biting or getting upset. I might add here that I am allergic to cats- it is a pretty good allergy too- but I won’t let that stop me from helping one if needed. I just have to careful not to touch my face after I touch him. And I can’t put my face to close to their bodies.

We got him in our gym which is part of the barn and we got him some food and water and I looked him over. I suspected he had an abscess.  He had a nasty looking area on his back hip and his tail seemed wonky and there was an area that looked like it may have been injured. He had a back claw that looked bad and his front ears were lightly scratched up.  He ate just a bit but drank well – but I knew he needed attending to.  He needed a trip to the vet- but is was Sunday – so it was the emergency vet for him.

The vet visits during Covid-19 are different now. We called ahead and Kevin took him in. Kevin called the desk when he arrived masked assistants fetched Kiwi from the car and they took him to be  examined by the vet. The would call Kevin on his cell with their assessment.

Basically they took the conservative approach and treated him for abscesses.  They didn’t feel like he had any breaks – like his pelvis or ribs. But they warned us about the tail. He could have more going on.  He came home and was left crated in the gym so he could recover for a day or so. But he didn’t really perk up. He wasn’t eating much and when I let him out of the crate he just seemed that he could not walk forward. And he wasn’t moving the tail. I had the feeling we had more going on there.

I was worried so Kevin took Kiwi to our regular vet a couple days after his initial emergency visit. They had the same routine of them coming out to the car to grab Kiwi but Kevin could come right home as our little farm is only a couple miles away from the vets office.  Soon after Kevin got home they called and asked to x-ray Kiwi and we said of course. We waited anxiously for news. Not long after the first call, the vet called with some grim news. His tail was completely broken. She said it had to come off.  What a bummer- not bc I felt bad for him losing his tail but for the fact he must have been feeling so crummy for a while. We ok’ed the surgery for the next day. Kiwi spent the night at the Vet’s office.

The good news is that Kiwi did great in the surgery. They removed the tail and fixed up the wound on his back hip. The bad news was he needed to be confined for a couple weeks and wear a cone of shame- an e-collar. He would be fine in the gym in the crate.  He was be given exercise time in the gym (he was not allowed to do any heavy lifting- ok that was a joke) and he began within days to get very tired of the e-collar and sick of being indoors! This was a good sign.

He became his playful self quickly, he was eating and drinking.  I let sister Pearl visit him – she was not into the e-collar and would hiss at him. I worried maybe she would not understand it was her brother because his tail was missing. I worried that he might not get along with our feral cat Jet anymore bc he had been gone so long. One day when Jet was in the center aisle of the barn I opened the gym door hoping Jet could see or smell his buddy. I don’t know if he could Jet does not let humans too close and there was no way to coax him closer.

The vets at our regular practice said that they had two differing opinions on what may have happened to Kiwi. One thought it was a fan belt injury- where he may have gotten caught up in the engine of a car. He had a classic break that is indicative of that event the vet said. There was the hip cut too and that made the other vet think it was a larger animal that may have gotten him. I wondered if he had run off and then been attacked (he had not been one to run off though) or if something had grabbed him on our property. We definitely have cars around a lot – though I had never seen him get close to them. Kevin had seen some blood on the fence near the driveway so I think whatever happened it was right here at home.

I have had my own thoughts on what happened. I think maybe a horse stepped on  his tail but I can’t figure out the cut on his side. A horse could crush him. So I am not sure the horse makes sense. But whatever happened it had been a few days before the day we found him- his wounds weren’t fresh. Perhaps he went into hiding after he was injured. He could have been under that shed – there is room under there for a cat to hide. I had that experience years ago when I found our sick cat Momma under there.  Kevin had looked for Kiwi there when he first went missing but it is pretty deep so he may have been there. I won’t ever know. But that was where is was standing when we found him. I am so glad he was able to be found!

The best news is that Kiwi is out and about again and playing with his friends. He has stayed put and seems to not notice he is missing a tail. He looks cute too. Our friend Mike suggested we rename him Bob-Cat! Hilarious. So now I call him Kiwi and Bob (sometimes Bobby and sometimes Manx- I think they are the cats with no tails right?  I need to google that.)

In addition to the cat injury  and along with my kid leaving for the Navy, our cooktop was fried in a brownout- which required a repairman to come into the house tell us we needed a new one- this requires him to come back to install it. And at about the same time we had a large clog in the main pipe to our septic – not good– which also required a plumber to come out. This all during a time we would rather not have anyone come into our home. I really am wishing for dull days!

Navy Son – Letters —

LettersOn Monday I had the nicest surprise – quite unexpected actually. I had two letters from my son, SR Sweeney (Seaman Recruit), from bootcamp. He should be about completed his two week quarantine- we think – we don’t know for sure. The letters I got from him were written April 1 and one before that.  I think his bootcamp training will begin soon but there is also the virus to contend with and there was a case or two at the center so I have no idea how things are progressing there.

I must say I didn’t expect him to write us much at all.  I was so doubtful that I sent him  with cards and  pre-addressed envelopes. I was making it so easy for him to send us a word or two. I had no idea he would be writing us in quarantine – I wasn’t sure what was allowed.

My son’s letters to us were not on the pre-addressed cards I gave him but instead on Navy RTC stationary. I think I marveled at them like he was five and in kindergarten and brought home his first handwriting assignment.  He actually wrote a whole letter- no two letters!  And yes I am saving every one we get! Just like his those kindergarten assignments.  Once a mom always a mom.

His letters were basic really. But he expressed his desire to get going to work. I also could tell the virus situation had finally become real to him. He wanted us to know the Red Cross could get him a message fast if anything serious went down with us here.  He had been out once or twice to get some medical checks. He got glasses. He’s making some friends. For that I was glad as he is shy. The food was not great. I found out from my Facebook group that they are getting bagged food until they mainstream.

He updated me on some business items they had gone over with him once he was there.  He asked that we write him back. He said he didn’t know what was going on in the outside world.  I struggle with how much to share with him. I know it won’t be anything that I feel would stress him while he is in bootcamp.

But the kicker for me were these words:I miss you both so much…I love you both so much… Definitely not words I would expect from my son. He is shy. He holds back feelings. And those words are what broke me open…tears flowed.  It felt so nice to read the words but also they made me worry about him a little more too.

I know it will be ok. Well I pray it will be.  I know he’s in a bit of a shock now. If he is homesick it should pass- especially after he gets going in bootcamp.  He won’t have as much time to think. He will be exhausted by the end of each day. He will wish he was in quarantine again-  I am told.

Letters are like gold. They connect us when we don’t have the luxury of text or email. Oh how I miss those at your fingers tools! But the separation is needed. It takes that civilian and makes them into a soldier -part of unit. United together for one cause. I get it but I hate the silence.

I am not a true Navy parent yet. We are just at the beginning. But I already know this worry about your child is not the same as leaving them at two-week camp in the summer or dropping them off at college. This is something that is bigger…and I don’t mean to downplay those other worries. I have been through those too, so I speak only from how I am feeling now compared to those other times that we let the thread that ties us together out longer than it had been before.  It was scary and exciting and hopeful.  That worry ebbed a bit as time wore on. But now this thread will be a long unending spool let out further and further. It is so much bigger – this worry- than what I have felt before. Parenthood is the never-ending roller coaster ride of emotion.

I am sensing that this worry is like a knot that lodges itself somewhere inside.  Because this is only the beginning. There will be deployments to far away lands. Missions we won’t know about in detail but know they exist in theory. We won’t ever feel  he is truly safe unless  he is real standing in front of us – and when  he is near us it is only for a short time and there will be a parting again…and the worry cycle continues. I am not there yet but I have a sense that this worry is a different beast. I am very unsettled.

And the letters come and there is an exhale…not a release of all the worry but some. They are a gift. Something I didn’t know I would cherish until they sat in front of me waiting to be opened.

I have written my letters to him as has his dad but they have to wait until we are given his correct division information. He won’t get letters addressed to the quarantine area which I am told by thanks to the Training Center Facebook group admins is the address he gave me. So as the Navy motto reminds us – I will hurry up and wait for his division info to get to us. And I hope the letters that he eventually gets from us give him some peace- and he feels the love behind them.

I had forgotten the special feel of a real letter. We have so much connectivity available all the time but when you don’t have it – the letter for me is a lifeline.  I hope I get more from him- but knowing the rigors of their schedule when doing actual P days ( processing days – first week of real  bootcamp where they process the recruit) I won’t get my hopes up.  But if I do I will appreciate the lift of some of the worry – that exhale -even if it lasts only for a little while.

 

 

 

Zoom Trivia Night- during a Pandemic

Zoom meetingZOOM- whenever I hear that name  I think of the song from the long ago show by the same name. “We’re gonna Zoom , Zoom, Ah Zoom. We’re gonna Zoom ah, Zoom ah, Zoom. Come on give it a try…We’re gonna tell you just how…” I think that is how it went anyway.  Anyone remember that? Clearly Zoom was named by a much younger generation who did not know this show ever existed. Oh the limits we had on TV in the olden days!

Well , we Zoomed the other night! Yes we did. AND we did it with friends! We had a Zoom Trivia night. I have been seeing many Zoom gatherings lately posted on social media. My husband went to a work happy hour on Zoom. He said it was pretty cool.

Last week we took a Zoom stretching class with a trainer (who is also my sister-in-law).  It was fun! Well as fun as stretching can be when you have become rather inflexible! I have also gone to church services on Zoom. I think during this time this is a much needed outlet for people.  I am grateful to my friend Pastor Tom Atkins for having these intimate sessions.

I had been missing game nights that we had begun to have with our family and friends over the last six months or so and I was missing connecting with humans. Texting is one thing but seeing people and talking to them is another.  I  was also hoping to feel semi-normal for a bit- everything is so off kilter now. But I suppose there is nothing normal about Zoom parties – or maybe a few weeks ago it was not a regular thing to do- but the world has changed in a short time. I just wanted a distraction for a bit from the pandemic.

So I decided it might be fun to host a Zoom game night.  I was and am a novice to Zoom but decided to tackle it and create a meeting. It is not too hard. But a couple things I didn’t know cropped up. One thing I learned was that it we were limited to 40 minutes per meeting only so I had to upgrade to a plan that can be cancelled any time. The cost is $14.99 a month. This way I could have unlimited time for my meeting and up too 100 friends. Which was not the number we would have for the game night!

Once the meeting was created I needed to decide what games to play. I also welcomed input from those invited.   I googled the phrase “Zoom game night ideas” and got a lot of hits.  There are a lot of drinking games- sounded fun – but I was not looking for that.  There was a form of bingo and Pictionary and much more.  Feeling a bit overwhelmed I decided to keep it simple. Trivia. All invitees agreed.

Trivia it was but then we had to decide how to play it. I found a phone app that all attendees  could have logged on to and played together while we were on Zoom – but I wanted to try it out first because I didn’t want it to be like we would be on our phones more than we were interacting via the video app. The idea was to socialize- I can play Words With Friends whenever.

In the end I just asked everyone to bring some form of trivia questions to the meeting. And it was BYOB – haha.  Everyone was able to access the meeting pretty easily. We made introductions as we had a mix of friends and family playing. Then we decided how to play because I wasn’t sure of a proper format. Should it be teams or individuals.

We decided one person would read the questions and we would be teams and would have mini-games.  One person would read out the questions for that game. Each game consisted of ten questions.  Teams could discuss questions privately after each question was read as there is a mute feature. We made a 30 second time limit to get answers written down but really never needed that. Then we would score our answers and I kept tally. We played about 5-6 games.

It was great fun! We shared our guesses before we were told the answers.  We had a lot of laughs. We had 9 people total (our teen niece did opt out after a bit- understandably!). I did learn some things-

  1. Zoom meetings gives one a reason to shower, blow-dry and put on makeup for the occasion.  One sister-in-law thanked me for having the game night as it made her shower. I put on make-up – this was  because it was a rare social event and it made me feel normal getting ready -like I was going out. Except I wore Pjs to the event! My girlfriend that came posted that she was primping for  the event!  Oh what our world has become!
  2. As people had their adult beverages the talking got louder and it was a bit harder to communicate. But it was a lot of laughs!
  3. Live music is an added bonus. My very talented BIL Pat played a couple songs on his guitar.
  4. Zoom has the option of changing your background and honestly you could have a whole party dedicated to adding funny backgrounds behind you!
  5. It is something I definitely needed.

We plan to host another Zoom game night soon.  I really needed to feel connection with others (as many can relate to this) and maybe for a couple hours forget the stress and sadness that all the news from the virus brings. This is an unprecedented  and scary time but we are lucky to have the ability to connect in this way.  It doesn’t replace real human connection but it was very uplifting for me and my mom and husband.  For a while it was just fun and laughs –  and I got tidied up. So that’s something!

 

Grocery Delivery…during a pandemic….my sanitizing protocol

Mr Clean

My homes Mr. Clean – going to retrieve an RX.

Up until the Covid-19 pandemic I had only used grocery delivery one time- and that was when Kevin and I became ill at the same time when we were at our home in Delaware. There was NO way either of us could get out and buy the clear soup, graham crackers, gingerale , and tummy meds we needed to combat the bug that ailed us.

At that time I automatically used what we now call social distancing – I asked the driver to drop off the groceries at the front door – and run! Well I may not have explained it exactly that way but I did explain the need to drop and leave.  The driver had no problem with that request!

In the midst of this pandemic we have begun to use the InstaCart grocery service again in hopes that this and the Hello Fresh we have delivered each week will keep us from needing to go out to the grocery store.   I like InstaCart thus far. The driver/shopper is very good at finding replacements for my items and checking with me if they are ok.  I can even add something on while they are still shopping.  As they shop you can see each item in the list being checked off in the app. Each time they have shopped for me they have been on-time or early with the delivery.

But what to do when you get the items delivered? How do I safely bring them all inside? Could the virus be lurking on my food?

Well I can’t take any chances  because my mother – who has underlying health conditions  -lives here with us. So I began to read up on suggestions on the safe handling of groceries and also carryout or delivered meals. I read many many suggestions and I decided I had to figure out which things made the most sense to me.  Everyone is going to have different needs and some may think what I do is too much or maybe not enough. But let me tell you it’s a job doing the protocol I have decided on.

Here it is-

First I had the delivery person(s) leave the groceries by my garage -the first time it was on the front porch -but the garage makes it easier for me to sanitize and offload items that go into our garage fridge.  I donned disposable gloves, took the Clorox wipes out with me to the garage. I then took out items in the bags that could go in the garage fridge and I wiped them with the wipes. Then placed in the fridge. Just to note – all produce went into the house to be cleaned in the sink with water. I tossed away the bags – which bums me out because we normally save many of them for other uses but not now.  I Clorox wiped the handles of the fridge.

Next I took in the bags of items that needed to go inside and I decided to have a designated landing area in the kitchen where the bags would go. I chose next to my fridge near the garbage drawer to make access to both easier. I unloaded the bags and all items were wiped with Clorox wipes -and put away. I then tossed away all the bags – Clorox wiped the floors, fridge handles and anywhere inside the fridge that I touched. I then tossed gloves away.

All produce was cleaned in the sink. I scrubbed the banana’s too – we will see how they turn out – lol. Then I washed my hands and then put away all the produce. Then wiped the counters with a Clorox wipe, and the fridge door handle again and inside the fridge, and the garbage handle and wiped the floors where the bags were (ok prob overkill), I wiped all doorknobs I touched between kitchen and the garage. Washed hands again.

Then I had five shots of vodka. No just kidding I had six…not really –  I did sit down with some ice water and lamented to my mom that it was at least a pert – time job just to put away groceries. If I had shopped for them too I  would have used even more precautions. I was tired! I just wanted chocolate.

I am sure many of you can relate to this new scenario. If this isn’t new to you then I bow to your sanitizing expertise.  In the new world  – after this pandemic is over – Ebbed? – I know I will take some of this new found sanitizing with me and continue being mindful of germs. I hope the stores allow shoppers to use their own bags again because I felt terrible tossing the bags in the trash. I did recycle some the first time we got delivery but then I thought maybe that wasn’t good for those workers that sort the recycle stuff. I guess I need to google about that. Google will have opinions en masse.

Then I read a whole thing about takeout/delivery food. What I have done is like with the groceries – had a landing area, removed food container from the bags. Tossed bags. Removed the food from the containers and put on clean plates and tossed containers. Then cleaned landing area and garbage drawer handle.  Washed my hands. Then ate my meal.  I also have been ordering hot food. I love sushi and salads but worry getting those in takeout. Might they harbor germs?

We have been getting boxes delivered too – and we are doing the landing spot and sanitizing those items as well. The boxes get broken down and put in the garage for disposal. As for the Hello Fresh- we put the boxes in the garage and then we put the meals which are bagged in the garage fridge. When we bring this in to cook we wash produce (as normal) and fix the meal and toss away the bag. Sanitize the area where we prepped. Wash hands and eat.  I have less worry about the HF because by the time it gets to us and we get to preparing it any virus has likely dies.

It is all so scary really.  I try to stop my mind being 24/7 virus. But it is so hard when so many things we have to do have the extra layer sanitizing.  Today I went out in the car to a drive-thru pharmacy. I wore disposable gloves. We brought masks in case we had to go into the store for some reason.

I wash my hands so much! I thought I was a hand washer before!  I know you all can relate. I might be doing too much or not enough…how am I to know. There are no guarantees we will not get this thing. I hope there is some promise to the medication protocols they have been mentioning and hopefully a vaccine as soon as they can have one.

In the meantime I will be Mrs. Clean and hubs Mr. Clean and my mom is already Grandma Clean which is why we have lots of hand sanitizer- before this pandemic she was a germaphobe and I don’t blame her, she does have underlying health issues.

I will say I soooo appreciate the grocery delivery service and the people who are doing the shopping. The tips are large on Instacart- you can change the suggested tip- but I think any shopper who will do this for strangers in a pandemic deserves the tip. God Bless them and all who are out the working and caring for others.

Much luck as you discover your sanitizing protocols!

Stay safe – ❤

 

 

Isolation

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The fields behind our house. Ever so thankful we have this place to walk.

Right now I am pretty much isolating from other humans aside from my family…what a difference two weeks makes! I was on vacation and now we now have this pandemic upon us –Covid-19. So scary.

The last time I wrote I was on vacation.  We took the trek down south. My laptop broke somewhere during that trip -so I didn’t continue to write. Then we arrived home and literally the world changed – and writing about my trip seems really trite and un-important now.

When we left for the trip I was leery about the virus. At that moment it was isolated in Washington state and maybe a couple other places where people from the cruise ships were being quarantined.  But still I watched the news closely as we went south to Florida and then back up north. I was pretty nervous.

When we got to Orlando – our fifth stop- I was burned out.  I planned the trip with too many stops – too many in and out of hotels or AirBNBs – too much lugging of bags and stuff in and out of rooms. SO in Orlando — which is a sea of humans! – all of Florida is a sea of humans- I am sorry it just too many humans in one place for me- the traffic was awful. I am just a country bumpkin from MD. So I am just complaining. You Floridians are just used it.  Anyway in Orlando we had a great AirBNB – we chilled – we said no to the parks (virus potential) – we sat at the pool on one warm day (we brought cool weather with us)  – and we played some pickleball. Good day. Found a nice dining area with many places to eat. We really took a few days to relax and that was good.

We then travelled north from Orlando with stops in Savannah- nice but I like Charleston better – and then to Virginia Beach-where we saw a very close friend – I am so glad for this visit because it might be a while until I see her again. After Virginia Beach we headed home.

It was within about 48 hours after we got home that things began to get worse with the virus in the US. And that’s when we found out my brother-in-law who was in Spain was ill with the virus. That made things super real. He is recovering and is well cared for in Spain and he and his wife should be home soon-not sure about their ability to get flights home- they are making the best of a very tough situation.

Last weekend- was it last weekend – seems like eons ago now -we were going to head to the beach for the weekend –  I woke the day we were to leave and just had a feeling we should stay home. It was just a gut thing so we decided to postpone the trip. Within the next 48 hours businesses in Maryland began to close and people asked to social distance – work from home – schools were cancelled. I think for most people this was quite a shock.

For us staying isolated was not a hard choice- it may be hard on some days but it is necessary.  My 78 year old mother lives with us and has health issues. She was in the hospital and then rehab over 6 weeks last fall. When she gets ill she gets ill. We have to keep her safe.

In my home the soap, sanitizer and wipes are used all the time. I have always been a hand washer – because living with farm animals requires getting into muck so you wash a lot. But I have really ramped it up more. Yesterday I had to visit a medical office and when I got home I removed my shoes to be washed – washed my hands -and changed clothing  and washed my hands again.  Overkill?  Maybe- but I would rather be safe – for my mother’s sake.

I read an article in The Atlantic this AM that pointed out that this thing we are all doing individually is also a thing we are all doing collectively.  All of us making sacrifices to hopefully save lives. This isn’t an easy thing to stop life as we know it. We Americans are used to our freedoms. We aren’t used to being made to hunker down, to social distance. It has taken some longer than others to get on-board but when you see the increasing numbers of sick and the numbers of deaths each day you realize this is truly for the greater good of our country.

My Nana used to tell me about her brother dying of Pneumonia when he was only about 21 years old. The story was he walked a girl home in the pouring rain in Brooklyn, NY and took sick the next day and never recovered. This was never mentioned to me as the Flu Pandemic of 1918- but later when we talked about Great Uncle Joseph dying my mother said that it was- in fact -during that time.  I just remember how my Nana still hung on to that loss deep inside. The brother that never got to be a man.

Recently I read and article about this Flu Pandemic of 1918, that said “By the time it wound down in 1919, 28% of all Americans were infected and 675,000 had died — 10 times as many as World War I.” (see footnote below).  This is very sobering.

I never thought in my lifetime I would be dealing with a Pandemic. Never. Ever. Who really ever wants to go there and think of that?  But here we are. Its hard for most of us to wrap our minds around it. And harder is keeping up with all the information that comes at us from minute to minute – sometimes second by second. Honestly we are so lucky that we live in this age with info at our fingertips – it is part of what can keep us safe because knowledge is power- quick access to current news was not something they had in 1918.  Also the internet and social media keeps us connected to each other –  but it also can just be too much. Too overwhelming. When it gets too much I have to get away from it. I can’t watch the stock market tumble daily. I can’t read sad story after sad story. I want to keep up on what is going on but sometimes I have to turn it off. And I do.

What do I do? Post photos of my dogs or other animals to hopefully make others smile for a minute – maybe forget what we are facing for a second. I read. I binge watch shows with Kevin. I exercise. I hike in the fields behind my house. We try to help our neighbors. We shop for each other. We watch out for each other. I sit with myself. I pray.

And aside from this virus life goes on. Another brother in law is having a health scare, his roommate has cancer.  My cat has gone missing- yes another one – yet again. We had to order hay for the horses. Buy their feed. My husband continues to work. We have to make meals. Two of my kids remain employed for now- thank goodness. My other son leaves tomorrow to go to basic training for the Navy.  A hard thing to see your kid off in normal times but in these times? Well very hard….more on that soon.

Life just goes on. I hear cars whizzing by my house. Yesterday it seemed like everyone was out in our town shopping- as we were. And I was like people go home – and they were likely thinking the same thing!  I am sure we were all worrying that things might be shut down tighter here in Maryland as the case have increased quite a bit in a couple days. We all were stocking up on food and supplies – no toilet paper anywhere.  We did not hoard. Hoarding = not helpful.

I want to feel normal but yet it doesn’t. Everything has changed. At this point I am taking things one day at a time and I am trying to find smiles in my day and live for the moment. It helps me to cope. We all have to find our things that will help calm our minds.

We are all sacrificing, we are all probably scared, bored, mad…so many things at once.

Let’s just try to be kind, be helpful, be loving — and be safe.

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The Crew practicing their social distancing.

 

Footnote: Article in The Courier Journal, March 18, 2020