Thursday, July 25, 2013

OBT - Part Five - Back in Alabama!

We stopped in to see Courtney as we headed back west towards home.  She is a summer RA and was able to put us up in her very luxurious summer dorm.  Dorm-life has certainly changed since I was in college! Private rooms, semi-private bathrooms, living room, and a kitchen area!  It was great to see her again and get a really great night's sleep! The UAH campus in Huntsville is truly beautiful and Courtney gave us a nice tour.

As we were walking, Courtney was looking for the perfect set of trees to introduce us all to her new hobby of "hammocking".  Apparently it's quite the rage among many of the students, and she was adamant that we would absolutely love i!  Okay!  We're game!  Let's get this thing hooked up!

I was a little skeptical after Joe got in it - I felt like it was a casket viewing at a funeral..............except he kept smiling!!  He was so comfortable we almost couldn't get him out of the hammock!

Wow, this was really amazing!  Swaying gently, looking up at the pine trees with a pleasant breeze..........I easily could have fallen asleep and stayed there for hours.  This is definitely going to be something Joe and I want to get for ourselves!

Thanks, Courtney, for arranging such a wonderful (and restful) two days for us.  We felt recharged and ready for our next stop..............TEXAS!!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

OBT - Part Four - A Special Stop in Virginia!

The very next morning, after we had left Jonathan at Ft. Lee, we took Rachel to the Richmond airport so she could fly home.  She had previous commitments and chose to fly back home rather than continue the road trip all the way back.............imagine that!  Poor Isaac and Joshua were getting very concerned; we seemed to be dropping siblings off at just about every stop!

In the adoption community, friendships develop all over the country, whether you have actually met a family or not. Cheri and I met in China back in 2010 when we were there for Isaac's adoption.  We stayed at the same hotel in Guangzhou and we seemed to run in to each other every morning for breakfast.  Ivy, who was seven at the time, was their third Chinese adoption.  We had much in common: three children by birth and three by adoption, being a Christian homeschooling family, and older sons who were interested in the military.  So we have kept up with each other's blogs and it's been fun to see Ivy blossom in their family. Soooooooooo, when Cheri found out we would be in Virginia for Jonathan, she invited us to come by!  Fortunately their home was on the way as we headed down south to see Courtney in Huntsville again.  I told her we might only be able to stay for an hour just to stretch our legs..................but we had such a great time visiting that we stayed much longer!

David and their son, Jack, had fun playing basketball and then setting fire to a brush pile!  Two fourteen year old boys with a blow torch - what could be more fun?

Ivy, now ten, took charge of our little boys and they had a great time with her, Joy and Eva.  What beautiful and sweet girls!

After all the driving we had done at this point, it was really great for everyone to get out and run around a little and burn off some energy.

What special little treasures we have in our families!

Bad picture, I know, but we were so busy talking and my camera battery was near death so this was the best I could do in trying to get Joe and Mike in the picture!

Yes, our "one-hour maximum" visit turned into three hours.  Thanks so much Cheri and Mike for having us!  It was wonderful to meet the rest of your family in person and our visit gave us a much needed break in a beautiful part of the country!

Next stop, Huntsville, Alabama, see Courtney!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

OBT - Part Three - Basic Training Graduation!

The next day, June 20th, was the actual graduation for these young men and women and they were all prepared to move onto their next assignment and schooling.  When we arrived at Hilton Field once again, this is the sight that we saw.  Jonathan told us later that they had all been standing at attention for several hours.

Once again, there was a great motivational speech by the Army higher-ups and we learned that there was a 20% wash-out rate during Basic Training.  So Jonathan was among the best of the best!  The soldiers then proceeded to march around the  track.  Jonathan is in the front row, directly behind the flag bearer.

After we reunited with Jonathan, we got some photos and then headed up to Ft. Lee, Virginia.  Jonathan chose EOD as his "job" in the Army, so that was his next destination.  EOD stands for Explosive Ordnance  Disposal............yes, diffusing bombs!  Not this mother's favorite job for her first-born son!

Waiting in line to get his packet of orders and to be signed out by his parents.

And yes, this is how our soldier enjoyed the five hour drive north to Virginia!  His lack of sleep finally caught up with him!

A lovely picture of Rachel as we stopped at a beautiful rest stop in North Carolina!  Beautiful green trees and lovely flowers!

We spent the night at a lovely campground, just minutes from Ft. Lee.  The son of the owner turned out to be one of Jonathan's EOD instructors and answered many of Jonathan's questions about the schooling that would consume the next year of his life!  We enjoyed much cooler, and less humid weather, in Virginia and enjoyed a breakfast picnic before we took Jonathan to Ft. Lee.

Yes, we knew we were in the right spot when we saw all the explosive symbols around!!

Jonathan getting checked in and filling out tons of paperwork!

Jonathan hauling in his gear to his dorm - we were not allowed to go upstairs to his room, but did learn that there are three young men to a room.

Exterior shot of his living quarters.

Final hugs and good-byes!  

This was so hard for David...........he idolizes his big brother, and knowing it could be a long time until we see Jonathan again really upset him.

Not long after Jonathan returned to his dorm, we saw the soldiers - old and new - gather on the PT field and then march off............we assume to dinner.  It was sad, and exciting, at the same time knowing the adventures that lay ahead for him, but knowing that our family will never be the same.............

So that ended our time with Jonathan, but we have plenty of more exciting adventures along the way as we headed back towards home!  Stay tuned....................!   

Monday, July 8, 2013

OBT - Part Two - Family Day

We made it to Ft. Jackson, South Carolina, without mishap.  Settling into the campground allowed us to get organized, showered, and to have a really great night's sleep!  Wednesday, June 19, was the Big Day! We arrived at Hilton Field in plenty of time to get a good seat and get ourselves ready for seeing Jonathan.

Patriotic music was playing and it was a very festive atmosphere.  We could only imagine how excited the soldiers were at this point!  Joe had the brilliant idea for us all to have matching t-shirts.  I worked with a great business here in Tucson that came through for us in a big way in a short amount of time!  The shirts had the Army logo and said "Army Family" on the front.  The back said "PFC Krause".  We got so many comments on our shirts and I think it made Jonathan smile, too!

It looked as if it could pour down rain any moment, but fortunately the rain held off.  Promptly at 9:00, the program started, with smoke, military demonstrations, and narration .  There was all sorts of hooting and hollering, clapping, and stomping of feet!  Adrenaline was high!  As the smoke cleared, we could see rows and rows of soldiers emerging from the trees - quite a good effect!!

After a short program describing Basic Training and the incredible challenges that these young men and women had been through, the families were told to "Go find your soldier!"  The announcer had told us which platoon was which, so we knew to head to the group on the left.  I'm ashamed to say that we walked right by Jonathan - believe me, all these soldiers in the same uniform, standing at attention with shaved heads, look amazingly alike.  David was the one who actually spotted him by seeing "Krause" on his uniform!

Jonathan had to stay on post, but the soldiers were given freedom to be with their families the entire day.  He had to be back at his barracks by 8:30 that night.  He told us that one of his top priorities was to buy a new pair of boots.  The ones they were issued at Basic apparently didn't fit very well and weren't the best quality, so as the day progressed we saw hundreds of soldiers all trying on new boots!  So off we went.................!  But first, we got a short tour of the barracks, etc.

This was the place where the soldiers did PT (physical training) each morning, before breakfast.

This is where the soldiers ate, but we were not allowed to go inside.  Can you imagine the massive amounts of food that were prepared and consumed each day?

Lunch in the RV as we headed to the PX to begin the hunt for new boots!

Isaac LOVED feeling Jonathan's shaved head!

Giving instructions on how to correctly do a push up!

Proud Mama!!

After all the mandatory picture taking, we headed over to the Officers' Club for a wonderful buffet.  We ate in shifts, by platoon, and it was delicious.

After this, we went over to a very nice park to relax, let the boys play on the equipment, and just have some down time.  We were all getting very tired at this point, including Jonathan.

Well, that's a lot of Army green in one post!  Part three will be coming up soon!