Long overdue post…

November 2, 2009

Well, I have to say, as far as this blog goes, I’ve been a really bad sister.  I have no excuse really other than being insanely busy – I’m starting a new business, my husband and I just bought a new house, trying to sell our house, 4 soccer games every weekend, etc. etc.  I realize that I haven’t even written on this since Luke’s leave way back in August!  So let’s play catch up.

Luke was home in August for 14 days and it was so great to have him home!  He bought a new truck while he was home, spent a lot of time with our friends and family and I had a big welcome home/birthday/going away party for him at my house. 

Luke and I at my house

Mom, Luke and I at Granny's

He was actually home on his 20th birthday which was nice.  It was great to be able to just pick up the phone and call him anytime I wanted and great to have him just stop by the house.  We also had a going away party at our grandparents house for family.  My stepson was beyond happy to see Luke – he thinks he is a real GIJoe so he is always enamored with Luke.  And Luke taught him to shoot a BB gun for the first time!  HA HA  Check out his outfit that Luke bought him.

Luke and WIll BB Gun

Since he has been back in Iraq, things have been busy for him too.  He has been flying a lot and keeping busy. 

Luke in copter in Iraq

We still talk to him quite a bit.  I talk to him a couple times a week on Facebook chat – thank goodness for the internet!  It looks like he is making some good friends and managing some time for fun while over there based on some pictures we have seen.  They make time for things like water balloon fights and all sorts of random things.  It’s good to see that even though they are in that situation they still have some time for fun.

Luke and boys in Iraq

Water balloons

We have been told that he should be home sometime before Christmas.  We are keeping our fingers crossed!  It would be great to have him home for the holidays and for our stepsister’s wedding in January in Florida. 

I’ll try to do a little better keeping this thing updated – hopefully I’ll have some “coming home” updates soon!!!  🙂

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….And he is home! For a visit anyway :)

August 18, 2009

As I said, Luke left Iraq on Friday around noon our time to make his journey home for a 15 day leave.  We had no clue really when he would actually get home and he wouldn’t be able to call us until he was in the US.  We were all basically just sitting by our phones waiting to get the phone call.  We expected Sunday or Monday. 

His original plan was for just me to go to the airport and get him, then take him home to our parents and surprise them rather than them coming to the airport.  Around 8am Saturday morning as I was in St. Louis, my phone rang and it was him.  “Can you be at the airport in 2 hours?”  Uh….I’m two and a half hours from home.  I can be there then.  So Tommy and I rushed to pack up our things and as we were about to walk out the door of the hotel room, Luke called back and said, “Nevermind.  I missed that flight so now I’m stuck in Atlanta until 4pm.”  YUCK!  I can’t even imagine the exhaustion that he felt after traveling for that long with no sleep. 

My parents came to our house to wait on him and we had a nice lunch with a fruity drink to celebrate the big day.  🙂  We finally heard from him that his flight was about to leave Atlanta.  I think mom had ants in her pants from the anticipation.  🙂  Tommy kept telling her that we didn’t want to get to the airport too early because we would just sit so we finally left.  Good thing we did!  As we pulled into the parking lot I saw a plane land and sure enough it was a Delta so we hurried into the airport where we patiently stood at the windows waiting for the plane to get to the gate.

Luke getting off plane

We finally saw him stepping off of the plane and it was so awesome to see him in the flesh!  We had all been so excited to see him and now the day was finally here!

Luke walking into airport

He finally  made it through the gates and I was the first to run up and hug him.  I said, “I don’t care if I embarrass him, I’m hugging him!!”  I think at that point he was too tired to care what we did.  He was definitely ready to just go home and relax at that point.

Mom said the first night he was home he just relaxed – showered, ate something, visited our grandparents, and went to sleep.  He said he was happy to sleep in his own bed!  He also said that he was happy to see grass.  HA 

Yesterday Mom took off work and ran errands with him including going to pick out a new truck!  I am so proud of him for being able to buy a brand new truck at his age with his own money.  The truck is beautiful!  I’ll take pictures of him with it once he actually gets it.  I had lunch with them and it was nice to be able to just have him there to talk to.

This Friday is his birthday – the big 2-0!  We are doing a small family get together Saturday afternoon at our parents house. 

I’ll post more pictures as the week goes on!

My Interview on “The National Defense”

August 18, 2009

Last week I was contacted by Randy of The National Defense radio talk show host to do a radio interview.  I was kind of surprised but excited to do it!  He had found my blogs online and wanted to interview me about my work with Operation Baking GALS and to talk a little bit about Luke and our family.  I called him last week from work and did about a 15-20 minute interview that was very casual.  It was very cool to be getting the word out about Operation Baking GALS to such a wide audience!  The National Defense is on VFW talk radio and is broadcast all across the US on ~120 stations, in addition to being on their blog and website. 

If you would like to hear my interview, please click this link.  I am the second one under August 15th

http://vfwnationaldefense.blogspot.com/

Enjoy!

Today is the day!!!

August 14, 2009

The day has finally arrived!!!  My brother leaves Iraq today to make his long journey home for a 15 day leave.  We are all so excited!  I’ve talked to him several times this week on chat and he is pretty excited to be coming home to say the least.  I think it’s awesome that he will be here on his birthday as well! 

He is supposed to leave this afternoon out of Iraq on a C130 and after that, it is all up in the air.  Anyone who has dealt with the military knows that you never really know specific dates and times until they happen so the next few days is a waiting game.  We are all just going to be waiting for his phone call to let us know that he has landed in the US.  He said it could take a few days depending on weather, how many other soldiers are leaving, etc. so I am guessing it could be anywhere from Sunday to Tuesday before we actually hear from him.  He said there have been bad sand and dust storms this week so who knows if he will even get out on time.  We will all be sitting by our phones for sure though! 

I will post some pictures from his visit home once I actually see him.  I have promised to not embarrass him at the airport by crying.  I also promised that when he left and that didn’t work out so well so we shall see if I can keep that promise  🙂

Counting Down!

August 8, 2009

I don’t have a ton of updates on what Luke is doing currently as I haven’t talked to him much lately – he has been really busy he says so not much time to chat.  However…guess what??  His leave is soon – VERY soon!  We will be seeing him sometime in the next two weeks and I can’t wait!  It will be awesome to see him face to face and hang out with him.  I am sure he will be exhausted while he is home, not to mention very jet lagged but nonetheless it will be good to have him here even if only for a week or so.  And he will be home on his birthday which is cool!  Especially since his big sister loves to bake  🙂 

I will take lots of pictures while he is home and keep everyone informed so you know when he gets here!

Baked Goods Roundup & Leave

July 30, 2009

Wow!  When I decided to be a team leader last month for round 10 of  Operatoin Baking GALS, I had NO idea the response that I would get from my family, friends, coworkers and others who found me through the blog world.  I ended up with over 20 people who contributed!  I couldn’t have been more happy, especially for my first time doing it.  If you would like to see everything that was baked, please check it out on my other blog right here—–> Operation Baking GALS roundup for Round 10!

Again, thank you to everyone who helped me.  My brother said it was like Christmas receiving all of the baked goods.  I think he was a little overwhelmed at the amount of boxes that all seemed to come at once, but he said he spread them out into the commons areas and the guys were “like birds on a full feeder”.  HA  I know sending baked goods can’t even begin to thank them for all they do, but if it put a smile on anyone’s face and reminded them of home, then it was a job well done by everyone who sent stuff.  I have joined a team for round 11 as well, but I’m not team leadering this round.  If anyone wants to join this awesome group, please go to http://www.bakinggals.com/ and join up!  It’s easy and it makes you feel good to know you are doing something for the troops.  🙂

In other news, guess what?!  Luke gets to come home in the next month for a leave!  We are so excited to get to see him even if it is just for probably a week and a half.  I imagine he will be completely exhausted pretty much the entire time he is here, but it will be awesome just to see him live and in person for a bit!  He will then go back to Iraq and we are keeping fingers crossed that he will be home sometime in December or January.  Our stepsister gets married in Florida in January so if  he were home for that, that would be great!  He had to miss my wedding due to BASIC training so maybe he can at least be at one of his sister’s weddings  🙂

Not much else going on for now.  We are still able to talk to Luke a couple of times a week thanks to gchat, Facebook chat, and MySpace chat.  He is very ready to come home and see friends and family and just relax for a bit.  He still likes what he is doing but that is a long time to be gone, especially at 19 years old.  But guess what?  He turns 20 next month and will likely be home on his birthday!  Awesome huh?

That is all for now…more later!  🙂

A Big WOW and THANK YOU!

June 30, 2009

If you’ve read my previous post, then you know that I have joined a wonderful group called Operation Baking GALS.  I just heard about this group recently, decided to get more info, and then decided, “Hey, I’ll just dive into this head first and be a team leader this month!”  I was a little nervous about taking on the role of team leader my very first time even doing anything with the program.  After all, do I really know that many people who would be willing to bake a box of goodies and ship them to my chosen soldier (obviously Luke!) and his fellow soldiers??  But I decided to go for it. 

The response for this – was AMAZING!!!!  I posted it on both of my blogs, my Twitter, and my Facebook and I have had an overwhelming response.  Normally they like to cap the groups off at 20 so of course my goal was 20.  🙂  I thought it might be farfetched but you know what?  I am up to EIGHTEEN signed up so far!!  WOW WOW WOW!  So I just wanted to post a giant THANK YOU to everyone who has agreed to help me on my first whirl as team leader for the GALS.  It means so much to me because I’ve become really excited about this project and my brother has already told his fellow soldiers that they would be getting a big load of goodies soon so they are awaiting the arrival of all the yummy goodness! 

I am excited because tomorrow officially begins the shipping dates for the baked goods.  The shipping dates are July 1 – July 11 for this round.  I plan on baking this weekend and shipping on July 6 (which is also my two year wedding anniversary I might add!).

If you are on my team and you have any questions, please let me know and I will be more than happy to help.  If you were unable to help with my team this round, don’t worry.  I have a feeling this won’t be my last run as I’ve had so much fun with this project  🙂

THANK YOU SO MUCH AGAIN EVERYONE WHO IS HELPING!!!!

Operation Baking Gals – Sending baked goods to Iraq!

June 24, 2009

Recently my fabulous friend Clara at iheartcuppycakes told me about a blogging group called Operation Baking Gals and she thought I might be interested in it. So I looked it up and yes!! Sounds like something I would LOVE to do! As most of you know, my little brother…er, I should say YOUNGER (19) not little, is serving in Iraq with the Indiana National Guard. He has been there since February and we are keeping fingers crossed the he gets to come home in either December or January.

My family and I love sending care packages to him. They LOVE receiving things from home. When I saw this wonderful baking group, I knew it was perfect for me! I get to bake AND do something good at the same time? Sign me up!

I have now signed up to be a team leader for Operation Baking Gals for the July shipment. Now all I need is a team of bakers! I have a few people who have already committed but I definitely need more – I need to get about 20 people if at all possible. It’s very easy-all you have to do is make some baked goods that can be shipped overseas (basically just nothing that will melt), and ship them out between July 1st and July 11th. The baked goods will all go to my chosen soldier – my brother – and he will then disperse them throughout his group. How awesome is that?? I’m beyond excited to be a part of this group and I hope I can continue to be a part of it.

An excerpt from Operation Baking Gals site:

Baking GALS (GALS stands for Give A Little Support) is a group of volunteer bakers who bake and ship homemade goodies to our heroic troops that are currently deployed. Each soldier is “Hosted” by a blogger, and potential bakers are “recruited” from the bloggers own site as well as the GALS site. Each Host recruits between 20-25 bakers, meaning LOTS of goodies get delivered to our soldier…so many, in fact that he or she has plenty to share with their fellow troops!

Why do we do it this way? Why not just ship to “Any Soldier”? Well, we don’t know “any soldier” – and “any soldier” doesn’t know us. And recieving baked goods from a stranger, while probably safe, is frowned upon and in many cases, those Any Soldier gifts could be thrown out. Baking GALS will introduce you to a soldier. You will know his name, a little bit about him, maybe even his favorite cookie…and he will know in advance that he will be on the recieiving end of a cookie bombardment – so everyone is prepared. It is a safer way to treat our troops, and it helps them to know when to expect a barage of goodies.

So who wants to help out with my team??? I realize it’s kind of short notice but you have almost two weeks to get it done. Support your troops and get to do something you like to do at the same time!

If you are interested in being on my team, please email me at mrsabybaby@gmail.com and I will send out all of the necessary information once the team is all together.

In honor of “seeing” Luke last night…

June 18, 2009

I am pretty upset with myself for getting this far behind on this blog because this one is important to me.  Life has been very busy over the past few months for me but I’m hoping to get back into updating this one more.  Because hey, if I’m updating, that means I have heard from Luke and that is always a good thing!

I have a lot of catching up to do here.  I will start by saying that he is doing well.  He is safe.  And he is liking what is he doing for the most part.  All of those are positive things in my book!  Over the past couple of months, we have been able to communicate with him pretty often.  I have to say that before he left I was so scared that we would never be able to talk to him but I have been proven wrong thanks to the wonderful Internet.  I can’t even imagine what people did before that!  I guess that had to wait for the actual mail?  Thank goodness for the Internat at my fingertips is all I have to say about that.

I have been able to talk to Luke twice on the phone in the past couple of months.  Both times I have been at work so I’m thankful that I work in a relaxed office environment.  He called me the first time via Skype to my landline phone.  It was the first time I had talked to him on the phone and you would have thought I was five years old and Santa Claus had just called to say he was stopping by for milk and cookies that night.  Excited was an understatement.  The next time he called was actually using a calling card to call my cell phone.  Talking to someone in the Middle East is interesting.  When my husband was there a few months ago on business, we had the same issues on the phone as Luke and I have.  There is a delay in when he hears me talking.  So you kind of have to learn when to speak and it can make for some confusing funny conversations but it’s all good once you get used to it.   Being able to actually hear his voice though is so great!  It makes me miss the days when I was so annoyed by my little brother.  🙂  The last time I talked to him it was scary because he said, “Hang on a second…” and I heard this big “whooooosh!” and it was a military jet taking off!  WOW!  Loud!  I guess they get used to that.

We talk at least once a week via gchat, Facebook chat, or email, sometimes more.  Anytime anyone in our family or our friends hears from him we all immediately let each other know.  Just knowing that he is talking to SOMEONE is good enough for all of us usually!  He has some funny stories sometimes.  One time he said that they had found a lizard outside and kept it as a pet for about a week in their rooms.  HA  He works at night a lot of the time and although he is definitely working his butt off over there, it’s funny sometimes because I will ask him what he is doing and he will say he is at work.  But then he will go on to say that he is just playing darts, playing cards, shooting water balloons (!), playing guitar hero, etc.  I guess it’s like me – some days at “the office” are easier than others 🙂  He likes his roommate pretty well and they are on different schedules so that helps.  It seems like despite the hard work that they do, they do have some fun while there.  I guess you have to find a way to have fun even in Iraq so you don’t go crazy.  If you want to see some of the things that soldiers do there for fun, go to www.youtube.com and search for “Iraq bored”.  Some of the videos are hysterical.  My mom and I watched them one afternoon and I was laughing so hard that I was crying!  I only hope to see my brother on there sometime making a music video or something else.  HA

We are still sending care packages pretty regularly.  Now that he has been there for awhile, sometimes he requests specific items.  He requested a hammock this past week – relaxing in a hammock in Iraq?  I can’t imagine but I guess they do it!  I mainly send snack foods, magazines, DVD’s…and sometimes random items.  He likes to get Febreze – he said two military guys in a room gets smelly.  EW!  I can only imagine!  I know what his room at home smelled like sometimes (sorry Luke, but when you and your friends were in there, it got bad sometimes….HA!).

One of the guys in his group took a few pictures about a month ago and they were the first pictures we have seen yet.  They are below and Luke is third from the left in both pictures.  A little different than his vehicle at home huh??

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Luke with Blackhawk crew

Last night was a highlight because we were able to talk to him on  Skype and actually SEE him and talk to him which is awesome!  I love Skype!  In case you don’t know what it is, you basically are able to video chat with someone and it’s awesome!  We were able to see his room and just seeing him was great! 

Not much else going on right now.  He is hoping to come home on a leave sometime late summer. It will be GREAT to see him!  I’ll try not to embarrass him at the airport by knocking him down with a hug when I see him.  But I make no promises! 

More later!

Guest Post for Mother’s Day – Musings of a Military Mom…

May 6, 2009

I have been slacking on updating this blog – I need to get on it!  Maybe my mom deciding that she wants to guest post this week will get me in the mood to do it more?  Anyway, here is a guest post from my mom to celebrate Mother’s Day.  Enjoy!

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 Happy Mother’s Day
 
I am doing a guest blog for April to present the mother’s perspective of my son being in Iraq.   Since Mother’s Day is around the corner, it somehow seemed the perfect time. 
 
Luke is a door gunner on a Blackhawk helicopter.  He works nights, flying missions and VIPs.    A very exciting job for him, much more so than his summer job last year building farm silos.   I am wishing I had never been a part of the Vietnam generation or watched the movie Blackhawk Down. But he assured me all of his clothing is flameproof, he wears body armor, he ties off on a cord and carries more weapons than anyone else on the Blackhawk. He told me this to make me feel better…..
 
When it comes to patriotism, we are that all American family.  I had a grandfather who was a WWII veteran. He instilled in us a respect for anyone who served in the Armed Forces. It did not matter if they came back whole or came back broken somehow, we were to respect and thank them for their service. We stood when the flag was presented at ballgames or in parades. We put our hands over our hearts when we heard the National Anthem. Voting is our duty and privilege. Two other grandfathers also were veterans of the same war. Uncles have served in the Vietnam and Korean wars. My son’s father served during peace time.  We could not be more proud that Luke is now serving.
 
As I explore our family genealogy, I find our ancestors have served since the very beginnings of this country. We come from a long line of those hard working Scotch Irish that fought for the independence of this country. Not to mention a few Confederate heroes that my mother’s South Carolina heritage has contributed. If my son should ever become a Presidential candidate, he is in trouble. I know there are several home videos showing him pledging allegiance to the Confederate flag at the age of three during a church dedication ceremony deep in the heart of Dixie.  Do people really do that?  Yes, they do, in all seriousness and no one was more shocked than we were. 
 
My son is not the kid  who joined the Army to get “free college” and never expect to actually serve in a war. He is the boy who went straight to the recruiter on his 17th birthday. He is the boy who gave up his summers when a Junior and Senior in high school for BASIC and AIT. He is the young man who volunteered for a deployment because he wants to serve his country. He has always wanted to do this. He played army, had lengthy discussions with my grandfather about WWII, studied wars and conflicts, and watched everything he could about it on television. When other boys desired the latest video game for Christmas, he wanted the “Band of Brothers” DVD gift set. That is Luke.
 
He is young, single and very dedicated.  He likes it.  I asked him on face book chat one day if he missed home.  His answer was  “sometimes, kind of, but I really like it here, Mom.”   That makes a mother feel so much better.   It would be a long year if he were miserable.  It is already 107 degrees over there.  He likes getting emails and care packages from home.  I send him photos every now and then of his old fishing holes and other random places here at home.   His granny made him some no bake cookies and I made peanut butter and snicker doodles.  We weren’t sure how they would make the trip, but he said they were good and a big hit, so I guess they survived.  We send all kind of different things. If he doesn’t like them, I am sure someone will.   I found Yoohoo’s in drink box cartons and have sent those.  If you know Luke, you know he likes those Yoohoo’s!    At first, between April and I, he was bombarded with care packages.  He asked us to slow down, so we have.   This time I am sending a disposable camera and hopefully he will take some pictures for me.  Every now and then I send him the Press Dispatch so he can see what he isn’t missing at home : )   
 
We did talk to him on Skype one day, so we actually heard his voice.  I always like it when he talks to April because she texts me right away and is so excited.   We have not been able to do the Skype video because his internet in his room is so slow.   Although when he called me that day, his video came up for an instance, I saw his face from the nose up and his “room”.   That was enough. 
 
I worry sometimes.  Particularly on  those days when I see soldiers were killed, especially in the areas I know he is working.   Then I am stalking the internet to see if he has logged on to any of the sites I know he frequents, or if he has used his debit card anywhere.  But then he will pop up on gchat or face book chat and I know he is safe and it is some other family that has suffered a loss.  They are always in my thoughts and prayers, those families.    But all in all, I worry less about him over there than I did when he was running around here. 
 
They are all very fine men and women fighting our wars, and they are also someone’s child.  On this Mother’s Day, remember all of us mother’s who have a child serving our country.

Luke baby military pic