This is a picture of James' platoon. All chaplains. James is on the bottom row to the right.
Last week the group got to experience the gas chamber. They require everyone to go through this experience and call it training. James calls it a form of hazing. Either way they enter the gas chamber with their masks on, having been required to don it in 10 seconds or less. James had it on in 3 flat. They entered a dimly lit building with a small metal table in the center of the otherwise empty room. On the table was a can with fire in it and a masked soldier was standing next to it feeding pellets into the can, causing a thick gas to fill the room. About 100 soldiers entered the room through strips of heavy plastic layered to keep the gas in as they all lined the walls around the room. The first sensation was a burning on the exposed skin, especially the skin with open pores like the back of the neck where it's sweaty. The first task was to take of the mask, say your name, rank and serial number, re-place the mask and clear it of the fumes. James performed this perfectly. The second and final task was performed in groups of 10. They were required to take off their masks, say their name, rank and serial number, then take a breath and when all 10 were done to file out. As James prepared for this final task he breathed deeply in and out, in and out, in and then a long breath out . . . then he ripped off his mask. As soon as it was off he realized his mistake. Knowing that the drill Sgts are there to rip off your mask if you start to panic and try putting it back on, he didn't even attempt. But, needing to have breath in his lungs to say anything he inhaled . . . his lungs immediately froze. After a few seconds his body began to involuntarily gasp for breath, his chest heaving in and out - though the air that came in was just as seizing as the first. Some 20 seconds passed as his vision began to dim and his knees became weak. The instructor saw him fading and grabbed him by the shoulder and pushed him out the doorway. Though he was now in fresh air his lungs still would not draw it in because of the gas still inside. Knowing that if he passed out, not breathing, things could get complicated really fast James struggled for the tiniest breaths. He stumbled around, not walking but falling and then catching himself with the other foot; not in a straight line either but side to side and back. They were told that upon exiting the chamber they should extend their arms and move them briskly up and down to get the gas away from their skin and clothing. As James teetered around he heard another chaplain say, "Hey, we've got one over here that's not doing so well. No, he's not doing so good." His arms flapping, eyes burning, his chest heaving for the smallest fresh breath, his nose running . . . he cared nothing for how he looked but only focused on how he wanted that air. Only air. Slowly the air began returning, replacing poison with oxygen. After the whole breathing issue was taken care of he had plenty of time to feel stupid for taking off his mask before breathing in.
Here is a picture of right after the gas chamber. James is in the far back, second from the left.
For the last couple of days James has been out in the field doing landnav(igation) and field training. His final experience for today was moving through the trenches and low crawling under barbed wire with explosions and amunition flying over his head. He worked with a "chaplain's assistant" in the exercise where he would tail his body guard and drop and low crawl while the chaplain's assistant secured the area before they moved forward together. It sounded like a really great experience. Last weekend James strained his tendon in his shoulder but he was able to work through it with a little Motrin to help.
Thurdsay's temp in South Carolina was 106 degrees and they calculated the heat index around 120. Two of the Chaplain trainees suffered heat stroke and were taken away in the ambulance before they called off the exercise until the heat of the day subsided. Here's James' trusty camelback. He is required to drink 3 full camelback's of water a day.
Full battle gear. His combat helmet, flack jacket . . . etc. This only made it hotter out there.
I haven't seen James in his full Army uniform yet. It's strange for me to see the cross on his hat, like Father Mulcahy in M.A.S.H.
Did you know why the Army uniform's U.S. flag has the field of stars on the right side of the patch? This is not how the flag is usually portrayed in pictures and coloring books, right? It is worn this way because in days past the standard bearer at the front of the force would ride or carry their banner into battle, as it moved through the air the wind carried the banner behind the pole. The reason the flag is worn this way on the soldier's uniform is to symbolize moving forward into battle, as the flag flies back. It is worn on the right arm (though if it were on the left arm they could still have it flying in the wind as the soldier moves forward and it would look normal. Oh, well. I'm sure there is symbolism for why it is on the right arm. Something about honor probably.)
Thanks for checking in. Next weekend we'll be together for Luke's baptism. I can't wait to have him back, even for a short 55 hours.
I just got the first installment of pictures from James at training. This morning he was repelling and took his camera with him. When I spoke to him last night he told me that he needed to wake up at 0400 so this was probably taken pretty early. It looks to me like I've sent my husband off to scout camp or something.
ok, so next time I update I'll remember that the pictures download in opposite order than the way I selected them...
So, this is me eating, no, sucking the guts out of the crawdad body cavity as I crush the shell. My cousin Mark holds a cookout every other week-ish out on the family farm. Friends, neighbors, everyone comes out and brings whatever they wanna cook. There are a lot of dutch ovens going and it's always REALLY good food. I had some yummy jumbalaya and chocolate dutch oven cake to truly die for with swirls of fudge and nuts and mmmmm. He's making the place look really welcoming. He just laid some sod with more to come and he's built picnic tables and benches. But I haven't seen any port-a-potties out there.
This picture is not my "mmmmm" face. It is more of a "hold on to your cookies sister" look.
lovely, don't you think? here's luke tasting the crawdad meat after some coaxing from Phillip, see below.
Luke turned 8 on June 19th and we had a little party for him. He chose cherry pie for dessert but I added some peaches with his consent to make the expensive canned cherries stretch.
I am so proud of this little guy. He's a good boy with a good heart and is a loyal friend. He will be baptized in 2 weeks and he's super excited about that. So are all of us. Pictures to come in a couple weeks.That's the scoop for now. We miss James like mad but he get's to come home to perform the baptsimal ordinance and spend about 52 hours with us over the 4th of July weekend. We are excited to find out that lots of family will be traveling to support Luke and enjoy time together.
So our family has moved from Provo, UT and is now in Boise, ID just miles from where I grew up and attended Middle and High School and 120 steps from my parent's door. We live just across the street. We're having lots of fun with family and are eating up every moment together before James leaves to go to South Carolina on Saturday, June 5th (Lindy's 3rd Birthday).
Luke will be baptized on July 3rd with or without his dad present. We are hoping James will be allowed to take a day or two of leave to perform the ordinance, but Luke wants to be baptized as soon as he can and doesn't want to wait until September when James graduates from his Army training. We, as his parents, support his choice and join in his excitement to follow the Savior's example of baptism. Our prayer is that James be will able to come home to share this very special time.
We recently traveled up to McCall Idaho and stayed at a condo. It was fun to spend time as a family and play in the pool.
This is a picture of James' Graduation Day. This is a pretty momentous . . . moment. Here James is with his 3 moms. They are each amazing women and I am so grateful for each of my Mothers-in-Law. May I repeat . . . I am so grateful for each of them. I am so blessed to know so many people who love James and in turn, me.
This picture was taken just after the Race for the Cure in Boise the day before Mother's Day 2010. I got the best time of my life. 3 miles in 23:50. My socks were given to me by my sister, Sara, they say "Survivor".
Our family went for a walk last night at Camel's Back Park in Boise. It was after a soft rain that made the air smell fresh, the dust stay low, and the kids not need to pack water for the trek.
Here are a couple of pictures of Phillip and Luke . . . at one with . . . nature.
Thanks for checking in. I will be updating this blog every other month or so at least because my friend Mary W. committed me to. I love you all. -MJ
Wow, it's been a while. We are nearing the end of our Provo adventure and are about to move onto new things. At the end of April we will be moving to Boise. After a month James will leave me in the company of a lot of family while he goes to Chaplain Basic in South Carolina for a few months. When he graduates from CHBOLC he will drive to El Paso and the kids and I will fly there and we will start our new life stationed at Ft. Bliss.
The kids and I took a trip to the Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake a couple weeks ago. Lindy loved it. Eli stayed home with James and it was a good thing he did. It was cold and would have been quite miserable for him. On Valentine's weekend we hosted a couple's dinner for the other Chaplain Candidates that are in James' BYU program. We had a lot of fun. Hopefully the guests did too. We all had to dress as couples. One couple came dressed as Star Trek characters. Another couple wore matching stickers on their shirts. James and I wore scout shirts.
James has been plugging away at school and I have been gaining a greater and greater love for homeschooling my kiddos. It has not been easy. There have been times when I thought "Gosh, it would be a lot easier to just send them to school!" But the thought of going back to that life just gives me a headache. After fumbling for 6ish months to find the best way for homeschooling to work for our family we have settled into a pretty good rhythm. I know what I'll do different when the kids finish this curriculum that I have laid out for this year, and I know what I'll do the same. The trick is finding the resources that fit best. There are a TON of resources out there and it is quite a task to sort and sift. I figure by the time I've been at this for a decade or so - I'll be a pro. Maybe. I'm sure I'll continue learning and improving all along the way in this, just like every other facet of life.