Together Since the Beginning Quads Enlist

The phone rang. My daughter, Katie was rushed into surgery for an emergency C-section and delivered triplets two days short of 27 weeks gestation. Our beautiful little ones weighed in at 2.8 lbs. (our grandson Chase), 2.4 lbs, (our granddaughter Clara) and 1.10 lbs. (our granddaughter Madeline).

Katie and her husband, BJ are riding the emotional roller coaster of daily events in the neonatal intensive care unit. The little ones are hooked up to all sorts of things like monitors and ventilators. The babies are receiving milk via a tube from their mouths to their stomach that is as thin as fishing line.

Five milliliters are in a teaspoon. Chase and Clara are “eating” 12 milliliters every two hours. Madeline (the mighty might) is receiving  a little less. As we pray, we thank God and celebrate each day. By the grace of God, the babies will continue to grow as they approach their third week of life.

Our children’s and grandchildren’s lives are so precious. I can only imagine the courage Kim Pollock, the mother of the quads and her husband have to have supporting their daughters and sons enlisting in the National Guard all at the same time.

They too will be riding the emotional roller coaster of events as they start their journey as a military family. As these quads approach their eighteenth year of life, we will pray for their safety and thank God for their patriotism.

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Afghanistan: Mike Bowersock’s Blog

Mike Bowersock’s blog  says ” thanks to the Ohio National Guard 112th Engineer Battalion for letting us tag along and take a small peak into the lives of those who are helping make our lives better. Thanks. MGB.”

Mike traveled to Afghanistan and will start stories on Febuary 28,2011 about these brave soldiers and their families left behind. Thank you Mike for telling their stories.

A Year Without by Katherine Harris Szerdy

Sending a child to war is one of the hardest things a mother has to live through. Having two children deployed at the same time is unimaginable.  This courageous mother of two deployed soldiers describes what it is like having a daughter deployed in the ongoing poem, A Year Without. Please pray for this family and all the families of deployed troops. God bless our servicemen and women until they are safe in our arms again.

A Year Without by Katherine Harris Szerdy

At the tender age of seven,

you mastered the art of pinning your long blonde hair

into a tight bun for ballet.

Seems like just yesterday.

Eleven years later, you stepped out of your pointe shoes and into Army Boot

Camp, drill sergeants mandating pull-ups rather than pirouhettes. Did you say you ranked “sharpshooter”?

Seems like yesterday you danced for Jesus.

Day after day, a dull ache weighs heavy on my heart,

sometimes tugs violently,

hearing reports of the day’s casualties.

–The drastic decline in water and electric usage and grocery bills

yielding in significant financial savings (LOL!)

won’t even begin to make up for

A year without…

Mom/daughter lunch dates at our favorite Dave’s Cosmic Sub Shop

and Starbucks after-dinner coffee dates

and SOS calls to AAA when the Sebring needs some TLC

and moody monthlies

and fashion shows pirouetting your latest fashion finds

and sweet whispers overheard during midnight calls with “The Boy”

and knowing glances from across the room

and cleaning fests while singing your heart out to iTunes,

spinning in your socks on shiny oak floors,

and sharing the latest shampoo brands

or Sephora make-up tricks

or comparing OPI colors on toes

and the joy of hearing about your most memorable Yours Truly customer of the day–

Tom, the town historian sporting his signature bow tie, always impeccably dressed or

the Reids, Kirk and Dot, the adorable Presbyterian couple

married 59 years, who always leave a 15% tip to the penny,

and who left a message on our answering machine last week to tell us

they would be praying for you

each and every day,

and Dave and Casey, twin brothers, Hudson’s very own Click & Clack.

It’s not getting any easier you know–180 days in…

I miss those late night Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice marathons

and witnessing you fall in love with Matisse on a trip to the Cleveland Art Museum

so much so that you went out and bought your first set of paints and canvas

and watching you solve Sudoku puzzles faster than it takes me to brush my teeth

and putting together 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles before the dinner dishes are put away

and interpreting last night’s dreams

and enjoying our first experience in a real French restaurant together

and your placating “the Mom” on Mother’s Day by taking me to High Tea

or church on Sunday

HOW

do I possibly enjoy a moment of this convenient existence

knowing that my daughter is over there

sacrificing an entire year, 1/23nd of her life,

her senior year at Kent State,

laying her life on the line each and every one of the 365 days

for a cause greater than herself

HOW

can I lounge in air conditioning as she struggles to sip

breatheable air through her mask during a sandstorm

HOW

can I take a drive in my Buick LaCrosse, windows rolled down,

breeze blowing through my hair,

or enjoying heated leather seats in winter’s cold,

knowing she sits strapped tight in a sling seat in the fuselage of a C130

or hunkered down, transported over hopelessly rocky, mountainous terrain

HOW

can I crash on the couch for a luxurious afternoon nap

while she struggles to sleep with shells exploding in the not-too-distance

or to wake up each day to the same routine–work 12 hours, run, chow, sleep, work 12 hours, run, chow, sleep…

in the haze of Afghan heat

HOW

can I walk freely down tree-lined streets admiring manicured lawns

without thinking of her trudging under the burden of a 60-pound pack

unable to step outside bounded territory.

HOW

do I lunch with a friend at the newest bistro in town

dressed in a lovely lined lavendar linen sheath

knowing a girlfriend lunch for her means

the monotony of mess hall meat and potato cuisine

with boiled lobster and steak as the big treat on Fridays

or ripping open an MRE

with her Battle Buddy, dressed in ACUs a lovely shade of cammie,

while sitting,

waiting,

in blazing 115 degree heat.

HOW

do I take a leisurely shower with spa accessories

without thinking about her feeling lucky to get two minutes

under cold water…and a bar of soap.

We watch the evening news and wonder

What is not being told

because these stories won’t sell advertising dollars

or appease political agendas…

You’ve told us your work saves lives–

I read between the lines that this work is

meaningful for you despite the

colorless

lifeless

setting of the mountains of Afghanistan.

What stories will you have to tell your grandchildren?

My prayer continues–that God shelters you from memories

needing to be buried, and blesses you with sweet dreams

of home and a bright future.

So I keep a visual journal, recording details about meaningful moments and seasons you missed.

Frank, Al, Susie, Joe, Buttercup, and Bob, the mutant Algae-eater, continue to thrive.

I take great pride that I haven’t lost one! 🙂

No, ZeeZee and BeeBee haven’t forgotten you.

Jeremy still stops over to check up on us…we love him for that.

I wonder if you’ve had time to respond to

comments I wrote in Sue Monk Kidd’s mother/daughter memoir,

And wonder what you’ll think about the new living room arrangement

and whether you’ll be surprised that NOTHING has changed in your room

except that I ironed and put away your last load of laundry

and kept your room clean and tucked away a few treasures I thought you might enjoy –

to be discovered when you are home on leave.

Dad wonders if you’ll recognize all the changes he’s made in the house since you left (he kept a list) 🙂

I count the days until you are home on leave

so I can perhaps sleep through the night

I continue to pray each night at 0230

And send up breath prayers throughout the day

And cling to my faith 24/7

until you and your brother and your cousins are back on American soil and

the buses pull back into the Armory

under Vietnam Vet motorcyle escort and

we can cut both yellow ribbons off the oak tree

and you are safe in my arms again.

Check out Katherine’ s blog at http://mamagram.wordpress.com/

Good News

While speaking at the Ohio Professional Writers (OPW) group this past November, I was invited to enter my story from LYMTYK in their annual contest.

OPW has an annual communications contest that encourages and rewards excellence in communication and provides members an opportunity to compete against regional colleagues in a broad range of categories set by National Federation of Press Women. (NFPW)

Guess what happened!  Mary Jane Skala, (former Sun News editor) and contest coordinator recently notified me saying, “I am happy to tell you that your story on the military moms won first place in the non-fiction category for the Ohio Professional Writers contest.”  Woohoo! Next we move on to the national contest with NFPW.  The results will be announced in late July.

A contest  judge had this to say about our book, “Love You More Than You Know is wonderful. The stories are well-written, poignant, and tell more about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan than you ever hear on the evening news. The young soldiers and sailors share bits and pieces of their daily lives with their mothers, along with their deepest emotions. The moms, in turn, write of their empty arms and empty hearts while their sons and daughters are off in foreign countries, maybe in danger. The goodbyes, the homecomings, the packages and photos, the instant messages and, especially, the fear–all there, many times over. The stories are personal and very real. So give the book first prize. Reinart — and all the mothers who share from their hearts — deserve it.”

Little Things

It doesn’t seem like much–a package here, an email there–sending little things to our deployed soldiers just to let them know we are thinking about them. And yet the thank you back says it all. It does make a difference.  These are excerpts from emails from two deployed soldiers:

“It brings a smile and a warmth to my heart whenever I walk into the mailroom and see I have a package or letter.”

“. . . ( I ) would gladly defend everyone in it (our country) at anytime!”

***

“It means alot to me.”

” . . . It touches me and keeps me going! ”

“. . . (People are) the reason Im proud to serve our country and keep everyone safe!!”

Another little thing we can all do is to say a prayer for all of our troops. God bless our servicemen and woman and bring them home safely to those who love them.

Find your local USO and volunteer.

Article in Ohio Magazine

Check out the beautiful article entitled, Love Stories by Linda Feagler in the Winter Issue of Ohio Magazine. Thank you Linda for the kind words about our book, Love You More Than You Know.

OPW-Ohio Professional Writers

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Members mingling

What a  wonderful meeting listening to three speakers (I was one for Love You More Than You Know), sharing ideas, tips, talking about writing, and eating lunch.

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Vivian Goodman, President of OPW

MOAA: Military Officers Association of AmericaMember Books for August 2009

Check out the review.

MOAA: Military Officers Association of AmericaMember Books for August 2009

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Midwest Book Review-Sept.2009

“It’s hard to send one’s child off to a dangerous situation. “Love You More Than You Know: 45 Powerful, Personal Tales of Love, Faith, and Courage” is a collection of stories from mothers who have faced the nerve-wracking event of sending their children off to war, with no certainty of their safe return. From the dread of enlisting, to the realization of deployment, there are many stories of parents coping with their worry and coping with a mix of pride and fear. “Love You More Than You Know” is a treasure any military parent will cherish.”