Wednesday, January 27, 2010

nothing new under the sun

King Solomon was right when he wrote "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun." (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

Many years ago, when my first 4 were little, arguments among them were common. One of the most common was the "Get out of my house! I was here FIRST" tossed at a younger sibling when the older one was irritated. Didn't matter who you were--if you had someone younger here, those words were said. (Poor Victoria's never been able to use that argument. Until now, I guess.) Of course, no one has screamed that at a sibling for many years. They're all far more sophisticated than that now. :)

Imagine my surprise, then, to hear this screaming match this morning. Apparently Logan had done something to irritate Ryan mightily. I don't really know what happened--I was doing unimportant things like collecting laundry and fixing breakfast.

Ryan: "Get OUT of here! Get OUT of MY house! You don't belong here any more."
Logan: "No. I live here TOO and you can't make me!"
(insert sound of mom choking back laughter here)
Ryan: "Get OUT. I was here first and YOU CAN'T STAY ANY MORE"
Logan: "You can't make me. I'm OLDER and BIGGER and I get to stay!"
Ryan: "Yes, but I've been here longer. So just LEAVE."

At that point I stepped in, still trying not to laugh. This is NOT something they learned from their older siblings, and they don't watch enough TV to have seen it there. I guess it's true--there's nothing new under the sun. Especially when it comes to sibling arguments.

And now they're back to playing together quite contentedly....

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Bad mom award

Well, today I win the horrible mom award. I am cold and tired. I miss Brent. I really want to sit under a blanket and read this afternoon, but my family seems to think they should eat 3 times a day. Goofy people! Since I already had most of dinner ready--we do soup, salad, and bread on Sundays--I was ready to turn over the dinner prep to one of the girls. There were a couple things I needed to do first so I was in the kitchen getting ready. My shadow was in his normal spot, underfoot. After several requests to him to stand out of the way, I physically moved him to a spot where I wouldn't trip over him. His eyes filled and his lip started to quiver. I ignored him and went on about my business. That's when it started....

Him: "Mom. Mom?"
me: "Yes?"
him: "Mom. MOM!"
me: "Yes?"
him: "Mom. That's not how my China mom did that. I know. You're doing it wrong."
me: "Hmmm...well, that's interesting. How did your China mom do it?"
him: "I don't know. Not like that."
me: "Oh."

Any time I started doing something new, we'd start over. The third time through, I swallowed hard, took a deep breath, and looked at him. Calmly, much more calmly than I felt, I said, "Sweetheart? You NEED to go into the other room. NOW. And stay there until I call you for dinner." More quivering lips and teary eyes. I had to get Jim involved, and the results weren't very pretty. But if I hadn't, I'm sure I would have burst out with the thoughts running through my mind:

"I've been doing this longer than your China mommy's been alive. If you don't like it, tough. You can do it yourself, go find someone who will do it to your liking, or learn to like it the way I do it. I'm finished competing with someone you don't know!"

I didn't say it. I wouldn't. But I sure feel that way sometimes. It's funny--one of them has to let me know that his China mommy was absolutely perfect and I never do anything right; the other one says that his China mommy would like to learn from me since I do everything so well.

No wonder I feel like the worst mom in the world. To one child here, it seems that I am.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

just last year

Just last year--about exactly this time last year, as a matter of fact--Brent sat in the family room and said, "Mom and Dad, I need to talk to you." He then went on to tell us he'd decided to quit school at the end of the term and join the Marines. I don't remember the rest of the conversation because the tears were falling too hard and too fast. My baby! How could he do this to us? Why the military? Doesn't he understand that we might lose him? I'm not ready for this! For months, those thoughts and many more went through my head, and I cried at the drop of a hat. After every conversation with him. Often, at every thought of him.

For a long time, the Marines and his enlistment was the proverbial elephant in the room. I knew his departure was coming, but we didn't talk about it much. I just couldn't, and he couldn't bear to see me cry. So we talked of other things, and I continued to worry, mostly on my own time since all it seemed to do was strain our relationship. His ship date was delayed, then delayed again. All of it made me crazy. I was starting to accept the fact that he was going to go, but having it put off and put off made it seem like the bad dream that would never end. I wanted off the roller coaster--"Just GO already!"

Then came October, and he moved home. November flew by, and with it lots of laughs and fun times. Plenty of tears too, but this time they were not so much tears of fear but tears of loss. I remember clearly watching him eat breakfast at the kitchen table the Saturday before Thanksgiving and thinking, "This is the last time my baby will ever eat breakfast with us. Next time he sits at this table, he will be a MAN." And all of a sudden, it started getting intriguing--what kinds of changes would happen? What would the young man we see be like? I cried when we left him at the airport to report to his recruiter. We didn't go to Boise to see him sworn in. It's a really long drive with 2 preschoolers to watch a 30 second event. Maybe it was mistake. I will never know--I'm not looking back. These days I only look forward.

Now, I cry when I think about him. But it's not the same. Not at all. I see the boy I love becoming a man. I hear from others who have been with him that he is a "fine young man with great leadership skills and much to offer." I read his letters and weep with joy. He LIKES boot camp. Sure, there are things he doesn't love--the "moron recruits" he has to deal with, the drill instructor who reminds him of someone else in his past. You know what though? He sees--we ALL see--how much the 'hard stuff' of his past has prepared him to be successful as a Marine. Even spending 2 weeks in sick bay has been okay. He's growing and maturing in ways that college would never do for him. He's had to make hard changes, like leaving the platoon you are familiar with part way through training, then being dropped into a new platoon, where relationships have already been built and he's the new guy. Sounds like he's doing well with it all. God has shown us SO CLEARLY that He is ordering Brent's steps and has reassured us along the way.

Sunday, for instance, the phone rang during dinner. An older male voice on the other end said "Mrs. Kassebaum? This is Pastor xxx from Oceanside California." My heart sank to the floor. Why? Well, because on Saturday Brent and his new company moved from San Diego to Camp Pendleton, right there at Oceanside. I wasn't sure what to think. Turns out that the pastor spends time on Sunday at chapel with the recruits, talking with them and praying with and for them. He spent time with Brent. This pastor volunteered his time and money to call us for Brent! He let us know that Brent was healthy and ready to resume training. He gave us Brent's new address (which I still don't have via postal mail!) so we can write to him--he hasn't had mail since before Christmas!! He let us know that the Chaplain at Camp Pendleton was a fantastic man of God, and that there were 9 baptisms(!) at chapel that morning. He then went on to say that they typically do 4 or 5 a week at Camp Pendleton! Whoever said that God wasn't in the military never went to Marine Corps boot camp, apparently! How many churches would love to do 4 or 5 baptisms a week???

I am SO PROUD of my guy! Can't wait to get there and see him graduate in a few weeks. Can't wait to share what we've seen God do for him while he's been gone. Can't wait to hear him tell us about how things have been. This week, for instance, has been incredibly nasty. They had 2 tornados touch down at Camp Pendleton yesterday. No injuries or damage, but it must be hard to do marksmanship training in the weather they've had. I've been reading the recruit parents message board and seeing God work there. Total strangers, tied together by their sons, have become extended family. Another company just did their final push this week--54 hours of non-stop exercises. All 450 of them made it. Tears of joy rolled down my face for these young men, and I don't even know any of them! Their hard work and determination has paid off. I can't wait for Brent to get to that point! He's almost to the halfway point of training, and we are starting to get excited about it all.

Quite a change from last year at this point. Now, my kitchen has never been cleaner in all the years we've lived in this house. :) I find it to be a great way to keep from worrying, and to keep my body busy with mindless work so I can focus on praying for Brent and his fellow recruits. And the guys he was with in the beginning of training--I never expected to feel such kinship with those families.

One of the things that will happen soon? I'm going to get myself a new sweatshirt. I've always worn sweatshirts showing our affiliation with basketball teams and schools that our children are involved in. I can think of nothing I'd rather wear, though, than a sweatshirt that says "Marine Mom" I don't think I've ever been more proud of my son. My Marine.

Love you buddy!!


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

for Brent

Printed quick this morning and stuffed in an envelope to big brother. This missing him for a very long time is hard when you're only 5!! And when you're the mom...

Monday, January 18, 2010

5 year check-ups

Yep. Both boys had 5 year check-ups today. Never mind the fact that Logan's been five for nearly 3 months and Ryan won't be five for "two more sleeps!"

The stats:

Logan is 43 5/8" tall and weighs 40.4 pounds. He's grown a TON in the last year...something like 4" and almost 6 pounds. He's just about exactly average, hanging out at the 60th percentile for height and the 50th for weight. And then there's Ryan.

Still tiny, but growing! We were excited to see that he's finally made it OFF the 3rd percentile line; as a matter of fact, he's moved up the charts quite some. He's 41 1/4" tall and weighs 34 pounds. That puts him in the 25th percentile for height (up from the 7th last year) and the 10th percentile for weight (up from under the 3rd last January) so we're making progress.

Nothing else noteworthy, and the boys are in good health. We're going to do a follow up ultrasound of their kidneys to check on their hydronephrosis from last January. (I looked back to put in a link to the blog post and discovered that I didn't write one! Sorry...) Shouldn't be a big deal. If the hydronephrosis is still present, we'll reevaluate next year when they're 6 since they are both asymptomatic now. If they become symptomatic, we'll take the next step. If there's nothing visible on the u/s we can close this chapter forever! Times like this I am grateful for a knowledgeable pediatrician who has a very balanced approach. We had fun seeing him today and will be quite content to not see him again until next January! It might even happen--I think the boys have only been in once since last January.

Got something on my mind for another blog post soon...when I have time to complete some thoughts! Maybe sometime this week--the girls have 1st semester finals and are on half days this week. Means I won't be the only big person in the house, which helps.

Friday, January 15, 2010

shout it from the mountaintops!!

This morning, just after 6, the phone rang. Normally, that would really bother me (after all, who really calls someone that early?? And is it ever good news?) but today I was hopeful that it might be Brent. And it was!! He was calling to let us know that he would be dropped into an active training platoon this morning. No more medical rehab for him!! SO exciting! It was fun to chat, even for a couple minutes, and to hear his voice. Now, when I get the 30 second, scripted "I have arrived safely" call later today letting me know he is truly in the battalion, it's not a big deal. I don't even care if I'm not here for it--I got to TALK to him this morning! He'll spend the day today studying Marine Corps history and doing photos, then tomorrow they pack up and head to Camp Pendleton for marksmanship and field training. It should be good.

In all this, we've definitely seen God's hand. In every company, there are 5 or 6 platoons. Each platoon has 60 or 70 recruits. That means the companies are big--about 400 recruits. Brent had made friends in his platoon, but knew no one in Hotel Co, the company a week behind him in training. He knows exactly ONE young man in Mike Co, where he's going to be dropped. He's known Elliot since he was about 5 or so. Anyway, it seems that they try and place recruits into platoons that perform similarly to their previous platoon. Brent's platoon was a top performer in the company; Elliot's is the top performer in his company. Because of that, it is highly likely that Brent will be dropped into Elliot's platoon! That is so incredibly amazing and such a blessing: to walk into a platoon the 'new guy' and have someone there who knows you, knows what you can do, and is willing to say to the rest, "Hey, this guy is okay" will hopefully make the transition a bit smoother.

Thank you for your prayers! Today, I feel like shouting from the mountaintops! GOD IS GOOD!!

Friday, January 8, 2010

more imponderables

*Why do certain 5 year olds insist in rolling the toilet paper all the way to the floor when they need it?
*Why are there STILL piles of junk in front of the heat vent in the family room? I've asked 3 times to have it moved!
*Why am I so nice about it? Why haven't I just tossed the stuff already instead?
*Why is the weather so windy and rainy? Can't we get cold and have some snow instead? Just a little...
*Why does everyone else wake up WAY early on the morning I accidentally oversleep? Sure mucks up my quiet morning!


*Why can't I get motivated this morning? At least that would explain why my boys are still in their pjs at 10:45...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Another Brent update

Well, I broke down yesterday and called the recruiter for an update on Brent. It's hard to continue to hang on to the "no news is good news" thing when you know your child is not feeling well. I'm glad I did. I learned lots...

Brent was a "heat casualty" with exertional heat stroke. His core temperature was 107! It was relieving (sort of) to hear that it happens often and that the drill instructors are very aware of the symptoms and get the recruits help quickly. He has spent the last week in sick bay. It sounded like he's fine, but as a precaution they keep patients for a week after heat stroke. Today or tomorrow he'll be medically evaluated and hopefully released to a new battalion and new platoon. That's good news. And sad news.

It's sad because according to the recruiter, Brent was doing exceptionally well in his platoon. He was demonstrating leadership skills and had been appointed to a leadership role within the platoon. His drill instructors were disappointed to see him go down and have him leave the group because they were impressed with him. I was told that Brent is "a fine young man who will be missed." That was fun to hear! :) It could be hard to break into a new platoon and return to the leadership role he had in his old platoon, something he needs in order to achieve some of his goals as a Marine. But we'll see. I know God has plans for Brent; we just have to be patient and watch what happens.

In the meantime, the information did NOT solve one problem around here. Ryan and Logan have gone totally nuts with the drawings, and now I have probably 40 sheets of paper waiting to be sent to Brent. They still don't understand why I haven't mailed them (no address yet) and continue to insist that addressing it like this:

Brent Kassebaum
the hospital
the Marines

will work! Oh to be 4 or 5 again and have life be so simple....

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

just because

Fun to see how much they look alike.

Monday, January 4, 2010


We're hanging on to "no news is good news," meaning that while it would appear that Brent was NOT well enough to rejoin his platoon over the weekend, he's also not sick enough for us to be contacted. We've heard nothing since Thursday early evening...

I'm trying hard to not worry, to continue to trust, to keep my focus where it belongs. In the meantime, Ryan and Logan have colored enough 'pictures' (and I use that term loosely!!) to wallpaper the entire barracks! They're a touch frustrated that I haven't mailed them to Brent yet and are having a hard time understanding that I don't have an address. They keep telling me to "just send it to the hospital!!" I'm back to writing a paragraph or two every day, waiting for notification of his new address so I can send him mail again.

Thanks for your continued prayers, for Brent AND for us!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Brent update

Well, Brent called a second time yesterday, once he'd been moved to the medical unit. It was the official, scripted call letting us know that he had arrived safely, that his graduation date would be changed, and that we needed to stop sending mail until further notice. Much easier to understand him this time since there weren't 80 people yelling in the background!! He and I did have a few minutes to chat, which was nice. The thing both Jim and I noticed when we talked to him is that while he sounded disappointed and discouraged, he did not sound particularly ill. That's a good thing.

After much thought and research, I have decided it's entirely possible that he hit a wall. From the schedule we have, it shows that both Tuesday and Thursday this week were immunization days. They give those guys DPT, Polio, MMR, Influenza, and Yellow Fever shots! Brent did not handle immunizations well as a small child, almost always ending up with a fever, but the MMR and the DPT both knocked him for a loop. And when Jim had a DPT in college (after a run-in with a metal lathe...) he ran a temp in the 103-104 range for several days. The next time he needed a tetanus shot (after a run-in with a circular saw) he asked them to only give the tetanus portion. No reaction. The doctor told Jim that many people have trouble with the DP part of the shot, and in adults the reaction can be a high fever.

Add to the immunizations this week some intense martial arts training in heavy gear, the heat in San Diego, and the fact that these guys are probably beyond exhausted and you have a recipe for physical breakdown. It is our hope and prayer that 24 to 36 hours in the medical unit will have him feeling well enough to be cleared for camp, and that he will be able to head out to Camp Pendleton with his platoon tomorrow. We'll some point they'll let us know.

Oh! And you know what God did last week? It's pretty fun. On Christmas Eve, we sat in front of a young couple and their children at the service at church. We didn't have an opportunity to introduce ourselves, but Jim indicated that he wanted to the next time we saw them. They sat behind us again on Sunday morning, so after the service we chatted a bit. And guess what? The young man is a Marine! He's stationed here in the local area, working as a recruiter right now. His wife is a former Marine, and she works with a gal we know whose daughter attends school with our girls. We don't know Brent's recruiter because he's in Boise, so we really haven't had anyone to contact with questions. Until now--just days before we might really need it. As always, God provides what we need when we need it. Parents are told to contact their Marine's recruiter if the recruit gets sick at boot camp, because he/she can help you navigate the MRP process. Now we have someone we can contact! He's not Brent's recruiter, but I know he'd help us out. It's fun to see God's provision.

Thanks for praying with us! Your comments and emails have meant a lot. We are blessed beyond measure, and you are appreciated!!