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Saturday, June 30, 2007

Another Good-bye

I am so tired of good-byes!! Another marathon week for us. We got back yesterday afternoon from our trip to take Kevin to Atlanta to catch his flight to Korea. If we don't get back into the truck for another FIVE months, that will be fine with me!!! UGH! I am also so very tired of riding/driving.

We left Sunday afternoon to go to my folks' as they graciously lent us their car for the trip to Atlanta (much better on fuel mileage and more comfortable.) Bright and early Monday morning we left Berlin, MD for the trip to Atlanta. It was a decent trip, just very looooooooooonnnngggg.

We got to Randy's sister, Missy's, house around 9:15 that night. Missy lives about 45 minutes north of the airport and wanted us to stay with her and the kids. Since Kevin hadn't seen them for quite a while, this was a great invitation. We no sooner got into the house, when Kevin and our niece, Tara, were back out the door to go to a party with Tara's friends. Needless to say, all Randy & I did was flop on the couch. Of course, Kevin had slept off and on all the way down, so he was ready to rock and roll! :)

Tuesday was spent with the family and seeing their new house they'll be moving into next week. Kevin & Tara went out again that night. We cautioned him that we had to be up at 3:30 am - yes, AM - in order to be at the airport by 5:00am. He said he wasn't planning to sleep anyway. And actually, I didn't get much sleep, either. Kev had gotten in around 1am and I ended up snuggling with him and watching TV until 3:30 when we needed to get ready to go. I knew I was gonna be tired later, but it was well worth it. I got uninterrupted time with my baby boy. It was very special; reminded me of when he was little and he would lay with me while we watched TV. He'll always be my baby.

We got to the airport in plenty of time to check his bags for his 7:48am flight to San Francisco. Well, it was SUPPOSED to be 7:48 - it was delayed until 10:20!! Not a problem. There were at least 10 other young soldiers there already, so Kev had lots of company.

We said good-bye and hugged very tightly and left him at 5:40am. No tears - really - no tears. Kevin told me on the way to airport that I wasn't allowed to cry; there was no reason, he said. And he was so excited, it was hard to be sad.

We got back to my folks' house around 7pm Wednesday night. What a frantic three days. We were exhausted. It was beginning to sink into my brain that my son was halfway around the world!! So far away . . .

Thursday morning Sara called and let us know Kevin had called her that morning to let her know he was doing great. He was in a hotel room overlooking Seoul and it was beautiful. Since then, we've gotten a couple of e-mails and in every one of them he is so upbeat. Tells us we all need to go to Korea before we die.

We're hoping that life will settle down now that Kevin-mania is over. It'll probably be a little too quiet at first, but I think we'll get used to it quickly. It's a wonderful feeling to know that your wayward child is growing up and becoming the person you prayed he would be.

That's it for now. I'll probably only be posting about once a week or so now. As you think of Kevin, please pray for his continued safety as well as that of all of our Armed Forces. Thanks for your friendship and love. Please keep in touch.

Until the next time . . .

Sunday, June 17, 2007

A Welcome Home

We had a wonderful welcome home party for Kevin yesterday. My sister and bro-in-law were gracious and allowed us to have it at their home. They have a fantastic yard - tailor made for cook-outs. Many friends came to celebrate Kevin's homecoming as well as his successful graduation from Basic and Advanced Training.

Kevin's home until June 25 when we travel back to the south - Atlanta - for him to catch a plane to Korea on June 27. He'll be able to see his cousins and aunt there before having to leave. That's neat 'cause he hasn't seen them for a couple of years.

Please keep Kevin in prayer as he begins his career as an Army infantryman. He will be in Korea for at least a year. Of course, there's no guarantee that he won't ever go to Iraq, but for right now, we are thanking God for the assignment to Korea.

Here are some pictures from the party. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

An Update - At Last!

I know that everyone has been pining away at their computers just waiting for an update from the Guilers!! :) Well, you can finally step away from your computer, get something to eat and drink and then come back to read the fascinating events of the past week!

Last Tuesday morning (a week ago yesterday, we met up with my folks at Lindsay's
house and seven of us (my folks; Kev's girlfriend, Sara; Lindsay; Reagan and us) got into two vehicles and hit the road around 9:30 am. We planned to take two days to get to Fort Benning, which is just outside of Columbus, GA. We had no idea how Reagan would travel, but we couldn't wait to get there! (Turns out Reagan is a fantastic traveler - all grins and giggles! YAY!!)

God granted us safe travel and we arrived at Fort Benning's campground, Uchee Creek, around 6:00 pm on Wednesday evening. All of us were exhausted and ready to flop, so we did. Lindsay, Sara & Reagan were in one cabin and Randy, my folks and I were in another. We needed to get a good night's rest so that we could enjoy the next couple of days.

Thursday's ceremony was Turning Blue. This is where the infantrymen are awarded their blue cords for their uniforms. The cord is blue because it distinguishes the infantrymen from other troops. This was done very early in the history of the infantry because there were many different colored uniforms and it was decided there needed to be one constant in those uniforms, thus the blue cord.

We had attended a briefing before the ceremony during which the company's Drill Sergeants were introduced to us and we watched a couple of videos that showed us
what our sons had been doing these past few months. Of course, all any of us wanted to do was see our sons!! Finally, it was time to gather outside and wait for the Soldiers to assemble.

What a feeling when those platoons first appeared around the corner!! Oh my gosh - we heard them first and then four platoons appeared in disciplined formation and moving as one unit. How impressive - I'm tearing up just remembering how it felt to see them for the first time. After an introduction of the company, the national anthem, and the Soldiers singing the Army songs, it was time for them to "turn blue." The families were invited up to place the cord on their soldier's uniform. Well, I didn't need a second invitation!! :) However, Kevin had told us he wanted his favorite drill sergeant, DS Hansen, to put his cord on. And I was thrilled with that - that told me that Kevin felt ultimate respect for this man and that he wanted to honor the DS with this act. I was so proud of him. After the Soldiers had turned, it was time for a couple of pictures and then they were released to us for the rest of the day! Needless to say, Kevin couldn't wait to be reunited with Sara - three and a half months is a long time!

After the Turning Blue ceremony, we met Kevin's best buddy, Ted & his family at Red Lobster for a celebratory lunch. There were 14 of us! We even had another Soldier with us, Shane Lucas, because he had no family with him. (As you think of it, please pray for Shane - he is headed to Iraq at the end of the month.) We had a wonderful time just reveling in having
our sons with us. After lunch, we went back to the campground to just relax and listen to Kevin's stories. For those of you who know Kev, you know he had some to tell! :) All too soon it was time to take Kevin back to the barracks one last time.

Friday morning we had to be in the cars at 7:30 am in order to get to the graduation! That is no easy feat when you're trying to get seven people moving, but we did it! We were at the field in plenty of time to get a good parking space and peruse the many souvenirs available for purchase. Promptly at 9 am, it is the Army after all, the ceremony started with the base band playing several patriotic songs. Then we
had a demonstration of what our sons had learned during training - complete with gun fire, tanks and smoke bombs. Pretty cool. But then, what we all had been waiting for - our Soldiers marched onto the field in their combat uniforms (because we are at war, instead of dress uniforms). Just as impressive as the day before, maybe a little more so because this was IT!! As they recited the Infantryman's Creed, I realized that my son was now a man and one who has become someone who I can depend upon. I cannot describe to you what I was feeling, "proud" just doesn't cut it.

It was hard to believe that at the end of graduation we could actually take Kevin home with us!! We hadn't known how long a leave Kev would get and I was praying for 11 days - that would mean he would have to be in Atlanta to catch a plane on June 18. But, God always surpasses our greatest desires - He gave us almost THREE weeks! Kevin is with us until June 27!! We couldn't believe it. He has to be on a plane out of Atlanta at 7:48 am on June 27. What a gift.

After a two day trip back home, we arrived at Lindsay's around 6pm last Saturday. Needless to say, Lindsay & Reagan were very excited to see Jason. It was fun to watch - Jason was in the driveway when we pulled up and Reagan let out a squeal that would have had dogs running!! :)

Kevin & Sara stayed with us in the RV for a couple of days, then we hit Hershey Park on Monday. We took them down to Columbia Monday evening and then they left this morning to spend a couple of days in Ocean City. Sara has to go back to work next Monday, so they are spending as much time together as possible. We have enjoyed watching their relationship. We like Sara very much. She seems to be really good for Kevin. It was fun to get to know her better on the trip. What a courageous young woman - traveling with her boyfriend's family!!

Saturday we will celebrate Kevin's homecoming with a party at my sister's. We wish everyone who loves Kevin could be there, but we know your prayers will be with him. Look forward to pictures of the party!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Hitting the ground running in PA

We arrived in York, PA in the early afternoon last Friday. After we set up the rig, we headed over to Jason and Lindsay's - I couldn't wait to get my hands on Reagan! And I wanted to see Randy's face when he saw her for the first time in FIVE months.

When we pulled up to the house, Lindsay & Reagan were outside waiting for us! I was so excited! As we got out of the truck, I called for Reagan to come to see us and that little booger giggled, turned and ran the other way! Well, needless to say, I took off after her. I chased her into the house and grabbed her up and smothered her in kisses. She was laughing the whole time. What a personality that little one has!

We had a wonderful evening of getting reacquainted with Reagan as well as catching up with what Jason and Lindsay have been up to since their move to PA.
Lindsay made a great dinner to celebrate Randy's birthday and then we took a drive around town so they could show us places they've found. Randy & I are so very pleased to see how happy Jason & Lindsay are with their move here. They have begun to meet neighbors and Lindsay is getting involved with play groups so she and Reagan can meet other moms and kids. It is a great feeling to know your kids are settled and content.

Saturday we headed down to Megan's to celebrate her 25th birthday. Her birthday is not until June 7, but since we'll be in Georgia attending Kev's graduation, we celebrated early. It's hard to believe Megan is 25; seems like just yesterday she was in a high chair smearing spaghetti all over herself and everything she touched! :) It was a good day of being with family, something we had missed over the last several months. Lots of laughing - not surprised at that, huh?

Yesterday was a day at home, and we needed it. We finished getting the RV set up; putting up pictures, putting items away, etc. It was a quiet, rainy day. Kinda nice, actually.

Tomorrow we head for Fort Benning, GA to celebrate Kevin's graduation from Basic & Advanced Training. We are SO excited. After seeing him in April and finding him to be so much more focused and mature, I can't wait to see how the last six weeks have changed him. And we'll be able to bring him home for several days!

Take care of each other. More to come. Until the next time . . .