Saturday, June 30, 2012


Right after graduation, Tom and Maddy took a trip to the beach for four days as a graduation gift to each other.  One of their stops was the Tillamook Air Museum.  They took these fun pictures there.  Since Tom is beginning his aviation career soon, I thought it was fitting to scrap them as part of the beginning of his new journey as an Air Force officer.  Best Wishes Tom!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Second Car

When Tom bought Maddy's car, I was hopeful that it would work out because it would allow him to have no car payments and low car insurance for awhile until he could save some money up.  But I had a bad feeling about it--I was much relieved when Bill offered to help Tom drive to Pensacola.  I was worried that he would have car trouble and sure enough he did.

After only owning the Taurus 8 or 9 days--depending on how you count it--it gave up the ghost.  Bill and Tom were on their third day of driving when the engine started making a lot of noise.  They pulled off the highway to have it checked out.  The diagnosis--rod knock.  The fix-a whole new engine at the cost of $4000 and one week to repair.  That was not going to work.  Not enough time or money to do the repairs.  So the mechanic recommended they go to the Chevy dealership in town.  Same verdict and we can link you up with a saleswoman.  So Tom settled on a 2007 Chevy Malibu.

I am so grateful that Bill was with Tom.  That would have been difficult to navigate through on his own in Colorado.  And he didn't qualify for a loan on his own so we had to co-sign for it.  So the upside is that he has a new car--he just has a lot more cash going out for car payments and insurance--but that was going to happen eventually anyway.

Tom is now in Pensacola--having traveled across 12 states and over 2850 miles in five days of driving in two different cars.  They even took a little time off to visit family in Denver, buy a car in Colorado and tour the Wrestling Hall of Fame in Oklahoma on the way.  So glad they made it there safely.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Cross Country Road Trip

Tom bought his first car last week.  It is a car he has actually been driving for years already.  It was the car that Maddy had at college and he was often the one to drive it.  He bought it from Maddy's father when they made a new car purchase and shifted some vehicles around.  It was so nice of them to offer it to him.  It is a 1995 Ford Taurus but has relatively low miles so hopefully he will be able to use it for a few years while he saves up to get a newer car in the future.  But for the time being, he is very proud of his new purchase.  One more rite of passage toward adulthood in addition to graduation and commissioning.

He and Bill left for Pensacola at 0 dark 30 yesterday morning.  Tom didn't get very much sleep--nervous, excited, etc.  And Bill planned on driving about 16 hours so it was a long day for both of them.  It is his first cross country driving trip since we moved to Vancouver almost 20 years ago so he doesn't really remember or appreciate what it is like.  And even then, the leg from Denver to Vancouver was on the train.  But they should have plenty of bonding time this week as they make their way across the country.

It is bittersweet for me to say goodbye to him knowing that it will be at least Christmas before I will see him again and that he isn't just an hour and a half plane ride or a 4 hour car ride away.  Can't just pick up whenever I feel like it to go visit.  But I am so very proud of him and wish him so much success and happiness as he starts his Air Force career.  I'm not sure why it seems so hard.  We didn't really see him that much while he was going to school in Ellensburg.  But it is that cross country distance that makes a difference to me.  And definitely--a lot less frequent visits now that he has grown up and chosen a career that will take him all over the country and world.  I am going to miss him very much.  But he will have quite a journey in front of him.  So let the journey begin!

The Party

I didn't want to have Tom leave for Pensacola without a chance to say goodbye to our friends.  So I invited several of my friends that have known him for a long time--since he was born or since we moved to Vancouver.  They have had a chance to watch him grow up and I wanted them to be able to help us celebrate his accomplishments and wish him well in his future.  So we had a Graduation, Commissioning, Early Birthday and Going Away Party for him.  Unfortunately--this time of year is busy for a lot of people so there were several that couldn't join us but it was a nice party anyway.  So he got to see our friend, Cindy, and her husband, Jim, and son, Daniel.  Suzi and Terry came down from Puyallup.  And my good friend from work, Denise, and her husband, Bill also came. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

A Proud Parent Moment--Tom's Graduation and Commissioning

Last weekend was a busy one.  Sherrill arrived Thursday night to go to graduation with us and to commission Tom.  It has been two years since I had seen Sherrill and about five years since the boys had seen her so it was good to have her visit.  She and I drove up to Puyallup on Friday morning and had lunch with my friend, Suzi, before heading to the mountain house that we were staying in for the weekend.  Then I went to Ellensburg to move Tom out of the dorm (and clean) and brought him back to the house for an evening of barbeque, wine and conversation. 

Saturday was a really busy, hectic day.  We got up early to drive the 50 miles to Ellensburg to attend Maddy's graduation in the morning.  When I had heard that Tom's graduation was going to be in the afternoon, I was envisioning the usual June weather in Ellensburg--hot and sunny.  Boy that sure didn't happen.  We froze all day long.  I'm not sure what the exact temperature was but it was 38 degrees in the morning when we left and the wind chill probably made it feel 10 degrees colder.  The winds were blowing 25-35 mph and it threatened to rain all day long.  Luckily it never actually rained.  It was an outdoor graduation so that would have made it even more unbearable.  Sherrill, Marian (Maddy's mom) and I broke down and bought $70 sweatshirts to wear with the two sweaters and jackets that we were wearing and we still froze.  During Tom's graduation, Maddy brought a comforter and another blanket.  We huddled under those together too.  It was definitely cold!

Maddy arrived back from her student teaching practicum in China Sunday night to graduate.  She graduated Magna Cum Laude so that was quite an honor.  She had an aunt, uncle and cousin come to graduation in addition to her parents.  We didn't find out until later but she made the front page of the Ellensburg newspaper talking about graduating with honors and dealing with going to China despite her Asperger's.

Between graduation ceremonies, we went to the Red Horse Cafe to eat lunch with Maddy's family and try to warm up for round two.  We took advantage of the two of them having their caps and gowns to take pictures.  I really thought the place was interesting--given that it was an old Mobil station and that my dad worked at a Mobil station most of his 50 plus working years.

We had to rush back to go to Tom's graduation then.  He was so happy!  I love this picture of him holding up his diploma in celebration.
Both graduations were essentially the same--only the student speaker was different.  But still glad to be able to attend both their ceremonies and honor them both.
More pictures after graduation with the new graduate.  So proud of him.  And you can see how cold we were with Chris and Maddy all huddled together.

About a half an hour after graduation ended, we had Tom's commissioning ceremony and dinner to attend.  So it was a quick change in the student union bathrooms to get ready for that.   Graduation was important to me, of course.  He wouldn't have been commissioned without it.  But the fact that he made it through the ROTC program to start his dream of becoming an Air Force officer and get a flying assignment was an even more proud moment for me.  Tom asked Sherrill to be the one to administer his oath of office.  Bill and I pinned on his second lieutenant bars.  And then he got his commissioning certificate.

Then Tom presented us with Air Force parent pins.  An emotional moment!
Tom chose SSG McLane from the ROTC Detachment to give him his first salute.  Tom presented him with the traditional silver dollar.  He was then asked to speak.  I could tell he had put a lot of thought into what he was going to say.  He was the most prepared of all the new second lieutenants and gave a very heartwarming Thank You to us as a family, his friends and the cadre.  After they had all been commissioned, Lt Col Densley lined them all up to have them salute him.  He presented them each with a Cascade Cowboy coin.

 There were ten newly commissioned lieutenants.

 I couldn't resist.  I wanted this picture so I made him pose for it.

Maddy, Pete and Marian (Osbourne) Speer joined us at the commissioning dinner.  We had met Pete briefly a couple of years ago but this was the first time we had met Marian.  They are a very nice couple.  Tom did something special for each of us.  He wrote individual Thank You notes for all seven of us to thank us for our support.  And he gave each of us Cascade Cowboy coins as a momento of his commissioning ceremony.

It was a very long day--getting up at 0600 and getting back to the house at 2330.  But it was a good day--my boy graduated and was commissioned.  Can't get better than that.

Sunday we got up early again to do laundry, clean the house and get it back into the shape we found it.  We were all really glad to get back to Vancouver.  Since Beverly didn't feel that she would be able to go with us, she stayed home.  But we got pizza and a cake to have a mini-celebration with her before Sherrill had to go to the airport to head back home.

So we only have him home a few days.  He and Maddy left for the beach yesterday and he will get back home on Tuesday.  Then he will be gone by the next Monday.  He has to report in at Pensacola on July 3rd.  Bill is going to help him drive across country.  Wish I could go too--but I have to work.