Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Our Army Man is Home

As we drove down the lane coming into the armory, flags lined the drive and families with signs anxiously waiting all the way down the sides of the road. Luckily, we managed to get a front row parking space and got out the one lawn chair that happened to be in the car. Yes, Momma got it while Daddy pulled out a folding table he placed on the grass to sit on. Sorry, but Momma don't get up and down as good as Daddy does.

Cameron called regularly with updates on his location as they rolled into the DFW. The community came out and lined the streets of the little town. Only family members were allowed into the Armory, the unloading zone. We could see the buses as they passed down the highway with their police escort, lights flashing, and the motorcycle club The Freedom Riders horns bellowing as they escorted them into town. They passed our turn in and looped around Wylie for the community to show their support. What's another few minutes for the proud family members to wait while their soldiers were honored by the townsfolk.

We called Cam on his cell phone to see which bus he was riding in and what side he was sitting on, bus driver or door; 1st bus, 5th seat behind the driver. Then they rolled in past Walmart to the waiting crowd. We were all bursting with pride and excitement. Cheers erupted. Sirens and horns leading the way. As the first bus passed, I was all set to see Cameron in the window. There he was, maybe. The window was tinted so dark we could barely make out a hand waving. I took a picture anyway but I don't think I got the right soldier. Really, who's going to know. I don't. It's going in the book!

We ran to the buses to watch our service men file off one by one to the waiting wives, children, girlfriends, fiancees, moms, dads, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, grandparents, and other army buddies. Each were grabbed, hugged, kissed, and/or photographed. Some had to search for their family members through the sea of heads. As Cameron climbed down the steps, he turned and saw me right away. I was the face behind the camera snapping as many shots as fast as my camera would cycle. Finally, as my son made his way to me he said, "Okay Mom, no more pictures," and gave me a big hug. Then he hugged his Dad, his sister, and both nieces. He looked around and his fiancee, Kristina, was hanging back but his eagle eye spotted her and pushed his way through the crowd. The scene was far better than any ad Hallmark could dream up. It was very sweet.

Yes, my son made it home from Iraq safe and sound, and I praise God. You see, a couple of his comrades were also waiting to see the buses arrive. They came home a few months earlier due to a car bomb that caused an arm injury for one and almost killed the other. Alive and on crutches he was all smiles for the homecoming. He spent several weeks in the hospital after losing a good portion of his back. It was heartwarming to see the all the soldiers line up to shake his hand and give him a gentle hug. They had their final formation and were dismissed.

Starving, we made a trip to the Steak and Shake, and then flew home to crash into bed. I have no idea what time Cam went to sleep but I was out like a light. Happy, relieved, and thanking God for having my chick back under my wing, safely home.

Monday, August 24, 2009

First Day of School

Yes, my sweet baby girl grand-daughter, Reace started Kindergarten today. She went right into class and told her Mommy and Daddy, "You can leave now."Then she began smashing the play dough and rolling it back into a ball that the teacher had waiting for her on the desk.

Mommy said she thought Reace was trying to be brave and not cry. She did a great job at it. Mommy even did a pretty good job not crying. I, on the other hand, was at work and had to dry my eyes when Autumn called to tell me how brave our big girl behaved today.

Reacie's take on the day, "I almost froze my head off, it was chillin in there."

When asked how she liked school, she said with a smile, "It was fun and enjoyable." And she also noted that she made two friends. I'm excited about that since she doesn't have any friends her own age, they are all older or younger.

She sang The Itsy Bitsy Spider song for me from music class and corrected me on the motions. Apparently 50 years ago we did it all wrong. She swears the music teacher was at our church pool party last week. I believe it is because she is blond and has a tattoo around her ankle and apparently so does a blond lady from our church.

After playing all afternoon, I went outside and sat in the lawn chair while they played with the puppies and she crawled up in my lap and said, "I'm so tired" as her little eyes shut and I had to remind her she still had to take her bath and get ready for tomorrow. Of course, this was right after getting in trouble for almost running down the puppy with her bike, the one she is grounded from riding. Yes, Grandmommy is a bit of a pushover.

Kaylyn, my third-grader grand-daughter, took to school with her usual exuberance. She was up at 5 a.m. Probably the only day of school that she will be up that early. They were both dressed, with their backpacks ready to leave the house before the school even opened the doors. Mom and Dad held them off as long as possible arriving 20 minutes early.

Kay got a bit of an attitude with her Mom over homework and taking the puppies outside to, well, you know, and had to apologize. Now she's into kissing up by telling Mom, "Do you know who's prettier than me? You!"

Reace, the little Diva, asked, "What about me?"

My 1st grader Patrick is in another town so after work Lacey called but Patrick was too tired and grumpy to tell me about school. He said he needed a nap but he wasn't going to take one. He didn't want to get up early this morning. When Mommy went in to wake him, he said, "Only dorks get up early." Wonder what Papaw would think about that since he gets up between 4 and 5 a.m. Not me, I'll never be accused of being a dork. He apparently had a good day and notated all the girls in his class he knew from last year. Our little Don Juan.

Since Elijah is only 10 months, he got to have lunch with Grandmommy, Aunt Autumn and Mommy, of course, all by himself. He is reading now. It's sort of a humming noise but he loves to read. I believe he'll take after his Aunt Autumn in that respect. We're drowning in books from her trips to half price books.

So now all clean and with the big day behind them, all my little darlings are safely tucked into bed with sweet dreams of another "fun and enjoyable" day at school tomorrow since they all want to go back. Thank goodness, neither me nor my girls are cut out for home schooling.

Here is a poem I wrote this for teachers everywhere.

First Day of School
By Karen Arthur
May 2009

As you watch their little feet
Pad across to their new seat,
You have a tiny, little panic attack.
But don’t sell yourself short,
Just show them love from your heart,
For they are willing to give that love back.

Little Mary in row two,
Looks like she’s ready to,
Give up her lunch before the bell rings.
And poor Johnny over there,
Is asking you, “What’s a square?”
After explaining it 12 times it seems.

As they march out this first day,
Backpacks dragging all the way,
All you can think now is “How did I do?”
Just ask the parents if you dare,
They’ll let you know how you fared,
And how much each little angel loves you.

With lots of hugs and a some prayer,
They learn so much from you there,
While today you helped mold their little minds.
It may be the just the first day,
But what you both take away,
Will be remembered for each one’s lifetime.