Sailor Recruits Enjoy A Magical Thanksgiving

“Welcome aboard the USS Thanksgiving! At the helm today, we have Captain George who will be steering us into a magical port called Oak Park, Illinois — a place where they have TVs….computers….phones….and good food.”

The thirty-four sailor recruits cheered and ooooorah’d as we pulled out of Great Lakes Naval Training Center heading for a Thanksgiving Day to remember. Most of them had been told they would be picked up and taken to a community soup kitchen to serve dinner to poor homeless people — they had no idea that Mother Goose and Company had made other plans for them!

The day started at 7:30 a.m. at the garage of Mid-America Charter Lines in Elk Grove Village, IL. Mother Goose had been chosen as the hostess with the mostest for this most exciting day — of course, as a Navy Mom, Mother Goose is very familiar with young sailors and relished the idea of riding the tour bus to pick up the recruits at the boot camp so bright and earlie in the morning.

Mother Goose and Captain George Kousakis in front of the 46 passenger tour bus!

Mother Goose and Captain George Kousakis in front of the 46 passenger tour bus!

We arrived at the base in plenty of time and with just a little bit of run-around, we loaded up the recruits. The U.S. Navy has implemented the Adopt-A-Sailor program for the recruits who can’t get home for the holidays. Organizations can apply to adopt as many recruits as they can accommodate, and if the application is accepted, you get to pick up your sailors for the day! It’s such a GREAT program! Look at their smiling faces!

Onboard the USS Thanksgiving...

Onboard the USS Thanksgiving…

We arrived in our magical port where the computers, phones, TV and food were warmed up and ready for them. The sailors politely lined up to remove their coats, scarves, gloves, and covers (hats) and then politely asked where the computers and phones were. AND THEN THEY STARTED SMILING AND DIDN’T STOP SMILING FOR THE NEXT EIGHT HOURS!!!

In boot camp (also referred to as basic training), the recruits are completely unplugged. There are no TVs, no radios or music, no computers, no phones, no internet — nothing but marching and training and discipline and eating their meals in five minutes. They learn new names for things — the bathroom is now the “head”, hats are now “covers”, time is now measured in 24-hour segments, they are known by their last names only and there is no hugging.

So Mother Goose hugged them all day long.

These sailors immediately found their way to Facebook, their emails, their favorite online games and surprised their moms and dads (and in some cases, their wives!) with phone calls. Most of the guys and gals had not heard the voices of their families since they left their hometowns for boot camp five or six weeks earlier! Imagine the tears on the cheeks of the moms all across the country as they heard the voices of their young sailors…

"Thank you, Ma'am.  Is this Heaven?"

“Thank you, Ma’am. Is this Heaven?”

Checking in with family across the country.

Checking in with family across the country.

This is Edward -- he's from Puerto Rico and not especially liking the Chicago winters...

This is Edward — he’s from Puerto Rico and not especially liking the Chicago winters…

Ms Melvina, her caterer friend Kimberly chatting it up with some happy recruits.

Ms Melvina, her caterer friend Kimberly chatting it up with some happy recruits.

Besides the young recruits, our amazing team at Easter Seals also invited the veterans in our community who participate in our programs and services. It was a wonderful mix of young and old, squids and old salts, volunteers from all walks of life serving turkeys and the fixin’s donated and cooked by so many gracious helpers. It was a team effort and those are the best kinds of efforts according to this goose.

Dear Erin cooked a turkey and connected us with the amazing bus!

Dear Erin cooked a turkey and connected us with the amazing bus!

Retired Army Drill Sergeant Daniel, his wife and son Ethan served all day long.  They are the owners of an amazing online biz, Gruntstyle.com.  GREAT place to go on Cyber Monday for some VERY cool and patriotic American apparel.

Retired Army Drill Sergeant Daniel, his wife and son Ethan served all day long. They are the owners of an amazing online biz, Gruntstyle.com. GREAT place to go on Cyber Monday for some VERY cool and patriotic American apparel.

So many smiles...

So many smiles…

IMG_0536

The food line was amazing!  Seven turkeys, two hams and a partridge in a pear tree!

The food line was amazing! Seven turkeys, two hams and a partridge in a pear tree!

Our dinner with the recruits and veterans had a full agenda, including the Presentation of Colors by the Oak Park Police Department, poetry reading by Ms Josie Pierce of the American Women of Oak Park and Austin, presentations of roses to veterans and live music by a really talented musician named Ernie.

Ernie sang with passion and style about America and love of country, love of God.

Ernie sang with passion and style about America and love of country, love of God.

And then it was time to climb back aboard the USS Thanksgiving and head back to the base…hugs and tears all around. As Mother Goose climbed onto the bus, the sailors started singing at the top of their lungs!

“Anchors Aweigh, my boys, Anchors Aweigh. Farewell to foreign shores, We sail at break of day-ay-ay-ay. Through our last night on shore, Drink to the foam, Until we meet once more. Here’s wishing you a happy voyage home.

Blue of the Mighty Deep; Gold of God’s Sun Let these colors be till all of time be done, done, done, On seven seas we learn Navy’s stern call: Faith, Courage, Service true, with Honor, Over Honor, Over All.”

When we arrived at the base, thirty four sailors filed out of the bus with thankful hearts and happy faces. Each and every one of them gave Mother Goose a GREAT BIG HUG and said “thank you” and “happy Thanksgiving” and “God bless you”. Mother Goose smiled…

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The Legend of Adam and Erik

Mother Goose jumped at the chance to write a sea shanty today, the third day of NaPoWriMo. This prompt went straight to my fowl heart, for indeed I am the proud mother of twin sailors in the United States Navy.

‘Twas the year of Nineteen ninety
So earlie in the morning
That my twin babes were born
So earlie in the morning.

I named one Adam, the other one Erik
So earlie in the morning
So glad to see them that frosty winter morn
So earlie in the morning.

My boys went off to boot camp
So earlie in the morning
My tears they fell like rain
So earlie in the morning.

I missed them so, how could they go
So earlie in the morning
My heart was filled with pain
So earlie in the morning.

They tested well for nuke, do tell
So earlie in the morning
The training was rough, but they were tough
So earlie in the morning.

Away they drove to Virginny’s shore
So earlie in the morning
I cried and cried to see them more
So earlie in the morning.

They hoist the mast and set the sail
So earlie in the morning
They work the valves and man the rail
So earlie in the morning.

My sons are now brave sailors
So earlie in the morning
On Old Honest Abe they’ll spend their days
So earlie in the morning.

Adam and Erik in dress blues

Mother Goose Begins Another Blog Project

In response to an overwhelming request for more stories about our brave servicemen and women and the families who support them, Mother Goose is honking for joy to announce the launch of a new project, Mother Goose Salutes.

http://mothergoosesalutes.wordpress.com/

The mission is over in Iraq (as far as we know anyway…), and I know that our country is drawing down and out of Afghanistan. We have troops and advisors around the world, but no new wars coming up after Afghanistan. More than a decade of war has left our nation tired and in need of healing and restoration.

But by the same token, we have thousands of veterans to care for now that the wars are ending. We still have families flying Blue Star Banners and praying for their soldiers and sailors and airmen and women. And now we have the new policy from the Defense Department lifting the ban on women in active combat duty. The higher ups are beginning to dialogue about a new Selective Service plan that might include women.

There are so many stories of heroes and so many local events honoring our Heroes. Mother Goose is running from person to person in the Chicagoland area telling them that military families have special needs and challenges. You can see the tracks of her big old rubbery feet in the fresh-fallen snow — she’s got so much ground to cover and so many stories to tell. The Goosemobile is warming up even now for an appointment to talk with a Gold Star Mother about her upcoming “Support the Troops” project.

Will you follow me on that exciting journey?

Will you join me?

Will you join me?

Are you afraid that Mother Goose will abandon her first love of telling heartwarming stories for the general public? Never fear! Mother Goose has been around for years and years telling those thought-provoking and tear-generating stories for all to hear. I’m not going anywhere far away, just another adventure around the corner.

With love and goosedown to stay warm today,
Mother Goose

The Sailor Sons Smiled

In recent weeks, Mother Goose requested a GIGANTIC favor of her readers and fans: to flood the mailbox of her sailor sons with Christmas cards from around the nation and around the globe.

We are happy to report that “Operation: Christmas Card” was an ENORMOUS success! My sons only check their mailbox a couple times a week because usually there’s nothing in there — there’s nothing more depressing than an echoing mailbox at Christmas.

But when they checked it, they found ten cards! They were happily surprised, and didn’t know a single person who sent them!

The next time they checked their mail there were twenty cards all stuffed inside!

On Christmas Day, they reported to me that they had fifty more cards in their mailbox! They laughed and smiled at the wonder of it all!

Just a few of the cards they received...

Just a few of the cards they received…

There were cards from school children with the kindest sentiments of encouragement and Christmas love. There were cards from retired Navy officers. There were gift cards and goodie boxes. There were handmade ornaments — those sweet popsicle stick creations that always bring joy on the tree.

Wherever you are, dear readers, Mother Goose is honking a delightful “thank you” in your general direction. If a goose flies over your house honking today, it’s me. If a goose is near your pond flapping her wings and honking for joy, it’s me. If you see goose tracks in the snow, that was me dancing a jig of great happiness.

With all my heart, I thank you for making a difference. My sons will never forget Christmas 2012 because of your gracious thoughtfulness and consideration to them. My sailor sons smiled on Christmas Day.

Random Pieces of Goose

Imagine the shock of Mother Goose when she spotted this news headline in her inbox:

Woman Leads Police on Goose Chase, Later Found: River Forest Police Blotter

“An officer on patrol at about 10 a.m. in the 800 block of Thatcher reported seeing a southbound vehicle driving at 43 mph in a 25-mph zone. The officer attempted to stop the vehicle, but the driver drove away and later disobeyed a red light at First Avenue. The officer followed the car in a slow speed pursuit as it disobeyed traffic lights, drove through alleys, a gas station and repeatedly changed direction to avoid arrest. At 10:06 a.m., the chase ended and witnesses were able to identify the driver. Police then began efforts to locate the driver.

At 2 p.m. Nov. 28, police in the 1300 block of North Latrobe in Chicago found the vehicle and a tow truck was ordered to seize it. The owner, Alexis Lambert, 28, of the 1300 block of north Latrobe in Chicago, was identified as the driver in the earlier incident. She was taken to the station, processed and issued six tickets on traffic violations; including fleeing and attempting to elude police and driving while her license was suspended. She was later released on cash bond pending trial.”

http://oakpark.patch.com/articles/woman-leads-police-on-goose-chase-later-found-river-forest-police-blotter?ncid=newsltuspatc00000001

Did she participate in a truly wild goose chase?

Did she participate in a truly wild goose chase?

At first I laughed at the idea of a slow speed goose chase, but then as I read the article more closely I became increasingly confused. It was a six minute goose chase, witnesses identified the driver, but the police did not apprehend the driver or stop the vehicle. The car and driver were not found and charged until three days later!

This story, though amusing, makes Mother Goose wonder: how did the goose get away so easily when she was driving so slowly. I imagine her rounding those corners into those alleys so cautiously and so carefully — much as I myself might elude the police.

I can see her pulling into the gas station to fill up, but realizing that the cops were closing in on her. She jumps back into her vehicle and slowly pulls back out into traffic, looking both ways twice.

Just a couple more easy turns, she looks in her rear view mirror and sees no squad cars behind her — no flashing lights, no sirens wailing — just peaceful morning traffic.

She heads for home, breathing a deep sigh of relief. Unfortunately, she decides to park right in front of her house. And, of course, you know the rest of the story…

And now another bit of goose for you!

A bit of turkey -- part of our Christmas decorations OR stashed by a wise squirrel?

A bit of turkey — part of our Christmas decorations OR stashed by a wise squirrel?

Actually it is a bit of turkey hidden in the prickly bush in the garden of Mother Goose. When the Thanksgiving turkey scraps and carcass seemed no longer palatable, Mother Goose simply disposed of it by dumping it into the family dumpster.

Apparently a wise and frugal squirrel entered into the dumpster, grabbed a small morsel and carefully placed it within the prickles of the shrubbery where nobody else could find it or steal it away. The family dog sniffed it out and immediately informed Mother Goose of the bit of turkey. This is just another way to make use of leftover turkey.

And finally, if you are still with Mother Goose today, I have a special request of my readers.

The twin sailor sons of Mother Goose were not home for Thanksgiving this year. Also, they were not home for their birthday last Saturday. Neither will be they be home for MY birthday. And sadly enough, they will not be home for Christmas. Mother Goose has been dabbing at her tears and babbling about missing her sons so much. Then suddenly an idea popped into the feathery head of this old goose!

Wouldn’t it be heartwarming if we all flooded the mailbox of these brave young men with Christmas cards from around the United States and possibly around the world? Couldn’t we all just add these young sailors to our Christmas card lists and really bring some Christmas cheer to their hearts? Maybe we can’t get them home for Christmas, but we can sure make them smile at the generosity and patriotic appreciation of total strangers, can’t we?

Here is their address:

Erik Stevenson
Adam Stevenson
1316 Ellsworth Blvd.
Malta, NY 12020

And Mother Goose thanks you and God blesses you for spreading the spirit of Christmas wherever you are today!

“Where’s The Head?” and other questions…

Mother Goose with her family in tow reached the U.S. Navy frigate, USS De Wert, in the nick of time. We waited for the other passengers and tourists to disembark the water taxi and embark the military ship, and then tried to find our sea legs as we climbed the accommodation ladder (a ladder suspended over and inclining down the side of a ship to facilitate boarding the ship from boats).

Looking up and trying not to fall overboard, I was beholden of our beautiful stars and stripes — a fitting start to our tour of the ship.

Glad to know we are with fellow Americans.

As you can easily discern, once aboard the USS De Wert, Mother Goose quickly learned Navy lingo. And also because I am a goose, I immediately began searching for the rest room. Mother Goose even asked several sailors and tourists, “Where’s the head?” They were more than happy to show me — because I was using the correct terminology for ships and other watercraft.

There were brass plaques and signs throughout the ship, explaining the history of USS De Wert as well as departments onboard.

Of course, another question I asked the sailors was “Who is this ship named after?” And they were more than proud to tell me that story. The frigate was named for Hospitalman Richard De Wert (1931–1951). De Wert was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism while serving with the 7th Marines during the Korean War. Though wounded twice in battle, he continued to go out into the enemy fire to rescue other injured Marines. He was killed in action saving a friend.

Twenty-year old Hospitalman Richard De Wert was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for acts of valor during the Korean War.

A helicopter landing pad near the stern of the USS De Wert.

Mother Goose asked if a helicopter could actually land on this warship. “Yes,” replied the ensign who was acting as our official tour guide. “In fact, we even have two helo hangars.” And then she showed those places to us. By the way, it is more “navy” to call them “helos” so from now on, Mother Goose will be using that word…

As a naval warship and anti-piracy craft, we would expect to see some weapons. We saw quite a few mounted along the rail of the ship.

This is a real gun. And the real husband of Mother Goose…

We also saw guns slung across the backs of several uniformed sailors.

A real sailor talking with the real husband of Mother Goose.

Mother Goose asked, “So where do you keep the big guns?”

Navy Ensign with the sweet white cover showed us the big guns.

Here’s the back of the mounted machine gun. Very powerful weaponry, friends.

Bad guys, beware!

M.Goose in the bow of the boat. Perhaps she is dreaming of joining the U.S. Navy and seeing the world… So many ports, so little time…

USS De Wert, a powerful Navy ship with an excellent crew of sailors onboard. Land ahoy! There’s the great city of Chicago on the horizon!

Mother Goose had one last question. “Do you know how many sailors there are in the U.S. Navy?”

The good folks at Wikipedia were proud to answer that question: The service has 321,053 personnel on active duty and 106,188 in the Navy Reserve. It operates 286 ships in active service and more than 3,700 aircraft.

Please remember to pray for our servicemen and women on the land and on the sea and in the air — don’t forget that there’s still a war being waged in Afghanistan with American sons and daughters dying everyday in the name of freedom.

According to this Associated Press report, “In July, 40 U.S. servicemembers died in Afghanistan in the deadliest month for American troops so far this year. At least 31 have been killed this month — seven when a helicopter crashed during a firefight with insurgents in what was one of the deadliest air disasters of the war. Ten others were gunned down in attacks from members of the Afghan security forces — either disgruntled turncoats or Taliban infiltrators.” http://www.military.com/daily-news/2012/08/22/americans-tune-out-afghan-war-as-fighting-rages-on.html?ESRC=eb.nl

Since the war began in Afghanistan in October 2001, we’ve lost 2,000 men and women.

Isn’t it time to bring our soldiers home? Enough is enough.

Love, Mother Goose

The Good Guys Wear White

It’s been true for more than twenty-one years…

Adam and Erik with the mother of Mother Goose.

A couple of stand-up comics.

Even without front teeth.

Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn

Dress whites.

Two of the sons of Mother Goose, Adam and Erik, are home on leave from the U.S. Navy. Mother Goose is honking and flapping about that! Can a mother get any prouder than this one? God bless your days and nights, love from MG.

Mother Goose Meets a Real Navy SEAL

“Hello? Sir? Excuse me, sir,” Mother Goose was nearly squawking as she wheeled her bicycle into the driveway. The man turned from loading the back of his SUV to see who could be honking at him. Quickly dismounting, Mother Goose stuck out her wing and said, “Sir, I just want to thank you for your service to America!”

When he smiled warmly and shook her hand, Mother Goose knew she had made the right decision to stop and meet this man. His handshake grip was the strongest and friendliest she had ever experienced. Having passed this home countless times in the past two years, I was at an extreme advantage in this meeting. I had seen his American flag flying from the porch next to the POW/MIA flag. It was his Blue Star Banner hanging in his front window that had gotten Mother Goose all in a flap about that old tradition. His car parked in the driveway with the license plate holder that read, “Retired Senior Chief” and his bumper stickers all told the same story: in this home lives a deeply patriotic and retired U.S. Sailor, possibly even a Navy SEAL.

I told him about my twin sons who are training for nuclear operations in the U.S. Navy in Charleston. He was proud to tell me that he had joined the Navy in 1960 and retired in 2000 at an E-8 level, senior chief petty officer and, indeed, a SEAL. My mind whirled around the life he must have experienced.

“So your boys will be going into the bubbles?” he asked with a grin.

Mother Goose stared at him with a blank look on her feathery face and then turned her head to contemplate what he might mean…

“On a submarine?” he graciously clarified for the goose who is rather ignorant of Navy terms.

“Well,” I replied with a thankful smile. “They have gone back and forth on that. Possibly now they’ll want to be on an aircraft carrier, maybe one that ports out in Washington.”

As we chatted back and forth about boot camp and this and that Navy policy, different neighbors walked by us on the sidewalk — moms and kids going to soccer practice and baseball practice, folks walking their dogs, or getting their own exercise in the late afternoon sunshine. He addressed each and every one of them with a cheerful and heartfelt greeting as if he knew each person on the avenue. He smiled fondly at every single one. Later, I thought about this at great length.

This soldier/sailor has knows every form of danger known to humankind — probably fought in the jungles of Vietnam and the deserts of Iraq and possibly the mountains of Afghanistan. He’s certainly survived the most atrocious and fearful situations. The number of SEALS who actually retire is relatively small in the general military population — most just don’t make it. But here he is, smiling at all these neighbors and passersby, including a strange goose on a bike. He seems to have time for everybody.

I wonder if he looks at each and every person he meets as someone he would rescue or protect.

For forty years, it was his job to defend America and bravely serve our nation. To most of us that sounds noble in itself, but what if he doesn’t just view it as service to America, but something much more personal. Maybe he looks at us with such fondness because he was protecting and defending Leslie or Dianna or Debra or Jeff or Erik or Linda or Mark — real people in his neighborhood with real names and faces, with children and dreams and daily occupations.

His name is Bill. He looks like a regular retired guy, but he’s so much more than that. He’s a real hero!

The Blue Star Banner in the window is for his son, a U.S. Marine who has recently returned from tours of Iraq and Afghanistan. Another hero.

Of course, you know Mother Goose…she’ll be privately obsessing about this for awhile. I already downloaded a book from Amazon entitled, Service. It’s the story by Marcus Luttrell of his service to America as a Team 5 Navy SEAL. In just a few weeks, the Act of Valor DVD will be in the stores. Memorial Day is in ten days. My own two sailor sons will be home on leave for a few days later this month.

These guys are looking good, but they are not the sons of Mother Goose…

Mother Goose thinks this is a good place to insert a “call to action”. If you see a uniformed service man or woman, go up to them with your wing extended and thank them for serving America. If you know of a veteran in your neighborhood, thank them for their service. If there’s a military family with kids at your school, get to know them — they have special needs, especially if mom or dad are deployed. Please pray for the safety of our brave soldiers and sailors — pray that wars would cease.

God bless America and God bless you.

Important Stats for a Goose

  • 65,065 honks to date

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