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…

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 Speaks Out

I’m just a goose! How do I find myself in these amazing places with such wonderful people? I’m baffled and honking about it!

M.Goose addressing Marine families at the Park Ridge VFW Post.

Once upon a time, Mother Goose was a regular mother with just the barest notion that our nation was at war. Whilst soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen fought valiantly in Iraq and Afghanistan, Mother Goose turned her beak in the other direction. In fact, she buried her head in the sand. You may have called her Lady Ostrich in those days.

And then the impossible happened — my twin sons enlisted in the U.S. Navy, and my ostrich life came to a screeching halt. Even though they are still stateside, training for a highly technical and difficult position onboard nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers, to this goose, military family life has already begun. Of course, when they eventually get deployed and head out to sea to see the world, Mother Goose will probably have a nervous breakdown. Maybe a double, twin-sized nervous breakdown…

Last evening, Mother Goose and her ever-supportive gander attended a wonderful meeting of Marine families in a nearby suburb of Chicago. Let me just tell you right now, these are some of the bravest, kindest and most gracious moms and dads that I have ever met.

As the sharing time progressed around the room, several parents reported that their sons had returned from active duty around the world, including combat action in Afghanistan. Two families had just experienced the gut-wrenching days of knowing their sons were now “boots on the ground” in the hot war zones of Helmand Province. Some were active and stationed at Camp Pendleton in California. There was a new “poolie” present with his family — just freshly enlisted and in preparation mode for boot camp next summer. All stages of U.S. Marine life were shared — hugs and tears and common wisdom were served up as easily as the delicious potluck dinner.

I was there at the meeting because I wanted to speak to the group about Blue Star Banners, an American tradition dating back to WWI. Military families are encouraged to hang the banners in their front windows to inform the neighborhood and the community that one of their sons or daughters is serving in a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces during a time of war or hostility. Each star on the banner represents one soldier or sailor — of course, Mother Goose is proud to fly a banner with two blue stars.

We left the meeting humbled by the patriotic hearts, the faith and the love of these U.S. Marine Corps families. We will return to their next get-together to present Blue Star Banners to these amazing moms and dads. Now it’s time for Mother Goose to get to work. Honk! Time to buy more gold fringe at the JoAnn Fabric Store to glue to my banners.

I buy my banners from the American Legion online store. Then Mother Goose attaches the gold fringe to the banners — it makes them look extra special.

P.S. Do you know of a military family in your neighborhood? Please let them know about this wonderful old tradition. Please visit my Facebook page to see pictures of Blue Star Banners in the windows as well as pictures of our many friends’ sons and daughters in the service. Feel free to “like” our page if you are so inclined and share it with your friends. And, of course, please continue to pray for the troops — until they’re all safely back home with their families.

“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

Beyond the Blue Horizon

In respect for Petty Officer Zane Stotesbury, regular programming can wait until Tuesday morning. My prayers and love, Mother Goose

See you in the bright and distant morning, young sailor.

Mother Goose and the Blue Star Banner Campaign

Two Blue Stars for my Sailors

Mother Goose has recently run across an old, old tradition that supports military families. In the first and second world wars, families who had men (or women) in the service would proudly hang these banners in their front windows to let the neighborhood know they were military families. They could have up to five blue stars on each banner. Sadly, some banners had gold stars instead of blue, and this signified that the family had made the ultimate sacrifice for the country. This was a very big deal back then. Everybody knew who was serving, and also who needed their prayers and support. Unfortunately, the tradition fell out of practice during the Korean and Vietnam conflicts and today you rarely see a banner in a window of a home.

But, you know Mother Goose…If there’s a change that needs to be made, Mother Goose is there honking about it.

I have ordered a banner for our front window with TWO blue stars, of course.

I am also volunteering locally to bring Blue Star banners back to the windows of military families in our town and neighboring communities. Volunteering has been so easy — I just brought a couple of nice posters to hang in the local libraries and village halls. I’ve sent a note to the news agency asking for some publicity. Maybe you’ll pass this post on to the military families that you know so they can get their banners…

Grampa was a U.S. Sailor

Laurence Leslie Frame, our grampa, served in the United States Navy from 1943 until the close of the war in 1945. I do not know how or why he chose to be a sailor, but given that he was thirty-five years of age at the time, and married with four children, I would quickly believe the family reports that he was drafted into service.

Grampa and Gramma Frame

After basic training at Great Lakes Naval Station just north of Chicago, he was shipped out to the South Pacific theater of battle where the U.S. was battling the Japanese. Generally speaking, the South Pacific strategy was to capture islands and island chains from Hawaii across to Guam and the Phillipines, essentially chasing Japan out of its extensive bases. According to Wikipedia, “On February 1, 1944, Kwajalein was the target of the most concentrated bombardment of the Pacific War. Thirty-six thousand shells from naval ships and ground artillery on a nearby islet struck Kwajalein. American B-24 Liberator bombers aerially bombarded the island, adding to the destruction.” Kwajalein is part of the Republic of Marshall Islands which include the Bikini Atoll which of course is where tiny little bathing suits were invented and nuclear bombs were tested.

Grampa was a part of Operation Flintlock which was the D Day Invasion of Kwajalein. His duty was in the repair of LVT’s which are the amphibious assault vehicles of WWII. They were also called “Water Buffalo” and were extremely important to the beach landings of the war. And they experienced frequent breakdowns, so Grampa’s mechanical skills were vitally important.

Grampa returned home to Nimrod, Minnesota after the war was over. He worked as a carpenter in the growing community and then opened the first gas station in town, a Skelly service station which Grampa owned and operated until the early 1970’s when he retired. He passed away in 1973 and was buried with military honors in the Nimrod Cemetery. I can still hear the 21 Gun Salute and the bugle playing Taps.

Here’s to war heroes and veterans from all of the wars that we’ve fought to defend freedom! God bless America, and God bless all of our veterans.

Ten Years Ago in Our World

We all remember the bright blue skies and the sunshine on that Tuesday morning. In Carol Stream, Illinois the beauty of the day was unreal. The horror in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania was unreal. The empty skies that night were unreal — so many airplanes were not in the air that night. The birds singing in the trees was a mockery to the terrible crying of the people who escaped the Towers. Tears flowed and flowed and flowed as the towers collapsed, and we knew that thousands of souls were still inside. In a state of shock, I managed to get the kids to school and even stopped at the grocery store for some basics before heading home to watch it all on TV.

I remember wandering out to my fenced-in suburban backyard, and just staring up at nothing in the sky. Just nothing. Not a cloud to catch my gaze. Just nothing. Tears flowing, I whispered to my heavenly Father, “God, what’s happening? Where are you? What’s going on? Why why why?” And no answers. I just dropped to my knees and cried. And then went back in the house to watch more of the reports for the rest of the day. I moved the TV into the kitchen so I wouldn’t miss anything, but when the kids came home from school that day I put the TV back in the living room so they could watch Arthur on Channel 11.

I didn’t watch much TV after the first day of the attack. I tried to shield my kids from the violence of that day — we put on our normal faces. I held them tighter than ever and nearly stopped all my housework for a week or so, just wanting to sit with them and be with them whatever they were doing in their worlds. I made meals and we ate together and prayed together at night. Every night we would go outside and look at the dark sky, enjoying the quiet and trusting that the great military presence of our country would deter any further attacks. There was comfort knowing that the F15’s were patrolling the skies and that America’s heroes would be remembered always.

We lived just a few miles from O’Hare International Airport, and soon the commercial planes were on their paths again. For months and years after we were attacked that day, I would still see the images of planes crashing into the towers. EVERY single plane flying overhead would remind me, and I would see it smashing into an imaginary building and balls of fire and black smoke billowing out. My own minuscule PTSD, I suppose.

Today life is pretty normal, except that we’re all changed and normal has changed also. We are still waging a war against an invisible enemy, but I have faith that America will somehow have victory in the long run. My sons are sailors in the U.S. Navy — a global force for good. I am proud of them, proud of our country, but so saddened by the horrible loss of life on 9/11. I cry to think of the supreme sacrifice of life — the brave men and women who have been killed fighting the War Against Terrorism.

I still ask God “why” but the answer is not as important as it used to be. We can only hope that things will get better, and that someday there will be no fears, no tears, no anger, no terrorism and no enemies. Belief in God’s goodness and His sovereign love can and will sustain us. He is faithful to remain with us to the end. May His love and peace bless you today. Love, Natalie

Important Stats for a Goose

  • 64,142 honks to date

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