Saturday, June 4, 2011

Basic Graduation

Last month, on May 4th precisely, so I'm only a month late writing this...we traveled from Denver to Lawton, OK (by car, not recommended) to see my baby graduate from basic training.

Well, we left on May 4th, very early in the morning. We got there in the evening. This was a Wednesday, right?

The hotel we stayed at had an indoor pool. Being a native of Arizona (which meant swimming from April to October) and now being a Colorado kid and having not seen a pool since August...this had to be the first thing Kylie did. Someone diagram that sentence, please. I think it's a little off.

Thursday was Family Day. We went to the base at about 9am, and they had a demonstration of marching, hand to hand combat, introduced the honor grads, and had a citizenship ceremony for three members of the platoon who were becoming American citizens. That was neat. In case you can't tell which one of those identically dressed people is my daughter (it took me a while to find her), I drew a heart on her.

After the ceremony, the soldiers were released to get into their dress uniforms and spend the rest of the day with their families. Up until this point, we still hadn't been able to talk to her or be within 100 yards of her.

She was awfully excited to see her sisters. And they were pretty excited to see her.

This one just about killed me.

This is Danni with one of her "battles." They have designated battle buddies, because they don't go anywhere (even the bathroom) alone. They just call each other battles. I think these two will be friends for life.

So we spent the afternoon with Danni in Lawton. There's not much to do in Lawton. We went out to lunch, and then to the one mall they have. Surprisingly, it seemed as if most of her platoon was at the mall too. Like I said, there's not much in Lawton.

Danni's friend above was with us, because her mom hadn't arrived yet. I think they spent about $100 each in Victoria's Secret. One of the girls who worked in the store said they always love family day, because they get an influx of girls who haven't seen makeup or frilly underwear (or a mall) in 10 weeks, and they all have 10 weeks of pay that they've had no use for up until now.

Also, Danni decided to treat herself to her first really nice phone. All we've ever given the poor kid is whatever you could get for free or maybe $20 with your upgrade. And never a smart phone. Because have you seen the prices of those data/internet/whatever plans?

She bought herself a Droid Incredible 2, which is a nicer phone than I will ever have. She got a plan with unlimited data/internet/whatever, to which I said, "That's nice, honey!", because I DON'T HAVE TO PAY THE BILL. How nice is THAT?

After the mall, we went back to our hotel room and just hung out for a while. She enjoyed lying on the bed just relaxing and watching TV. I guess she hasn't been able to do that for a while.

An hour or so before we had to take her back to the base, we headed to a park to take some pictures. I told her I wanted a nice picture of her in her uniform, because guess what? You know those basic traning pictures that everyone has next to the flag? She doesn't have one. I still don't know why, but she doesn't. Which is fine, because she looks amazing now. She lost about 20 lbs in basic training and she is shape. Maybe I should go to basic training.

So, this is my own official basic training portrait of her. I like it.

I have to say, this is my favorite picture of these two, EVER. In one picture, I've summed up both of their personalities perfectly. Oh, and did I mention that Danni and her battle also got their nails done at the mall? I guess a lot of the girls do that too.

As much as these two have fought over the years, this is sort of... rewarding? Heartwarming? Amazing?

My three babies. Where one is in the army, a second one is driving and now officially a high school junior, and the other one...well, she's still a baby. Make her stop growing right now, please.

We dropped her off at the base around 8pm and headed back to the hotel. The next day, Friday, was graduation. I don't really have any good pictures of the actual graduation, mainly because it was very dark in the auditorium and most pictures came out blurry.

Outside the auditorium afterwards, my officially graduated soldier and her youngest sister.

Here's Danni with her very proud grandparents, who arrived Thursday afternoon from AZ. My dad was like, beyond proud of her. Like more proud than he's ever been of me. These are the grandparents that Danni lived with her senior year of high school when we moved to Colorado. I know there were a lot of times that Danni felt like an intruder as the year went on, and you could tell my dad in his 70s was tiring of living with a teenager. I don't blame him.

However, he is over the moon about this army thing with her. I told him that if he's as proud of her as he seems, he should take her aside and tell her. Which is not the sort of thing that my dad does. But he did. Which was awesome.

You know what I just noticed right now, this very second? My parents. Are both. Wearing. Fanny packs. Fanny packs! How did I not notice that when we were all there? I think I might have to have a talk with them.

The whole family, all very proud of our soldier.

She got to spend the rest of Friday with us as well. We went out to lunch again, where she calls everyone "ma'am" and "sir". Not us, because that would be weird, but like the waitress: "What would you like to drink?" "I'd like an iced tea please, ma'am". And the people all over Lawton who would randomly congratulate her, because they're used to this. Fort Still graduates a platoon every weekend. Random man: "Congratulations!" "Thank you, Sir". It still sounds very strange coming out of my daughter's mouth. But it made me proud. Yes, I know it's required when they're in uniform. But still. Was this MY daughter?

But out of public, in the hotel room, oh yes, it most definitely is my daughter. With more of a potty-mouth than she had 10 weeks ago. I think it's an army thing. I'm glad she hasn't changed too much. Only for the better. I talked to her on the phone last night, and she's still the same kid. She told me that the girls in her bay were having races up and down the hall in chairs on wheels. Sounds like a college dorm. Must be the weekend!

Anyway, we had to leave her at the base again Friday night, because she was shipping out early Saturday morning. I cried. Danni said, "Mom, don't cry." How can I not? We have to leave you. Again. And you're in the freaking ARMY.

We left Saturday morning for that hell of a drive back to Denver. It's not quite a long as Denver to Phoenix, but almost. Which is why I already have PLANE tickets for the girls and me for our trip to AZ this summer (Yay! Planes!) 14 hours in a car, vs. 1 hr 45 min. on a plane. I (and my Xanax) will take the plane, thanks. Even if it is a bit of a hit to the wallet.

Danni is now spending 16 weeks at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, beginning her training as a medic. She will be able to get her LPN while in the army, and then eventually college and an RN. That's the plan, anyway. We don't know yet where she's going to be stationed when she graduates from AIT. Can it please be somewhere safe?