So finally time to update on Andrew’s graduation….

We arrived on Thursday morning, the flight was uneventful…thankfully, we got our rental and got out of Chicago and found our way to the hotel, it was not as bad as I expected. I am not a big city girl, even though I have lived and driven in big cities before…the hotel (Red Carpet Inn) was far from red carpet worthiness, nonetheless it was conveniently situated, it was within minutes of the base…which was very important due to time constraints. It was cold and the wind was brutal, I packed accordingly….or so I thought…I ended up wearing my clothes in layers, and glad that I was smart enough to pack stretchy stuff that I could wear over my other clothes. It wasn’t so much the temperatures, but the wind…good gosh….I know it has the nickname of the Windy City, but I’ve lived in other places that have been just as windy if not more…just not something you can prepare for when you get acclimated to Texas weather. So anyway, we made it in, and had fun getting checked in early…which I told the girl at the front desk, no problem if it is too early, we can always come back, she sent us to a room that had these massive double sinks on top of the beds…strike one, the next room, my #2 went in, it was not ready, not clean, toilet a mess…strike 2, next room, key didn’t work….strike 3…next room, front desk girl went and checked first then gave us a working key….sigh…that was exhausting….Derrick and I then went and had a late breakfast next door to the hotel, biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs and crispy bacon, I love crispy bacon! Then we went to Walmart and got some cheap gloves and some other stuff…then we went to the hotel, chilled for a while then made it to the meet and greet…I was disappointed with that but the food was free and it was actually good, I could see Derrick was miserable there so I put him out of his misery and we went back to the hotel. Friday morning we got up early, grabbed some water and a couple of offerings from the continental breakfast spread and headed to the base. We got there, found the section reserved for Andrew’s division and got front row seating….not the best seat in the house but good enough for me…and not the best seat because when they opened the doors to let the sailors in the wind also came in…so finally they started the ceremony, Andrew’s division came in first, saw him, he didn’t see us….poor kids they all looked frozen and exhausted….


Division 001

Texas in the house!

Texas in the house!

So once the ceremony was concluded, Liberty was declared and mayhem ensued…it was find your Sailor time….found mine! IMG_2864

And then it was tears, hugs and time to make plans for the rest of the day with our Sailor. But before that….Andrew wanted us to meat the Reviewing Officer, the night before when they had dinner he got to meet the Rear Admiral….who is a Texas native, when he asked if there was anyone from Texas Andrew raised his hand, they spoke briefly and he invited Andrew to sit next to him at dinner.

Rear Admiral Eric Young

Rear Admiral Eric Young


Posing for a pic

He also told Andrew he wanted to meet us…so we went in search of Young, who we found and were escorted to meet him in a private section that is closely guarded. We did the introductions and then Young asked Andrew if he had received a challenge coin from him the previous evening, Andrew said no, so Young reached into his pocket and presented Andrew with his first challenge coin. His words of appreciation and encouragement went a long way. Andrew was and still is highly stoked….and with good reason. Challenge coins are available for purchase…so yeah anyone can have them, but when it is handed to you by a top level member of the military it has a more special meaning than if mommy had ordered one thru EBay. IMG_2866 IMG_2868 IMG_2869

Challenge coin - back

Challenge coin – back


Challenge Coin – Front

I am thankful that Rear Admiral Young took the time to encourage my son and also take the time to personally meet and visit with us briefly, we were not on his scheduled agenda so the fact that he took the time to do this made the occasion that much more special.


100_0444 (2)

L. National Defense Service Ribbon. R. Pistol Marksmanship w/ an Expert Rating.

While in boot camp, Andrew also received his first of what will be many ribbons…

A little Bio on Young↓↓

The Reviewing Officer for Andrew’s  PIR (graduation) was Rear Admiral Eric Young, Commander, Navy Reserve Forces Command. A native of Abilene, Texas, RADM Young is a graduate of Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry. He received his commission as an Ensign from Officer Candidate School in February 1985. He holds a Master of Science degree in Financial Management from the Naval Postgraduate School and a Master of Arts degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.

Young’s tours at sea as a surface warfare officer include ordnance officer, USS Reid (FFG 30); navigator, USS San Jose (AFS 7); operations officer, USS Wadsworth (FFG 9); combat systems officer, Destroyer Squadron 31; executive officer, USS Ford (FFG 54); commanding officer, USS John L Hall (FFG 32); and commander, Destroyer Squadron 1.

Young’s staff and shore assignments included commanding officer, Naval Reserve Center Terre Haute, Indiana; commanding officer, Naval Reserve Center Danville, Illinois; manpower analyst in the Surface Warfare Directorate, Chief of Naval Operations (N86); manpower and personnel director, Naval Reserve Readiness Command South; commanding officer, Navy Operational Support Center San Diego, California; deputy director, Training Transformation and Technology in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (Reserve Affairs); and most recently, as deputy chief of Navy Reserve from July 2012 to August 2014.

During his command tour aboard USS John L. Hall (FFG 32), his crew won five of five Command Excellence awards. Young assumed command of Destroyer Squadron 1 from June 2009 through November 2010. In October 2009, Destroyer Squadron 1 was assigned as the Sea Combat Commander for the Carl Vinson Strike Group. Young spearheaded Destroyer Squadron 1 transformation from an ISIC-focused destroyer squadron to an operationally-focused destroyer squadron. For the first time, Destroyer Squadron 1 became a permanent Sea Combat Commander for a Strike Group.

Young became Commander, Navy Reserve Forces Command in Norfolk, Virginia, September 25, 2014.

Young’s decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and various unit and campaign awards.

As part of the official arrival ceremony on Friday morning, after the Ruffles and Flourishes are played once she’s announced, she is also entitled to a 13-Gun Salute fired in five second intervals. The saluting cannons are outside the drill hall, but you should be prepared (and caution the young ones) for the cannon “BOOMs”. Military guests in uniform are to hold their salute until the last shot is fired. All other guests should remain standing until told to be seated.

Without realizing what time it was or how time just crept up on me I saw that it was 2am…so I said to myself…”self…go to bed”…so I did…not sure why I even bothered…no sleep has been had…I tried…and I actually did sleep…for maybe 17 minutes, it was good sleep too, and it felt like enough sleep because next thing I was wide awake…I finally gave up all the tossing and turning and just got up…I really haven’t done anything productive, couldn’t read…well I could, just not the book I started on…just read random, mindless crap…nothing educational…so yeah just a waste of time…but even that didn’t hold my interest…then I decided to go car battery shopping…but I saw that if I ordered it online I would have to go in person to pick it up instead of sending D to go pick it up…the battery is for him, for my car and I thought I’d do at least one productive thing…strike one…then I thought…hey have some coffee…so I did…I made a cup…and I like my coffee strong, but I totally miscalculated. the shit I made was shit…even for my standards…way too strong. blacker than the night…strike two…so I indulged in a do over and made another cup…still strong but not so thick and bitter…now I’m thinking maybe a hot relaxing bubble bath…maybe some candles and some soothing music…then I was already doing some forward thinking…soup!!! Chicken soup to be exact…the weather is perfect for soup…or a chicken pot pie….and I’m not even hungry but I’m thinking of food…and I also have to get a letter out to my tater, he will be happy to see pictures of Makenzy…that girl is spoiled and very much loved….and I’m out…100_5202 (2)


Gotta love my boy, and his determination…


…and another one….


…and one more….



Good morning mijo, well today is your birthday, I don’t know if you’ll get a chance to call home, but if you do I’ll be over the moon. I cherish the calls and the letters, I know you don’t have much time to write, but I’m looking forward to checking the mail everyday, I am also forwarding my calls to my cell just in case you try calling and I happen to not be home. So let me tell you some of the reasons you are so special to me…

From the beginning it was a struggle with you, I learned I was pregnant with you while I was recovering from my second back surgery, I was getting pumped with drugs for pain and finding no comfort from the narcotics, the doctor ordered a stronger dosage and I was all for trying them…now I still didn’t know I was pregnant, let me backtrack a little…I had gone in for routine blood work prior to surgery….everything checked out so they scheduled me in, this was to remove the broken metal rod that was holding me together…..the doctors decided that the rod had done its job so it could be safely removed since it was broken and could cause other issues if it happened to shift. I had also just had your brother Derrick and it was considered a good time to do it since he was already walking and I wouldn’t have to struggle too much with trying to carry him. So there I went, had surgery and was sent home to recover, but once home a few weeks later something just didn’t seem right…so I scheduled a doctors appointment…that is when I found out I was pregnant….now let me tell you…I’m one of those special individuals that doesn’t have a body that does things right…like send out the normal alerts to indicate pregnancy, no morning sickness, periods didn’t stop, initial weight loss instead of weight gain….so at this point I am still under the strain of recovering from back surgery, so my immediate thought is to stop taking any type of drugs, but surprisingly the doctors assure me that it is okay to take them….I simply refused…all those classes about the dangers of drugs while pregnant scared the shit out of me…so I refused them all…it wasn’t easy, the pain was unbearable, then post-partum depression set in from your brother, then a little family situation came up where I ended up having to foster a couple of the cousins (cousins you don’t remember or have any contact with) so now I had Bert,  Derrick, and a baby and toddler, these poor kids had shitty parents and if we didn’t take them in they would have ended up elsewhere, I was ill-equipped to cope with all that and it was thrust upon me where I didn’t even have the mental energy to protest….so there I was with all of this on my plate and as if that wasn’t enough I developed severe anemia….that was the worst, I had to drive in to Wichita every other day for iron IV treatments….Wichita was 45 minutes away, some days I had all 3 kids with me (Bert was in school) I would leave with 2 hours to get there because I would have to stop on the side of the road to take a nap at least 2-3 times each way….crying kids strapped in their car seats didn’t wake me up…and where was your dad in all of this? Not around, either working or sleeping…so yeah those were some very hard months, but I did what I needed to do to ensure you were as healthy as possible, you robbed me of all the iron my body produced and I had to get my reserves pumped in thru my veins…you should’ve seen my arms…I looked like a junkie….then the idiot nurses would screw up and at one point it got bad when I ended up with an infection…anywho I survived all that and so did you….you were a fighter, and I hope you continue to be….I’ve fought for all of you from before you guys were even born….and then after when your dad decided that he would fight me after in a divorce and custody battle…that’s when the gloves came off…I was willing to let him take the house, vehicles, everything in the house, but when he said he would go after you guys…well I lost my shit….I fought for you guys…the sad thing was that was not much of a fight….he was all talk…in the end he just gave up…I lost all respect for him as a man at that point….and saw him for the weak person he had always been. I do hope that you guys do inherit my strong spirit…I’ve fought my battles when it mattered. So on this day when I am here alone without you for the first time ever on your birthday…I’m gonna spend the day looking at old pictures, cleaning, doing laundry and just keeping busy to not be crying and missing you. Love you MORE and can’t wait to see you next month..


My baby tater!

My baby tater!

So I am officially hanging out my shingle! I have scheduled my first wedding…I’m both excited and nervous…the whole standing up in front of a crowd will be a challenge…but I’m up for it…I’ve met with the happy couple and they have quite a story to tell…which I won’t be sharing…but nonetheless I am quite honored that they chose me to officiate. It will be a quiet little affair, they’ll have a few friends and family, sadly most of their family is not on board but they are defiantly fighting for their right to be together. I’ve even been invited to share in the festivities after the I do’s….I might have to hunt up a date….and I’m so not into dating….my gift to them will be no charge for officiating…being that this will be my first time and if I screw up…well…I won’t screw up…but it’ll help me with the jitters for the next time…


Paying it forward…

First off I am thankful for the family and friends who have reached out, your doing so means the world to me….and as much as I hate crying…as I see it as a sign of weakness…I’ve bawled like a baby…..but I am much closer to my goal of getting to see my son graduate.

Now to the paying it forward part….as I have been going through things to get rid of to raise money I came across a young family headed by a single mom that was in need of food and clothing, some of the things I had earmarked for fundraising I instead let this mom take her pick, as for food I didn’t have much but she was able to complete a few outfits that will serve her well at her new job and there were some items that her boys will be able to use as well. Her gratitude brought me to a new wave of tears….we chatted and laughed about some of the struggles we have gone through, she felt embarrassed to be going through the bags of clothing I had set aside…I was able to put her at ease and she will be back for a haircut…I’m nervous about that, I haven’t cut anyone else’s hair in quite a while….but she can’t afford a haircut and it won’t cost me anything to help her out….I wish there was more I could do for her but she is a strong woman and she will be fine. Funny how life works…https://rubycantu.wordpress.com/2015/10/02/yes-id-like-you-to-hit-that/.


…and by that I mean the DONATE button → (on the right) yes that yellow one….I am shamelessly appealing to YOU, by YOU I mean You who are reading this. My youngest son is currently in boot camp and will be graduating next month. This year has been a complete bitch financially….numerous repairs to my vehicle, central air unit, the major plumbing repairs,  the countless tires I’ve either had to repair or replace due to vandalism…it has all taken a huge hit on me…it hurts…anywho…I can’t imagine missing this major milestone, my son graduating from the Navy’s boot camp…my heart swells with pride…I’ve singlehandedly raised three amazing young men, I’d love to be able to take his brothers with me but their finances are worse than mine. So back to the appeal part of this here blog….anything you can help with will be greatly appreciated, if you can share this on your page I’ll be grateful for that as well. No amount is to great or too small….I will be donating plasma, selling stuff, and cutting back every where else I can possibly cut costs…I will get there! So if you find it in you to donate or simply share this it will be much appreciated…I hate asking for help, but this is me putting pride aside. Much love to you…and thanks for reading, sharing and caring. ♥



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