Thursday, August 13, 2015

Arielle Passes the Baton to Nolan

The elder kids started a tradition years ago, of passing the baton from the current eldest Gherkin to the new eldest Gherkin - when one leaves home. This symbolizes leadership in the family. We didn't START this - THEY DID.....and we love it. We love  they take their role seriously. We love that it mentors young leaders. This is the first time we witnessed the exchange...Arielle saved the baton to pass when all the Gherkins were together. This gets harder to manage with each passing of the baton - amazing they've all been together for each pass.  
They all prayed over Nolan.
And enjoyed a group hug. Sure LOVE these kids - to the moon.

I knew it was busy - a five post day. That may be a record.

Coining the Gherkins

The military has a tradition of "coining."  Each commander has a coin which he gives to those he wishes to recognize for a job well done.   Evidently, due to budget cuts the Air Force no longer gives coins. We do have RMO' as tokens - round medal objects.  Michael has had chapel coins at various bases, which he has awarded to others. He's not given them to minors.  As he prepared to retire, we found a few coins from various  bases. We were totally happy when we noted we had 9 and that they fit the bases where various kids were active volunteers. So - yes - we did it. He coined the kids the night before his retirement...and we thanked them for all their contributions to our ministry to the Air Force community.

I had four PWOC Asia Region coins left. I've given them to all who spoke, were involved, were on the board etc during that season. Four - and so I gave each of my daughters a coin. They surely earned them.

BreAnne receives an Elmendorf AFB Chapel coin for service from 2002 - 2005.
 Krista receives an Elmendorf AFB Chapel coin for service from 2002 - 2005.

 Josiah receives an Elmendorf AFB Chapel coin for service from 2002 - 2005.
Jamin receives an Elmendorf AFB Chapel coin for service from 2002 - 2005. 

Jared receives a Misawa AFB Chapel coin for service from 2009 - 2013.

 Arielle receives a Misawa AFB Chapel coin for service from 2009 - 2013.

Nolan  receives a Misawa AFB Chapel coin for service from  2009 - 2013.
Alex* receives a Misawa AFB Chapel coin for service from 2009 - 2013.

Stacia receives a coin from Beale AFB Chapel for service in 2015.

 Note - Alex sprained his finger badly last night in football. The nurse says it will be fine because I could press on the bone and he didn't scream. I threw up a bit in  my mouth. It's swollen, green, black and red...

Stacia is TEN!

A tenth birthday is big at any time...double digits. In the military, however, the 10th birthday is when you GET YOUR ID. Stacia has had an imaginary ID since she was 3. For YEARS (up until the last year) she would always hand it to me along with all the other IDs as we pulled to the gate.
THIS cake from Walmart turned out fine.
She's practiced signing her name for years.  We were happy that Michael's retirement would happen AFTER her birthday and she will get an active duty ID before we get the retirement ID's.

After rehearsal and loading out Michael's office we headed to her choice- Dancing Tomato. John and Nadine joined us too. What a fun group it was.
11 Gherkins, Gma and Gpa T, Izzak, Dakota, Lariss and John and Nadine

Krista and Nolan got her this....we all signed it and I know she's going to love it on the road

 Praying a blessing over Stacia

We love some BreZaak!
Such fun have Arielle home

Saga of a Retirement Cake

I'm pretty sure this will preach - but I've not figured out how at this point. ::snort::
Backstory: I visited the commissary and asked about having a cake with the Chaplain Corp logo on it for Michael's retirement. Their printer turns yellow green. They suggested I go off base. It was a SIMPLE cake. I just wanted the logo and a few words on it. What could go wrong?
I stopped twice at Walmart to discuss what I wanted. We were set. Logo in the middle, a bit of bling, full size cake, words centered or arched around the logo - CHOCOLATE.  We were set.  
Krista and Jamin left an hour before we were due to pick up the retirement cake. This would give them time to pick it up, pick up a few items we needed and be back in time to drive to Sacramento to pick up Josiah.
When they arrived they were told, "We're just working on it, come back in a few minutes." They did. The cake was boxed up - usually they show it to you and ask you if it's "ok." Standing in the check out line, Jamin opened the box.  Um......he sent a photo to me and asked, "Is this ok?"  
Oh my.....the logo is wrinkled and you can see the edges; you can barely read the writing, the name is wrong - it's just all very odd. They took the cake back and asked them to please redo the writing.
AT THIS POINT they were told that three cake artists called in sick, none of them were trained to decorate cakes and this was the best they could do.  
They brought the cake home and jumped in the van. As we drove, Jamin mentioned it still wasn't "perfect." We asked Larissa to send us a photo of the second attempt at the cake.
The words are not centered, again the name is wrong and the size gets smaller and smaller.

Yes, we did pay for the cake. There were lots of  suggestions of how to fix this from the kids. Waiting at the airport the hilarity of it all struck me.  The cake is certainly NOT going to ruin retirement. I decided to take it to the commissary and ask them if they could remove the logo and use it or fix the writing.  If they couldn't I would pick up a plain cake, have them write Congrats Ch. G and then plate this cake - no one would see it at the event.

I showed the photos to the baker at the commissary. She assured me she could fix it.  They had put white over the top of the words and written on top of it. She scraped it all off. She even fixed the emblem and added some pizzaz along the edge - all for $5.  She's our retirement hero....and Matt but that's another story.
Last name deliberately blurred in THIS photo  - they got it RIGHT.
 None of us had been nasty to Walmart.  We sensed we had a new family story that would be told for years. All was well - my plan was to talk to the Walmart store manager after retirement - because this really isn't good business. "We aren't trained - this is the best we can do?" What about telling us when we showed up early that the decorators were out? We would have paid for the cake and taken it to have it decorated for REAL. I don't mind paying something - we DID eat the cake.
We were to have one more surprise at the reception. The cake was not CHOCOLATE!
I do have the photos, receipt and the original order showing we asked for chocolate. I'm taking Mr. Retiree in with me on Monday to talk with the store manager - as opposed to the bakery manager. Again, I don't mind paying something but we should get some sort of discount- it wasn't the right flavor and another bakery had to make it presentable....I'm not sure what is reasonable to ask for.
Betsy - this photo is included just for  you. I'd thought the official niceties were over and slipped off my shoes. They asked me to come get photos at the cake....I forgot. Yep - shoeless at retirement.....great way to leave the Air Force. LOL
Note: An update on the saga of this cake!  Originally, Linda Walmart was only going to give us 50% because, "We did make it good, the cake looked fine and you ate it." I explained that I had to PAY another bakery to make the cake look good and we didn't know it was the wrong flavor until we cut into it at the ceremony. I had the original order form and photos of all this.  It took a bit more discussing and finally we got the store manager who thanked Michael for his service and gave us a FULL REFUND. She apologized for the way it had been handled at the bakery.  

The Pickle Jar is FULL

The day before retirement - and the pickle jar is full.  Josiah landed this morning. It's always glorious to have all the Gherkins in one place!  
Josiah (Gherkin #3) and Stacia (Gherkin #9)
As you can see from this photo, the day didn't  begin with a trip to SMF - but we'll start blogging here and give the cake excitement its own post.  
 Stacia's 10th birthday is on the 16th... folks will be  leaving on that day. We decided today is the one day when all 9 Gherkins will be here, and nothing retirement is planned. We're celebrating with family today.

It was here, at the airport, that the hilarity of the cake fiasco dawned on me,  the "catastrophe" turned into a great story - instantly. This proved once again Choosing Joy is always a good option.  

We went directly from the airport to the visitor center to get base passes for Mom and Dad, Josiah and Phil and Beverly. Our next stop was Burger King - where Michael met up with us.  Michael asked what the "cake chaos" was all about - another post. After a quick hug, he left to continue working on his checklist.
From lunch we moved on to transferring tables from one location to another. 
We met Ed at Foothills chapel and began decorating...Chaplain (LT Col, Retired) John Simmons and Nadine - Open Bible endorsers joined us here. Nadine, Larissa and mom were a great help with all the decorating when the kids and I got called away to rehearse.
Rehearsing - all 9 Gherkins

After rehearsal we loaded things from Michael's office  and headed off to celebrate Stacia's birthday!