Nothing else was said of the National Guard and I thought it was a passing fancy that would not go anywhere. Jonathan had a good job, he had a game plan, and he had the bar to study for.
September 2nd, a Wednesday night, Jonathan came into the living room after having been on the phone for well over an hour. Turns out it was the recruiter, and it turns out the two had been playing phone-tag for a month. Jonathan talked about the different tracks, the possibilities, the benefits.... There was just one catch: Jonathan aged out on the 14th, if we wanted to make this happen we'd have to have everything done by the end of the next week. But it felt undeniably right. I felt like this was a really good opportunity for Jonathan, and a great opportunity for our family.
The next day Jonathan mentioned it as a possibility to his boss. We decided to meet with him as a couple Friday before committing to one plan or the other. As we met with the boss I felt even more that, while the plan Jonathan's boss had is a really, really good plan, the other fork in our road was the way to go. Jonathan called the recruiter that night: "We want to make this happen."
Jonathan was given a list of documentation that he needed to bring to start getting his paperwork together. We realized Saturday morning, the 5th, that we did not have the Andrea's birth certificate or ANY of the kids' social security cards. Somehow, in the move, they all got lost. (HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN???? It isn't like I take those out and play with them!!!) That night we put in an order for a replacement birth certificate, but I felt we might be lucky if we got it in by the following Friday.
Monday, Labor Day, Jonathan spent the day with the recruiter (who graciously took his day off to help) and got the paperwork rolling. We needed those documents!! I got online and filled out all of the paperwork to be able to get the kids' replacement cards Monday, and then we spent the evening filling out paperwork. Miraculously people were on Facebook and next to their phones when we needed them to be, and we got all of the information we needed x 10! We were up far too late, and worked far too long, but we got it done.
Tuesday I hustled David off to his first day of school and started in on my busy day. I called the county clerk office in Texas to see if we could get a verification of birth form faxed to the recruiter (we couldn't, and orders processed on Friday would be shipped out that day, arriving Wednesday, so we were looking at getting Andi's birth certificate on Thursday, grrrr). Then I drove down to the SSA office only to discover that the documentation the website says to bring is NOT the documentation you need to take to get your replacement cards. By that time I needed to get home and get Andi ready for her half-day first day of school and drop Peter off at a friend's house. I was a wreck. I had a deadline of noon Wednesday and I was about to spend the rest of the business day at the school with Andrea. I called Jonathan, ranted for two seconds, then shrugged it off because there was really nothing to be done but wait until the next day. I managed to enjoy the afternoon at school getting Andi acquainted with her teacher and classmates. Tomorrow would have to wait.
In the meantime my sisters had texted saying they were praying, my parents were praying and asking for information, and Jonathan's family was praying for us. Jonathan was praying, I was praying, I'm pretty sure his recruiter was praying. So much had to go together seamlessly, and it seemed we just kept hitting snags. The plan was to have Jonathan spend Wednesday afternoon and Thursday in Lansing taking the tests he needed for entrance into the NG. They would be putting him up in a hotel, and they'd just pack everything into two days, but it really wasn't going to mean anything if we didn't have all of the documentation they required.
That evening I got a shipping notification: Andrea's birth certificate was headed our way. At 10:45 I saw that it was at the DFW airport - with an estimated delivery date of Wednesday. Yay! Something going right! I requested a shipping change and opted to go pick it up at a local shipping office. I just knew that I'd miss the delivery the next morning and have to wait until the evening to go pick it up. Best to just schedule a pickup. Thank you UPS for having that option!!
Wednesday morning I had my checklist: Hospital for records, birth certificate, SSA, pick up Jonathan from work, drop off Jonathan with his recruiter, go home and crash.
I got David off to school and drove straight to the hospital. Fortunately (if you can call an emergency fortunate) each of my kids had some sort of emergency this last year that required an ER visit, so the records I needed were 15 minutes away instead of an hour. The nice information ladies pointed me in the right direction and I got to the records department with relative ease. Once their I started filling out the request forms. The night before I'd filled them out online, but I wasn't able to print them. I came, once again, to the "Reason for the records request" line and, rather than say "personal use", I felt I should just be completely honest: I'd somehow lost my kids' social security cards and needed proof of identity for replacements. The gal working the desk looked at the first form and jumped right to that question. "What exactly do you need for proof of identity?" I told her, and we chit-chatted about how this kind of thing happened all the time. She said she'd lost her son's for a year before finding it after her move. I mentioned that I didn't have a year, my husband needed it for his military application that day. She worked faster and got everything I needed. When I asked how much I owed them (there is a $1/page fee for records) she said, "Nothing. You're in a hurry, get out of here." I almost cried. I was out of the hospital 15 minutes after I'd walked in, and already my day was brighter.
Next up: birth certificate. Thank heaven's for GPS because I had no problems getting there and getting that package. The guy who got me the package brought it to the counter saying "Ah! A birth certificate! We get these all the time." Ha! I'm not the only parent that loses important documents, then! Hahaha!
I walked out the UPS place at 10:00. I was making really great time! I might even be able to grab something for the littles to eat at the store before getting Jonathan. I was almost to the SSA office when Jonathan called.
"Do you have Andi's birth certificate?"
"Yes, I just picked it up."
"Where are you now?"
"About five minutes from the SSA office. Why?"
"We need a dependent waiver. The recruiter needs Andrea's birth certificate and our marriage license, front and back, within the hour or I'm not going to be able to get my paperwork signed."
So I turned around and raced up to FedEx. Only one employee was there. There was a line of people needing help, and a crotchety old lady who kept interrupting her because she couldn't get connected to the wi-fi. With 15 minutes left to go, and several panicked texts from Jonathan later, the man ahead of me told the employee to help me, he'd watched her working the big scanner enough to know how to scan his blueprints until it scanned correctly, and then he turned and helped the cranky lady get connected to a free wi-fi in the area. I think the man was an angel in disguise. I explained what I needed to the sweet, tired employee, that I had ten minutes to get it emailed to my husband's sergeant (the recruiter), and she had the best quality PDFs on my flash drive in less than a minute. She didn't charge me for the job, just told me to hurry and get logged into the computers to email the documents off. With five minutes left on the clock I hit send on the email. I sent a back-up email with the attachments to Jonathan incase the recruiter didn't get them, then scurried out the door to get off to the SSA office. Everything all went through and ten minutes later I got the text from Jonathan saying the paperwork had all been signed.
It was now 11:00, and I had one hour to get to the SSA office, get the replacement cards rolling, and then get Jonathan picked up. Fortunately there was no line to speak of, and the young man who had helped me the day before was assigned to me again. He got me all the paperwork I needed, and we were ready to go. (By the way, the new cards arrived Monday the 14th, less than a week after I'd requested them. They told me it would be three weeks before we got them!)
I checked the time as I buckled the kids into the car: 11:32. GPS told me it would take 28 minutes to get to Jonathan's work. It was dead right. Jonathan was in the car at noon, and we were meeting up with the recruiter and saying good-bye to Jonathan at 12:30.
Somehow, by one miracle after another, and I'm sure in answer to every prayer being uttered on our behalf that morning, I got everything done just in time. I do not doubt that my way was being cleared by prayer. I kid you not, everything just went too smoothly that morning.
Jonathan aced his ASVAB Wednesday, and then had a perfect day Thursday with all the testing there. At 4:30 that afternoon I got the call that Jonathan had just been sworn into the military. Four days later he turned 35, and if there had been any hiccups at all this wouldn't have happened. Miraculous. It is the only word I've got for last week.
Jonathan has drill this weekend, and then ships out to basic training for 10 weeks. We think he will get home the week before Christmas. The kids gave him a phone card and stationary as his birthday gifts Monday. They are really going to have a tough time with this. That's not to say that I won't, either, but I grew up thinking it was normal for mom to run the house and for dad to be gone for days at a shot. At a certain level I understand that this is just a short time, and we can definitely make it work. But Andrea had a horrible night the night he was in Lansing doing all of the testing, she missed Jonathan so badly. I was grateful she had her first full day of school the next day as it kept her distracted, however this will be 10 weeks of dad being gone and I know that will be tough. But I know we'll be okay. We'll work it out, we'll work through it, and we'll come out a better, stronger family on the other side.
So for posterity's sake, I had to record this story. It is a jumble of my thoughts, and about as rushed and hurried as I felt Wednesday of last week, but I had to get my thoughts and my gratitude down before I forgot it. There is no doubt in my mind that the prayers of so many had an impact on my day. I felt guided and protected, helped and cared for, loved and supported all day. I couldn't feel overwhelmed because, especially after the hospital, I just knew that everything was going to be okay and that I'd get everything we needed in time for this plan to work. I do not think ANYTHING has ever worked so smoothly for us before. And I'm so grateful. I'm pretty sure God looks out for us mere mortals sometimes. ;)