Wednesday, September 4, 2013


A few weeks ago (I can't remember the date and can't find it written on any calendar) our nephew Jon graduated the Naval Boot Camp.  WOOHOO!  Great Lakes, IL is the base location for ALL Navy boot camp recruits and lucky for us, it's only 5 hours from our house.  This meant EVERYONE was able to travel north to see Jon!  He only received four tickets for the actual ceremony, but because our family is awesome, TWENTY FOUR people made the trek to Great Lakes to spend the day with Jon.  Is he loved or what?!  We all stayed at the same hotel and were able to rig the lobby TV to the computer to play the live stream of the ceremony so we could watch.  It was really an incredible ceremony and I'm so glad we could follow along and cheer when Jon walked by (at least we think it was Jon).

Ok, things did start off a little shaky with this crew in charge of the TV stuff, but thankfully they were able to pull it off!
Great Lakes hosts graduation EVERY Friday so it was kinda weird that the hotel didn't have the ceremony automatically streamed.  When we were able to hook the computer up to the tv, tons of other families joined us to watch.  Then when I checked the hotels facebook page, they had this picture on it with the caption describing their "boot camp graduation viewing theater".  What?!

It's official...Jon is a UNITED STATES SAILOR!!
The girls took a quick dip in the pool before Jon arrived at the hotel.  How fun is it that my best friends brother married my sister, so our girls share cousins and can celebrate these big moments together?!

And here he is!!!  Rock star reception for sure!
Everyone was SO excited to see him!  Can't imagine how we'll all act when he's shipped off for longer than 9 weeks!

Woah!  Who is this guy?!  Gained 20 pounds, shaved his head, and he's wearing glasses!  ~Trevor was a bit confused at first :)
 You read that right...Jon gained 20 pounds in boot camp.  Who does that?!  I heard another sailor in the lobby tell his parents he lost 13 pounds.  Jon has always been freakishly you could see every bone in his back (yes, he takes after me..ahem), so it was crazy to see him with his face all filled out and meat on his bones!  I'm thinking  a) he was worked so hard in boot camp that he actually ate three big meals a day, b) my sisters cooking is awful and he was finally fed food he would actually eat, or c) all of the above.  Hmmm....
This is the picture our hotel staff took and put on their website.  May be the biggest family they've hosted!
Cate stayed close to Jon all day...she has missed him!

 Ken and Kathy rented a suite and Precious Mother II and Ed had a connecting room, so we had plenty of space to hang out in before dinner.  We pretty much made Jon sit on the couch and answer the zillion questions we had about boot camp.  I alone asked at least's all so fascinating! 
Cate wore her favorite "God Bless America" swimsuit :)

 We had the entire second floor of the restaurant to ourselves so we had lots of room to spread out and take TONS of pictures!

 After visiting the commissary to purchase new NAVY gear, we said our goodbyes to Jon and headed home...he had to be back in his barracks by 8pm because he was set to leave for Pensacola bright and early the next morning.  So, basically, we all drove to Chicago to take Jon to lunch but it was so very worth it to be there, spend a few hours with him, and show him so much love and support!  Only thing that could have made the weekend better is if my dad would have been there with us...but I know he's watching over him and telling anyone who will listen to "Can you believe this?!?" 

How many Smallie's does it take to figure out FaceTime?!

Now that he in Pensacola, FL for "A" school, he has his phone and computer back and we are able to talk to him whenever we want. The kids love to FaceTime him and they send him lots of texts :)  We're hoping that he will have some time to come home after he finishes A would be extra nice if it were during Thanksgiving or Christmas, but we'll take whatever we can get!


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