Monday, April 25, 2011

In Memoriam……….

Well, here I sit………another day in the ‘stan. This last week marked the 22nd anniversary of my dad’s passing. As I spent extra time this week thinking about him I also had the opportunity to think about how my life might have been different had this accident not happened. For those that don’t know my dad was killed in a tractor accident when I was 14. It is unbelievable to me how certain events are ingrained into your memories…….I can remember exactly where I was sitting (computer room at Calvin HS), what I was doing (making posters to run for FFA Sentinel). I remember seeing my uncle Jerry’s car parked in front of the school with the passenger door standing open and thinking, that’s odd. I remember being taken to Mr. Turpin’s office and being told by Jerry what had happened. I remember everyone crying……..except me. I just don’t think I knew how to process it…… least that’s how I remember it……

We didn’t have what I’d call a normal father-son relationship…….I mean, I knew he loved us but he never said it……..he had expectations for us and held us accountable to them. There was never any excuse for not having chores done…….but there were consequences! They usually involved the belt or paddle that was kept hanging in the kitchen! Lord forbid if we were outside because all manner of “corrective attitude adjustment” tools were available…….just use your imagination! By the time he passed I was getting big enough that when I heard something like “this hurts me more than you” I’d think REEAALLYY…….somehow I doubt that. While I am a proponent of a good butt whipping now and then, my kids have never had one. It might sound strange but we really have never had a reason to spank them……besides, I have at least one that would much prefer a good old fashioned butt whipping instead of the punishments the Mominator comes up with!
First of all, let me be perfectly clear. I certainly wish my dad was still here. One of my greatest sources of sadness stems from the fact that he never got to meet his grand kids……..nor they meet him. While my dad was nowhere near perfect, and far from it by most standards, he would have been a great grandpa and absolutely loved kids. While he was more apt to not “spare the rod” I know that he was simply trying to make us better than he was. He was a black sheep that did his own thing without much regard to what people thought. He never graced the doors of the church but made sure we did. He would spend time putting a new roof on it but would never be attending. He loved to fish…….I loved running trot lines with him in Caney creek……he was also maybe the most impulsive person I ever knew………totally random. If there was any planning in his life I never saw it…….not unusual to have him come home from work and say, pack a bag, we’re going on a trip. I guess that is maybe where I inherited this trait…… is one that drives my wife crazy… case you didn’t know I am a people person……….I love being around people and going non-stop. A relaxing weekend at home? No thanks………give me 47 things to do and no time to do it and I’m good. Household 6 on the other hand loves nothing more than chilling at the house all day…….every day……makes me tired just thinking about it. Guess I’m just too easily bored. I love my family but have to be on the move…..

While thinking about my dad I also spent some time thinking about my mother. I’ll preface these comments with a warning: Please don’t think I’m cold or uncaring. My mother died when I was 4 years old. She had a sudden case of Toxic Shock Syndrome. My biggest concern is this: If I didn’t have pictures I wouldn’t even know what she looked like……..does that make me broken? The #5 is 5 years old……..if something happened to me I can’t imagine that she wouldn’t remember who I was. But I don’t have a single memory of my mother…….I don’t know her birthday, or the day she died…..(I mean, I have them written down but don’t KNOW them)…..I don’t know the sound of her voice or things she enjoyed doing….…it seems like that would make me a terrible person but I just don’t FEEL anything there………so odd. While I’m not an expert on anything I guess it just a way that the mind blocks, i.e., protects us from tragic events.

These tragedies also forced us to cross paths with Jenny and James that offered us the opportunity to become who we are today. They absolutely put their lives on hold and finished raising us. I certainly wish I could go back and do some things differently……I was not the easiest teenager to deal with. No crazy stuff but it was hard to go from basically having no supervision to a lot of supervision……I regret I was hard headed and caused them any grief…….

While I know that everything happens for a reason, (God’s Will) I can’t help but think what my life would be like had these events not happened. While I don’t understand why they did, I’m grateful for the life I have now. I have an eternal companion that loves me when I least deserve it. I have 6 great kids who try to live their lives to a standard that others cannot understand. They are my greatest joy. I have found the Gospel of Jesus Christ in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This gospel allows me the opportunity to be sealed as an eternal family to them, as long as I keep the commandments and covenants I make with Him. I wish I could be a better missionary. To be able to open my mouth and tell my friends and family what blessings are available to them would be a great tool. I don’t know why it is so hard to do this seemingly simple task. Deep down I think it’s because I don’t want to offend anyone. Belief in God is a powerful subject that can easily create division between those that believe me, I have first hand experience with this one.... I mean, we all, regardless of our religion of choice, think we have it right……I guess I just hope that the example we set will help to plant seeds that others will be curious about. I also think that it is hard to share because I understand the level of commitment required to change… is not easy. We don’t “practice” on Sunday and “play” the rest of the week. The church is who we are…… defines us. We try to live as an example of Him every day. And it’s hard……..but is so worth it. The best people I’ve ever met, and the lives I most try to emulate are those friends I met in church…….average, hard working folks that live every day to the best they can……..they never have a bad word to say about anybody and will drop everything to help out someone else………while I haven’t made much progress on the “never a bad word” thing I do try……ok, enough about that…

I’m down to 10 weeks left is this hole………am so ready to be home. Making some plans for some summer travels (assuming my leave gets approved). Shaping up to be about 3 weeks’ worth of road tripping…… good times. Be better if I had a big motor home instead of the mini-van but such is life.
Going to see some family……..both blood and church :-) family……..hit some church historical sites, D.C, NY, KS, CO, OK then back home……..good stuff. After 3 weeks on the road in a minivan with 6 kids I probably better bookmark this page so I can remind myself that it is good times…..

Well, ‘bout all for now……..I need to get to work and try to earn some of my check.

Somebody needs to remind me just why we are here in this crap-hole country……….

God bless and love to all,

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Halfway there........

Well, just crossed the halfway point of this deployment and I have to say that the time has flown by…….probably just jinxed myself but such is life.

I have stayed extremely busy here inspecting a lot of ammunition and helping the soldiers out. I work with a great bunch of troops and they have made the tour enjoyable.

Afghanistan is……..interesting. I’m surprised at just how desolate this place is. While I’m not a political expert I just don’t understand why we are here. Because our leaders tell us to be I guess. You know “because I said so” quit working for me when I was about 12 years old or so……is frustrating to not understand the big picture. It is more frustrating to be surrounded by our troops who have no idea why we are here either. Until the local population decides to stand up to the Taliban and fight for the way of life they want I just don’t see how we can expect to win. I’m not sure what “winning” means. I see no prize here. There is my 2 cents………I’m just honored to be assisting and serving alongside the finest troops any country has to offer. They ask so little and far too many have made the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf.

I simply cannot believe how much Elizabeth has grown in the 3 months I’ve been gone. This will prove to be the hardest part of this deployment and the thing I’ll regret the most. This is simply time that I’ll never get back. She will be 8 months old when I get home and have no idea who I am. Makes me sad……..I love my kids so much and am blessed to have them in my life.

They are so much better than I ever thought about being. The old saying is you pay for your raising but I’m certainly not……..they are far better than the example I have set for them and am grateful for my wife who makes it all happen. I make sure we have a house………..she makes sure we have a home. And I’m forever grateful.

What to report………..actually everyday here is like the movie “Groundhog Day”. Every day is basically the same……….I get up at 0630 and head out to the BLST area to check in. I check my “Theater” email address then head back across post for breakfast. After eating I head out to the office………..which is inside an expando van, which if you don’t know what that is it’s basically a big box truck with slide outs. Throughout the day its inspecting ammunition and explosives and helping the units store their assets safely. This is proving to be more of a challenge than I’d hoped…………they simply don’t like a civilian telling them what to do with their ammo. Takes some time to develop some trust but after that it works pretty smooth. I skip lunch and work straight thru………..usually get off between 6-7 PM and then head down to the chow hall to eat………off to the shower then hit some Facebook or maybe watch a movie on the laptop. Then do it all over again……….and again…………and again, you get the hint. Every once in a while I hop a helicopter or plane and head out to the outlying FOB/COP (Forward Operating Base/Combat Out Post and look at the ammo out there. Nice to break the monotony of the daily routine but don’t really enjoy going out there………this is where the fight is and as a civilian I’m considered a “non-combative”……..(tell that to the Taliban)..… no weapons for me……… access to an Army’s worth of ammunition but no weapons. Would be nice to be able to defend myself should the need arise.

As I get ready to wind down I’m super excited to get home. Tracy has (as always) handled the house and kids with no issues. She is an amazing woman that God has blessed me with………..she has every quality that a Christ-like woman should have. It sounds corny but she NEVER has a bad word to say about anyone……….I just don’t think she has it in her to be hateful. Glad I can help fill that void for her! I can usually find the negative if given 10 seconds or so……….is a skill I’ve developed over the years and helps to add some balance in our lives!

Wow………I just scored………we have a soldier passing thru for a few days crashing in our tent………..he has pictures of a huge ammunition fire we had here in theater a few weeks ago……..I just scored 160 nighttime ammunition fire pictures………these come in super handy when I’m giving classes to the troops. Sorry........random man strikes again........

What do I miss the most? Would have to be Tracy and the kids no question………but on a side note I miss the radio……..for those that don’t know me I love music. Just about anything except heavy metal crap……..I want to have the window down and the tunes jamming. I miss hot water in the shower and cold ice water from the fridge………..sounds juvenile right? Oh well, it’s the little things I guess.

So what to report from the home front……….Kylee and Ryan are both playing baseball… 4 nights a week. Jordan and Paris are staying busy with Young Women’s at church and the normal teenage girl stuff (whatever that is) James Dean made the high school golf team and plays all the time. He also has a full time job lined up at scout camp this year working staff. Will be a great experience for him to get out of the house and on his own a little bit. Hopefully this will help prepare him for his mission.

Tracy’s brother Michael and his wife Lisa have come out to North Carolina and moved in to help Tracy while I’m gone………though I’m not really sure she needs help. They have been a blessing to her and have accomplished a lot since they been there. Michael has a sweet computer gig that allows him to work anywhere he can get an Internet connection.

Well, time to go to bed………past time actually.

So ready to get home……..see the family and we even had some great friends from Korea move in across the street………will be great getting to know them better.

Come on July………….

God Bless You All!


Monday, January 3, 2011

Turning the page.....

Well, here we are again.....starting a new chapter in our life. It honestly never ceases to amaze me how compatible my family is with change.

Over the past year there have been many changes inside the walls of our home.
For starters I was offered a promotion and a change of duty location and we have moved to North Carolina for the opportunity to support the mighty 82 Airborne Division headquartered at Fort Bragg. Along with this opportunity came some interesting challenges, not the least of which is mandatory mobility, which in simple terms means I will now be deploying to Afghanistan, Iraq and other sunny, sand filled locations in support of the finest soldiers in the US Army. While this undoubtedly creates stress at home I truly consider it an honor to serve and to have the chance to do my part for a great nation. As I type (i.e. chicken-peck) these words I sit in a hotel outside Washington D.C. prepping to head downrange for 6 months. Having to tell my wife and kids goodbye has opened my eyes and helped me appreciate our troops a lot more......these young families are truly making a great sacrifice to deploy on a regular basis......

Along with the obvious move from South Korea, which was a mess as well we have been welcomed into our new home and are making an attempt to settle back into a "normal" life.....not so sure there is such a thing for us.

We have welcomed baby number 6 into our family this November as well........Elizabeth GraceLynn was born on the 13th.......she has been a great blessing to us and an answer to many prayers. She has a great challenge living up to her cousin outstanding lady, mother and daughter that we all miss very much. If she can have half of the sense of humor and absolutely positive outlook on life that Liz had then she will touch and bless the lives of many......

James Dean has turned 16 and has his permit.....Paris at 15 should have hers any day. Jordan is growing into a beautiful young woman and will be in high school this next year. Ryan is as outspoken and utterly shameless as always.......he is more than willing to break out in song and/or dance at any given time......his disco fever moves are something to behold. My little Kylee is such a princess and loves school.....and Elizabeth......well lets just say it will be a happy day when she decides to sleep.

We are slowly getting situated in our new church home......I'm working with the scout troop and Tracy has just been called as a Primary Teacher for the 11 year olds.......busy as always.

As I sit here with the realization that I will be apart from my family for 6 long months I struggle to understand why my path has led where it has.......I will truly miss Tracy and the kids......they are such a blessing in my life and to be separated from their influence and example will be hard but with my faith and belief in the promise of an eternal family I understand that the Lord has a plan, and if we will keep the promises and covenants that we have made then he must bless all is well.

I'll attempt to keep a log of rambling thoughts as I progress towards and thru this deployment.......I wish I has the commitment to keep a journal because I know it would be a blessing for those family members yet to come but I think this is as close as I'll get.

God bless and stay safe........James

Monday, November 29, 2010

Greetings from North Carolina!

Big updates......sorry it has been a while. Too addicted to Facebook I guess.....I'll log in later and bring you up to speed on the last year or so!
God Bless.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Hello.......Is it me your looking for???

Howdy all,

Sorry I've not wrote but such is the busy life.

Let me try to catch you up:
Christmas has came and went and was a great time had by all. We did the standard early morning get-up with presents for all. Due to the ever increasing homework load Santa brought the older 3 laptops. This has eased the "up till 11:30 PM waiting to do homework" problem that we have endured since arriving in Korea. It is unbelievable to me how much of their work is done over the computer. To be honest I never even see a pencil or a notebook........

And yes......I was born to be a drummer in a rock band......

We had the Branch Christmas dinner: complete with Santa.......

We had a crowd over to the house for a Mexican dinner before Christmas as well. It is good to get together with folks outside of work and socialize a little bit......we had the missionaries, co-workers, our landlord and his wife, some friends from church and one of the kids favorite teachers. Was a full house!

The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders also came to visit Area IV during the Christmas season and Jordan got to go up on stage!

We had Youth Conference in Seoul the week after Christmas which was a joint event with a Korean Stake so that was interesting. Very challenging getting the kids to interact with one another......the Korean youth are pretty out going but ours.....not so much, but fun was had by all I think. FYI: The human knot is a great "get-to-know-you" ice breaker game. They will be up close and personal afterwards.....

Tracy and I are still making the trip to Seoul to work in the Temple the first Saturday of every month. This has been a challenge but also a blessing. We have learned so much by participating in this service. Added bonus is getting to see the Hardy's and Jordan on the monthly treks.

I spent New Years Day on the bike. Took a nice ride up Apsan Mountain here in Daegu. Was a cold but beautiful day.

We took the church youth down for some ice skating for one our Wednesday night activities and also just had a "Fear Factor" night with them. We have a great bunch of youth that I enjoy working with.
This couple of shots is them all crammed into the elevator after skating.....

We have been busy every Saturday for the last 2 months with Ryan's CYS basketball. They play 2- 20 minute games and no one keep score. Guess you could say I'm not a real fan of the system. Just found out that the parents are buying trophies for the players......what?!?
I'm assuming they will be participation trophies since no scores were kept. Again......I'm not a fan. Not that I don't think our children should be rewarded, but why not keep scores and reward the WINNERS? Guess we play in the Obama league......everybody's a winner kids! We will give awards to all regardless of their contributions or efforts! Just like real life right? Let's face it.....some people are no good at sports......some are no good at math. Shouldn't those people that excel be given some extra accolades? It is a tremendous disservice to reward all equally, because some simply don't care and refuse to put out any effort. It's no wonder youth today have no work ethic.....why should they.....they will be given the same reward as the kids who worked hard for it. We are setting our kids up to fail, mark my words.

Hang on a minute.....gotta climb down off this soap box.

There, now where was I......

February has been a busy month as well.

District Temple Day on the 6th, Lunar New Year on the weekend of the 13th.....basically is Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year all rolled into one for the Koreans......interstates become parking lots as folks head back home for the holiday which is Korea's largest. We found a little time to squeeze in some Tollett family ice skating.......

We had our Annual Cub Scout Blue and Gold Banquet on the 19th which was a great event but as the Cubmaster am glad to have behind me. The 20th the Cubs set up in the PX and had a bake sale and sign-ups for an Adult Pinewood Derby competition that we will hold in March. Was an extremely successful day. The generosity of our little military community in support of our Cubscouts is amazing.

Next weekend is District Conference so I've taken off work on Friday so we can head up to Seoul. Will visit the Temple on Friday night (I hope), then again on Saturday morning, Priesthood Leadership meeting in the afternoon, adult session that evening, then main session on Sunday.
Planning to hitch a ride on the free medical bus to Yongsan on Friday, then the KTX train back on Sunday.

Should be a great weekend with a chance to catch up a little with the Hardy's and Jordan's.

Tracy has been coughing like crazy for about 5 months now......been to the doctor several times with no luck yet. Please say a prayer for her to get rid of this.

Kids are all well........busy as always.

Have got word that we should get an early out from Korea this summer when the kids are out of school. This opportunity can not get here soon enough. I hate being chained to this desk staring at a computer all day.......I need some sun and fresh air!!!! If all goes as planned then we will roll back stateside when the kids are out of school for the summer......should be much easier to move while not in school. If by some outside chance I get offered a promotion, we will probably accept and stay on in Korea........not expecting that to happen though. Whatever the option it has to be out of this office!!!

Till next time: God Bless and much love from the Tollett family!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A chill is in the air.....

especially if the wife is making you ride your motorcycle in December......."you wanted it now you ride it" type of line......

Howdy all,
Did ya miss me?

Would love to tell you I had a great reason for not writing but I'm pretty much hooked on Mafia Wars on Facebook so I guess that is the culprit.

Business as usual for the Tollett's........super bust with Scouts (Boy and Cubs), James Dean has started basketball, Paris is in Drama, Tracy is volunteering at the school/church/library seems like everyday and I'm swamped as well.
Ryan was baptised in November.......we were planning to wait until Grandparents made it over but since their visit got pushed from Christmastime to Easter we decided to go ahead. He was so excited and is such a great kid!

Thanksgiving was good but sure not like home........just doesn't seem like Thanksgiving if your not laying bloated on the couch watching football.....the missionaries from our area had a zone conference on Thanksgiving day (yup, no holiday for Koreans) so the branch decided to provide a Thanksgiving dinner for all the missionaries in the zone......22 young men and women in all.........was a good time and a great meal, but not home.....
We have had a couple of birthdays last last few weeks........James Dean turned 15 and Paris 14 in the last couple of weeks......and twice in as much time I've heard the phrase "WORST BIRTHDAY EVER".......which to a parent is like CHECK: Mission complete! Because everyone knows that attempting to ruin our children's lives is just one of the simpler pleasures in life, right? Our kids live in the most prosperous times in history with never a dull or quiet moment and yet they complain........guess we all did!

I mean, at least they ain't milking cows before and after school. Now it's a travesty to have to unload the dishwasher.......A DISHWASHER?!?.......that's why our parents even had kids was to turn the channels on the TV (all 3 of them), and to wash dishes.......;-).

We thought that December would slow down a little but not yet.....last weekend we had a great time with the Hardy's as they came down and stayed the weekend. This coming weekend it is basketball game, drama competition, breakfast with Santa and scout gift wrapping fundraiser at the PX.

I have a new young man in the youth group so that brings my total up to 2 now woohoo! It's really not even fair........2 young men and will be 9 young women in a couple of weeks!

We have District Youth Conference up in Seoul the week after Christmas so that will be good.

We had the missionaries over for Family Home Evening on Monday to help decorate the Christmas tree.......we truly enjoy having these young men and women in our home! MEMBERS: If you are not feeding the missionaries weekly your are missing out on great blessings and a great opportunity to have the Spirit in your home!!!!

Can't believe that we have been here a year this has been flying by.

Planning on returning to the states next December unless I'm offered a sweet gig here (i.e. promotion, which is not likely). We truly do miss the family and friends!'s 10 PM and I'm now sitting here in the dark by myself. Guess I should call it a night.

Blessing to all and much love from the Tollett's........till next time!
P.S: I have to admit I hate trying to get my pictures to line up where I want them too.......Kimberly: ya'll need to make a trip over so I can get a tutorial......;-).

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Wow, over 2 months since my last post.....guess if you want to keep up with us you will need to get a Facebook account since that seems to be my preferred method these days.

All is well here on the home front....we are swamped as usual, but it is quiet at the moment.

Both girls are staying the night w/friends as well as James Dean, so I just hung out with Ryan and Kylee tonight. We scored some Wizard of Oz and Dora the Explorer while I baked bread......Cranberry Nut Bread to be exact.....Tracy is down sick so she went to bed early. She has never even used her bread maker but I'm becoming quite the chef. The second loaf of Cranberry is in the hot box now.....going to try my hand at Egg Bread when it's is 11:30 PM so I'll still be up awhile.

Since my last post Tracy and the kids have all made it home safe and sound after a long summer back in the states with the family. They had a good time and a good visit.....they spent time in Kansas, Oklahoma and Colorado.

The kids are slammed with school.....I cannot understand how there is so much homework.....Jordan needs a pack mule to haul all her books home everyday. I don't think I ever cracked a book and look and the incredible success I've attained!

Work is good, we have got our new guy in and he has hit the ground running so life is good......we stay plenty busy but he has lessened the load significantly.

I scored a nice motorcycle a couple weeks ago thanks to a very loving and awesome wife....really regretted ever selling my last one and missed riding. Will work my up into a Harley one of these days.....

Made the drive up to Seoul last weekend to attend the Temple and participate in a District Youth Event......had a temple visit on Friday night and a hike up a small mountain with about 25 Young Men/Women on Saturday. At least that is what it is called in Korea.....a hike.....where I come from it would be more likely called "mountain goat/Sherpa training". A hike is supposed to be a flat or rolling trail......if it requires a rope to grab onto to get yourself safely pulled up the looming rock face then that, I'm pretty sure is not a hike. But a great time was had by all......

I have a long weekend starting tomorrow.....this weekend is a Korean holiday, Chuseok , which is Korea's Thanksgiving. Basically we are on lock threat, but the mass exodus of people traveling back to visit their families creates gridlock on the freeways......normally a 3-4 hour drive to Seoul turns into about 10 hours. Basically a 150 mile long parking lot.....I'll pass.

Going to try to slip out into the mountains to take a ride this weekend.....this is a beautiful country.

Off work on Friday for the holiday and took leave on Monday to score a 4 day weekend!
Tomorrow is also Ryan's birthday so he has a full day planned out for us that sounds like it involves eating pizza down on the river and going swimming at the pool on Camp Walker.

Today is also the one year anniversary of my house in Kansas being on the market up for totally sucks that we can't get it sold, even after knocking $12,500 off the price.....we have not had a single hit or offer in this last year.......

Still staying super busy with scouts....Ryan is now a Wolf Cub and meets once a week and James Dean (who made his Eagle Scout) is also staying active and meeting once a week.

We had been mulling over extending our tour here but I think we have pretty much decided to pack it up and head back to the 'ol US of A when our time expires in Dec. 2010.....can't believe we have almost been here a year it has flown. We truly do love it here, but we need to get rid of the house and we would also like to settle in somewhere and let the older 3 graduate high school before moving on again. I figure we can make it work if I get sent back to a Depot in the might require me to make a trip to the sand box but we will see.....only time and the good Lord will tell.

Well, I'll throw up a gratuitous picture of me and the bike and one with the youth for now and wish whoever reads this good riddance and God Bless.

Signing off from Korea........for now.