It was a “Tough Mudder” kind of day

My Air Force son, Ricky, ran in his first Tough Mudder event ( on April 12, in northern California. One of the dudes in his squadron, the 60th Aircraft Squadron, organized a group of seven for Tough Mudder. They represented another great nationwide cause, Run for the Fallen (, which runs one mile for every service member killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

Since I have this “thing” about mud … I basically don’t like it … I was having a hard time understanding what was the big draw for the event. I mean … everyone is smiling in the photographs for Pete’s sake.

After a little Facetime with Ricky, I now totally get it. Ricky started off by proudly showing off his scraped and scratched-up knees. OK … so I showed off mine. The dog had pulled me down in the groomer’s parking lot the other day but I wasn’t exactly proud of my battered knees.

This is what I learned about Tough Mudder. Tough Mudder is a sponsor of Wounded Warrior Project. Mudders have raised over $6 million for the organization whose mission is to honor and empower Wounded Warriors. Since 2010, there have been over 100 Tough Mudder events all over the United States. 80% of the participants are teams and 78% of those that compete complete the race. So far, I’m pretty impressed.

The course on April 12, was located in Patterson, California, a small farming community. The course was 12 miles in length with 15 obstacles. Ricky and his group finished all the obstacles!

“I was worried about the monkey bars, the Chunky Monkey, because I have pencil arms, but I made it! I had two favorite obstacles. One was the Artic Enema. It reminded me of jumping into a wine chiller. The other was Walk the Plank, a twelve foot high dive into muddy water. I really like the water ones,” said Ricky.

There was also a buddy carry event, a log carry and a one called Killah Gorilla. Use your imagination on that last one. The whole event took their group 5-1/2 hours. It had water and food stations along the way and a beer tent at the end.

At the end, they give you a head band, t-shirt and beer. All in all I’d say Tough Mudder is Ricky’s new favorite thing to do … especially since he signed up for the next Tough Mudder event in Tahoe in August!

Most of the photographs were taken courtesy of Tough Mudder.

Almost home

Ricky on the flight lineIn less than thirty hot, dusty days our Air Force son will return to the states after his six-month deployment in the Middle East. Yep … his happy reunion with our daughter-in-law is finally in sight. His parents will have to wait until later this year to hug on him.

So far Ricky and Kate have missed spending together Turkey Day, Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, Easter, and next week, the anniversary of his birth. Which reminds me … I’ll never forget the size of his ginormous feet the day he was born. Seriously thought I’d birthed a Great Dane puppy … a very cute Great Dane puppy.

My husband and I FaceTime (Apple’s version of Skype) with Ricky every Sunday around the breakfast table before heading to church. It was during our lively chat about what Ricky will not miss … flies, sand and yucky-tasting chicken patties … that we changed the subject to his birthday. I’d already mailed his birthday package a few days before and learned I might be in trouble.

“Do you guys celebrate birthdays at the base?” I asked.

Of course, I totally knew there would be no Chuck E. Cheese or Ronald McDonald handing out slices of iced birthday cake. Those days are long gone … but not forgotten.

“Oh no … that is something you wanna keep secret. Around Christmas somebody found out one of the guys was having a birthday. You should see the picture of him tied to the basketball pole with Christmas lights,” Ricky laughed.

And the Christmas lights … they were turned on.

I didn’t tell him at the time … but maybe Ricky should be alone in his room when he opens his “birthday in a box” from his parents. Just saying.