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.

Never forget June 6, 1944

Last year we celebrated our 40th anniversary with a trip to Paris. We also inserted a trip to visit the beaches of Normandy. I mean … how could we not? Overlord Tours,, is the company that we used to book our 8-hour “Band of Brothers” Tour. Our tour guide picked us up at our hotel in Bayeux. Oliver was amazing in his knowledge of World War II history, storytelling, reverence … and dude … he had some amazing flip charts. If you are a fan of “Band of Brothers” this is the tour for you!!! We visited farm houses, a field full of cows where Dick Winters engaged the Germans and took out several cannon batteries, several small towns and churches where important things happened, a WWII museum, the American Cemetery, Pointe du Hoc and walked the beaches of Omaha and Utah where the American soldiers landed today … just 69 years ago.

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.

Buc-ee’s … a Texas treasure

On our way home from San Antonio to Houston we stopped at Buc-ee’s in Luling. It’s one of their flagship stores. They call Buc-ee’s a convenience store. Heck, they call it lots of things, but a convenience store doesn’t immediately come to my mind. It’s more like one of those special hometown places that has a lot of everything … gas, ice, snacks, Buc-ee’s t-shirts and other memorabilia, fishing and camping gear … probably even school supplies … but I could be wrong about that last one.

They are famous for their Beaver Nuggets which are caramel and butter-glazed corn puffs. I grabbed a large bag along with some BBQ glazed jerky.

“Ricky and I munched out on a bag when we drove out to California about a year back. The stuff is awesome,” my husband stated.

Honestly, I felt like a bee in the middle of a very busy hive walking through the place. The place was buzzing with people and goodies. There is a bakery counter with tasty-looking treats like pecan pie Kolaches, blueberry scones and an assortment of cookies. I loved the sign that read “Glad to heat your Kolache or pastry upon request.” Heck, they had me at Kolache.

There was a counter with a couple young ladies making all kinds of BBQ sandwiches. Hubby got the pulled pork and I ordered a turkey for the road. Wish we had the time to drive into Luling proper for some of their righteous BBQ but it was not to be.

Did you know Buc-ee’s is famous for the “Cleanest Restrooms in America?” I can attest to that one. First time I entered the restroom “Ode to Joy” starting playing in my head. There were tons of stalls with red and green lights signifying an “opening.” No more quick peeks under the door for a vacancy. And my stall had a pile of toilet paper rolls and hand sanitizer. Their billboard is really true … the “#1 reason to visit Buc-ee’s is #1 and #2.” A little cornball Texas humor … but it totally works.

Of course with billboard signs from Houston to Luling like “Ice, beer, jerky: The 3 Food Groups” and “If It Harms Beavers, We’re Against It,” we were destined for a pit stop. Besides, we have a son still stationed in the Middle East and Buc-ee’s was the perfect place to fill up his next care package with goodies. I even threw in some official Buc-ee’s napkins. A mom can’t be too sure with those sequestration cutbacks if the government is going to cut back on our airmen’s napkins. Just saying.

Brisket, ribs and sausage … oh my!

We are serious about our barbecue at the Frantz house. It’s definitely a Texas thang handed down through the ages. The photos are from last year’s family BBQ tour. Luling City Market is rated one of the top five in the state. I sincerely concur with Texas Monthly magazine’s assessment.

My husband … now he has some mean skills on the grill. My favorite is his brisket. Me … I am in charge of the sides. I make a downright righteous potato salad. Still working on my cole slaw.

It’s one of the things our son is missing at the moment. Ricky is in the Air Force and getting close to halfway through a six-month deployment in the Middle East. I’m not allowed to tell where exactly. Yep, but I’m keeping track of the days till his return on the chalkboard Santa got me for Christmas this year. Only 114 more days … but who is counting?

Thanks to modern technology, we FaceTime chat with Ricky every Sunday morning around the breakfast table, slurping juice and crunching breakfast cereal, before heading to church. This past week he had a request.

“Mom, I need some more barbecue sauce. I donated my last two bottles to our squadron’s New Year’s feast,” Ricky said.

When Ricky got there before Thanksgiving he mentioned the food was terrible.

“They boil all the meat. I don’t know why. The barbecue sauce will help mask some of the blandness,” said our son.

It’s why I mailed our son several more bottles of KC Masterpiece BBQ Sauce this week. I’m his official barbecue sauce supplier. Thought it was interesting when the postal clerk asked me if the box contained any perfume or liquids.

“Does barbecue sauce count as a liquid?” I glared, narrowing my eyeballs in his direction.

I knew the answer and wondered what he was going to do about it. After about thirty seconds he just shrugged his shoulders and stamped the package with postage. Guess BBQ sauce might be on the official liquid exemption list … or maybe he knew better not to mess with an airmen’s momma.

Now if I can just figure out how to mail Ricky one of his dad’s briskets …