Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

I have not lost a soldier to war. I am lucky like that.... But I do have a wonderful spouse who is a soldier and knows that at anytime he could be informed that his unit is deploying and he will have to go with them. So on this Memorial Day, I choose to memorialize my husband, my soldier, my Hero.

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This is Owen squeezed into one of those little quarter car rides.... Owen is tall. Almost 6'5 worth of tall.

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This is Owen and one of his best friends. Her name is Annie. She just got out of the Army. The funny thing about this is that at the time of this picture.... if you had asked Owen if he would ever have enlisted... he would have laughed hysterically and said a hearty "HELL NO!!!"

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This is a picture of Me, Owen and a person who shall remain nameless..... We were all on our way to The Renaissance Pleasure Faire in Southern California. We were not a couple yet, in fact he was casually dating both of us. What a pimp. About three weeks after this he tried to tell Nameless and me and the other chick he was casually dating that he was going to take a break from dating and get his head straight. I helped him with that and told him that since he had waited to dump me until last.... that he and I were not going to be stopping seeing each other, in fact we should become an exclusive couple. He attempted to protest, and within a week... we were a couple.

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A couple of months after we got together.... We were engaged by this point.... when you know, you know.

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This is us just outside of the little chapel that we were married at in Las Vegas. It was sunny, and hot, and yes I wore red.... I was about 4 months pregnant with Alexander. It seemed inappropriate to wear white.

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This is my parents and his parents and his grandmother. These are the only people we invited. We were supposed to have a big "real" wedding on our 5th anniversary. That was this year.... and I still don't even have a ring. In his defense... He has tried several times to buy me a ring... and I always tell him that it can wait cause we have bills to pay...

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This is us.... with towels on our heads.... His aunt gave them to us for a wedding gift. We are silly... it is part of what attracted us to each other.

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This is Owen playing Daniel Boone for out friend Annie Winston. She wrote a book called Heroical Storicals I dont remember if Owen got paid for this... but even if he didn't... She is our friend, and he would have done it no matter what. See little Alexander in his lap. He managed to play with Alexander and stay in character the whole time!

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This is Owen and Alexander at Alexanders first trip to the beach. I like to imagine that he was telling him a story about his first time at the beach.... but I have no idea.

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This is Owen with his very first set of piggy tails. I was feeling silly and he was feeling indulgent. He really is good to me. I even have a picture somewhere of him with a green clay masque on cause I was feeling oogie and he asked what would make me feel better and I said giving him a facial.

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Owen loves his children so much. I have tons of pictures of him sleeping curled up with one or more of his kids.

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Owen was working. He worked at Walmart, and it was right around the corner from our house. It was not uncommon for us to go visit him at work. Here he is playing "head butt" with Alexander.... He had Alexander trained that when he would say AAAAAAHHHHHH a certain way Alexander would headbutt him.

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Owen took many a trip around the livingroom of our apartment when he was helping Alexander learn to walk. He would walk around and around for hours. I thought it was wonderful.

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This is the boys dressed up as pirates for Halloween. I didnt dress up that year. I was ENORMOUSLY pregnant with Aeddon.

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Then Aeddon came and we were really happy.

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Or at least we were for about 2 weeks.... Then we were informed by Owen's boss that he was probably going to get laid off in the next month or two. They were making his position at New Horizons obsolete. Lucky for us that he was friends with his boss or we would have had no warning! So Owen started to look for jobs. One day he got a call from the Army recruiter. At the time the Army was using alot of civilian accounting people, and since that was what Owen was doing we thought that that was what they were calling for. We were wrong.

The Army had called to recuit Owen. He sat throught the whole meeting and asked alot of questions. He told the recuiter that he needed to go home and discuss things with me. We talked it over. He called and asked for the answers to questions that I had. Then one day I went in to meet with the recruiter too... But not for me to enlist. I wanted him to meet Owens family. I wanted him to see the kind of man he was trying to convince to enlist. By the end of the meeting I was ready for Owen to become a member of the US Army.

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So we rushed to get Aeddon baptisted.... and I shaved Owens head. I wanted to keep his hair. (I still have it in a ziploc bag in a memory box) Then we dropped him off at the recruiting office. It was the last time we would see him until we went to his Basic Training graduation.

Time went by and stuff happened, including a trip to the ER for Alexander after a babysitter did a cruddy job of watching him.... Then it was time to drive to Texas to move to El Paso so that we could be near by for Owen's AIT. Aeddon was only 6 weeks old when Owen left and I didnt want him to miss Aeddons entire first year of life.... So I moved without the Armies permission. (I made the right choice, cause due to some paperwork issues Owen didnt graduate from AIT unil 4 months after the time that he was supposed to originally graduate.)

This was the first time we saw him after he left:
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Can you find him? It took me a while too. It wasnt until Alexander loudly said "Daddy" into the silence of them standing there that Owen did something that made him visible to me. He smiled.

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Doesnt he look dashing in his Class A uniform?

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His family (minus Kester) came out for his graduation.

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I was very happy to see him. I missed him so!

And that is how we ended up a military family. My husband wanted to make sure that he could provide for us, so he did something he knew he would not like because he knew that the Army would never let us be homeless and would never let us starve to death. Even now he is still doing it. He missed being home with us this year for Memorial Day because he is at school becoming an LVN so that he will be less likely to deploy to a warzone. It could still happen, but it will be less likely. And if that is not being a hero for our family I dont know what is.

So Owen, I love you and wanted you to know that YOU ARE MY HERO for all the things that you do to provide a good life for us, the family who loves you, whom you love too!

(by the way, I apologize for the cruddy quality of these pictures. They are pictures of pictures. These are all pictures taken with a film camera.... so they are all prints.... and since I dont have a scanner I had to take a picture of the pictures to use them.... sorry.)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Sea World...

Saturday was Sea World day. Anheuser-Busch owns Sea World. You wanna know why that matters? Because Anheuser-Busch is a big supporter of the military. So as supporters of the military, they give all military personnel three free passes a year. Along with those three free passes comes the ability to sign in up to 4 other people. SO WE GOT IN FOR FREE!!!!!!!!!!! All we had to pay for was parking.... which is good... cause Sea World is expensive and we are a family on a budget!

The first thing that we did while we were in Sea World (which I am now going to refer to as SW from now on cause I am tired of typing Sea World.... and I am not even through the first two paragraphs!) was take a picture with a shark.... well technically a person in a shark suit.

This is us... with a shark.... Aeddon could not accept that the shark was not going to eat him if he looked away... cause he is 2 and that is the kind of things that 2 year olds worry about.... and so he is not looking at the camera. Fine... the back of his head is cute too... time to move on.

Then we headed over to see the clydesdales.

This is Alexander watching a horse get a bath.
He loved the horses! We thought that we were gonna have to pry him off that fence with a crow bar!

After the Clydesdales... we saw the dolphins. They were so fat! They live in this relatively small tank and they spend their whole day eating fish out of the hands of tourists. Wait... you wanna see the dolphins? Ok... fine.


Then we started to head to the "reef" part of SW.... on the way I believe I saw one of the least intelligent parents I have ever seen...
See that little girl??? Well her parents convinced her to go try to pick the wild squirrel up so that they could take a picture! AAAAGHHH! You don't pick up a wild animal. One, they could attack you.... and two, they could be carring disease ridden fleas! Or they could be carring rabies! So as we passed them I said loudly "Dont touch the squirrel. It could have rabies!" and kept walking.

The reef area was pretty neat. We saw alot of cool things... including feeding time in the aquarium.

Then towards the end of the area... was a critter that didn't make any sense to me...
Yep. Those are poison dart frogs. What the heck are they doing at SW????

Then we let the boys play for a while...

The boys wanted to go on a roller coaster. So we went to the only ride that they were able to go on... It was a really cute little roller coaster where you ride in the back of a little shamu.
This is Mikaela protesting because she wanted to go on the ride with Daddy.... which is pretty funny, cause at the last minute Aeddon panicked and refused to go on the ride unless I went with him. So Owen stood at the bottom of the ride and took our picture and I went on with Aeddon. Alexander rode in a whale all by himself!

After the fun of the coaster... we decided to let the boys play on the climbing area built for kids. The boys wanted me to go with them. So I did. I got a friction burn on each knee. I also got this really cute picture of my boys!

After they played... we accidentally stumbled on the sea lion show. They were THE BEST TRAINED SEA LIONS WE HAVE EVER SEEN!!!
The show was really cute and included a walrus doing sit-ups!

Then Owen insisted that we go to my favorite part of SW. THE PENGUIN HOUSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! All the pictures came out really badly... cause Owen's camera is just not designed to take pictures in a dark setting.
I had a hard time being able to tell in the dark... but I am pretty sure that the first picture is of King Penguins. The second one was easier to tell. That is a Chin-strap Penguin swimming around.

The kids each decided that they wanted a penguin toy... and it is not like I was going to protest! I also got a really amazing bowl. It looks like a penguin... and the belly is the bowl part and is big enough for dip!
SO CUTE! I was also pleasantly suprised because when I asked how much it was... (it is a handpainted ceramic bowl after all...) I was expecting her to say something like $35 dollars (which was all of my souvenier money). Instead she said $10 dollars and I almost exploded!

Then we booked it over to the shamu show. Here are the highlights of that.... the full set of all of these pictures is, as always, on my flickr page.

Mikaela and Aeddon loved the show...
Alexander was actually upset at the end of the show... It turns out that he had wanted to be a "whale guy" at the show (the rest of the world would call them trainers) and was upset and hurt that this had not happened... So Owen being the brilliant man that he is... decided to take Alexander over to talk to the trainers! He got to ask them what it would take for him to be a "whale guy" when he grew up.
I could have kissed this man! He stood there and very patiently explained to Alexander that he had the heart to be a trainer someday, but that he would need to learn to be a really great swimmer and that he would have to get really good grades in school and that he would have to go to college and get a degree in whales and dolphins (since the Orca Whale is not actually a whale, but is in fact the largest of the ocean dolphin family). He also told him that he would have to get good grades when he got his degree so that SW would hire him. Now normally I wouldn't have thought anything of this... but as soon as we got back to El Paso Alexander asked me to take his "School Posters" off the wall so he could study. One is the alphabet and one is the numbers from 0 to 31. I did take them down for him for a little while and then he asked me to put them back on the wall. Today he told me that he wanted to show me his new trick. I sat in my chair and he stood on a diningroom chair and pointed to random numbers on the poster and told me what they were. He only got 2 wrong on the whole poster! Then he went over to the alphabet poster and tried really hard to do the same thing there too! He got about 15 of them right and the rest wrong... but he has never come close to this before!

Ok so now that I have taken a break to get over feeling weepy about my big boy learning so much cause of something a stranger told him.... back to the SW story.

After Shamu... we went and fed the ducks and Flamingos for a while... then we went to go watch the Journey To Atlantis ride for a while. Alexander really wanted to go play in the huge splash area from the ride... so we did...
Alexander had a great time playing in the wall of water that comes from the ride...
Then Owen had a very evil plan.... see little Miss Mikaela wanted to go play in the puddles... and she did not understand (um hello she is one!) that to do so would mean that she was right in the path of the 10 foot wave. So Owen, knowing that I had the camera and my Voyager on me, let her go play in the puddles. He said that he was going to run out and grab her as soon as the boat thing began to go down the huge drop so that he would have her out of the way of the water when it came. HE LIED!!!!

This is my baby girl innocently looking at all the water...
By the time I realized he had lied... it was to late... I had no chance to stop the inevitable... so I took a picture instead.... see that white in front of her? That is the water coming at her.
And this is what happens when an unsuspecting 1 year old is hit with a 10 foot high wall of cold water. Owen is really an ass sometimes.
this is him trying to convince her that he is sorry. Notice that she doesnt look like she believes him? That is my girl!
So then I told him that he had to go stand in it while I gave Mikaela some consolling chi-chi milk. (seriously I dont think she is ever gonna ween and with Owen not here... I dont have the heart to force her to...)

Father son bonding.... for the record... Alexander wanted to stand in the water with dad...

I dont have a single good explination for that... Honestly. I know it was something about keeping his belly from feeling cold...

The trees at SW had a serious infestation of Spanish Moss.... so of course... Owen had to put some in my shirt and take a picture.
thanks honey.

Owen and the boys went on a ferris wheel after that....
Except for one thing... once the ride started, Alexander panicked and had to get off. Aeddon, On the other hand, wanted to do it again.
Mikaela and I sat the ride out and ate freeze dried strawberries instead...

Then we headed for the exit... On the way we found this:
A coffee mug that not only has penguins, but that is also done in purples and black!
OMG!!! I am in heaven. So we bought it... because if we had not bought it I would probably have cried.

On the way out of the parkinglot we took a picture of this:
Yep. I want it. Owen says that when we live somewhere where it snows in the winter that I can get one and put it up for the snowy season..... Does it snow in Tacoma?

Well that was our trip to SW in a (relative) nutshell... I will post about the rest of the trip some time tomorrow. It is after midnight and I am getting sleepy. Goodnight all!