It's our first time visiting "the Ranch" since my parents moved. Ya see, they pulled up steaks from Suburbia, Ohio last September to this 80 acre ranch in Olney (Middle of NOwhere), Texas where they have decided to retire. I've seen the pictures and heard the stories but being here definitely gives you a greater view of all the happenings! It almost ended up being a mini family reunion since my brother, Travis and his wife, Pam came out too (which by the way, they are expecting their first as well- with a due date only 2.5 weeks after mine). So us ladies hang out in the kitchen barefoot while the guys go out and shoot their guns.. haha- you think I'm kidding. Here are some of the highlights via photojournalism so far!
John and I with the horses
Trav, testing his riding skills
Sporting my Way Cool Boots!!!
The Old Crotchety Cowboy
My handsome Prince
Trav was showing me some tricks to his camera so I was enjoying working with the aperture setting and I somehow managed a pretty good shot to be proud of. Captured in the picture to the right is Mitzi, the kitten.
Well, I'm 34 weeks pregnant today... that's 6 weeks till my ultra cool due date (8/8/08)- but I'm not so much a believer that Riley will have his birthday on August 8th... What's the likelihood- really? I do plan on walking like 5 miles the day before just in case he's ready to make his presentation to the world! Anyway, here are some progression pics through my pregnancy so far... I feel like in the last 3 weeks or so, I (or he) have really grown! I don't know where I have room to grow these last several weeks, but we will find out!
To get married- that is. We left San Diego Saturday morning in order to make it to this wedding. AB, a guy in John's squadron here at Luke who was actually the reason we went up to Patch night for Weapons School since he was a new graduate, tied the knot on Saturday evening. He's had quite a busy 2 weeks- with graduation then the following weekend his wedding! Anyway, John and I had a great time at the wedding hanging out with the other squadron peeps. I think pictures tell the story of the night better than I can, so without further adieu...
As my previous post alluded to, this month is crazy!!! Every weekend is jam-packed with places to go and people to see, and the past weekend was definitely no exception! In fact, we began our weekend early to fit it all in! On Wednesday morning, we drove out on the 10- such a boring, desert highway, to get to our beachy destination, San Clemente, CA. We had planned on going to San Diego as a last hurrah (a babymoon- some say) before it gets far more complicated to travel (so I'm told) with the coming baby. However, in the midst of our planning, John's brother- Matthew invited us out to Camp Pendleton (just north of San Diego) for his graduation from Scout Sniper school with the Marine Corps. It was important to John, so we rearranged our plans and made it a combine family visit/vacation trip! We got there around noon on Wednesday, just in time to enjoy our packed picnic on the beach and take a leisurely stroll along the shoreline. We had to chuckle along the way as we were noticing all the beachfront houses and many of their foundations were exposed due to the receding land line and the efforts taken to maintain solid ground under them. It reminds me of a Casting Crowns song which lyrics state "I'd take a shack on a rock over a castle in the sand" referring to a persons foundation being in Jesus (the rock) over material things (like sand) that will eventually cause instability as these houses are quickly learning. It's a point of annoyance for John and I, as we see these homes built on cliffs without thought of what will happen with the house falls into the ocean since it will be up to us (the tax payers) to buy them another million dollar house on probably another doomed yet scenic cliff. Oh well... Such is life. Thursday was the graduation which was quite short and sweet. Matthew is now equipped among the best of the best in the Marines! We had another beach day, this one with the rest of the family and friends, and afterwards headed down to San Diego where we stayed at my cousin's vacant house. Friday was our Sea World day and we roamed the park from show to show to catch all the marine life and their tricks. It definitely makes me wonder what I was thinking when I chose my major and why I didn't get into something like being a dolphin trainer... Sure, that's every kids dream but seriously- I love animals almost to a detriment. You see, I believe that I can pretty much pet any animal because surely they will be able to detect that I am an animal person and I mean them no harm. Quick story: I knew someone who basically owned their own zoo, equipped with monkeys, wolves, lions... the works! Well, one day they had to sedate the wolves to separate the babies (now grown) from the momma and I recall cautiously and respectfully reaching out to pet the pacing male wolf... and by the way, he didn't snap at me and he did at others! John, on the other hand... He gets pecked at by birds and snarled at by dogs and I think it's because they can sense a person's heart for animals (John's not so much an animal lover). So because of my love for animals plus I've always had a fascination with water, I'd be perfect for the job. Well too late for that, but we enjoyed watching the training of the killer whales and dolphins. Alison and Matthew (John's brother and wife) fed the seals and sea lions and after a bit, they, too headed back to the LA area leaving John and I to our own devices! We finished out our day at Sea World then retreated back to the house to take a COLD shower (it was a very hot and sunny day in San Diego) and relax before dinner. We pulled up stakes Saturday morning to head back to Phoenix to make it to a friend's wedding (will post next).
It was another busy weekend, but this one started on Thursday for us. John and I packed up the car and headed up to Vegas on Thursday for the Thursday night festivities of Patch Night. You see, the Weapons School teaches pilots (and even some Intel guys) to be the absolute best at their jobs upon being selected to go to the highly competitive and sought after school. After six months of intensity and sleep deprivation, the celebrations are almost as intense. This Patch night that we came for was the kick off party since the new graduates had just received their coveted patch just hours prior. So the Nellis O'Club became the place to be once the formality and private celebration for just the graduates was finished around 9pm. I've never seen so many men in flight suits in one place in my life!!! Most of them, of course I've never seen and did not know but there would be the occasional (actually happened a lot) familiar face popping up out of the crowd! Among the best surprises, we got to see a good friend from John's B-Course days, "Dubs" Lord. And for my own pleasure, I was able to reconnect with some of the wives that I haven't seen in ages! I wish I had more pictures to show, but unfortunately I must have been a little camera shy that night. It was quite the experience and I've heard about it and finally got to see what all the hype is about. I went back to our room around 1:30am with the party still going strong, and John didn't join me till after 3am! I think he had a good time catching up with all his "bros."
Our stay was only a short one and we drove back home Friday morning. Saturday was filled with errands, which by the way... our cell phone numbers are about to change since we're finally (and thankfully) dumping Sprint and joining the Verizon network. I may do a separate blog on that later. We held an impromptu barbecue that night... Why not?? We love our back yard! So we got to visit with friends, which is always a good time! Sunday was our lake day. Our buddy, Fuge has an awesome ski boat and goes out every Sunday. We got the invite and luckily everything worked out perfectly since my girlfriend from college, Andrea was in town as well. Fuge had a couple extra seats so Andrea and her friends she was visiting in the East Valley met us at Lake Pleasant for a day in the HOT sun surrounded by COOL, clear water! We got to the far end of the lake when we were so hot (seriously, it was 113 degrees out) that we all unloaded off the boat to jump into the water that had been calling to us. As we were happily floating about, Fuge went to start the boat back up when the ignition switch busted. So the guys spent some time, tools out, trying to fix the switch- when I heard whining coming from the shore nearby. Fuge's dogs are great boat dogs and go with him every time.. In fact, they are such experienced boaters that they have learned that when they have to go potty, they actually jump off the boat, swim to shore and do their business there. Well, Black Dog (really is his name) was wandering around on the shore when some Cholla Cacti found his paws. When he came into view, he had a ball of cacti on his nose, on his front right paw and back left paw (as well as in the mouth from trying to bite away some of the needles from his paws)! Poor guy! So the boys jumped off and swam out, pliers in hand to help him out. They were working on Black Dog for a good 15 minutes as we watched from the boat. Reece, the chocolate who is in love with Fuge, had to be beside him so she swam out and watched with a front row view, which spelled disaster. She ended up stepping in the cacti that they pulled off of Black Dog, then nipping at it and swatting with another paw, also got needles in the nose and toes. So as soon as they were done with Black Dog, then it was Reece's turn to get the attention... So needless to say, we got a lot of floating time. And unfortunately, by the time they were done with picking needles out of dogs, the friendly boaters nearby who saw our trouble offered to tow us back to the doc. As much as it seemed to be a disaster, we all still had a good time (well with exception of the dogs, I presume) and I was able to bring Andrea and her friends back to my side of town, cook up some burgers, take a dip in the pool and send them on their way!
The month of June has been and will continue to be an extremely busy month for us! Every weekend is reserved for some big event and in the last week I have been in 3 states for different happenings. First I'll catch up with last weekend and hopefully I'll get pictures of this past weekend's party before next weekend. So last weekend, my parents drove through and picked me up as we went up to my cousin, Gwen's wedding in San Francisco. There are 3 girls belonging to my dad's sister... Two of them are red heads and unmistakably sisters and the other, a brunette. The two red-heads always told the brunette that she was from outer space since she looked so different from them.. Then there's me and my brother, which has led me to believe that our parents switched Gwen and Travis at birth since it's obvious that Trav is supposed to be in their family of red heads and Gwen and I look more alike- other family members get us mixed up from a distance. So anyway- the wedding was beautiful and very traditional. It was an Orthodox wedding, which is rich in symbolism and everything happens 3 times... Rings blessed three times, crowns switched three times, walk around the alter three times.. you get the picture. Then the reception was unlike any I've been to, with a mingling of cultures. Gwen's new husband, Hani was an immigrant with his family in the late 70's from Palestine. They are amazing people and have done everything to make a life for their family and proudly call the US of A home! So the music was a mixture of what I know of as the normal reception music- from "Come on Eileen" to Usher singing "Yeah" and interlaced was traditional Arabian music that actually had a pretty cool beat to move to. It was a whirlwind trip since we drove up, stayed for a day and a half and drove home.
While I was up in Northern California, John was able to get himself into a camping trip with some of our church friends. They headed up to Fossil Springs which is up north of Payson, AZ. Typically John and I enjoy the backpacking trips, where we pack everything we need and hike into a secluded area where we can enjoy nature at it's finest, seeing not a soul but the people we hiked in with. This time was more of, what we like to call car camping. They set their tents up in designated camp sites with tons of other campers around, but based on the area John came back with nothing but rave reviews! He described the water as crystal clear and by the pictures I saw, it looked amazing! He coaxed our dog, Cana to jump off a 7 foot cliff into the water, which apparently was a pretty big hit among all the other campers.
8:04am- John called his SOD contact to confirm the delivery set up for that evening. Contact confirmed.
4:52pm- Chey left the house last to go out with the girls for dinner and then meet up with the husbands at the O-Club after the Student Naming. No SOD yet.
8:12pm- John calls his work crew (buddies) to confirm a 7am start to escape the 100 degree temps.
10:46pm- John and Chey round the corner to our street when it's quite obvious there is still NO SOD!!!
10:48pm- Angry and confused, John and Chey got back into the car and drove around the neighborhood and surrounding neighborhoods to see if it was mistakenly dropped off somewhere else.
11:11pm- John disappointingly text his "work crew" to let them know that the SOD wasn't delivered and the next morning was not solid.
11:23pm- Bed time.
SATURDAY, MAY 31
2:06am- Out on the lawn there arose such a clatter!! Chey sprang from the bed to see what was the matter. Robed and tip-toeing through the dark night, when into plain view was the SOD rolled up tight!
2:08am- Chey and John happily returned to bed.
5:53am- Ring, Ring!!! "It's Notch- isn't it?" "Hey Notch!.... Sure you can borrow a bike.... OK, we'll see you in 20 minutes."
6:10am- Notch and crew arrive and depart with one of our mountain bikes.
6:14am- (76 degrees) The first patch of SOD was laid.
6:19am- John and Chey are enthusiastically working together to lay out the SOD in the yard!!!
7:01am- (79 degrees) John text "Wild Bill" to let him know the work party was back on!
8:04am-(84 degrees) John called "Wild Bill"- No answer
8:06am- John went two doors down to ring "Wild Bill's" door- No answer!
8:56am- (91 degrees) Neighbor Pat peered over the wall and asked if he could help...
9:01am- Pat began wheeling the rolled SOD back to the yard and strategically placing them for John and Chey to unroll and fit.
9:26am- Chey called "Wild Bill"- No answer
9:27am- Chey walked down and rang Wild Bill's" door bell- no answer.
9:34am- (93 degrees) The crew- John, Pat and Chey- continued working, but tired much quicker and needed more breaks!
10:57am- (98 degrees) In walks "Wild Bill" and "EWOK" apologetically. We put them to work!
12:33pm- (98 degrees) Finished up the SOD!!!
12:41pm- Chey ran down and jumped into "Wild Bill's" pool with Cana and was joined later by all the guys (Except for John who decided to pick up another 700# of gravel and fill in any spots, as well as pick up cinder blocks to begin the fire pit/bench project).
2:49pm- Chey was still swimming along with the other guys (still minus John)
3:00pm- Chey went back home to help John with the work and began transporting cinder blocks into the back yard.
3:16pm- The other guys, "Wild Bill," "EWOK," and "Fuse" came over and began helping too!!!
3:51pm- All work was finished and we returned back to "Wild Bill's" (with John) to jump back into the refreshing pool!
We truly appreciate all the help we got with the project and the guys couldn't have come at a more opportune time, since Pat was finished bringing the SOD back and John and I were exhausted from putting it in. The guys gave us the extra boost of energy we needed to finish the job.
Now for the finishing touches: Notice the Bougainvillea we planted in the little patio opening.
John put up speakers connecting to our stereo inside as well as misters to keep us cool as we enjoy our little oasis.