Sunday, January 29, 2006

Setting Sail Again Soon [...or shall I say Taking Flight?]

It seems like a long time ago that we sat in our car in the driveway in Tyler, Texas, Mike with cell phone in hand - a weighty decision to be made. Mike had dreamed of flying fighter jets in the Marine Corps for some time. He had been through all of the entry process, filled out all the forms and endured the mental and the physical tests. He was told he was too old for a flight contract, but his recruiter said he could possibly get an age waiver. He held on to that hope for months. Finally the day came when he learned he was not granted the flight contract, but was invited to join the Marine Corps on a ground contract, with a 50/50 chance of gaining a flight contract during the second phase of training.

We were given an hour or so to decide what the next decade of our lives would hold. So there we sat in the car, debating whether he should join on the ground contract and pray for a flight deal, or decline the offer entirely. To that point, Mike had not found purpose and self worth in the jobs he had held. He was drawn to do something much bigger, and for a much greater cause. I knew he would regret not serving his country, not taking a chance at the flight contract for the rest of his life. So I encouraged him to join, knowing to an extent the sacrifice it would bring for both of us. He made the phone call.

Two months later, we sat in a hotel room near the Dallas Fort Worth Airport. Mike prepared to leave for Officer Candidate School for the next three months. He was not allowed to see me, to call me or to e-mail. His absence was very hard to bear. At the time I didn't realize it was just a small test for a much larger absence that will surely come.

It's now been almost 10 months since we chose this path. Mike is now an officer in the USMC and is attending The Basic School here in Virginia. I am happy to tell you he has been granted a flight contract. We will be moving to Pensacola, FL, in March to begin his flight training. The training will last about two years, possibly in different places, before his inevitable first deployment. My heart drops every time I think of it, but it's a reality we must face. I try not to let it enter my mind.

Mike has come a long way in the last year. I'm very, very proud of him. He has done well so far and is ranked very high in his company of 265 Marines. The military lifestyle is not easy, but I love Mike to the ends of earth and back and would not be anywhere else than by his side. We are happy together and ask for your prayers as we sail to the next chapter. I must say I'm thankful this chapter will be near the sand. :)

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Fun Times with Friends

Hiking, golfing, bowling and eating some great Italian food... That's been our social agenda this month.

Sommer, Margaret, Carolyn and I have been hiking what's called "Application" on the Marine Corps base. It's a 5-mile jaunt on a gravelish, hilly path. One hill in particular, dubbed "Cardiac Hill" is especially challenging, although in the photo at right it looks like a piece of cake. It's much bigger in person! This is the trail that Mike has to hike all the time, only he has a bunch of gear strapped to his back and a heavy rifle in his hand. The girls and I have a great time chatting and being silly as we trek up and down it about three times a week, weather permitting. It's been sunny and mild here lately, so we've had the pleasure of getting outdoors a lot.

We finally got our golf clubs out while here and hit the driving range last week with the Tuckers. Sommer (the softball all-star) hits it straight and long with her baseball swing, and Mike and Chad swing like pros. But I still can't make the dang ball go straight, despite everyone's attempts to teach me. I like Sommer's logic: since my ball always goes right, aim WAY left and then it'll go straight. Problem solved! Ha, ha.

After the driving range, we all met up to go bowling. We were pleased to enter the smoke free, sparkly clean bowling alley here in Stafford. Several strikes were made and we all had a fun time.

Lately, we've been frequenting a little Italian restaurant called Vinny's. The food is delicious and it's perfect for Friday night outings with friends.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

More Baby News

Several weeks ago our wonderful friends, Chad and Sommer Tucker, announced they are expecting. We are thrilled for them! Sommer's got the inevitable morning sickness and the pickle cravings. But I'm sure it's worth all that to have a little one.

Since Sommer's a workout freak like me, we've been discovering the ways in which a pregnant woman can modify workouts and still feel the benefits. It's been a bit tough for Sommer to alter her normal high-intensity fitness routine, but she's found that it's necessary for the health of their baby. They just heard the heartbeat for the first time yesterday! They were just waiting for the nurse to say there were two heartbeats as twins run in the family, and she's been feeling extra, extra tired and sick. But alas, just one. They also had an ultrasound done and got to see their tiny, beautiful baby.

Congrats to the Tuckers!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Congrats to CJ and Amber!

Amber and CJ were married Saturday, Jan. 14, in Tyler, TX. Some pictures from the weekend's events...

Friday, January 13, 2006

Travel Woes

Mike's brother, CJ and his fiance, Amber are getting married in Tyler, TX this weekend. I planned to go early to attend the bachelorette party on Thursday night. Due to work, Mike wouldn't be able to come until very late Friday night, unfortunately missing the rehearsal dinner. He was in "the field" this week. Or, in other words, completely unavailable. No communication, what-so-ever.

Here's how the saga unfolds...

8:45 a.m. -
Bags packed, ready to go. Sommer picks Junah and me up at my apartment. We set off to Reagan National Airport in Washington for my 11:05 a.m. flight through Atlanta to Texas for my brother-in-law's wedding.

10 a.m. - Speak with unpleasant ticketing agent who informs me that due to fog, my flight is delayed. It's now scheduled to depart at 12:30 p.m. (Oh, did I mention I'm on standby?) Wish I could call Mike to tell him what's going on.

10:15 a.m. - So we find a seat at a little table beside the gate. There is a huge crowd gathered at every Delta gate, as their planes have all been canceled or delayed because of the fog. (This fog was unbelievable, I might add. We could barely see five feet in front of us in the car that morning.) It's not looking good. I'm getting a little nervous, so I call Amber to tell her I may be late for the party that night. Little did I know...

12:55 p.m. - Well, I guess the 12:30 departure was a lie! Here we sit. I feed Junah his breakfast along with myself. Then I decide to pass the time by folding the wedding programs I designed for CJ & Amber.

1:30 p.m. - Programs are folded. I'm getting anxious because they have started to board the plane and my name still hasn't been called for a seat assignment. There's this plasma TV that you're supposed to look at and wait to see if your name is cleared for a seat. Sadly, I'm No. 15 on that list.

1:55 p.m. - There are 6 people left (I'm assuming they're all standby as well). They call one more name and the woman standing next to me steps up and is allowed to board. The gate agent shuts the door behind her and says "flight's closed." Aaaahhhh!!! No, no, no! Let me on! I'm screaming inside. Oh my gosh, this is not good. I don't know where to go or what to do.

2:00 p.m. - Oh good, there is another flight leaving in a few minutes, so I go and stand in a huge line of people waiting to get a seat on that flight.

2:35 p.m. - No luck. I'm getting upset! I go to the first gate agent (the one who had already ended my hopes of getting there on time). I politely asked, what do I do? Now she tells me I have no luck of getting on a flight today, period. And that my best bet is the 6 a.m. flight the next day. I try to hold it together while she gives me my new ticket. Ma'am, where do I find my checked luggage, I ask. Oh, honey, your luggage is already on its way to TX, she says. (Lump in my throat.) Because of unrelated events, I'm already highly emotional. So now I'm close to tears. Since Junah is my carry-on, I had put all my essentials in my checked bags. I'm talking toothbrush, soap, deodorant, contact case/solution, make-up - everything! I've been dropped off at an airport an hour away from home. Mike is unreachable. Junah feels my nerves and just stares up at me with his big brown eyes. I notice he's got the shakes, too, as if to say, Mommy, you're scaring me!

2:45 p.m. - A call to the Stafford Wives. Please come and get me! I cry to them. They are on their way to the park with all the dogs, but without hesitation, they say, don't worry we're on our way. I'm a blubbering fool at this point. I hate inconveniencing people! I call everyone to tell them I won't be there today and that I'm sorry.

3:15 p.m. - A black Xterra pulls up to the pick-up area full of my beautiful friends, Margaret, Carolyn and Sommer. All three of them jump out of the car and come running over to give me a big group hug! It is the best moment of my week. They are so caring and sweet. I love you guys!

5:30 p.m. - We decide happy hour at Chili's is in order. Who can say no to free hot wings and chips and salsa?! My three friends come back to my apartment to pick me up. As a joke, they all jump out of the car again and surround me with a big hug. My spirits are lifted yet again. They are so funny. We go and have a great time eating, drinking, chatting and laughing.

9:00 p.m. - Bedtime for Casey and Junah. Alarm set for 3 a.m.

3:00 a.m. -
Bleary-eyed and freezing, I get up only to remember I have no toiletries. Crap! I was lucky to find an old toothbrush, a few sample cosmetics and well, Mike's deodorant.

5:00 a.m. - I've parked my car, taken the shuttle to the terminal, checked in and now I stand in the security checkpoint line. This guy behind me is wearing ENTIRELY too much cologne. Finally he walks away, but stench lingers. Then I'm embarrassed because I realize it's actually me! I'm wreaking of Old Spice High Endurance men's deodorant. Wonderful.

6:00 a.m. - Thank goodness, I made the flight. They've given me coffee, I'm feeling good. Junah is already asleep under the seat. Phew.

10:30 a.m. - I arrived at the airport, found my luggage, rented a car and am on my way to Tyler (90 miles away).

12:00 p.m. - I'm greeted by Mike's family... cousins, aunts and uncles everywhere. Very nice to finally arrive.

4:15 p.m. - Yay! A phone call from Mike. He's going to make his flight and will be here with me later tonight!

6:00 p.m. - Rehearsal dinner. Great food!

11:30 p.m. - Mike arrives. Only his luggage didn't. Problem is, my bridesmaid dress is in there!!!!!! Here we go again.

(Thankfully, the dress arrives just in time for the wedding the next day. All is well. What a crazy couple of days. I'm so glad they're over.)

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Boy or Girl?????

Brian and Carrie called with the wonderful news yesterday afternoon! They are all smiles, showing off the very first picture of their baby boy. You can see the profile in the first two pictures. The bottom one determines the sex.

Carrie said the baby was so cute, trying to suck its thumb while they watched. But he couldn't quite find his little mouth, so he kept poking his nose. Can you tell who he looks like yet? The baby weighs only 8 ounces at this point. What a miracle that is! They are so blessed. And I know they appreciate your prayers.

Mike and I are so excited about having a nephew! Congrats, Brian and Carrie!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

As luck would have it, Nashville is the exact halfway point on our trip from Texas back to Virginia. So we decided to stop there to celebrate. Mike and I rang in the New Year at a place called Buffalo Billiards on Broadway. We had a ton of fun and were still able to get an early start the next morning. HA! I guess were not as old as we thought!

We want to wish all our friends and family Happy New Year!!! We love you.