Friday, March 31, 2006

Desert Tracks


Good posts I found today:

Making Early Memories from Child's Play x 2.
Stand and Deliver by Greyhawk.
Tell Me Why - Another great one by my latest favorite.

And I found this over at Melanie's. Thought it was pretty awesome. Being in the military rules.


create your own visited countries map

Spring Hath Sprung


The roses blew apart into full-bloom this past weekend, despite the 40 degree low the night prior. I managed to fertilize the lawn and started retraining the dog how to take walks civilly. Its 78 degrees outside right now and we're supposed to have a baby here in three days.

Spring has sprung in Tucson.

I grew up in Massachusetts, where the high tomorrow will be 57. I loved the snow--making castles on the side of the road where the snowplows had piled up huge mounds of it. We would just burrow in until we had our own little cave. These would last for days, sometimes. On Memorial Day I had a tradition of being the first one to jump in the pool every year, regardless of how cold it was. The water was usually somewhere around 65. Now we don't even look at the pool until it breaks 80.

You could say that my blood has thinned a bit.

The monkies will swim in there until their skin turns blue. I eject at around 78 degrees. SW, tough as she is, won't touch it until its 85.

I miss snow, but not enough to live in it. I feel bad because that was a pretty significant part of my childhood and chances are the clan won't ever have that.

Doing the last preparations for the steady influx of parents and baby that will soon flood this house. We've cleaned it from top to bottom several times, each time thinking Odie will be here any minute. Took today off to do it one last time.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Life Lesson


I was hesitant to post a link to this story because I try to be relatively upbeat on here. But I couldn't let this go by.

Read this story, say a prayer for the family, and go hug your children.

Blogger's Code of Conduct


Rapid-fire blogging today...

I guess I just didn't look hard enough when I said that there weren't that many Daddy Blog's out there. Found another great one--The Blogfathers. Child's Play x2 writes a reall good post about the "blogger's code of conduct" that I totally agreed with:


1. Be nice.
2. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
3. Start your own damn blog.
4. Don’t take me (or yourself, for that matter) so seriously. Really.
5. I’m not out to win the Pulitzer Prize for Literature.
6. Remember. I’m a real person.
7. If you can’t handle these simple rules, you will be subject to a viscious hit courtesy of the Blogfathers.

Last Day of Work


Today's my last day at work for 2 1/2 weeks.

Ah the sweet release of leave.

Things appear to generally be lining up. SW's blood pressure is doing just fine (although we still need to go listen to Odie's heartbeat twice a week, in addition to her normal doctor's visit once a week), my Mom is inbound and will be here Saturday (after spending the last two weeks helping my sister with Jack), and the sun was shining and warm on my way into work today.

SW's last day of work is today, too, unless she elects to go the last 10 hours and show up for work tomorrow.

Things might fall apart here at work, but probably not. Honestly I don't care at this point. It's strange actually knowing the date that your kid will be born ahead of time. It actually adds to the stress, like knowing that you need to have dental work done ahead of time.

Bags are packed. Tank is full. House is clean.

Ready to go.



Daddy Blogger


Well, whaddaya know...I've been invited to be a conributing writer on a big blog.

I love MommyBloggers. I can't get enough of reading them. If you look at my blogroll there's a few of my favorite ones on there. But it always struck me as strange--that there were never any "Daddy Bloggers" out there. In fact, I bet you that women bloggers outnumber the men by two to one.

So imagine my surprise when Doug from DadBloggers dropped me a line yesterday and invited me to be one of the contributing writers on his website. I checked it out--great writing, looks like it gets some good circulation--so I'm going to take him up on his offer. It does have a Christian theme that may be a bit much for me (I'll expound on a later post) so having me around may shake things up a bit...I guess we'll see.

Thursday 13






Wednesday, March 29, 2006

He Works in Mysterious Ways


Got this GREAT post from Jo at Jo's Cafe. Not sure if it's true or not but I certainly wish it is:

An Army Spec Ops grad was attending some civilian college courses between assignments. He had completed missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

One of the courses had a professor who was an avowed atheist and a member of the ACLU.

One day he shocked the class when he came in, looked to the ceiling, and flatly stated, “God, if you are real, then I want you to knock me off this platform. I’ll give you exactly 15 minutes.”

Read On...


The lecture room fell silent. You could hear a pin drop.

Ten minutes went by and the professor proclaimed, “Here I am God. I’m still waiting.”

It got down to the last couple of minutes when the Spec Ops troop got out of his chair, went up to the professor, and cold-cocked him; knocking him off the platform. The professor was out cold.

The soldier went back to his seat and sat there, silently. The other students were shocked and stunned and sat there looking on in silence. The professor came to a couple minutes later.

Noticeably shaken, looked at the soldier and asked, “What the hell is the matter with you? Why did you did that?”

The Spec Ops troop calmly replied, “God was too busy today protecting America’s soldiers who are protecting your right to say stupid shit. So He sent me.”



Perhaps a Tad Overzealous...


I am married to a Mexican. My father-in-law is native Spanish, my mother-in-law is naturalized american-born Mexican. So hispanic heritage is often a topic of discussion in the Lucky Ranch.

I was, believe it or not, impressed with the protests that took place a few days ago. It isn't often that you get to see that large of a number of people protest anything relatively peacefully. In fact, I thought that they even may sway some voters/politicians to their side.

Until now.

Michelle Malkin posted about a group of Pioneer, California students who decided to join the fight by skipping school and running their own protest. They topped all of it off by flying the Mexican flag over the US Flag on the schools flagpole--with the US Flag upside down.

I was, like I said, impressed with the movement. I felt that with proper legislation and laws that we could co-exist with immigrants from our southern neighbor. Radio stations in LA (the ones that actually organized the protests) told their marchers to bring AMERICAN flags, since that's what they are presumably trying to get to be--American. Instead the wonderbrains, so overwhelmed with home-nation pride, flew Mexican flags. So now what you see on TV, instead of a persecuted populace, is a Mexican invasion.

These picture personify it. I agree with Michelle--this one little teenage punk act is going to torpedo anything positive that could come out of all of this.

In fact, a girl who brought an American Flag to the protest was actually violently criticized for having such a blasphemous item in her posession. Looking at these pictures I am aghast that this occurred on US soil.




Interesting Post


Mama at Morphing Into Mama made an interesting post the other day. She got so many responses (and hate mail) that she turned her comments off. I haven't really decided how I feel exactly, but I thought it was an interesting post:
I don’t think it’s fair to say that being married caused these women to bebulimic – especially since being in a relationship can make one conscious about one’s weight just as being single can. When you’re single, you want to be in good shape not just for yourself, but so that you can feel confident about how you look and feel like you can attract a partner. When you’re married – and especially after having kids – you’re conscious about your weight, which may motivate you to watch what you eat and exercise, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll develop an eating disorder. I am conscious of my weight, so I don’t snack, and I exercise. Personally, I think it would be unfair to Husband if I gained a bunch of weight and did nothing about it.
Read the whole post here and come back to discuss.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Stoned Sexuality


"I think Hillary Clinton is fantastic. But I think it is too soon for her to run. This may sound odd, but a woman should be past her sexuality when she runs. Hillary still has sexual power, and I don't think people will accept that. It's too threatening."

BWAAAA HAA HAAA!!!

Thanks Tigerhawk for the laugh.


Extra Time


If you've been reading this blog for a while you'll know that I am not a fan of my current job as a staff officer. Sitting and staring at a computer all day drives me insane. But--it could be worse.

One of the jobs in the Air Force that I am in awe that people can do without losing their minds is being a gate guard with the security police. These guys stand at the gate, day or night, rain or shine, and check ID's car after car after car after car....I would lose it.

Every day when I come through the gate on my Harley there is a civilian contractor security guard there named Mike. Without fail, this guy always has nice things to say, always seems to be in a good mood, and is just an all around boost to my day. It wasn't until recently that I found out more about Mike that made me feel pretty small when bitching about my job.

Mike is a Marine. He fought in Desert Storm. He was a guard standing duty on a post when he was shot--twice. His wounds nearly killed him, but he managed to pull through--but his career from that point on was over. Moving into the civilian sector, he started working as a contract security guard. Shortly thereafter he was diagnosed with cancer. That, too, nearly killed him, but he again pulled through.

A friend of mine was talking with him about his attitude--about how he manages to always be in a good mood despite having what most feel would be a miserable job. His answer was one that I should follow: that, in light of what he has been through, he is just happy to be alive. He counts each day as a blessing that he has been given. He lives each day as a gift of "extra time" that he almost wasn't privileged to have.

Kind of makes staring at a computer not so bad after all.



Linked on Mudville.


Monday, March 27, 2006

Tiny Tigers


When I was six, my Dad found a great deal at a local karate studio where you could get a father/son membership for essentially free for three months. So we signed up. My Dad loved it.

I hated it.

After the three month trial was up, I quit. At that age I was more interested in playing with my toys than doing pushups. Its really too bad, because I feel like there was some serious bonding that I could have done with my father over the years if I had stuck with it, because he did.

Ten years later, I was a junior in high school and my feelings towards martial arts and working out had significantly changed--so I went back. By this time my Dad was a third degree black belt, and one of the chief instructors of the school. We managed to keep the fact that we were related a secret for about six months, but we look so alike (and he beat on me a little harder than the other students) that eventually they figured it out. I loved this time in my life. My Dad and I became closer friends than we had ever been in my life up until that point, and that carried on long after we moved away and stopped karate altogether.

I hated to sweat when I was a kid.

There's a Tae Kwon Do school here in town that caters specifically to kids. We had looked all over Tucson for a good school and it took abotu five minutes for us to decide on this one. The instructors rock, the kids love it, and we're having a blast watching them. We're even considering joining oursleves after the baby is born. The monkies had their first "test" this weekend to get a stripe on their white belts:


Cowboy's a little small for his age and has already gotten knocked around a little bit (more on that later) so I'm glad he's doing this and enjoying it. Hopefully he's not too much like his Dad and quits after three months.


,

What Happens Here...


I didn't think I was this out of control...

You Are Las Vegas

Wild and uninhibited, you enjoy all of life's vices.
You're a total hedonist, especially with sex, gambling, and drinking.
You shine brightly every night, but you do the ultimate walk of shame each morning.

Famous Las Vegas residents: Wayne Newton, Howard Hughes, Penn & Teller, Siegfried & Roy

Friday, March 24, 2006

Friday


What a frustrating week.

Remind me never to try for a job as a web designer. I started this week with high hopes that by Friday I would either have a Napoleon-Dynamite-sweet looking blog or a third kid.

It's Friday, and I've got neither.

I did get dyck'd, however, even if he didn't actually read my blog. The beyotches never even stopped by.

I think I'm going to stick to what I do better...writing. I've seriously drifted from what I wanted to do on here and I'd like to get back to business.

Who knows--maybe Odie will drop in by day's end. There's still eight hours left.


Thursday, March 23, 2006

Ratings


Following Trouble's lead, I submitted my blog to italk2much.com and dyckerson for a review. I know, I'm just asking for punishment. They do do a good job though, and their reviews were pretty accurate. Can't wait to hear what they have to say about how busy everything looks around here...

Tried Typepad--first impression was that I didn't like it. At least not compared to Blogger. Chances are I'm going to stick with the two-columns and drop a lot of the buttons.

Strike One. Just trying to fill the time until Odie arrives someday.

Baby Story Chapter Six (Final One)


The next few weeks in getting out of there was kind of a blur. A combination of personnel issues, moving issues, and just life in general kept us zipping back and forth for the last three weeks that I was there. I spent a few nights with friends drinking beer and reminiscing about our ventures in the years I was in Europe, playing PlayStation, and having those last few rounds of poker. All in all, Grace and I didn’t know where we were going to from here. This was the first time in our relationship that we were going to be apart without knowing when we would be together again. Grace had only just begun her ordeal of separating from the military and on top of that, faced the prospect of going it alone when I left for Little Rock. We weren’t sure where we were going to live, have our child, get married, or even be for the next few years for that matter. It was a pretty frightening time for us, even with the way our lives had gone for the past few months.

Just before I left on my way, we had one last item to do on our checklist. Grace was about to hit her 20th week of pregnancy—the point at which doctors say you ca tell the sex of the child. We pretty much knew it was going to be a boy, we just really wanted to get another look at him in the ultrasound world. The military wouldn’t do it unless it was required, so we had to go on to the German economy to get one. So, on the Friday before my departure, we showed up at the OB clinic in downtown Kaiserslautern.

As we drove to the city, I had a strange feeling in my stomach. Grace later told me that she had had it, too. What if this showed that we were having a girl?? Everything we had prepared for said boy—from the Grandparents to the Chinese calander. I, and Grace, just kinda blew it off and went to the appointment. I brought my broken down video camera and sixty dollars to the big event. Grace laid back on the table as I gave up trying to catch the video screen on my camera and we stared at the black and white screen. The baby was MUCH bigger now, with a body so large that it wouldn’t fit on the screen. The doctor pointed out the legs, the kicks and wriggles, and the head. The whole time I kept looking for the wonderful appendage that would confirm that our son was in there. Finally the doc zeroed in on his legs.

“Do you see anything between there?” she asked.

Grace and I squinted as hard as we could, but something was wrong. I sure couldn’t see anything, and Grace was shaking her head no.

“Nope,” I answered, fully expecting the doctor to point out our idiocy.

“Well good, because niether do I,” she said with a smile. Neither do I????? I thought incredulously. She must be mistaken, unless she means…

That’s right—a baby girl. Once again our little angel had dropped another surprise on us, letting us know how much in control of this whole situation we really were.

After a few phone calls we resigned oursleves to the fact that no matter what, this child’s first name had been set in stone. At least with the little boy we had set about 100 names in front of us that people could specualte ad choose from. Not so in the case of having a girl. One name had been offered up, and that one name stuck. Even if we weren’t calling her Princess, everyone else was. Shortly later, a couple of days before I left, Grace sat up boltright while ridng her exercise bike.

”I think she just moved,” she said with a concerned look on her face. I felt and felt, but it was too early for me to tell. Grace wasn’t even showing yet. Pretty rambuncious for a little tyke.

February 22 came a lot quicker than I wanted it to. Even with all the goings-on in our lives over the last few months of my time in Europe I still looked at leaving with a heavy heart. I did a lot of growing up in Germany, as a pilot, as an officer, and as a man. Looking back on it nowit appears to me that Germany was God's way of sending me from my life as a young man into the life as a responsible adult. At the time, of course, I don't think I really new this, since I saw a great path of uncertainty as to my life's direction in front of me. Grace and I were pretty much going on autopilot by this point, just doing what we thought was right and what we were supposed to.

Standing on the ramp in Frankfurt International Airport for the last time, I took what would be my last look at my new wife as just my wife. When we would see each other again, Grace would be 6 months pregnant at the earliest, and from there on I would always look at her as both my wife and the mother of my daughter. This was probably the most scared we had become throughout the 9 months, since until we saw each other once again we would both be alone. We kissed each other goodbye, and I will never forget that feeling in my stomach as I looked at her standing alone as I walked through the metal detector on my way to board. I felt as if I was abandoning her, which she has never done to me. Tears filling my eyes, I climbed aboard the plane and watched as Germany fell beneath my feet for what would be the last time.


Filed under:

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Baby Story Chapter Five


The next couple of months went as smoothly as could be expected. One thing we had realized rather quickly was that the United States Military does not like surprises. And boy were we dropping surprises on them. Not only was Grace pregnant, but we were getting married and she was getting out. Combine all the above with a PCS to Japan--well, you get the picture.

We started getting really excited at the prospect of having a little boy. Because, you see, new parents (or at least Grace and I) are pretty adept at predicting the sex of their first baby. We did all the little tests and Chinese prediction calanders we could get our hands on. I went and bought a little football. We came up with about 150 names for little boys, and one for a little girl ("Sarah," just in case...). Even Grace's friends started looking for little boy's clothing. My Mom cut a picture out of a magazine of a little baby boy and put it on the refrigerator at home. And the little guy on the ultrasound even looked like a boy. We were set.

As the days ticked by to my departure date, we started getting a little worried about the wedding plans. First, the preiest that we had coordinated with to try to get a church wedding done was swamped by being the only Catholic chaplain to service the entire central Germany US Military Corps. Not good. Couple this with an extremely inflexible schedule and we quickly saw the prospects of a church wedding dwindling. It broke our hearts to finally come to that decision, as it was really the only exciting/happy event we had left in Germany. But as I mentioned before, we had to prioritize pretty much everything—and with the time we had left the church wedding went from near the bottom, to last, to gone. We made plans to have one eventually—someday…

So, we had to make do. With the loss of the church wedding, we resigned ourselves to the fact that the paperwork wedding was going to be it. I’ve already told you about all the red tape we had to go through to get to it. Finally, on January 29, 1999, we made it to the big day. Grace got dressed up for the occasion and looked as beautiful as I’ve ever seen her. I, on the other hand, had to go to work shortly after the ceremony. So—in typical Chris fashion, I was married in my flight suit. In retrospect it seems kinda cool, but deep in my heart I wish I had had the time, resources, and wearwithal to manage to get dressed up in a nice coat and tie at least. A big German woman who was exceptionally nice for a German but smelled of cigarette smoke read us a canned set of vows, told us to exchange rings, and sent us on our way. Keep in mind, we at this point were still planning on having the wedding to end all weddings once we made it back to the U.S. And I figured that when I got picked up for fighters, leaving the States again wouldn’t be a factor, and we’d have all the time in the world to plan for it.

As we neared the end of my tour in Germany, a couple of celebrations had to take place. First was a baby shower/wedding shower/going away party/houswarming-for-the-future-party for Grace. I did my best to make this a surprise, and Grace's friends did the same. Unfortunately, Grace was a little perceptive as usual, and rather than just go along with it she had to be literallt dragged up the stairs and into the party. After all was said and done, she had a good time, but it simply added onto our pile of stuff to bring with us over the next 6 months. Still, Grace recieved quite a pile of neat things (most of which I had no idea the use for at the time), which we would wear out once the baby came along.

Next were my final flights in the C-9. One of which I had managed to get Grace to go Space-Available on to Turkey. We had a great time, but Grace was rapidly beginning to feel sicker with each passing day of the first trimester. Combine that with the most miserable medical crew I’ve ever flown with, and you have a not-so-pleasant flight. Still, Grace got to go with me, which was fun. The last one, my “fini-flight” was flown towards the end of January as I was getting ready to leave. By this time I had told everyone at work the whole story, and if they didn’t know Grace before, they did now. So, it was easy to have my new wife taxi me in for my last full stop. I jumped off and was immediately soaked down from head to tow with champagne. And so ended my C-9 career.



Filed under:

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Another Belly Pic




Filed under:

Desert Odyssey 1.1


Well it looks like I'm done. Please let me know what you think--my initial reaction is that it's too busy...plus I can't seem to figure out how to keep the posts there when you resize the window a little smaller.

I took the poll off from the side because it's starting to look like we're going to have to get induced on April 3rd. Plus it was too big.

Comments more than welcome...I promise I'll get back to regular blogging soon.

Baby Story Chapter Four


Next on the list was Grace’s career. She had been accepted to attend Operating Room nurse school, a pretty prestigious assignment in the nurse world. Unfortunately, the graduation date for the school was in late July, and Grace was due sometime in late June/early July. Again, we thought that she’d be ok. The original plan (and looking back on this, it seems pretty ludicrous) was for Grace to attend the first school as planned, right up until the baby decided to come out.

Then she would do one of several options: 1) She could take a few days off, and then go back and finish—after all, Grace was a trooper, 2) She would finish early, or 3) She would skip the first class altogether, and go to the next class, which began in the beginning of August. All of the options carried with them one stipulation for me—I would miss something. With options 1 and 2, I would be at Little Rock AFB learning how to fly a C-130. Thus, I would miss, at a minimum, the pregnancy, and maybe the birth as well. With option 3, I would be there for the pregnancy and probably birth, but I would miss the first few months of the baby’s life. Plus, Grace would be taking care of a newborn while attending school. Like I said, they seem ludicrous now—but at the time, and in our state of mind of "anything is possible," they seemed like viable options. We never really took into account other factors, like if I got my fighter and life as I knew it completely changed. Or if there were problems with the birth. Or even if Grace and I could be stationed together. Fortunately for our situation, but unfortunately for Grace, the Air Force did take those other factors pretty seriously.

The Air Force allows its military moms six weeks of maternity leave when a baby is born. Whereas most people would never turn that down, for any of our options to work Grace was going to have to. The Air Force didn’t like that very much. And so, when I landed after my last flight in the C-9, Grace came forward with what the Air Force had decided. They figured that that six weeks, for various reasons, was inviolate, and couldn’t be waived. As a result, since junior was popping out right between her two classes, she wouldn’t be able to attend either. The good news? We could be stationed together—provided that she remain in Germany while I was TDY to Little Rock, leaving us right where we had started, with me missing not only the pregnancy or the birth, but both.

So she decided to get out. One little clause in the Air Force medical rules is that a woman who is pregnant has the option of stopping her military service and getting out. So something else now became a priority—Grace’s separation. She was pretty upset about it at first, but the prospect of her being a Mom, and taking some time off, eventually sat pretty well with her. Plus, if she wants, she can try to come back in in a year or so. I felt pretty bad about this at first, but once it sunk in that we were going to be together the whole time I lightened up. The good thing is so did she.

Next on the list was what we were going to bring to Japan, since that was where I was currently headed. The rules say that I am only authorized 1300 pounds of stuff for a single guy. That goes up to 2600 for a married couple. And if that other married person is civilian, it goes up to 4600 (I don’t know why). So—and hold on, this is confusing—I was authorized only 1300 pounds of stuff when I left Germany, since Grace was still in the military. However, once she separated, that amount would go up to 4600. Unfortunately, by that time, I would be gone on my merry way. So, I could take 1300 with me, and Grace would be permitted to take the remainder of the 4600 with her when she finally left. End result was a logistical disaster with me trying to pick and choose the bare minimum, and carry the rest of my stuff to her apartment. And when I left, I still didn’t know when she was leaving, so her apartment was in shambles with boxes and stuff everywhere—but I’m getting ahead here. The point was that my assignment process was a nightmare, which simply added more stress to the situation.

Lastly on the list for the first month was her doctor’s appointment. Ramstein is the largest base in Europe, and just about everyone in Europe goes to the hospital there. Consequently, anyone having a baby goes to the medical center that Grace works at. So getting an appointment was a challenge in itself. Grace knew someone who knew someone, and managed to sneak us in for an ultrasound, something that the Air Force is pretty skimpy about. So on the 11th of January, we went in to the hospital for her first exam (albeit only an ultrasound).

I had seen pictures of ultrasounds, and heard that they were pretty cool, but nothing could have prepared me for what was about to happen. We were both pretty excited, but only because there was the possibility of us finding out when the baby was due. So, we finally made it in, and Grace had all kinds of goop spread on her tummy. We had played with a Doppler stethoscope on her ward, but we couldn’t hear a heartbeat. This kind of made us nervous, so we hoped to hear the baby’s heartbeat, as well.

I sat down next to her as we both squinted at the little TV screen that lit up with the technician’s magic wand. After a couple of passes, we still couldn’t see anything. Little feelings of the Mission: Impossible scenario began to creep back in. Then, out of the darkness on the screen, a little sqiggly took form.

A hand.

"There you are!" exclaimed the technician. A few seconds later an entire form took shape—a head, hands, feet, toes and fingers. Tears immediately filled both of our eyes as we looked at our child for the first time. Suddenly every stress or hard thing we had been doing melted away. With every kick and squirm that that little baby made, I swore that I would go through anything that life could throw at us in order to meet this little person that was doing somersaults in the dark. We laughed at how he or she was trying to suck its thumb. And the profile looked remarkably like Grace.

As we walked back out to the car that day, one thing was clear. We were having a baby. No matter what happened to our lives as a result of it, we were both willing to do whatever it took to make it happen. That few minutes looking at a TV screen changed Grace and I’s lives forever. Even if it felt like the whole world was pushing against us and what we were trying to do, there was a tiny little hand on that screen that was waving hello to us, and letting us know that at least one life was certainly on our side.

Filed under:

Monday, March 20, 2006

Work in Progress


Be advised that I am desperately trying to make the plunge of re-doing my template...expect some technical buffoonery over the next few days...

Baby Story Chapter Three


The first month that we arrived back in Germany was a tough one. We had made our decisions, let others know about it, and pretty much agreed that there was no turning back now. We knew that there were a few issues to deal with once we got back, but the question was more along the lines of what to do. We knew that we wanted to be a family, we just didn't exactly know how to do it. We made lots of plans before coming home to face up to it, it was just a question of what it was going to be like and how we were going to do it.

Now that we had told our parents and other relatives about the impending marriage, and my family about the baby-to-be, we embarked back on the plane to our home, in Germany. Now things in Germany are never easy. The culture was definitely one that took some getting used to for us, but eventually we got the hang of doing everything in the most difficult way possible. This was little to no comfort to us when we surveyed the road ahead.

So we quickly became adept at making priorities. And then making them based on the time it was going to take us to reach those priorities. For example—we knew we had to get married, and married quickly. I was due to move to my next assignment in February. And the way the Air Force works, they will do nothing for you as a couple unless you have the coveted marriage certificate. So, though we had other priorities down the road (the church wedding, my assignment processes, having a baby—small things like that) getting married instantly became our most pressing issue. In the States, this is not really a big deal. You get a marriage license, maybe a blood test, sometimes wait a couple of days and boom!—you’re a family. Well, in Germany it’s a different story.

First we went to the legal office on base, thinking the whole thing could be done there. They instead gave us a form and told us to go to the economy and have them do it. They, in turn, asked for many forms from us (a birth certificate, for one, that Grace had at her mother’s house in the States) and declared a minimum processing time of two weeks before the ceremony could take place. So, right off the bat we were behind the power curve. But we got that ball rolling, and then turned to the other priorities, primarily this little clump of cells that was growing in Grace’s tummy.

Next was the pregnancy test. Like I said before, Grace was pretty popular at the hospital. When we went in we quickly started to realize that this was going to be a little difficult to keep quiet. For starters, Grace knew just about everyone in the hallway going to the doctor’s office. And with the diamond on her finger, and me behind her, it wasn’t much to put two and two together to get three. Still, noone asked and by that afternoon we had official word that we had a little baby on the way. In retrospect it was kind of childish, I guess, but for me up until that point I had this little voice in the back of my head telling me that this was some big Mission: Impossible type of scenario, and that somehow Grace wasn’t pregnant, she had just eaten something that was sticking with her for a few months. So, for me, it was a big deal for the doc to call us up and say "congratulations!" I was so excited that I immediately called my parents to tell them the good news. Everyone seemed a little confused, but for me it was pretty amazing.

On the list next was the church wedding. Life in a military community sometimes means that we’re going to have to make some sacrifices, and this was one that smacked us in the head. There was only one priest available (for a community of many thousands of soldiers) in the entire Kaiserslautern area. "No prob," I thought, mistakenly assuming that my fiancĂ© and I were suddenly everyone’s first priority. We began the whole pre-cana process, where we each took an excruciating 156-question test to show our compatibility. The Catholic Church also demands other birth certificates and proof that you are, in fact, a Catholic that we simply didn’t have. On top of that, the priest that was counselling us was late quite a bit and perturbed when we couldn’t match his schedule. Eventually, much to everyone’s disappointment, we canned the church wedding idea, hoping that we’d have it sometime after the baby was born. And so from the start, things began to take a few turns that we didn’t expect.


Sunday, March 19, 2006

Baby Story Chapter Two


When I arrived in Atlanta it quickly became apparent to me the condition that Grace was in. We (at the father's persistent request) took another EPT. This one, as if to slap me in the face and yell "SHE'S PREGNANT YOU STUPID FOOL!!" came out with two VERY strong lines this time. So the decision was made. No more waiting. We wanted to be together. We loved each other. And to make it better, we were having a baby...

Grace grew up in Waco, Texas, and that’s where her family lives now. I had never been there, and had never met her Mom (I had met her Dad, who lived in Bilbao, Spain….another story) so we agreed that we would announce our wedding plans but that was it. So once we got there, we went shopping and bought a ring. I tend to be a bit more romantic (cheesy-romantic) than Grace, so I wanted her to wait so that I could propose to her. But we went ahead and told her family anyway. Her brother Yogi was the easiest. When we went in to pick up the ring, he walked in ahead of her and behind me. Unbeknownst to myself, she told him that I had a gift for him. When we got to the counter I asked to see the ring, turned around and showed him. To others it appeared that I was proposing to Yogi, and not Grace. I, of course, didn’t know this, which played right into Grace’s plans. Much fun had by all, ha ha ha…whatever.

Grace’s Mom was a different story. She wanted to tell her alone, which was fine by me, and sat down and explained to her that we loved each other and were getting married. She trusts Grace a lot, and trusts that she wouldn’t get herself into something she shouldn’t, and almost immediately blessed the relationship. Her main concern was that we get married in the Catholic church—I was Catholic, so that was fine by me. We then went out to meet her Dad at an Outback Steakhouse, and the whole family sat around the table. I had had many visions of how to propose to Grace gone over in my head, each ending with me dropping on a knee and proposing to her, resulting in her laughing hysterically. So I figured that I may as well do it now. While we sat fidgeting in our chairs, I leaned over and whispered into Grace’s ear.

“Marry me.”

She smiled and shrugged her shoulders.

“Ok!” And went back to eating.

I slid the ring under the table to her and had to practically force it onto her finger. So I surprised her a bit. She later told me that she thought I was kidding, that I was joking about proposing to her in an Outback Steakhouse.

When we went to my family’s home in Rochester, Minnesota, we had to take separate flights because the one she was on was booked. As luck would have it, my flight was delayed and she got out on time, so she ended up sitting in the Minneapolis Airport with my parents for two hours. Like I said, she had met my parents before, so they went to Chili’s and waited. Noone seemed to ask why she wasn’t drinking, why she looked like she was not feeling too well, or why the ring on her left hand was turned around. Now my parents are a unique type. When I got off the plane, they each (Grace as well) had funny Christmas hats on and were making an interesting scene. My first concern was if she had told them or not, and I quickly figured out that she hadn’t. May as well get it overwith, I thought, so I stopped them before we left.

“I need to introduce you guys to someone,” I said. Confused, they looked at us. “This is Grace, my fiancĂ©e. Many hugs abound, and everyone was thrilled. We did the same thing to my sister Katie a few days later. But the best was yet to come.

We all went shopping at the Mall of America in Minneapolis the day before Christmas Eve. We did all of our last minute (well, ok, all of it at once) shopping and bought two Christmas ornaments. One was a Santa Claus that could be opened up and something placed inside. The other was a “Baby’s First Christmas” which I scratched out the “1998” and wrote “1999.” My mother had been badgering both my sister and I for grandchildren for a long time, and my standard response was “be careful what you wish for….you may get it.” So I wrote a note with that quote on it and stuck it in the Santa, wrapped them both up and sat the whole family down on Christmas Day, 1998.

My Mom and Dad sat down by the tree and Katie showed a lack of interest as we gave them the gifts, the Santa first. Mom opened it up and read the note. Immediately she began to cry out of happiness, and she was so speechless that she couldn’t tell Dad. Katie, suddenly interested, began to jump up and run around the room trying to figure out what was making Mom act like that, and Dad read the note. Of course, he wasn’t there for the “Be Careful What You Wish For” conversations, so he had no idea what it meant. So I had him open the other ornament. Eventually we just told him, because for the first time in his life, my Dad was speechless as well.

Everyone was happy, and I immediately dropped to the lowest priority in the family. Grace was now first, and the baby second. I was somewhere in there near the bottom, but I didn’t care. The way I figured it, the hardest part was over. Little did I know.


Saturday, March 18, 2006

Praying for Odie


Cowboy loves to look out the stained glass windows when we go to Church.
Maybe since they are just his size.




Baby Story Chapter One


Grace and I met in May of 1996, shortly after we each had arrived at Ramstein Air Base, in Germany. I had befriended some of her closer friends just before she got here. She wasn’t dating anyone, happily, and was looking forward to a great time in Europe. I, on the other hand, had a history of dating for a short amount of time and getting bored. This was the case I was in when we met. I had been dating a girl in the United States for about 8 months, and for reasons still unbeknownst to myself, had just bought her a ticket to come out for the summer. The relationship was on a decline and I guess this was my best effort at saving the relationship...

I’ll never forget the day I met Grace. We were house shopping for her, since she had just arrived. I remember my first thoughts being something like “wow,” and then “damn, I’m dating somebody.” Over the next few weeks we got to know each other a little better, and then I had pretty much decided that the relationship in the States was doomed. Unfortunately, that relationship was about to board a plane to Germany.

The summer passed, and, as predicted, ended with me breaking up with the girl from the States. I hadn’t spoken to anyone in the “Grace Crowd” since she had arrived, and ventured back into the fray once the ex was gone. A few weeks passed, and according to Grace, we started dating as “something to do.” Little did I know where that “something to do” would lead.

As I said earlier, Grace is one hell of a nurse. The way the Air Force works, most officers either go to the Academy or through the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) to get their commissions. In the process, they are schooled in all the mannerisms and rules of being an officer. For medical types, however, usually they simply attend their respective schools (medical, nursing or whatever) and are almost immediately commissioned. The end result is that though we have better medics in the Air Force than the other services (for the most part), they don’t know a whole lot about the military.

Grace is an exception. In a hospital where they seem to be having trouble finding the softest part of their body with both hands, Grace has emerged as a natural leader. Her superiors noticed this, her peers noticed this, and the end result was that she was selected early to attend Squadron Officer’s School, a pretty high honor for a nurse in the Air Force. And so it was on October 30, 1998, that Grace departed for the school in Montgomery, Alabama. This was the third time that we would be separated in our 2 and a half year relationship, and we were getting tired of doing it. We discussed marriage a few times, and originally had decided that if we were dating one year after we went our separate ways (after we were restationed to separate bases) then we would get married. Two weeks into this last separation, we were rapidly leaning towards marriage before we left, in an effort to be stationed together (forever).

During the third week of her school, I was waiting until 3am to call her (because of the time change) and it occurred to me that she hadn’t reported the arrival of her monthly friend. I thought that that was rather odd, so when I talked to her that night I asked her about it. She was a little hesitant, but eventually told me that she hadn’t shown up. At all. Not even a phone call. As I was mentioning how it was rather rude of her not to drop by as she normally did, Grace mentioned that she might not come by at all. Confusion set in.

Once it became apparent that life was about to throw us a curveball, we began to discuss our options. I had always had nightmares about this, deep hidden fears that a baby shoving itself into my life would cry havoc and let loose the dogs of war. Surprisingly, however, all the fears I had drifted away when it actually happened. Maybe it was maturity, maybe it was a realization of how fully I loved this woman, maybe it was shock, but I never really panicked about it. The only bad thing that we could think of was the timing. We had so much going on in the next few months that didn’t lend itself to baby-things that we just thought chaos would rule our lives. All of these thought running through our minds, Grace went and got the ever-powerful EPT.

When the envelope was opened and winner announced, Grace was convinced but I wasn’t. The problem was that an EPT is supposed to have two lines. It was 98% effective, and came with two tests just to make sure. But when she took it it only showed one and a half lines. What the hell were one and a half lines???? I know it seems stupid, and I had pretty much convinced myself it was positive, but I didn’t really believe it until I saw it for myself, a month and half later. By this time Grace was a couple of months along, and had finished her school with flying colors (as expected).

The only decision left to be made was what to do about it. For some reason (again, maybe because I now knew what Grace meant to me) it seemed an easy question. Grace loved me, I loved her, and we were having a baby. I didn’t want her to go through the next 20 years alone, and I wasn’t about to do it alone myself. I left for the States to hook up with her to go visit our parents for the holidays.


Filed under:

Friday, March 17, 2006

Another Sunset




Baby Story


During my search for a web server I came across my old web page from seven years ago--long before blogging even crossed my mind. Its original intent was to write about what was a very stressful time for me. Unfortunately, times were different than they are now, and it was extremely time-consuming and just added to the stress.

When I found the files from my old web page I was floored. There were things in there that I had assumed long ago were lost forever. Most important to me was a narrative/story that I had started, but sadly never finished. It was supposed to be about Princess's gestation and first few months of life--but I ended it shortly after discovering the sex of the child, before she was even born.

It is entertaining, to say the least, to see my writings from seven years ago. I'm posting them on here--just don't be disapointed when they end abruptly. I've changed Superwife's name to "Grace," even though it's not her real name, because "SW" just didn't fit in the story.

So here we go...

My wife Grace and I are expecting a baby. It's amazing what having a baby will do to your outlook on life. We were both pretty confused, but both very excited at the same time. I figured that since we're hoping this won't be our last baby, maybe it would be a good idea to write down everything we do and experience, so we'll have something to look at once we try this again.

I also thought that this would be useful to others, in that there are a lot of things that are happening that are pretty unique. I've envisioned this all of my life--the whole experience--and so far its not anywhere near the script I had pictured. Our families and friends are pretty interested as well, and this will give them a window into our lives and experiences.

So I'll be adding chapters as we get there, and you can follow along as we progress through the various steps leading to having our baby. Things are progressing pretty rapidly, and I'll try to type as quickly as I can to bring the whole story to light. I've always wanted to write a book, I guess here's my chance.

But first, a quick introduction.

Emily and I are both officers in the United States Air Force. She's a nurse (and a pretty good one) and I'm a pilot. We met upon being stationed in Germany together, and started dating about 6 months later. We've been together for almost 3 years, and were married in January of 1999.

Our baby is due on July 9, 1999. If you do the math, you'll see the first non-standard issue of the pregnancy. It was a surprise to both of us--but we are very much in love and were thinking of marriage long before our little gift came along. This is going to turn out to be the largest of the learning experiences--though we had planned on this happening, and happening soon, it isn't the most ideal of times for us to start a family. But what is?

When I started doing all the research for the coming months, I came across a website that inspired me to do this. It was written by a guy named Chris Rywalt about he and his wife Dawn's experiences in having their first child. It was humorous and moving, and it was the only site I could find that was based on experiences through the father's eyes. I'm hoping that what you read in the following chapters does the same.

And so, read on and join us on this little adventure. A word of warning, though, this could get ugly. The whole experience is an amazing but messy journey. We're coming up on the end of the first trimester and I can already see the bumps ahead. Reproduction was never meant to be a totally pleasant travel.

January, 1999





Appeal


Ok I need some outside opinion...

I am definitely going to make a change. There are a few things I'm considering, and I'd like some insight from those that knoweth more than I.

1) I am looking to establish a domain name (www.desertodyssey.com was taken by a belly-dancing troupe in MA in February...damn). I am a little concerned if that would make me have to start over since everyone's linked to this address.

2) I definitely need a new look. The black and green is starting to be depressing.

3) The big one is whether or not to stay with Blogger. It's served its purpose pretty well, but there are things I want to do on here that I can't do with Blogger. It may be because I'm just an HTML idiot--but it may be because Blogger puts limits on what it can do (for example, I would trade my kingdom for three columns).

4) Lastly--a new name. Again, I'm concerned with having to go back to square one--I'm not sure I have the energy or patience to do this all over again. I also am having imagination issues here, in that the only name I can come up with is "The Boneyard." I know, it's a personal revelation and inspiration thing that you alone can blah blah blah. Any ideas from long-time readers would be nice.


Random Catholic Observation


I'm in a writing mood. Not sure why...except that I think this tends to happen on Fridays for me quite a bit.

Random Catholic observation: I find it interesting, and slightly humorous, that the same world that bashes the Catholic Church and knocks it for all it's worth, makes fun of its traditions and rules, and is generally opposed to its existence seems to have no problem whatsoever celebrating its "fun" holidays. Take, for example, today--St. Patty's Day. Normally I would really be living it up (the whole "Lucky" thing) but with SW about to explode at home I am on a hair-trigger waiting to rush to the hospital. But it's everywhere--in town, on TV, all ooooover the blogosphere...

Anyway, that's not a complaint, just an observation.

Monkey Art


The latest art submitted by the monkey gallery:

A family portrait drawn by the Princess. Trust me, Odie doesn't have that much room in there.



This is a dark tunnel, with two scared pumpkins outside. A storm rages in the distance. By the cowboy.



A "heart cat" by Princess. I'm not sure how "meeou" sounds, but apparently that's the noise a heart cat makes.




And lastly, a dancing heart by the Princess.



Thursday, March 16, 2006

Thursday 13



Thirteen Things I Can't Stand About Me
1) I am constantly, always, perpetually, without exception late. To everything.
2) My energy level is roughly equal to that of a 60-year-old sloth.
3) I spend about 3 hours per day more on the computer than I want/need to.
4) I'm a slob unless I get on a cleaning spree, which happens about once every six months.
5) I bite my fingernails.
6) I have a toy fetish that is out of control. Once I see some gizmo or gadget or tool or whatever that I like, I have to have it. Now.
7) I am a rampant procrastinator. If you wait to the last minute, it only takes a minute.
8) Without a seriously heavy dose of caffeine each day I get massive headaches.
9) I can't stand running, even though it's the one activity that need to do the most.
10) I'm extremely impatient. It gets worse when behind the wheel of a vehicle.
11) I'm extremely unorganized, even though I love organizing things.
12) I sleep so heavily that I don't remember anything after laying down at night, even if I get up to go to the bathroom.
13) I can't stand that it was easy to write 13 things I couldn't stand, and I still have enough for another Thursday.


Introducing...


Let me introduce you guys to Jack Francis, my newest nephew and my first blood-relative nephew:

This was taken shortly after he popped out. Mom and Jack are doing well and should be home sometime today...

Still no Odie.



Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Light?


Got this from Richmond. I'm not sure I would charcterize myself as "light" :).

LLight
UUnforgettable
CCareful
KKinky
YYoung

Name / Username:


Name Acronym Generator
From Go-Quiz.com


Winds of Change


On my daily perusal of the blogosphere, I came across WDKY's post about "keeping it real." It was very enlightening.

This blog started out six months ago as simply a way to keep in touch with the family while I was deployed to Qatar. It quickly became a military/political blog, and then just a place for me to ramble as the audience grew....
I've spent many hours tinkering with this page as a thing to do, like tinkering with a car engine. Each day I added or subtracted, tweaked here and there. I caved and spent money on a haloscan account today. I added blogpages and then deleted them when I realized that I had my hands full enough with Desert Odyssey.

My original intent was to knock this off when I got home. That date was then pushed back to when Odie finally decides to show up. To be honest, I'm pretty sure that I won't be able to knock this off then, either.


This – my – blog was started with the sole purpose of putting some thoughts down on “paper”… something to mark my passage through an interesting phase of my life, a phase of change and adjustment. And perhaps something to look back on when I need to put my life into some kind of perspective. Somewhere along the way, it’s possible that I forgot this purpose, and began to write with an audience in mind. Is this a bad thing? Does it make what I say any less authentic? I suspect the answer to both questions is no… well, it’s a definite no to the second, I assure you. I want what I write to be a true account of who I am; I think it has been and my intention is that it always will be. And I suspect that those who happen to have stumbled across me in “real life” would be quick to point out any inconsistency between the person they know me to be and the persona who presents himself to the world through this particular medium. It’s a useful control measure, isn’t it?

I've had to, more than once, stop and ask myself if what I was writing was what I really thought, or if I was trying to appeal to, or gain, readers.

That's bad.

The good is that the answer has always been "yes," in that they are really my thoughts.

The bad is that, like many other blogs I've seen, I have gotten all wrapped up in what I manage to garner for results on my sitemeter homepage, or what I had grown or regressed into in the TTLB Ecosystem.

The post on WDKY's site was a celebration of hitting 30,000 hits. He started his blog the month after I started mine.

30,000 hits. I was stoked when I hit 5,000 last month. Granted, he takes part in HNT pretty regularly.

Maybe I should start stripping down.

Either way, I'm pretty sure that I'd like to keep doing this--but it's time for a change around here. I'm definitely going to keep the name, but I'd certainly like a new look. I'm even strongly considering a move to Wordpress or Typepad, if just to see what they have to offer--the better sites seem to use them. Or maybe just getting my own domain name.

I am soliciting looking for any suggestions the blogosphere might have. Feel free to offer.