Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Welcome to Earth

Well that happened a bit faster than anticipated.

After going in for a routine appointment, the doc (most likely motivated by the fact that the holidays were two days away) decided to induce SW on the spot. Within a few hours, she was sweating from the levels of magnesium being run through an IV and feeling contractions from the Pitosin.

Things were going just fine until "the rush," a stage in SW's birthing process that, after four kids, I have come to know and hate. It always seems to happen when I leave the room--with monkey #3 it happened when I went home to get the grandmas, with this one it happened when I went out to the parking lot to give my brother-in-law the car seat for aforementioned kid #3. SW goes from calm and stable to "holy shit, push NOW" in a matter of minutes.

That's when things got a little interesting.

Wilford Hall is a teaching hospital. As such, they typically have the "not fully qualified" residents do a lot of the procedures until something goes wrong. Even then, they continue to teach--I kind of equate it to having my students fly the plane with the engine on fire, but thats neither here nor there. As it turns out, the rpobelm was that the baby's heart rate kept dropping a lot. The cause was that she was face-up coming out--something that each of the four studnets missed, but the head dude caught as soon as he started probing.

Once the problem was identified, the forcepts came out, solidifying in my mind my happiness that I am a man and won't ever have to go through what I wathced SW go through in the next 10 minutes. After what appeared to be excrutiating, I watched as monkey #4 was yanked from her womb. Before I could react she was whisked to the heater to get her lungs sucked out, making me even more nervous.

In the end, all was well. SW is having blood pressure issues, but they seem to be more of an inconvenience than life-threatening, and (God willing) we'll be on our way home tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Monkey #4

So here we are again.
Lillian Rose Lachance is being convinced to leave her nice warm home of the last nine months. When she does in a couple of hours she will complete our family and bring us to a final tally of 6.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Loading the Crazy Bus

We've made it to Wilford Hall.

Quick update--monkey #4 (baby girl) is due to arrive any second. Since we don't have a burning desire to risk life and limb by having the baby in Del Rio, we managed to get referred to San Antonio. The good news is that I get reimbursed for it. The bad news is that for the last few months we've been hauling it back and forth the 2.5 hour trip to the hospital at least once a week for the last few months. My fear was that SW would go into labor at home, and all of the ass-pain would be for naught.

Today we loaded up 3 adults, 3 kids, a dog and a fish (more on that later) and all of our stuff, plus all the stuff including car seat for the new addition.

It was a bit tight.

Day was characterized by butt-cold winds (no, not -20 like Minnesota, but this is Texas for crying out loud) and a lack of sleep from being up all night wrapping presents, since Santa will show up the night we get home. But we made it, and are comfortably set up in the TLF's on Wilford Hall.

Ready to go.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Whenever anyone would say that my training at requal for Undergraduate Pilot Training would be easy my answer was always the same--"well, it's not exactly like riding a bike."

Apparently, in a lot of respects, it is.

I'm doing well. Very well. I've been through eight official aircraft training formal schools and I've managed to keep my head above water in all of them. The hardest of them all was, surprisingly, the Cessna 172 training that I went through in Hondo, TX in 1993. But I survived them all. Key word in that sentence is "survive." For the first time in my career, I'm excelling at a flying program.

The T-6 Texan II is an absolutely amazing aircraft. Usually when that description accompanies a weapon system it implies a great deal of complexity. This plane is no exception. I am essentially going from a go-cart to a sports car. But there have been two concepts that have been pulling me through that apparently are working in my favor.

First--the single-seat mentality. In T-37's 90% of your flying was a notch higher on the difficulty scale than flying by yourself. You were actually flying with another person that literally had no idea what exactly he was doing--so your awareness had to be even higher than if you were alone. That ability, that I thought would have been lost after four years of sitting on the ground, has served me extremely well in the last month or so. The mentality that I am truly alone, rather than being safeguarded by an instructor in either the front or rear seat of the plane, has allowed me to make decisions and fly the plane better than I could have ever hoped to fly my last one. It seems to be paying off.

Second--the "training" mentality. I have been going through this course not only with the perspective of surviving to the next flight (which is definitely a concern) but looking at it through the eyes of a basic UPT student. How would what I am doing come across to a student learning to fly? That thought has allowed me to not only look at it from the 1st-person perspective, but also to expand the possibilities of what we are actually doing here. It has made me very comfortable with operating the plane.

So, as an update, things are going well. I have never "slam dunked" a course in my life, but thus far I seem to be doing just that. I just hope that it can carry me through to the end.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

On the Road

Moving a family of 6 1/2 plus a dog is no small feat. Every time thus far, I get to haul the majority of the cargo in my truck--without much room for anything else. Gives me lots of time for deep thought...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Farewell Montgomery

Moving Day.

They say things are slower in the South, but this has been kind of taken to an extreme. The longest I've had movers take to pack us up was two full days, and that was when we went 2,000 ponds over our weight limit. This time around they took a full THREE days, and still hadn't finished packing when the truck showed up on the fourth day.

It is now 2100 on the fourth day, and I'm guessing they have a couple of more hours to go. Unbelievable. update.

I have officially graduated ACSC. What I learned in the end that while it is extremely difficult to do very well here, it is multitudes more difficult to do poorly. I ended up with an average GPA (which was significantly higher than the GPA I earned after four years of college), made some good friends, and got in the best shape of my life. On top of that--one more goal was accomplished:

Baby #4 (and God-willing, final) is on the way.

This brings with it a whole slew of concerns. The majority of the pregnancy will occur while I am in training in San Antonio learning to fly my next aircraft. During that time we're essentially living out of suitcases until we can find a home in Del Rio. Once that happens the rest of the family minus me and the pooch will go there in time for Princess and Cowboy to start school. The remaining two months of my training will be done solo while they are several hours away.

The biggest reason that we had such a big split between Cowboy and Odie was because we took a hiatus while we were stationed in Del Rio the first time (sidenote: it is extremely rare for someone to be stationed there twice, and even more rare to have someone volunteer to do it). The hospital there is not what I would consider spectacular, and SW was working there. Those things combined made us wait. By this strange twist of fate, in the end we're going to be having a baby while we're stationed there anyway.

Funny how life works that way.

We also made our long-planned and highly anticipated Disney World trip last week. I'm not going to go so far as to say we were disappointed, because a) we weren't, and b) that would mean I flushed $3500 down the drain. I will say that, to my surprise, we liked Disneyland better. Unfortunately I don't see us blowing the cash to take a trip all the way to Cali just for one park. Either way, we've gotten Disney out of our system for a few years.

So, as I sit here in Cowboy's empty room, watching the last pieces of furniture being moved away, I can say that this last year was a life-changing experience for me. Not because of the school, or the education, or the friends I made here. Rather, this "pause" in my career gave me an opportunity to re-evaluate what was really important to me. I wear a "livestrong" bracelet on my wrist now and no watch--things I didn't do deliberately but am glad that I have. I am so much more concerned with the wellness of myself and my family that things that don't directly contribute to that goal have fallen by the wayside. I only hope that I can continue to keep this focus after I leave the deep south.

So--that's it. Goals accomplished, motivation charged, I'm off to the next leg of my life's Desert Odyssey. There's so much happening--I hope to be able to write about it.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


I fell asleep last night on the floor next to Odie's toddler bed. At 0430 I awoke to a bang on the wall--he had dropped his sippy cup. It startled us both and my first sight this morning as I bolted upright was looking right into his eyes, since he bolted upright, as well. While a 2-year-old has the mystical ability to suddenly fall back asleep, I do not. I laid him down with SW and began the day in the dark.

It proved to be very productive. With everyone asleep I managed to catch up on a lot of stuff. By 0600 the sun was rising, and it was in the upper 50's. I decided to go for a run.

I'm not sure what happened. I've grown to enjoy running a lot more than I used to, since now I don't constantly feel like I'm going to have a heart attack, or my hip feels like it's going to explode. But I still would rather crash on the couch than go run. For some reason, this morning was different.

The sun rose while I ran--lost in "Panama" by Van Halen. I've heard the song a million times, but today I almost danced. I was completely elated. Then it hit me:

I'm going to fly again.

I've known for a short while that I was assigned to go back to fly. It's pretty uncommon for a graduate of ACSC to get that opportunity, so of course I was happy. We're going back to Del Rio, TX--the same place I flew with students last time, and in the same squadron. But being bogged down by thesis papers, language instruction, and tests, I hadn't given it much thought. All those (except two more tests) are behind me now. I guess it just really hadn't hit me yet until this morning.

I'm going to fly a T-6 Texan II at Laughlin AFB. For real. After sitting for four years and typing on computers, I am getting to go back to the one job I have loved more than anything else I have ever done.

What a way to start the day. By the time I got home I was far from exhuasted--I was on cloud nine.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Em and I have been swimming. We signed up for a "Tinman" triathalon--an Ironman Tiathalon that you have one month to complete. I'm amazed at how quickly we've gotten better at swimming--when we first started we did 12 laps and I thought I was going to die. Now we can go 20 without much problem. The weird thing, for me, is that I'm actually enjoying it.

I tend to zone out a bit more than when running or biking. I think that has something to do with how much I have to concentrate on what I'm doing, as opposed to just plodding along on the bike or treadmill. Time goes by pretty quickly.

This shot is of the lanes we try to swim in. This sight has gone from generating fear to excitement for me. It's a great experience.
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Monday, January 28, 2008

Ride No More

I sold my Harley today. Got a great price for it. Rode her one more time across town to say my goodbyes, and dropped her off at a retiree's house. He seems like a good guy, although he said he doesn't plan on riding much.

I called her Jenny, after my late sister. Thought it would keep me safe. Really got into the Harley cultural mindset for a little while, before my real life caught up with me and brought me back. I rode her mainly to go back and forth to work while I was in Arizona, but barely cranked her up when I got to Alabama. Not enough time, and unlike Arizona, no real need to do it. So for six months she more or less sat in the garage, as my time with her grew less and less--like a kid outgrowing a toy.

When we were having trouble selling our house and money was getting tight, I decided it was time. Took maybe 2 weeks on the lot to get a buyer. He didn't even take it for a test drive and gave me full asking price.

Last night I put the monkies on the back and took them for one last spin around the neighborhood. Sarah loved it, Sammy is still too small to even put his feet on the pegs. As I drove away from her new home, I reassured myself that maybe someday I'll get another one, when it's more out of enjoyment than necessity, and I have more time to really enjoy and appreciate owning a Harley Davidson motorcycle.

Maybe someday.

Probably not.

Goodbye, Jenny. Thanks for keeping me safe.
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Saturday, January 26, 2008


"With this ring, I thee wed."

We never got to say that. Our wedding was rushed, in an attempt to get the military to keep us together while Sarah was born. So much confusion during those times. So much uncertainty.

I love this photo for the unintended consequence of having the reflection of my daughter in the band. So much is contained in this ring that I wear. A history of over a decade of being with one person, through good and bad times. Three children, worlds of joy and worlds of heartache.

Reflections of what is truly important in my life fill me when I see this picture. Reflections of what wearing this ring means, not only to me, but to those contained within its glimmer.
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Friday, January 25, 2008


What I remember the most about Guam was the heat.

Most people hated going to Guam, for some reason. I absolutely loved it with all of my heart. It was there, I think, that I figured out that the location I live matters little--as long as it's warm.

We dropped SEALs on the island all the time--from high altitudes, all the way down to 1000' over the surface of the water. They were awesome. Cliche'd word, I know--but I honestly can't think of a better way to describe them. Tougher than anyone I've ever worked with, and some of the coolest and easy-going men I've known. One of the guys in this photo had over 10,000 drops and had shattered his legs three times.

I haven't flown in almost four years. There's a good possibility that I'll be going back to flying soon--hopefully in the same training capacity that I loved so much before. My limited experience in the C-130 is kind of summed up in this photo, which I took on one of my last live training missions just prior to 9/11. I like the darkness sillhouetting the jumpers and the loadmaster, and the beautiful sky beyond them. It makes me feel like a part of my life and career that I left behind can still be seen, but grows darker with the passage of time.
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Thursday, January 24, 2008


It's kind of difficult to describe exactly what I was feeling when I took this. While doctors kept telling us that Sammy had problems, all I could see was absolutle, innocent perfection. And he was so strong. As I watched them putting tubes into his chest, down his throat, into his arms, I remember thinking how much that had to hurt--how uncomfortable that must be. How much I just wanted to hold him close and take him home--away from that horrible place and away from the foreign country that, while it was trying so hard to help him, I couldn't help but blame for our circumstances.

He is so resilient. The fighting spirit he displayed in that tiny glass shoebox carries with him even today. He's smaller than most boys his age, but tougher and more compassionate than any child I have ever known.