Thursday, June 30, 2011

Song Link-Up

Thursday! Time for the weekly song link-up with Amber at Goodnight Moon!

So... some of you don't know, but my 3-year-old son has a speech disorder called Apraxia. He's been making wonderful progress the last few months but still has a long way to go.

Thursday (today) is his IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meeting. Basically there are people from the school district special education department, my husband and I, and Will's therapists that are getting together to make goals for Will on what he should achieve and what is the best environment and methods to reach those goals.

I've heard horror stories from parents who've had to fight tooth and nail to get their kids what they needed to succeed.

I'm pretty anxious about the meeting. I've heard that what I want for the outcome is very reasonable... but who knows how everything will pan out.

Anyway, so because of all this I chose "Beautiful Boy" as my song for the week. I had a hard time choosing between the original of John Lennon and Celine Dion's version. Since I'm a mommy, I chose Celine. Hey, I almost put the scene from Mr. Holland's Opus with Richard Dreyfuss! Oh, and if you've never heard John Lennon sing this song, go find it!


Monday, June 27, 2011

Heating Up

Things are heating up down here in Albuquerque, and it's not just the weather.

Ryan is working on his application stuff to AFIT (Air Force Institute of Technology). There is a good chance he's gonna make it in... but he just has to get all the paperwork done. Oh, and that GRE to study for and actually take.

If he gets in we can end up in 2 likely places: Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio or the Post-Graduate school in Monterey, California. Can you guess what my choice would be? Not like we get a choice though.

And there's a possibility we'd be moving in the VERY near future depending on which semester he gets accepted to. And I mean VERY near future.


Then again, Ryan's window of deployment also occurs in the next several months so who knows what is really in store.

In other news: the kids and I have been keeping busy. We're definitely taking advantage of our Explora pass in town. Hoping to get more use from the pool as well.

Will's words are increasing and his attempt at communication with others is improving as well. Today he was telling a girl "no" when she was trying to take the ball he was playing with. Then when she did in fact take the ball he asked "ball please" for her to return it... which she did not.

Which leads me to a rant now:

Parents: when you are in a place with many other small children please be watching your kids and not chatting loudly on your cell phone (whether in English or some other language) not paying attention. When your child then does something mean (pushing, hitting, taking toys, throwing things, etc...) step in and actually address the problem. It is rude to ignore it making other parents feel uncomfortable getting after your child and they already feel uncomfortable, period, that your kid is misbehaving, probably affecting their kid in the process. Since you weren't paying attention anyway, I assume you didn't realize how many people ended up leaving the area because of the disruption of your kids!

Moving on...

I think I've chosen my song for church on July 3rd. Ha! Now that it's less than a week away! Guess I should get to practicing.

With Independence Day upon us, guess we should make some plans. What are you doing for the 4th of July??


Saturday, June 25, 2011

A beautiful sight

I woke up to a beautiful sight this morning.

Hubby let me sleep in so when I finally roll out of bed, hours later than usual, I hear happy laughs and squeals coming from the other end of the house.

Coming around the corner I realize they are all in the dining room.

What do I find?

Ryan and both kids happily set around the table finishing their breakfast. He was winding up a little caterpiller toy and having it run off the side of the table which cause the kids to laugh hysterically. I think he was enjoying it himself as well.

It was wonderful. I quickly grabbed a bowl of cereal and just watched them enjoy their time together.

I'm not sure there's anything more wonderful than to wake up to a guy being a truly great dad to his kids!


Friday, June 24, 2011

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In

It's been a few weeks for me. Time to link up again! Check out Wife of a Sailor to join.

This week:

1. Are you a different person than you were five years ago? submitted by Sisterly Thoughts
Actually yes I am. First off, I have kids now. I am a stay at home mom. Things that used to be important no longer matter and there are other things that take priority. It's no longer the selfish living of a single person or the wrapped up bubble of being just a couple... there's other people now.

2. If you could go on Amazing Race, who would you take with you as your partner and why? submitted by Thoughts from a Poekitten
I'd really like to take my brother! He would be awesome on it and we get along pretty well and can compromise. Maybe it's cause we did that our whole lives. As long as I was in better shape we'd totally rock at it. I would NOT take hubby. It would be nice to say I would, but we've talked about it before and agree that we would argue too much and viewers would hate us. Yeah, reading maps and driving??? I'm a little obsessive and controling about that. For heaven's sake, we got lost in Hawaii coming back from the Polynesian Cultural Center!

3. Does Facebook or Twitter actually bring more stress or good in to your life? submitted byJust an Arizona Girl
Facebook seems pretty non drama for me. Anybody that possibly causes drama in my life based on FB I do not keep on FB. That might be drama for them, but for me it gives some piece of mind. It is my place! It's nice to catch up quickly and easily with friends as well as post photos of life on occassion.

4. June is National Soul Food Month- what’s your soul food? submitted by NH Girl Displaced
Ummm... does "Gramma Skeddy" and popcorn count?? Not neccessarily together though.

5.  If you could live in any other era than the current, which one would it be & why? submitted by Sugar in My Grits 
I think I'd enjoy the pioneering era. Covered wagons, farming... that whole Laura Ingalls Wilder lifestyle. It would be rough, but back then it was about life, family, neighbors, and surviving.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Book Review: The Seraph Seal by Leonard Sweet & Lori Wagner

Take the Da Vinci Code with a mix of the Left Behind Series and you have a feel of The Seraph Seal by Leonard Sweet and Lori Wagner. Set mainly in the year 2048, this 500+ page book creates an apocalyptic scene that, oddly enough, is somewhat believable.

On December 21, 2012 there are 9 special children born. In the year 2048, Paul Binder receives a mysterious letter informing him of cryptic information which then leads him on a quest of study, deciphering, and clues that hold the only hope for the world’s future.

The world is in chaos. Earth has been abused for so long the damage is irreversible. Natural disasters on a massive scale are debilitating countries on a daily basis. It seems that people are more concerned with power than the well-being of their own people. Religion is all but forgotten. Mixing in theories on the Apocalypse, symbols from history and present day, pieces of Revelation and other bits from the Bible, technology, and scientific discoveries the reader is taken from the United States to London, Italy, the Middle East, Russia, China, Egypt and many other places to learn why and how all these seemingly unrelated pieces fit together. Can Paul bring everything and everyone together? Will the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse assemble?

I was actually quite interested in reading this book and in the first few chapters enjoyed the fast pace of the story and the cliff hanging chapters. But, before too long I became frustrated with the constant geographic location changes and numerous characters. It was difficult to keep some characters straight and then, to make things a bit more complex, there were several characters that showed up only for a chapter and never heard from again. A little over halfway through the book the standout characters were established enough to enjoy and complete the story and make sense of a lot of the confusion early on. The conclusion left me wanting more in the end because with all that build up and investment into the characters there should have been something better.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255


Thursday Song Link-up!

Hello Thursday! Time for the link up with Goodnight Moon!

This week I choose "Time After Time" cover by Javier Colon on The Voice. Wow. This guy should win, not just because of his voice, but his adorable kids too! Best of luck to his career.

Oh, and I just love this song anyway! Isn't that another good reason to pick it? :)

Oh, and check out my options on a giveaway. Follow if you want the possibility to win when the time comes!!


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

an excused absence & giveaway options

Oh readers, I have been absent the last few days, but I have a GOOD reason!

My aunt, uncle and their 3 girls stopped by on their drive around the country. It is so wonderfully nice to see family once in awhile... it really makes you feel like you are loved and NOT forgotten. I love visitors!

Anyway, I've just been busy with preparing the house and then they were here Monday evening, Tuesday all day and just left this Wednesday morning.

With the FREE babysitters, Ryan and I were able to go out to dinner alone one evening. We all spent time wandering Old Town and also went to see the Pirates movie (finally) in 3D.

It was just nice.

In other news... I'm thinking of a new giveaway. Perhaps when I reach 75 followers I'll give away a prize worth $75. Or I can wait until 100 followers and do one for $100. What do you think? There are several things I'd include. One of them might be the lovely gathered clutches or zippy pouches from my "in real life" friend moxiemandie. Possibly something from Scentsy and possibly something handmade by me (TBD). I might include some New Mexico lovelies as well.

Let me know what you all think.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

No, I have not forgotten it is Father's Day! We've just been a little busy is all. Ryan recieved some cards and much needed shirts from the kids and I got him a 1 hour couple's massage at a local spa. It was a good day.

So now...

To the man who bounced me on his knee, let me stand on his hands, spanked hard, couldn't touch while in his "whites", taught me how to throw a ball, ride a bike, shoot a gun. The man who gave support when he could, provided for his family, and took on some hard roles. To the man who walked me down the aisle on my wedding day and was waiting in the lobby to learn his first grandchild was a boy:

Happy Father's Day!
not sure when this was taken -- years and years ago!
And also to my husband who is becoming a better dad each day. It's great to have the kids run to him, so excited, when he comes home each evening. Sometimes I sit back and see how differently the kids relate to him than to me... there truly is a special bond between daddies and their kids!

An older pic with Alanna 3 months old and Will almost 2 1/2.

To all the men out there who are in father roles
(biological, foster, step, adopted, or just being there)
Thank you! And I hope you had a wonderful Father's Day!


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Some summer fun

I never posted this video from the beginning of June!

Less than a year ago this boy was basically mute. Not even babbling sounds. Lots of work and therapy and look at him now!

In other news, New Mexico has been dealing with the smoke from that HUGE fire in Arizona. There have been several evenings where we can't even go outside because the smoke is so bad it's hard to breathe. Lately it hasn't really showed up, thankfully. The sky would look overcast and the sun would be red. It was a bit freaky.

That upper sky is not evening dusk... it's grey from smoke.
 And now some pics of the kids!

this is a little dress I whipped up for Alanna one night. I didn't use a pattern, just made it. There is also a matching diaper cover.
This week we stayed busy and I took both kids to the pool. It was a bit more difficult than I was expecting, but we all had a wonderful time. Neither child wanted to leave and none of us got any sunburns! Knowing my skin, that is quite a feat!

I just adore baby feet!
I really am hoping for more summer fun!


Friday, June 17, 2011

Super Simple Yummy Steak

I like meat.

I think we eat meat with every dinner.

I know it's on my 101 in 1001 to go a week as a vegetarian, and that will be hard.

Anyway, hubby and I enjoy a nice steak occassionally. When I share this information with friends I always get the same comment, "I don't know how to make a good steak."


Often the husbands will cook one up on the grill, but my lady friends aren't always ready to take that on.

So, here is my super simple recipe for steak. It's pretty hard to screw this up.


First off, invest in GOOD cuts. Right now we are partial to tenderloin steak. It pays off to spend the little extra for a better quality!

Next, get some marinade. We prefer the Masterpiece Steakhouse Marinade, but the Lawry's has some good ones as well (like the Teriyaki!).

Now, preheat the oven to 350*.

Lay out the steak on a foil lined cookie sheet or pan. Make sure it at has edges so you don't lose the juices to the bottom of your oven!

Then cover all sides of the steaks in the marinade plus liberally pour on additional marinade to simmer in.

it may not look very appitizing right now....
 Completely cover in foil. Place in oven. Cook at 350* for about 30 minutes for meat to be "well done"

Remove from oven, take off the top foil and allow meat to rest a few minutes.

Place steaks on plate, drizzle with the juices from the pan (or you can probably make gravy out of it if you wanted to by adding in flour). Enjoy!

By the way, I made my delicious, horribly fattening potatoes to go with it. I'll have to share that recipe sometime!

You can probably do this also on the grill by covering meat in the marinade, wrap completely in foil, then grill.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

What's Your Song?

It's Thursday! So, what's your song? Head over to Goodnight Moon to link up!

This week I'm gonna post 2 songs. *gasp* Whaaaa? Breaking the rules? Yeah.

So my first pick is "Battle Hymn of the Republic" performed by Judy Garland. I've been asked to sing a patriotic song for church on July 3rd and just cannot choose. Right now this is the front runner, but I'm not sure how well I'll pull it off. But Judy Garland did awesome. Just awesome.

My second song, well, I just like it. Now, I don't actually swear so I'm not gonna share the title (by P!nk) but many of you already know the song... and I don't think she actually swears in the song at all. Anyway, I love it! First time I heard it was shortly after a HS friend committed suicide. It still makes me tear up everytime I see the video.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Planning the What Ifs

I have been going back and forth on posting about something that has a large effect on our future in the coming year, but I'm not sure if I should totally share everything yet.

Part of it is because I want hubby to be able to talk to who should find out information from him rather than gleaning or finding it out here.

Not that it's a big deal... but it sort of is.

And NO I am not pregnant.

Part of the reason we are not planning another child right now is because of what we will be dealing with and working through in the next year or two.

Lots of "what ifs" and things we do not really have control over so we have to try to plan for what we can with different possible scenarios.

Vacation to the Grand Canyon in August is out. Maybe in September when we have more info... who knows.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Shopping for Me

I went to Target tonight to FINALLY buy myself some shorts. It's 90+ degree weather now so I figured I should get on about it.

Thing is I own 2 pairs of shorts and 4 pairs of capris. Both shorts were purchased before I was pregnant with William. And of the 4 pairs of capris, 1 was also purchased before William and the other 3 were pre-owned by my sister and I've had 2 of them for several years already myself.

So yes, I really needed to get some clothes that actually fit me to deal with this HOT weather that is only getting hotter.

Oh, and I also had to get Lana some new sandals.

I discovered Target is not a good place for me to shop because I want to buy for everyone else besides myself. I had several outfits for each of my kids, the sandals for Alanna, shoes for William and was going to head over the men's to find some shirts for hubby when I realized I didn't have the money for all that plus what I needed to get for myself.

I put everything back -- in the proper place. Then I found 3 pairs of shorts that I liked and the sandals for Alanna then hurriedly purchased them and left before I'd go back for anything else.

You have no idea how hard that was.


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Just add on more kids... why not?!

VBS is over. It was such a fun week, but I'm gonna miss my kiddos.

In the previous post about VBS I said there was 1 girl in my crew I was going to win over. Turns out she moved from being a participant to a volunteer. She was older than the other kids in my group and would still stop, smile and say hi when she saw me. So I count that as a win!

Anyway, this wasn't just a busy week from VBS. My friend here on base was having steady contractions (again) and she is just now 31 weeks pregnant. She ended up getting admitted to the hospital for some additional care and her husband was going to stay with her so I took in her 2 little ones around 11 pm Thursday night.

So I had a 3-year-old, a 2-year-old, and two 1-year-olds (they are 1 month apart in age).

Overall things went very good for us. We walked to the base chapel for VBS and back on Friday since I live fairly close. Meals and naps went over quite well. That evening after baths their dad stopped by to visit with them and drop off more clothes and diapers. He even put them to bed before he left to go back to the hospital.

Today was a little more difficult. It seems Alanna has an intolerance for sharing her mom after so long. She became so clingy and territorial, fighting with her same-age counterpart... who also fights back. The 2-year-old was all over Ryan and just wanted to sit with him or follow him around. Will pretty much just played it cool and didn't cause any problems.

After we finished lunch today their daddy came by and took them home. They're gonna visit the hospital and then he'll keep them and take them to church in the morning. My friend should be getting out of the hospital on Sunday if all goes well. I'm hoping it does!

In some ways, having 4 kids made life easier. OMG... did I just say that?!?! I mean, they easily entertained each other, played well together, it was easier for me to schedule the day, we all ate together, they napped... it was better. I'm sure if they were ALL my kids they would be spaced out a bit more in age, but I can definitely accept having 4 kids of my own one day.

..... now I just have to convince the hubby!!! LOL


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Thursday Song Link-Up

Hooray! It's Thursday so it's time for the song link-up with Amber over at Goodnight Moon!

This week I've been volunteering at a Vacation Bible School at the base chapel so my head is full of those songs. And then last night my sister called me to ask about the lyrics to one of the songs she's supposed to sing with her Pre-School Sunday School class. Apparently I spend a lot of time listening to classic children's church music (which is actually true).

Anyway, we got talking about some of the songs and then I just couldn't resist sharing "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" Rocketman style!


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Speech Progress

I am thrilled to report that Will's communication is getting much, MUCH better!

He has several new words and uses them spontaneously to communicate. Not just with me and Ryan, but with others (mostly adults) he comes in contact with. It is great.

He is anamored with dogs right now. I turned on "Lady and the Tramp" and got to hear "puppy" and "puppy" over and over again. And then me, being a mom of a child with a speech disorder, I am vocalizing all of the actions and going-ons of the movie while he continuously points out the dogs. Do you know how often a dog is on the screen in that movie?! I'm just saying...

Will's attempts at words is greatly improving. And when prompted, he can sometimes get two or three words together. Such great progress.

I'm not sure if he's up to 20 consistent words yet, but he's getting close.

His babbling is nearly all the time now as well.

He also has numerous approximated words. His newest? "Bap-baa" for iPod. Yup, that's my boy... all about technology.


Monday, June 6, 2011

A reason to like Mondays & VBS

I know hubby hates Mondays... but I have a reason to like them and it's one of the main reasons he hates them.

Reason: he has to wear his blues!


I mean, I get to see him nearly all other days in his ABU's, but there's just something about a man in uniform, his dressy uniform, that makes me all happy.

Oh, I wanted to share something random. Ryan likes to watch FOX News. Well, that whole somewhat scandal thing has been reported on about Congressman Anthony Weiner and the text message photos or tweets or whatever. I looked at Ryan and said, "sorry honey, but if your last name was Weiner, I would have kept my maiden name." He smiled, looked at me and said, "if my last name was Weiner I would have happily taken your last name." You would think that guy would have petitioned for a name change years ago...

In other news: VBS started today. I'm a crew leader of 5 kids, 3 of which are foster kids. They are quite "energetic" but it's fun. The one kid has such a great personality even if he is very hyper. Then I've got 2 quieter kids but they're sweet in their own way. I think one of the girls isn't quite sure what to think of me and I wonder if she is not there by choice... but I hope to win her over!

My poor kids have early mornings all week because of VBS... makes for early bedtimes, hopefully.

Pray for me to keep up energy through the week.


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Time to Work Out??

In the past week I returned from California, took a kid to ER because her brother pushed her down and she bit/busted open her lip, mowed the lawn, took Will to a dentist appointment, drove to Edgewood for Hippotherapy, and shopped for fabric.

Today I made a dress with diaper cover for Alanna to wear. It was relaxing to sew for awhile.

There's still plenty to do. There always is.

But, I wish there was more time for something extra. It's called 'working out'.

When Ryan and I moved to Japan I gained like 25 pounds. Ug. So I got a personal trainer. She was awesome. With the leniency of working split shifts I was able to work out twice a day 4 days a week, 1 time a day 2 days a week and then rest on Sunday. I lost about 30 pounds. I was toning up nicely and lookin' good.

Then I changed jobs and worked more hours and couldn't go to the gym as often. I gained 5 pounds back.

Then I quit that job and got pregnant. Farewell weight loss at all!

Anyway, since having Will I never really got back into a regular workout routine. By the time I got pregnant with Alanna I was at the heaviest I'd ever been in my adult life. Thankfully I actually lost weight during pregnancy so it wasn't so bad afterwards.

Some of you may remember I started the P90X 6 weeks after Alanna was born, but stopped after a month because finding the time to do it, nursing a baby, and working schedules out with the hubby caused too much trouble.

I've got to start working out again. I'm not sure what I've gatta do, but it needs to be something. That danged muffin top is driving me nuts! And who knew that having kids would totally change your body shape?!?!

I thought about going for the P90X again... but I really miss the gym and lifting weights. I chatted with a friend about doing a kids co-op so one of us could go to the gym while the other was watching the kids and switch off during the week. We'll see if that pans out.

Maybe I should get a jogging stroller and do more walking. There's always Couch to 5K as well.

This sucks.


Friday, June 3, 2011

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In

Wow. It's been several weeks since I've participated in MilSpouse Friday Fill-In. If you'd like to link up, head over to Wife of a Sailor's blog.
Questions for this week:
1. It’s now June (woot!)… what plans do you have for the summer?
Well, we've been discussing a trip to the Grand Canyon and hopefully some fun local road trips. We also would like to spend some time at the pools and splash parks.
2. What is your favorite summer memory as a kid?
Here's the thing... I went to year-round school as a small kid. And then, I would be put in the intermission classes during part of that break because they wanted "good" students in there as well as those who had struggles. 
We did go camping though. I have lots of fun memories of us at Camp Pendleton with our tents and marshmallows.
There was also church camps. Usually a week long. Good times there too.
3. If wild animals could be made pets without fear of them ever being dangerous, what kind of exotic animal would you want as a pet?
Oh, I'm thinking I'd like a lion or a bear or possibly a koala. They just seem so cuddly, but they're too dangerous.
4. Is there anything about deployments that you do like? submitted by The Thrifty Military Wife
again, no deployments yet. But I can think about the tax free dollars, spouse separation pay... nice way to help pay off student loans.
5. I’m starting to run out of questions again… so please give me a question you’d like to see (off-the-wall will most likely make it because we seem to have used a lot of the “traditional” ones).
What has been your weirdest dream that includes a celebrity?
When it comes to water fun in the summer do you prefer the beach, the pool, a lake, or the sprinklers?
Which is better; Star Wars or Star Trek?


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Song Link Up

It took me awhile to pick out a song this week. I'm still reeling from my California trip which you can read about HERE.

Head over to Goodnight Moon and link up with Amber.

The song chosen is "The Song That Goes Like This" from Spamalot. At the USO show I saw the characters came out and sing this song as Prince William and Kate. Oddly enough I had a dream about Prince William last night (no, nothing kinky!) it was just weird.

Anyway, enjoy it. I couldn't find a really good recording... but liked the one with Sara Ramirez (Callie on Grey's). Funny. Now I just wish I had the opportunity to see the show.


Memorial Day 2011 in California

Warning: this is a LONG blog.

I am finally sitting down to tell ya'll about my trip to California.

After a delay in LAX I finally made it to Sacramento. I see my sister and start talking about getting my bags when suddenly I see my little brother standing next to me. He didn't tell us he was arriving and I had wondered about all his text messages to me wanting details on my flight information throughout the day... but I was incredibly thrilled to see him. To be honest, I didn't think I'd see him until the day he is to leave for Afghanistan.

So, yeah, he's standing there and I totally scream out of excitement and hug him so tight it's like he'll pop in my arms! Everybody turns and stares at me. But, he's wearing his Army bag so they probably all figured he was returning or something like that.

We get to my sister's place and sleep.

Saturday we hang out in the morning and then we all gallavant off to her church where her rehearsal commenses and she shows off my daughter and introduces us to friends. We spend some time at the memorial and I get a name rubbing for a friend. At some point there is also brief shopping. I should also add that I got some In-N-Out Burger to eat. That evening my parents arrived.

caught him sleeping!

Sunday was the BIG day. We all got up and dressed for church. It is requested that if you are military you wear your uniform so, of course, my brother came in his ACUs. We head out to the church and meet up with my aunt, uncle and their daughters who came up for the performance and to see us as well.

Now, I had been hearing about the performance Calvary Christian Center puts on every year. How it is amazing. It is powerful. It is emotional. So, to be honest, my expectations were pretty high. Since my brother was present, I got to sit in priority seating. Any military member has priority seating (center) and they can bring one guest. Dad took mom and Mike took me. Man, were those pews PACKED! They do 3 shows so as to support the amount of people that attend.

When you come in you see a replica of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a replica of several panals of the Vietnam War Memorial, a hospital set up similiar to M.A.S.H., and a large American Flag hanging center stage. Of course I can't show you photos because the performance is copyrighted and I don't feel like having any legal battles for breaking the law.

Once I was settled in and took in the set up I had to break for a moment and tell myself that it is possible I had this whole thing really built up in my mind and it can let me down.

It didn't.

It is now I wish I had more eloquent writing to describe the show.

To begin they have some video in honor of the different wars and veterans who fought. Then the scene begins with one of the soldiers in the Tomb of the Unkown Soldier. It was a moving monologue. I might add that every scene throughout the performance have correct period attire and uniforms on. And though this is taking place in church, they want things to be as realistic as possible, so there is some bad language and "mature content".

Then, one of the most emotional parts to me... they raise the flag that is hanging center stage to reveal 5 memorials of the boots/rifle/helmet/dogtags common to those who we've lost. There is also a man in full uniform who then plays taps. It was very moving.

At some point the pastor gets up and introduces certain people like special guests, speakers, a Gold Star mother, sister and grandmother. One of people introduced was Ngan Nguyen, one of the last, if not the last, evacuee during the fall of Saigon in the Vietnam War. What was even more interesting is that later on I met an old Marine who told me he was the man who put her on the helicopter and 3 hours later almost died when he was blown up (he showed us the scars on his head). Fascinating stuff!

Pastor Ciociola then begins to recognize the veterans present starting with those who are currently serving and goes back naming all conflicts; Desert Storm, Korean War, Vietnam War, World War II (there were no World War I veterans in attendance). At each time the veterans of those wars/conflicts move to the front of the church and stand for all to see. He also acknowledges those who served in peace time.

I was most amazed at the Vietnam veterans. There were so many. And the pastor makes a point to state that they returned with honor, welcomes them home, and apologizes for what the politicians did to those men and women. Tears abounded.

Continuing on with the performance is a story at the M.A.S.H. set. Kind of what life was like. There is even a scene of men traveling through the jungles and then the sounds/lights of battle.

The final scene takes place at the Vietnam War Memorial. There are some monologues of what it means to be there, a son's talk to his dad he never knew and a veteran's memories of the buddies he lost there.

And then the most moving scene: that veteran places his hand on the wall and then back lit there were 3 armed young men behind the wall in a Vietnam Jungle and one places his hand up to the hand of the veteran. Oh, I nearly broke down right there.

You could hear cries and stifled sobs throughout the performance. It was amazing.

I guess that every year scene content is changed so it's not the same exact thing every year.

To conclude, Army Staff Sargeant David Bellavia gave a quick message. He is a Medal of Honor and Distinguished Service Cross Nominee, awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star, 3 Army Commendation Medals, 2 Army Achievement Medals, and the New York State Conspicuous Service Cross. He fought in the Battle of Fallujah in 2005 and is the author of House to House: And Epic Memoir of War. I'll probably pick up and read the book... I enjoyed what he had to say.

When all was complete, we walked over to the East Grounds of the church where the Memorial was set up. The memorial has 18 panels and lists the names of the nearly 6000 men and women we have lost in OIF and OEF from October 1, 2001 to April 30, 2011. The names are engraved on the panels and there is a master list available for those who are looking for a specific name for a rubbing. There is also a 9/11 Monument Fountain, flags to represent each state, and a set up of the boots/rifle/helmet/dogtags.

It really is surprising to see how many we have lost in the last nearly 10 years. And then I stop and think that in WWII we would lose this many in less than a week's time.

I had dressed Alanna adorably for this occassion. I got her dress from a lady on Etsy who is now stationed in Texas: KayleesKloset. Cute stuff. Alanna wandered the path of the memorial hugging random people.
Uncle Mike with Alanna

me and my baby

Aunt Retta with Alanna

Dad, Me, Retta, Mom, Mike and Alanna

Later that evening we returned to the church for the USO show. Since the morning is so heavy and emotional the evening show is very funny and entertaining. My brother was asked to jump in last minute to play trumpet for one of the pieces. My sister was two of the fish for another sketch with Bin Laden singing about being fish food at the bottom of the sea. There was funny jokes about politics, Justin Bieber, Obama. There were sketches/songs with Lucielle Ball, Prince William and Kate, Judy Garland. The people were talented and it was very entertaining.

Retta and her friend Charles

Alanna and I

Mike playing trumpet for "I Love You Baby"

not the best pic but Retta's two fish are below the American flag, just to the right of Bin Laden.

Alright. Monday.

Monday I went with my mom and dad out to gold country. We went to the town of Sutter and wandered main street. Not much there.

Eventually we made our way to Volcano. It was a neat little town with lots of historical buildings. We wandered around there then headed back to my sister's place. That evening her and I went to dinner.

EARLY Tuesday morning, like before 4 am, we headed back to Albuquerque. Another delay in Denver and we finally made it home. I'm still recovering from my lack of sleep.

I will say that this was one Memorial Day Weekend where I actually felt like I honored our veterans and remembered why we celebrate such a day.

And if you're still reading this, Thanks for making it through. Perhaps you can attend next year. And please ignore the typos.