When selecting, I intentionally stayed away from obvious things like when we first met, began dating, first kiss, engagement, marriage, pregnancies, births... those sort of things. These are memories that are specific to us and, therefore, special.
- Our trip to California. This is back when we were dating in college. I saved up a bunch of my money over the summer. Ryan had been at field training. That fall, before classes started up again, we made a trip to California. Ryan had never been to Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm, or Universal Studios Hollywood so we made a vacation of it. We loaded up my parents' fancy car and drove to Fresno, CA to stay with my sister. Then all three of us went to the Anaheim area and stayed with her friend. Disneyland was a blast. Knott's Berry Farm was also wonderful (and where we discovered both of us loved roller coasters). I think the best was Universal Studios, though. Neither of us had been before and it was only him and I. We went on nearly all the rides, did the back lot tour, and laughed and screamed our way through the Van Helsing Haunted House! Ryan always wanted to experience the Back to the Future Ride... and we did it together! Such good times. We were young and free. Sadly, to this day I cannot find all our pictures from that adventure.
|Knott's Berry Farm -- waiting in line for the Perilous Plunge ride (2004)|
|meeting Mickey Mouse at Disneyland (2004)|
- Our vacation in Hokkaido. To this day we say this was our best vacation! It was B.C. (before children) and both of us were working. My paycheck was split between student loan payments and a vacation fund back then. One of the experiences I wanted in Japan was to see the Sapporo Snow Festival -- snow statues, ice sculptures, international competition, COLD, snow maze, blizzard, etc. The best part was the fact that the whole thing was PAID FOR! I had plenty of money in our vacation account at the time that we could eat where we wanted, go wherever (within reason), and not worry about a budget. It was here we accidentally came across a true Japanese Grill with the crazy fire on the food! We took our time wherever we went and just enjoyed the experience and each other.
|in front of the ice sculptures (2007)|
|at a true Japanese Grill with our chef (2007)|
- Sauna dates. Yes, you read that right. In college Ryan and I didn't exactly "go out" on dates that much. We were poor college students. He had to study a lot. There wasn't a lot to do in Ellensburg when you don't drink (and you're underaged anyway). So we went to the city pool and it cost, I believe, less than $3 to get in. We'd go and mostly sit in the sauna. We were there so often we became regulars and built some friendly relationships with a couple other regulars. At that time we would go in the sauna and sit for about 45 minutes, sometimes a bit longer, just chatting and seeing how long we could hold out in the heat. Occasionally there would be some swimming as well. We would invite friends with us from time to time and then we would all play in the water. Good times for sure.
- Returning home from Katrina. Ryan and I were newlyweds (married 5 months) when the Air Force sent him to Keesler AFB in Mississippi for some training. For those that don't know, Keesler is by Biloxi. Unfortunately he got stuck there when Katrina hit. It was a nerve racking time to be sure. He was lodged in an office building with who knows how many other people. Unsanitary conditions. No real food. No real access to the outside. When he was finally "free" he made it out of Kessler and got to an air port to come home. While all the craziness of the hurricane was happening we lost contact because Cingular (remember them?) signals weren't working. After stressing out over the weather news I drove home so I wouldn't be alone at our little apartment. He made it back to Seattle and I already had reservations at a hotel between the air port and my parents house who graciously changed our reservation with the delay from the hurricane. My brother didn't know why we were staying at a hotel --- ummm... we hadn't seen each other in over a month, newlyweds, didn't exactly want to be at my parents' house. Anyway, it was our first "homecoming" and it was nice to be together again. (And I want to say, don't believe the Wikipedia site about Keesler and Hurricane Katrina: the students were NOT evacuated from the base and in fact were FORCED to stay there to "ride it out".)
- Fresh starts. The military gives us the wonderful opportunity of picking up and causing drastic change to our lives every couple years. Despite the stress, the frustration, and trying to rebuild our support system it is a blessing for us to "start fresh" yet again. We think back to our time in Japan and also our move here to Ohio (we don't like to think back too often on our "fresh start" in New Mexico since it didn't go very well). Anyway, this is a time when life is still fairly slow and we have the time to spend with each other. In Japan we were living in the Kanto Lodge and making plans on getting in better shape, eating healthy, traveling, and beginning our real life as a married couple. And now at our new base we have been making plans, finding things to do with the kids, getting into a new routine, joining a new church, and meeting new friends. Things aren't perfect, but it is such a joy to re-connect with one another and later to look back at how these fresh starts changed our lives.