Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Wedding ... from my eyes!

September 29, 2012 ~ Well kids, chalk this up as something I have never done before.... Taking pictures at a wedding. I'm not talking just random pictures.... I mean like the "photographer" of a wedding! I wasn't nervous but I wanted to make sure the bride and groom realized that I was not a professional photographer but that I would do the best job I could to remember their special day!

My cousin Stephanie called me and asked if I would take pictures of a wedding. The couple had a photographer but the photographer's dad suddenly passed away and wouldn't be able to do their wedding. I quickly jumped in and was ready to help save the day! I didn't know anything about the couple and would meet them around 2:30 pm before the 5:00 pm wedding.... gotta be quick on your feet as we needed to get some pictures before hand!

The wedding was at Alpine Garden's in Harrisburg, MO and the weather was perfect! It was a little cold that morning so I was nervous for that part but it quickly warmed up! It was a lot of fun and I wish I had time to come up with some other "fun" shots but it all worked out great! I think we got a lot of great photos that will be able to be blown up or edited to fit their style. They were really sweet and really enjoyed their day.... my focus was to stay out of the way and not take away from this moment! (I think I successfully did it!)

 It was fun doing something a little different and if I had it to do all over again I would have a couple things to do differently (from a camera aspect or angles) but for the most part I was really pleased! Thank you Nicole & Corey Wright for letting me be apart of your special day!  Here's just a few pictures that I thought was fun!

Congratulations Nicole & Corey on your new life together! 

A step in the right direction....

September 28, 2012 ~ Since Brandon and I are helping Mike get back on his feet I had planned to take him to town and get some clothes and necessity items. Our day started with a meeting at 8:00 am at Phoenix House here in Columbia for an assessment. This would be some basic information as well as a series of questions that Mike would have to answer so that they could determine where he fit into the classes he would need to take. This took 1 1/2 hours and they assessed him at a 2. (Most people that come out of prison typically rank at a 1 so he's off to a great start!) He will begin taking classes at Phoenix House weekly and one of them will count towards his SATOP class which is great.

At first impression of the people we were talking to I was a little nervous. Not sure what I expected but it seemed a little disorganized at first. As we sat and talked to one of the counselors prior to the assessment I felt better. As he began to ask Mike general questions we found out that this counselor had also been to prison and had an addiction to crack but because he wanted to change his life and through the different programs he was sober for 8 years and serving as a counselor. He was very open and honest which to some degree surprised me. Seems like in our society that many people try to cover up things. They don't want to talk about their own addictions or their family problems. I am certainly not saying that everyone needs to know everything about everyone but rather be a support system for those that need it. My family is extremely important to me and I want to see Mike succeed in life therefore I am willing to share his story with you all in the hopes that if there is someone close to you that needs help, encouragement and support you might find it here. I want to know that he is getting the best treatment that is available to him through the resources we have in this community and yet he needs to be involved enough to have "skin in the game".

After picking him up from this assessment we then went to get a Missouri ID from the Department of Revenue. It was pretty quick and easy and we were out of there in 15 minutes or less. While in prison they helped him obtain his birth certificate and social security card so that he didn't have to get these things when he was released. (When they released him they gave him $12.50 because he had a GED, which he obtained while he was serving his sentence) His Missouri ID card cost $11.00.

We then checked in with the Division of Family Services. 10 days before he was released they helped him fill out the information to obtain food stamps. Something he didn't want to do but he had no choice. Currently he does not have a job and even though he will be helping us work on the property and living with his mom they are on a very limited budget and maybe he will only use this resource for a very short time. We waited in line at the building on Vandiver and there were people lined up. They could tell that we have never been there before and were very helpful (thank goodness). We learned that you wait in line to get your name on the list and then you wait 3-4 hours to be seen. My heart was sad to think all of these people (20 or so) had to wait several hours just to talk to someone about food stamps. (Not sure what else they do in this specific office as we only asked about food stamps) 3 ladies and 1 man said this was a "light" day for them and normally the line just to get on the list is down and around the corner and you might wait 5-6 hours to see someone. I just couldn't imagine and my heart truly goes out to each and everyone that goes through this yet they were understanding and helpful even though they had been there a while. Several of them had small children with them. Seems like they would be able to do something different such as call and make an appointment without incurring expense of getting transportation to get there, dragging their small children out to set there for hours on end. Just really opens your eyes to be thankful for the things we have yet never take them for granted. We got through that line fairly quickly and luckily they said they will call with an appointment next week as they were backed up and hadn't had time to process his paperwork just yet.

 I was so proud of Mike at this point. Before leaving he wanted to talk to a case worker about his past child support on a good faith and figure out how to get it paid back. The case worker was super sweet and very understanding. She was so surprised that Mike had only been out 1 day and came over there to figure out what he needs to do to make things right. She even gave him a couple examples of places he could go to look for employment at they hired ex-felons at a great wage.  He is certainly on the right path and wants to get the state paid and behind him even if this wasn't a stipulation of his prole/probation.

We got all of this done in time for me to head to a lunch meeting in Rocheport. I dropped Mike off with Brandon and they got to get caught up. When my lunch was over I picked him back up and it was time to get him some much needed clothes! He had a too big polo style shirt, cargo shorts, old tennis shoes and a few personal items when he was released. We couldn't expect him to work on a fresh start with just that and we didn't want to take advantage of the resources available to others so we went shopping!

He did great! A lot of times when people have been locked up for many years they don't like to be around a lot of people. We started out at JC Penny then went inside the mall to Shoe Dept, Eddie Bauer, Target then over to Kohl's. He did awesome and you honestly wouldn't have thought this was a big deal to him. I stayed close and kept an eye on him and he really enjoyed our day. I made him try everything on as we all know different brands fit differently! We got a lot of jeans, shirts, sweatshirts, socks, underwear, tennis shoes and work boots. We even got a winter coat! We then got all the basic things such as soap, shampoo, razors, etc. At least he feels as if his transition will be smoother once he can be appropriately dressed which will hopefully allow others not to judge him but rather be willing to guide him to the next step. It was nice seeing him smile and enjoy this new adventure.

It was a great day and I learned so much about things I have never experienced before. It makes you really stop and think about life and the choices we make.... sometimes these choices are a direct result of things we do and sometimes they are a direct result of choices others make yet you are affected because you are a part of their life. Something positive can always come out of something negative.... you just have to be willing to stick your neck out there and try something different... something positive. It doesn't happen overnight but it can happen.... it just takes 1 person to believe in you.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

A fresh start on life...

September 27, 2012 ~ This is Brandon's 1/2 brother, Mike Stewart. Mike has currently been serving the past almost 11 years behind bars and today he has been released from Tipton Correctional Center and has a fresh start on life. Many of you know I am an open book and my family is really important to me. Like many of us Mike enjoyed his younger years... maybe a little too much. I believe we have all done things we shouldn't have done but many of us never got caught. I wouldn't think twice about drinking and driving and now you couldn't pay me enough to take that chance! Mike was charged with 5 DWI's, child support and has a Class A felony for robbery. This is something that he did during his drug and alcohol years and one that we are not happy about but it's the past and we can't change it. 

One thing that has amazed me over the past 10+ years is the attitude and outlook on life he has maintained. He is a lot like me in the since of looking at the positive side of things. While serving out his sentence he realized that he only has himself to blame and the law did their job. He never involved himself into gang's but rather took care of himself. He would go to work (starting out in the kitchen working up to employment in the prison canteen to most recently working in the wood shop), eat and go back to his cell to watch TV or would draw. He learned how to draw the most beautiful pictures during his time in prison. One thing I love about Mike is that there isn't anything he can't do if he puts his mind to it.

He is very lucky to have an amazing and supportive family including Brandon and I. I recently got involved in a program called BCOTN (Boone County Offenders Transition Network) to understand what services were available to him once he was released. I am working closely with this program to figure out how to get this information to the general public since approximately 40 people per month are released back into Boone County. We want them to be productive citizens and not become repeat offenders of our community.

Mike is very humble. He knows that he can not change the past but he can certainly change the future. He wants a fresh start at life and is willing to do whatever it takes to prove that he is worth something and not just another inmate. I truly believe in my heart that it took almost 11 years of being behind bars in Maximum security all the way down to minimum security prisons to give him enough time to process what has happened. He had to hit rock bottom several times before he would appreciate anything. I feel he is ready to show the world that he is changed for the better.

I ask that you not judge Mike. He has a lot of proving to do and I know he won't let us down. He has a rough road ahead of him but the best part is that he gets to spend time with his mother (who is very sick and we didn't know if she would be alive to see this day) and rekindle true relationships with his children, Morgan who is 20 years old and Mikey who is a senior at Rock Bridge High School and his grandson Ethan who is 3 months old and of course Brandon & I. Sadly I see Mikey going down the same path as his father and I pray that Mike can talk to him and steer him away from that path as he can see the destruction it caused.  Mike will continue to pay for the crimes he committed however he would like to move forward in life and create a good name for himself and that is respectable. I am willing to help him do what needs to be done to repay his debt and become a productive citizen of Columbia, MO.

Choices - by George Jones

"I've had choices since the day that I was born 
There were voices that told me right from wrong  
If I had listened, no I wouldn't be here today  
Living and dying with the choices I've made
I was tempted, by an early age I found I liked drinkin', 

oh, and I never turned it down  
There were loved ones but I turned them all away 
Now I'm living and dying with the choices I've made..."

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Emmy's!

September 22, 2012 ~ A couple friends and I planned a surprise trip to the Mid-America Emmy's to surprise Sarah Hill! She was up for an Emmy for "Interactivity" from using Google + hangouts in the news (U_News @ 4 pm) and we wanted to be there as we all met in her hangout!

This is Chad LaFarge & Dan Weil.... Two guys I met through Sarah's hangouts!

It was so much fun being able to be there and I don't trade in my blue jeans and cowboy boots for just anyone! It was totally worth it and I thank Scott Schaefer (he also won 2 Emmy's with Sarah) for helping us coordinate all of this! 

What was really cool about this whole night is that we got to go up on stage to be there while Sarah Hill & Lindsey Tyler accepted their Emmy. Chad and Dan both were in a Google + hangout with Chee Chew who came up with the hangout idea! That was awesome! So many people joined us throughout the evening via a hangout which was really cool because it's like they were right there with us!

I couldn't be any more proud of Sarah and Scott! They have brought great stories to us about things we didn't even know existed. They have compassion and dedication to the people they come in contact with and never expect to get anything out of what they do. You all deserve each of those "Golden Ladies"! Congratulations to you and everyone else that received them!

A very special congrats to Nathan Higgins, Jenn Reeves & Stacey Woelfel who couldn't be there to accept their Emmy. It was an amazing night with some ROCK STAR people!

Chemo visit...

September 21, 2012 ~ Today was my buddy Tom Trabue's 10th Chemo treatment and I decided to make a surprise visit to see him! I called his wife Kim and made arrangements and when I walked in he looked a little too comfy to be receiving chemo! (He looked great just reading a magazine!) After today he has 2 more chemo treatments and then a month of Monday-Friday radiation and then he'll be done! Woo Hoo! Tom has done an amazing job leading the Chamber Ambassadors while going through all of this as well as other things he is involved in. I am so glad he hasn't been really sick (he's had his moments)! I stick pretty close to him as we have become great friends since meeting in Leadership Columbia in 2010 (now he's like one of the girls) and I always worry about my people!

As I surprised Tom I look over and right across from Tom was Christina Walker! Another one of my friends who was diagnosed with breast cancer and was 1/2 way done with her chemo! She wasn't there for chemo today but just getting some fluids but I was so happy to see her!I met Christina through Women's Network and Changing The Odds committee. She has been a great part of so many things giving her time, talent and expertise!

Christina and Tom looked great! They are amazing people and I am glad to have them in my life. I know they both have lots of support as they go through all of this but the most important thing is they both have their spouses as a cheerleader helping them through the daily stuff.... It makes me smile to see their caring, compassionate attitudes as this is a joint venture and they are going to do everything possible to kick cancer to the curb, back up and run it over again! I want to be there for both of them on the last day of their chemo.... which is a big deal!

One of the things that saddens me was to see people who didn't have anyone with them. I realize it doesn't mean they don't have someone who cares and supports them but it makes you think. What if they are all alone going through something like this? I would hate to think someone has to be alone dealing with something like cancer. So I start thinking about what can I do to help? I am going to gather a bunch of cards and write little notes inside and when someone comes in for treatment they can have one to hopefully let them know someone is thinking of them.... just a small token that can mean so much.

Go Go Gadget Roller Skate!

September 17, 2012 ~ I finally got to take my ride in to be repaired (from the Malaysia guy that hit me) and as a rental I got this roller skate..... Now from riding in a big ol' bus to this little tiny thing was a big change for me. (It only has one windshield wiper, I can touch the passenger door without leaning over,  and I feel like my butt is dragging the ground) I am thankful to have this rental for the next week but I don't think this will be my next vehicle!

It was a nasty smelling little critter as it took me until Wednesday to get her smelling pretty! Between the air fresheners, perfume, and dryer sheets she was good to go! (I am crazy when it comes to cars that stink especially body odors!) As expected it was a big change to get back in my white car but I love it! I have been in many rentals (not because I am a bad driver and require rentals) but out of all of the other cars I have drove I still like mine best. My ol' girl turned 7 this month and has 93,000 miles on it I love it as much as the day I climbed in the drivers seat. For me... it's the simple things in life and I am happy with my "old" ride and not having payments for almost 4 years now!

A top secret little project!

September 14, 2012 ~ I have a project I have been working on that is a secret until December 2012. I am really excited as it's something I have always wanted to do and never made time to do it... until now! I had an opportunity a few weeks back to finish everything and submit the paperwork. This afternoon I had a conference call that moved my dream into a reality! I know it's not fair that I can't tell you but know that as soon as I have it in my hands I will share with you all! Until then let me offer some advice....

If you dream it then it's possible. If you want it then you must make time. If you just keeping talking about it then it will never happen. Make your mark and do something you love!

Kirksville or Bust!

September 12, 2012 ~ I am so fortunate to be involved in Greater Missouri Leadership this year because of these awesome ladies! There is never a dull moment when we are together and my life is better because of them!

Greater Missouri Leadership Challenge is a traveling symposium for the state of Missouri. We have been to Columbia/Jefferson City, Kansas City and now Kirksville, MO! We will graduate in November while we are in St. Louis.

While in Kirksville we learned about the rural community and farm life. It was one of my favorite places so far as we got back to the basics. We heard from some very passionate farmers and small business owners that take care of their animals and feed them well rather than commercial places that feed the animals fast and breed often to meet the demands of our nation. We got to tour Kraft Foods (picture up above) and see the process that bacon goes through to put it on the shelf.... I love bacon!

Each one of these women bring something great to our group. We all have busy lives but they make time to attend these sessions! I am thankful to have had the opportunity to meet them!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remembering 9-11

September 11, 2012 ~ 11 years ago our nation changed. It changed because of some bad people felt they needed to take the lives of our men, women and children much too soon from this earth. Today we remember those who lost their lives that day and our hearts ache for the families that lost their loved ones. It makes me proud to be an American and to see the many flags at half mast at many of the businesses, homes and schools as we never forget. I proudly drove by our fire station in Midway this morning and saw this. America may have been badly scared from September 11, 2001 but we always come back stronger and do it with pride, dedication and in memory of those that are no longer here with us. Today I will never forget what happened 11 years ago and thank the men and women that have continued to fight for our freedom.  

Today also marks the 3rd year that Grandma Ruby Spry passed away. She was a very special lady to us and always believed in her family. She was supportive, loving and compassionate. She taught me a lot about life and I am so thankful she was a huge piece to Brandon's life. I miss her everyday and I am thankful for all the memories and her recipes that I was able to capture in 2 cookbooks that I put together. Miss you terribly Grandma Ruby but know you are watching over us from up above!

Family time!

September 10, 2012 ~ My cousin Jayna and I wanted to spend some time with our Aunt Carolyn & Uncle Alden so we called and told them we were going to cook lunch and play domino's with them. We loaded up Janie, Jayna's daughter, stuff to make homemade pizza and took off to Hallsville!

We had the best time cooking for them! It wasn't anything fancy but we laughed, giggled and had a great time while Aunt Carolyn played with the baby and Uncle Alden watched us as he didn't know what the heck us girls might do next!

We served up lunch and then got to playin' Mexican Train domino's! We listened to Pandora radio and got our game faces on! We played a good 4 games and then we had to get going. We hated to leave but Jayna had to go to work and I had a conference call at 3 pm I had to get.

Little Janie did awesome! She slept through the loud noise of us giggling and slamming domino's on the table! She's so sweet and just really starting to crawl around... little turkey gets around pretty good!

It was so nice just to sit down an visit with Aunt Carolyn. She's my mom's oldest sister and has a heart of gold. She would do anything for anyone and never judges what you do. She reminds me so much of Grandma Brown (my mom's mom). Thanks for a memorable day full of love and laughter!


Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Hail Storm in Midway....

 Hail from storm in Midway!

September 7, 2012 ~ Today started off to be a great day! I was getting a lot accomplished and finally getting caught up on things at the office and some personal projects I was working on. The guys were working on the barn and about to have the roof completed and I was on my way to meet my friend Shelly DeVore in town. Brandon was heading up to the barn as the rain storm was on it's way and wanted to help them get to a stopping point just before it started to rain.

I saw it getting darker in town but nothing out of the normal when it gets ready to storm. I called Brandon to check to see how the barn was coming (to see if the roof was all on) and what the weather was like there. (We are only about 7 minutes from Columbia) He said they were getting a piece of metal screwed down and the storm just blew up right on top of them. (They did not get all of the metal on the roof before the storm hit) At this point it was raining. I hung up and arrived to meet Shelly. I get a text from Brandon that said we have hail... I tried to call him but the phones weren't working. I tried to call the shop and couldn't get through. I started to get a little worried and didn't know if I should stay put or head home. I waited for about 5 minutes then it started to get really dark in town. I decided I was heading to Midway as I needed to see if everything was OK and talk to Brandon. Finally he called. I could barely hear him (his phone had gotten wet) but he said they had just went through a tornado and hail was from golf ball size to softball size and there was lots of damage. By this point I was freaking.... I drove as fast as I could to get home. There was minor hail in town and lots of rain. As I got back to the shop everyone's cars were damaged from the massage hail. Our buildings were peppered with dents everywhere, our vans / trucks were dinged and dented and the windshields in 5 out of 8 vans were broken. (The other 3 vans were in town) Our employees cars were destroyed and possibly totaled from the damage. Brandon was there and was like a drowned rat. He had some major adrenaline pumping as did the other guys. At the barn they had a small tornado they were a part of. The link to the video is below from my YouTube videos (Hail Storm in Midway)
It's crazy how a storm can turn so brutal in a matter of moments. It appears that the Midway area was the main area damaged from this storm. Our barn is across from Elizabeth Street and the path of destruction was right in that area (other areas were affected as well but seems like this is where it went after leaving our barn location) and went onto Elizabeth Street which is where mom and dads house is. They are all OK and no one was home. The street looked like a yard with grass not a road as the broken tree limbs, leaves and bark covered everything. It was so crazy and unreal to see all of this but so thankful that no one was hurt. It is all material things that can and will be replaced. Teachers and staff at Midway Heights... great job with taking care of the kids while all this was going on. I'm glad it wasn't an hour later when all the kiddos were on a bus heading home. Scary enough to be a part of this but even scarier without safe places to go. Special thank you to the guys from Boone Electric. They had tons of outages and worked really hard to get them all back on. Between the damages to everyone's houses, businesses, cars I am so very thankful that no one was hurt. 

 Midway took a minor beating but I can assure you... we always come back stronger!

Friday, September 7, 2012


September 7, 2012 ~ Piet Van Waarde is a son, a father, a husband, a pastor, an author and a photographer. He is a very inspiring man who is approachable, down-to-earth, genuine, kind and in my opinion simply brilliant. Piet is the senior pastor at Woodcrest Chapel in Columbia, MO.  Woodcrest is a non-denominational church with Southern Baptist roots. For me personally, I love their style as I can relate to things in current day teaching. I also appreciate being able to attend church in comfortable clothing rather than the traditional dressing up. (I completely understand and respect anyone that has other opinions)

Piet has created a Facebook page titled "Piet's Pics!"a place where amateur photographers can participate in photo contests. I love this idea as so many people really enjoy taking pictures of things important to them or simply things they like. They may have an inexpensive one shot style camera or they may have a professional camera. It doesn't matter as long as they are having fun and using their artist ability trying to catch a unique shot or perspective on an object. He recently created an annual photo contest that ended September 3, 2012. We had recently gotten back from Colorado and I wanted to enter a photo in each of the 10 categories. They were: Melt, Happy, Replenish, Serene, Holiday, Cute, Cooling off, Fun, Style and Breath-taking.

The rules were that a winner will be selected in each category, with honorable mentions also noted. A grand-prize winner will also be selected and the winning shot will be displayed on Piet's Pics wall and the winning photographer will be given a framed 8x10 of their beautiful pic with a official certificate commending their work. I just got word that my photo "Serene" (pictured above) won first place for this category! How awesome is that! This is such a fun event and the first time I have entered a photo and can't wait until the next photo contest! Thank you Piet for creating this and I am honored that my picture made it! Awesome day!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Chief Master Sergeant Dr. Robert M. Malone

September 4, 2012 ~ I had an amazing day! When I got off the plane in Kansas City, MO on Sunday night I had a voice mail and text from my good buddy Sarah Hill! The Central Missouri Honor Fight was going on their 20th Honor Flight on Tuesday September 4, 2012 and there was 4 veterans that were unable to go because of their health. She asked if I would be able to help with a Virtual Honor Flight via a Google+ hangout. (Chad LaFarge had something come up which allowed me to be a special part of this) I was super excited! If I couldn't go on the real Honor Flight then by golly this was the next best thing!

I headed to Jeff City with my gear loaded in my car on Monday afternoon. I wanted to be sure that it would work and if it didn't I had time to find something else to make it work! When I arrived at Jefferson City Nursing Rehabilitation Center I found Mr. Malone in therapy. I introduced myself and told him what I was doing. I started carrying everything in to his room and getting it set up. Just as I got done he came back to his room. I had sent a few requests to some awesome G+ peeps and Bruce Garber from Boston logged on to help us test everything! With his help we needed to get some speakers and a power strip as some of the outlets weren't working in the room. (I needed more than one outlet for all my stuff!) So we chatted with Bruce for a bit and then I ran to Best Buy to get what I needed.

Chief Malone (I called him Mr. Malone until,with the help of Chad LaFarge, did I find out how he would like to be called) was so sweet and so understanding. I was able to install speakers and the power strip and was ready to hang out again to make sure we were good to go in the morning. (You ever tried to find stuff at 7:00 am when you need it by 8:00 am?) We hung out with Chad and then Sarah Hill popped in! I think we were all ready to go for in the morning! I spent nearly 3 hours with Chief Malone and found out some great things about him!

He was born on November 14, 1926 to parents Irene Wilson Malone & Michael Robert Malone. He was born in Phelps County or rural Newburg. He had 9 brothers and sisters: Lloyd, Minnie, Alta, Reba, Molly, Patrick, Charlotte "Cookie", Jimmy and Linda. He "enhanced" his age and went to the US Navy when he was 15 and he couldn't figure out why he wasn't getting any mail. Well people had to know you were gone to get mail so he wrote his friend Blondie Kaiser. Chief Malone didn't know that Blondie couldn't read so he took the letter to Chief Malone's aunt to read it to him. Once she knew where he was she told his mom and she contacted the government and they kicked him out. It wasn't long after that he turned 18 and re-joined. He enlisted in the US Army Air Force until September 1947 when the Army broke away from the Air Force. Then he was in the US Air Force. He served 24 years in the military and served in 3 wars. World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War. He quickly moved up the ranks and was one of the youngest and fastest men to move up the ladder earning Chief Master Sergeant. Something he is very proud of and should be.

He went to a dance one night in St. Louis, MO and saw a lady across the room. He told his buddies that he was going to marry that woman and she would be the mother of his children. He went over to her, leaned in and told her that he couldn't dance a lick but he would love to hold her while she danced. The rest was history. Sarah & Bob Malone married on December 2, 1950. They have 4 children: Michael Malone II, Beverly Benton, Pamela Malone & Terrie Jo Elliott. He holds degrees in Liberal Arts (Biblical Studies), Business, Education and has a Doctorate in Economics.

I really enjoyed this one on one time with him and could have listened to his stories for days!

So I arrive in Jeff City, MO around 7:00 am. Chief Malone was still in bed, awake but not ready just yet. I talked to the nurses station and they were so kind to get him up and going by 7:45 am. It was pouring down rain and I was afraid we would have issues with the wifi connection but it was good! We got started and in came Terri Jo, his daughter! He did great throughout the whole Virtual Flight and even commented on a few things. It was amazing to be there virtually as the 68 veterans got off the plane, visited their memorials and we got to see the beaches of Normandy, France through Laurent Jean Philippe as well as a tour from Michael Tucker in Australia. Truly was amazing that this was really happening in the comfort of Chief Malone's room! When I asked him what he thought he said "I've got one word.... AWESOME!" So great to allow our veterans who are to sick to travel to do this as comfortable as possible.
His daughter Terrie Jo sat right next to him and held his hand while he went on his virtual tour.
He really enjoyed seeing and hearing everyone. I couldn't believe I would hear the waves on the beach in Normandy, France. I love this idea and I think he did too! 
This is how we watched. A mini net-book with a computer monitor (to make it easier to see) and speakers! It worked like a dream!

Right after the hangout ended in walked his wife Sarah! She came to spend the day with her sister for her 90th birthday but not without giving her hubby of almost 63 years a few kisses! It was so sweet to see him interact with each other! They were like two teenagers so much in love! It was wonderful meeting her and to see him light up when she walked in the room was perfect! (He had a pacemaker put in recently which is why he is there)

This young man knew early on what he wanted in life.... now that he has her he won't let go! These two love birds are precious and I am so thankful I had the chance to meet them!

A special thank you to all the men and women that make the Honor Flights for our veterans possible. Today a new platform has been used to get all veterans to their memorial.... technology is a truly amazing thing that's able to take you from your living room to anywhere in the world with the click of a mouse and Google+! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Heading home....

September 2, 2012 ~ Well the time has come for us to head back to Columbia, MO. We wanted to spend a little more time with Paul, Whitnee, Damon, Elaine & Connor before we left at 11:25 am so we decided to have brunch!
We went to a great little place in Montrose called Camp Robber. They served different breakfast style breads and had some of the best pancakes I've ever tasted. (Ok not better than Grandma Ruby's but 2nd best) Connor wanted to come back to Missouri with us and if it hadn't been for school he probably would have! (Paul's mom, Becky, was heading out next week so she would have brought him back)
We said our goodbyes and headed to the airport. Little did we know that our flight would not leave until 12:30 pm instead of the 11:25 am original time!

(Ok here goes another picture I can't get spun around as my blog is acting up again!) While waiting in the gate for our delayed plane to show up I met a sweet man. His name is Mack Jacobs from Texas. We started making small talk and he was a WWII Veteran. He said he had 5 brothers and they all went to war and all came home alive which was something very rare. I asked him if he had been to see his memorial in Washington, DC and he said no. He had lived it and didn't want to re-live it. He was up in Montrose to attend his grandson's wedding. They had four generations together yesterday and this would be his last flight. He was talking about how much things have changed as it had been 30 years since he had last flown. He said that he was in the construction business and in the 1980's when it dried up he headed to Paducha, Kentucky and bought and worked on a coal mine. He then built a Safeway store in Delta, CO about 30 years ago. It was really neat talking to him and you could tell he had so much history I would have listened to him for days! Super sweet man and his son stayed close to him making sure he was ok and steady. It was so nice to see him being taken care of the way a daddy should by his children!

Once we got to Dallas/Fort Worth we wouldn't catch our plane until 7:00 pm. That's a whole lot of people watching in a huge airport! We finally made it home around 11:30 pm.... Thank goodness for Monday off to sleep in a little! 

Black Canyon National Park

September 1, 2012 ~ We took the kids to a museum in Montrose. It was really neat seeing a lot of the older things that wasn't used anymore by the time I was born. Interesting how you remember things being told to you by your grandparents or teachers and Whitnee's kiddos have never seen (or maybe even heard of) things like a telephone booth, operator booth/switchboard for example. What will be things they remember as they get older that would be in a museum? It's sad only because history as we know it will soon be gone as we now know it. They couldn't help that they didn't know what it is because we live in a world of technology that is throughout our schools starting in Kindergarten. It was fun watching them and trying to imagine a mother and 5 kids living in a one room shed. (Makes me appreciate the things we have now but if you didn't know better you probably thought you had it pretty good... ya know!)

Once the boys got back and got showered (seriously... we don't want no stinky boys riding with us!) and headed up to Black Canyon National Park. It was our last "real" day out and about as tomorrow we would fly home.
It was really pretty too! To get to the bottom you drove on a 16 degree grade around several hair pin curves. It was neat to see this place and amazing how they built roads within this!
The kids had fun! 
We worked up an appetite so we went to The Red Barn (the name did it for me) for dinner. It was so yummy! The fresh rolls were awesome and the prime rib was good! It was nice to sit down for a good meal with them!
Loved the door decorations that were painted on!

It was another great day in Colorado! It's crazy how you wait forever for your vacation to get here and then it goes by so fast! It was worth it and I got a lot of writing done while I was here!