Friday, September 26, 2008

162 Beats Per Minute, Impressive! By Mel

We got to see our little utero bean for the first time today, after much commotion, stress and crying, but it was amazing. We saw it's little heart, racing at 162 beats per minute, which is probably about what mine was when I got up this morning. I already know he or she is going to be just like Trey, fidgety and can't stay still. I am also pretty sure that once the little bean gets big enough, my belly is going to be moving all the time!

So now that we know things are looking pretty good right now, I'll explain the details leading up to the unscheduled sonogram. I got up with Trey this morning at 4:45 Am to make his lunch and see him off to work. Guys, you may want to skip this part. I went to pee and immediately began to panic at the sight of so much blood. When I say panic, I really mean panic, the scariest thing that has ever happened to me. After the hysterical crying, so much that my poor sweet dog was on the floor licking my face and crying with me, we gained a little composure, got Trey out of the shower and headed to the ER.

We were greeted at the entrance with helpful, friendly faces. There was no sitting in the waiting room for 5 hours, like I have grown accustomed to in Newfoundland and Alberta. It may have had something to do with the fact that people around here don't run to the doctor with a sniffle or a paper cut, but was probably more that it was 5 am and most people were still sleeping. I immediately went in to have my blood pressure, heartrate and temperature taken. They have this fancy thing they roll across your forehead to check your temperature. I think they still use the good ole trusty mercury thermometers back in Canada (slight, but only slight, exaggeration there). I sat down and waited a whole 2 minutes for my room to be ready, an actual room, with a door and everything, not just a slightly opaque curtain that ends 3 feet off the floor.

We sat in there and the nurse came in right away, my nurse, not one of the two taking care of 12 patients, one nurse assigned to each room. She was very sweet, until she said "We are going to do some blood work and a Cath UA to start." Blood work is fine, but I was wondering what a Cath UA was, and hoping it wasn't what I was thinking. I finally swallowed that lump in my throat and asked. She answered and I was thinking I didn't really like her that much anymore. What do I need a catheter for? I can pee just fine. But they had to be sure it wasn't "contaminated" with blood. Being that I have never actually had a catheter and only hearing how horrible they were, I was sweating bullets at this point. She reassured me that it isn't as bad as I was thinking, and surprisingly it really wasn't. It is kind of weird that someone else can make you pee without any help from you.

Next up, IV, though I only heard blood work, which I have had a lot of and was totally fine with, then she said "You're going to feel a BIG pinch," and she wasn't lying. I never really feel the 'pinch' they warn you about, but I did this time, it wasn't serious but I knew I was getting stuck! My first response was, "wow, I felt that, is that normal?" She said it was and then asked me what kind of needles I had before, I told her normal ones, blood work, vaccinations, stitches etc. Then I was informed that it was an IV, much bigger than a "normal" needle and it gets threaded through the vein, not just stuck into it. She was very gentle and got it right in there on the first try, there isn't even a bruise. She wanted to leave it in in case they needed more blood or had to give me meds, then came the worst part, medical tape, one of my biggest hospital fears. You can stick me, draw blood, vaccinate, cut and stitch, but please, not the medical tape. It just doesn't co operate with my unusually hairy arms. Being the super nurse she was, she gave her best effort to avoid the hair, my hero!

She cleaned up and told me it would be about 30 to 45 minutes for the results. I was quite confused about that. For the past 27 years I knew that test results never come back the same week, never mind the same day! What kind of top-secret, super high tech devices do these American hospitals have that can produce test results in 30 minutes! As I was sitting there with visions of flying cars and The Jetson's cartoons running through my imagination, she stunned me again! She asked me if I needed anything? I wondered if I had walked into a 5 star resort that just happened to have doctors and nurses on staff. I didn't even answer, I just looked at her in bewilderment. Then she gave me examples, would you like another pillow, a blanket, some water, a newspaper? I just sat there and said "No thank you" and looked around for the hidden cameras, trying to figure out who was playing this joke on me. She then proceeded to get a TV, a remote and a pager in case I changed my mind and wanted anything. She was even sweet enough to go get Trey so he could wait with me. He stepped outside my room (with walls and a door) before the whole catheter thing.

So we waited. They didn't just leave us hanging either. I am sure at least 5 people came to check on me in less than an hour, giving us updates, test results as they came in, and reassurance that we were not forgotten about. When all the results were in the doctor came in and said everything looked fine so far. I was all ready to leave when he threw another wrench into my idea of what hospitals were like when he said, "I am going to do a couple more tests, just to be sure." Wow, he didn't just send me home with antibiotics and instructions to visit my family doctor if it didn't get better! Amazing!

After all the poking and prodding came the best medical procedure I have ever had, a sonogram! We got to see the baby in it's little sac, heart racing and fidgeting all over. It was the coolest thing ever. I arrived with tears in my eyes and now they were back, but completely different. The look on Trey's face was also priceless.

We left there with instructions for me to do nothing but sit on the couch or bed, except to go to the toilet or to get something to eat, a bleeding hole in my arm which the nurse was nice enough to leave unbandaged, and a peace of mind that I haven't felt in quite some time. Thanks to God for everything being OK. What a day and all before the sun came up!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Actually Earnin' the Check Now by Trey

Well's midnight. No more cush job with short hours. Well the job is probably still cush, just the hours are longer now. I was no longer able to dodge the freight train of responsibility that goes by the innocuous term "flight commander." Instructor pilots at my age are expected to serve their time pulling the cart of students that make up a class of brand-new-bright-eyed-and-eager-but-don't-know-much-of-anything lieutenants aspiring to become steely-eyed-rough-and-tumble-kick-it-and-take-names-apex-predator fighter pilots. It's a long road (trust me, I've been down it already) that basically takes two and a half years. And you guessed it...I get them right at the beginning. Great. And I got all thirteen of them this week.

Actually, they seem to be a fairly decent group so far. They have a long way to go over the next six months before I can hand them off to the next group of instructors, but they'll all make it if they work hard. Unfortunately for these gentlemen -- they have me driving their pilot training bus. For the most part, I have to be the first instructor (IP) there in the morning and the last to leave in the evening. Amounts to a ten to eleven hour-shift most days. Nothing like the last assignment's ten to fourteen-hour days plus weekends and deployments...but let's just say I've encultured over the past couple of years here in North Texas. My previous "easy" job never demanded much more than an eight-hour shift and most often it was somewhere around six. Seriously, it was. Not too bad. I'm probably letting a good secret out of the bag here, but I never deploy, the flying is plentiful and simple, night flying is non-existent, getting days off is no sweat, and I'm in Texas. Okay, so the last one may not appeal to some of you. But to my fellow know where I'm coming from! Not that any of that has gone away, I'm just feeling a little sorry for myself and most importantly, Mel and Bear! They actually have the bad taste to want me around most days. No accounting for anyone's taste around here but mine!

So for all of you guys, pray for me in my new job. I'm in the position to make a difference (good or bad) in the lives of some sharp young men on their way to flying the world's finest fighter aircraft. I still remember lessons that my IP's taught me when I was in their shoes six years ago. The coolest part of the whole gig is that I'm commanding E Flight, which was the flight that I was in as a student. As I took over this week, it marked six years to the day from my first flight in the military and two years to the day from my first combat mission in Iraq. The Lord's plan for us all is revealed in the strangest ways!

Friday, September 12, 2008

I Peed on it !! by Mel

Morning Sickness ?!?!? What an understatement! Try “All Day” sickness. It really is quite terrible, but don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade it for a second, not with what we get when it’s all over! Around May or so there will be a little Trey or a little Melanie added to the family tree! We’ll find out a more precise date on the 30th when we go for our first prenatal appointment.
So one of the weirdest things that have happened since we found out that we are having a baby is with the "Candy Issue." I always said that I would give up candy when I had kids because I don’t want them eating it and turning into candy monsters like me. Well I don’t think I really need to worry about the difficulty of quitting something I have loved my whole life because the little bean in my belly has already made that decision for me, no candy for mommy! I feel like I am in the twilight zone when I go shopping and reach the candy section, which is quite extensive in America, and has long been my favourite part of any store. My stomach writhes in anger at the smell and especially at the thought of eating anything in aisle 10 or 11. I just don’t get it, it’s like telling someone not to breathe. I think we’ll be getting egged at Halloween this year because we might end up giving out raisins!
To look on the bright side, I heard a rumour that people who have a ‘difficult’ pregnancy usually have an easy delivery, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Driving Oklahoma...experienced by Mel

I left Wichita Falls to drive to Oklahoma City on Friday afternoon. I was going because I was meeting Trey up there and he was flying with one of his students. The student needed to take a cross country flight (a required part of their flight training) and wanted to go to Oklahoma City. That works out awesome for us because Bear and I get to drive up there and meet him for a weekend away, and the government pays the hotel bill.

As some of you may know, I am not the best highway driver. I tend to fall asleep before reaching the two hour mark behind the wheel. However, there must be something about Oklahoma that intrigued me because I didn’t even get drowsy on the 2.5 hour drive. I did notice some big differences between Texas and Oklahoma driving, some good and some bad. First of all was the landscape, the big beautiful green trees that showed up just after passing Lawton. There aren’t many of those in this part of Texas. The roadside picnic areas are also much nicer, they are brightly coloured and are not in the shape of oil derricks! The second thing I became aware of were the drivers, they actually use signal lights, it really is amazing. They didn’t even try to cut me off when I used my signal to change lanes, as is customary in Texas. Third was the generous speed limit, though I didn’t take advantage of it because we figured out that our fuel economy is significantly better at speeds around 110km/h (about 65ish mph). The worst thing I noticed, which I am sure everyone does, since it is impossible and also unlawful to miss, are the toll booths. $1.50 here, $1.25 there, another $1.50 and if you need to leave to the “motorway” (as Borat says) to get gas or food you have to pay another 50 cents each time! In Kazakhstan, only thing they pay for on street is woman! I wouldn’t mind paying the tolls so much if the roads were in super condition, but they are not. The left lane seemed to be the best. It had a whole lot less tar filled cracks on it, which I assume is because Oklahomans actually drive in the right lane except to pass, like they are supposed to! Due to my “slow” or “fuel efficient” driving, I did not get to experience the left lane. I gave every other driver on the road the opportunity to use it though!

Maybe it was the excitement of seeing new landscape or going to a new city, maybe it was Bear flopping her ears every couple of minutes, but I think what really kept me awake and alert was the comfort of Borat giving me driving directions and telling me about the ‘points of interest’ along the route through our new GPS. I love the new GPS, perhaps I won’t get lost anymore, but I know for sure that Borat will at least keep me entertained. Knowing that when I reach my destination he will say, “You have reached destination. You drive like you are drinking fermented horse urine. Wa wa we wa, high five!” is enough incentive to pay attention to the road and get where I intend to go!

I have to admit that the drive home was not quite as successful. Bear needed to 'do her business,' twice, and I was in need of a quick nap and a short walk. The 2.5 hour drive turned into almost four hours, but we weren't in a big hurry to get back anyways. We all had a good time, and I am sure Trey will fill you in on the details of Oklahoma City, which by the way, I have absolutley fallen in love with!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Back Down South and Hitched by Trey

As many of you know, Mel and I finally tied the proverbial knot this past week in the wonderful Newfoundland weather. Compared to Texas, the lack of 100+ heat was certainly welcome, but not altogether unexpected. What was truly a blessing was the incredible sunshine and relatively low winds throughout the wedding week and on the day of the ceremony. When we landed in St. John's and made the three hour drive to Bonavista, I was beginning to have my doubts about the wisdom of planning an outdoor wedding in a land so renown for unpredictable and inhospitable weather. Low and skies and warm sunshine for 11 of the 14 days that we spent on The Rock!

In addition to the beautiful weather, the scenery was breathtaking! By the way, I realize that many of you are intimately familiar with the majesty of Newfoundland in a way that I can only imagine. Considering that I'm new to The Rock, you'll have to bear with me!

Sparing the details, ALL of the festivities from the rehersal to the reception went off with the only hitch being between the Newfie lass and the boy from Dixie. Enough of the bad puns from me. Seriously, thanks to all of you who were able to make it, especially those who travelled far and wide to enjoy this great experience with means more than I can write in a ridiculous blog. And a sincere thanks to everybody who made the trip possible through time, gifts, and prayers. On a purely personal note, I thank the Ricketts and White families for their warm welcome of the American invaders. You all have a great family and we are all honored to become a part of it. Even got Screeched in to make it official!

As for future plans...I think that we need to find a house up that way and spend the summers in Newfoundland. It looks like I'm going to be in the Air Force for the next several years, whether I want to be or not! Once clear of my military committment and free to move where we please, I'd love to live part of the year on The Rock and the remainder around family in the Deep South. We'll see how that works out. Maybe I can fly bush planes for an outfit up that way in the summer and fall and teach fighter pilots the rest of the year. One can always dream!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Heading Out the Door by Trey

Getting only a day or so away from the Great Canadian Expedition! Work's all done for the month and the Master's class papers are all in. If I can only get Mel to finish the flower girl dresses...

From the sound of things in the Southern and Northern camps, the trip is on everybody's mind. Honestly, I'm just hoping that I can figure out the weird Newfie timezone. Seriously, I'm looking forward to seeing the family that we haven't been around in awhile...not to mention meeting the majority of Mel's side!

There's not really going to be a lot in this post, there will be lots of updates and pictures in the weeks to follow, no doubt!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

About time to launch this thing by Trey

Alright. Since I'm one of the few folks in the civilized world to have neither a Facebook nor a Myspace page, this is no small feat. As I write this, Mel is commenting about how surprised she is that I'm playing along. Guess old dogs do learn new tricks occasionally. Well, old dogs just know how to hold out for the right treats, I guess.

Hopefully this webpage isn't too boring for all you out there. The point of the whole deal is to keep our friends and family a little more "in touch" and to provide some form of contemporary journal...both for us and for our kids. Don't get too excited...they're not on their way yet. Please be patient if there's formatting issues at first. After all, I don't have the Facebook experience most of you out there have! Please, leave comments!! Enjoy and God Bless-

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Oshkosh '08 by Trey

Oshkosh...Ever heard of it? And not the part that has to do with the kid clothing line. Maybe you're like me and thought it had something to do with a bunch of civilian airplanes flying into an airport in Wisconsin for a week or so. While that's certainly part of the deal, Oshkosh is much more than that. My buddy Paris gave me a call a couple of weeks ago to ask if Mel and I were interested in going. Already having the week off from work, we decided that it would be one of those once in a lifetime things.

In an attempt to spare you the boring details, we two-hoped the nearly six hours up to Oshkosh in Paris's Cessna Cardinal 177RG. The scene that greeted us was what I was expecting times ten. That is to say, it wasn't what I was expecting at all, really...
Privately owned aircraft by the thousands. Something in the order of ten thousand...of every type. In addition to the largest gathering of aircraft in the world, Oshkosh also hosts hundreds of aerial demonstrations, reps from the aviation industry, warbirds, workshops, state of the art cool things, tons of swag (free stuff), you name it. Anything having to do with flying and beyond. We were there from Sunday until Wednesday and didn't begin to see everything that was out there. We camped under the wing of the Cardinal the entire time. Our usual daily ritual involved hitting the "showcase area" early and taking it back to the "house" to eat sandwichs and watch the flybys and airshows through the binoculars in the afternoon. The evenings were spent chewing the fat with our neighbors before hitting the sack. Not a bad vacation!

Long story short...Mel got to hang out in 75-80 degree weather for a few days and I got a chance to see a bunch of airplanes. Actually, we both had a blast and were certainly fortunate to have the great opportunity. Put things into perspective for me, personally. It had been such a long time since I've been around general aviation that I forgot how much I used to enjoy it. The whole trip was an incredible experience for us both that we hope is more than just a one-time deal.
Guess that means we need an airplane now!

The First Adventure of Trey and Mel as remembered by Mel...

June, 2006, I was living in Cold lake, Alberta (IE the frozen hell on earth) and not enjoying the place at all. My job as a Carpenter was getting to me, I was tired of being an accomplice to ripping people off by charging them exuberant amounts of money to do simple jobs like trim and tile work. One day, when the boss came in and angrily questioned me for taking the extra time to do a cabinet and counter top installation properly, I decided that I had enough and needed a vacation, so I QUIT! Instead of just sitting around, I thought it would be fun to work the front desk at a hotel for a couple of weeks before looking for another carpentry job.

Meanwhile, back in Clovis, New Mexico, a very handsome gentleman was in the fast paced life of an F-16 fighter pilot. He was about to, or already started, upgrade rides to become a four ship flight lead while the rest of his squadron was preparing for Maple Flag (a pretend war just like Red Flag.) After a series of unforeseen events, Trey found himself on the list of people going to Canada. The hotel I decided to work at just happened to be the hotel the 524 Fighter Squadron was going to be staying at. So there I was in the middle of a bunch of foreign hotel guests when one very charming gentleman decided to strike up a conversation. For the next week and a half we hung out almost every day and became fast friends, then he left to go back to America.

Trey and I continued getting to know each other over the phone and the Internet. After a month apart he decided to make his way back up to Canada to visit. We spent an amazing 10 days together in Jasper and Edmonton, and then he was gone again. Trey went to Iraq for four months and I was still in Cold Lake, though I am not sure who had it worse! Fortunately we were still able to talk to each other daily. After what seemed like forever, he returned back to the civilized world. Then I came to America, for the first time, for a two week visit with Trey and his wonderful family. I think it was then that we truly realized how great we would be together.

A month later, I had sold my house and Trey was flying up to Canada one more time to jump in my truck and drive Bear (my dog) and I across the border to live in a foreign country! Well that is how it started but there have been many other adventures over the past year and a half since we moved to Wichita Falls.

Between then and now, we have:
  • Attended my brother's wedding in Mexico and Trey's brother's wedding in Mississippi.
  • Travelled to 21 of 50 States.
  • Learned to rock climb
  • Got a hot tub which we enjoy nightly (except for about two months in the summer)
  • Watched many movies and plays
  • I became an advanced open water scuba diver
  • Made lots of new friends at First Baptist Church
  • Spent days on the lake water skiing and wake boarding
  • Learned that the sun burns much faster and harder here than it does in Canada
  • Lived in a small hotel type room at Maxwell AFB in Montgomery, Alabama for five weeks
  • Visited lots of zoos
  • Spent a week in Phoenix
  • Went scuba diving on the USS Oriskany Aircraft carrier that is sunk off the coast of Pensacola, Florida.
  • Joined the YMCA
  • Attended a Herndon Family reunion
  • Saw my first tarantula (not a good time)
  • I discovered that I could list 48 of 50 states (and learned that New Jersey and West Virginia were states)
  • Taxied the runway at Shepherd AFB in a military jet.
  • Gained a nephew, Riley, through my brother Joey and his wife Aimee and another niece or nephew is on the way via Trey's sister Katie and her husband Tim!
  • Went the longest period of time in my life without stitches or a broken bone.
  • Started learning a second language (German for Trey and French for me)
  • Went rappelling
  • Planned/planning our wedding
  • Flew up to AirVenture 2008 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin and were part of one of the most incredible events in aviation.
  • Took many pictures and made tons of great memories along the way and most importantly
  • Learned a lot about each other, and are becoming much stronger and closer as a couple every day!

Surly there are many more that I am not thinking of right now, but the point is that we have been really busy, having fun, being adventurous and enjoying each others company!