Monday, May 30, 2011

Trail of Honor 2011

Last year a neighborhood friend of ours told us about going to the Trail of Honor.  At that time I had no idea what he was talking about but made a mental note to find out more about it. 

Of course, I forgot about it over the course of the year, but luckily saw a commercial for it.  I immediately got online and found out some more information.  We made plans to go and ended up not just going one day but two days!

Never heard of the Trail of Honor?  Here's what I know: 

Hundreds of motorcyclists (some starting in California) ride across the country in route to the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, DC.  They ride in honor of POWs and MIAs.  Along their route, they schedule different stops. 

Fortunately, one of their stops is in Jackson.  Sponsored by Harley-Davidson, the Trail of Honor is almost right in our backyard. 

We went not knowing what to expect really.  But we knew with all the Army played in our house and all the camo worn in our family, somebody (namely Gogurt of course) would enjoy this look back at our military's history. 

Another reason we were going is for Brad to ride in a Huey.  Unlike myself, my husband and children tend to enjoy their feet off the ground, not me, I prefer solid terra firma underneath my feet!  So off we went, to get Brad a flight and along the way figure out what this Trail was all about. 

We parked in a parking lot a couple of miles away and was shuttled to the Harley-Davidson store.  We were let off at the front door.  When we entered the store we browsed by each table, picking up free Mississippi magnets, coloring books, and various other items they were giving away.  There were veterans there telling their stories and at one table there was a light machine gun you could pick up and hold.  The boys were drawn to the tables with guns and artillery, especially the ones they could actually handle.  I was always sure to point out the "Do Not Touch" signs on a few tables right as they would be reaching for it.  Please, please do not pick up and then drop an original Civil War gun-thing.  Please, please. 

After seeing the inside, we went out the back door and started on the Trail.  Well, we actually went the wrong way and was beginning at the end.  I overheard a worker-guy say something about this being the end of the trail and we asked where the beginning was.  So we had to backtrack and walk back to where we were.  None of us had seen the sign and arrow, "Start Trail Here."  We saw it this time, and we started the trail. 

The very first thing was a turkey shoot.  For $10 you can shoot a BB gun at a target.  Everyone who shoots gets a free flag.  A big one!  You can choose between a Mississippi flag or a US flag. 

Right down from there started the French and Indian War.  You could stop and talk to him, in character, and he would tell you about this war, his weapons, and their living conditions.  Walk on from there and you will see another re-enactment from another war, and so on and so on.  The trail winds through the woods and it takes about 2 hours if you stop and see everything and hear all the stories.  You will hear cannons going off, pistols being shot, and at times you actually feel like you are walking through a different time. 

In addition to the trail, they have exhibitions going on in the front of the building throughout the day.  We saw the attack boat from the Special Boat Team 22.  They shot all their guns and that was the loudest thing I had ever heard in my life.  I can't imaging being on the water seeing them coming toward me.  I would surrender in a millisecond! 

There was a parachute demonstration that was really amazing - the guys jumped out of a plane, had red smoke shooting out of their packs, flags waving, going in and out of sight, then all landing within a 10 feet radius of each other.  How do they do that?

After seeing the Boat demonstration, we entered the Trail where we had left off to finish up the Trail before getting Brad's Huey ride.  We saw the Vietnam display, which was by far the best in my opinion (and yes, I am a proud daughter of a Vietnam Vet).  The traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall was touching to say the least.  We saw Desert Storm and the current day battles in Iraq and Afghanistan.  We emerged from the Trail with one excited dude ready to climb aboard the Huey. 

When we topped the hill, we saw no helicopters however.  Just lots of horses.  Yes, horses.  They were getting ready for a Cavalry demonstration and the helicopters were gone.  Uh-oh. 

Brad literally ran, well, almost ran, to the Sky Soldiers table to get more information.  They were gone as well.  Nothing. Brad was dejected and went to get in line to catch our shuttle.  I went inside to ask a few questions. 

Earlier, someone had said the helicopter rides were only Saturday and Sunday.  We were there on Sunday.  Someone else said they would be doing helicopter rides on Monday.  I needed to know for sure.  Someone inside told me yes, they would be doing helicopter rides the next day.  After making him promise, almost in blood, that if we made the trip back out there just for a helicopter ride, that my husband would indeed get a helicopter ride.  Yes, the helicopter would be there. 

The next morning we called just in case.  Yes, the helicopter was indeed there so we headed out one more time.  Parked in the parking lot, rode the shuttle, except this time when they let us out at the front door, we weren't allowed in.  They were preparing for the hundreds and hundreds of motorcyclists who were about to arrive.  Oh, wow, perfect timing!  We sat on the hillside (after signing Brad up for a Huey ride of course) and watched the procession of motorcycles come in.  I've never seen or heard that many motorcycles in one place.  It was quite a sight!  Brad couldn't get his ride until all the motorcycles arrived because the helicopters were escorting them. 

After that was all over, Brad finally got to ride in the Huey.  He said it was amazing and well worth the wait/second trip - I'll take his word for it. 

We left knowing that this would be an annual tradition for our family.  And if you've never checked it out, I can guarantee you it will be well worth your time. 

Here are some pictures from our day(s) on the Trail:

(This is an Apache...apparently a very rare helicopter to see in person.  My boys almost wet their pants when they saw this flying in and landing.  I overheard someone say if it had been raining anywhere in the world that day, the Apache couldn't have come.  I'm not sure exactly what that means, but it is a very, very cool piece of machinery to see up close.  The pilot talked to Gogurt.  His advice for flying one of these one day?  Make good grades!)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Class of 2011

Friday night was Hannah's graduation ceremony.  And as if we weren't proud enough, she goes and wins this:

....the outstanding senior award - given in memory of a NCHS student who was taken by a car accident several years ago.  The family gives a monetary scholarship to the student who is chosen to receive this award.  Another thing that makes this award so special is that the recipient is chosen by the teachers based upon grades, citizenship, and overall personality.  So Hannah was chosen out of a class of approx 170.  Could it get any better than that?!?!?

The proud grandparents.....

and parents......

and, Rebekah, you're next!

Friday, May 20, 2011

But Before That, This

A couple weeks ago, Brad and I were told of an opportunity to help spread the word about Operation Christmas Child at a Gaither Concert.  We would be working together at the booth giving out brochures, pens, refrigerator magnets, etc. while encouraging people that may be familiar with the ministry to become a year-round volunteer and encouraging those who had never packed a shoebox to pack one this year! 

With the busyness of this week, I knew this was coming up but had not really stopped to give it much thought.  My thoughts have been on the out-of-town trip this weekend (today actually) to my niece's graduation/graduation party.  But before that, this:

When we were asked to work at the OCC booth, we wondered if we would be able to hear the concert from our booth.  Ummm, yes.  We were not sitting at our booth listening to the concert as we imagined we would be. We were inside, attending the concert, and good grief, what a concert it was!

Hard to believe, but this is the first time either Brad or I have ever seen Bill Gaither in person.  (And when I saw the price on the ticket, I know why!)  When the concert started, I have to admit I wasn't expecting much.  I guess I had the image of a bunch of older people sitting around the stage singing Kum Ba Yah (Gaither is 75 years old ya know).  I couldn't have been more wrong! 

In fact, I wasn't even sure we'd see the Gaithers.  I figured they would start with lesser known singers then work their way up to the Gaithers at the very end.  We had already decided to leave after intermission was over because both of our kiddos were at a friend's house and we did not want to impose too late into the night.  So, whatever they did before intermission would be all we got to see, and really, I didn't expect to see much. 

When the lights came up, Bill Gaither himself was standing on stage.  So much for waiting until the end.  He was basically the "host" for the night.  Artists would come out, sing, talk to Bill, then more would come out, then the Gaither Vocal Band stayed on stage until intermission. 

There was some unbelievably talented people there.  David Phelps is unreal, Mark Lowery is the comic relief, and Michael English was very, very good too!  Of course, what do you say about Bill Gaither?  To think I was looking at the man who wrote songs like, "There's Something About That Name," "Because He Lives," "Family Of God," and "The Longer I Serve Him."  Whoa and double Whoa.  Then you look over at goofball Mark Lowery and realized he wrote, "Mary Did You Know?"  Triple Whoa. 

The Martins were there and since our booth was right next to theirs, I couldn't help but asking for a picture!  This group has perhaps the best harmony of any group I've ever heard.....

Here's to Samaritan's Purse who allowed us to have tickets to a concert we otherwise would not have had!  Invite us back anytime!!!!

Monday, May 16, 2011

One Down One To Go

Last Thursday I graduated my little kiddos from preschool and shooed them out into the world hopefully ready for "big school."  It went well as far as preschool graduations go.  We only had one kid whose hat absolutely would not fit on his head. He balanced it pretty well down the aisle and while on stage, but when he reached out to receive his diploma from me, it fell.  He caught his hat and grabbed his diploma all at the same time. 

I was graduating both classes by myself because my teaching partner/friend was not able to be there.  She usually does her class, then I do my class, but this year I was doing it all solo.  She had a good excuse for missing it though.  She was in the hospital having her baby girl!  We'll never forget this year's graduation/birthday that's for sure!

Now that the Class of 2011 Preschool Graduation is behind me, I can start looking forward to the next graduation, the one I will attend Friday night. 

My niece is graduating from high school, and Friday night is her big night.  

To say her family is proud of her is an understatement.  She has grown up into a responsible, mature, hard-working, sweet, beautiful young lady. 

It's hard to believe she's about to spread her wings and leave the nest - but rest easy y'all, she's a Bulldog now! 

See ya this weekend - we can't wait!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Fire at the Fair

Every year since I was about 10 years old, I would pack up and move out of my house to my "home away from home" for a week at the end of July/beginning of August.  My aunt and uncle has a cabin at the Neshoba County Fairgrounds, and my mother trusted them completely to look after me for for the duration. 

I never remember my mother lamenting over the fact that someone might harm me while I was there, that I might get lost, homesick, lonely, or anything of the sort. 

What I do remember her saying is, "What if there's a fire?"  "Do you realize how fast it would spread from cabin to cabin?" 

Of course, I didn't give it a second thought and year after year went on without a worry in my mind.  Of course, as you get older you do start worrying about things such as this, but for the thousands of fairgoers, the fairgrounds seem to be a haven of protection from crime (well, except the fights that break out really late at night) and Mother Nature (well, except for the annual rainfall that make playing football in the middle of the racetrack a muddy, fun mess). 

This week my mother's nightmare happened, somewhat.  There was a fire, but thankfully not during fair week.  What if it had been during the fair?  I can't let my mind go there, and I'm sure you understand why. 

For more pictures of the fire, visit the Clarion-Ledger's website. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Again, A Day Late

Yesterday was Mother's Day and for the first time since I've been a "grown-up" I cooked for my mother on Mother's Day. 

My parents made the hour-or-so drive to our town and attended church with us.  Then we came home and had lunch together. 

I'm not all that confident in my cooking, but I guess all-in-all it went okay, even if my dessert was a box of Blue Bunny Ice Cream Bars. 

My family made it a terrific day for me as well.   I received a super-sweet handprint/poem Poptart made at school, a bag of M&M's in a card from my hubby, and a couple of handmade cards the kids made at church.  Gogurt's had the following inscription:

Thank you for:
  • feeding me
  • loving me
  • teaching me about Jesus and,
  • feeding me! and,
  • feeding me!

You're welcome son, but I can't wait until you are of legal age to get a job and help with the grocery bill. 

I heard on the radio the results of a survey.  When moms were asked what they wanted for Mother's Day, candy, flowers, etc. did not top the list.  The #1 answer was "well-behaved kids!"

I had to remind my two of this a couple of times last night. 

Even though I am once again a day late, Happy Mother's Day to all you mothers!

Monday, May 2, 2011

We're So Over It

It's time.  We can all feel it.  There's no denying it.  It's definitely time. 

I was determined for my two kiddos not to be running after the bus frantically waving their arms this morning.  We would be good little kiddos and be waiting for the bus instead of chasing the bus.  (No, I've never let my kids actually chase the bus, but I think you get the feeling I'm trying to portray here). 

Our mornings as of late have become somewhat hectic, even more than usual.  Before Poptart began Kindergarten this year, all I had to do was get Gogurt up and out the door.  He was so easy.  We would sleep until 6:30 and at 6:45 he was walking out the door completely dressed, fed, with clean teeth and hair. 

Adding another child to the morning routine was a bit difficult, especially I think, because this extra child happens to be female.  At the beginning of the year, we were diligent.  Picking out our clothes , laying out our backpacks, writing lunch money checks, signing any papers that needed signing, etc., etc.  This was all done the night before. 

Somehow in the last few weeks, I've/we've gotten off track.  We're struggling in the mornings just to get out of bed and once we are out of bed, the real fun begins.  Finding shoes seems to be an ongoing issue in our house.  Poptart never likes the clothes I pick out for her and even in her sleeping stupor through squinted eyes can let me know that under no circumstances will she be wearing that to school today.  Even Gogurt, who has always been the easy ones in the mornings, has begun to whine about going to school.  "It's almost's almost over," I keep saying. 

I have 2 weeks left of preschool, and I'm ecstatic about that.  We are meeting at a water park the day before graduation for our end-of-the-year party.  So if I leave off that day and graduation day, I technically only have 4 days left of school! 

Brad's last day of class is today, and I don't think he's ever been happier for a semester to come to an end.  

The kids have approximately 3 weeks left.  Then they can sleep as late as they want (but I guarantee you the first week of summer vacation they will be up bright eyed at 6:15 a.m., ugh)

I accomplished my goal this morning.  Both kids were standing on the curb waiting nicely for the bus.  No running out the door, no yelling back to me, "Mommmmaaa, I neeeed lunnnch monnneeyy!" 

I just hope the bus driver noticed how together we were this morning.  'Cuz it might not happen again until August.