Sunday, May 31, 2009


God bless Texas… with courtesy lanes, kickass barbeque, 80 mph interstate, and wide open skies. The courtesy lanes are a concept that is still slightly lost on me. What looks like a 2-lane highway with really wide shoulders, is in reality used as a 4-lane highway. Those aren’t shoulders, they are courtesy lanes. I thought the guy in front of me was just being… well courteous, when he moved off to the shoulder to let me blow by like the bat out of hell that I am. Turns out that’s the ‘thing’ to do in Texas, drive down the shoulder courtesy lane and let the speed demons go by.

The barbeque… holy hell the barbeque. We stopped at this pit barbeque in Lockhart today. When you walk in the door there is a sign that says, ‘Vegetarians enter here. Normal people go to the back.’ When you go to the back and through the doors, you are literally walking into the pit. There are a few counters with giant steel grills behind them, and then the fire pits below those. The lids on the grills are so enormous, that there were counterweights to lift them. Anyway, we ordered a pound of brisket and a few sausages. They piled this meat up on sheets of butcher paper and wrapped it up with about half a loaf of bread and a half package of crackers. We took that into the Vegetarian room where we got our sides, baked beans (with meat) and German potato salad (with meat). I suppose the vegetarians are supposed to eat the condiments. The whole experience was slightly barbaric. We tore into this pile of meat with our fingers and I think it was probably the best brisket I’ve ever had. When it comes to brisket, it’s hard to beat anything we’ve gotten in Texas. They can sure do brisket.

Yes, I know I’m jumping around a lot. We’ve just passed mile marker 398, which means we are just over half way through Texas. This state is almost half of our entire trip. It’s crazy. The good news is, on this stretch of interstate the speed limit is 80mph. Tim calls it morale speed. Considering we have 6 kids, 2 dogs and a very angry black kitty, 80mph speed limits are a Godsend. A FREAKING GODSEND! We picked up Tim’s stepson H, his brother M and sister K in Lockhart. We’re delivering the latter two to their father in Arizona. I must be freaking crazy for volunteering to do this. The questions haven’t stopped for more than 30 seconds in well over 200 miles. I’m sure there is a special place for people like me reserved at the nut hut.

Aside from all that, it really is beautiful out here. We’re about 140 miles East of Fort Stockton TX and there are clear blue skies, dry creek beds, and rolling hills for as far as the eye can see. Aside from the interstate slashing through it, it’s beautiful. It’s peaceful in the sense that so much of this land is still untouched. It’s nice to see that after living in fairly large metropolitan areas for the past 5 years.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


*Sometime this afternoon* So we’ve left Georgia behind… along with some really jacked up memories/events. But we have also left behind some good memories, and good friends. I suppose I haven’t really been myself this year. I’ve been prone to impulsiveness that isn’t like me. I’ve done some things that are totally against the very person I am and those things have left both Tim and I scarred and weary. I can’t go into detail. I’m not ready to air the dirty laundry just yet. Instead, we’re going to make this 2,100 mile trip… and leave all those things far behind us.

We’re only about 150 miles into the trip right now. It’s 1:23 p.m. CST. We got stuck behind an accident for 2 hours on the interstate. Stuck at a dead standstill. Good thing I packed something to feed the kids for lunch. Nothing moved, except us when we ventured out of the truck to walk the dogs, have a smoke, stretch, etc. And while we were sitting there, those memories and events caught up to us, which led to another awkward discussion and more tears. There have been far too many tears and way too much heartache in the last week or so.

On the flip side of that coin, we’re leaving behind some great memories. We’re leaving behind a very good friend and the area that we both fell in love with and the place we both hope to come back to some day.

*Later today* It’s been a long day. We’re well into Mississippi, only about 68 miles from the Louisiana state line, only about 3 hours behind what we had planned. We were aiming for Baton Rouge for dinner time. Instead it was fast food in Redneckville USA. The kids have had enough. They’re usually really good travelers, but after being at a standstill for 2 hours and allowed to run around the truck and play, they aren’t really into this being seat belted down business.

Anyway, Alabama was a rough state. We had too much time for reflection and discussion. It led to some difficult conversations about some hard lessons learned. It’s true what they say about hurting the ones we love the most. So far Mississippi has been an easy state with no difficult conversations. We agreed before we made it out of Alabama that Mississippi would be easier for us. We still have about 1,700 miles to go on this trip, but hopefully the worst of it was in the first couple hundred.

At the end of the day and at the end of the endless interstate, I realize that the most important person in my life is behind the wheel of this truck. Everyone and everything I need is in this truck and trailer. I’ve got my husband, my kids, and my memories. No matter the mistakes I’ve made, it’s a comforting thought to realize they are still here with me. Even though I’ve been a complete idiot, he’s still here. They are all still here. I still can’t believe that I was lucky enough to find him.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Now this is Patriotism

Somebody please buy this guy a beer... when he's old enough to drink it of course.
Embedded video from CNN Video

Friday, May 15, 2009


Growing up, my parents did foster care. Jimmy was one of those foster kids. He was the one foster kid that would ultimately break all of our hearts. I don't remember how long he was with us, but it seemed like forever. When we got him, he was a terrified little shell of a child. He was scared of everything. It didn't take too long before he came around and it was like he had always been a part of our family. Jimmy was about 10 months younger than me. I got a respite from being the baby, and he got a real family. So it was a win-win situation... at least for the two of us. He knew left from right but I didn't. I could tie my shoes but he couldn't tie his. So putting shoes on became a group effort for the two of us. He would make sure I got my shoes on the right feet and I would tie his shoes for him.

Having Jimmy around just seemed natural. I remember going with my mom to drop him off with his mom for visits. It was usually to some seedy hotel room, and Jimmy never wanted to stay. He didn't want that woman to be his mom. He wanted my parents to be his. I was okay with that. I knew that if I could share my parents with him, that meant I got to keep him too.

My parents were in the process of trying to adopt him. We hadn't planned to let him go. He wasn't going to be another foster kid through the revolving door. We wanted to keep this one!! Then one day... it was over. We lost him. His mother had complied with whatever it was she was supposed to do. She took him. She took him and moved far away from us with him. We never saw Jimmy again. He was the last foster kid my parents took in. After him, none of us wanted to see another child come in broken and abused, only to walk right back out and into the situation that got him/her there in the first place. It was just... over.

Over the years, I've tried to find him. When I was a child, I was foolish enough to hope that just maybe I would find him at school. Or maybe I would run into him at the gas station. Then as I got older, I thought I would find him on the Internet. I thought I could just type his name into some search engine, and there he would be. Now 20+ years later, I'm typing his name into Facebook. There are over 500 Jimmy Bowmans. I wouldn't recognize his face anymore. All I have to compare to, is a faded picture of a 5-6 year old little boy. That 5-6 year old little boy would have turned 28 this January. 20+ years can do a lot to a body. I'll never recognize him by a picture.

At the moment, I'm fresh out of hope again. He could be one of 500+ Jimmy Bowmans. Or he might not be one of them at all. Who's to say, he didn't get placed with another foster family later on. Another family may have been able to adopt him... change his name... give him the life he deserved. For his sake I hope that was the case. For my sake, I hope his name is still Jimmy Bowman, and that one of these days I will be able to find him. Not just for me, but for my parents, my sisters, all of us.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Day 1, Year 6

Today is the beginning of a new year for us. Tim and I have officially made it to that 5 year mark. At this time 5 years ago, we were getting ready to head to the courthouse to make our case as to why the judge should waive the mandatory 3 day waiting period and grant us a marriage license. It was a Wednesday.

Tim had picked me up at the airport late the night before. Less than 12 hours after the ink had dried on his divorce papers. Which made it slightly less than 24 hours that he was a free man, with no wife to tie him down. Rather than celebrating his singleness, he was preparing to tie the knot again. He was legend in his squadron at that time. Guys got a kick out of 'divorced May 4, married May 5.' Which did lead to some interesting conversations between Tim and his first shirt about whether anything improper had happened while he was still married to hoebag.

Yes, we met while he was still married. He had gotten tired of her running around, and finding her boyfriend sitting on his couch when he came home from a mission was the last straw. He took leave, went to AZ, which is were we met. We went out a few times in AZ, and then spent the next 2 1/2 months talking on the phone, waiting for the divorce to go through. Technically speaking, we got married on the fourth date.

The whole deal was crazy. I spent a few days in DE with him and returned to AZ for a couple months. Telling Dad was one of the hardest things I think I've had to do. There is no easy way to tell the person closest to you that you eloped, without them there. It was a difficult conversation. I knew Dad wanted to be mad. I knew he was mad. I knew he wanted to yell and give me the ass-chewing of my life. But that's not Dad. Instead he hugged me, said congratulations and how he wished only the best for me. A couple months later when Tim came out to help me move across the country, to be with him... the only thing Dad could bring himself to say to him was, "You better take care of them." That was it. Those were the only words he spoke to my new husband. He didn't threaten Tim, but we all understood the meaning behind those words. It sounded more like, "If you hurt my little girl, I'll bust your kneecaps."

Dad tried awful hard not to like Tim. It took him awhile to get that Tim was the polar opposite of all the mutts I'd drug home before him. But he found it hard not to like him and it didn't take long before the two of them had actually become friends. They actually liked each other.

The first year was hell. We fought most of the time. By the second year we had gotten to know each other and started to get along and play nice. By the end of year two, we had J together. Year three was getting easier, I had finally gotten used to the idea of being married. Year four we had I. Then year five, we spent the majority of apart due to military commitments. And now year six... we'll be apart for most of it also. I'm getting ready to head west, and he's already pretty much 'living' at Dover. Eventually we'll end up in the same place again.

So today is somewhat bittersweet. I'm thrilled that we're at this five-year mark. It's a huge milestone. For both of us. For marriage in general in this day and age. But I'm also sad, lonely, and I miss him. I just want to be able to spend today with him, instead of being 750 miles apart. I just want to be with him and to be able to just touch him. Instead we'll spend today apart, but more in love with each other than ever.