Sunday, June 29, 2008

fly-overs at Tattoo- SO cool

I put together all of the flyovers I caught on camera into this video. There's also the extremely awesome swearing in of the new airmen. I sing along to the Air Force song, which is a little scary, especially because of my cold. The last 1/2 is footage from the thing they acted out with a helicopter dropping off some soldiers who "carry out a mission." I like it mostly because of Gregory's reactions.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

the kids at Tattoo

I captured a lot on our video camera, so I picked out the best stuff of the kids and put it altogether in this video. There's also the really super-cool scene of when we stand for the national anthem.

"Tattoo" at WPAFB July 27, 2008

Partying on Base

Yesterday was a big day that has been long in the making. At 4:30 Wright Patterson AFB opened its gates to the public (under heavy surveillance) for "Tattoo". For a description of what a military Tattoo is and how it has evolved, go to

Over 75,000 people showed up. Lucky for us, military people got to park on base on the air field, so the walk wasn't too bad, although the girls got a bumpy ride over the grass in the jogging stroller. There were a bunch of blow up jumping castles and obstacle thingys, lots of over priced food (off-setting the free admission), the cleanest port-o-potty's I've ever seen, and an enormous stage with huge screens on either side of the field so you could see what was going on, on the stage, from anywhere. The Charlie Daniel's Band played for the last hour- VERY entertaining!

I had hoped to meet up with some friends from the ward, but we were lost in the sea of people. It still turned out to be a fun night, though. I stuck Leora in one of our baby frame packs, Charla in the double jogger next to our chairs, blankets and cameras, and Gregory braved the crowd on foot.

They enjoyed the jumping castle twice, ate greasy french fries, and had fun sitting near one of the big screens. Every 10 minutes, or so, there was a fly over. We saw a B-2, B-12, B-52, A-10, F-15, F-16, F-22, some old planes.... just to name a few. I loved it. Gregory didn't like the fighters because they're super loud. He preferred the more quiet ones, like the B-2, which is supposed to be quiet anyways, being a stealth bomber and all.

One of the best parts of the whole evening was when we all stood for the national anthem. That's always cool, but instead of the flag being hoisted on a pole, or raised any other way I've every seen, it was literally flying in the air. Before they called us to stand, people started pointing up. There was a parachuter, just a speck in the vast sky. When the camera broadcasting to the screens zoomed in, we could see the parachuter unfurling an enormous American Flag. The MC asked all to stand. I got my kids to their feet (with the exception of Leora) and their hands over their hearts. I have some video of it I'll post as soon as I can. It was an incredible moment.

The program was actually very engaging, too! The highlight (to me) was the swearing in of 25 brand-spanking new enlistees. They filed onto the stage, stood at attention while the MC explained what was about to happen, and then as they raised their hands and took the oath, an A-10 flew right over the stage. AWESOME.

Several airmen recently returned from Operation Iraqi Freedom were awarded various prestigious awards for their service. There were also a few organizations honored for their support of our troops in action.

At 10:00pm there was a dazzling fireworks display. Unfortunately we had a hard time seeing them. Of course, that's because we were sitting in our van in the parking lot by the tennis courts in our neighborhood, a couple miles from the show. At about 9:30 I asked Gregory whether he wanted to stay for the fireworks or go home. He's been pretty scared of them since his first July 4th, when someone set some off close to him. In the end it was probably a good thing we left early. For one thing, I forgot where I parked, so it was easier to navigate the stroller around the cars without 1,000's of other people looking for theirs. Thank goodness for a keyless entry that has an alarm button (I think I upset the people sitting next to my van). Exiting was also relatively painless, so all in all, it was a good thing.

It was an amazing night. I left more proud to be a part of our great Air Force than ever. I can't wait to go altogether with Fred next year.

Friday, June 20, 2008

A Couple Pics from our Alabama Trip

The majority of pictures we took on our visit to Fred last weekend are on Fred's camera, but here are a couple I managed to snap with mine.

Just off our front porch the day we left to go see Fred. Gregory was fascinated by the flower. Later I caught him trying to gently pry open the petals of the other buds. He never did... now all the flowers have bloomed.

Right after we crossed into Alabama, the kids and I were a little surprised to see this huge rocket just off the freeway. I looked it up later. It was part of the US Space and Rocket Center. It looks really neat. If we ever pass through there again, I am definitely stopping for a look. I was TOTALLY one of those kids who desperately wanted to go to Space Camp when I was a kid. Here's more info about the exhibit:

My baby gazing out at hot, humid Montgomery, Alabama from the comfort of our air conditioned room on base.

Charla was brave enough to hold a sparkler on the last night before we went home. I brought them for no particular reason, other than that we now live in states that allow sparklers.

Of all the cities I've passed through over the past month, Cincinnati was definitely one of the biggest. I snapped this while crossing the bridge into the city on my way home.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Have you ever stood up quickly and seen stars, like little flashes of light before your eyes? I was outside on the phone at dusk and thought I was getting dizzy. Fiery streaks of light were randomly streaking across the darkening yard.
Then it dawned on me- Fire Flies!! To all of you who have lived in places aside from barren Tucson, this probably sounds silly, but I was captivated. It's like a mini-fire works display! I love living here. It was actually chilly last night. I'm sure I'll be eating my words in 6 months when I'm trudging knee-deep through snow to get to the car, but for now I am thoroughly enjoying every moment.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

NOS and Sunflower Seeds

Hello all!

I hope you all had a great Father's Day/weekend. We sure did. In fact, when I say "we", I mean me, the kids and FRED!

About a week before Father's Day I was thinking about what I could do for Fred and a crazy idea came to mind. I jumped on Google Maps and checked out how far the drive is from our base here in Ohio to Maxwell AFB in Alabama... 530 miles. After turning some math over in my head I got this crazy idea: we could surprise him for Father's Day with a visit!

2 cadets who commissioned with him in Tucson happen to be doing the same training with him at Maxwell right now. I got in touch with them and we threw together a plan. One made sure Fred was cornered in his room while the other met me at the front gate and led me to Fred's dorm. It just so happened that Fred had bought a camera that day and was showing it to the friend who was holding him at bay. It was perfect because it meant they were able to snap pictures when the kids and I walked into Fred's room. (pictures to follow)

Fred was FLOORED. The kids were jumping up and down and Leora leaped from my arms into his. The other 2 wrapped themselves around his legs as we embraced, as the camera clicked away and the other guy ran the video camera. It was a Kodak moment!

He showed us off to a bunch of his fellow Airmen. Everyone was so excited for him and dazzled by our kids, especially Leora. She got passed around by cooing girls and beefy Airmen alike.

We were extremely lucky to get a 3 bedroom place on base for the 3 nights we stayed there and Fred was even able to stay with us, since it wasn't off-base. It was nice, aside from ants running the kitchen and the stove knobs that were so worn you couldn't use them.

Saturday we went to the Montgomery zoo. As luck would have it, we unloaded the kids, grabbed the umbrella "just in case", closed the hatch and there was a deafening crack of thunder. Then the rain came down in torrents. We looked at each other for a minute, and finally decided to go ahead into the zoo and wait it out. The kids had a blast running through the puddles. After about 15 minutes it let up and we got to enjoy the zoo. The monkeys and white tigers were my favorite.

One of Fred's commissioning friends offered to watch the kids so Fred and I could go on a date, so we took her up on it and went out to Olive Garden. It was not nearly as "formal" as ones I've been to in the past, but it was still nice.

Sunday we had a great time at church. I met a gentleman who was eager to talk to us since he had been stationed at Wright-Patt not long ago. Turns out he was a pilot who had flown with General Carlson (whose wife has been helping me with the move). He used to fly a spy plane, but now is a AWACS pilot. (For a description of the plane and why it's important see this link(pictures on the bottom): Needless to say, I was pretty impressed!!

We enjoyed strolling the base most of the afternoon, letting the kids run around planes on display. There was a neat re-creation of the Wright brothers' first successful plane. The pictures are on Fred's camera, so we'll send them out in a few weeks, unless he sends them sooner.

We left for home early this morning and had a relatively uneventful ride home. Both there and back I was able to stay awake by popping sunflower seeds and sipping NOS energy drink (first time I've ever drunk any), while listening to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone on CD. We picked up Inga and Anja from our cousins in Cincinnati. Our cousins Sara and Bette will be coming over tomorrow to spend a couple days here. It's so great that everything works out this way! Inga and Anja go home this Saturday.

Anyways, we had a GREAT father's day! The kids had a blast and it was so good to fall into Fred's arms again, even if it could only be for a couple days. Seeing the shocked look on his face was worth every mile!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

my sweet ones

Our New Home

Off we go, into the Wild Blue Yonder...

OK!!! SO, bowing to popular demand, here is the much anticipated blog for the Fred and Debbie Olsen family!! We have officially jumped on the band wagon and the suspense of the Christmas family news letter will now be diminished, as we fill you in on every little detail throughout the year.

Things are moving steadily forward. Fred comes home July 3rd. In the meantime, Debbie is feverishly trying to get everything unpacked, put away and painted/arranged before her nannies (her 2 teenage sisters) go back home to Tucson on June 21st.

Base housing here by Wright-Patterson Air Force base is awesome. We love our new home (Gregory is particularly excited about having stairs), but the neighbors are just incredible. The day we arrived they came from all sides; 2 different neighbors brought us air mattresses, everyone invited our kids to play at their houses and 1 even brought me a map of how to get to the essentials (grocery, gas, base) which saved my life until the GPS arrived that Fred ordered for me as a belated Mother's Day gift when I told him how badly I get lost here. Tucson people- enoy the streets! They make sense!

The kids are doing well. Gregory wakes up and is right away anticipating playing at his friends' houses and playing at the neighborhood playground.

Charla is playing up her assumed role of official princess more than ever. Amazingly, another 2-year old 2 neighbors over ALSO lives in princess dresses. The 2 girls would just daintily follow each other around. Sadly, they moved to Colorado Springs this morning. BUT, there are at least 10 other 2-3 year old girls on our street, so I think it'll be ok.

Leora is on the brink of crawling. She cut her 3rd tooth this week, in an odd spot: top, way on her right. She loves sharing a room with Charla.

The weather is really something. It rains every few days. We have very kind neighbors who will mow our lawn when they're mowing their own. It's incredible how green everything is! I always walk barefoot outside now.

Anyways, that about sums it up, for now. I better be getting lots of comments after all the insisting to create a blog I've been getting... and yes, it's fun.