Monday, September 29, 2008

Yes -- Happy Birthday To Me

Well -- those words from my wife were very touching. I very much appreciate her, and am truly the luckiest man alive to have such a wonderful wife.

I have many great blog posts in the works with really fun titles like "Why Does the Bird Hate Me?" and "Puffy Paint Shirts 4 Sale!" oh they are really great masterpieces that you will all enjoy I'm sure. For now though I cannot resist to remind everyone how fortunate we are that the discount airlines in the United States have not gone quite as far as discount airlines in China.

Here we have an airplane that for whatever reason was immobile under its own power after landing. Now this was just the other day, not last year, or some sort of staged event. This actually happened. The airport employees (evidently) had no way to move the airplane so they decided to push it.

At some point the employees realized they were unable to push the 20 ton airplane alone, so they got all the passengers to help. Here is the photo

Afterwards one of the employees actually remarked "Thank God this was only a 20 ton airplane, and we only had to push it a half a mile, otherwise it would have knocked us out." Well one thing is for sure the Chinese are certainly problem solvers.

Have a great day!!

A Man Among Men

Today is Steven's 29th birthday!!!

Steve is the most wonderful man I have ever met. He has such a heart of compassion for others and always sees the best in everyone. He finds joy in the simple things and brings lots of laughter to my life. He is a strong leader and stands up for what he believes in. He has his priorities in order and is careful to keep perspective when it comes to the many demands of his career and hobbies. He is a man of strong faith who lives what he believes. He has a servant's heart and joyfully serves those around him. He is an amazing friend who would help anyone in need. He is the most loving husband, and he always looks at me with such love and tenderness in his eyes. I am so blessed to be his wife, and I am honored to share my life with him.

Today I celebrate you, Babe! Happy 29th Birthday, Captain Reverand Steven L. Norton! I love you more than anything!!! Thank you for marrying me!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

O Canada!

On our Tuesday drive, we went to Fort Kent, ME and crossed over into Canada. Where we crossed the border, Canada looks just like Maine, except that everything is in French. Here are a few pics:

Some funny road signs:
Translation: Pay attention to the children.

Translation: I'm still confused on this one. Does anyone have a clue what it says? At any rate, it's funny to see this on the side of the road. It appears every couple of miles or so.

Maine - Presque Isle and beyond

These pictures are from our drive on Tuesday. We started in Presque Isle, Maine and headed North.
Potato farmers:Moose season opened on Monday. We saw a moose in an inspection station.
We can't wait to come back in the winter so that we can travel the snow mobile highways.
We LOVE Maine and can't wait to come back!!! It's so beautiful!!!

Washington, D.C.

Following are pictures of our trip to Washington, D.C. Steve and I both had a great time. Happy Birthday, Babe! Looking forward to our next trip!!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Finally a Moment to Relax

Amy and I finally had some time today to relax. We are in Presque Isle, Maine; this is the northern most 'city' in the Continental United States -- and so very beautiful. I had to work for about four hours this morning, then we spent the afternoon on a drive taking in all the gorgeous scenery, and enjoying what there is of the fall colors. Amy will post with pictures tomorrow.

Again I want to thank everyone for their phone calls, thoughts, emails, and most importantly prayers of help and protection for Amy and I in the past couple of weeks. My BIL Matt sent an amazing slide show of some of the devastation from Ike, and it is really just crazy how much like a war zone parts of our city look. We really were blessed in so many ways. The hand of protection covered our neighborhood leaving absolutely no damage to our home, and nothing more than some minor fence and landscape damage to some others near us. The power went out, but it came back on, and quicker than most. In fact as of yesterday 90% of our neighbors still didn't have power, but ours came on only two days after the hurricane. The inconvenience of the storm for us was really not even worth mentioning. Some of our friends and neighbors have been able to use our house to get a warm snack, cool off from the heat, play Play Station, watch movies, and most importantly for one mother of five - do laundry. I am so thankful that we were able to help all of these people -- and have no doubt that they would have done the same for us.

Amy and I were suppose to leave on a missions trip to Mexico last weekend, for obvious reasons it has been postponed. While we were at church on Sunday they spent some time talking about how our members helped the community -- among other things they had ice, water, and food trucked in from Oklahoma City and set up a distribution point serving 55,000 people in one day with all the ice, water, and food that they needed to get them through a few more days. We decided that we will sign up to be on that team for next time -- what an amazing thing to be able to help people in their time of most need.

For my birthday I asked Amy to go with me to the the Smithsonian Museum of Air and Space. She took me this weekend, IT WAS SO AMAZING. I really have an amazing wife! Not only did she go, she walked with me to all of the exhibits, she waited patiently while I read every last placard, and most importantly she did so - at least pretending - to be as excited as I was to be there. Much fun in DC, for all practical purposes this was my first trip, and very memorable. THANK YOU AMY!!

I think that is most everything that has happened since our regularly scheduled blogs have all but ceased. Amy will post tomorrow with pictures from our travels. And (assuming we have Internet when we get home) we should be back to our magical goal of three posts a week!

By the way this morning it was 26 degrees, we actually had to de-ice the airplane, and tonight we may actually turn on the heater in the hotel room -- oh the wonderful state of Maine.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

We Are So Blessed

I cannot tell you all how fortunate Amy and I are, there will be time for details later. But please continue to pray for the residents of the Houston/Galveston area as many of them are still without power, running water, or ability to communicate. We are still without communication at home, even our cell phones don't work. But overall our neighborhood was very lucky. Tomorrow Amy and I are going to Maine, we will stay there all week and should have Internet at the hotel, we will post on all the goings on. Have a great day!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

We're Still Alive

Sorry -- not to much blogging lately. Last night the power at our house (and only about 10 others in our neighborhood) came on so I stayed home, and Amy came home this morning. No Internet or phone at home but at least we can somewhat function.

Quick funny

Yesterday I was home for a couple hours cleaning up the yard and my sixty-something year old neighbor came over asking for charcoal fluid, he was so excited to finally have hot food, as he had driven about an hour to find charcoal. I ask why they haven't been using the (gas) stove. He remarks it takes electricity to turn it on. Oh dear. I inform him that he can put a match to it and turn on the gas, and it will light. He goes in and tries it, and then comes out praising Jesus. He then proceeds to tell some of our other neighbors who are equally as shocked. I don't understand -- but am glad I was able to be a blessing to them, the poor things.

Have a great day

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Still No News

I won't spend much time on the blog because there isn't much to report. Amy is still in Tulsa, and I am still in west Texas. Continental has suspended all operations in Houston until Monday now, so one more day at the Hilton for me, and at least one more day in Tulsa for Amy. I was listening to a conference call of Continental management for a while, and they are having a hard time with communication in the area, not to mention power and transportation. On top of all of that the city of Houston has issued a curfew so logistically it's really hard for them to get up and running at the moment.

I still haven't heard from anyone in our neighborhood about our house. I was reading some blog reports on the news stations website and it sounds like any damage in our area is sporadic and random. The winds at the Bush airport (five miles from our house) reached 120 miles per hour before the power went out early this morning which is pretty significant. There was a rumor for a while that the parking lot I use was flooded, but later it was confirmed that there was in fact no water in the parking lot and all is well.

If I get more info tomorrow I'll update you all, have a great Sunday!!


Friday, September 12, 2008

Let The Fun Begin

Thank you to all for calling with concern for Amy and I. We are fine, although there was really no threat to life in our area, there will likely be a loss of power (I hope not, I need the DVR to keep up), and as a result we decided to have Amy take Maggie and leave on Thursday. I showed up to start flying yesterday and instant chaos ensued. Every time my assigned schedule changes it gets a letter assigned to it. The highest I have ever seen is H. That represented 8 changes in my schedule, as H is the 8th letter in the alphabet. This afternoon I was at P, hopefully I won't find out what happens if it gets to Z.

Anyway the authorities decided to close the airport and move all the airplanes that were flyable out of Houston. So I flew until midnight last night, took my crew home with me (as they all live father away than me), they gave us eight hours off (which represented about four - five hours of sleep). Then we showed up this morning to fly the last scheduled flight of the day. We then brought our airplane to Abilene, TX. So I will hold out here, I wish Amy was with me as I've got nothing to do for at least two days, but I'm safe and she is safe and that is all that is important.

Here is a funny news report clip of Geraldo Rivera getting pummeled by a wave this morning.

I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Today Is The Day

I was running on the treadmill this morning (as I've mentioned before its too hot outside for all that). During this time I was compiling a list of fun blog topics like: 'Is That Smoke I Smell', or 'Birthday Gifts Revealed'. Then it suddenly dawned on me, today is the day. Today is the day we should thank a Veteran, or a Military Member. Today is the day we should thank a Police Officer or Firefighter. Today is that day our generation will never forget. Do what you can do today to help a public servant feel appreciated. I always make it a point to personally welcome members of our Military (and allies) on my airplane, and today will be no exception. I cannot tell you how much it means to members of our Armed Services just to hear thank you. I remember being in the Air Force and having someone buy my breakfast at IHOP one night. That was huge, and really probably not a big deal to person who did it. If I see anyone, but especially a person in uniform having a hard time making a pay phone call, I give them my cell phone, and tell them to take as long as they would like. Do what you can today, even if it is just to pray.

I'm a little rushed, the evacuations for IKE are starting to take shape. I will be flying in and around IKE all weekend I'm sure, but Amy and Maggie will be safe in Tulsa. We will certainly keep you updated. Remember Today Is The Day!

Monday, September 8, 2008

May I Have A Drumroll Please???

It's time for the long-awaited announcement...

For those of you who thought I was pregnant, please know that I would never allow my darling husband to announce such a thing via a "spoiler" on the blog. :)

Without further ado - the big announcement is - I have quit my job!!! This Thursday is my last day as an employed individual. Steve and I will be traveling almost full-time. Steve has amazing benefits through his job, and we have decided to take advantage of them. The world is our playground! Once this week is over, we will be posting and reading from wonderful, far-off and exotic places or perhaps, once in a while, from the comfort of our home. This means more time for us to spend together and more time for missions trips and leisurely travel. We are SO excited!

Another bit of exciting news... Steve got a call from his boss today; and he has received ANOTHER promotion!!! Steve is now a Check Airman. How exciting!!!

I hope that everyone is having a wonderful week!

Friday, September 5, 2008

ITS FRIDAY!!! "Shopping Cart Police"

I am so excited about the weekend, although I am not sure why as I will be 'working' until Sunday afternoon. I have a few minutes and thought I would squeeze in one more post. This one shall be known as 'Shopping Cart Police."

I'm sure all our faithful readers remember Birthday Fun. I took my wife to the outlet center and she had the most wonderful time exchanging money for goods. One place that we spent a lot of time and exchanged a lot of money for a lot of goods was the Pottery Barn/William Sonoma Outlet. Here is the problem with this store. It is very big, probably twice the size of your local Sam's Club (have you noticed I can relate everything to Sam's Club on some level?) anyway the store was big and the shopping cart supply was very low, in fact I would go as far as to say dangerously low.

As Amy's arms began to fill with wonderful goods, she implored me to please do my very best to locate a shopping cart (I bet some of you crazy blog readers call them buggies, but that is a whole other post). So I embark on a journey to find a cart. I look and look, and finally find one. I make my way over to it only to be cut off by an elderly citizen who had a few goods of her own. While I momentarily considered taking the cart despite her need, I quickly and graciously offered to let her take it.

After about ten more minutes of scouring the store I come to the conclusion that there are no carts free in the store, and begin to wonder what I will do. I make my way to the front of the store thinking that possibly there will be a cart in the cart parking area. To my dismay there aren't any carts, and there appears to be a line. Yes people are actually lined up to collect carts from people that are checking out. "This is crazy," I think to myself. Always the problem solver I look just outside the store and notice two ladies walking away from the entrance with a cart.

I conclude that I will be the nicest guy ever and follow them to their car, perhaps help them unload their bags, and then bring the cart back. As I exited the store I noticed at least three signs in large font that warned customers NOT TO REMOVE THE CARTS FROM THE STORE. Since it's hot outside and Amy is probably about to collapse under the weight of the goods she is collecting I quickly decide that in the interest of self preservation I will not in fact follow them to wherever they may be parked, but instead I will just take the cart from them.

I know it sounds mean and it probably is a little mean, but they only had two little bags, and rules are rules. So I approach from behind, making sure that I am out of ear shot of the entry to the store and I call out "Ma'am ..... ma'am," they both turn (likely a mother daughter pair) looking shocked. "I'm so sorry," with a smile "but you cannot take the carts out of the store." "We are going to bring it back," they say in unison. "I'm sure you would but its just not allowed to remove them from the store, again I am very sorry, but as a service to you I will take it back for you." They exhaustively pull out their two bags and huff off down the sidewalk, and I think to myself "Mission accomplished."

As I proudly strut towards the store I notice several ladies clamoring towards me, begging to have my cart, this is insane how Pottery Barn treats their customers! When queried I simply reply "I went out and got this cart for my wife," (acting all annoyed). They relent and I rescue Amy and the shopping continues.

While some people may think what I did was wrong, I would remind them that its only an accident in career paths that I'm not actually a cart inventory monitor at the Pottery Barn in San Marcos, TX. I easily could have been that guy, I was just filling a necessary role. The best part was at checkout. I can't tell you how tempted I was to charge a fee for our cart. I envisioned an auction, and I bet some people would have paid, of course I would have donated all monies to charity.

If the two ladies I took the cart from are reading, I'm sorry. I repent and will try hard to resist this kind of temptation in the future. If I were them I would have turned around and said, "Okay well we will take it back to the store, you shouldn't have to." That would have lead to a hilariously nervous dialogue, me like "No, really let me," and them "Seriously its our mistake we should have to walk it back." And in the end someone else getting the cart no doubt.

Have a great weekend -- and remember Amy has an announcement (I'm sure it isn't what your thinking), I think you may hear from her on Monday!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Happy Thursday

Well this week is going by dangerously fast. I have to leave on a trip this afternoon, so I am a little sad that I will be away from my bride for a few days. The good news is I return on Sunday afternoon (just in time for Big Brother 10 to air) and I don't have to leave again until the following Thursday, YEAH!!

Here is a fun fact, I am a swim coach, and evidently kind of a big deal, I'm even on the swim teams website. But let me be honest. I have been an instructor with the American Red Cross for a long time. And when I moved to Houston I was looking for a place to work occasionally just to keep my instructor ratings current. I really was only interested in teaching CPR courses and maybe the occasional swim lesson or lifeguard course. The woman in charge of the aquatics department at our nearby fitness center is a wonderful salesperson. When I walked out of the interview with her, I was signed on to do it all! As previously posted I still have a hard time saying no.

I loved working with the kids and did so faithfully for just over a year. When I got promoted at my real job, my schedule was too random to commit to anything with the swimmers so I have kind of fallen by the wayside. Its okay with me, but I kind of miss it; and hopefully sometime in the next 6 months or so I can get back in the game and start working with those kids again.

In other news, I promised an elaboration on "The Story of Us Part 4 -- Fast Forward". In this wonderful description of our third date my wife describes only part of the kissing scene. Here is what she says

When we got back to my apartment, we stood outside talking under the stars. Then he kissed me! It was amazing - tender and gentle and perfect.

She left out an interesting detail. I'm sure we all remember Maggie. Maggie is one of those dogs that can't keep her opinions to herself. When I come on the scene I remember not being allowed within three feet of Amy unless I was simultaneously petting Maggie. Anyway so it was, we had returned to Amy's apartment, Maggie heard us pull up and began her ferocious barking. Amy went inside to collect her and bring her outside. Maggie was on a leash in the lawn while I was saying my goodbye to Amy. When the time came for a kiss I made my move, and out of the corner of my eye I noticed Maggie pooping. I guess my presence made her feel really relaxed, or she was expressing some sort of opinion, the third option and most likely is that she just had to go. Anyway as Paul Harvey would say ...and that's the rest of the story...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

As requested a response to comments

Here it is, Anonymous asked for a response to the occasional comment

Anonymous said...
Ha, ha, ha, funny...I read your blog quite often and I would like to see you respond to some of the comments!! Pretty please ???

Valerie left this comment on our post about the trip to St. Louis

August 25, 2008 9:16 PMValerie said...
You two crazy kids always know how to have fun! The roller skating mama is a smart one -- at my 30th b-day party last year at the roller rink they allowed strollers, and let me tell you, that is a work-out. A very good work-out. And the priest -- did he have to buy a separate seat for his good buddy Jesus? Surely that didn't fit in the overhead bin?Amy, you look super cute in your dress in the pictures! [the author of this post couldn't agree more]
August 22, 2008 2:03 PM

And here is my Wife's witty reply

Valerie - We didn't actually get to board the flight with the priest who was toting the giant Jesus, so we're unsure as to how he handled the situation. However, concerning the nun with the massive Mary, she put Mary under the seat in front of her until we had taken off. (It was a tight fit, but she made it work.) However, once we were airborne, the sister picked up her massive Mary and cuddled the statute until she had to be stowed again for landing. Fortunately, she had a Mary cozy to protect it while stowed.Another funny thing concerning this nun, in case anyone is still reading, is that later in the flight she went into the lav. However, she failed to lock the door. We were on a 777, and she was in the lav in the middle of the plane. Along came a man who reached out and flung the door open wide (quite unnecessary). There she sat. Poor thing! You can't believe the apologies this man uttered. After all, she's a nun! It was hilarious! Although, thank God, we were able to keep our giggles to low chuckles rather than all-out belly laughs. It's still one of our favorite flight tales. This particular sister gave us much reason for laughter during the whole four-hour flight.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Perhaps You've Heard

Steve here -- Amy will be posting soon as I hear she has a very special announcement for all the world to hear. I would give a hint but I'm sure I'm not suppose to.

Back to the title "Perhaps You've Heard" It's my birthday month!! Yippee!! So this weekend we were celebrating in the great metropolis that is Tulsa, OK. I really do enjoy going there, it is very organized and an easy city to navigate. Most importantly a lot of Amy's family is there. While my actual Birthday is not until the end of the month I am a firm believer in kicking things off early. The actual celebration took place the last day of August so as to get the maximum benefit out of my birthday month.

We had a great time, and so did Maggie. She was thrilled to get to go. Here she is posing with her aunt Shannon.

On Sunday morning we watched Marcos Witt on the live feed from our church, he was amazing as usual. Then off to the races. Well not really, actually we went to the Tulsa Fairgrounds to watch horses being shown, some people would call it a horse show. But really it seemed most of the gallery consisted of people that were there to watch a specific horse being shown. That is why we were there. BIL Adam was showing his wonderful horse. I've never been to such an event before but really rather enjoyed it.
Our best picture at the poorly lit venue
And there she is, young Analise, our first Niece. She is being a good girl and modeling her Daddy's hat in this impromptu photo.
Despite my concerns about Hurricane Gustov and its potential to interfere with our flight path, we made it home okay. We weren't home for ten minutes and Maggie wanted something out of her pink carrier. So I obliged and opened the carrier. She promptly removed her toy bone, and inserted the Camel. We really need the dog psychiatrist on this one. She is either wanting Camel to go away, or (more likely) she wants camel with her on all future journeys. One really never knows with her. But she had to dig through her basket of toys for several minutes looking specifically for Camel.

After busily putting Camel in its place Maggie required an outing in the back yard. We arrived at the door to the said yard to see this. A gecko peaking! It is really a very cute photo and so glad we had the camera ready.

So perhaps you have also heard that the Rockettes are going on a national tour!!! yeah!!! (I like it because my wife likes it, that is one of the things that makes me such a great catch). Anyway in 2005 Amy and I went to NYC to see the Rockettes, this year they are coming to us. As American Express cardholders we were authorized to "pre-purchase" our tickets before they go on sale to the public.

Today was the first day the tickets were available, and I eagerly logged onto the website to learn that if I was a Gold or Platinum card member (we are currently big fans of the Blue Rewards Card) we could get preferred seating! What I don't want is any kind of credit card with an annual fee, but I want preferred seating, and thank God for the power of the Internet. I do a quick search and learn that to get the Gold Card preferred seating you simply enter the customer service number from the back of the Gold Card in the Promo Code box. I just happen to remember that my SIL Shannon ordered pizza this weekend with a Gold Card, so I phone her and ask for the number. For anyone who should want to know the number is 8003272177. While payment MUST be made with an American Express Card, it can be any type of card. Yippee floor seats at stage right, very exciting (for Amy of course)!!!

Coming up this week, an elaboration on "The Story of Us" series by myself, and a shopping cart police incident.