Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Little Historical Perspective

Today we visited the Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile Site near Cooperstown, ND.  It was once operated by the 321st Missile Wing of the Grand Forks Air Force Base.  A crew of 10 Air Force Officers monitored 10 nearby Minuteman III missiles and were trained to launch them if they received orders to do so.  The site was in operation from 1966 to 1997.   When the site was shut down in 1997 the crew packed up their personal belongings but everything else was left untouched so it really is like walking through a time capsule.





This is a view from the security officer’s desk.





If you were a visiting the facility you had to remove your ammunition clip from your weapon and then fire your weapon in here.  This would ensure that no live rounds were on site.  You would then hand over your weapon to the security officer who would lock it up until you left.





The security officer would give you an authorization code for entrance to the facility.  You would use this phone to convey that code to the officers inside.  You were not to converse with the officers, you would only give them your code.





The mascot for the site was Oscar the Grouch because their site was known as Oscar Zero.  This Oscar was done by one of the officers.  Notice the emblem that says “Kremlin Krushers”…this was the era of the Cold War after all. 





After a tour of the above ground area we took an elevator ride down 46 feet to the underground capsule.  It was here where the two missileers on duty spent their time.  They worked 24 hour shifts and never left the capsule.   Here is one of the two stations in the capsule.

The site closed on July 17,1997.  Notice the clock.  It was stopped as the last man left the station.





This bulletin board was signed by the crew of the last alert (or shift) on July 17,1997.





If the President sent the orders for a missile to be launched the officers would go to this red box to get their authorization codes.  Launch required a total of 4 missileers to authenticate.   Not only would the two officers at this site need to enter codes but also two officers at a second missile site would need to do the same.  Those codes would allow them to access keys which would then need to be used simultaneously. 





If the site was attacked the crew would have all gathered down in the capsule and closed this blast door behind them.  The crew would have had about 6 weeks worth of food and water available.





Here is a look down the hallway past the blast door.





Just a bit of fun trivia…According to several “authoritative sources”, in August of 1966 three UFOs were spotted near the Minuteman Missile Site.  Because there was a fear that the UFOs could disable the nuclear weapons, “immediate measures” were taken.  An F-106 Interceptor was launched and a ground strike team was dispatched.  One of the witnesses, a site activation team member, made a drawing of the object which resembled a “classic flying saucer shape”.





I promise, I am not making this up!  Perhaps in some secret realm North Dakota is known as Area 52. 

Friday, July 24, 2009

Wish you were here

It was another gorgeous evening here in North Dakota. Perfect temperature, no breeze. In our family that means roasting marshmallows in the fire pit in our driveway. If you drive through our neighborhood on any given summer night you will see many fires.

Before you say it, yes that is Braxton on his bicycle (minus shirt and shoes) sitting entirely too close to the fire. I’m not sure how that happened actually. Just pretend you don’t notice that.

Flaming marshmallows in our house are for fun not food. The boys don’t like to eat them that way but they always seem to “accidentally” let them burn. Win, win situation that way-you get to watch one burn and then get to roast another to eat.

This is what cut the evening short. Braxton dropped an ooey gooey marshmallow on the ground and Max beat everyone to it. To say he loved it would be an understatement. To say he was a huge mess would be an even bigger understatement.

Y’all come visit. We’ll save some firewood.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Bad Dog

We have raspberries growing on the side of the house this summer.  We all really love them and because there aren’t many ready to eat on any given day there is always a discussion about who will get them.

Lately we have been finding many half eaten berries.  We assumed the birds have been getting to them.



However, this morning I caught Max in the raspberry bush and it seemed like he had been there before.



I was able to stay hidden from Max (or maybe he was too busy to care) and when he turned around I finally had incontrovertible proof of his guilt.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Christmas in July-Disney Train comes to Fargo

Disney’s Christmas Carol Train Tour came to Fargo this week.  The train features four custom-designed vintage rail cars full of behind-the-scenes attractions, demonstrations, and activities.  It was lots of fun for all of the family.  It is an introduction to Disney’s Christmas Carol movie that comes out this November. 



This is an inflatable movie theatre that runs 10 minute 3D previews of the movie.  It is definitely a movie we want to see.



Jim Carrey plays several characters in the film.  We were introduced to the “capture technology” technique they used to make the movie.  Sensors were attached to Jim Carrey’s face and body and the data collected was used to create the images seen in the movie.  Scrooge and Jim Carrey become one.  The 3D imaging body you see here is actually only half of a body, the rest is a reflection in the mirror…the same mirror in which you can see Braxton.




My favorite part of the exhibit were the authentic artifacts on loan from the Charles Dickens Museum in London.  Dickens is one of my favorite authors and has been since high school when I first read

“A Tale of Two Cities”.  There were hand written excerpts from his novels, first edition books and his quill pen.






We also saw architectural models, character portraits and costumes and maquettes.  Maquettes are small scale clay models and there were small full body models and life size facial models like the ones shown here.






We have been having unusually cold weather this week.  It was cool, cloudy and windy with a wind chill in the 50s.  If you look closely in the green area at the top of the brick you can see tiny snowflakes.  Disney blew snowflakes all around the trains to give the area more of a Christmas feel.  Although it was colder here than most stops along the train’s journey, I think the “ooh, ahh” factor they were going for was a bit lost on Fargo.  I am sure the kids in California will think that snow is really cool.



We were even treated to entertainment by carolers.  It was strange to hear Christmas songs in July but they were wonderful and it didn’t take long to get into the mood.



Perhaps it is a bit too early but our family always has to be different, to set the tone and be the example!  So the boys are here to be the first to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas.



If the train makes a stop anywhere near you make the time to check it out.  We are always looking for something new or unique to do and we had a lot of fun.


By the way…this is dedicated to my favorite buddy John….TOOT TOOT

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Heart of Cayden

Cayden has had a lot of obstacles in his life already...from the VSD heart defect and hydrocephalus requiring a shunt to the ADHD and growth hormone deficiency. On a bad day he feels defeated...who wouldn't. He knows that the bible says we are never given more than we can handle but he wonders if God overestimates his ability and strength to carry his loads.



Cayden is an artist and has an artist's soul. He looks at life and doesn't feel able to change the world into what he wants it to be. So instead he draws...he shows you what he wants life to be. Sometimes he draws cartoons, sometimes animals, many times military things but they are all things that he was very passionate about at the time.



He carries the weight of the world on his shoulders and in his heart. He wants to be in the military so he can save and protect our country. He knew as early as age 4 that that was what he wanted to do and he has never wavered in that choice.



You would never know that Cayden had had a huge hole in his heart because he has a huge heart. He is able to sense despair or pain or need in someone else and, without a second thought, he picks up that load from their shoulders and carries it, makes it part of his own burden. We are trying to show him that there are limits to what you can carry on your own and when to ask for help.




He doesn't make friends easily but he makes them deeply. He is honest with his mouth and his heart and he absolutely expects the same from others-even God. As I was walking down the hall the other night I heard the end of his prayers. He said "God I love you and I do believe in you but you made me mad today". I am just glad that he has the relationship with God where he is able to say that and know he will feel better afterwards.



Cayden is 12 and growing up and growing away-as he should. But there are nights when he sneaks into my room at bedtime and I know he wants to talk. It's only in the quiet, in the dark that the words come a little less hesitantly. "Mom why does this happen?... Mom it really upset me when this happened...Mom I really need this" I pray that there will always be a place and a time for our talks.



My hope is that when you see Cayden or read about him that you will not see the "alphabet soup of disorders" that he lives with...that you don't think about the imperfections but about the perfection of how God made him...not the hole in his heart but the capacity of his heart.


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Braxton 101


I know everyone here has read all about my 2 kids but I am not sure if everyone really knows  them. I wanted to share some things from my heart about Braxton.


Even before he was born, Braxton was impatient. When I went into premature labor at 20 weeks I could almost here him saying "C'mon, let's go, I have things to do"...and he still says the same thing.



Braxton is ALL boy. He would rather be outside, creating and destroying, no matter the weather. The bible says God has not given us a spirit of fear and Braxton is a living example of that verse. Yesterday I caught Braxton jumping off of our second floor deck onto the trampoline oblivious to any danger. He LOVES roller coasters and anything that goes fast.



Braxton also has no fear in any new social situation. He was in the regional boy choir this year and never thought twice about singing in front of 100+ people in a language he didn't even know.



He is unapologetic in what he does and says...he is a lover and a fighter. He will fight to the death for what he believes (which can be quite frustrating sometimes) but he also protects and cares for his friends (and occasionally even his brother!).



Brax has always been adorable, from the chubby cheeks that everyone had to pinch to the handsome 9 year old going on 18. While he never seeks out female attention, he certainly doesn't mind it! He loves girls and they love him...that is something I am watching as he gets older!



He is an "olympic sleeper". Even as a baby I could put him in his crib and he was asleep before I got to the door. He has an 8:30pm timer somehow built in. As a toddler he would put himself to bed if we didn't notice the time...if we were at someone else's house he would gather up his blanket and curl up in a corner. I pray that we never have an actual tornado during the night because he would sleep right through it.



Braxton is always singing, always making music with whatever he has handy. His repertoire is expanding but he still loves to sing praise and worship songs...that is the way he is able to connect with God and he has been able to do that from an early age.



I am not sure where life will lead him but Braxton loves to cook. Perhaps he will be a chef. When he was younger he cooked for fun but was easily distracted. Now he has a passion for it. He used to cook only the things he wanted to eat but now he will cook just for cooking's sake. Perhaps someday you will dine at a restaurant where Brax is the chef and you can say "I knew him when...". Brax isn't one to share his feelings and desires for life very easily. You get them in pieces, pieces of a puzzle that you have to put together. Each time we cook Braxton shares a piece with me and I love that time we have together.



Next time you see a picture of my youngest son maybe you will get a glimpse at the real Braxton.



p.s. Coming soon...The Heart of Cayden

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Lions, and Tigers, and Bears...oh my!

Ok, perhaps that title is a bit of false advertising...but I will get to that in a minute.

On the last day of Steve's vacation we decided to head to the zoo. It was 70 degrees, windy and raining and heck, what says zoo better than that?? Actually we were blessed with only a bit of drizzle while we were there. The zoo is called the Chahinkapa Zoo and it is about an hour from here. All of you city slickers can laugh all you want but it really is a very nice zoo, especially for a town so small. We were there a couple of hours and they were some of the nicest, most relaxed we have spent together in a long time.

Now on to the see, there were no lions and while there were tigers they refused to pose nicely for the camera. What follows is just an odd assortment of local and not-so-local animals you would find if you stumbled across Chahinkapa Zoo.

can you find the duck? he is hiding in a nest inside the eagle's exhibit