Monday, October 30, 2023

7 Random Things (and Skincare!) on a Pumpkin Spicy Monday

I have about 10 minutes before I need to tuck my tired self into bed, but I offer you and the general interwebs the following thoughts:

(1) I love the re-recorded 1989 album. I LOVE "Now That We Don't Talk." I love it so much. I don't know what we did to deserve Taylor Swift, but I'm thankful for her musical bounty.

(2) In the last 9 days, my mom has visited Dallas, I led my litigation team to victory in a chili cookoff, I flew to NYC and then took a train to DC for work, I wrote my grandfather's eulogy, and I attended more youth sporting events and practices than can fit on one hand. I also worked out every damn day and made an appearance at Dallas Truancy Court over a misunderstanding that is too long to type out but was thoroughly ridiculous.
(3) Maggie went to the canine dermatology and allergist today and after extensive allergy testing has been declared allergic to basically all life on earth, including grass, trees, dust, and cats. I am now watching YouTube videos on giving canine injections because she begins her regimine of allergy shots on Wednesday. Per the instructions I will be giving her a shot every 2 weeks for the rest of her life and will pay a large amount of dollars to do so. When you combine that with her recent canine opthamology visits, her usual cornocopia of regular veterinary needs, and her upcoming dental work, all the money I thought I'd be putting in my kids' college funds is being funneled directly to her wrinkly perfect self.
(4) Being 13 is hard. Watching your child be 13 is maybe harder.

(5) It finally got cold in Dallas and I dressed in what I have dubbed "Pumpkin Spice Profesh" clothing today and it made me happy all day even if those new boots are actually torture devices and I'm now once again on the look out for dark brown dressy boots.
(6) The Great British Baking Show is back with new episodes on Fridays and sitting down to watch that at the end of my Friday work day with fuzzy clothes on and a fluffy Milo in my lap while the kids are all at various practices and the house is empty is the new way to TGIF. I don't even care how sad that sounds. This is 40 and I am HERE for it.
(7) Tomorrow is Halloween. James went crazy decorating the yard and is dressing up as the grim reaper to haunt our own house. The kids haven't decided what any of them will be (besides "nothing" which has been selected by Landon), but Maggie will be a dinosaur. She's the only one I'm in charge of.
ROAR. Or yawn. Either way, Maggie loves you.

(8) I have a new skincare routine that I am loving and I have had three real life people stop and ask me what products I'm using, so I feel like it's working. A friend from high school (hey Christine!) stopped by our house on her cross country road trip a couple of weeks ago- I hadn't seen her in person in many years and she immediately exclaimed, "your skin is GLOWING, what are you doing?"
Dr. Whitney Bowe Beauty. I actually joined Instagram so I could follow her when I read about her skin cycling method a year or so ago. (I do not otherwise use Instagram because I am old and I don't understand it.) I loved Dr. Bowe's posts and skincare philosophy, and the fact that she is highly trained, clearly incredibly smart researcher and MD. About a year after I started following her and skin cycling with products she recommended, she came out with her own line and I have been LOVING IT.

I have extremely sensitive, papulopustular rosacea-prone, perioral dermatitis plagued, recently hormonal acne afflicted (I have never had acne IN MY LIFE, what in the F is this using concealer for the first time in my 40's) skin that has been VERY ANGRY for the last few months. For the first time ever I was wearing makeup on weekends and generally feeling uncomfortable if I couldn't cover up some of the redness and constant bumps. Through my own dermatologist I now have two prescriptions that are helping prevent flare-ups, but Dr. Bowe's products have complimented them beautifully, and most importantly, have not made my skin angry at all. And lately, everything has made my skin angry.

Because I promised Christine I would post it, here is my current routine:

(Cleaning is the first step to all of this. I am currently using Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser; it's inexpensive, cleans well, and is truly gentle.)

Vitamin C (Asta C Vitamin C Age Defense Serum)
Moisturize (Bowe Glowe Microbiome Nourishing Cream)

Evening (this is the skin cycling):

Night 1: Exfoliate
Exfoliate (Exfoliation Night Resurfacing + Brightening Serum)
Asta C
Bowe Glowe

Night 2: Retinol
Asta C
Retinol (Retinal Night Advanced Retinal Firming Treatment)
Bowe Glowe

Nights 3 & 4: Recovery
Asta C
Bowe Glowe

Repeat! Her Instagram page and website give a ton more details and all the science behind all the things (like why the creamy Vitamin C serum is a better formulation for most people than the liquids and why retinal is more potent and easily absorbed by the body than retinol, etc), but I can say that I no longer use anything else and pack the full size bottles in my toiletry bag when I travel for work because I don't like being separated from them. (This is 100% non-sponsored. Dr. Bowe has no idea who I am and I have bought all my products with the few dollars my bulldog leaves behind, but I love them and now my mom is using them as well.)

And now, it's pumpkin time as my mom used to say, which means it's time to go to bed. I didn't realize she was referring to Cinderella and the pumpkin carriage expiring at midnight until I was way older. Probably because she always said it was pumpkin time WAY before midnight, so I failed to make the connection. Now that I too am in my 40's I understand. The only time I see midnight now is when a flight gets super delayed on my way home from a work trip and I really do feel like the magic has run out.

Happy almost Halloween everyone!

Monday, October 9, 2023

My Grandpa Glenn (1929-2023)

My Grandpa passed away this past Thursday. I've spent the last few days feeling a mix devastation and relief all wrapped in the same surreal package. It was time. He was ready. I can't believe he's gone. I will miss him so, so much. We snuck in what we knew would be a final visit the day before school started this year and I'm so glad we did.
My grandpa was born at home on a small farm in Wisconsin, the 8th of 8 children, and lived a robust life for nearly 94 years. He was married to my Grandma Mary for 68 years, served as a colonel in the US Air Force, flew 169 combat missions in Vietnam and was shot down on one of them, earned a BA, a Masters, and a Purple Heart, moved dozens of times, raised four children, buried a daughter, and somehow survived a massive heart attack a few years ago in Wisconsin.
He was a truly incredible man. Short, solid, smart, stubborn as hell, and 115% Swedish. A staunch Democrat and a devout Lutheran. He lived a big, broad life, crossed many paths, and was many things to many people.
But to me, and to my children, he was Grandpa. My biggest fan and all of our greatest cheerleader.
I am speaking at his funeral and will hopefully be able to write something once my thoughts can settle, but for right now I want to share two things in this immediate shadow of his passing.
The first is the JOY that was having Glenn Nordin as a grandfather. His texts, his phone calls, his voice... he simply radiated joy and pride: in me, in James, in the family we were building together.
I am so lucky to have these texts, and to have so many more memories of his voice saying exactly these things.
He ended every phone call with "I love you so much. You are so wonderful. I am so proud of you. You're going to do great things."
The picture below is the last text exchange we had, when his body was failing him but he still managed to make his love clear.
I hope very much to bring his voice with me to my children and my grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Everyone needs a Glenn Nordin in their life.
The second thing I want to share is this first-hand account of the time he was shot down in Vietnam on December 10, 1967.

My sister asked him to write his story down in 2004, and being my grandpa, he wrote it down in exacting detail at 75 years old. His memory was always remarkable, and I can hear his voice as I read. He was incredibly proud of his military service, and he served as he lived: with integrity and unwavering commitment.

He loved to tell stories, and it would have meant a lot to him to know that all of you are reading this story now. I hope he knows somewhere.

- - -
10 December, 2004

To My Grandchildren,

Some of your parents have requested that I record for you, and posterity, the events that happened to me and my back seat pilot, Bob Riddick on the 10th of December, 1967. It’s probably a good idea because they were dramatic, perhaps miraculous, and hopefully something you will never experience. I will try and remember as accurately as possible. I do not want to over dramatize them, they are dramatic enough.

In order to capture the full essence of those events it is necessary to go into quite a bit of detail, perhaps too much detail for some of the younger grandchildren, but I suggest you keep your copy. You will find it memorable as you grow older. It is quite a story.


By December, 1967, I had been at Danang, Vietnam for five months flying F-4 Phantom fighters with the 480th Squadron, of the 366th Tactical Fighter Wing,(The Gunfighters). By the fall of 1967 the North Vietnamese were very actively moving men and material into South Vietnam in preparation for their massive offensive which began in late January, 1968 and became known as the “Tet Offensive”. The flow of men and material moved over an extensive network of jungle trails and rudimentary roads, none of which were very large, but over which, through sheer effort, they moved an incredible amount. We called it the “Ho Chi Minh Trail”. US Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamarra, had placed an inordinate trust in a scheme to interdict this flow of men and materiel by placing an “electronic fence” of sensors throughout North Vietnam, Laos, and South Vietnam where “The Trail” was located. These sensors would either be dropped by airplane, or planted by reconnaissance patrols, and consisted of monitoring sensors that would transmit a signal when motion or sound was detected and then fighter bombers would be called in, or in some cases they would simply detonate. The whole operation was called “Operation Igloo White”. It turned out to be a massive failure!!!

The Mission:

On the 10th of December (which really was Sunday the 9th of December back in the US), I was scheduled to lead a flight of four F-4’s to provide top cover for a US Navy P-2 Neptune bomber, which would drop the sensors in the designated area near Tchepone, Laos. Tchepone was where many of the “Trails” met, or nearly met, and in the fall of 1967 was listed by our intelligence as the most heavily defended area in Southeast Asia, outside of Hanoi itself. My aircraft was an F-4C, number 640 807. Call Sign: Sidewinder 90. We carried six MK 82RE, 500 lb High Drag bombs, four 2.75 inch rocket pods with 19 rockets in each pod, and the 20 mm Gatling gun which fired 6,000 rounds per minute. One of my wing men aborted in the arming area prior to takeoff so I was left with three airplanes.

When we arrived at the target area, we found a broken cloud layer at about 2500 feet which put us at extremely high risk. The rules of engagement at that time dictated that we never fly below 4500 feet in a high risk area. We were in the highest risk area of all. We also never wanted to go below 500 kts airspeed (about 575 mph). The Navy bird wasn’t in the target area yet, so I directed the other two airplanes to “hold’ at 15,000 feet while Bob and I descended below the clouds to about 1500 feet and about 325 knots to await the Navy bomber. The scene below the clouds was surreal. Because it was such a heavily defended and bombed area, the mountainside was littered with hundreds of bomb craters and hundreds of parachutes from the flares that had been dropped there so bombing could also be done at night. We were unable to raise the Navy bird on the radio, so we were forced to continue in that highly exposed manner for 45 minutes, before the Navy bird finally showed up. Normally you spent just a few seconds over the target area. We did not have charitable things to say about Navy pilots ability to meet a TOT or find a target! Finally the Navy bird came through, dropped his load of sensors, and I lit the afterburners and headed “for the moon!” As we pulled above the clouds, Bob and I both heaved an audible sigh of relief, and I told him, “Well if they didn’t get us today, they never will!!!” Foolish me.

Because we had orbited at low altitude for so long while my two wing men remained at altitude, we did not have enough fuel to return to Danang. I sent my two wing men home, and we diverted to Ubon, in Thailand, to refuel. Routine landing. Bob and I went to the Officer’s Club for lunch while they refueled. We marveled at how nice Ubon was compared to Danang, especially the DOOM Club. After lunch we went back to the airplane for a routine flight back to Danang. We still had all our ordnance so I tried to get the Airborne Controller to clear us into North Vietnam, but he wouldn’t so we headed for Danang. Other than the fact we were full of fuel and very heavy with all the fuel and all the ordnance, it looked like a routine flight back, fly a Ground Controlled Approach (GCA), and land. As I normally did on routine flights home, I let Bob fly the airplane from the back seat.

The Shoot Down:

We were on the final approach to Danang about 14 miles out for a landing to the north. Bob was doing a fine job of flying and I was just kind of looking around. We were approaching the glide slope at about 1500 feet, airspeed 185 knots, ready to drop the gear and flaps, and start down the glide slope, when we got hit by automatic weapons fire. I knew instantly that we were hit bad, and immediately took over flying the airplane. Warning lights were coming on all over. As we were so dangerously low, slow, and heavy I knew I had to try and gain altitude and airspeed in order to fly back out over the China Sea which was about four miles away, so went to afterburner on both engines and tried to climb. I got a fire warning and aft section overheat light on the right engine, so I pulled that throttle back to idle, but then the left engine fire light and aft section overheat light came on, followed immediately by utility failure, flight control 1 and 2 failure, zero oil pressure, and just about every other light there is. I was still trying to get out over the water so I went back to afterburner on both engines and asked Bob to look outside and see if he could see if we were on fire. He said, "Are we ever”. Faced with an airplane on fire, loss of flight control and utility systems our only option was to eject. I told Bob that it looked like we would have to get out. We were flying an F-4C model which did not have the modified ejection seats which automatically fired the back ejection seat before the front seat to prevent the rocket from frying the back seater if the front seater ejected first. I didn’t have time to spare, and as I pulled the ejection seat handle between my legs I remember thinking, “I hope Bob is already gone,” because I knew if he wasn’t gone my rocket would kill him.

By now the airplane was totally engulfed in flames. As I rode up the ejection rails through that huge ball of fire I looked down and saw that the only part of the airplane not engulfed in the fire ball was the outer 18 inches or so of the wing tips. It looked like the typical aircraft crash; just one huge fire ball. Strangely I did not feel any heat as I went up through the fire ball! The ejection was smooth, not violent at all, due to the fact that we were so low, and so slow. At the apex of the trajectory the seat kicker kicked me out of the seat, and my parachute opened shortly thereafter. A wonderful feeling! My immediate thought was to see if Bob got out safely. I looked over my shoulder and there was my loyal back seater, just a few feet behind me! In position to the end. He must have ejected just a fraction of a second before me. Lucky for him.

I then started to take inventory of what I had, and to orient myself. I had retained all my survival gear, but noticed my dinghy had not fully deployed. Normally you sat on the dinghy in the airplane, and if you had to eject it was designed to fall free while remaining attached to your harness at the end of a 25 foot lanyard. (This proved to be significant later.) I noticed we were over jungle, but drifting toward, and over, a fairly large river about 75 feet wide, with a large sand area on one side. At first it appeared as if I would land in the jungle on one side of the river, and Bob would land in the river, but as we got closer to the ground it became apparent that Bob would land on the sand area, and I would land in the river. Then it looked like I might make it to the sand area also, but I ended up landing in the river about 20-30 feet from the bank in about 4 feet of water. I do not think they shot at us in the parachutes on the way down, but neither Bob or I are sure.

The War:

I started out of the water toward the sand bar where Bob was. The bank of the river was perhaps 3 feet high, and I scrambled up it and started heading toward Bob when the shooting began. Not knowing from whence it was coming, I immediately dove back into the river for added cover. I got down in the water to where just the very top part of my head was above water, and reached for my survival radio. (In addition to the survival vest that we wore, which contained a survival radio, flares, water, and other survival gear we all had modified our G suits with two additional pockets on the back of the legs, at the bottom of the leg. In one pocket we carried an additional survival radio, and in the other pocket two additional baby bottles of water.) I had never given a thought as to which pocket should contain which, but found out that day it was important. With my right hand I reached toward the back of my right leg to get the survival radio to start to broadcast an emergency signal. To my surprise and chagrin I pulled up a baby bottle! Now most guys would have flung that d--n thing as far as they could, but my Mother always taught us to be neat and put things away, so I carefully put the baby bottle back in the pocket at the back of my G-suit, and closed the flap! I have laughed at that many times over the years.

Meanwhile the war was heating up. I still did not know where the shooting was coming from, but then I saw a squad of about a dozen soldiers across the river and about 100 yards or so from me. Significantly they were in uniform, not the black pajamas the Viet Cong wore. These were North Vietnamese soldiers. The jungle came down to the edge of the river so they would come out to the edge and shoot 30 or 40 rounds, then disappear back into the jungle. In a few seconds they would reappear inexorably closer, and fire another series of rounds. I was making like a submerged alligator, watching them get closer while trying to get my radio working to call for rescue. They apparently were directing all their fire at me, because each time they fired, the river all around my head would just come alive with the bullets hitting and “spanging” around. One round “spanged” into the water about one inch from my right eye, and splashed water in it. Then a strange thing occurred, that I still cannot fully explain, except to chalk it up to my insatiable curiosity. I knew I was going to get killed, but felt no qualms or concern about that. It was a given. But I had this overwhelming curiosity as to just how it would happen. Would it just be “lights out,” or would there be a brief awareness as the bullet slammed into my brain, and then lights out. I focused on that intensely. Strange.

By now they were almost across the river from me, and amazingly I still had not been hit, but I knew it was just a matter of time. About that time I heard the unmistakable sounds of a helicopter overhead. I looked up and there was a Huey Gunship coming straight down over the river as if in free fall. (The Huey Gunship was the workhorse for the US Army in Vietnam. It had a crew of two, and two gunners firing mini-gatling guns out each side door.) I had never before, or since, seen a helicopter come down like that while still flying. I watched as it rounded out over the sand bar and headed toward Bob, but then it backed up a little, and touched down on the sand bar about half way between the two of us. I found out later that they thought I was dead and were heading for Bob. Just as they passed over me one of the gunners detected some movement and that’s why they backed up. It turns out they were returning from a Special Forces camp when they saw the fireball of our aircraft still in the air. The copilot commented, “Those poor b------s, They won’t get out of that.” About that time they saw a parachute, and they came after us.

As soon as the Huey came down the war really started. Up until this time Bob and I believe the only shooting was from the enemy soldiers on the other side of the river, who by this time were almost directly across the river from me, only about 50 feet away. But now shooting erupted all around us on both sides of the river. It was obvious we were completely surrounded. When the Huey touched down on the sand bar the two gunners jumped out, one from each side. One proceeded to run toward Bob, and the other one came down into the river to get me. He and I started out of the river, up the bank, and toward the Huey, when all of a sudden I was pulled back into the river. The dinghy at the end of the 25 foot lanyard that hadn’t deployed after I ejected had now deployed and the fully inflated dinghy was going downstream and was pulling me back into the river. So back into the river we went. The gunner was too paralyzed with fear to return fire, so I gave him the hook bladed knife that we carried on our G-suits to cut the lanyard and I grabbed his rifle to return the fire. I soon realized he wasn’t accomplishing much because the dinghy was still pulling me. I looked down and he was trying to open the switch blade on the knife, and couldn’t figure out how to do it!! I grabbed the knife out of his hands and with one swipe cut the lanyard and told him, “Let’s go!” With that we started back out of the river, back up the bank and headed for the helicopter. The shooting was really intense all around us. It reminded me of old French Foreign Legion movies, with the bullets kicking up hundreds of miniature geysers in the sand all around us as we ran to the chopper. Bob and his gunner were coming the other way and going through the same hornets nest of bullets. The gunners shoved us in each door and we got the h--l out of there, straight up.


We must have gone straight up at least 1,000 feet with the two gunners firing their rifles (both mini-guns had jammed) and Bob and I our 38 caliber revolvers. Then an incident occurred that I am not proud of, but it happened nevertheless, and this story would not be complete or accurate without including it. After we started to leave the area Bob and I were laughing and yelling when I noticed a woman clad in black pajamas cowering in the corner of the chopper. I asked one of the gunners who she was and he yelled back, “VC that we just picked up at a Special Forces camp.” I picked her up and was going to throw her out the side door, when Bob and the two gunners realizing what I was going to do, jumped on me and wrestled the terrified woman from me. We asked the pilots if they would take us back to Danang which was only about 10 - 12 miles away, but they said no, that they had to return to their base at Chu Lai about 20 miles south of Danang. On the way I noticed I still had the sun glasses on that I had been wearing. I kept gesturing how amazing it was that they had stayed on throughout the ejection, the landing in the water, my alligator imitation while in the river, and then through the mad dash to the chopper. I continued to wear them until several hours later when I took them off in the hospital and found out that one lens had been blown out and the other lens was opaque with mud!!!! I never noticed. I still have those sun glasses.

When we landed at Chu Lai the four man crew got out of the chopper and began to examine it thoroughly from front to back, leaving Bob and I stranded on the ramp. They were astounded that there was not one single hole anywhere, despite the tremendous fire fight that had occurred. Somebody produced a bottle of brandy, and we settled back to wait for our return ride to Danang. I got the names of the very brave helicopter crew members. The Aircraft Commander was WO 1 James M. White, Pilot, W0 1 Charles L. Canfield, Crew Engineer, Spc 4 David W. Kinard, and Gunner, Spc 4 Arthur W. Gross, assigned to the 176th Aviation Co. APO SF 96374. Turns out WO White was a legend over there for his fearlessness. He may have been one of the only helicopter pilots in Vietnam that would have done what he did, in the face of such fierce opposition. I put him in for the Medal of Honor, and the rest of the crew for Silver Stars, but heard they were subsequently downgraded. I do not know to what award, but they deserved the nomination in my book.

Back to Danang:

We caught a ride back to Danang in a Forward Air Controller, O-2 aircraft. They were alerted to our return and the whole Squadron was there to greet us, along with Col Maloy our Wing Commander, and Col “Boots” Blesse, our DO, along with lots of other folks. We were greeted with several bottles of champagne, which caused a rather humorous event. It is AF regulation after an accident, etc. to undergo blood tests. There was a young conscientious Flight Surgeon there and when he found out we had drank liberally of the brandy at Chu Lai and were now drinking equally as liberally of the champagne, began to make quite a fuss over it, saying we could be subject to Court Martial etc. We of course were ignoring him, which only made him more determined. Finally Col Blesse put his arm around the young Flight Surgeon and said in an almost biblical tone, “Just cool it son, these men were lost and now they are found. We are celebrating their return, and we are going to continue to celebrate for a while.” The young Flight Surgeon climbed back into the ambulance where he waited until we were ready to join him for the trip to the hospital.

Had we tried to make ourselves as small a target as possible? You may recall I was trying to emulate an alligator in the river with just the very top of my head, helmet, and eyes above the water. Bob was really hugging the sand. When they took xrays of Bob they were surprised to find a huge mass in his throat. Turns out it was sand!!

While at the hospital an incident occurred that kind of typified how my day went. While we were being worked on the doctors had a radio tuned to Armed Forces Radio Service (AFRS). The Green Bay Packers were playing the Los Angeles Rams. I was delighted to hear the score was 32-30 in favor of the Packers with less than a minute to play. However the Rams were in Green Bay territory and with 59 seconds left in the game kicked a fairly long field goal to win 33-32! 😞 It was that kind of a day!

After we were released from the hospital, I did something that was pretty smart. They had offered me a chance to call home while still in the hospital, but back in those days overseas telephone calls were usually pretty bad in terms of static, and ability to hear. I figured that neither Mary nor my Mother knew anything about what had happened, and I did not want them to just get part, or an incomplete story, so I declined. Instead, when I got back to my hooch I taped both Mary and my Mother. That way I could reassure them right away that I was ok. I still have one of the tapes. Unfortunately I taped it at a slow speed so the quality is not good.


We were debriefed by intelligence. They were skeptical of our claim that the soldiers had uniforms on, and wondered why we had been shot down. They thought it was just a lucky and isolated VC event. I continued to maintain that it was a trap and we were the unfortunate victims. What could be more repetitive than a GCA pattern? Same heading, same altitude, same airspeed time after time. Probably 500 times each day. The enemy gunners could hide down there and dry fire, until their commander felt they were fully qualified and then fire away with automatic weapons. To please me they sent in the Americal Division (which was a notoriously inept division) to search and they found very little. One week later Col Meier, our Vice Wing Commander got hit in the very same place, but not quite as badly and was able to recover the airplane back at Danang. This time they sent in the Republic of Korea (ROK) Infantry Division, a famously capable Division. They killed or captured more than 1,000 enemy troops of the 325 North Vietnamese Infantry Division. It was the first solid evidence of the massive buildup for the TET offensive.

I cannot explain why neither Bob nor I were killed, or why the rescue helicopter got in and out unscathed. As a Believer it is easy for me to accept some type of higher protection. Perhaps as in the vision my Mother once had, the Higher Power had more work for me to do. I absolutely believe that had not WO White and his crew not appeared when they did, and behaved exactly as they did, I would not have survived. I think it is highly unlikely that we would have been taken alive. We were surrounded. The North Vietnamese did not want to be burdened with prisoners. If captured we would probably have been wounded, and would not have been treated, so we would soon have succumbed to the wounds, beatings, or malnutrition that would have been our lot. We were several hundred kilometers from Hanoi, so would not have been marched to the Hanoi Hilton. We would simply have been Missing In Action (MIA).

Life often is a matter of inches and minutes. One month earlier I had participated in the unsuccessful attempt to rescue Lance Sijan. For several hours I orbited over the area where he was, suffering from horrible injuries, extreme thirst, extreme anxiety with the enemy all around him; while I was in a comfortable environment looking down through plexiglass less than a quarter inch thick, and talking to him normally on the radio. We came within inches and minutes of rescuing him. But we did not. Lance went on to suffer beyond comprehension, and die a horrible death as a young man of 24. Never married, never had a family. I came within inches and minutes of being shot and/or captured. I was not. I was one month into my 38th year with a wife and four children. I have now lived an additional 37 years. Thirty seven wonderful years with my beloved wife. I have watched my beloved children grow and prosper, marry and have children of their own. I have watched my ten grandchildren grow. I am so very fortunate. It is no wonder why I love and treasure you so much.


My Grandpa, right, in the glasses he was wearing when he was shot down, with Jim White, middle, and Chuck Canfield, the Army Huey helicopter pilots who rescued him, reuniting in 2013. Life is good, indeed.

- - -

I love you so much Grandpa. You were so wonderful. I am so proud of you. You did great things.

Love, Rebecca

Sunday, October 1, 2023

Hello October

Normally I love October. September is still blazing hot, but usually October can be counted on to cool down a bit. Except Cora had a 1 pm soccer game yesterday and it was "feels like 105" and I'm just so cranky and over it. Why do we live here? Why does anyone live here? I feel zero fall vibes and can't buy any pumpkins because they will rot. I'm sticking my tongue out at the whole forecast.
Maggie is too. She's just cuter about it.
Other things that happened in September, besides Claire's emergency and me being mad at the sun:

(1) Maggie went to the vet a record number of times. Forget paying for college, I'm in private practice for my special needs bulldog.
(2) I went to DC for work and hosted a women's initiative event where we talked about life and balance and choices and priorities and fighting for what you care about most.
It was a great night and I'm reminded that working with our women is one of the things I love most about my return to BigLaw. (That and paying the canine opthamology bills.)
(Note above from an associate in my office who was leaving to go clerk and it remains one of the best things I've ever received.)

(3) After DC I went to Chicago to moderate a panel on Insider Trading. I continue to love Chicago to the moon and back and it confuses my heart everytime I'm there and then fly home to somewhere else.
It was my first time moderating a panel and I enjoyed it very much. It's like being the hostess of a very nerdy party.
I stayed at the Four Seasons, where the conference was held, and I got upgraded to a massive 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom suite where I unfortunately only got to stay for 1 night, but I did use the living room for my morning workout and greatly appreciated the extra space.

(4) After Chicago I went to San Diego for a women's partner client retreat at the fanciest health resort spa I have ever seen (in part because I did not know health resort spas exist but they DO) and it was sublime.
Three nights with badass female partners and even badder ass female clients to connect, recharge, and do exactly what we'd all do with three extra days to do whatever we want: get up early for spectacular hikes in the mountains, attend multiple fitness classes a day across a variety of genres, eat amazing healthy food we did not prepare, sit by a beautiful pool, get a massage, eat dinner early and go to bed by 9 pm.
I loved every minute and have never felt better about the people I get to work with.
(5) In between all this constant travel (just earned my Southwest Companion Pass!), I have had a TON of billable work and it's nice to remember that I never love this job more than when I get to do a lot of it. And luckily, I'm actually living in the city I live in for the next several weeks, even if it is hotter than the surface of the sun.
(Me trying to make "Texas Fall" happen in work clothes while not dying of heatstroke.)

(6) Landon got his driver's license, after an INSANE series of events that made him and James drive out nearly to Arkansas two separate times to get the stupid thing, but now he has it and our lives are SO MUCH BETTER. He gets himself to morning swim practice and back, to school and back, and to afternoon swim practice and back, and suddenly James and I can handle all of the girls' logistics and maybe even a few of our own. Life. Altering. Especially since we haven't had any childcare or assistance in nearly a year.
(Picture from the first night he drove himself to afternoon practice and we all met at a restaurant for dinner because we were so excited but he didn't want to be in the picture so this is the only one we have.)

I thought I'd be more nervous when my first baby bird started driving his own car, but he's a cautious and careful driver and I watch him back out of the driveway from the camera app on my phone at 5:30 a.m. and wish him well.

(7) Speaking of cameras, our new house came with fancy cameras we don't really use, but every now and then I'll accidentally turn on the notifications and the day before I flew to DC happened to be one of those times. Suddenly, at 35,000 feet in the air, my watch buzzes and says "animal spotted on front porch" with a still of the video feed.
And it's Moose! I send an Amber Alert out to our family text thread, James sees it, and on my phone somewhere over Kentucky I see James swoop out and grab the Moose to bring him back inside. It was crazy. Sometimes technology is pretty great.

(8) James and I celebrated our 18 year wedding anniversary, which seems like such a big number I just double-checked my math, but yep, September 3, 2005 checks out.
What a marvelous day that was.
Luckily, I'd honestly say the days now are even better.

(9) I've quietly embarked on a health and fitness journey that I think will be sustainable and already makes me feel good even if the scale and tape measure haven't yet verified any quantitative results. I'm 40.5 and traveling constantly, eating out, hectic schedules, and slow metabolism are my reality and I need to act like it. Every trip is not a vacation and every meal is not a treat. Also, exercise makes me feel really good, and finding time, even 20 minutes, for it every single day is worth it- annoying as that is to accept.
(Maggie's fitness journey is not my own. This was our roundtrip walk yesterday. But she does her best. I walked 4 miles along the lake afterward.)
I stepped on the scale two weeks ago and I weighed the same amount I did the day before I gave birth to Cora. So, reality bites and I'm biting back. I'm not looking to be 30 again, and I've let go of the size 0 shift dresses I used to wear, but I'd like to feel strong and confident in the clothes I wear now. And I think I can.

10. And on that note, the fabulous Bonnie came over today and made my fall outfits and I am OBSESSED with them.
She is a genius and makes my clothes look so amazing. Every time she comes over I close out of all my internet windows because I realize I already have a beautiful wardrobe and I don't need a thing. Her services are one of the best investments I've ever made and gaining a friend in the process was a beautiful bonus.
And that's most of September and the first day of October! Looking forward to cooler days, longer walks around the lake, and more pumpkin spice in my life soon.