I admit it – I am 40 – I did not just turn 40 – I turned 40 in September last year so now I am facing 41. So far in my life journey none of the numbers had bothered me – but 40 had somehow brought me to tears. Why – why is it that the number I was turning should bother me? I guess the reason is that I was and am unhappy with my physical appearance. I did not set out to be overweight – I was skinny – then along came four kids and I stopped taking care of myself – wasn’t watching what I ate nor was I exercising on a regular basis, although I feel I am pretty active. It was hard for me to admit that at this age that the time I am overweight is fast becoming more than when I was skinny. I don’t like that I am not controlling that aspect of my life. I think that is very difficult for me to handle the fact that I can handle stress, kids, work, married life, etc, but I can’t seem to handle my eating. Well – let me re-state – I can maintain – for years I have maintained, but not lost a significant amount. It took many years for me to come to grips that my husband still found me attractive because I did not see it. I still have doubts sometimes. It is not at all that I don’t think overweight people are attractive, but I didn’t feel I was. Anyway – back to turning 40 – I have a few gray hairs – I am lucky in that respect! I still feel great most days – although I creak a bit ), and I still have a great family that loves me no matter what age. So – all-in-all I am doing pretty good with life at 40!
Well, we are almost into 2013 – wow – hard to believe that the end of 2012 is at hand. Shocker – there have been some changes within the Vowell Family. Steve is now working at the Navy base in Gulfport, MS. I am working for MGCCC again, but now I am teaching computer courses to adults. Victoria is in the middle of the Hotel and Restaurant Management curriculum at MGCCC. Savannah is a lifeguard at the Navy base and will start MGCCC in January. Kristina is at Ocean Springs HS, but will complete her requirements in March and will start MGCCC over the summer or August. Our household shrunk over the last year also (. Laura returned to her German parents in June. We were very sorry to see her go. Felicia also left home and moved back to Texas with Ryleigh and we hope she is enjoying herself! We did move….again. We live in Ocean Springs, MS again. We had lived in Ocean Springs in 2005 before Hurricane Katrina. We have lots of hope that this time will be just a tad bit less ….windy and wet! About our picture this year….lol…well – what did you expect? Something normal?? What fun would that be? We wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year – may God bless you and your family!! – Love – Team Vowell
This evening Team Vowell was finishing up watching our favorite Christmas movie, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase. During the last bit of the movie the elderly aunt starts singing the National Anthem….and then at the end she says, “Play Ball”. Steve says, “Did you guys know that is the last two words of the National Anthem?”. Savannah said, “What is?”. Steve said, “Play ball”. Savannah said with all seriousness, “Is it really?!” LOL I just shook my head. Savannah said, “I am having a slow thinking day.” Victoria said, “more like life”. Ahhhh – nothing like laughing at each other…I mean WITH each other….
able to leap to the top of the fridge…able to save children….able to open my back door
Cats…what in the world can you do with them? Well – I guess Savannah knew what she was doing when her father and I told her she could get a cat from the Humane Society – she picked him out and did a great job with it. He took only a couple of days with our two dogs before they were all sleeping on the same bed curled up together. Sly and Josie run around and chase each other and tackle each other all over the house. It really is fun to watch. I told you I would tell you of the time Sly saved lives – well – here goes the whole story. We were living in Wiggins, MS in 2010…The family had gone out to eat with Eric, Leah & kids to the Mexican Restaurant in Hattiesburg. Afterwards, we were invited back to our friends’ house for beverages and a bonfire. Victoria and Kristina decided to stay in Hattiesburg and walk around and then go home, which they did. Our extremely observant daughters (yes…very sarcastic) did not notice that the back door was ajar and the dining table chairs were knocked over. Sly was in Savannah’s bedroom with the door closed. Victoria and Kristina walked around the house…went to their room…etc..they kept hearing noises from Savannah’s room like the cat was being thrown around the room – they stayed in the house for 20 minutes – the noises kept getting worse and worse – they finally were freaked out enough that they grabbed the dogs and ran out, jumped in the car, and drove to WalMart. They called us and we headed that way. We drove up and parked across the street, where we met Victoria and Kristina …well you know …Steve didn’t want to call the cops – he wanted to take care of it himself! Anyway – Steve walked across the street and entered our house…the house was dark…it seemed like forever before we saw a man come out of the front door – he leaped out the door and headed around back. I decided…oh no he was not getting away..so I started to drive over there …I heard shots fired..I got on the phone with 911 and let them know what was going on. Turns out that the man who leaped out of the door in a single bound was Steve – ). Steve had gone inside and immediately noticed the back door open, the laptops stacked up, the chairs turned over. He made his way to Savannah’s room…it had been destroyed and she had just finished cleaning it (lol). The cat had been thrown around, but thankfully ok. That is what freaked the girls out enough to leave – so hence – he saved Victoria and Kristina. Steve steps over to his and I’s bedroom just diagonally across from Savannah’s room..the robber is still there. Our bedroom window was open and he was bent over my chest right next to the window…Steve reached up and grabbed his 9mm in the top of the closet by the door. He politely asked the robber not to move, but the robber dropped everything and dove out of the window. Steve decided he was not going to dive after him..so he went out the front door, which is what we saw. The robber went around the house and Steve went around the house…and met. Steve again politely asked him not to move. The guy pulled his gun out and pointed it at Steve. Steve said he turned sideways to make himself smaller…lol…and pulled the trigger shooting at the robber. The robber slipped and fell and jumped up and took off over the fence. Of course – all that is happening very quickly. Anyway – cops came and looked for him and processed our house, but never caught him. The cop was looking around and checked Kristina’s room…he asked “wow – did he destroy this room too?” I had to say I wasn’t sure. Kristina was brought in and he told her..”now be honest”. Kristina admitted that was how her room looked prior to the break-in. ohhh boy!
Anyway…back to Sly…that cat can actually open the back door. He jumped up on the box sitting by the back door and turned the knob and went outside – I would not have believed it had I not actually saw him do it!! He can open my cabinet doors and go in there too. It is like having a toddler again! One last thing – the picture – Victoria texted this to me and said…”We found Sly”. Apparently the cat climbed into my fridge – ugghhh! Now I have to scrub it, but funny anyway!
Below is a eulogy my husband wrote for a great friend that just recently made the ultimate sacrifice — he gave his life in the line of duty. Please do not be offended by the language – you have to understand the context and the language used in this great brotherhood. I have to say that this type of relationship was a little foreign to me, but has taught me a lot and I am often a bit jealous of it. This brotherhood can teach us all so much about loyalty, dedication, love, friendship, and sacrifice. I ask you – outside of your own family – think about this: which one of the people you see would you give your life for? Which one – maybe that jerk that cut you off in traffic? Or how about that person at work that is a loud-mouth idiot? Or the person you always argue with because you think they are so ignorant in their opposing views? This brotherhood chooses them all – including you. Here goes:
“I thought it would be funny to start my friend’s eulogy in a way that would make him turn over in his grave….grate on his nerves as I always had a knack for doing. So here it goes:
What adulatory words can be written, I often wonder, that haven’t already been penned, to grant justice to the supreme sacrifice that the soldier makes in combat?
He just said….”That stupid Mother Fucker.”
Here’s the real deal:
This is a eulogy for a fallen hero. He was a renaissance man, a writer, an artist, a philosopher, a soldier, a tough son-of-a-bitch. I have been so fortunate to know him.
He told me of his ambitions.
He was everything that I thought to be amazing.
He had shortcomings, but I still held him in very high regard.
This is a eulogy for a fallen hero. Let’s not forget that.
No. This is a eulogy not just for him, but for all the fallen heroes and oh how many there are!
People look up to others so much, but he had a saying that he truly believed. And I think it came from his genuine humility. He truly believed in “the cause”. He said “So, I have a proposal. Let us see men as men, not gods. Let us embrace their imperfections and not curse the day they were born when they falter. Let’s not ruin them by idolizing them because, sooner or later, idols prove to be false.”
A euology ‘for us and those like us….’ by the way is not the same as presidents and kings. In this violent world, the death of the brave fighter is so commonplace that its fundamental heartbreak is often lost due to the impersonal and statistical ‘big picture’.
Telling the tale of the fallen soldier, emphasizing the dreams unrealized and the potentials unfulfilled, then helps us appreciate the sacrifice all the more. But this wasn’t the case with my friend. He was an old hard-nosed son-of-a-bitch who contributed greatly to this world we call home.
He left behind a legacy of leadership and heroics. The young guys – they loved him – they respected him – the younger soldiers wanted to be like him. He was their mentor, their coach, he was very much their example of what a non-commissioned officer and a soldier and a man should be.
I just want to show the respect he deserves. To give your life for your country is something we should all show respect for.
Is it worth it? I ask myself that every night. My friend fought for our rights. Every one of our rights was paid for by his blood. If you think those rights are worth having, if you think this democracy is worth preserving, then you’ll have your answer….He gave his all…he gave his life, so that we could live ours. There is no greater sacrifice.
Raise your glasses. Here’s to us and those like us…damn few left, my friend. Damn few.
I gladly raise my glass to those damn few left! Thank you – even though inadequate – for your sacrifice.
How do you live with pain? How does a person in pain day after day – hour after hour – minute after minute – of continuous pain live with it? I truly don’t know the answer to that question. I can only guess. Those of you that know me well know that I have chronic kidney stones and have had them since 1996. That is pain, but not the pain I am referring to – I am not in constant agonizing pain – pain that takes your breath away – pain that when you intake and exhale it’s there. My husband experiences that daily pain. Those of you who know him – probably wouldn’t even know he is hurting that bad. Funny what male pride makes you endure and do. Why am I even writing this?? It makes me cry thinking about it - probably because of the emotional pain underlying the last 5 years of this pain. So – I guess it might be time for me to talk about it. In September 2007 Steve was teaching at Denman Jr. High and coaching football at McComb High – just a normal day – he went into work to the gym. The people who designed the building apparently thought it would be a good idea to put the light switches at the bottom of the stairs instead of the top. Cheerleaders also thought it would be a good idea to leave a mop (or broom – don’t recall) on the stairs from decorating the day before. Put the combination together and Steve ends up landing on the concrete steps at the bottom on his back. He went to the doctor that day and was unable to go back to work until several years later. He began hurting worse and worse as the days went by – doctor after doctor after doctor…….It took until about June 2008 for the doctors to be allowed to do a test to see if he had a torn disk – which he did. July 2008 he had an anterior and posterior lumbar fusion. They cut him from the front and went in and removed and replaced the disk filament. Then flipped him over and cut him and put 8″ rods and screws in along with some pig parts to shore up his spine. I was with him of course during the surgery and stayed in the hospital with him. I had never experienced being with anyone in that much pain before. It was awful – not being able to help was sooo hard. What could I do? Watch…bring him water…watch…feel helpless and my part was easy – his part – the enduring – was horrible. They sent him home a few days later without a hospital bed or pain pills. He had to ride down those horrible roads from Jackson MS to McComb MS – like washboards. He traded between a recliner and the bed. He lasted until about 3am and we had to call an ambulance to come get him. Only thanks to the sheriff’s department deputies – not the 2 female EMTs – did we get him in the ambulance. Anyway – after a bit longer in the hospital they sent him home with a hospital bed and pain meds this time. They helped some, but after usage the benefits diminish – and so it went with each pain medicine he tried – until he was almost out of options. Last one – a new non-opiate based drug – but he had to be in full withdrawal first. Dear Lord – its worse than they portray it on TV. Steve was adamant he was not going to do what the doctors suggested and be admitted to withdraw under medical care – nope he was doing it at home – with us. He endured the vomiting, skin crawling, sores, sweating, fits of rage, the going crazy – I had never seen such a thing – and neither had our kids. Some of the things during this 3 year + ordeal was so funny – but some was very difficult. One child was very up-to-date on the latest drug names and was able to speak with authority on uses and doses, etc. – so much so that I got a call from the school concerned she knew way too much. We were all becoming little pharmacists. Anyway – Steve was finally exactly where the doctor wanted him – full withdrawal. He was sitting in the doctor’s office with a trash can vomiting when the doctor came in – the doctor decided he was in such bad shape – the time to give him the new medicine was right then! He gave him 1/2 a pill to let dissolve under his tongue – his pain went from a 9 out of 10 to a 5 out of 10! Then 30 minutes later he gave him another 1/2 of a pill. A little bit later his pain went all the way down to a 2 out of 10!!! We were all elated! Could not believe it!! Well – that lasted until we drove home but his pain wasn’t horrible. The medicine was not to ever be that effective again. He also was allergic so he had a rash on the inside of his mouth – down his legs and arms. The medicine got to the point that it didn’t help at all after just a short time. *sigh* let downs… they are tough!
During this time I did something I am not entirely proud of. I had started back to college in August 2007 with a vengeance - I was going to finish! Once this happened to Steve at work his income was dramatically cut and I wasn’t bringing in anything. I continued my classes – driving to Hattiesburg every Tuesday and Thursday – having my girls skip school to take care of their daddy. On one hand I felt like I had no choice – what if Steve could never work again – what if I had to be the bread-winner - I couldn’t make enough to support us without an education. Heck – come to find out – with one I can only produce a meager one. Then on the other hand - how could I ask my girls to stay home taking turns to help their father – ask my daughter to miss her senior year of high school – miss the prom – miss senior portraits – miss her last year – but I didn’t have to ask – she offered to take one for the team and let her younger sisters stay in school. I still feel the guilt over that decision. Sorry you missed all that Victoria. Having said that – I think we all learned that we can tough it out and our girls learned some hard lessons and will be prepared when they take on their own household.
Steve had some experiences I hope he will eventually write about in his on-hold book. (hint hint) I know from my point of view – this was the hardest part of our marriage. There were days I was physically and mentally exhausted…I was taking 6-7 classes a semester….taking care of the kids…taking Steve to the doctors…keeping house – all in the little camp – luckily we had a 14×14 room that we kept the bed, washer and dryer, tv, computer, and everyone’s shoes. The girls had a loft bedroom and we had a small shower in a small bathroom and a partial kitchen. We were all going crazy some days!!! The darkest day I had in dealing with everything was one day he was in particularly bad pain and I was sitting right near him doing homework late into the night/early morning. I had came across a competition for Marriage Week at USM – you had to write an essay. I put my homework aside for a few minutes and began writing about our marriage. I had to admit that I prayed a lot for Steve and his pain during those days – but this prayer this night was that if this is what he had to deal with the rest of his life – then please God take him because the pain was unbearable. I wanted him to have peace rather than to have to live like that. So I wrote that in my essay along with why I still loved him and how we had gotten through so much already. Anyway – I won…a nice dinner, a cake, and flowers. Steve couldn’t even go to the dinner because of the pain. I did not know how we were going to get through all of this. I know there are people out there that will be nodding their heads cause they get it – I hope my talking about it helps.
Pain – severe pain – doesn’t only effect the one in pain…it hurts the whole family. Over the last few years I have had the privilege of reading my girls’ own stories they have had to write for school…each one had their own story about how this all effected them. Each made me cry – because in my own hard times I neglected to consider their’s. I know it hurts Steve – he was unable to throw the football anymore with Savannah….or teach Kristina how to pitch…or go to the movies with Victoria – how do you keep on living when you are really aren’t living – you are just getting by – surviving. He doesn’t remember much of those years – courtesy of the pain meds – but we remind him every now and then ). Some of those stories are really really funny!
So – here is my take on how my wonderful husband copes with the pain…..prayer is one! He also has always had this mantra – “you have a decision to make when you get up in the morning…is it going to be a good day or a bad day…you choose”. Most days – he chooses wisely! It took him a while to get to that point to make that choice, but he makes it every day – he deals with the pain…takes breaks…lets others do a bit more…and smiles and laughs. Something he has always been able to make me do. (sometimes against my will!)
How much longer do we just sit back and let Pres. Obama take our country downhill? I beg of you – those that are voting (or considering) for him – please take a look at the policies that he has implemented and failed – look at our economy – how much longer do you think we can stay afloat? – look at the lies – please read the story below – He lied to us – he put the blame on a video and lied to us – he knew the truth within a very short time. He lied when he told everyone he didn’t agree with his long time preacher – he stayed for numerous years listening to the Anti-American crap he was spewing – don’t know about you, but if I heard one sermon that way I am getting up and walking out and not returning. PLEASE WAKE UP!!!
New e-mails reveal that the White House and the State Department knew that radical jihadists led the attack on the American embassy in Benghazi, Libya two hours after the attack began. The news contrasts with claims by President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden , and other senior officials that the attacks were a result of a spontaneous anti-American protests spurned by an anti-Islamic YouTube video.
“What is happening with Benghazi is so far beyond lying, it is staggering,” Glenn said this morning on radio.
“Now, it is important for you to understand why you can’t accept the little lies, even though this isn’t a little lie. In every single case in my memory, if someone was caught on something that was that wrong, and he’s wrong on so many things from the debate, you immediately just get off it. You may not apologize, but you get off it. Because people will hold your feet to the fire. But no one is holding his feet to the fire.”
“But now we have beginning of the truth on Benghazi. Five days into the Benghazi scandal when no one was saying anything, I presented a theory. It was a Monday. It was the Monday after. It was six days, the Monday after the attack. And I got on the air and I told you exactly what was happening. I told you that this ambassador was involved in running guns, and he was running guns to Al‑Qaeda in Libya. And he was running guns through Turkey into Syria. And whether it was a deal that went bad, I don’t know. But that’s what happened. And the White House knew. That was six days into it.”
At 12:54 PM on September 11th, Sean Smith, a Foreign Service Information Management Officer at the embassy, posted on a gaming website: “Assuming we don’t die tonight. We saw one of our ‘police’ that guard the compound taking pictures.” Glenn believes this was a message to United States intelligence agencies.
“So you know, do not let any member of the press get away with calling this an embassy safe house. It is not. It was a CIA safe house. Now why, in the most dangerous place, in one of the most dangerous parts of the world on September 11th, when the ambassador knows he’s under attack, the documents now show he wrote the night before and said, ‘Help me, there’s trouble,’ why would he be at a CIA safe house? What was he doing there? I kept asking the question, “What is he doing there. What was he doing there.” We now know he was having dinner with the general counsel of Turkey. Remember that President Obama is good friends with the Turkish ambassador. The Turkish ‑‑ I’m sorry, the Turkish prime minister. Turkey is ‑‑ fancies itself the head of the Caliphate. The Turkish ambassador and Barack Obama, it has been widely reported that that’s really his only real friend in foreign policy. That is the guy he called first when he won the presidency. Not England, not Israel, but the Turkish ambassador. This guy’s ‑‑ this guy’s a Sharia law guy. Not a good guy.”
“Why was the general counsel of Turkey meeting with our ambassador at a CIA safe house on September 11th? And here’s where it gets strange. At 12:54 the White House, in e‑mails to the situation room, the White House is alerted there are people watching our safe house. The ambassador and the Turkish general counsel are in the safe house having dinner and there are people watching the exits. That’s what the memo says. They’re watching the exits. One guy says, ‘I don’t know if we’re going to get out of here alive.’”
“So we know that they know inside this is serious; we don’t know if we’ll get out of this one alive. An hour after that, the Turkish ambassador leaves through the front door and the front gate, unmolested. Now, you tell me, why was the Turkish ambassador there ‑‑ or the Turkish general counsel there? Why was he there? Why were they having dinner? Why was it so important on September 11th to go to the most dangerous city, to a CIA safe house? An hour after he leaves, the fight begins. We now know that the White House sent a drone, somebody, the military, somebody sent a drone. So there was a live video feed of what was going on. They’re watching it in the State Department, they’re watching it at the Pentagon, they’re watching it at Langley and they’re watching it in the situation room.”
“At 5:00 in the afternoon Leon Panetta has a meeting with the president of the United States. The first e‑mail comes at 4:05. So the Secretary of Defense arrives at the White House to have a meeting with the president 55 minutes after the situation room, and everybody else, gets an e‑mail saying Libya, the safe house is under attack. That’s three hours after the president got the first warning that somebody was watching the safe house. So they all know that something’s going down there. At 4:05 first e‑mail comes in; says we’re under attack. Leon Panetta arrives at the White House at 5:00 for a meeting with the president, the vice president, in the Oval Office.”
The first e-mail is below:
“Now, how they can have a drone, the Secretary of Defense, and an ambassador under attack and not say, ‘Hey, what do you say we catch the 5:05 elevator downstairs to the situation room and watch what’s going on. Let’s get briefed in the situation room and find out what’s going on. They have all of the information there.’”
“4:54 Washington time, there’s another report to the situation room. The embassy in Tripoli has reported that firing at the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi has stopped and the compound had been cleared, said the response team was at the site attempting to locate missing personnel.”
“At 6:07 that night to the situation room, attack update Number 2: Ansar al‑Sharia claims responsibility for the Benghazi attack.”
“The president of the United States of America, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State have all lied to you. They have lied to you and said this might be a video; we don’t have all the information; the information is still sketchy; it’s confusing. No. We now have the documents. We now have the documents that came into the situation room saying there’s an attack; they’re watching. Then we have the documents that we have a live video feed in the situation room, so they could see that there was no protest.”
*This story has been updated for clarity
I have often pondered the life my family and I have led – we seem to be wandering all over God’s creation….packing….moving….adjusting…packing…moving… adjusting. It took a great friend of my husbands for me to “get it” – Thanks David! David gave a letter to my husband before we left Wisconsin and below is part of it. Please read! “Steve, you have taught me about patriotism, loyalty, leadership, family and friends. You live life to the fullest, squeezing every ounce of life out of each moment. A mantra everyone should live by. Like a guardian angel when your work is done your need to move, to help other lost souls. I believe that God is keeping you restless, your gypsy lifestyle, so you move on and spread your wings over the next mislaid soul. It has been a pleasure working for you and a greater joy getting to know you…….” David Larson. David made me realize that God keeps us restless for a reason – we are not all alike – we all lead different lives for a reason. Whatever that reason – I am willing to live that life because God has wonderful things in store for me and my family! I just refuse to be scared to go – I will not let fear stop me from doing what I should – with the grace of God! I am even more proud of the life we have led – traipsing across the world living our life – so what if we don’t live in one place for 30 years? To us – that would be boring. Understand that what makes the hard stuff all well worth it is the people we have met – the friends we have made. I still talk to friends I had years ago 18 moves ago. They still care just as I still care for them. What else could I ask for? Just for the record – that was the best goodbye party I have ever seen! Thanks to all of our friends for giving Steve that!!
Savannah got Sly a little while back at the shelter in Gulfport, MS. He has pretty much taken the house by storm ever since. Josie, full-sized chihuahua, loves this cat and they run and play and tackle each other all day. They all even sleep together on the same pillow. How did Sly become a hero you ask? Well – that is a whole other story - a short snipit is that a robber was in our house in Wiggins, MS and two of my daughters went into the house without realizing he was in Savannah’s bedroom with the cat. He threw that cat all around and Sly was making a racket. It freaked the girls out enough that they ran out of the house – he had ransacked Savannah’s room and had a gun – so Sly is their hero! Below is the link for Women’s Day’s Cutest Pet of the Day blog – I submitted a photo that Victoria took of Savannah’s cat, Sly – and he won.