I honestly didn't think I'd ever see a day where these 3 brothers could be in the same room let alone have a fun, relaxing, reminiscing, joking, genealogy, laughter, BBQ filled night together. Let the healing begin.
Thank you Ray, for having the crazy ability to bring these three stubborn hardheads together, even when you're no longer with us. We missed you tonight.
Last week went by too fast and in an effort to remember in my old age how wonderful my life was *at this moment* I'm going to do the uber fast- one-liner-recap of the week....
Monday- The kids BEGGED for a Happy Potter Read-A-Thon Day... we stayed in our jammies and read for hours and hours finishing book #2 just in time for dinner.
Today was all about spending time with the BFFs... Lunch w/ Cottrell's then Doug and I joined Phil and Alicia at a Pink Floyd tribute concert.
The kids enjoyed some adopted Big Sister Time all morning, Owen went on a date with who he calls 'my miss rebbie', and then Doug and I took the kids to see Mary Poppins at the Fox Theatre!
Oh, I have to say more about the play because it was sooo flipping good! The songs were 'practically perfect' and the set?! HOLY COW, I loved the amazing 'pop-up' backdrop and colorful sets. The kids were more then adorable and I found myself looking over at them AMAZED that they are mine. They were cracking me up during supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, just trying to sing along but not being able to even pronounce it. (don't worry, they've been practicing it ever since and have it just about down pat) I am soo blessed to be thier mommy and for reals, Husbandface and I make freaking cute kids! At the end of the show as Mary Poppins is saying goodbye she kisses Burt on the cheek and Owen (in a loud five year old 'whisper') says, "Eww! That's so gross! Now they're going to get sick! Only married people can kiss without getting sick. That's discusting." The entire time Doug and I are trying to hush him but we were laughing so hard he didn't really think he had to listen to us. It was adorable and a moment I want to remember FOREVER. I bought a Mary Poppins Umbrella as a souvenier and the kids have just been praying for rain so they could fight over, play with it.
After living in GA for 9 years I finally made it to the Tellus Museum. I got to spent it with another wonderful friend from high school, Jackie whom, lucky for me, moved to Georgia because she missed me so much. (okay okay, it was because of her hubby's job but let's face it, I'm the one that benefits.) We took all the kiddos to the museum and I'm pretty sure they loved every minute of it. Ethan practically had to be yanked out of there and feels like he 'missed too much' because I was rushing in through exibits (5 hours wasn't enough time spent obsessing on science). It was such a great day!
We played in the dirt... ALL DAY. Doug and I are working on A MAJOR YARD WORK RENO and Friday was the day we told the boys they could get as dirty as they wanted, dig where ever they wanted and build whatever they wanted.... Needless to say I think they were in heaven. They even helped me move dirt and rocks and earned a few bucks in the process. My back still hurts from all the work I did but the kids? THEY had fun! (I'll post picts of the backyard project soon.)
Saturday- MORE yard work but the highlight for all of us was....
Doug's nephew's coming into town to visit!! In Doug's family though, nieces and nephew's aren't what you're thinking. They're our my age. Seriously, Casey and Brandon are the coolest cousins ever and my kids can NOT stop talking about how awesome they are. They pulled out all the stops, playing Star Wars, Having a Rock Bank competition, Teaching multiplication and Poi and generally showering my kids with tons of love and attention. IT WAS SOOOO FUN TO HAVE THEM AROUND and I totally wish they lived closer.
We all hated saying good bye but were glad they got to stay all weekend.
How do define a perfect Spring Break? You head out to a favorite location? or reach out to your favotie people? For us every year seems to be different. This is our Spring Break 2013. Yeah, no beaches, no crazy parties, no trips but still perfect for our cute family.
Hoping not ever to forget how perfect it was, Joanna
We celebrate the life of the best man I ever knew: a soldier, a father, a husband, a man of faith, a great friend, a warm heart, and the biggest smile ever - my nephew Ray Wallace. His cousin, Cameron Ray Wallace joined our family at 1:32am this morning. May he be as happy in life as his namesake!
I know, not many mentions on the old blog about how another family member will be joining the ranks in less than 16 weeks BUT we are making plans for our 3rd boy, even if it's slow going. Much to Ethans disappointment, Thanksgiving weekend we decided on a name. Ethan wanted him to be Baby Rex- or at least Austin Rex Wallace. (after the dinosaur he tells me.) while that name didn't quite make the cut we still came up with the perfect name. Cameron Ray Wallace. I wanted a 'Waterton Name' so that's where Cameron is from and since all of our middle names are family/close friends names, it was a no brainier on choosing Ray. He is Doug's closest nephew, who died in 2010 while fighting in Afghanistan. So now that the name part is taken care of, the kids have taken to asking how Baby Cam is doing every morning and I have moved onto nursery prep! More accurately, Mom was in this mode long before me and got to work making this adorable, detailed and perfect baby quilt and now I'm shopping for sheets and matching decor. Yeah, you can say it, my Mom? She is amazing!
We don't get the same snow storms here that I got growing up. My kids will ever have the joy of getting white washed daily by the cute boy down the street when they get off the school bus, or experience the delight of making morning snow angels in December and they will never get to have a snowball fight with their Georgia cousins and neighbors.... well, unless they come over the day Grandma's annual Christmas package comes because that's the one day a year we're guaranteed to have a snow storm.
(For the record; Doug saw the mess and thinks I'm crazy....)
(and for the record; I heard the giggles and didn't care about the clean up.)
(well.... until about this exact moment. The phone rang. It was the realtor. She had a family that wanted to come by and look at the house asap.)
Last night we had the kids decorate Turkey Cupcakes... it was a messy hit.
Today has been all about hanging out with each other. We turned on the parade, gathered every catalog in the house and put the kids to work cutting and tearing out everything they'd ever want... and then whittling the list down to start forming a Christmas letter to Santa. It was also a hit... and pretty messy too.
Then it was time for dinner... this year I decided not to cook. For one reason... I didn't want to spend the entire weekend cleaning up the mess of Thursday. So we had it catered in and I experienced my first 'Southern' Thanksgiving and can I just say, for the record, Cornbread stuffing?! EWWWWW! It's just wrong to even be called stuffing. Deceitful I tell you. But, other then that the food was wonderful and my mouth is watering just thinking about the leftovers we're going to enjoy all weekend. During dinner we had the kids read from their little Thankful Books. Earlier this week I had them make up little notebooks and work on writing down everything they were thankful for in it. Owen's book is full of scribbles and the letter O (just learned that) and baby bear references. Ethan's is all about the items he is thankful for... like a DSi, Star Wars Lego's, Movies, the Couch, his treasure box, gum and grandpa's tree house. Lorali's is full of people. Her 'bruthuers' her Mom, her Dad, and baby 'Jeezez. Friends like Jaylyn, 'cuzens' like Tate and best friends like 'Peechs'. It is pretty darn cute. My favorite of them all had to be the sentence from Lorali's book, "I am thankful for Dad poren wooter on Mom" (Dad pouring water on Mom) complete with a picture of me naked in the shower and Doug throwing buckets of water over the door.
After getting things settled from dinner we relaxed by watching A Christmas Carol and then the boys played Lego's. Tonight Shauna's family & Davis, Sue, and the girls came over for dessert. My pumpkin pie was a disaster but thankfully Sue saved the day with a yummy Apple Sauce Pie and some homemade caramel popcorn. Overall it was a wonderful day.
The funeral for my nephew Capt. Ellery Ray Wallace, 33, was held in Big Spring, Texas on Sept. 7th, 2010. Ray was killed when a rocket-propelled grenade struck his armored vehicle in Afghanistan on August 29, 2010. Services were held at a church then the funeral procession drove the cemetery some 5.2 miles on the other side of town. As family and friends made their way to their cars to join the funeral procession, it began to rain quite heavily. Despite the heavy rain (which was heavy enough to limit visibility) the 5 mile route from the church to the cemetery was lined with hundreds of individuals holding flags. Most of them did not have umbrellas or raincoats and were soaked to the bone within minutes. They stood there, patiently enduring the rain and cold, many of them having no previous knowledge of the funeral or the route the procession would take. There were gas station attendants and mechanics who dropped what they were doing to stand at the curb and salute or place their hand over their hearts. There were business owners in suites, women in dresses. There were individuals who had pulled over on the side of the road and exited the dry warmth of their vehicles to reverence the fallen soldier. There were countless dozens from the VA Hospital, somberly saluting. It seemed like every bank, every store, every restaurant had emptied out into the rain. Every city employee, from the sanitation worker to the office administrator seemed to line the street as car after car of the funeral procession splashed water on them. There was no flinching, no cursing. Only respect. Ray hadn’t lived in Big Spring for almost 20 years, so 99% of these people were complete and total strangers to him and to us. But on that day, they were family.
I've been unusually quiet the lest few days. Not just because it's been a travel whirlwind but because there was a lot to take in in 36 hours. The only word describing it accurately is overwhelming.
Monday morning at 5am our wonderful babysitter, Sarah, came to watch the kids for a couple of days and Doug and I headed to the Atlanta Airport. We knew we were headed to a small town in Texas but we weren't sure of what things would be like when we got there. I don't think it's anything anyone could prepare for.
We got in Monday afternoon and unfortunately missed the airplane arriving in town, but we did get a chance to say hi to everyone before the viewing. It was good to see how everyone has grown and it was nice to just be able to pick up where we left off after not seeing everyone one soo many years. Before the viewing we went out for dinner (if you can call it that) with Marsha, Doug's big sister. Doug's always adored her and her incredibly big heart so being around someone like that during this was comforting. She also validated some of Doug's feelings regarding his parents and gave him a chance to talk it all out, which was another big thing. From there we went straight to the viewing and Doug got a chance to see a lot of familiar faces. People that have known him since he was born, and have loved him since day one. It was good for him. I was doing good at the viewing until Jan (Ray's wife) and I started talking and she ended up comforting me. Giving me her thoughts on faith and preparation, trials and family. It amazes me how she was able to be so giving of herself to all of us during a time like this. She's my new hero. Her grace, her positive attitude and her testimony are all characteristics I saw from her that I will forever strive to have. Jan's family was also amazing through this entire thing as well, aware of everyone, watching the kids, and comforting each other constantly, all with smiles on their faces as infectious as Jan's.
After the viewing we went to visit with a family from Doug's home ward, another good thing for him. It was interesting though because he refused to tell her about him leaving the church- I don't think she knows and he steered away from the subject every time that the church was brought up. On our drive home, I asked him about it. He just said, "I can't.".
Tuesday morning was the funeral and it was heartbreaking yet, beautiful and comforting. The main thing that sticks out in my head is patriotism and faith. I've never been a 'proud' american. If anything, it's my canadian roots that I was taught to cling to. I was proud of my Grandpa serving in WWII for Canada. I was proud of my ancestors settling Southern Alberta, I was more proud of my tiny part of Canada then I was the country I was raised in and call home. Tuesday that changed. I was proud of the way the army treated my niece and her family. I was proud of the way my husband's hometown paid tribute to Ray's service and the family. Even though I disagreed with Ray about him still being in the military, I was proud of Ray and how much he believed in his country and what he was doing. I was heartbroken by the loss yet proud to be an American.
The funeral was beautiful and Ray's siblings did a great job doing something that must have been so hard on them. The sentiment of Faith that Jan had put so eloquently the night before was just reiterated to me and I was also left feeling proud of my religion, which I hadn't felt in a long time. There was a huge moment for both Doug and I that I won't share now because Doug wants to but, I do have an image of it that I'm thankful I caught.
Another thing that is still sticking with me is Ray and Jan's kids. I'm not sure if it's just because they are the exact same ages as my kids or if it's because of the circumstances but, everything about them touched me. Liam is their oldest, he and Ethan were babies together and throughout the entire thing he was just trying to be so big. He was trying to be strong and you could see the weight of the world on his shoulders. He's always been such a goofy, fun loving little boy (like his Dad) but, to see him so serious and suddenly so mature was both sad and peaceful at the same time. He's a strong kid and I'm sure he has the personality to be there for his little brother and sisters just like Ray always was. I hope he always remembers how much his Dad loves him and how happy Ray was to just be his Dad.
(on a side note; I love, LOVE seeing Doug in a suit) Doug's family was wonderful, his siblings were so loving and welcoming, his nieces and nephews were so much fun to be with that even having Doug's mother there couldn't ruin the moments they had together. Yes, we did see Doug's Mom, she said hello to me once and right before we left she finally acknowledged Doug and said hi to him. Every time I see her I'm hurt for Doug, I hate how much she has hurt him. I am soo glad that we went. I'm glad Doug saw everyone and I am happy we went and got a chance
Wow. I don't know if I'm still in shock or if I've moved on to extreme sadness. Is there a difference? Last Saturday night I received the saddest phone call from my Husband. I had never heard him so heartbroken or lost. I hated being away from him when something so heartbreaking was happening. Ray Wallace had died in combat while serving in Afghanistan on Saturday. He wouldn't be returning to his amazing-perfect-for-him wife, or his four young children. He wouldn't be coming and visiting when he was on leave and we wouldn't be hearing his laugh next Christmas. He was gone.
How do you process something so horrific? How do you explain it when someone so intensely good dies so young? How come something so sad has to happen to such a cute family? Ray is Doug's nephew. He's older then me and loved to tease me, never calling me anything but "Auntie J" from the first time that he met me- even though Doug and I weren't even engaged yet. He was more like a brother to Doug then anyone else in the world. I can honestly say I have seen him in bad moods and even angry but he always seemed to be smiling and looking at the world with eyes of happiness. He could make anyone laugh, and more then just smile, the kind of belly laugh that makes tears and hurts your stomach. Ray was the one person from the Wallace side of the family who called Doug (from Iraq) after he left the church and his family had disowned him. He comforted me, gave me a few scriptures and said he wished so badly to be home so he could come visit us and comfort us. He knew we were hurting and put aside his trials and work and precious phone time with his own family to spread his contagious happiness. He then told Doug how even though he felt his Dad had handled the situation terribly, that it didn't matter. He would always be there, they were family and he loved him. It was exactly what Doug needed at the time. (and the scripture he gave me is still one of my favorites.) He really is a strong, loving man. Full of Faith and kindness. He and I disagreed a lot and yet still he'd have his arm around me and get me laughing in an instant. I can't even imagine how his family, or even how Doug is feeling at this time. My heart is breaking for them and I wish I could carry this burden for them. Even though Doug's family has been more then distant for the last few years, it's Ray, his siblings and the other nieces and nephews that have shown us what love and family are. I can't wait to see them and hug them and tell them we love them. Because you never know when they won't be there to do it again.
Jeremy, Ethan, Doug, Troy, Liam and Ray Wallace. Spring 2003
More info. about Ray can be found HERE, HERE, and a news report is available HERE.