Thursday, December 30, 2010

The wheels on the bus go round and round.

A wonderful family we have the privilege of knowing invited Lillian and me to look at some of Nashville's greatest Christmas decorations at the Opryland Hotel the day after Christmas. This grand hotel recently reopened after the floods in May. I was very excited about this opportunity. This family travels in their own bus! I was as excited, if not more, about the bus ride than the destination. Old Man Flake did a great job getting us there and back with such a beast to drive.

The bus is needed with this bunch. To date the family count is as follows:

Twelve children
Five child-in-laws
Four foster children, a recent and unexpected addition
Nine grandchildren (I think), with two more on the way

And then they invited the two of us! It was awesome. We all fit nicely. And I do mean all. Everyone was there! We were quite the parade going through the hotel ogling at the lights inside and out.

Thank you Flakes!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Lillian received a book from her cousins today. She loves books. She'll bring them to me all day long. I've recently caught her flipping through her favorite jungle book while doing her lion roar. "Baaawwh!"

Lillian loves her new book. Though my voice is on vacation somewhere warm without me we read it six times in twenty minutes. How she heard me is a mystery.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Parthenon

As everyone else is appropriately blogging about Christmas I am trying to play a little catch up on recent events.

While my sister was visiting we patronized Nashville's own Parthenon. It's the world's only full size replica and has an interesting history in it's own right. Built to last only 6 months during the world fair in 1930 it was refurbished much later to stand in the glory that it is today.
The double brass doors on each side of the building are 24 ft tall 6 ft wide and a foot thick. They weigh 7.5 tons each! They were very impressive. I'm lamenting that none of my pictures show the scale of these beautiful doors that were made in 1930 in Long Island, New York.

The 42 ft Athena wasn't added till the 90's.

It's an impressive building surrounded by a beautiful park complete with reflection lake. It was a great November day for a picnic.

I hope anyone visiting the Nashville area gets a chance to see this wonderful structure and the art museum they've added on the main floor.

Guy Fawkes Day

Who loves bonfires?
Ooh, me, me, pick me!
Really, who doesn't love bonfires?

They are warm and bright on a cold dark night. A gathering place for friends. A beautiful pit of crackling and popping in the midst of a quiet evening. They're great!

Thus Guy Fawkes Day is a great day to celebrate. Not only do you build a bonfire you get to build Guy Fawkes. Then BURN him! Mwaahaaha!
Here is my Guy Fawkes Fire. For those of you who are in-the-know this takes place on November 5th. Which shows what a slacker I am in updating our blog.

Here is one of the kindly firefighters putting out my fire. Party crashers! I've learned a valuable lesson in this. Invite all your neighbors to the celebration. That includes the ones that live through the woods, over the river (creek) and across the fields. Yes, invite them before they erroneously report a house on fire. Thanks guys. Love you too.

To my smug satisfaction it took "Clarksville's I-fight-fires-for-a-living" over 30 minutes to put my fire out. With my previously prepared and nearby water hose and my water that I pay for. Again thanks for that. During this 30 plus minutes of praise for a well built fire, apologies for ruining an obviously harmless event and watching my beautiful creation dwindle to smolder my concern for our surrounding community increased greatly. These so called fire fighting machines failed to scatter the logs (in my ample fire pit) to remove the hot spots. Which resulted in a nice little camp fire within a few hours.
We were able to scorch our Guy Fawkes after all.

RIP Guy. It's been fun. See you next year with a few more neighbors present and less flashing lights in the driveway.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Terrific Athlete.

No, not the Homestar Runner. And not me either. If I hadn't broken my camera doing something silly you would see me standing with Mr. Lance Armstrong. Instead you can see a picture of two very fuzzy people and my word that it's us. But it is. He and Robbin Williams stopped by our little patrol base the other day to say hello. They probably had a more organized agenda than that, but I don't know what it was. But it was neat to meet them and chat for a minute.

Posting a picture of a fuzzy man that I say is Lance Armstrong is my way of announcing to The Internet that I have officially started my pre-training training for the marathon I am running on April 30th in Nashville. Today I went to a spin class to ease in with some low impact endurance exercise. Low impact my butt. My heart nearly exploded! Our danish cycling instructor had us going up and down hills and pyramids and fighting pirates and all kinds of craziness. How all that was accomplished on stationary bikes is hard to explain. Like the photo, you just have to believe me: there were pirates. Tomorrow its going to be a 5 or 6 mile jog. Like I said, easing into it.

I'm following the Furman Institute of Running Science and Training program for my race prep- I know you're all dying to know that. Three run days a week, two or three days and week of low-impact cardio. I'll post how its going on Facebook so anyone who wants to can follow along with the agony and the ecstasy. It would be great if one of you readers out there took the plunge with me! Your not dead yet, but you aren't getting any younger either- Go for it!! The real training starts on January 8th, 16 weeks before race day.

Peace out.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

We love Babies!

Lillian's cousin count increased by TWO this month. One on each side of the family. They are both beautiful additions to their families.
Here is handsome Henry born earlier this month.
This angel is Charlotte. Who entered the world earlier this week.
Dave and I are excited for our siblings as they begin parenthood. We look forward to meeting these bundles of joy and introducing our baby/toddler to them.
My siblings recently discovered where babies come from. The baby button! Here's a link to this insightful event.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I'm Thirty!

Wow, another year older. How about that! Three decades old.

Thanks to my family, friends and all well-wishers for the emails and letters and care packages. They are all very appreciated.

As some of you (few) readers may have heard from Dad, I had a crappy mission on my birthday and one of my patients died. I don't want anyone to be over-worried about me, I am doing fine. It is unfortunate but sometimes it happens. I have a lot of supportive friends here that I can talk about these kinds of things with- they're my fellow flight medics and they all know what it's like.

In this particular incident the patient what a middle-aged Afghan who was severely injured in some kind of vehicle-related accident. When I got to the aid station that he was being treated in, he was already doing very poorly. Things went downhill from there as we secured an I/O (like an IV that is drilled into the bone) sedated and paralyzed him, intubated him, performed chest decompressions, connected an assortment of machinery to him and moved him to the helicopter. On the flight back his heart stopped and my crew chief and I performed CPR and ran a full cardiac code on the patient until we reached the hospital about 20 minutes later. By that time there wasn't anything left to do and the attending doc called it.

A few days before that I had evac'ed a 6-year old boy that suffered a terrible fall and later died of his injuries. On Thanksgiving we picked up an 11-year old who suffered multiple gun-shot wounds he received accidentally (I assume) from American soldiers. Both later died in hospitals from their wounds. It is very sad.

It is not normal for me to have that many fatal casualties in such a short period. But, sometimes that is the way the dice rolls. Thankfully most of the patients we take are not so bad off and they can eventually be healed. We have flown over 3200 missions as a company in the last 10 months and have been able to do a lot of good for a lot of people. I don't feel sorry for myself because this is the job I wanted and I have enjoyed doing it. Also, this is what real life is like for the people who live here and other impoverished and difficult places. In the end, I get to go home and live wherever I wish and do whatever I want. These kind of experiences are bitter but brief and help me to really appreciate all the blessings I have like my family and country, and especially my faith in God and his plan.

On the other hand, I have had many very happy experiences this week as well. I have received a mountain of mail- including more peanut MandM's that I could eat in a year. I have had a lot of down time to relax and goof off at sites away from KAF and it's rules and high ranking officers. I became an uncle again. I (with permission) threw a pie in my battalion commanders face- not something that happens every day. So things are not all doom and gloom in the world of Dave Harrell. Things here are the way they normally are for everyone: fine with little bursts of really crappy and really great.

Also, I wanted to let my family and friends know that I really appreciate all the support and love- they keep me sane. And your prayers for me- I know they keep me safe.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Many Halloween parties were to be had while we were in Alaska. We love us some Halloween parties! There's a great costume shop near my parents home known to only a few. A lady has an extensive collection in her three car garage. No cars. Hardly any standing room either. We found a little duck costume for Lillian that served us well for the first party. This gave us (my mom) enough time to make her costume for the last party a week later. A party with a fabulous bon fire and fireworks!
Thank you to all my siblings who had wonderful parties and amazing food. Thank you to my mom for making the adorable panda costume. We had a great Halloween!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

First Birthday

Our baby is a year old! OK, actually she's closer to 14 months by now. But back in October when these pictures were taken she had her first birthday.

We were blessed to enjoy her birthday with family in Alaska. It was great! We celebrated a duo birthday bash and birthday breakfast with grandma Cathy. Who shares birthdays with baby dearest. Which is way fun. Then we shuffled over to my parents place for MORE birthday cupcakes, paper ripping and blowing out candles. What a fun day!

For lack of a better time, I am announcing baby's internet name here.


It might seem silly to give her an internet name now that's it been a year. It's also silly to keep referring to her as baby. She may not appreciate that name in the future. She may not appreciate us using her given name in this medium in the future as well. Thus we have Lillian. Sweet, fun, baby Lillian.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

This is Me on April 30th, 2011.

Today I registered for the Nashville Music City Marathon. You are all welcome to join me and watch the free entertainment. By that I mean the music and festivities, not me barfing. But hey, I don't judge. Whatever floats your boat.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Who loves to color?

I drew this picture for all the little (and big) guys and girls that love coloring and also love awesomeness. Print and color. You are welcome.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

One Smart Puppy

My sweet wife teased me yesterday that my dog has a higher education than I do because he has graduated twice compared to my one. It was witty and playful and made my feelings feel like they were eaten by raptors.

"Clever girl!"
I love MS Paint.

Here is Sully with his other family, graduating from Intermediate Obedience Training. Sullys foster family is so awesome and wonderful and generous that they put him through the next level dog training at Petsmart. They are fantastic people. Congratuations Sully!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Time Wasters

I enjoy wasting my time. It's like a hobby. However, I am less amused when other people waste my time. Like when this happened the other day. It's one hundred degrees and I was trying to take a nap. What the deuce.
Also. Look at my garden! Green things. GREEN THINGS!

Thank you Valli for the dirt. The rest I packed back from the states, including the light bulb. I can't believe it survived.

October Duds

Monday, October 4, 2010

Nashville Zoo at Grassmere

Judging last weeks comments there are not a few baby-picture-starved followers out there. I hope this is satisfactory in that respect. The temperature today was a popular 68 degrees. The happy Sun was shining while not scorching. Perfect Zoo weather.

Oh, by-the-way, we have a walking baby now. It all happened somewhere in the past two months. Became perfected while Dave was home. Not bad timing kid.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Rest and Recuperation

We are still here! We are here and thriving in the Good ole South. We've been busy frolicking the last of our summer away while Dave was home for his r&r.

It was a wonderful two weeks. Filled with so many activities. Which included the following:

Devouring juicy Amish peaches
4 Wheeling across a 600 acre farm
Folding laundry, together
A weekend of camping
Washing the car, together
Rafting the Ocoee River, twice
Attending the temple
Watching baby perfect her mad walking skills
Fixing the lawnmower, together
Watching not a lick of TV
Patronizing Chattanooga's Aquarium
Snuggling with our daughter at 6am
Hanging out with friends
Cliff jumping
Brushing our teeth, together
Attempting horseback riding, there were some uncooperative horses
Sitting down at our dinner table, together
Discovering an Amish Pumpkin patch
Rural county fair ferris wheel rides while camping
Attending church, together
Touring a wonderful veterinary clinic
Dodging a spewing baby while touring clinic (Yeah, our baby)
Stuffing ourselves silly at our favorite sushi spot

Sigh. It was a great two weeks.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Aspiring Carpenters

Dave and I have tried our hand at some woodworking recently.

Here is the tower of a bed that Dave made.There happened to be some excitement his first night sleeping on this skyscraper. As I understand it, Dave was jolted awake around 3am by a monstrous crash. A roommates bed frame failed and the poor guy fell to the floor. Mattress and all. Thankfully Dave's mad skills have kept him and his creation in the rafters so far.

I've got a couple wood projects going at the moment. The one that is functioning is a cover I built for our garbage cans. Even though the doors are not finished it keeps the rain off. This has made it possible for me to move our recycling bins out of our tiny shoebox of a house and retain a sliver of sanity. When I finish the doors I might update it here.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hill Cumorah Pageant

Finally I'm getting around to posting the good stuff. The whole reason we went to Palmyra, New York was to see the Hill Camorah Pageant. It was wonderful! The cast mingles with the crowd before the performance. They were all very friendly, fun to talk to and patient with camera happy travelers. Here are a few pictures of the costumes we saw. Some were amazing! The snarly guy is King Noah from The Book of Mormon.

Here are pictures from the performance. Not all of them are mine. Thus there are some good ones and some not-so-much good ones. Sitting a 27 miles from the stage was somewhat of a strain for my little camera. But considering the stage consists of 12 stages and takes up the side of a Godzilla hill we felt very much a part of the action.

The whole thing was great. The effects were impressive. With all the fire and explosions I can see why it's outside. Granted, there's historical reasons for being in that locale also. There was a monsoon that I'm convinced drenched the first couple rows of saps-who-saved-seats since Thanksgiving 2003. Waterfalls went from stage to stage, towers broke in pieces tumbled to the ground and exploded and the Savior descended from the Heavens. It was amazing! I highly recommend this to one and all. And it's FREE! Free parking, free performance, free shower (if you want to join the saps in the front row). You just have to get there in July. Happy travels.

We halted our mad attempt at setting land speed records on our drive home to stop in Kirtland, Ohio. This town is also significant in our church history. We toured the Kirtland Temple, dedicated in 1836. Baby enjoyed the freedom to move around. We both enjoyed the air conditioning and the little break it gave us from being on the road.

1,634.7 miles and 5 days later we arrived home. It was a grand adventure.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Lake Ontario

After a restful night of sleeping off two days of driving we headed out to see the sights. The town of Palmyra is 15-20 miles from Lake Ontario. Being so close we couldn't pass up the opportunity to go check it out.

What we didn't do was get it IN the water. Which is the equivalent of going to the Louvre and not seeing the Mona Lisa. Or stopping at Grandpa's Cheese Barn and not tasting the smoked Gouda. All of which are tragedy's.

In our defense of not getting wet, the rocky shore was coated in a thick green slime. So I dangled baby's feet over the waters edge while my toes were mere inches away. We may not have entered the water but now my baby's feet can down in the books as having been "dangled".

We happened upon a good sized farmers market coming back from the lake. They had this adorable train, a pirate ship and extensive jungle gym. The train was the most age appropriate for our doll.

The Sacred Grove

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints the Sacred Grove is special to us and part of our religious heritage. Baby and I had an opportunity to spend some time in the Grove. It is a beautiful and peaceful place. A great way to start the day.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Smith Farm

The homes pictured below belonged to Joseph Smiths family in the early 1800's. We were able to take a free tour of these sites. At every turn Baby dearest had many admirers.

The log house was three rooms and housed 11 people. I can't figure out where they all fit! Let alone lived! This is a rebuild of the original log home.

Their frame home built after the log house was more spacious. This is the original building that their oldest son built for the family. The picture of the stone sink is white washed. Which is a major bummer for all of you since it was the coolest sink I've ever seen. Now I want to chisel my own for a mud room. When I say "chisel" I really mean electric dremel tool.

This is how they kept bees. Apiculture has come a long ways since then. Now if we could just train the bees to deliver the honey. "Here'z your clover honey, Ma'am. The orange blossom will be here in 4 weekz." "Thank you. Here's a blueberry bush for all your hard work."

Monday, July 19, 2010

The House that Dennis and Betsy built

We so lucked out when we got to Palmyra. There is a fabulous couple, Dennis and Betsy, that rent rooms. Their beautifully self-renovated home is located in the heart of Palmyra.While they didn't build it initially they have pretty much rebuilt the entire thing in the past ten years. We swapped construction woes and triumphs in good ole Do-It-Yourselfer style. They had an extra hundred years of house on our Tennessee abode. So they win hands down!

They have done an amazing job on this house! Like us they have spent all their time and energy on the interior. I'm still woeful for not taking pictures of the recently finished guest bathroom. It was gorgeous! And perfect for removing all the road grime and sticky puffs from small fry.
Their rooms are so big with all the comforts of home. In fact that bed was more comfortable than my own. Squirt had ample room to cruise around and remove everything from any surface she could reach. Namely the box of food, I, as an intelligent mother left at her level. She was loving it all. Especially when the attention directed at her tripled.
Thank you Dennis and Betsy!

Monday, July 12, 2010

On the Road Again

Baby and I are on an adventure. We pulled out of Clarksville at 5:45am two days ago only to return five minutes later for a forgotten item. Then it was the open road for us!

Highlights, Day 1:
Breakfast in the open near Cave City, KY with a nice breeze.
A cheerful suspension bridge welcoming us to Cincinnati.
Covering 448.3 miles by 3pm.
Recovering from an un-air conditioned car in the hotel pool.

The best part of all - an amazing traveling baby. She has done phenomenal! She sleeps the morning away. Wakes up for breakfast. Sleeps again allowing for some miles to pass away. Wakes for some play time. Then sits back in her car seat talking or singing along with her tone deaf mother.

Highlights, Day 2:
Pennsylvania rest stops. Yes, they are so great they make the highlight list. There are an abundance of beautiful shade trees, lovely picnic tables (under stated shade canopy), amble clean restrooms, friendly people willing to retrieve toys from under vehicles and this cool ambulance. Which will increase the neat-o factor of pretty much any place it rolls into.
Passing a Camry loaded to the gills with swords. Judging by the dragging bumper the trunk was also full of blades. Gave them a wide berth. Invisioning a wreck with them is ugly.
Rain to keep the temperature down.Baby dearest enjoying her travel toy box.Arriving at our destination of Palmyra, NY 852 miles and 33.5 hours later we feel pretty happy with our excursion thus far.

Notice anything missing in these photos?

It's the dog!

We are dog free for a whole week! Sigh... It's been a great couple days so far.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Our Beloved Soldier

Since Dave is too modest to post this his proud wife will. A New York Times reporter spent some time with Dave and his crew a few weeks ago. Here is an article that shows some of the hard work and challenges Dave is facing everyday.

The 4th and 5th slides are also good pictures of Dave at work. If we're lucky Dave might expound/correct it for us. We love you, Dave!

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Rogers and Hammersteins, Cinderella was in Nashville for one night last month. They had a phenomenal Broadway cast for this fundraising event. I was smitten with the performance so much that I came home and searched for the Julie Andrews version on DVD. It has since doubled in price while in my Amazon cart. Figures.

What I really want to share with all of you is this picture of pure darling!

While shuffling into the last minute venue (the Nashville Symphony's home was flooded) there were a number of people in costume. I will refer to them as the side walk cast. They were decked out in Disney's Cinderella attire. While deciding how to get a Cinderella photo op without looking juvenile I spotted this moment of precious. It was off the charts adorable.
Side-walk-cast, Prince Charming, sat in front of us during the performance. I wanted to reach out and pet his sash so many times. Thankfully I resisted that urge and avoided being escorted out in shame.

Not to be left out here is our bundle of adorable:

After sticking on the hat before church I quickly took pictures assuming this moment wouldn't last. I present to you the first baby that doesn't mind wearing a hat. Well, the first baby I know of. She left that hat on all day. 4.5 hours to be exact. I was shocked! And delighted. She was adorable in every aspect. She has started dancing in the pew during sacrament meeting. It's slightly distracting yet still adorable