Saturday, May 22, 2010

Late Spring and Space Shuttle Launch!!!

Just like the title says, here's the last month plus worth of updates and it's long but I have good reason for it.

Since it's spring, Dana grew tired of spring cleaning so she's trained Cade to take over some of her chores. Poor little guy.

Hard at work mopping the floor.

Don't feel too bad for him though. He's still young enough to enjoy it. In his downtime, Cade figured out how to use the camera and take self portraits. Imagine our delight when we turn the camera on to review our latest pictures and see pictures like this:

And this:

Last time, I had a photo of Cade exercising to Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred. Dana kept telling me how good of a workout it is and "suggested" I try it. How hard can it be, right? I get up early and exercise most days so I'm in decent shape. Well, after doing Level 1 (of 3) for a couple of weeks, I grew to be not very fond of ol 'Jillian. The only hand weights we have are 5 lbs. Doesn't seem like much, right? WRONG! They say they're 5 lbs, but I think they're more like 50. I wobbled through some of those exercises and thought my arms were going to fall off. I had to use both hands to pick my spoon full of oatmeal up when I ate breakfast. Once I was able to eat mostly normally again, I figured I'd step it up to Level 2. OMG! I'm now convinced Jillian is the Devil's spawn. That wicked little troll is trying to kill me and she does it with an evil sneer the entire time. I'm scared to death to ever try Level 3. Dana just laughs at me. I think housework is much more gnarly than I ever thought. Or perhaps Dana is one bad dude. Probably both.

Cameron celebrated his 9th birthday last month! Holy moly! Where has the time gone?

We made him work for his presents by giving him clues that eventually led him to them.

9 candles!

The birthday boy! Dana surprised him at school with those balloons and some cupcakes. I think my boy had a pretty special day.

Recently, the science museum had a free day. Kevin was at a birthday party so I took Cade and Cameron. We had a great time and I think the kids accidentally learned a couple of things. They liked this funhouse style mirror.

I have some mad skills with self portraits! I couldn't have framed that any better if I was looking through the camera.

Two weeks ago, I managed to snag a last minute causeway pass to see the launch of Atlantis on STS-132. (Did I ever mention I was on the flight deck of Atlantis? ☺ Ok, ok, ok. ) Since it came about so late, Dana had commitments so she stayed home with Cade. Kevin, Cameron and I made a fast trip down to FL to watch the launch. We drove down on Thursday, watched the launch Friday afternoon and started driving back that evening. It was a quick trip but well worth it.

The boys wanted to play in the ocean but settled for the hotel pool. What good is a pool without a cannonball? Or a Cameronball, in this case.

Kevin lounging by the pool. It was a gorgeous evening!

The next morning we fought through traffic to get to the Kennedy Space Center gate 4 hours before launch. Once on site, traffic was suddenly stopped and helicopters started hovering around. I had no idea what was going on until we saw the convoy drive right by us with the Astrovan right in the middle of it. The astronauts were on their way to the pad!

While we were stopped, this big ol' birds meandered through. I don't know if these are herons or what they are but they were neat to watch.

That's the Vehicle Assembly Building in the background. That's where they mate the orbiter to the external tank and boosters.

4 hour wait in the sun. The boys complained a little but not too bad considering.

While they're waiting I'll show you some pictures a coworker took. She had access to KSC the day before and got a good tour of the area. She also took much better pictures of the launch than I did so I'll use hers.

This is Pad 39-B. This is where Ares I would have launched from. There are some rumors/efforts that it may live on in one form or another but I'm not holding my breath. I think it'll be a while before the dust settles and we know what's going to happen.

This is the launch tower added to one of the mobile launch platforms for Ares I. It's huge!

Lisa (the photographer) also took these gorgeous shots the night before the launch. How cool are these? The shuttle looks SO neat lit up at night like that.

Postcard worthy, I tell you.

Ok, enough time has passed, the countdown has progressed very nicely, all systems are go and we're getting giddy because it looks like we'll actually get to see one launch!

Main engine start!!! I can't tell you how excited I was right about now.

Booster ignition and lift off!!! The view we had was different than this. We were further to the right looking directly at Atlantis. It disappeared from our view shortly after the main engines started but it looked so cool rising above that cloud.

Right about this point, it became so bright it was like looking at the sun. As Darth Vader would say, "Impressive." Actually, I was so giddy I think I was hopping around and squealing like a 2nd grade girl doing the pee pee dance.

Rolling over and heading NE.

Honestly, words can't describe how impressive it is to see that thing rocket away like that. After the solid rocket motors separated, we were able to see the main engines for about 4 more minutes before they disappeared behind a light cloud. So in all, we saw about 6 minutes of the 8 minute ride to orbit. Had it been at night, we would have been able to see them the whole time.

I took this photo of the aftermath. The breezes were dissipating the plume pretty quickly.

So after waiting 29 years and suffering through 2 aborts last summer, I FINALLY got to see a launch and it was even better than I expected it to be. Both boys really enjoyed it and excitedly proclaimed it was worth the wait and the long drive.

I know, this is a looooong post. But thanks for reading this far.

Our soccer season ended today. Cade's team didn't fare so well but they all had fun. After every game, they would ask if they won and I would answer with either, "I think so," or "I'm not sure but it was close." (I lied) They were happy with that.

Frenzy - 5 & 6 year olds (and one 4 yr old Cade)

Kevin and Cameron's team turned out to be a pretty darn good team. They finished 4-1-1 and outscored their opponents 25-7 in 6 games with Kevin accounting for 16 of those goals and Cameron (who wanted to stay in his age bracket and not move up) scored 1. If I may brag briefly, my favorite goal of the year was when Kevin took a penalty kick from about 20 yards out. The opposing team lined up in front of the goal to block his kick. Kevin kicked it over the team and goalie and hit the net in the upper right corner! That just doesn't happen at this level! Both boys played great this season and Cameron became fearless playing against kids considerably bigger than him. I couldn't be more proud.
And lastly, since our house in NM still hasn't sold, Dana has rejoined the working world. She got a job at the hospital here in Athens working Friday and Saturday nights. She starts in June. The hours stink but it's what she wanted because it's what works best for our family. Darn it.