Tuesday, January 23, 2018

A graduation day surprise!

As many know, our daughter Kaylee is now less than 2 weeks away from completing bootcamp and graduating a United States Marine.  Of course she wants to see us all at the graduation, but she has no idea that we are bringing EVERYBODY!  All 18 kids, 2 grand-kids, one son-in-law, the 3 young men we've taken in who have basically become family and 3 significant others.  We will be renting a second 15 passenger van and hauling a trailer just so that the whole gang can be there.  We have a great trip planned that will be like the ones we used to take, cross-country.  Two days down, staying in 3 great villas in Hilton Head, going to family day and the graduation from there and afterwards, heading north to Gatlinburg to spend 2 nights in a wonderful cabin that can sleep the whole gang!  Not only treating the family to a good time, but crossing off one of Christi’s bucket list items of staying in a cabin in the Smoky mountains.  It will be totally complete when she gets to see the sunrise while having the morning coffee. 

Top that off with a big spaghetti dinner at the cabin (Kaylee’s favorite) and we will have a trip for the books for sure!

Unbeknownst to Kaylee, the whole thing will be filmed for the French TV channel M6 and their show “66 minutes”.  They will be with the family for the whole trip and will capture the whole thing.  It will be part of a special they are doing on large American families.

I can’t give my kids a lot of fancy experiences, but they can always look back to those times when they were on TV and smile.  We always have a good time with the film crews and the kids have a lot of fun trying to out-do each other’s funny.

 I think it will add an extra fun twist to this already awesome event!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

What's a little snow between friends?

I used to tell the kids that the old adage about how weathermen were never right was not true.  Apparently, that was only true in southern California, where the weather is sun, hot sun and more sun with a slight chance of partly cloudy with a very brief downpour, which will wash the houses down the Malibu hills since the wildfires burned all the dry vegetation since all they had was sun, sun and sun.
Not the case here in Indiana.  We have had a lovely winter, guessing whether it was going to be in the 50s or start snowing.  The predictions are always 1-3” until it gets here and it’s 5 inches.  

Case in point: This was supposed to be 1-2"...more like 5

Once you’ve thoroughly enjoyed the pretty white snow, they wet it all down with some freezing rain so that you get to slide around a bit when you drive.  That for me is the best part.  Ask my wife, I drift the van on purpose when the road is icy!

Those who know me, know that I used to swear I’d never move to somewhere that has snow more than occasionally, but I really am getting used to it.  And frankly, I don’t miss the 105 degree, no rain, every tree is a desert tree life in southern California.

All in all, I still love it here.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

What we did last summer!

Here is a video from an interview/splash reel we did for Figure 8 productions.  It has some new footage plus some from our old videos, but it is a pretty cool piece and was loads of fun!  Thanks to Wayne Mahon for putting this together and putting up with us and our terrible Skype connections!

CHASIN' THE CASONS 6 min from Wayne Mahon on Vimeo.

Our little Marine!

As some of you know, our Kaylee is currently in bootcamp in Parris Island, SC.  She should just be finishing her swim qualifications this week and moving on to the next phase.  We are so very proud of her.  We have been missing her terribly, as have all our kids, but thanks to some folks who were on Parris Island to see their Marine graduate, we finally got to see her!
Apparently they "pay it forward" by posting these photos on facebook support group pages for parents of recruits to stare at looking for their people.  I admit I stared at them too.  Having been there and knowing what she is going through didn't stop me from searching for her like a complete noob dad.  Lucky I did because I found her!  It gives me more comfort than I thought it would.  
We are anxiously looking forward to seeing her graduate in February.  She did Thanksgiving and will probably have Christmas at the rifle range, not to mention her birthday in January.  We miss her through it all, but will be so proud when she marches her way through the graduation ceremony and we can take her home for her first leave! 
After that it is on to probably MCT and then her MOS school.  I am doubly proud because her MOS, barring unforseen circumstances will be Aviation mechanics which is exactly what her grandpa was when he was in the Corps.  He would be so proud.  Whatever her MOS, we know she will be great!

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Story of US, Conclusion. (of the story, not US!)

When we got back to Christi's apartment in Temecula, we broke the news to Jessica, who was 2, so she had no clue what it all meant, and to her dad, who was stunned to say the least and with that done, we tried to settle in to....married life?  It was still overwhelming for Christi and I and we wondered how to tell her parents.  We eventually jumped that hurdle and although it took about 4 years for her dad to warm up to me, (her mom was a little easier) he is now almost like my own dad (both my parents have been gone for more than 15 years now).  Over the years, even Christi has finally come to understand that we were clearly meant to be together.  

I often wonder how I overcame my normal caution and dropped to my knee in that drive thru.  While I can't say it was just this one thing, what always comes to my mind when I ponder this subject, is our first kiss.  It happened on the evening that I first spent with Christi at Shirley's house.  She and I had talked about so many things, crossing all topics, and had begun to speak about things we hoped for in the future.  She spoke of moving in to her own place, and how she wanted to live and the plans she had for her and the kids.  Something in that moment, I'm not sure if it was the light in her eyes as she spoke, or just the dreamy smile on her face, but something called me to lean in and kiss her.  Despite her faraway gaze, she seemed to come to the same conclusion and we both met halfway in our first kiss.  I can say, without hesitation,or reservation and without even having to compare, that it was the most incredible kiss of my life! (to that point)  I think now, that the moments we shared right there, surrounding that kiss were what cemented Christi and I in what would be the rest of our lives.  We have since had MANY kisses much like that one and she still gives me that thrill, even to this day.  She is the end all and be all of my life.  Simple as that.

It has now been almost 26 years since we said "I do" in that little office in the Clark county, Nevada government building and we are happier every year.  Christi and the kids are my everything, and nothing makes me prouder than what she and I have together.  Make no mistake, I know that it is not the usual situation and we certainly did not get started in the way any of our parents would have approved.  I've told the kids many times that mom and I are an unusual case and we would never recommend that they run out and get married to someone after only knowing them for six weeks!  Christi and I are absolutely not the usual case and we point out examples of what can happen when you jump into things too fast and the repercussions of bad relationships and marriages (especially what can happen to the kids caught in the middle).  Still, when I look back at what Christi and I have done...what we've been through, both the ups and the downs, I realize that I wouldn't change a thing.  Although we're not the typical story of boy meets girl, we are an example of the simple truth that, when it comes to love:


Monday, April 24, 2017

The story of us, part 4

The story of us, part 4

The last time I had gone to Vegas had been with my roommate and another good buddy. That trip, by comparison, would prove to have been very uneventful. As Christi and I traveled along, we didn’t speak about what we were going to do. I think we sort of discussed the fact that neither of us was dressed for anything fancy and we pondered where we might go for our wedding, but for the most part, we didn’t really talk about what we were getting into. The road to Vegas was a long one, especially as it was getting pretty late into the night. Much of the trip is a blur, blotted out by the overpowering memory of the more important events of that weekend, but one memory that will never go away is of the World’s Tallest Thermometer. More precisely, I remember the parking lot of the Bun Boy restaurant which is located right next to the World’s Tallest Thermometer. We didn’t eat there, and we didn’t really stop to see the World’s Tallest Thermometer. None the less, it was the most memorable part of the long drive through the California desert.
We arrived in Las Vegas sometime in the 3 o’clock hour and drove around looking for a motel room. We secured a room at the Gateway motel and spent an hour or so freshening up and then we ventured back out to see about this marriage thing. The first step in the process was to obtain our marriage license. We went into the Las Vegas marriage commission building which, true to Vegas form, is open 24 hours. We filled out the required paperwork, paid our fee, and then, since we hadn’t made our minds up about where to get married, we chose to be officiated by this guy:

Ok, so it wasn't really Scatman Crothers who married us, because he'd been dead for something like 5 years by then, but the guy, Owen, looked a hell of a lot like him. Owen was the Deputy Marriage Commissioner of Clark County, Nevada. He was really nice and we had a very simple, quiet ceremony. We went back to our motel room in a daze...already Christi was wondering what she had just done as she began to say, "I can't believe I'm married", again and again throughout the day in kind of a stunned whisper. She continued to say that, from time to time for the first 4 years or so that we were married.

Sometime later that day, we found ourselves at a pawn shop somewhere in town and we bought a couple of plain, cheap gold rings and those were our wedding bands for a couple years until we could afford something a little better (In recent years we have come to realize that the pawn shop in which we bought those rings is the same one featured in "Pawn Stars"). We then began to ponder what we might do in the way of a honeymoon. After a bit of thinking, we came up with the brilliant plan of going out to Hoover Dam. We headed out that direction, but our enthusiasm for seeing the dam began to wane and several Indian turquoise jewelry stores later, Christi began to feel the need to get back to Chad and Jessica who were staying with her ex for the weekend. So we turned around and headed back West, our heads reeling with thoughts of the future.

We still had to face Christi's folks when we got home.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Story of us, Part 3

True to my word, I called her on Sunday and we set up a meeting/date at the home of her friend Dana’s mother. As I recall, we had some dinner and then spent the rest of the evening talking about life, love, marriage and everything in-between. I’m pretty sure I fell in love with her right there in Shirley’s living room (and I wrote about it in a journal that I was trying to keep at the time. I even used the M-word in that journal entry). That same night, I met Chad. He was her 5-month old son and I fell in love with him too.
Over the next five weeks, Christi and I saw each other several times in a variety of settings, at friend’s houses, parties, and I even helped her move into her first apartment. It was during one of the days that I was helping her move that I first met her dad. That was a pretty chilly reception to say the least. Her dad is a former Army soldier with the 101st airborne who held a somewhat dim view of Marines. This of course, was not helped by the fact that Chad’s biological father was a Marine who had totally abandoned her and had never made any effort to contact her since finding out she was pregnant. Her dad helped me load her stuff into the truck, but other than the introductions, we hardly spoke a word.
Christi and I hadn’t spent as much time together over these weeks as we would have liked, so in late July we decided to spend a whole weekend together. Christi and I had discussed taking some sort of a trip away from the area, and had decided we would go into Northern California to see the famous redwood trees and enjoy one of the national parks. We left her apartment on August 2nd and almost immediately, stopped for drinks at a local restaurant. Having had one for the road (yes we know it was not wise, but we were young and stupid) we then headed north on the 15 freeway in the direction of highway 395 and the Kings Canyon/Sequoia national park. Somewhere along the way, we passed a sign that noted the mileage to Las Vegas which is along the same freeway. Christi looks over at me, and I think, only half-jokingly says “We could just go to Vegas and get married. This was followed by a strange but not uncomfortable silence as some gear inside me seemed to fall into place. I’m not sure that I really knew what I was doing as I exited the freeway and we found ourselves in the drive thru at a Del Taco restaurant, I just felt as though I was being directed by something bigger than myself. There, in the drive thru, I knelt outside the open passenger door and said

“Christi Sanders, will you marry me?”

You could have heard a pin drop, or at least in my head all the other sounds had fallen away, as I waited for an answer. It was really only a few seconds, but it seemed like forever when she answered “yes, Dave Cason, I will marry you.” I kissed her, and without any further fanfare, we got back on the freeway and headed for Las Vegas. Did we have a plan? Hell no! But we were surely headed on a strange and wondrous journey.

We had no idea…