The Messina Family

The Messina Family
Barcelona 2010

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Offutt AFB Freedom Air Show 2010

August 28th and 29th brought us the annual Offutt AFB airshow. The thunderbirds were here as well as F-18 hornets and the F-22 raptors (which if you have ever seen them...they are wicked loud!) We have enjoyed having them fly over the last several days. We are less than 2 miles from the flightline so we can see it all from our deck! LOVE IT! The sound of freedom....
The fabulous Thunderbirds demonstration team...from our back deck of our house. It was too hot and crowded on the flightline so we just went home to watch the aerial demonstrations.
We "love" the military!
Joe, Rich and Lily by the RC135 at Offutt AFB. I have a similar picture of them back in Okinawa 3.5 years ago...when Lily was tiny and Joe was also much smaller!
Some impressive art on one of the planes...
Lily enjoying her day at the air show
Lily flying her plane...
I think she was a bit disappointed they didn't actually leave the ground....
Rich showing Lily that the rest of us were watching her "fly" her plane.
Lily even got a certificate of her first flying lesson on an active flight line. Pretty cute!
Lily sitting in a C17
Lily "flying" a sail plane from the Air Force Academy. It was funny...the cadet standing there asked Rich if he had any questions about the aircraft. Rich just replied,"I competed in Air Acro Nationals in 2005 in this very plane. Same tail number." To which the cadet said, "Oh..." :o)
A veteran's group from Nebraska...
Lily getting a tour of one of the Omaha police helicopters.
RC-135. Rich will be flying this jet while stationed here at Offutt. There are several varieties of the jet with different missions. We should find out in the next 10 days or so which mission and which squadron he'll go to.

1st American Football Game

None of my kids have been to a high school football game...not the kind Americans would be used to anyways. We got the opportunity to start it all off right...with the opening season game being played with their arch rivals....the Bellevue East Cheftains. (The boys attend Bellevue West and are called the Thunderbirds). Now, I may have mentioned this before...but if not, it should be reviewed. Bellevue, NE is just south of Omaha, NE. The boys' high school mostly plays the schools within Omaha, as it is a class A school. Back when Bellevue was a smaller town (it's the oldest town in NE...but has never been too big until the last 15 years or so when the population just exploded) there was only one high school. When it separated into Bellevue East and Bellevue West...they kept mostly the same school colors. Bellevue East is purple and silver....Bellevue West is purple and gold. Bellevue University is also purple and gold. So you take a family who are huge fans of the Boston Celtics and implant them into this sea of purple and gold (Laker colors, ugh) and we have a lot to be desired when it comes to supporting our local teams with clothing. We honestly had NOTHING purple and gold. That, however, has changed a bit over the last few weeks. This game between East and West is a big hairy deal. The entire town seems to attend. There were as many standing (if not more) as there was seated in the stands. Each school designs and wears t-shirts just for this game. The theme (for both sides' shirts - which caused all sorts of problems) was "restore the order." It was an amazing first game for all of us. Lily was shocked at the noise. Tim couldn't believe the outfits people were wearing and how many parents were there, and Joe...well, Joe just jumped right in and painted his body purple and gold. :o)
They had a battle of the bands (both several hundred strong) and there was even a fly by for the kick off (because there was an airshow going on at Offutt AFB and there are a few generals who are parents at East and West that could pull some strings). :o) It was kinda cool, I must say. How often does a high school football game have a five ship flyby? :o)
The game was played at Bellevue East and ended with the West student body storming the field to thank their team for a 42-20 victory. Go T-birds!Zac and Joe together after the game..."WE" rule! :o)
The West student body storms the opposing team's field after West handily beats East.
Rich and Tim appreciate the game...wearing their Bellevue West t-shirts.
Lily thought it was all a bit loud. (and it was!)
The five ship flyby for the kick off of the game. How cool is that?!
The Bellevue West Thunderbirds before the game...
Zac and Joe - who were best buds in Norway and are reunited again here for high school. Zac's family came out a year before us. We specifically tried to get into Bellevue West because Zach goes there. Joe and Zac will end up going to school from 7th thru 12th grade together (minus their freshmen year). That's pretty much unheard of in the military world.
W-E-S-T -!-! (along with the hand sign for West...)
One of the many kids in a "Restore the Order" shirt. The tutu's were a new one on me. Lots of girls were wearing them. a Bellevue West "E" :o)

Monday, August 16, 2010

We Survived the First Day of School!

We survived the first day of school! Lily was smiling when I left and smiling when I returned! I do think she'll be ready to turn in early tonight though...I know I will be! :o)
The boys had a great first day....Joe found some female upperclassmen to hang around with. (I know...shocker!!!) Both boys had good things to say about their teachers...especially one of Joe's teachers...who is an ex-NFL player. :o) Joe has him for Geometry and for study hall (which is a mandatory 35 minute period at the end of the school day for all students!).
I managed to get this picture of the boys as they were walking in from school...still on the first day, so it counts!
I met lots of parents at Lily's school today. They ask me if I have anyone other than a kindergartner and they are all a little shocked when I tell them I also have two high schoolers. :o) At least here I can put on two separate hats at two separate schools. :o)
For all of you that had kiddos starting today, I hope it was a good one for them! For all of you who haven't started yet...your time is coming!!! :o)

1st Day of School

Today is the first day of school for all three kids. Normally it would just be a day for the freshmen at the high school, but the new upperclassmen have to go as well. Both of the boys headed off on a yellow school bus at 0715 this morning (they rode city buses in Norway and walked in this was the first time riding a yellow school bus for Tim and it's been since 1st grade for Joe!) Bear with's the first day of there is a lot of reminiscing going on in my head! So the boys are off to high school...both of them. Yikes! Did I mention Joe has a driver's permit now? Egads! I am too young for all of this! (However, the experience of driving with him is quickly aging me!) :o)

About 15 minutes after the boys are picked up, Lily and I headed out the door for her 20 minute walk to her school. This is the first time she is on her own in her own school. Rich and I were thinking that if we end up staying here...she could go to school at that school for 7 years! Mind-boggling! Anyhow, luckily, Lily had a fantastic preschool teacher and she was ready and willing to take on kindergarten head-on. There weren't any tears or clinging hugs. Just a "I'll see you after school, Mom!" :o) Yay! I can't wait to hear about her day on the walk home!

After I dropped her in her classroom, there was a "boo-hoo" breakfast for parents of kindergarteners. Someone stood up and told us about kindergarten here at this school and about the school itself, which was really informative. I have volunteered to work in the library, so I hope that I'll be spending some time there. It very much reminds me of the elementary school I used to work at in Colorado Springs. are some pictures of Lily on her first day of kindergarten. I'll let you know how things went!

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Omaha Royals

The Kansas City Royals have their farm team here in Omaha. They are the Omaha Royals. They currently play at Rosenblatt Stadium....which only has 17 games left before it is leveled and the land turned over to the Henry Doorly Zoo for expansion. Omaha is a baseball town...the college world series is held here every summer (at Rosenblatt). We had the chance to go to a game and jumped on it. It was Faith and Family night at Rosenblatt. We got to see a game (versus the Portland Beavers), see fireworks and then a free concert afterwards. Get this...the tickets were $2 a piece! It was really a no brainer. So we signed up with the Offutt Catholic Community Chapel and sat amongst fellow parishioners as we had a great night in Omaha. The Royals won...the weather was great (we were in the shade which made it even better!), the fireworks were fabulous and we all enjoyed the concert Australian Christian pop singer who is quite well known....Rebecca St. James. She had two of her brothers with her and they are starting off a singing career as well and showed us what they had to offer. It was really nice. Next year, there will be a new stadium downtown...but we will be able to say that we spent some time at Rosenblatt. :o)

Nana & Nano come for a visit

Rich was TDY to Spokane, WA for several days and he capped off his trip by flying to New England to suprise his brother at his 40th birthday party. :o) My father-in-law, God bless him, took a train to NY a few days prior to pick up our RAV4 that had been shipped from Norway. Rich planned on driving it back here to Nebraska. On a whim, he asked his parents if they would like to come with him to keep him company and also see our new digs. They were packed straight away and arrived late Tuesday night and stayed the rest of the week. We went to the zoo. They had a good time catching up with their grandkids. It had been over a year since they had seen them. They will be coming again for Thanksgiving. It was a nice visit.

We're Going to the Zoo..Zoo...Zoo..How 'bout You??

Say "Ahhh!"

Going into the rain forest....

Somewhere in the tropical jungle...

Rich having fun with the kids at the zoo...

Spending some time outside while at the zoo

Lily with a real giraffe! She was in the giraffe class in preschool and giraffes are her favorite! She had never seen a real one before!

Lily hitches a ride on the bronze baby giraffe near the giraffe house at the Henry Doorly Zoo.

The kids are getting ready to see the orangatans and the gorillas!

And they have lots of big cats as well!

Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo is AMAZING! We have been three times in three weeks. Pretty scary, huh? However, it is only a 20 minute drive from our house and we have a military family season pass that was pretty cheap. You don't even have to pay to park! There is this huge dome that is all desert landscape inside...and another building that is the tropical rain forest (my personal favorite). The gorilla house is fantastic and most of the sites are actually inside rather than outside in the elements. Anyhow, we love it and enjoy our time there!

We Have Arrived!!!

We are now in our new home! Yay! After five years overseas in Asia and Europe, we are finally back on American soil!

Where are we? We are right outside of Omaha, Nebraska! For all our Navy friends....that's inland...about as inland as you can get in the U.S.!

Seriously, we are LOVING Nebraska. The people are so incredibly friendly and helpful. We were trying to open a local checking account a few weeks ago and we not only walked away with that task done but also got a run down on the local schools, churches and best places to eat! I can totally see how this area is the Air Force's best kept secret. We wanted to come to the Midwest because we felt it would be a better transition for all of us after being away for so long. So far, so good!

Rich is stationed at Offutt AFB and will be flying one of the many reconnaissance aircraft based from there. He has been fortunate enough to be on casual status for the last 6-8 weeks just getting us settled and doing things around the house. He starts his official training tomorrow and should finish up in December, when he'll be placed into one of the local squadrons and start deploying again. He'll be very happy to be up flying again. Flying a desk was not his cup of tea. :o)

The boys are pretty excited about their new school. We arrived on a Monday afternoon and drove by their high school just to show it to them. The doors were open and people were going in and out so we peeked in and found basketball games going. Bonus! They met their new head basketball coach (there are 5 boys basketball teams from their high school alone and he was the big kahuna) and were invited to start training with him and the team the next morning. They have been at the school for 3 hours each morning for conditioning, weightlifting and pliometrics ever since. I can actually tell a difference in their builds...Joe has especially really beefed up with the lifting. Tim is also quite impressive with his workout regime and shooting schedule. It's still hard to believe he is only 13. This basketball program is run like most college programs so the boys are in heaven. School starts for them on Aug 16th and I think they are looking forward to getting back into a schedule. Because they are not in a fall sport, they are expected to do lifting, conditioning and shooting after school everyday to keep in shape. Yikes. Serious stuff here!

Lily will start kindergarten on the same day the boys start school. She is excited, I think. The classes will be much bigger than what she is used to, but I think she'll get used to it and enjoy being around kids her own age again. We have met a couple of potential classmates through our church. She's spent the summer bossing her boys around and running screaming when Joe and Tim have had enough and turn on her. :o)

Our house is in a lovely neighborhood and the house is just beautiful. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that I would have a house like this. I feel like I have to pinch myself every morning. We still have a lot of work to do, but I am trying to convince myself that it doesn't all have to be done right this instant. There is a lot of work to be done in the yard but the soaring temperatures and humidity to match have just totally put the kabosh on that. After freezing for 4 summers in Norway, living with a heat index of 110+ is just not working well for my system...let alone the rest of us. I hear by mid-September, the weather is perfect here. Can't wait. :o)

I have spent the last month getting settled and trying to see how many dental, orthodontic, medical and optometric appointments I can fit into the schedule. Playing catch up from 3 years in Norway has not been a cake walk. However, the kids have been given a clean bill of health and all necessary paperwork has been done for them to start school.

We are really enjoying getting to know the area. More posts on that later. :o) So as the saying always goes (and we truly truly mean it...) if you are ever going through Omaha, please stop in and visit! We would love to have you! (We have already had we are ready!)