Friday, October 12, 2012

Trouble with the law.

Our road trip in June was absolutely delightful with one exception.

One morning my mom and I decided to take the kids to the post pool.  We all got in our suits and drove onto post.  While we were driving past the some of the cliffs on post, my mom was telling me the legend of Geronimo jumping of the cliffs while the US cavalry was chasing him, and I momentarily got distracted.  My foot got a little heavy on those back roads.  I quickly put on the brakes to slow down, but it was too late, a post police officer was turning around to pull me over.

I was mortified!  I had never been pulled over for speeding before and I am normally very careful about my speed while driving.  Now I have a very healthy respect for authority, so I was very respectful and even tried to be charming as I explained why I had gotten distracted.  However, the officer was not impressed and was borderline rude to me. (I actually wondered if the Romney sticker on the back of my car had anything to with his rudeness.) He took my license and car registration back to his vehicle and to assess the threat that a mom, grandma, and four kids posed to the public good.

It is here in my tale that we hit a major problem.  My drivers license was expired.  I never even really thought about it.  The officer came back to my window and, in a very condescending and rude manner, pointed out the expiration date.  I apologized, somewhat expecting just a warning, considering that he had just seen my stellar driving record back in his patrol car.  Instead he started harassing me and threatening to impound my van.  I understand that I was in the wrong, but I had not been combative in any way and I was shocked that he would be so rude to me.  He said he would not allow me to drive, so I got out of the vehicle so my mom could drive and my mom started walking around to get in the drivers seat. He would not allow her to get in the car until I had "officially given her permission" to drive and then insisted upon taking her drivers license to "check her out".  (Is that even legal?!?  She had done nothing wrong!)

By this time, we had been sitting there for about 30 minutes in the hot van and we were getting the feeling that he was making wait there on purpose to intimidate us.  No kidding.  We could tell he was thoroughly enjoying having power over us.  The fact that he was enjoying bullying a mom, grandma, and four kids who were on their way to the pool was beyond pathetic.

After another 15 minutes or so he came to give me the ticket.  He had chosen to give me a citation for having no license.  He seemed to revel in this because I had already pointed out that I was from Colorado and going to court in Lawton would be very difficult and the this ticket did not have a fine, but a mandatory court date.  I also pointed out that I was sure there was a difference between having no license and an expired license and I would like that difference to be noted on the ticket.  At this, he began threatening me again by saying he could impound my van and that if I missed my court date a federal warrant would be issued for my arrest.  Yes, I am a true menace to society.

By this point, I was getting downright angry.  I did not like being bullied and threatened by this guy.  I took off my sunglasses and stared at him.  Not just a stare, but a mix between my teacher look, my mom stare, and looking a bug a want to crush.  I have to admit that it was nice to see this man that had been harassing me for the last 45 minutes to visibly flinch, fumble the papers he was holding, look down, and stumble over his words for a minute when I glared at him.  Even my kids sensed how awful this man was to both me and my mom.  It is pretty sad when you have to explain to your kids that the police officer was not representative of all police.

When I got home both my mom and I were pretty steamed and told my dad what had happened.  Of course, my dad scolded me for having let my license expire, but he also agreed that being treated like that was not okay.  Well, it turns out that one of my dad's golfing buddies is the commander over all the police enforcement for Ft. Sill so dad sent him an email.  I was fine with accepting the consequences of my speeding and expired license, but being treated with such hostility and rudeness when I had done nothing to warrant that was not right.  Dad told his friend of his concern on how this officer had treated us (of course I had made special note of his name and badge number).  Within minutes, dad's friend responded that he would address the issue and it was a serious problem if one of their men was behaving this way.  It made me feel a little bit better that Officer ________ would get his.

So I returned to Colorado without knowing if I would have to return for court in Oklahoma in just 2 weeks time.  The next morning I headed out the the DMV and got my license renewed.  About time, huh? :) 

I wrote a letter, very well written, if I do say myself, to the judge requesting leniency so that I would not have to return to Lawton and if needed that I could appear in a Colorado court.  I pointed out how I had excellent driving record and that within 24 hours of returning to Colorado, I renewed my license. I sent it registered mail and prayed that the judge would give me a break.  I didn't hear anything back for about a week and a half.  I finally called the court. I asked the clerk about my letter and then asked about the possibility appearing in a Colorado court.  "We don't do that," she said.  My heart sank.  It sounded like I would have to return to Oklahoma.  I did not have the time or money to make the trip back.  The clerk told me to wait a minute while she check my file. 

When she finally came back on the phone she told me that the judge was impressed by my letter and that he would allow me to simply pay the $50 fine instead of having to appear in court.  $50!!!!  That I could do.  Phew!!!  Such an answer to prayer!

So. Lesson learned.  I will never let my license expire again.  Now I can't guarantee that I will never, ever get a speeding ticket, but I certainly will be more careful.  I still get angry whenever I think of that jerk of a cop and it was very disappointing that my biggest interaction with a police officer was this negative.  I can't help but think what goes around will come around for that guy.  And be forewarned.  I am a menace.  At least according to that jerk.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Summer Road Trip

We got the invitation for my niece's baptism for June and we really wanted to be there to support her.  We hadn't been down to Houston for several years and I knew it would be more fun to be able to take our time.  When I presented the idea to Ken we decided that he would stay home and earn the money while I would go and spend it.  Seemed like a good idea to me. :)

The welcoming committee when we arrived in Oklahoma.

The kids and I took off for Lawton to spend the night with mom and dad.  13 hours later we got to their house really late, unloaded some sleeping bags, and tried to get some sleep before leaving the next morning for Houston.  It was fun to be able to caravan with my folks down to Codi's house.  My mom drove with me and we brainstormed about the upcoming family reunion.  Morgan and Trevor kept my dad company as we traveled across Texas.

We were so excited to get to the Long's beautiful home!  Codi and Coby chose an awesome floor plan and have decorated it beautifully.  There was enough space that we all had room to spread out.  the next morning my gorgeous niece, Aedan, was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  It was so special to be there as she committed to follow Jesus Christ.  I was proud of her decision and she was beautiful in her white dress.

After the baptism, Codi and Coby hosted a luncheon in honor of Adean for many of their friends.  It was a really nice time and it was so fun to meet their friends.  The (many, many) kids ran around and played while the adults visited.  It was great to put names to faces as Codi had mentioned many of them to me before.

On Sunday we attended church with Codi and Coby's family.  Afterward, we had a nice lunch and then decided to explore some of the model homes in the area -- and there are a TON!  Coby drove us to an area that was like "model home row".  Seriously, it has dozens of model homes all in a row.  there were some amazing houses and I fell in love with some of the floor plans.  On the way home, Coby was trying the hard sell to get us to move down to Houston.  When we got back to the house we took the opportunity to go through Codi's closet.

In the last 6 months she has worked really hard and has lost 30 pounds! 30 pounds!!!  She wanted some help going through her closet.  Codi is a t-shirt and sweats kind of gal and she wanted some help with what to wear.  We went through her closet and got rid of over 5 big garbage bags.  Most of her clothes were way too big or way out of style.  I am nothing of a fashionista, but even I could see that we needed a big shopping trip.  Coby was so excited that she was willing to go clothes shopping and gave her a generous budget.

Mom and dad had real life so they left Monday morning to get home, but the kids and I got to stay a few more days.  So we let the kids play at home (and have a Phineas and Ferb marathon) while Codi and I went shopping to find cute clothes for her cute, new figure.  We headed to Kohls where we did some serious damage!  We both went through the store filling carts and then headed to the dressing room.  More than once she tried something on and I would have to go get her the smaller size.  She also had to rethink what styles she should wear.  I chose a few things for her where she thought she couldn't wear it.  After I talked her into trying it on, she would realize that it looked really cute!  I was super excited for her!  She ended up getting 3 dresses, 12 tops, and 6 bottoms -- a whole new wardrobe!!!  That evening she did a fashion show for Coby and he was so happy that she had found things she liked.  I thought she looked like a million!

The next day we promised would be the kids day.  Of course they wanted to go to the pool.  We put on our suits, made some lunches, grabbed the pool toys and headed out to the pool.  Sadly, we were only there an hour or two before a big thunderstorm rolled in and the lifeguards sent us home.  We returned home, got everyone showered and dressed, and then headed out to Bass Pro Shop for their kids craft activities.  All the kids had a blast with painting fish, shooting with bows and arrows, and casting a fishing line into a bucket.  The rain continued to fall while we headed to Jason's Deli for dinner.  Everyone was a fan of the all you can eat soft serve. :)

Cooper loved seeing the fish in the giant aquarium at Bass Pro.

It was with sad hearts the next morning when we left Houston and traveled back up to Oklahoma via a short visit to Cyle and Athena's home in Killeen.  We meandered up through the back roads of Texas.  Of course, we stopped at the Blue Bell ice cream factory for a tour.  What a great break from the car. :)  In late afternoon we got to Cyle and Athena's house.  I was so excited to snuggle with my new nephew, Kingston, and hear all about Athena's birth experience.  Kingston was not quite 2 weeks old.

Spending time at Cyle and Athena's home did my heart good.  I love them so much!  It was a treat to talk with them late into the night.  In the morning, Cyle brought Kingston into my room  so that Athena could sleep.  Kingston had kept her up much of the night.  Cyle and I talked and talked while I got to snuggle with that super, sweet baby.  That time together, in the quiet of the morning, was a highlight of my entire trip.  It seemed all too soon when it was time to pack up the car, take a couple pictures, say our goodbyes, and continue on to my parent's home.

We all scream for ice cream!!!

Love this picture of the Cyle Coopers!

We were all so excited to meet baby Kingston!

Love this super cute Kingston boy!!!
 It was nice to have a couple of days together with my parents in Oklahoma.  I know it is not my actual home, but being with my parents there always makes me feel like I have come home.  I love watching my parents with my children.  We went to the pool, fed the ducks and catfish in Medicine Park,  went to town to see the new movie Brave, and the kids got plenty of time up at the tree swings.  I was grateful that mom watched my kiddos for me for awhile so I could go to lunch with my friend, Veronica.  I love that girl!!!  We talked and talked and it was hard to finally say goodbye.

That evening we headed to Medicine Park for ice cream.  It was a beautiful evening and we walked along the river.  A restaurant sold some crumbs for duck food so we bought some and the kids had a great time feeding the ducks, geese, and even some huge catfish.  It was crazy watching these huge fish jumping out of the water and fighting the geese for the food.  We all had a wonderful time!

Something about getting away from home makes life slow down a bit.  I was able to totally focus and my kids and family that I was visiting for close to two weeks.  I love road trips!!!

The Colorado Springs fire on our way home. :(