Tuesday, April 23, 2024  

This is the story of a couple. Each had lives as individuals before there was life as a couple. As it turns out, all life experience prior to life as a couple is irrelevant. So this is the story from inception of the couple. If you're fortunate enough to know either of us as individuals, hold on tightly to those thoughts because we may need the memories someday....

As I remember it (which is what matters since I'm typing the story), I was a sophomore at the US Air Force Academy. I was checking mail--a very important part of any cadet's day--with a friend of mine. As we were walking out of the mailroom, there was this beautiful girl...with luggage (foreshadowing ;-)). She was waiting on a ride to the airport. Though I didn't know it at the time, she was a senior in high school on a recruiting trip for diving. My friend and I, as twenty year-old males are wont to do, made an immediate "assessment", turned to each other and said almost simultaneously, "She won't be back. Too cute." I was completely sincere. I never expected to see her again.

Little did I know, she'd end up--six months later--in another good friend's squadron only a couple floors above mine. There is a serious "fraternization" policy between freshman and upperclassmen at USAFA. Because of that, and my own self-absorption, we didn't have any remarkable interaction during her freshman year. In spite of policy, I did mention to a friend of mine that I had plans for her and me....

My senior year (Libby's sophomore year), I became a little more insistent (of course, she may tell you otherwise). I started looking for excuses, nightly, to visit my friend in her squadron in hopes that I might run into her. We had a few run-ins, but I wasn't sure she was really interested in me until....

One Sunday morning she stopped by MY room. She was on her way to church. I was on my way to rock climb. She was my perfect vision in a sundress. We didn't discuss anything obvious, but it was then that I knew I had a chance. Once I knew I had a chance, she didn't....

We began spending time together, and "some" time turned into every possible moment. I think the Sunday she stopped by my room was late September and by mid-October we spent every waking minute together. At USAFA sleep was a primary concern, but I gave it up, in a big way, to spend time with Libby.

The Management department (my major) actually paid for the top "x" number of students to take the GMAT--a management type graduate school standardized test. I was fortunate enough to be in the "x" category, and the test was in mid-October. I could've cared less. Libby and I spent the previous night talking under the stars until about 03:00. I went to take the test the next morning.

I remember two things about the test. One, the spatial relation thing was soooo hard. You're presented pictures of a three-dimensional object then given four more--A, B, C and D. You're supposed to match the one that fits. VERY difficult for me. Two, is that I fell asleep each ten-minute break period between tests...slobbering on my desk. Needless to say, I performed in the "average" range.

Libby made my senior year at USAFA my favorite. I played scrumhalf on the rugby team that placed 3rd at Nationals with my best friends in the world. And Libby and I fell fully in love. Looking back, I tested her pretty hard. It's a tough group of testosterone-driven men that play rugby, and she handled every situation I threw at her.

We drove back to West Des Moines, IA together after I graduated. We spent a few weeks together touring the bridges of Madison County. From there, I took her home to Toledo, OH. I had sixty days paid vacation on the government (if only someone had told me how kool that was!!!).

From there, I went on a four-week tour of Europe--from Spain to Italy to Greece to London to Ohio.... I actually returned early (lovesick) from my planned trip. Instead of spending my remaining free time with Mom in Missouri, I got my mom to come visit the Saums.

I spent as much time with Libby as I possibly could. From leave, I had to go back to USAFA to serve "casual status." My job was to work with my former boxing coach (for whom I placed 3rd at Nationals). Needless to say, he said check back in a week or so to see if I need anything. Libby visited me during that tour of "duty".

From there, I went to Lackland AFB in San Antonio, TX for eight weeks to learn about my Air Force job (because four years of preparation wasn't enough). Lost my transmission in Wichita. Then, I drove to Toledo. Spent a few days there and landed in Boston.

Hanscom AFB, MA was my one and only assignment with the AF. I had some negatively-interpreted experiences at USAFA and my first job in the AF led me to set my sights in a different direction. All the while, Libby and I are doing the long-distance thing. It was very difficult, but somehow it worked.

After nearly two years of distance but not separation, I asked Libby to marry me. I asked her by playing a song with my guitar on one knee. The lyrics were, approximately:

I thought hard and I thought long / about many ways to write you this song / I thought it'd be an easy task / this one question I have to ask / will you marry me / please marry me

I strummed the song with the engagement ring hidden on my strumming pinkie. Apparently, she said, "Yes," and here we are.

We got married at my favorite wedding ever in Toledo, OH on 30 Aug 97. It was perfect. A great gathering of people and an excellent celebration.

We took our honeymoon in Dec 97/Jan 98 in Australia. THAT was my favorite trip. We flew International First Class (thanks to some frequent flyer miles) from Boston to Cairns, Australia, rented a car and two weeks later, we flew out of Brisbane (a thousand miles south). That trip is the source of another entire round of stories, but our delayed honeymoon was among our favorite experiences in life!

We recently learned that "we" are pregnant. I am guessing that's an experience that a male can never really comprehend. So I've been doing demolition, priming, painting and generally trying to be a good chore-boy so that I don't have to hear about it forever.... :-)

Together, we have had a fantastic trip. It's cliche like you read about, but together our life as a couple is the greatest experience I've ever known. I wish it for everyone.


Amendment: December 2001
We survived the pregnancy, and now we're working on surviving the parenthood. We were given the greatest gift in the world when our son, Luke Kenneth, was born on 12 April 2001. He has taught us both so much about ourselves, each other, and our place in the world. It's a wonderful life.

Amendment: January 2004
Geesch. It's been two years since I updated this page. So much has happened, but clearly time to document has diminished. Suffice it to say that we're an extremely lucky family of four with the arrival of our second son, Ben Charles, on 30 June 2003. He is quite the complement to the family dynamic. He completes each of us in different ways. The biography is most likely to be realized in the News section of the site.

Amendment: November 2009
I'd like to think amendments are less necessary for people following the News section, but since my kids may read this someday, I feel the need to be consistent. James Clayton joined us on 1 May 2009. Some might say he's the typical third child. So far, he's anything but typical though. The most calm demeanor I've ever seen--baby, child, or adult. His big brothers have been great with him, and he squeals with delight at their antics. Looking forward to more entertainment throughout the years.

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