Formerly known as "Cruzers in Korea"

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


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I've enjoyed seeing the many family pictures from Easter that everyone's been posting on Facebook the last couple of days.  The Cruzers had a great time in Alabama this past weekend.  So here's one of my favorite pictures from the entire weekend.  Thank you CJ for this classic Easter Sunday photobomb!

Nothing like a good photobomb on your birthday.  This one is from a couple years ago.  I'm sure CJ is happy about that iTunes gift card he's holding up and the birthday cake in the background but for some strange reason, no one notices those two things in this picture.

Little cousins like to photobomb.  Andrea and CJ thought they were having fun with blueberries but Cooper jumped in and had a little fun of his own.  For me, this picture symbolizes the joys of summer.  

I had no idea how popular photobombing was until I Googled it.  I almost busted a lung at what I found.  Allow me to share.

Cats photobomb.

Cats photobomb other cats.

Dogs photobomb. 

Dogs photobomb other dogs.  Some dogs even photobomb their own breed to make it look like they are one super long slinky dog that can walk around corners.

Horses photobomb.

Fish photobomb.

Here is the extremely rare giraffe photobomb.

Photobombing is very equal opportunity.  White people photobomb.

Black people photobomb.

Asians photobomb.

Even little people photobomb.

Would you believe that Stephen Hawking photobombs?

 The covert photobomb.  Do you see it?

We even had a photobomb of the classic Cruz pose.  The horror!

Thanks for taking this stroll down photobomb lane with me.  Until next time.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

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Monday, April 2, 2012


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So a couple of years ago, Abercrombie & Fitch got their pee-pee shwacked:

In April 2005, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California finalized a  settlement of Gonzalez v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores.  A&F had to pay $40 million to several thousand minority and female plaintiffs who charged the company with discrimination. A&F also had to institute a range of policies and programs to promote diversity among its workforce and to prevent discrimination based on race or gender.  A monitor will regularly evaluate and report on the company's compliance with the provisions of the consent decree.  These provisions include:
  • "Benchmarks" for hiring and promotion of women, Latinos, African Americans, and Asian Americans. These benchmarks are goals, rather than quotas, and the company will be required to report on its progress toward these goals at regular intervals;
  • A prohibition on targeting fraternities, sororities, or specific colleges for recruitment purposes;
  • Advertising of available positions in publications targeting minorities of both genders;
  • A new Office and Vice President of Diversity, responsible for reporting to the company's chief executive officer on the company's progress toward fair employment practices;
  • The hiring of twenty-five recruiters who will focus on and seek women and minority employees.
  • Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and Diversity Training for all employees with hiring authority;
  • Revision of Performance Evaluations for managers, making progress toward diversity goals a factor in their bonuses and compensation;
  • A new internal complaint procedure; and
  • The company's marketing materials will reflect diversity by including members of minority racial and ethnic groups.

The info above comes from Wikipedia which means it's absolutely true.  I want to bring something up really important though.  Have you been inside an Abercrombie & Fitch store lately?  What is up with the crazy loud music and the heavy marine layer of cologne and perfume floating in the air?  The only redeeming quality of the overpowering music and cologne is that you could do the crop dusting fart thing in their store for as long and as loud as you'd like and no one would ever notice - not even the worker girl that needs permission from the store manager so you can enter the fitting room.

I do like some of their clothing but dang, the freaking shopping bags they give you are enough to make you stop shopping there.  Or go workout.  What guy wants to walk around holding a shopping bag with a half naked dude on it?  We got this one shopping bag recently that had a picture of a dude fully nuded up.  At least that photo was taken such that none of his twigs or berries were showing.  Very considerate of you A&F.

Now I fully realize that I may have surpassed A&F's target audience (18-22 years old) by a couple of years.  And by "years" I mean "decades."  Maybe that's why they're purposely fumigating me out of their store with that rancid cologne like a dang mosquito spraying truck on a muggy Alabama highway ridding the county of its unofficial state bird.  Carol is usually an enthusiastic shopper and she even refuses to go in their store now because of the massive barrage on her senses.

And so what's my point?  Online shopping is awesome.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Run Duck Run!

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During summer breaks away from VMI, on the weeks when I wasn't aboard a Navy ship during my midshipmen summer training cruises, I was off earning my keep and being a contributing member of the society known as Virginia Beach.  Many of my college peers were smart enough to strap on business attire and do administrative support type work in cushy, air-conditioned offices for their temporary summer jobs.  As for me, I was barely one level above an illegal migrant worker hopping into the back of a total stranger's pickup truck loaded with farm animals to break my back with some serious blister-producing man labor.  And you know what, I've got zero regrets about sweating my tail off during those "summer breaks."  There's something very humbling about good old-fashioned manual labor.  We need to teach our kids this lesson.  God loves a hard worker.

And so my destiny in life for a few summers was to be a member of the Timberlake Community Association maintenance crew.  Our charter was to keep the homeowner's association happy by maintaining the grounds.  We were the silent refrigerator trolls that scurried around out of sight, beautifying the neighborhood and raising property values whenever the refrigerator door closed.  We landscaped, cut grass with tractors and mowers, manicured the curbs with edgers, and took a weedeater to every square inch of that huge community.

Whenever a private homeowner was lax with their lawn mowing duties of their own personal property, they would receive a nasty-gram from the homeowner's association.  If they didn't cut their grass after several warnings, the association would call in the maintenance crew to cut the slacker's yard - whether they wanted it cut or not.  It was communism at its finest.  The cherry on top was the over-inflated bill these slackers would receive in their mailbox shortly after the covert grass cutting.  These homeowners were never pleased to have total strangers cutting their yards.

I remember one angry old man standing in his doorway as we're about to crank up our faithful Toro mower, cigarette hanging out of the corner of his mouth with two inches of ash barely hanging on, beer-stained wifebeater t-shirt covering his gut, and double-barreled shotgun at his side.  I swear I heard him mutter under his Pabst Blue Ribbon breath, "Go ahead, mow my lawn."  Yeah, we weren't gonna take a chance on that one.  Considering that the best years of our lives were still in front of us and that our current salaries were just a smidge north of minimum wage, we collectively decided that we wouldn't test that guy's resolve on that sweltering day.  I can imagine that old guy's explanation while proudly standing over our dead corpses, "They were on my property officer!"

We encountered a wide gamut of characters during these attempted "forced mowings."  At one end of the spectrum was the trigger happy old man wielding a shotgun.  At the other end was the slightly attractive cougar clad in her open bathrobe revealing enough cleavage to make Christina Aguilera blush.  Btw, have you seen Christina as a judge and mentor on the singing competition show, "The Voice?"  My gosh girl, cover those things up.  It's incredibly distracting.  Makes for a titillating show, but still.  Anyway, back to the cougar.  I think this Mrs. Robinson wannabe was purposely letting her garden grow just so she could get a rise out of our sweaty band of migrant workers.  It worked.

And so one of the funniest memories from my days as an, ahem, Professional Landscape Technician, was when one of the filipino guys on the crew started eyeballing the ducks.  It was a nice neighborhood with several quaint ponds.  The ducks were plentiful.  During the spring, the yellow ducklings would follow Mama duck around.  Cars would politely stop as the train of ducks would cross the streets.  Very cute stuff.

Well, my filipino buddy hadn't been in the US for all that long.  His accent was still very thick and more importantly, his attitude on life was still thick with the filipino culture and life challenges.  It can be tough living in the Philippines to say the least.  I saw that with my own two eyes when I visited my parents in the PI back in 2008.  Depending on where you live, food can be hard to come by, especially meat.

As time passed, my buddy's infatuation with the ducks steadily grew.  It was pretty funny watching this grown man chase the ducks around and never catching them.  This guy knew how to make us laugh.  The work we were doing was back breaking stuff.  I felt like the kid from Charlie Brown that always had the dust cloud surrounding him.  I had multiple callouses on my hands from whacking weeds all day long and was extremely dark from hours sweating under that Virginia Beach sun.  And so my friend's dalliance with the ducks was much needed comic relief.

Until one day, he chased down one of the neighborhood ducks, caught it, took it home, cooked it, and ate it for dinner.

I guess he wasn't joking after all.  I'm pretty sure he only did it once.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Super Ariel!

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Friday, March 23, 2012

Flashback Friday

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Uncle Don and Alexis

This was from Alexis' 16th birthday party down in the country.  I think Alexis will be like her Mom in that she will always keep the family close to her heart.

So if you have room on your prayer request card, please pray for Uncle Don's health.  Like brother Steve preached at church this past Sunday, nothing is impossible with God.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - The Joys of Moving

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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Paddy's Day!

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In honor of St. Patrick's Day, here's a flashback from the summer of 1996.  That's me and Matt "Joose" Tobler in Dublin, Ireland.  As if being in Ireland while aboard the USS JOHN F. KENNEDY wasn't good enough, Joose and I were incredibly fortunate to have been chosen to do the airshow at Dublin International Airport.  Airshows are the best.  We got to fly our mighty S-3B Viking into Dublin proper.  My guess is that's the first Viking to ever touch ground in Ireland.  A couple of other squadronmates got to do another airshow at the same time at the airport in Shannon, Ireland.  Before the airshow even started, the Airwing did a big flyover of the city.  I forget exactly how many jets were in the flyover but it was a bunch.

That port call in Ireland was one of the best weeks of my entire Navy career.  We expected the people to be friendly and they didn't disappoint in the least.  The entire country was super excited about the Kennedy's visit.  There was even a nationwide lottery held for tickets to visit the ship.  Word got out that some of the Irish citizens that won these tickets were selling them for hundreds and even thousands of dollars.  And all the ticket got you was a tour aboard the aircraft carrier.  I think it was the first time that an aircraft carrier had ever visited Ireland.

The airshow hosts were fantastic.  They treated us to special events on a daily basis.  I remember visiting castles, seeing the US Ambassador to Ireland and other big wigs, sipping Guinness in taverns that were built in the 1500s, and having some incredible seven course meals.  They bought a brand new fleet of vehicles just to support the aircrew.  Making some new friends was one of the best parts of the whole experience.  I'm hoping to get back to Ireland one day.  We shall see.

When it's time for some well deserved rest and relaxation, sailors love to hang out in their civilian clothes while on liberty.  So there was some moaning among the JFK crew when the Commanding Officer of the ship put out the guidance that sailors going on liberty ashore had to be dressed in their summer whites.  That moaning came to a screeching halt though after the first day of liberty.  For that blessed crew of the great ship JOHN F. KENNEDY, led by CAPT "Fast" Eddie Fahey, and those under the charge of CAG "Condo" Capalbo of Carrier Airwing Eight, in that specific moment in time, in that magical wonderland known as Dublin, clad in those dashing summer whites, this epic port call would be the closest any of us would come to being rock stars.

If you had on your summer whites, you couldn't pay for a beer.  People were asking for your autograph.  You were kissing babies.  It was insane.  A good buddy of mine described the experience as being trapped in a prison full of hot chicks with a handful of pardons.  And unlike those mere mortals that had to return to the ship as liberty expired at midnight (or later depending on your rank), Joose and I had no such boundaries because of our lofty airshow status.  No Cinderella carriage turning into a pumpkin for us.  For the record, Joose and I were, and still are, very happily married men.  No funny business for us.

If I had some foresight, I would've predicted this internet/blogging thing and taken more pictures.  Carol just reminded me that the reason I only have this one picture to show from the Ireland trip is because I was so incredibly busy picking out the perfect gift for her.  Of course she told me this while doubled over in laughter.  In one of the dumbest moments in Chris Cruz history, I came home from Ireland with nothing but a stinking airshow t-shirt for Carol.  Deservedly so, I'll never live that one down.  No Waterford crystal, Celtic jewelry or Irish hand-knitted sweater.  Nope.  And I'm usually pretty good about that stuff.  Guess I just lost my mind or something.  Must've been the cider.

Anyway, I better close this out before I get myself into more trouble.  It's never good to remind your better half of the really dumb things you do.  A t-shirt?  Sheesh Chris.  Happy St. Paddy's Day.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Bellevue Baptist

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Flashback Friday - Counting with Jake

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...and seven today for Jake!  Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Talent Show!

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CJ was a good friend tonight in coming out to the Arlington Middle School Talent Show to support his buddy Sean.  That's Sean in the middle with the kilt.  He was awesome with the bagpipes tonight.  How many 13 year olds do you know that can play the bagpipes?

Sean and CJ

I hate to admit it, but I was groaning a little as I'm rushing home from work to take CJ to the Talent Show this evening.  I didn't know about the event until today.  I was thinking about all the work that I needed to finish up and how I really didn't have time to do this.  Blah, blah, blah.  What an idiot I am for even thinking that way.  Navy Personnel Command is like a treadmill.  There's always work and it's always gonna keep going.  It never stops.  But these teenage years are gonna zoom by like the blink of an eye.  Parents need to remind themselves to relish their time with their kids.  Me included.  You see, during the Talent Show two years ago at the Busan Foreign School, I was a grump-butt and didn't go.  Well, I went, but I didn't go inside for some no good reason.  Dumb Chris.

I think CJ was glad that we got to do this together tonight.  One of my favorite things these days is just chatting w/ Ceej at night before he goes to bed.  No particular topic.  Just whatever is on our minds.  Inevitably, we end up laughing about something.  It wasn't that long ago where instead of laughing, I'd find something to nitpick on or to get mad about.  Who wants that kind of talk?  So anyway, you have to take advantage of the fun stuff.  And tonight was one of those times.

The Talent Show reminded me of a couple of things.  Adele is still popular, playing a guitar is still cool, and youth is still king.  The reality is, not everyone on that stage can be a superstar.  But you can go out there and give it your all - whether it's shuffling around a deck of cards for some magic tricks, tap dancing your little heart out in your leotards, or making beautiful sounds spill out of a bagpipe.  It's all good.  Some of those kids were terrified on that stage.  But they got out there.  AND THEY DID IT.  They deserved every single clap and woot-woot from the crowd.  It was heartwarming to hear the positive audience response for every act, no matter if a falsetto note was a little off the mark, a piano stroke off timing, a magic trick inadvertently revealed, or a microphone left in the off position.

I couldn't help but sway to the music and smile at the brashness of it all.  How many times has fear stopped us from saying something to the boss or maybe asking a question in a public forum?  How many times do we hold our tongues anytime there's a crowd?  Maybe we don't even answer the phone because we aren't ready to talk to the person on the other end of the caller ID?  No such timidness from the kids of Arlington Middle School.  Bravery and brashness is what I saw on that stage tonight.  And I loved it.

We had dueling violinists, tap dancers, a magician, guitarists, pianists, and of course some impressive vocalists.  We even had an original number from a New Orleans Saints fan crooning on her favorite football player - the not-so-heralded number 16, wide receiver Lance Moore.  Lance would've been proud.  And what a nice treat for me for the final act.  It was one of my favorite songs, Randy Travis' "I Told You So."  Really good stuff.

So I take back my previous statement.  They were all superstars tonight.  And to think that I almost didn't come.  Dumb Chris.

Yeah, it did bring back some memories from my own Talent Show many moons ago.  That's when the Fil-Am Rockers brought down the house at Kellam High School in Virginia Beach with an awesome breakdancing performance to the song, "Breaker's Revenge."

Monday, February 13, 2012

Definitely Not Wordless

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In some ways, this is the opposite of Wordless Wednesday.  

I wonder what happened here. 

In Jake's attempt to not be wasteful, he saved a couple of "e's." 

This is my favorite.  It's pretty much a catch-all.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Joel and John

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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Is Naval Aviation Culture Dead?

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Here's a good read written by a a former Secretary of the Navy.  A history lesson too - from the pivotal Battle of Midway to Korea and Vietnam, followed by a hyper-jump to Tailhook '91 and joint duty in the Pentagon.  Times have definitely changed.  For the better?  We'll see...  

A Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat from Fighter Squadron 5 awaits clearance to launch from the aircraft carrier Yorktown on November 20, 1943. Squadron 5 had been assigned to hit targets in the Marshall Islands.
Is Naval Aviation Culture Dead?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Kids in the Yard

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Here's a quick video of CJ and Jake with their cousins Jena and Ariel hanging out in the backyard during the Christmas break.  Flannigan is with them too.  No kids or animals were harmed in the making of this film.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

We Miss You Paw Paw

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Carol's step-dad, James Mathews, better known as Paw Paw to the kids and Mathew to the grownups, passed away last month at the ripe young age of 91.  Carol's Mom called him Mathew because she didn't want to confuse him with her son who was also named James.  So Mathew it was.  Like Aunt Charlie says, "It doesn't matter what your name is, we're gonna call you what we wanna call you."  Gotta love Aunt Charlie.

When loved ones pass away, it's of course very natural to feel great sadness.  With Mathew's passing though, I was uplifted by the story of open arms and love that defines Carol's family.  And so here's the quick story:

Aunt Charlie got to know Mathew through his first wife, Ruby.  She was Ruby's oncology nurse.  After a long and happy life, Ruby died of cancer over 20 years ago, leaving Mathew pretty much by himself.  Unfortunately, he and Ruby were unable to have kids.  But it wasn't God's will for Mathew to be alone.  One day, Aunt Charlie invited Mathew to one of the family gatherings.  Before this invitation, Mathew didn't have any kids and the very little family he had lived out of state.  After this invitation and lots of love from the Hosmer gang, Mathew suddenly inherited a multitude of kids, grandkids and enough family to win an election!  He also met his future wife, Carol's Mom.  It's amazing how powerful a single invitation can be.

Here's Carol and Mathew right before they walked down the aisle to partner up with an incredible studmuffin of a Navy man.

Watching over Carol while she's pregnant with CJ.

Mom and Mathew drove all the way to San Diego to visit us.  On the last day of driving, they got pooped out and checked into a hotel that was about 20 minutes away from our house.  They didn't realize how close they were.  Carol hopped in the car, retrieved them, and did the caravan back to our humble abode.  It was a fun visit.

Jake and CJ love their Paw Paw.

Mathew has seen a lot of things.  He was with Ruby during her battle with cancer.  He was with Mom through her successful fight with breast cancer.  He was also a veteran, having served overseas during his time in the Air Force.

During our last couple of trips to Alabama, Mathew would ask me, "So are you on a ship in Tennessee?"  Speaking of ships, here is Mom and Mathew dressed up as pirates during one of CJ's birthday parties.  These two pirates got to do a lot of traveling during their time together.  They visited Italy, Israel, Alaska and many places throughout the US.

Mathew was a very spiritual man and did many things for his church.  He was sharp as a tack all the way until the very end.  I'll miss hanging out at his house in Bessemer laughing at Ray Romano on the tube or watching the Weather Channel while the boys played checkers.  It was always pleasant conversation with Mathew, although you had to talk kinda loud so he could hear you.  After failing my hearing test two days ago during my flight physical, my ears aren't far behind.  Darn jet noise.

Growing up as a kid, I had no memories of grandparents.  They had all passed away when I was young or before I was born.  I'm really glad that my boys have many fond memories of their Paw Paw.  One memory that I hope stays with the boys for a long time is the story of Aunt Charlie's invitation.  

Paw Paw - you were loved by many and will be sorely missed.  Rest in peace.
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