Twister the Quilt

Twister the Quilt

I just had to make this! It wouldn’t leave my brain until I held it in my hands, binding finished. Click the picture to head over to the original post from Gen X Quilters. It didn’t really come with instructions, just an idea. So, on the fly it was! Now, I need to keep my eye out for a Twister board to go with this.





Whatever the reason for the trip, seeing Montana is wonderful.  I’m not sure what qualifies as a road trip.  In this state, I feel like any time we want to go to another city, it is a road trip.  There is nothing between here and wherever, so the boredom from the drive really adds to the miles.  But, the kidlettes and I did just survive a 16 hour (each leg) round-trip drive.

I have figured out that you cannot get a lot of radio in Montana.  But, they play music on the AM frequencies.  So, if you are in a lucky spot on a good day, you just might not have to listen to all those CDs for the eightieth time.  Whatever we are listening to, it is way better when you sing along.


I’m starting to find the groove to traveling with children.

1.  It doesn’t much matter if you bring enough snacks for the whole trip.  All the carbs and chewy food will be gone within a few hours.  All that fruit…well, you just wasted it.  Apparently, children develop a good-food aversion whilst traveling.

2.  If you drive an archaic vehicle without built-in DVD, you just might have to invest in dual DVD players.  Heaven forbid the kids watch the same thing.  Don’t forget good headphones…not earbuds.  Who wants earbuds in for 6-16 hours?

3.  Children are teeny-tiny human beings.  Motion sickness applies.


Basically, we wing it.  We make sure that drivers licenses, ID cards, and debit cards are packed, the dogs have food for the trip and there is gas in the car.  The rest can be figured out on the road.  I’m good with that.  I’m over always being prepared for the trip.  It doesn’t seem to make a difference, anyway.




Missoula Bighorn

Missoula Bighorn

Just outside of Missoula, MT. Finally got to see some bighorn sheep!  Montana might be horribly boring to some people “stuck” stationed here, but we are taking advantage of every turn.  We will not forget to travel!  Big Sky, Missoula, backroads…it doesn’t matter where we go…let’s just go!

Whose needs are most important in a military family?

Now that we are out of Germany, The Man is no longer non-deployable (though, his current job is deployable only by volunteering).  What a nice few years that was.  At the same time, he had so many wonderful opportunities to experience extraordinary parts of his career field.

Being Security Forces is thought to be such a linear field.  You start as a minion, working the gate, checking IDs, sitting on the flight line, watching airplanes, running scenarios.  You work on patrol, responding to lost and found dogs, domestic disturbances, DUIs, underage drinking in the dorms, and, occasionally, a schizophrenic waving around a sword.  You eventually graduate to minion sergeant and do things such as desk sergeant, flight chief, work the back office in training or orderly room and the like.  And, when you have done enough, you do those same things in different capacities for 20 years.

You can settle into that life, or you can heed the advice of exceptional supervisors and other leadership along the way and do something.  You learn what the Equal+ listing is, where to look for job openings and opportunities, and keep your eyes peeled.  You search out opportunities and network (it really works in the military world just as it does in the real world).  The Man didn’t try just once for the job in Germany, but when he had the best references and the retainability, we finally left North Dakota.

But, then what?  What happens after the cool tour is done?  Some people can make that cool work drag on for many, many years.  We knew people in Europe who had been there well beyond the 3-4 year tour.  Well, I certainly don’t have that answer.  I have been encouraging my husband to follow his dream of nursing.  What a wonderful opportunity for our family.  If accepted to the program, The Man would finish up school, commission and be on his way in the medical world.  Specifically what interests him is being a flight nurse.  Since we were kids, it is what he has wanted to do.  He loves the fast paced, critical care of it all.

However, he battles with the idea of doing something more.  He is torn with the fact that he is mentally and physically equipped to do jobs that others won’t or can’t and the fact that he has a family.  Those “special” jobs aren’t exactly family friendly.  Maybe it is because these career fields are so small that I have this anxiety.  I have never actually met any wives of these jobs.  But, the schooling, itself, keeps him away from home more than an unaccompanied Korea tour would.  And, the jobs, well…I don’t know if our family is cut out for that life.

But, who is supposed to deny themselves, here?  Do we let our family take on the sacrifice for the sake of the job and the people who are affected by it?  Or, does my husband take on the sacrifice of not being fulfilled, even though there are other options out there?

It isn’t as if these questions are new ones.  He has always wanted to do something more.  But, at what cost?

This isn’t a post to complain – but a pretty candid look at the thought process behind changing careers.

(Re) Committing to Homeschooling

I have fretted over our decision to homeschool for months, now.  A better description might be to say that I have been trying to make the best decision for us.  Since our move, I have worried that I just can’t homeschool.  Between adjusting to our new life (location, no friends, super-strange weather patterns, etc) and The Man’s new work schedule, I just didn’t have the mental capacity to keep the kids home and stay sane.  Little Man runs around like a mad man, and we would much rather be playing Legos, coloring and reading books than listening to me.  And, Little Girl has far too much angst in her 3-year-old life to focus on school.  She is only calmed by books and cuddling.

After the first two weeks of The Man being on his new schedule (gone 5 days, off 3, work 1, repeat), I just wasn’t sure I would be able to handle kids ALL THE TIME.  They scream, fight, NEED, eat, play, are loud and plain ol’ torture each other for 16 hours a day, at least 6 days a week.  Right?!  Right.  My house wasn’t unpacked.  My books didn’t even have their own spot (and still don’t…and they just may never, here), how am I supposed to have a place for all the kids’ homeschool stuff?  Paper, books, workbooks, manipulatives, DVDs, crayons, markers, more paper, crafts, on-and-on, etc., etc.

Well, as it turns out, I just needed a refresher.  I don’t even know what it was.  I have been genuinely praying for peace in a decision…whatever choice I should make…I just want peace in it.  I didn’t care what the decision was…homeschool or conventional school, I just want to know what I should do!

We had picked out a private school to send the kidlettes to.  We took a tour, talked with the the staff, and met with monkey’s teacher.  We were visiting on Chapel day, so we got to see what that was all about.  We went over curriculum, daily schedule and spoke about the importance of us, as parents, as decision makers and leaders of our children’s education and character influences.  We had been mulling it over for months.  Even after the tour to the school, I wasn’t at peace with the idea of sending our kids to school there.  We took one major, personal issue with the school, and it held us up.

We have been bouncing between two different churches, and when we were speaking with a family we had met the first service we attended (and I also knew the mom from our base homeschool group), our private school choice came up.  As it turns out, the church used to financially support the school, but stopped after the pastor was censored at a speaking engagement at the school.  He was asked not to speak about salvation-specific issues.  When he asked why, the administrator stated something to the effect of everyone at the school being “saved.”  Um…what?  Even at our last church, which was a bit like Cheers, in the “Where everybody knows your name”…and social security number…and work phone number, salvation wasn’t assumed.  The short of it is that the idea that the school would do that did not sit well with us.  After the feelings we already had, the news added to our idea that this was not the place for us.

After about a week, that feeling that I had been waiting for really started to sprout.  Several weeks ago, though, it was almost as though that little sprout turned into a full-blown…asparagus?!  Asparagus is the best thing I can come up with, right now.  The way I see it, is that I am not going to come to this moment just once.  In about 12-15 weeks, I will come to the feelings of anxiety, again.  My asparagus will have been harvested, and I will wonder how I am going to make it through.  But, as asparagus does, it will grow strong and delicious, and I will harvest it, again.  From what I hear, it is a never ending cycle.  I am so happy to have that peace I was looking for.  I am grateful, hopeful and happy.

One of the biggest, most helpful moments I had came from a conversation I had with a veteran homeschooling mother.  She is a super smarty pants, married to a super smarty pants.  And, in all of my anxiety, she said to me, “We are required to do many things as mothers: make sure our children are fed and clothed.  We have to give them baths and love them.  We do not have to homeschool.”  The requirement I had made for myself suddenly became a choice.  For some reason, that helped so much.


Anyone working on a similar situation?

The 6 stages of a PCS…

I just wrote Debbie (my mother-in-law, in case someone I don’t know reads this…doubtful) and told her we have moved on to acceptance.  I have determined there are 6 stages to a PCS:

1.  Excitement!  The excitement starts the minute you have your assignment.  I could argue with myself that it starts when you see what the Base Available Listing says, showing the options of all the different bases available for your job.  This stage can last quite a while, as long as you don’t know when you are actually supposed to be leaving.

2.  Anticipation.  Once you know where you are going, it is so fun to start dreaming.  We know so much about the area.  We have picked out a pre-school.  I know all the shopping centers in the area…and all the cute little boutique stores.  I can tell you where to get the best pie, BBQ and coffee.  We know where to buy organic, and I know that the Farmer’s Market has an impressive selection.  I can tell you how far the nearest grass-fed animal farm is.  I have been learning more about traveling around the mountains.  And, I downloaded all the fishing guides to get a head start on reading!  I have daydreamed and planned.  There is so much I cannot wait to do.

3.  Worry.  Then, you worry…you worry about not getting into the pre-school.  You worry about not finding a place to live because the housing market is off-balance.  Our housing allowance for the area does not cover anything acceptable for a house that fits us.  You worry about not getting on base.  You worry about being able to find a car to buy.  Okay, maybe these things aren’t on everyone’s worry list, but they sure are on mine.

4.  Grief.  a. Maybe that is a bit of a strong word.  Grief is more descriptive of the loss of a family member, not the pangs of a PCS.  But, there are moments when I have cried.  I have been in despair over not being an 8 hour drive from our friends in England.  I have cried over not having the neighbors I have.  I have cried knowing that a phone call to these ladies just doesn’t cover what a session on the couch or a dinner does.  Knowing that we can’t pop into the backyard to share the mower, borrow milk, have a hug or an inappropriate joke is heartbreaking.

b.  There is grief in the waiting of orders, too.  Maybe a better word here is frustration.  The Man has to wait and wait…and relying on other people to do their job properly is gut-wrenching.  Knowing that I am a piddly wife and can’t just pop into his office to make phone calls or make a few office visits for him is incredibly frustrating.  These moments aren’t ones you can prepare for.  Knowing they are coming still doesn’t help the process go by any more smoothly.

5.  Acceptance.  There is nothing that we really can do to make other people do their job well.  There is nothing we can do to make the housing office at our gaining base give us the proper information, instead of the information we had previously received.  There is nothing we can do about our move, our landlord, our cars, TMO (the people who pack up our stuff) or our plane tickets.  The dates we can actually get our of here are not in our control.  The fact that we do not have orders cannot be pressed anymore.  The necessary steps have already been taken…and so we will wait.  If Little Man doesn’t get into the pre-school we chose, there are others, or I can homeschool.  If we get to our base and find that we can’t get a car for under $3000, there are other cities…and we can rent a car in the meantime.  If we can’t get on base right away, I bet I could find a wonderful family member to help us out with a hotel room for a tiny bit.  And, if the housing isn’t promising, we can live off-base in a little 2-bedroom for as long as we need.  We have each other, God’s love and grace, and enough money to cover all our expenses.  We are fine.

6.  Excitement.  The excitement will come at some point, again.  I just know it.  When we actually have orders, when we can make an appointment for our stuff to be packed up, when we can buy plane tickets, when our cars are fixed, when we sell a car…the excitement will hit us, again.  In fact, as I write this, I have a lot of peace.  I know that this is coming.  I know that there is so much for our next place to offer…and we will arrive there with open arms and hearts.  I hope they are ready for us, though.


Are there any other military people that read this?  Would you say anything else about a PCS?  There is often so much bitterness surrounding a PCS that we forget to look at all the positive things that have happened where we were…and all the good that can happen where we are going.  I just don’t want to ever lose sight of that.



What? A real update? Maybe.

Hola mi familia…here is my non-update update:

The Man had his PRP appointment today (PRP = Personal Responsibility Profile…just something you need to work with nukes.  He won’t work with nukes, but his group does, meaning he needs it, anyway).  In case you are not up-to-speed with us…The Man submitted paperwork 2+ months ago.  After a month-and-a-half of calling the Med Group for information on where he stood to get an appointment, he finally got a real answer – “We don’t have your paperwork.”  There was a lot of frustration with this because he kept getting a generic answer from the Med Group that “it was in review.”  He got the information for a lady in the PRP section so he could make sure the next time he submitted the information, he would have confirmation from a person he already spoke with.  He filled out the paperwork – submitted said paperwork – had confirmation of paperwork received by PRP section.  A week later, he received a phone call from a different person, “Sir, I have your name written down.  Were you supposed to send me something?”  LOST PAPERWORK?!  Shocking.  So, he resubmitted, again.  After not hearing anything from them after another week, I called to play secretary (so annoying when wives do this stuff, but effective).  I got a hold of regular ol’ Family Medicine and said I couldn’t get through to anyone over at PRP regarding my husband.  Ta-da…a phone call later that day, The Man had an appointment set up with the PRP peeps.

That brings us to today.  Appointment – check.  PRP submitted to Malmstrom – check.  Now we wait.  The Man is going to call later today, when the United States starts waking up, to get in contact with the Malmstrom PRP section.  The doctor on this end said he figures he will be approved, but it is all up to Malmstrom.  Malmstrom will either approve or deny his PRP.  Whatever the decision, our PRP section, here, will be informed.  When he is approved, we go to Personnel and let them know we are ready for our orders, I guess.  I don’t really know about the last part.  But, I will personally talk to every person in each step to ensure attention is properly paid to this.  They are orders…how difficult can this possibly be?  Apparently slightly, at least.

As for the rest of moving, we went to talk to the housing office today.  Our landlord said he is going to “have to replace the floors” because of how horribly damaged he says they are.  Just nuts.  So, we are having the housing office come with us to advocate for us.  I am not certain they really help us out at all.  I think German landlords get to do whatever they want, and we are stuck with the bill.  It wouldn’t be such a big deal, but I refuse to lose my deposit on THIS house, with THIS landlord.

And, on a final note – the cars should all be repaired within the next two weeks!  :)  Volvo needs all the tune-up-y stuff with an oil change plus new brakes and rotors (downside to a Volvo oil change is definitely the cost, but love everything that goes with it).  First, I should say, that it goes in on Monday the 7th for all the body work from when the GOV (gov’t owned vehicle) hit our car.  I assume we will ship it just a few days before we leave.  That will leave us in the US without a car for the first month or two, but at least we’ll have something around here until the end.  The Pacifica should be out of the shop either the end of this week or the beginning of next week…and we should be able to sell it at that point!  Hopefully it sells quickly!!  We are just so thankful for the savings we have to be able to do this without a huge headache.  And, we are relishing in our final overseas paycheck that allows us to not worry about these things.  Back to the United States and back to our beans and rice!

That is pretty much it!  At least it was more news than no news for you.



Not having orders won’t slow me down…

At the risk of this sounding like a complaint, I write it anyway: we still do not have orders, and the idea of them is just part of our imagination…at least it seems that way.

There was a whole paperwork issue with someone not doing their job, so come to find out, it isn’t the med group’s fault we still do not have orders. The Man had to turn his PRP paperwork into someone in his squadron. They forward it to the med group. The med group makes an appointment with The Man to review said PRP paperwork. It is a not-so-short process in itself, but when it stops at the second step, it is impossible! Anyway, after a few weeks of waiting on an appointment, The Man finally got a hold of someone at the med group just to hear they hadn’t even received the paperwork, and he needs to resubmit.

So he did that. And, here we sit, 33 days until our DEROS (Date Estimated Return from OverSeas) with not even a hint of how much longer this could take. I haven’t complained, really. This is all part of the process. Every family PCSes. Every PCS has it’s challenges, and I knew what I signed up for. But, I did have a crazy brain moment, yesterday! I emailed a friend go had a very messy PCS out of here. I told her I cant understand how she seemed so sane, and I asked for advice. The advice I received is to pack. Just start doing it. It seems pretty simple, but it did help my brain. Sure, it isn’t as though I have the boxes to really start, but I can start doing something!.

So I started doing something today. I got all the pictures and my Uppercase lettering off the walls. I love having all that put in one spot, knowing it will all get packed the way I want it to. And, it is the part that worried me the most, since they won’t take things off the wall for you. And, amidst all the boxes, you don’t notice that you left something up until it is too late!

So, about 30 days until I think we should be out of here, but still not confident that we will be going to Montana…I think I want to take one big sleep until we get our orders. I will be extra happy, then!


Until we have orders, there isn’t a real update.



Surviving the First Week of Preschool…

Little Man made it through the first week of preschool.  He even got a cool mark of public school…his first-week-of-school ick.  He brought it home to share, too.  So, while he had his on a weekend, I get mine the day we have to wake up at 6:30am.  Chills, sniffles, nausea, light-headed-ness.  What a nice kid, eh?  Or, should I be happy that the class is sharing with each other?  A mark of good kids, right?  He was fine today, so off he went to school.

The first week was tough.  This public school thing definitely has two sides.  On one hand, it really is great to wake up, start our day, get Little Man out of the house – and he really does seem to enjoy it.  One of the girls that rides the van to school with him is in love with him…like “Bella and Edward” in love with him.  I have to stop her from kissing him when I pick him up from the bus stop after school.  Every day.  He brings home books.  They say the Pledge of Allegiance.  They have “family-style” lunch, instead of having to go through the line at the cafeteria.  And, they even brush their teeth after lunch!  He loves the story-times in class.  I am not sure if he has a favorite thing, yet…since I have to bribe him in order to tell me even the most general things about his day…”We played outside.  We had quiet time.”

The other side of this is the guilt I feel that he is with someone else all day.  Don’t be confused…I don’t feel guilty that he isn’t with me.  You know me…I subscribe to the “It takes a village…” school of thought.  No, my problem comes from feeling like I have passed him off…and that I have no control over his curriculum.  I don’t have a say whether or not they focus more on phonics than on shapes and colors.  And, while I think it is great that they do worksheets during the day, it is frustrating that all the worksheets he brings home are things we have already gone through.  I am pretty sure he is the oldest in the class, so I understand if other parents haven’t been spending the past year or so on these things.  But, my biggest fear is that what he needs isn’t given at school.  And, while I can spend time doing other things with him at home, the morning is such a critical learning time.  When he gets home from school, he is a straight-up crabby bum.  He doesn’t talk to me, and when he does, you can practically see him snarling.  From 2:00pm until 6:45, when we have been taking “bedtime walks,” he is a grouch!  I am sure he is just so tired, but Little Man doesn’t “do” naps.  So, we suffer through it until the end of the day.

I suppose I can say that the first week went well.  It goes well on our end during the day, at least.  It is when 2:00 comes around that I get a knot in my stomach…so excited to see him, talk to him, get him back…all-the-while knowing he is going to be gnashing his teeth at me.  I suppose I should have called the school this morning to make sure the teachers survived the first week and would be there before I sent him off to school!  ;)

I will try and volunteer this week, once the ick leaves the house.  We are required to volunteer 3 hours a month per parent.  That shouldn’t be too difficult, right?