Monday, November 5, 2012

Little Conversations

I love listening to my girls talk to each other and play.  It's quite interesting sometimes.  The other day I heard this:

Natalie: "Gabbie, do you know the difference between boys and girls?"

Gabbie: "Girls have long hair, and boys have short hair"

N: "No, Boys are stinky and girls have boobs!"

She was as serious as she could be.  And for the record, I don't plan to tell her any differently any time soon. ;o)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

It Is What It Is

Today has been a rough week. I don't really know why.  Nothing major, just a lot of those little frustrating things that add up. It has also been a very long week!  Today is the first day this week that hasn't started out like a Monday.  Thank goodness for that. However, I have yet to really get anything good accomplished either. It's also the first day this week that I don't have anywhere that I NEED to go.  Having too many days on the go is not something I enjoy.  I kinda need to go to Target...but it's not absolutely necessary to do it today.  So maybe I won't.  We'll see... 
I had high hopes for this week too.  So far it is letting me down.  I really hope that it finishes out the way that I want it to though!

Last Friday we finally got our assignment from the Air Force.  We are going to Langley AFB in Virginia next.  I was disappointed when I found out.  It was very last on our list.  Our last assignment was the one that was very last on our list too. (Hawaii was not our original assignment)  I'm thinking that next time we make our list we should put where we really want to go at the bottom!  We weren't really surprised that we got it though.  The work that he will be doing there is going to be a lot of the same stuff he is doing here.  We knew that the AF tries to match that first, when it comes to moving people.  So no surprise that he was selected to go there.   Langley is definitely better than some of the other places that we could have been sent to, so I continue to focus on that and be grateful. There are really a lot of positives about there.  It's a great area.  Rich in history.  Three hours from D.C, super close to Colonial Williamsburg, and really just a TON to do in the area.  Not that we will have the money to do many of these cool things...but it's there anyway. Ha Ha.   We will be only about 2 hours from Tony's parents.  I am excited about that. They are already talking about getting a bigger car so that all the girls will fit in it, and getting a swing set. ;o)   The rest of his family is along the East coast, so he will be semi close to them also.  In the last 9 years, he's seen most of them only a couple of times or so.  I know he is looking forward to seeing them more.  Knowing that we will be 1600 miles from my family still makes my heart hurt.  I was really hoping to be within a 10-12 hour drive from there.  I have to remind myself that 1600 is still a lot better than the 3700 miles away that we are now.  Even though a 3 day drive will be NEXT to impossible with 4 young children, at least it IS possible, since there isn't an ocean in between.  And hopefully flying will be a lot cheaper too.  Not to mention shorter.  An eight hour plane ride  is not very much fun!  Seeing my family at least once a year will be better than only once in a 3 year period. Trying to stay positive!

  I'm really looking forward to seasons, and Chick-Fil-A, and craft stores, and just being back on the mainland again. Being close to Tony's family will be awesome.  Especially around the holidays.  Three years in a row we haven't been able to see family for the holidays and it is really hard.  We have some great friends here, so I'm grateful for that, but it's still not the same.  Hopefully we will get to see my family at the holidays soon too! And I am pretty excited that we will still be near the beach.  Every time I leave my house I see the ocean or Pearl Harbor.  I've gotten used to seeing the water, and I think I would miss it if I couldn't see it.  My girls will also get to say that they have been in both the Pacific and Atlantic ocean. (well, the first 3 of my children)  How cool is that??  My first time to ever see the ocean was when I was 20...So I think it's pretty awesome.

 I continue to be worried about the cost of living there, and how it will affect us.  We will be taking a $850 a month pay cut when we leave here, and I'll be honest and say I don't know where in our budget it will come from!!  We already live very frugally, with very little extra expenses.  If we can get in military housing that will help a LOT.  However, since it is a high cost area, housing usually has quite a bit of a wait list.  Because the baby is due soon after we move, we don't have a lot of time to wait.  I figure the latest that I want to wait on a house is April first.  Hopefully that will give me time to get unpacked and settled by my May 3rd due date.  Fortunately we are able to get on the wait list now, so hopefully in the next 4-5 months something will come open for us.  Please pray with us on that, will you?  It is a really big deal to me.  When we moved here we lived in a hotel for 2 full months.  It was unpleasant, but totally worth it.  However, stateside bases don't pay for you to live in lodging for that long.  They will pay for you to stay there for 10 days.  I figure that we will be able to pay for the rest of the month with the money that would normally go toward our rent.  After that...We don't know. Hopefully we won't have to find out!

We are still waiting to find out if the date change for our move has been approved.  Tony submitted the paperwork 2-3 weeks ago.  They told him that it would take about 2 weeks to know.  And about a week ago they told him the part that would take the longest was already done.  Hmmm....We're still waiting.  lol.  We know that it has been approved by his commander, but it has to go to 2 more commanders that are above him.  Tony has asked for a DEROS (Date of Estimated Return from Overseas) date of Feb 15th.  Which would mean that we would be leaving here by then, or possibly earlier in February.  We hope to spend a few weeks in Texas and get to VA the first or second week of March.  There are a lot of details to learn and figure out, so I hope we get our date approval soon!!!  The possibility that we have just started our last full 3 months here is crazy!!  It's very exciting, but like I said, LOTS to figure out in that short time and we are looking at the holidays coming up too.  That always slows things down a bit.  I'm already dreading the move.  It's such an ordeal.  Any move is a hassle, but with an overseas move it takes 6-8 weeks to get your car and all of you stuff to where you are going.  Since we are going all the way to the east coast I'm thinking it will take the full 8 weeks or more.  So you are homeless and living out of a suitcase for at least 2 months.  That is NOT easy with young children.   No address, so mail is on hold and everything. And that flight is long.  8-9 hours in the airplane just to get to Texas.   Then you add the time zone difference, and you get a bit of jet lag on top of going close to 24 hours with no sleep. I'm just ready to get it over with! :o)  But first...we need that date!  Come on Air Force!

Hopefully this week ending will bring the news that we are waiting for.  Also, Saturday we have an appointment for a sonogram to hopefully find out if we are having girl #4, or if everything in our house will be tipped upside down with a boy!  It's about the earliest that they can try to see gender, so I'm really trying not to get my hopes up in case the baby is still too small or uncooperative. If we can't tell, we will go back the following week.  With the way my week has been going, I would not be surprised if we are disappointed this week.  Ha Ha!  Trying to stay positive though, because surely something good has to happen this week!

Friday, October 12, 2012

The List

So it doesn't look like we will be getting the spot in Nebraska.  Bummer.  It looked pretty great.

So we waited for the list.  It actually came out a day early which was surprising.  I'm pretty sure it was one of the only times the military has been early for anything.  ha ha
So the only openings for Tony's rank and job are these...

Barksdale- Louisiana (Shreveport)
Ellsworth-South Dakota (Rapid City)
Hurlburt Field-Florida panhandle

Langley- Virginia (Hampton)
Minot- North Dakota
Nellis- Nevada (Las Vegas)
Tyndall-Florida panhandle
Whiteman- Missouri (Knob Noster/Warrensburg)

Cannon- New Mexico (Clovis)

We were less than thrilled.  None of these we consider to be great places, or places that we would want to go.  Never the less, we will be going to one of them, so we will have to make the best of it, and look for the positives in all of them.  Even with that, there are a few that we absolutely do not want to wind up at.  WE have left them off of our "dream sheet" in the hopes of reducing the chances.   This does not eliminate the chance by any means.  The Air Force will do what wants.  

The places we for sure don't want to go:

Cannon-  Even though it's only 2ish hours from my home town and where my parents live we've heard terrible things about the base and town.  Dirty drug town.  Also, I know what the weather and scenery is like and it's not pretty.  Ha ha. Also, it would most likely mean lots of deployments for Tony.  And, I've lived in that area for 25 years.  I would like to experience something new while we have the chance.  I will cry if we get sent here, no offense to my family. :o)  So, the positive for this place is only 1- Close to Mimi and Pawpaw.
Nellis - Middle of the desert and in Las Vegas.  I do not want to live in Las Vegas with children.  Have heard a lot of people that have been there saying that they wouldn't want to be there with their kids at all.  High crime rate. Positive for here-It's supposed to be a nice base and there are some really neat military planes and exercises that happen there. Housing looks nice.

Barksdale- Louisiana.   From what we've heard it is a dirty town also, and a friend that grew up there said she would never want to live there. Positive-It's in the south, and only 5 hours from my sister in the gulf of Texas.

Minot- North Dakota.  Need I say more?? ha ha  From what we've heard it's in a very remote area, fairly expensive to live there and COLD!   I found some positives today- only 50 miles from Canada.  I don't know anything about that part of Canada, but still pretty cool to be able to go there.  Housing looks nice, the schools on base are rated well, (We home school now, but don't know if we will forever.  Having a 2 year old and a tiny baby will make it hard.  Heck, it's hard with a 15 month old, and 4 year old.  It would be nice to have a good school  just in case. We take it a year at a time.But this post is not about that, so back on topic) Northern lights. 

These three places were left off of the our list in the hopes of not getting them.  We'll see how that works.  we are trying not to get our hopes up.

Whiteman- Missouri.  Tiny base in the middle of nowhere surrounded by tiny towns.  To be honest, I haven't found out much about this base yet.  70 miles from Kansas City, so not too far from a larger town, but possibly too far to go super often. I lived not too far from there once when I was a kid for about 6 months. It's a pretty area, but not sure if it's the same over in Missouri.   Positive-Check back later, I'm still working on that.

Langley- Virginia.  In the Norfolk/Va beach area. However, very expensive cost of living and really bad traffic.  Probably neither of those are as bad as it is here, but I've had more than my fill of awful traffic and having to pay an arm and a leg to do anything, including parking! Also, we get a cost of living allowance here, and we won't there.  Positive- Only 2 hours from Tony's parents, 3 hours from Washington DC and lots to see and do in the area. 

Tyndall- Florida Panhandle.  Heard the traffic can be bad, and I've had 3 years of summer.  I'd like to go somewhere with more of a seasonal change.  Haven't done a lot of research into this one yet either.  Positive- Nice weather, close to the beach. 

Hurlbert Field- Also in the FL panhandle.  About an hour from the above location. Haven't looked much into this one either.  Likely a high deployment base for Tony as well. Positives-We have good friends there, nice weather, close to the beach.

Ellsworth- South Dakota. This is actually my top choice. Cold and remote.  Probably not as bad as North Dakota. Positives- I have friends there,(from my hometown actually) they really love it.  Lots of people that have been there love it.  Seems like a cute, family friendly town.  Even though its a fairly small town, it has a Super Target, so I'm good. ;o)  Nice housing. Close to Mt. Rushmore. very pretty part of the country.

So there it is.  One of these places will be our home for the next 2 years or more.  Praying hard about it, and having to remind myself often that wherever we go is exactly where God wants us to be. He has a plan and purpose for us there.  Wherever we go will be closer to family than we are now, and cheaper to fly to if it's too far to drive.  We literally have a possibility to go almost all over the mainland USA.  From as far West as Nevada, to as far East as the coast of Virginia. (Doesn't get much farther east than that) As far North as northern North Dakota and as far south as Florida...with a few points in between.  We actually have little to no say in which one of these is out assignments.  Maybe that's a good this.  It's totally up to God. (And the Air Force, but He has control over even that)  

Now we wait. We will get an assignment anytime after the 18th...most likely after the 25th though.  It's going to be a LOOONNNGG couple of weeks!  Stay tuned!  (I'll be looking for more positives for some of these places while I'm waiting)  


Friday, August 31, 2012

`When Uncle Sam Calls The Shots

Well we are down to our last 6 or 7 months in Hawaii!!  We have mixed feelings about this, but mostly we are excited.  Very excited.  I love so many things about Hawaii, and will be forever grateful that we got this great opportunity to be here.  But it's time to go.  The beauty of the Island doesn't make up for the fact that we go over a year without seeing our families, and my niece will be over a year old before I even meet her. Yes, it's time to Yet, even though we have only a few months left before we put all of our belongings adrift in the ocean for several weeks...we have NO idea where we are going next!  I'll tell you, not knowing where you will be living in just a few months, yet knowing that it will for certain be somewhere different than you are now...well, it's not the best feeling. However, it's something that countless other military families identify with.
The other day I got an email from Tony while he was at work.  The conversation went something like this:
"How about Nebraska?"
Hahaha! NO!
(You see, a girl from Texas would never want to move to Nebraska.)

Then we see an article about Omaha being the top place to raise families. Interesting. Then we ask some military friends that have been stationed at Offutt AFB before about it.  All positive responses.  Hmmm...We do some more research on the base and area, and suddenly....This girl from Texas WANTS to go to Offutt!  What?!?  How?!  Suddenly, we both want to go to Offutt.
So Tony applied to be sent there as our next duty station. And now we wait....and wait, and then, we will wait some more.When Uncle Sam calls all the shots, you spend a lot of time stressing waiting. If he is accepted for the position he will have to extend his enlistment in order to take the job, so that's another confusion. My poor husband has been reading through hundreds of pages of Air Force rules to try to learn how it all works.  To add to that confusion...we just discovered that the earliest that we would be leaving the island will be in my 36th week.  The latest that I am allowed to fly.  Hmmm....Back to the rule books....  Aside from the fact that a 8-12 hour plane trip will be hugely uncomfortable at 36 weeks, that would likely mean that all of our belongings will be somewhere on the ocean when I'm 40 weeks!  Not good! So now we get to see how/if we can get our move bumped up a little earlier.  This could have me making that very long airplane trip across the ocean with 3 girls, and a large belly/small bladder all by myself!  My sweet hubby said that if anyone could do it, I could.  :o)  He's so sweet.
If he isn't accepted for the job in Nebraska, then in a little over a month a list will come out that has all of the places that have openings for someone is his job and rank.  We then put that list in order of preference, and then we wait... We can put up to 5 places on our list...provided the list of options is that long.  We have some friends that recently had their list come out, and it only had 1 option!  That made it easy for them. ha ha  While we wait, we will plan for the location that is at the bottom of our list to be where we will be assigned. ;o)   Cause let's face it...Uncle Sam doesn't care too much about what anyone wants.
Honestly, I'm not too worried about where we are going.  We know that God has it totally in control, and we will end up exactly where he wants us to be!  He has guided our steps and blessed us so clearly in our military adventure, and I know he will continue to do so!  The good thing about our first assignment being overseas, is it doesn't matter where on the mainland we end up, we will feel like it's close to family! :o) However...I just want to know where that place is!!  AND, I want to have a house and a bed for the new baby.
I have lots to do to keep me busy while I am waiting I guess...I have to try to make my house look like no one has lived here the last 3 years.  I should get on that...cause once we DO find out where we are going, all kinds of crazy is going to break loose. And even though 6 months sounds like a long time...I know it can fly by!

Friday, August 10, 2012

No-Bake Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

No-Bake Chocolate Chip Granola Bars
yield: 10 bars
adapted from Rachael Ray

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups quick cooking oats {not rolled oats!}
1 cup crispy rice cereal
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips

In a large bowl, stir oats and rice cereal together. Set aside. In a small pot, melt butter, honey and brown sugar together over medium high heat until it comes to a bubble. Reduce the heat and cook 2 minutes. Pour in vanilla and stir. Pour over dry ingredients and mix well to moisten all ingredients. Pour into lightly greased small jelly roll pan {about 12x8x1} and press out to be about 3/4 inch in thickness. {If your pan isn’t small enough, pack the mixture into one side. You really want to press them down so they stick together.} Sprinkle with mini chocolate chips and press down lightly. Cool on a countertop to room temperature for two hours or until the chocolate chips are set before cutting into bars.

** I put a few dried Apricots into the food processor until they were  pretty small. Then mixed them with my dry ingredients   I doubled the recipe and was almost a cup short of oatmeal, so I just put that much more rice crispies.  It worked fine.  I also used more chocolate chips than called for in the recipe.  I just sprinkled them on until it looked like I wanted. **

I think I might try dried cherries next time. :o)

I'm Still Here...kinda

The girls are back in swimming lessons. 4 days a week, 2 weeks this month. The main instructor is teaching their class which is good, because he is a great teacher. He's also a really tough level 3 instructor. It is going to be a challenge for both girls, but especially for Gabbie. I'm glad that he is pushing them, but they are going to have to work HARD! :o)

AWANAs starts back up in 2 weeks! (teachers go back next week) The girls are super excited. I have mixed feelings. I'm excited for them to go back, but it takes up so much of our Sunday afternoon as a family. And we get little of that time as it is with Tony's schedule. Oh well. I have worked in the high school class for the past 2 years and was planning to be there this year as well. However there were some last minute changes to the teacher schedule and I will now be working in the Cubbies. The commander said they could use another "cat herder" ha ha. I'm used to herding I told them I would move over. I will be doing the wrap up at the end of class every week and presenting awards. Along with the "herding" of course. I'm excited. I think it will be a fun change. I enjoyed being in the high school room before since I heard cats all day long, but I really do think that this will be fun. The guy that I worked with last year was moved to another class, so getting into a smooth routine with someone else would have taken a bit of work anyway. And since we will only be there for part of the year this will be better. There are a lot more Cubbie leaders, so loosing me from that class will be easier then from a class where I am 1 of only one or two other leaders.

School is keeping me busy in the mornings. Gabbie likes doing it every day unlike last year, which is great, but makes me extra busy. And there is also a 1 year old crawling all over the place...mornings are crazy around here.

I am hoping to join one of the PWOC (Protestant Women of the Chapel) groups here this year also. It's a ladies Bible study group that meets at military chapels all over the world. From what I've seen it's a pretty good group, and the one here has some nice retreats! Not sure If we will be here for the one this year or not. It meets on Wednesdays at 8:30. Hopefully I can get 3 kids ready and out the door that early! Our Bible study house has a women's Bible study group that meets on Monday nights...but being out late with 3 girls by myself, and then having to get 3 tired cranky girls to bed by myself is not fun! By the time I get them all to bed me going to Bible study was pointless. ;o) So even though this one is really early, I'm hoping that it will fit our schedule better. I have our school lesson plans set up for 4 days a week. It works well. they get everything done that they need to, but we have a day of flexibility also. I need that.

I guess that's all the updating I can do for now. One of the big girls left the gate open to the playroom and it sounds like Savannah is in there destroying things. And Gabbie is super tired and "Can't walk" upstairs. Sigh....see why no one ever hears from me??! LOL!

A Schedule

In order for me to kinda stay on top of-or at least not fall too far behind on my housework I have to have a daily chore chart for myself. :o) It helps me to make sure I get everything done that needs to be done, and not get too far behind, so it doesn't take very long.

Daily chore:
School (of course)
Vacuum downstairs
laundry (there is pretty much always some kind of laundry to wash!)
clean kitchen and pick up random clutter

Clean Downstairs bathroom
My sheets and room
Mop downstairs
Dust (The girls' chore)

Clean girls' room and wash their sheets (They help)

My bathroom
mop downstairs

Girls bathroom
Vacuum and dust stairs

Mop downstairs
project day (SUPPOSED to be finishing the girls' quilts....)

It is a lot harder to get my upstairs chores accomplished when I'm working around 2 people sleeping/napping during the day. :o/ I'm not 100% successful every week on sticking to my schedule like I should, but I do pretty good.Seems like someone is always sleeping around here! The list helps me fell better knowing that I have most of it covered, and it doesn't take long when I break it up like this.