Saturday, December 31, 2011

Back! And Santa arrived!

Secret Santa that is!

Tonight we made it back to Albuquerque! It is wonderful to be back in my own house, surrounded by my own things and sleep in my own bed. We were treated great over at the MiL's house... but there is no place like home!

My friend Tegan picked us up and brought us home where she had even provided us dinner. And since the kids were asking for her, I picked up Maya shortly after arriving.

Another awesome highlight to arriving home was that my gift from my MilSpouse Secret Santa was waiting for me! I had signed up to participate through Wife of a Sailor (who is amazing for setting this up again this year). I had the name of a blogger I hadn't been following and have since found to write quite a fun blog -- Awesome Alli.

My secret Santa was Lisa from "must be doin' somethin' right..."

I haven't been a follower but after stopping by her blog I might just have to stick around!

I say she did great with my gift. My favorite m&ms will likely be gone soon and I am refusing to share! And who wouldn't be thrilled with the chance to get things from iTunes. Lisa... my iPhone thanks you!


And speaking of iPhone... Since I'm posting from it I will have to add all my links later.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Pacific Northwest

Thanks to my brother complaining how I have not updated in "forever" I decided I needed to blog again.

We are currently in Washington state for the hoidays. All you New Mexico people be warned -- my home is being monitored so there's no theivery gonna happen there!

The weather has been beautiful and amazingly dry.

I must say that Washington is truly green. I think it took living in the desert for a year to really appreciate the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest. The mountains are large, purple and capped with snow. Driving down the road I had a perfect view with the foggy haze wafting throughout the hillsides of evergreens. Gorgeous! I even got to see Mt. Rainier the other day.

Not sure what all is planned for the trip. Lots of visiting family. Maybe get some friends in there too.

AND-- I'm nearly done with my Christmas shopping. I only have 1 person left to buy for and I have no flippin' clue what he wants.

Oh yeah! Before we left Albuquerque, I was involved with our church Christmas performance. I was amazed by how well it went... and I even remembered all my lines. Go me! Even made a few new friends.

That's my brief update for now. If I don't blog until after the holidays I hope you all have a safe and Merry Christmas with blessings in the New Year!




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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Life after a Dead Tree

I was recently contacted by Care.com (linked to their military page) to share about some the of challenges of being a military spouse during the holidays. Their site contains several resources for military families to connect and find support as well as tips and tricks on dealing with the holidays during deployments, homecomings, and being far from family. Check out the Holiday Boot Camp for the Military Spouse to read advice and stories on how others have dealt with their situations. There's also a wonderful resource on Getting Through the Holidays Alone.

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Let's be honest.

Sometimes going through the holidays as a military spouse can be hard. Thankfully, after moving back to the states it has been better since we have been able to fly home to spend time with our families.

That wasn't always the case and may not be in the future either.

Let me take you back to my first Christmas as a military spouse.

I was 20 years old and had been married for about nine months. We had just moved to JAPAN less than four months before the holiday. Those early dreams I had of Christmas with stockings by a fireplace, cutting down our own Christmas tree, beautiful decorations, visiting family... those all went away pretty quick.

Our base housing did not have fireplaces. In fact, we were 6 floors up in a tower. The only Christmas trees available were fake expensive ones at the BX-tra, teensy-tiny ones off-base, or the pre-cut real ones.

We opted for one of the real ones. "Fresh" pine smell filling the house and a sense of home. I mean, we just moved from the Pacific Northwest!

What I learned later is that the trees were cut down before Thanksgiving and literally shipped to Japan from the states. They weren't exactly "fresh" by any means. By the time Christmas actually arrived we had been avoiding walking by the tree for days. Just the rush of air would send those needles shedding to the floor. It was so very, very sad.

Also what we learned that year is the BX would put out their Christmas decorations BEFORE Halloween. If you waited until after Thanksgiving to get your decorations for your first Christmas you were out of luck. And on that note: if a store no longer has hooks for your decorations, paper clips do just as well.

I was fairly depressed that year. Coming from a HUGE family that fully celebrates Christmas I was nearly devastated to only have my husband at the house while living in a foreign country with a sad, dead Christmas tree on Christmas Day.

Yes, tears were shed. Phone calls from family back home just made me more homesick.

To make me feel better, after Christmas, when all those beautiful fake trees went clearance, Ryan and I snatched up a lovely one for ourselves (and we still have it).

Since that year we have had other memorable Christmases; some good and some bad. We have made attempts to truly make each year better -- getting the fake tree helped! One year we even took a mini getaway during Christmas. Now that we have kids we are more invested in our own family traditions which really makes the season fun. Being involved in activities is also a great way to improve on a Christmas away from family. Volunteering with church productions, baking cookies for single airmen in the base dorms, inviting friends over for dinner/parties, looking at Christmas light displays, and often there are local seasonal experiences such as seeing the Nutcracker, going to a Tree Lighting, and caroling at retirement homes which all help make the Christmas holiday brighter.

It may not replace being near family when you're far away but I have personally found several of these options to increase the joy of the season. They also make for great memories!



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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Time to Share the NEWS!

It's time I share our news:

Ryan has been accepted to the Masters in Applied Physics program at AFIT!

This is a GREAT step for his career and what he has been wanting to do. I'm so proud of him for being accepted!

For those of you who do not know what AFIT is, it stands for Air Force Institute of Technology. It is the graduate level school for this branch of service (though other branches can also apply) and it offers accelerated and strenuous educational degrees. It is no cake walk. I heard that a small percentage of those who apply are actually accepted.

When he came home with the news I was thrilled. Then came the pain -- we are leaving here in about 5 months.

Ouch. When he said that it felt like somebody slapped my heart. I literally cringed and tears brimmed in my eyes.

I knew, if accepted, we would be moving to Ohio. What I had not mentally prepared myself for was how soon it would happen. I was expecting the summer at the earliest and possibly fall. That is not what happened.

For a day or so I was bummed. I immediately start thinking of the great friends I'll leave behind, finding a new place to live, making sure Will gets the services he requires, re-creating a support system of people who can be relied on, settling into a new church... everything that goes with moving besides the actual physial part of moving.

Anyway, I was driving Will to school a day or so later after receiving the news and stewing over what I just mentioned when, I'm telling you, God spoke to my heart.

In the past I've believed God has spoken to me, but it has never been so clear and precise. It was simple yet piercing...

"Don't you trust me?"

Wow. That's all I needed to hear. I have been praying for my husband to get into this program. Our other alternatives of him obtaining his Masters would take many more years... and we also had deployments hanging over our head. This is what we wanted. Why was I being such a whiner about it? I know that we will always be taken care of and that God is the one who truly dictates our military orders... where was my faith?

Needless to say, my attitude has totally changed since that personal encounter. I earnestly began talking with friends who were stationed at the base previously. Also, through a friend, I got connected with a woman who is currently stationed there while her husband is at AFIT and she has 2 kids the same age as mine. After the first of the year I really plan on finding out more of what I should expect and slowly begin the organizing/packing/cleaning process.

I still feel the sadness of leaving behind friends. As a military spouse it kind of comes with the job... but there's a chance two of my current friends will be following us later this year (which would be awesome). And it is very possible we can return to Albuquerque in a few years!

So that's what's going on here. Keep us in your prayers.

And have any of you ever been to Dayton??



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Friday, December 9, 2011

Worst Bad Mommy Moment to Date

I needed to blog about this since I'm still sort of reeling from the experience.

I locked my kids and the dog in my running vehicle.

Yes, yes I did.

On ACCIDENT!

Usually I park in front of the pre-school while Lana and I wait for Will's class to walk out to the bus. I meet him once they leave the gated area. From there I put him in his carseat, buckle him in, hop back in the driver's seat and head on home.

Today it started out right. We parked. I still have the car running to keep the inside warm since it is in the mid-30s. Lana is happily drinking her juice while completely strapped in her carseat and the dog is looking out the front passenger window at all the people and kids loading the bus.

Will's class comes into view. I hop out of the car (unlocking all doors like I always do) and partially close the door so the dog can't jump out. I ask the teacher how Will's day went and hold Will's hand as we cross the single parking space between the sidewalk and my car door.

Then there's a change. The teacher assistant stops me as I'm putting Will in the car to ask me about fixing a ripped seam on a purse. She says she'll bring it for me to look at on Monday. I agree. While we're talking Will gets into the front passenger seat and begins messing with the visor mirror and unbeknownst to me -- LOCKS ALL THE DOORS!

We say goodbye as I climb into the car to grab Will and put him in his carseat. I firmly buckle him in and shut the door.

I then try to open my door -- LOCKED. His door -- LOCKED. I look through the window and see both other doors are locked as well. I tap on the window and see if Will can reach his lock. Of course not, he's totally strapped in his carseat and cannot reach. He doesn't know how to unbuckle himself either.

The other preschool teachers see what is happening and rush over to help. Nobody has a wire hanger. My phone is locked in the car along with my keys (still in the ignition). Will's teacher calls the school maintenance to see if they can help. Another teacher tries to reach Ryan on his cell phone, to no avail. As we all stand there wondering what to do, another teacher offers the idea of calling the ABQ Police non-emergency line. Since children are locked in a car they would probably respond quickly. I agree.

I get on the line and tell them what happened, give them the description of my van, my physical description, and our location. She asks about how the kids are and I tell her they are fine. They're just sitting in their seats, drinking their juice, and probably wondering what the heck is taking so long. Then Lana starts crying. I mention this to one of the teachers and the emergency lady on the phone starts asking what happened and why she's crying. Alanna had drank all her juice and wanted more.

Oddly enough I'm not completely freaking out through all of this. Yes, I'm concerned, but at least it happened in a safe area with plenty of people to help. The inside of the car is toasty warm so I'm not afraid of them getting cold. I've got enough gas to keep the car running for quite some time.

Soon enough the cop arrives. I briefly explain what happened again and he looks through the windows.

"Oh, you've got a dog in there too."
"Yeah. Don't worry, she's friendly." (Was this information necessary??)

He's happy to see that my driver's door is not completely shut so he easily puts the wedge in there and is able to pop the lock real quick.

I immediately unlock all the doors and check on my babies.

Of course, they're fine. Completely unphased. Thank God!

I thank the cop repeatedly, say goodbye to Will's teacher who waited with me, and happily climb back in the driver's seat and head on home.

On the drive I still can't get a hold of Ryan so I call my sister so I can tell SOMEBODY what happened.

Before we get home, Alanna has completely passed out in her seat. Apparently the ordeal was exhausting for her.

I was always afraid something like this would happen... we all survived okay though. I hope I never experience it again!



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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Season Festivities

I am DETERMINED! I don't care if it's after midnight... I'm going to blog, dangit!

So, it's Christmas time and this is turning out to be a fabulous year for the festivities! Our tree is up, stockings hung, Christmas Village set up, even garland and bows are gracing strategic places around the living room.

This year we started a new tradition. The Elf on the Shelf. Our kids have named him Nini and they are so excited every morning to search out and find him. I believe for the first few years he will be well behaved and once the kiddos are older he will become more mischievous when he returns from the North Pole each morning. I can't wait!

Speaking of the Elf on the Shelf... we have the movie. AND... it's the current favorite for the little ones. I can't tell you how many times a day we watch it (70 bajillion), but let me just say it's a lot. "Extravagantalorius" is stuck in my head all the freakin time! help me

The exterior of our home would have been decorated but a major cold front moved into Albuquerque dumping snow and single digit temperatures so it's too cold to be standing out there hanging lights with numb fingers. It can wait.

And with this cold weather we are taking NO CHANCES of our pipes freezing again. Remember what happened last time?? And all the damage?? Ug... I'm not doing that again. So we are leaving all water running pretty much all day long. No, I do not feel wasteful. You go live in temporary lodging for a month because your house got flooded and tell me again to feel guilty about running water!

This year I am behind in my usual work. By this time I usually have our Christmas mail-out done, printed and working on addressing and mailing out. This year I haven't even gotten family or Santa pictures taken yet. I do have a VERY rough draft of our yearly letter though. Between pre-school, therapies, appointments, rehearsals, and other social activities I'm a part of, I don't spend much time on a computer. I'm hoping to go to the River of Lights at the BioPark soon and maybe we can get a few good pics to include. And I'm also hoping this week to stop by the mall real quick to get the kids' photo with Santa. Ug! I also need to schedule an appointment SOMEWHERE to get family photos done. Goodness gracious!

I don't even want to talk about Christmas Shopping.

Tomorrow is the Christmas Party for PWOC. Our normal Worship Leader will not be able to make it so I have taken her place to lead everyone in the carols. I'm no soprano so I hope they enjoy my falsetto for a couple of the songs. These social times are so much fun for me! Many of my friends did not do the same study as me this session so I haven't spent as much time with them as I have in the past. Some of these women are absolutely amazing -- I'm so happy to know them.

I am looking forward to flying home for Christmas this year. I cannot express to you my joy in going home after a year of being away! Not excited about the rain and the grey sky... but that's what the Pacific Northwest has to offer.

Eventually I hope to catch up on the topics I mentioned in my last post. But that will come later. Yeah, for New Year's maybe I'll blog about Thanksgiving. Haha.


Oh, soon and very soon I have an update to share about an important thing happening in our life. No, it's not a baby.

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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Some blessings

Hello my sweet readers. I know I've been absent lately and I apologize. I honestly have not found myself on the computer all that much. I've even been neglecting Facebook! Shocking!

Thanksgiving was wonderful. I will have to blog about it another time. Same with my Disneyland trip and the Santa Fe Tree Lighting and the crazy dreams I have been having lately and other life stuff going on with pictures.

Tonight I just want to say how blessed I am in my life. It is easy to overlook. And after having a pretty crappy night I think it will be helpful to my sleep to mention some of the good things in my life.

Of course my first thought is of my kids. They are my joy and motivation. My treasured gifts entrusted to me.

My husband is a huge blessing to me. He is a wonderful provider and finds a goal and works hard to reach it.

My family in general. I'm so privileged to have siblings and parents who will be there for me at a moments notice. Like all families we have our quirks and disagreements but we still love each other.

I live in lovely base housing (even if some of the construction is cheap). It is warm (mostly) and its location keeps us safe in a city that is full of crime.

Since moving here I have found a few wonderful friends that I will hopefully cherish the rest of my life. We help and support each other when it is needed. We have fun times together... Even if we are just sitting on the floor with our kids. God really brings the right people into your life at the right time.

Oh! Good health! That is also taken for granted. The last few days my lower back has really been hurting and I just think of others who live in constant pain or difficulties or suffering for years. I can deal with the dull aching and occasional sharp pain for awhile because I know I will be better soon.

I can go on but my mood has already improved and I think I can sleep now. Thanks for reading.


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