***

***

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Day 75

We woke up to a beautiful white world.


I could only hold them off until 9 or so before I was harassed into a morning snow adventure.
It was a perfect day to be out. The sun was out and kept us plenty warm, there was no wind, and it was simply beautiful.




We tromped through the woods in the back of the house, which was especially pretty. Wish I had brought my camera back there, but I had my hands full helping Derek up and down the hills and over the fallen branches.
He is not known for his athleticism.

Or coordination.

But he is awfully charming.


My snow angel.


 Mama's not so good at making snow-people.


Or going to bed at a decent hour.
Or keeping a clean house.
Or saying no to ice cream.

But that's neither here nor there.

Spanish lesson of the day:

La nieve es bonita.

The snow is pretty.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Day 73

Well I guess the good thing about my recent blog-slacking is that we've jumped right into the 70s on my day-counter.
Yep, jumping at the speed of molasses. It feels like Josh has been gone a long time, and we're not even nearing the halfway point.
But the good news is that he's doing well and we're doing well, and we have lots of fun things to look forward to in the next couple of years to make up for this time we're apart.

I suspect that most of you have been keeping busy with the Thanksgiving holiday and preparations for Christmas, and haven't even noticed that I've been a little light on posting lately.

Except for one of you, who keeps giving me grief about it.

He knows who he is.
And he is very handsome despite the furry creature on his upper lip.

We spent the holiday weekend hanging out, letting the cousins play together, gaming, eating, and watching Michigan finally, finally beat Ohio State.
I'm not going to lie.
The food was good-- but the victory was even more satisfying.

However, I may have washed the satisfying victory down with some homemade pumpkin cheesecake.
Can't rightly say.

Over the weekend, I was the butt of quite a few jokes about the way I live in the "dark ages."
There were five adults here, and 4 of them were surfing the 'net on their iPads.
Then there was me and my laptop that can't be unplugged because it wont hold a charge, has a broken backspace key, and gives my lap third degree burns.
They all got a good kick out of that.

And then they noticed my cell phone.

I'm sure I'm not the only one without a smart phone, right?

Or texting.

Right?

(I think I just lost the rest of you there.)

Some of you who harass me about my lack of technology (ahem, Betsy), might be pleased to know that Josh and I were just discussing today that I might upgrade my phone situation.
But the problem is that we'd want to find a phone that can be used in Spain, and Josh wants me to make a few calls and figure that out.

Problemo numero uno-- Erin doesn't like making phone calls. Hello? I'm the one with the pre-paid cell phone that burns my ear if I talk over 15 minutes. Obviously not much of a talker.

Problemo numero dos-- I'm supposed to be asking about things like 3G or 4G and sim cards and...I'm already lost.

So if any of you have the answers to all that, save me the trouble, will ya?

Now that my sister and her crew are back to their home, it's been a little quieter around here.
The kids seem to be adjusting well to all the moving around and changes. They just take each day as it comes, and enjoy the extra attention.
Meanwhile, I enjoy some adult conversation throughout the day, and having someone else able to fix the kids a meal or get them a drink, or help with bath-time. I've definitely been more relaxed.

At home for the last couple of months, by the time bedtime rolls around I am just so done with being the sole caregiver, that I try to get through it as quickly as I can to get some time to decompress.
Here I've been enjoying getting a few extra minutes with Alex to read a book or to snuggle with my little guy. It's been nice.

I do feel a little lazy though, as there just isn't as much that I have to do during the day. I'm going to try not to feel too guilty and store up all the relaxing for the last few months when I'm back to doing it on my own.

Overall, I'm feeling especially thankful this Thanksgiving season for all of the blessings in my life. I have a marriage that can withstand, and even thrive during, a long separation. I have a sweet daughter who is growing into such a precious little girl, a son who brings a smile to my face every day, and a family who is happy to let us disrupt their lives to make ours easier. We have an exciting overseas adventure to look forward to, and most importantly, we rest in the knowledge that we have a hope and a future beyond what this world offers.

I am blessed beyond measure.

And so very thankful.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Merry Thanksgiving

I got this email from my husband this morning:

"Happy thanksgiving.  If I don't have pics today, I'll kill you.  Love you"

Well that wasn't very nice, now was it?

But because it's a holiday, and because I love him, I will provide this picture of my favorite 4-year-old riding a trike on a cold Michigan Thanksgiving morning.



I could eat him up.
If there was any room in my belly.

I'd have a picture of my girlie as well, but she was exploring the far reaches of the driveway, and mama was too cold to wait for her to get back.

  

Here's one of Alex and her cousin Kennedy from last night.


We've all descended upon my Mom & Mark's place for the long weekend.
Yesterday was also Mark's birthday. We had to be creative in the candle department, but the cake tasted good regardless.


He's either 10 or 55. You can guess.

Pretty sure Mark had an awesome birthday.
First I showed up, which makes anyone's day better.
Then we spent the better part of the afternoon hanging out at the Secretary of State. My mom had something she had to do there, and I needed to renew my driver's license while I was still in state.

After waiting in line just to get a number, I received lucky number 94.
The number on the screen at the time was 58.

So that was fun.

And for the third year in a row, he had to pick out his own birthday cake.


But I'm sure my presence more than makes up for that.

Mom and Mark are eating with his family today, and we are all lounging the day away, eating a mini-Thanksgiving meal.
Tomorrow we will indulge in the full meal, so if you don't hear from me it's because I'm in an eating coma.
Hope you all are having a great holiday!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Day 67

I think I need to take Goldsboro, NC off of my weather channel homepage. It's depressing to see 70 degrees and sunny reported when it's actually 39 degrees and raining outside the window.

Why can't my family be from somewhere warmer?

Speaking of family, here are the promised pictures of my sweet little nephew.





He's a smiley little fella.
Except when plopped down between his cousins-- then he is understandably terrified.

Tonight PtB and I will begin gaming. Probably bananagrams so I can assert my dominance.
Then I will leave her in defeat as tomorrow the kids and I are making the trek across the state.

My mom was able to score me an appointment with her hair stylist tomorrow, which is big news if you recollect how many times in the recent past I've complained about needing a haircut.
I've worn a ponytail for the last month or so, because frankly it's been my only option.

In other news...
-- I am still coughing and blowing.
-- Longest lasting cold. Ever.
-- I raked leaves today for almost an hour and barely made a dent.
-- PtB has too many trees.
-- Alex and I have been getting school done in the mornings while Grandma is at work.
-- Derek has been doing a strange robot dance.

Here is a picture of my boys.



That's Josh on the left, and obviously Derek on the right.
It's easy to see that Alex looks a lot like her daddy, but harder for us to see exactly who Derek takes after sometimes. But I thought that they looked quite a bit alike in these photos.
Maybe just the mischievous smiles or the ghetto haircuts given by their mamas.
Josh is older in that picture, so Derek has some more tiny infant baby chub to his face, but I think that he's looking like his daddy.

Which will make some lady very happy in 20 40 years.
Because I have a very handsome husband. Whom I miss.

Hey Joshie, are you getting a turkey dinner on Thanksgiving?
Also, can I call you Joshie on the blog?

Signed,
Schnookums.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Day 65

We made it to Michigan, safe and sound, and with no troubles on the road. Thanks for all your well-wishes!

I'm starting to feel like a true deployment warrior: I have tackled a broken vehicle, broken appliance, two hotel stays, big-city touring, and 1300 miles of road tripping in the past two months. Next up: Surviving 4-ish more months...and my family.

We are visiting first at Pat the Bunny's house and then we will make our way over to my mom's house for Thanksgiving.
I was able to meet my little nephew for the first time (pictures will be forthcoming), and PtB is already up to her old bunny tricks.

She set up an area in her basement where the kids can play, and she bought them some new toys. One of the toys needed a battery, and so she found one and installed it.
Then she determined that the battery was no good and off she went to the store to buy a new one, lest her grandchildren be forced to wait until a more convenient time in which she was, say, already out of the house.

But she would never do that to her sweet grandbabies. They must have their needs met instantaneously, else she would not be fulfilling her grandmotherly duty.

While she was gone, Alex came upstairs and mentioned that we might want to call Grandma and tell her not to bother, because she had flipped the battery so that it was inserted, well... correctly, and the toy was working.

6 year old vs PtB.

Point-- 6 year old.

Pat the Bunny has also been caught talking to someone on the phone, when it was indeed a voicemail she was having a conversation with, and also trying to call in an order to pick up dinner at the Chicken Shack using the remote control.
It's only been 2 days people.

Last night Derek woke up in the middle of the night. I went into his room to see what the problem was and, without turning on the light, asked him what was wrong. He replied that he could not find his pillow.
So I flipped the light on and realized that the reason he couldn't find his pillow was because he was no longer in the bed.
Nope, he was on the floor, with his head resting inside a suitcase.
I can see how that would make pillow-locating a wee bit challenging.
Poor little chap. It's his first foray into the world of full sized beds. Considering that he's just a tiny infant baby toddler, he's naturally been sleeping at home in a toddler bed.
He should fit nicely inside of it until puberty, I think.


So there's my quick update to let you know I've arrived, and soon I promise to be back with pictures.
Oh, and Josh is doing fine as well. The Armed Forces Network was showing the Michigan-Nebraska game yesterday, so he and I snuggled up on the recliner and watched it together.
I asked him to hold my hand, but technology falls just short of that feat. ;)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Halfway

We made it safely to our stopping point today, despite hours of downpours, and even a few patches of snow showers.
A far cry from yesterday's weather when the kids were wearing shorts and I had to turn the air conditioner on in the evening.
It's now a little after 8 and the kids are trying to get to sleep while I hide in the corner with my computer.

I did a much better job of packing a small bag for our one night's stop than the last hotel fiasco, so it was a much simpler process to get checked-in, grab some dinner, and fit in a quick swim.
The swim primarily took place in the hot-tub, but I have no complaints about that.

I plan to try to get to sleep soon as well, if I can fool my body into thinking it's maybe 10:30 instead of 8:30. I'd like to get an early start tomorrow so I can possibly beat the afternoon rush hour in Detroit.

Missing my main squeeze tonight. Road trips aren't the same without you!

Good-night, West Virginia.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Day 63

This will be short, because I took Nyquil about 15 minutes ago. That leaves about 10 minutes until I'm loopy and nonsensical.

Now that I think about it, you probably wont be able to tell much of a difference between my normal blogging and drugged blogging.
And that's not saying much about how y'all spend your free time.

I am feeling better, but still having enough cold symptoms to get away with one more night of Nyquil, especially since I want a good night's sleep before our trip.
We'll be comin' round the mountains driving through the mountains tomorrow on our way north. There will be lots of S-curves and semi trucks chugging up, then flying down the hills.

(That last sentence was for my mom, who gets freaked out by driving in the mountains. Hi, Mom!)

Like every other trip I've ever been on, I planned to have my house clean before leaving.
And like every other trip I've ever been on, that's not going to happen.
But the good news is that when I come home to my unclean house, I will probably be so sick of living with my family that I will be glad to get home, even to a house that's dirty!

Wait. That didn't come out the way I meant it.

What I meant is that I will be so refreshed from time with family, and all that help with the kids, that I will be excited to get home and mop the floor!

Better?
Better.

I'd fill you in on the last couple of days, but really it's been a blur of cold medicines and endless errands. Something like this:
Dayquil, Preschool, Oil Change, Homeschool, Motrin, Change Sheets, Return library books, Nyquil, Dance Class, Get Gas & Air in Tires, Dayquil, Pack, Awanas, Load Van, Nyquil

Oh, and THIS JUST IN:

My dryer is working.

I would have used bold font and underlined it, but I'm still not 100% sure that there is not some other underlying problem that caused the initial problem in the first place.

But let's not take away from the fact that I did, indeed, get my dryer put back together and it is currently able to dry my clothes with a carefully placed fire extinguisher sitting nearby.

Holla.

I will try to update tomorrow from a hotel room somewhere in West Virginia.
Providing that the state of West Virginia knows about the internet and has access to it. You never know about that place.
(Just kidding, Melanie.)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Day 60

Estoy enferma.
I am sick.

I an experiencing the common cold. But I assure you it is uncommonly miserable.

At the risk of sounding like a big baby...I cant sleep, I can't breathe, I can't taste, my nose is red and hurty, I'm tired, I'm cranky, and I want my husband to be home to take care of our children.
I've been resisting the temptation of Nyquil because I worry that I won't hear the kids if they need me, but the thought of a decent night's sleep might be winning out tonight.

Sorry. I'll pull it together now.

I started packing in earnest today and I'm a wee bit overwhelmed with the sheer amount of stuff a trip of this magnitude requires.
If you see me wearing the same things over and over for the next couple months-- I'm considering a less is more mentality in my personal packing.

I've also decided to skip Christmas cards this year. Christmas cards are a big thing among military families, because the annual card and letter is a fun way to keep up with a very mobile crowd. Now that Facebook is around, it's easier to keep tabs on people, but I still like sending out cards and an update.
This year it feels like one more task to accomplish, so I've pulled the plug on it.

It struck me as I was searching for boots and snow pants, hats and mittens, that I'm just a little crazy to be leaving a gorgeous North Carolina fall for a winter-in-progress in Michigan.
The kids played out back for a while today in flip flops and no jackets.
T'was lovely.

Alright, back to packing. And probably some Nyquil.

Sniffle. Sniffle.
Whine.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Day 58

A Veteran's Day List

1) Alex put together this lovely ensemble the other day, and insisted on a photo.


Charming. Especially the shoe choice.

2) After promising Josh some new pictures of the kids, I told them to get together and smile as we were leaving for Awanas.
I asked them to please have mercy on their mama and just stand still and not be silly for 30 seconds.

They gave me 5.

Then this happened.


And this.


And finally this.


Better.

3) For some reason, my husband also requests pictures of me. Maybe because the only times I see him are on Skype when I have bedhead.

Last night there was a squadron coffee, so I snapped an off-centered mirror shot for 2 primary reasons:
-- I fixed my hair
-- I put on makeup

I'm not sure the last time those two things have happened on the same day.


I'm also not sure of the last time those two caterpillars above my eyes have seen the tweezers.

4) Dryer? Who needs a dryer?

Dryers are for the unimaginative.


Why yes, yes there are socks and undies hanging from the foosball table handles.
And no, a tornado did not actually strike our playroom.

The only force of destruction in there is my children. But I will say that they are a force to be reckoned with.


The dryer earning it's keep:

I was optimistic that the part might arrive in the mail today. Until I remembered that the mail doesn't come on Veteran's Day.

5) I've been trying to spend a couple of hours each evening working on Spanish. I have access through the Air Force to a couple of different language learning programs, and I've found lots of online resources too.
So if I don't start a new Words with Friends game with you, it's because I'm enriching my mind.
One taco at a time.

6) Happy Veteran's Day to my hubby who celebrated by flying the friendly skies of Afghanistan.
Except minus the friendly part.
Also, I heard that the chow hall celebrated with a root beer float stand and surf-n-turf.

Though the turf was fried shrimp. Not sure if that really counts.

Are they crazy party animals out there, or what?

Love you baby! I'm so proud of what you do for our country.
And of the way you look in a flight suit.

And out of a flight suit.

But let's keep it PG around here.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Day 55

Hola.

All of a sudden I'm feeling a pressing need to learn Spanish.
The good news-- I have about a year and half to learn it.
The bad news-- It seems kinda hard.

Tonight I tried to order my food in Spanish at Taco Tuesday.
Or, Taco Martes.

Good thing the word "taco" is universal.

We had a busy day with lots of errands. I missed talking to Josh because we were out of the house, and by the time we got home he'd had to go to sleep.

When we first joined the Air Force, typical deployments were 4 months long. Now 6 months is the norm, and frankly that's kind of a bummer.
If it were a 4 month deployment, we would be almost to the halfway point.

Instead we have a mutual agreement not to talk about "when you get home" kind of things because it's still too far away.
Hopefully we'll both stay busy enough to help the time go by, and with learn a new language added to our to-do list, it should help.

Josh has a really short list.
1) Stay alive.
2) Learn Spanish.

Easy breezy.

I think it's hitting me, just now, how much I have to do between now and next week when we leave for Michigan.

Oh, and the dryer is still a work in progress. I conceded that I needed outside help in the form of someone who had, and knew how to use, a multi-meter to check the many different thermostats and thermal fuses that live behind my dryer.
I have learned more than I ever thought I would about this particular home appliance.
So now the troublesome part has been identified and is en route to my home.

Keep your fingers crossed that this takes care of the problem.
Or else I'm going to be showing up to PtB's house with a van-full of dirty laundry.

In keeping with the random tone of this post, can you guess who this little sweetie is?


Here's a hint.


I love babies that don't live at my house.
I'm sad that Camille, and the rest of her family, are going to be leaving next week for their assignment in California.

Saying goodbye to friends is another tough part of this lifestyle. But having the opportunity to make good friends is a perk. There is nothing like a military community for turning new acquaintances into "family" at a rapid pace. 
There isn't any time to lose, after all. 
If you haven't just arrived, you're probably on your way out. 

It will likely be several weeks before we get our RNLTD (report no later than date) for language school, but there's some possibility that we'll be pulling out of here before we reach the 2 year mark in North Carolina. 

It's definitely an adventure. 



I think I've rambled pointlessly long enough. 
Josh, new pictures tomorrow. 
Promise. 


Note to self: take some pictures tomorrow.


Adios.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Day 52

If my guess of around 200 days is right, then we are past the 1/4 mark for the deployment.
So that's something.
small.

Alex came out of her quiet time with this letter for me to send to Josh. I thought it was sweet.
I introduced her to what a colon is (the punctuation, not the body part), but I think she may have gotten a little confused in how to use it. She's colon-happy.



I'll try to help with some of the less-recognizable words--
Dear, Daddy I love you. And I miss you. I wiss (wish) you dont have to go on a log (long) trip.We are praying fir you. I hope you fite the bad gise beycass taye muyt fily thaw allplan in to a nuttl big bilidin: agin. (fight the bad guys because they might fly their airplane into another big building again)
You must be sad beycass you miss us: But you Dote (don't) have to miss us: Beycass we miss you: insted.
We can't waite for you to cum home!
You love me: just like I love you! In 13 Days in to we go to missigin (Michigan)
We love yuir job.
Have fun.
I like yore not. (note)
This wuss a lag (long) note.
Have a fun Day.
Love Alex

She's not exactly a poster child for homeschooling, now is she? ;)
But she does love her Daddy.

And we're working on the whole u-looks-like-an-a thing.


In other news-- I have not succeeded in my dryer repair. But I haven't given up.

Though I probably should.


Also: Spain!

So we got our next assignment and could not be happier about getting an awesome opportunity to live in Madrid for a year! 
It's a little hard to explain to my non-Air Force friends, but I'll give it a try.

As a major in the Air Force, you apply to attend a school for professional development. It's called Air Command & Staff College. It is one year long, and located at an Air Force base in Alabama.
There are also several non-traditional school spots available to attend the school of a different service (Army, Navy, Marines, etc.), some spots to attend other colleges in the U.S., and several foreign countries who each offer one spot in their schools. It's kind of a like a foreign-exchange program for the Air Force.
We were fortunate enough to be selected for one of those, and so Josh will be going to the Spanish Air Force's school in Madrid.
The classes are taught entirely in Spanish, so he will have his work cut out for him.
We will leave here sometime in the summer or early fall for Josh to attend language school in Monterey, CA. We're not sure of all the details, but our best guess is that we'll be there around 9 months or so. Then we will leave for Spain in the summer of 2013. The school is one year long, and we don't have any idea where we'll be sent after that.

Clear as mud?

Got questions?
Me too! ;)

I leave you with this little excerpt from Josh's letter to Derek.
Ever wonder what a daddy writes to his 4 year old?

I think Josh's handwriting is worse than his daughter's so I'll translate this one too.

Try to remember your three special steps before peeing.
1) Put the lid up.
2) Pull your pants down.
3) Make sure your penis isn't stuck to your balls (HINT: it always is)

Thanks for backing me up, honey. That's long-distance parenting at its finest.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday Night Trivia

Let's play a little game of True or False, all about me.
Narcissistic much?

Here is a handy dandy list of things that may, or may not, be true.
Your job is to keep track of how many you think are true. 

I went streaking in college...twice.
I know all the names of the Duggar children, in order.
I like hard boiled eggs.
I have jumped out of an airplane 5 times.
I am moving to Spain.
I have never gotten a speeding ticket.
I know a ridiculous amount of lyrics from 90's rap songs.
As a child, I would pretend to be a dog while in public to embarrass my sister.
I would also do that at home.
Sometimes I would pretend to pee on the potted plants.
My parents wouldn't let us have a dog.
They also never offered to take me to counseling, which in retrospect I might have needed.
I'm driving to Michigan in less than two weeks.
In 1989 McDonald's gave out records of their menu set to a song. I memorized it and can still sing it.

Alright.
Game over.

How many did you count that are true?

I'll give you a hint...









They're ALL true.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Day 50

Who says you can't play board games with your kids when you're in Afghanistan?



You just need someone to move your turtle for you and you're all set.

I heart Skype.


In other news, we are at Day 50 and so far the minivan has broken and the next victim was the dryer.
The other night I went to check on a load and realized that while it was tumbling, it was not heating.

So I thought I'd try to fix it.

Raise your hand if you think I'm in over my head.

How about now?

Any doubt remaining?

You can put your hands down now.

I'll let you know how things pan out.
I ordered some parts online, and I'm waiting to receive them.

In the meantime, we're just wearing the same underwear over and over so as not to accumulate a lot of laundry. Those undies just take up so much space, you know.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Day 48

Gangsta.


He's one tough dude.



No, Derek. Don't ruin it.

Don't go cheeseball on me.



He went cheeseball.
Happy gangsta?

Today is Tuesday. I know because I can smell my salsa breath.


Derek received his bus education this morning.
It would be awesome if they taught him how to work on the engine. Everyone can use a trade.

But I think they were just going over the letter C.

Alex and I opted for school a la McDonalds.


Because I was in need of that tall, tall cup of iced coffee you see there.
And Alex was in need of a peppermint hot chocolate with whipped cream and fudge drizzles.

They actually gave me the wrong drink to start with-- I realized just in time that she was about to down a peppermint mocha.
That wouldn't have been good for anyone.

Namely, me.

After dinner tonight, we walked down to Fruitti Yogurt, a newish place that opened up in the same shopping center as La Paz, made famous by Taco Tuesday.
(Some of you are just now getting my salsa breath remark.)


You fill your own cup and choose from about a hundred different toppings. Weigh & Pay.

Kiddies like it.

They even have a non-dairy option for the happy gangsta.


When we were driving home, Alex was singing along with the song on the radio and she said that it was her favorite song from church. She told me that she knew all the motions that they do during kids church.
So I told her that once we got home, I would find the song on the computer (Do you grooveshark? You should.) and she could show me.

Well.
I was not quite prepared for what was coming.

A few things:
1) If she dances like this at church, then she is never going to a club.
2) It seems I found some pants of appropriate length, but now need to work on shirts.
3) What's with the hip action?
4) I love her.

video