Category Archives: South Dakota

Ugly Christmas Sweaters

We have finally ordered ugly Christmas sweaters for everyone and they are awesome.

Ron – His favorite Christmas movie is A Christmas Story, so the leg lamp was perfect for him.

Amanda – I’m actually wearing an old sweatshirt of my mother’s.  It is very comfortable and I kind of hate that it’s considered an “ugly” sweater.  I secretly love it… well, that’s not a secret anymore!  Jango loves his ugly sweater, and he loves to wear it

Chyna – She found this cute “ugly sweater” dress on amazon, and I actually like it.

Price – Star wars is completely fitting for him.  He loves his sweater.  I love how the light-sabers light up.

Wesley – Mario!  He was Mario for Halloween one year, and has always loved Mario.  His sweater is super cute.

This is my favorite family picture… I love it!

Journey Museum

Wesley and I attended a program at the Journey Museum with our homeschool group.  It was called Aviation History.  The teacher talked to them about the history of aviation, specifically what impact Rapid City and Ellsworth Air Force Base had on the advancements of aviation.  It was really interesting, and then the children were given lots of supplies and told to try to make an airplane.

Wesley made one airplane with a lot of the supplies and named it Lady Bug because it looked like the open wings of a lady bug.  The second one was made with paper and two straws.  That one twirled a lot when it was flying, so he named it Grayson (like Dick Grayson, Robin, from Batman)

After they finished making the airplanes, they brought them out of the classroom and threw them off of the balcony of the museum and watched them all hit the floor.

He had a wonderful time and couldn’t wait to get home and show everyone his airplanes!!!


October 2017 – Recap

October was more settled for all of us and we had a wonderful month exploring our new place and seeing some of the most beautiful sights God made for us.  Fall in the Black Hills really is a beautiful sight.


  • is loving his jujitsu…  He had his first rank test and is now a second degree white belt.  No pictures from class this time because I haven’t gone to watch him again.
  • Ron and I went to one of the chaplain assistant’s house for their gender reveal party.  They already have a precious boy and girl and found out at the party that they are having another girl!!  It was such a cute party and I loved seeing everyone so excited!
  • He also found out that his promotion to Major won’t happen until he is deployed next year.  So we will have a congratulations party here before he leaves.
  • He’s getting settled in at the chapel more and more, and the only downside right now is that he doesn’t have his own permanent office so a lot of his books and office things are still boxed up in the garage.
  • We invited the chapel family over for a Halloween party.  Not with costumes or anything, just with cute Halloween themed food and to get to know everyone better.  We haven’t been a chapel with this many chaplains and staff members before, so we thought this was the best way to get to know them.
  • Ron is loving what he does here, and he preached for the first time last Sunday.  This chapel family is really great!


October was such a great time for me.  I had some new experiences (i.e. mammogram) and learned that some things that you think will be scary aren’t as bad as you thought!  I have been brainstorming cool things to do while Ron is deployed next year, and I spent a lot of my time plotting a giant roadtrip to visit all of our friends and family all around the US.  If I missed you in my plotting, let me know and we will make sure we stop by to say hi.  Also, we are asking everyone to let us spend the night or tell us where we can camp out.  We are trying to do this trip as cheaply as possible!  I was also able to go to Lake Tahoe and meet with friends I haven’t seen in a while.  We haven’t been all together in almost 3 years, and it was a blast to see them again.  We had so much fun taking hikes and exploring a beautiful place we’d never been to before.  I am so thankful that we were all able to get away.  We all have wonderful families who let us go and spend time together.  I’m excited for next month as well.  I can’t wait to do more planning on my road trip and explore more of the area around where we live.  

Our route has changed a little since this, but this is the basic trip, and I don’t want to give away too much just yet!



Chyna has been working at Target for a month now.  She was initially trained at Starbucks in Target, but then they trained her to work at their Food Avenue area, as well as being a cashier at Target and working the self-checkout area.  She’s been really busy with this, but she also has started taking online classes.  She called Animal Behavior College after we found out about them online, and they told her about the process for a Vet Assistant program they have.  She used her own money to pay for the class up front (they gave her a big discount for paying for the whole thing).  She’s already started the online portion, but she is waiting for her books and scrubs to get here for some of her other classes.  She is doing a great job working and going to school.  She finished her animal CPR certification first thing and she’s doing as much online as she can until her books get here.  


Price loves birds.  I’m sure if you’ve spent time with him or talked to him for a while you know that he wants to work with birds of prey.  That means, owls, hawks, falcons, and birds like that… predators… so when he found out that the Black Hills Raptor Rescue would be coming to Wesley’s cub scout pack meeting, he immediately said he wanted to go.  He watched the presentation and then followed them out to the parking lot to ask how old he would have to be to work with them.  The great news for him was that he can start volunteering with them when he is 14.  He can’t wait for March to get here now and I’m sure that’s where I will take him for his 14th birthday.   He also attended a campout with Ron and Wesley where the temperature dropped below freezing and they woke up with ice on their tent.  



Wesley has been involved in quite a few cub scout events this month.  He is finishing up his last year in cub scouts and will be making the transition to boy scouts in January of next year.  He sold popcorn with some of the other scouts and then did some shooting during the campout with his pack.


October gave us our first little bit of snow since moving here, even though it was so tiny we can barely see it on our pictures.  We also got to see a house decorated with lights for Halloween.  We had a great time at the Halloween Night Hike at Custer State Park, and we had a wonderful Halloween Night!  Can’t wait to see everyone else’s costumes.  We couldn’t pick just one costume for Jango, so he had wardrobe changes all night!!

Goodbye October!


House Projects: Kitchen

I didn’t get to do anything on the kitchen this time, but I took some pics and I’m trying to start planning what I want to do.  I’m also taking suggestions, so feel free to comment below what your ideas are.

I got the new curtain for the kitchen window and my first live plant.  It’s a mum, and I’m hoping I don’t kill it.  I need two smaller plants on the other side, and I’m thinking about some succulents so I won’t have to remember to water them as much.

I got the pot for the mum from Michael’s and got some paints and just did random brush strokes with very little paint on the brush.  I wanted to bring some blue and yellow in, but I didn’t want it to be covered.

I’m thinking my big project in the kitchen is going to be the kitchen cabinets.  I’m too scared to do anything with them yet, but I’ve seen some cute things on pinterest, so I have some ideas bouncing around in my head.

Here are some pictures of the layout of the kitchen.  Projects coming in the future!!

Weekend Adventure

I love to do things as a family.  Everyone who lives here can tell you that I love for us to all be together.  Even if we are all just sitting around watching Psych (the best TV show ever!)

Anyway, I love togetherness!  I also like to get outside and do things!  If I can mix the two things, it’s usually a perfect day.  However, since Chyna is now working, her schedule doesn’t always work with event schedules, and this time it resulted in her missing out on an awesome day of adventures!

  • First stop – We went to the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site and participated in their celebration of the Sputnik satellite anniversary.  Since the “space race” began with that launch, and the minuteman missile program is a direct result of that, they held some events this past weekend to commemorate the event.  At the visitor’s center, they have a pretty cool little museum of what life was like for the workers on the missile programs.

  • Second Stop –  one of the missile silos.  The tour guide was a man who worked on the minuteman missile program.  He gave us lots of interesting information and explained how all of it worked (except the secret stuff he said he couldn’t tell us about! 🙂  He said that everything inside was exactly as it was when the program was removed.  The missile is a fake, but the rest is all the same.  It was really interesting to us, but the boys were a little disappointed that we couldn’t go inside the silo.  There is another one near the base that we can go in for a tour, so I’m sure we will be doing that soon since we are all now interested in how it all works.


  • Third Stop – Badlands National Park.  This was actually between the Missile visitor’s center and Wall, so we decided to drive through.  It is beautiful here, and if you’ve ever been to the badlands in NM and AZ, it looks similar.  I couldn’t stop taking pictures of it.  We found lots of hiking area too, so we will definitely be coming back here to hike.


  • Fourth stop – Wall, South Dakota.  If you’ve ever driven anywhere in this area of the country, then I’m sure you’ve seen a sign on the side of the road for Wall Drug.  We had a great time walking around this place.  It is huge and much more than a drug store.  It started as a drug store, but it has expanded to include just about anything and everything you’re looking for in the way of a tourist trap.  We stopped here for lunch and to walk around before we headed back home.  It was so cool, and we all said “we have to bring Chyna back here” multiple times.  We had a great time here!


It’s October!

I’m trying a new tradition of decorating our dining room table for each month.  I’m not doing much, and mostly using things I have around the house, or things I can get from the Dollar Tree.  Here is what I did for October…

I got the black trees from target.  I already had the glass vases.  I got the rocks, eyeballs, and spiders from the Dollar Tree.  I put them all together on Satuday night so that on October first I could get up earlier than everyone else (like I do anyway), and get the table all ready for them to come in and see it.  I was very pleased with everyone’s reactions.  They all liked it and discussed when they thought I did it (the night before or early in the morning).  Anyway, I like how it turned out.

I also decided to make a dessert for the first day of the month that was themed also.  I let Wesley and Price help me pick it out and they wanted this Chocolate Chip/Riece’s Pieces Cookie with Eyeballs!  It was really yummy and lasted us three days!  I can’t wait for November!  I’m looking for ideas now for my table and the dessert!

September 2017 – Recap

September 2017

was a time of transition for us.  

We had already technically moved into our new house, but we didn’t have any furniture.  We were just starting to get out and explore the new place we live.  Everyone is stepping outside of their comfort zones and trying to put ourselves “out there” and meet people.


is loving his jujitsu class that he’s been taking.  It’s twice a week, so I’m not thrilled about that, but at least he still gets to eat dinner with everyone before he has to leave.  He is settling in at his new assignment and even arranged for the whole family to take a tour of one of his bomb squadrons.  (Sorry, we weren’t allowed to take pictures!)  We learned so much about the B-Ones and lots of stuff they are capable of doing from some guys who really love their jobs.  You can tell by the look on their faces as they discuss the aircraft that they really enjoy what they do.  We see the bombers flying over our house all the time, but now we know what the cockpit looks like and what a few of the people inside look like.  It makes it more personal.  Ron also found out that he will be promoting to Major!  He has worked so hard for the last 8 years and we are all so proud of his accomplishment.  He also found out this month that he will be deploying in the spring of 2018.  Not the best news for us, but a different way to serve God through the military, so we are going to be okay with it.

Ron at jujitsu class…


has been attending every event I(she) can find where other women might be.  I don’t want to wait around for a year or two before I make connections like I sometimes do after a move.  I want to find my people here and start making memories and getting the support I need while we are here.  I’ve attended a spouse event on base, a bible study in someone’s home, and a couple of homeschooling events.  I’m putting myself out there even though it’s scary to make that initial contact, I know it’s going to be worth it with the connections I’m making.  I’m also trying to make the house feel like our home with decorations and projects that I will hopefully be posting about in the future.


Slowly getting everything just like we want it!


There won’t be as many “Chillin’ with Chyna” posts as before since her life just got a LOT more hectic!!  She started working at Starbucks in September.  She’s working full-time right now, but her hours will likely change when she starts taking classes.  She still has her driving permit, but in order to get her license here, she has to take driver’s education class.  This will bring down her insurance, so we’re happier about the class than she is! 🙂  She might not get to start this until the new year because there is a waiting list for the class through the end of 2017!



has been very willing to step out of his comfort zone including more than one homeschool outing where he knew no one and still just joined right in like the extrovert that he is NOT!   He wanted to try a martial art, but quickly decided that really wasn’t for him.  He tried a trampoline and tumbling class that he loves and will continue to do that.  He even used his own money and went to a Magic the Gathering tournament where he knew no one.  It didn’t go like he thought it would, but he didn’t give up and he went back the next day to take a lesson about the game and learn the rules for a tournament.  He’s excited to keep doing these tournaments on Friday nights.  He has spoken with the people who work with the birds at Reptile Gardens, and they told him that he can’t volunteer or intern with them, but there is a Black Hills Raptor rescue that does take volunteers and interns, so he has a new goal for October, to talk to them and see how old he has to be to work with birds of prey.  He’s really doing a great job of stepping out!

Homeschool PE
Homeschool PE
Homeschool PE on base!


is always our source of all the worst puns and jokes he can find!   He has been enjoying the homeschool outings this month and just loving all the new adventures we’ve been having.  He has an old cell phone that isn’t very useful for a phone (it can’t make calls or text), but he has used the camera a lot and does a great job of taking pictures of the places we go and the things we see.  He is really good at getting angles I don’t see when I’m taking pictures.  He’s really liking this new place and especially his ninja classes at the local gymnastics place.  I think he’s going to be trying out their trampoline and tumbling class as well, so we’ll see which he likes more.  He’s also wanting to start making minecraft videos for youtube showing how he builds the things he does on the game.  He’s great at looking at a picture on a screen and turning it into a 3-d model on minecraft.  I have to figure out the editing process first, and then he will start posting videos.

Ready to go to Ninja Class!
Wesley is the one flipping…








Minecraft Art!

Overall, we’ve done a lot this month… here are some of the things we did…

Wesley and Amanda went to an event at Storybook Island
Storybook Island “His eyes are terrifying!!
First time Wesley had seen hail (that he could remember!)
We had two visits to Reptile Gardens in September
Reptile Gardens
Reptile Gardens
South Dakota Air and Space Museum
Air and Space Museum
Our first Sunday at Ellsworth AFB Chapel
Great weekend with the Chapel staff, including a ride on the 1880 Train!
We did take a picture inside the bomb squadron building. The THUNDERBIRDS!
Cub Scout Flag Ceremony
Price joined the cub scouts in raising a flag for a grand opening ceremony at a grocery store.
The movers from Maryland who had our washer and dryer in storage for the last two years didn’t pack them very well, and they were both broken when they arrived here.
So we got shiny new ones!

September was a great month!!  Can’t wait to see what adventures come our way in October!!