I cannot believe I forgot to share all of the pictures from my trip to Lake Tahoe. Kim, Cristina, and I all met while we were stationed at Fort Meade in Maryland. Kim’s family is civilian and Cristina’s family is army. That doesn’t matter except that it means Kim is still in MD, while we’ve since moved to Spain and now South Dakota and Cristina has moved to Georgia and now Hawaii, so it’s been a while since we’ve all been together. Two years ago we were talking about meeting when we moved back stateside. So, we tried to pick a place kind of in the middle between MD and HI… and we settled on Las Vegas. We decided not to go there because we couldn’t find a cheap place to stay. We have points in a condo system, and we were able to find a place on Lake Tahoe for a few points, so that’s what we decided to do.
It turned out to be the best time because the weather was warm, especially for October. Cristina has lived in HI too long because she was freezing in the 60-70 degree weather. But we had a great time hiking, eating, and just hanging out. I miss them so much.
I know I’ve said it before, and I guess I’m going to continue to talk about it until I find someone with a solution to the problem, but people in the military don’t have true community. We might find it for months at a time, but that lifelong connection with people, raising your children together, and going through life together just doesn’t happen in the military and it does a huge disservice to the men and women and especially children who have to live this way. I don’t have an answer, but I’m constantly thinking about this and I’m hoping there can be some kind of solution or at least a better way.
Anyway, we had a great time for 3 days and here are some of the pictures… Lake Tahoe is beautiful! It was the first time I had ever been there, and my first time in California!!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
Overall, we’ve done a lot this month… here are some of the things we did…
September was a great month!! Can’t wait to see what adventures come our way in October!!
Last weekend we attended a Care for the Caregiver weekend. The chapel staff and their families were invited to Keystone, SD (about 30 mins from home) for Friday and Saturday. We arrived Friday afternoon (the chapel staff had been there for their workday), and the first thing we did was have family pictures taken. We were dressed up and posed by some very energetic and professional people. The boys LOVED their suits and both asked if they could get some like that to wear whenever they want. WHA? They both promise that if I get them a suit to wear Easter Sunday to church that they will wear it… we will see if that happens or not!
We then went to dinner with the entire chapel staff and families who were there, and then to our hotel. The boys loved the animals in the hotel, and we all loved the soft beds!
On Saturday we had a great breakfast at our hotel and then made our way to Hill City, SD for a ride on the 1880 Train. We rode the train to Keystone and then back to Hill City. The information they gave while we road the train was great for my history-loving self, but the leaves changing colors were the best part of the ride for all of us.
Overall, it was a great weekend and I’m glad we were able to all experience it together!
We took a day trip and drove down to Gibraltar. So much fun and history!!
The first stop we made was to one of the Pillars of Hercules. Apparently, there were two pillars that Hercules held on to and pushed apart or pulled together the two continents of Europe and Africa. I can’t remember which one, but this is from the European side, looking across at Africa. It was really windy!
The next stop was a cave with beautiful lighting. I really loved how cool it was in there. The cave was set up to be used as a hospital during war, but it didn’t have to be used.
We drove on up to the “Top of the Rock” and got to hang with the monkeys for a bit. One of the babies tried to see if Momma had any food in her purse! They were adorable!
After we left the monkeys… we went to a cave that was used to defend the rock. Cannons holes are still there.
While my parents were visiting, we took a day trip to Tangiers in Morocco. It was a great day with great people!!
We took a ferry ride to get from Tarifa, Spain to Tangier, Morocco… There were a LOT of people on the ferry because it was Holy Week in Spain (read about our Semana Santa experience if you missed it). The beginning of a great day!!
The day in Morocco started with a walk through the old part of town. It was market day, so there were lots of people selling fresh produce, spices, and plenty of trinkets.
Our guide led us to some of his friends who were charming some snakes! My mother volunteered to have them put one of the snakes on her.
After a huge, wonderful lunch, we went for a drive around the city and out of the city for the funniest camel ride I’ve ever seen in my life.
We then went to the Caves of Hercules before making our way back to the ferry for our return trip.
The real adventure started after we got back to Tarifa and found out our cars had been towed because we parked next to a sign that said we had to move our cars before 6:00pm. We didn’t make it back in time, so the cars were gone, and Amy and I had to walk to the police station, ride in the back of a police car to get the cars, and drive through horrible traffic to come back and find everyone else to head home.
This was originally published on 22 April 2017 on Daily Blog.
When we moved to Spain, we knew we would get to see things we’d never seen before. I had no idea one of them would revolve around Easter. Here in Spain they have a unique way of celebrating the last week of Lent, leading up to Easter. Called Holy Week or Semana Santa. I found a link on wikipedia that will explain more about the processions and what everything means, but we have a friend who is a priest at these two churches that I have pictures of below, and I’ll tell you what he said it means. Wikipedia article is here.
As we walked down the street to the first church San Miguel, we saw many of these red banners.
Each of these processions or pasos are sponsored by a fraternity or brotherhood. They work all year, but especially in the last months leading up to the pasos getting everything ready. The pasos start in a church and walk around the entire city. The ones I attended this year were in the city of Moron de la Frontera. Each of the pasos tell a story of the Passion of Christ. They follow the events of Holy Week in the New Testament of the Bible.
There are always at least 2 “floats” in the procession. One is Jesus in whatever event that paso is showing, and the other is Mary. Jesus goes out first and is followed by Mary.
Let’s talk about the people around them. The people who lead the processional are all paying penance of some kind. It is very personal and only between them and God. Because of this, they cover their faces. The hoods they wear (called Capirotes) look familiar to those of us from the United States, but for a very different reason. Let me just say that the Spanish tradition came first and their manner of dress was stolen by the people who used it to do horrible things. So, the hoods are worn to hide their identity so they can pay their penance in silence and in a more personal way.
Here are people inside the church putting on their capirotes and getting ready to walk.
The doors are open and the processional is about to start. People are lining the streets to see the floats.
Jesus is bound and his float is wooden with purple flower petals on the bottom. It is beautiful.
Closer look at Jesus and the intricate carving of the wood.
Mary’s float is predominantly silver and all of those candles will continually be re-lit all evening as they process.
How do the floats move? They are man-powered. Meaning there are rows and rows of men under there and they are literally carrying the floats and walking around the city. They are very coveted spots and it is a great honor to be able to carry these icons around their city. They spend every weekend of lent practicing carrying the floats, and we happen to be lucky enough to see one.
There are extra men walking behind them to switch out when it is needed. These floats weigh over 2,500 pounds.
The way they all stand up with the float is wonderful and if you get the chance to see if on video, you should watch it.
They have left the church and are starting the procession. It will last for at least five hours, maybe longer. Everyone outside claps as soon as he is out the door.
On Wednesday, we went to a different church to watch the procession. This time Jesus was depicted in the Garden, praying and asking God to remove the cup from him.
More intricate wood carving.
We went to the balcony to watch everyone getting ready
They walk along with the incense and a band plays outside as the floats come by.
Walking out with Mary
Re-lighting the candles before going outside.
The most unique thing about this church is that the doors are too small for the floats to get out with the men walking.
They have to carry it to here, then get down on their knees and go out the door on their knees. It is a truly powerful thing to see someone worship in a non-traditional way. In our world, there aren’t many ways we can use our bodies to worship, and they truly are using them here. We watch as they precariously balance all that weight while bending on their knees and then scooting out the door. They then have to all stand back up and begin the long, five-hour process of allowing their fellow citizens to worship this way as well. It was something I’ll never forget and has made my Easter celebrations much more profound.
Sometimes you have a great plan and you think everything will work out. It can be a huge plan or something really small, but if it doesn’t work the way you planned, it can be frustrating. I am usually not so easily frustrated by these little bumps in my plans, but if I’m tired or not having a good day, I lose it easily.
A few days ago, Ron said we were all going on a surprise trip. We were told that we would be going to Marbella (about a 2 hour drive) to eat at the Hard Rock Cafe (we are obsessed with finding these restaurants). After lunch, he said we would be having a surprise.
All 5 of us driving in our car is not ever fun for anyone in the backseat. If we have to spend any amount of time in that car, the “you are on my nerves” starts. We were all prepared for an uncomfortable car ride, but the promise of a surprise made it doable.
We love this abandoned train station not far from our house.
We drove through some beautiful hills and valleys along the way to Marbella.
We made it to Hard Rock and had a great lunch… now on to the surprise!!
We were close to a Starbucks (with a very cool bed in the store next door), so we had to stop by for coffee and to plot our next stop. Ron and I wanted to take the kids to a birds of prey sanctuary about 45 minutes away. So we put it in the GPS and headed out.
We found the bird sanctuary, but it wasn’t open. The sanctuary is located on top of a mountain and the wind was blowing too much for the birds to fly. Back to the GPS… and home.
We were able to spend the day together, but didn’t get to do what we had planned. We drove nearly 5 hours round trip for Hard Rock Cafe. While we do like their food, I’m not sure being crammed in the car for that long was worth it.
The good parts of the trip… These beautiful views of the Mediterranean Sea, the views of the hills around us, and the greatest little podcast. We all listened to Mike Rowe’s podcast called The Way I Heard It. They are less than 10 minutes and remind me of The Rest of the Story with Paul Harvey.