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.
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.
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!!
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!
My parents were here for Easter this year, and there were a lot of base activities happening. We dyed the eggs the night before, and then had our hunt Easter morning. We went across base and participated in a color run for Easter. It was a great day!
This was a great view out my window later that afternoon… I have never seen my daddy swing. We had a really great visit!
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 post was originally published on 1 April on the Daily Blog.
This week I was reminded that even though I’m far from my extended family, I’m still surrounded by people who show love to us. A retired military contractor who works here (he’s leaving Spain this week to move back to the states) found out we were moving to South Dakota and contacted Ron to see if we wanted to meet him for lunch one day to answer any questions we might have. I’ve never met this man, and all he knows is that we have kids and we’ll be moving to his home town. He met with us the day before he was scheduled to fly out to move back to the states. Y’all, he wrote three hand-written pages of things that we should see and do in Rapid City and the surrounding area. He talked to us for over an hour and went over each one of the 29 points. It was an incredibly thoughtful thing for him to do for us and I appreciate it so much. Speaking of checklists…
It’s been a couple of weeks since we found out where our next duty station will be. We are in the middle of my checklist for the move.
Search Facebook for groups.
This turned up more groups than I can keep up with, so now I’m in the process of figuring out which ones I want to be in.
Find out about fostering.
I’ve not been able to contact the county offices because Rapid City is on the edge of two counties. Until we know where we will live, it’s going to be hard to narrow down our county office. I have written an email to the state-wide foster parenting website, but I’ve not gotten a reply in over a week, so I need to do more follow-up work on this one.
I quickly found a wonderful Facebook group for homeschoolers and they informed me of the South Dakota homeschooling rules. More lenient that Maryland in some areas, except for mandatory testing for certain grades. We are all satisfied with the laws except for the one who will have to take standardized tests for the first time in his 13 years of life. Just another learning experience, right?
Houses to live in.
I’ve just stopped looking. I have found multiple houses that I would love to live in, but I then go down some weird HGTV inspired rabbit hole and realize those houses might not be there in five months when we move in. So, then I turn it off and sulk.
Jobs and extracurricular activity for children.
Our 18-year-old wants a job, but something with animals, or coffee, or books. It seems she’s open to a lot of jobs, and she has bookmarked nearly every place that has a job opening. Let’s hope some of them are still hiring in August.
The 13-yr. old wants to take Judo with Ron. He also wants to find a scout troop and find a way to “work with birds” (but only birds of prey… they are the coolest!)
The 10-yr. old wants to “do parkour or gymnastics” and find a cub scout pack for his last year before boy scouts.
History of the area.
Our new friend with all the information also provided some of this. Then a quick google search for a timeline of South Dakota brought up a couple of books that look interesting. I put in an order for a couple from amazon, so we’ll start reading those as soon as they get here.
Search the house for things to sell.
This is the least fun for everyone except Ron. He loves to throw things away. We’ve done most of the main parts of the house, but the kids’ rooms haven’t been done at all. I’m saving that for when my parents visit us in a little over a week! We have the garage sale date set, so now we’ve got to finish looking through everything so we can be ready.
That is only MY checklist for our move. Things that I’ve been wondering about and wanting to make sure I know all about.
There are quite a few websites that provide comprehensive checklists for PCSing. I’m not nearly disciplined enough to go through them, but it is nice to have those lists to look at. One of my favorites is here. Military.com has tons of information about the military in general, but this is one of my favorites things on their site. It has different checklists depending on how long you have left before your PCS. Since we will be moving sometime in August, we are too early for any of their checklists. However, we are going to be having all of our stuff packed up at the end of May or the beginning of June. We want to make sure there are NO issues with getting our stuff to South Dakota before we get there.
Overseas bases have furniture that you can borrow until your household goods (HHGs) arrive, and you can borrow them again after your stuff is packed out, but that doesn’t happen in the continental US (CONUS). We don’t want to find a house and have no furniture. I’m sure I’ll be missing my bed by then.
The earliest checklist they have is for 3 months before you move. Since we are packing our stuff in June, I still looked through this checklist to see what I can work on.
It’s safe to say that I’m getting overwhelmed at the number of things on this list. So, I’ll stick with my small checklist about the things I’m most excited about, and I’ll report back as we get closer to leaving.
Side Note: We are going to work our way through every item on his list while we are in South Dakota. I’ll be documenting our “Checklist Journey” on our family blog if you are interested.
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.