Thursday, March 25, 2010

We're Moving To...

Well folks, Michael and his five classmates got their base assignments on Wednesday night.  All but one of them are heading to...McConnell AFB just outside Wichita, Kansas.

If you remember, we were hoping to head to a southern state (Florida, Arizona or Texas) so when Michael gave me the news, my first reaction was disappointment.  Who wants to move to Kansas?  I've seen "Wizard of Oz" for goodness sakes.  I don't want to look outside my window and see flat, dusty plains and tornadoes on the horizon!


Once the shock wore off though, I started doing what I do best:  research.  Since that phone call, I've spent countless hours on the internet, reading every single thing I could about the base, Wichita, and the area surrounding it.  I've looked at city statistics, on and off-base housing, area attractions, restaurants, etc. I've posted questions on forums and joined Facebook groups. 

Let me tell you, I feel so much better!

Okay, so Kansas wasn't exactly on our short-list of places we'd like to live.  But my "pros" list is quite a bit longer than the "cons".  For example, it's less than a ten hour drive from Wichita back to our families in Wisconsin.  After my twenty hour cross-country road-trip to Texas by myself a few weeks ago, ten hours is a walk in the park.  We'll be able to visit family a lot more often than if we had moved to any of the places on our dream sheet.

Wichita is a fairly large city (over 366,000 people) so it boasts many attractions.  The one thing I really wanted to have wherever we moved to was a zoo--and Wichita have an amazing one.  Wichita also has a lot of different kinds of museums (science, art, aviation, cultural, etc) which will help fill up our weekends.  And of course, all big cities have lots of shopping!

Although the base is a small one--it only has one squadron--the Spouse Club is very active.  I am extremely excited about that bit of news because the last thing I want is to be stuck in the house all day with a two-year old and no connections to the outside world.  When you don't work outside the home, it is difficult to meet people, especially when you move to a new area. So I plan on joining up with the other wives right away to do whatever it is they do.

There is also a very active playgroup on base!  Meeting other military wives is important to me, but meeting military wives with small children is a must

So there may be things about Kansas that I'm not excited about--tornadoes, the wind, and some snow--but I'm staying positive that it's a place we could be happy with for a couple of years.  I don't doubt that we'll try to move on to a base off our dream sheet when we're able to, but at least we won't be miserable in the meantime.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Philosophical Moment

Do you spend most of your time lounging around, thinking about the meaning of the world and why we're here?  Unless you're Socrates or Aristotle, probably not.  But if you're like me, you most likely have a philosophical moment or two where you spend at least a little time contemplating what life really means, and thinking about the big picture. 

As much as I hated the subject of philosophy in college, I like to think that I've had somewhat of a philosophical year.  At some point in the past twelve months, something just clicked, and I began seeing the world in an entirely different way.

If you know me at all, you know that I'm a planner.  I like making lists, researching something from every angle, and planning in vivid detail for the future.  But as I've gotten older, I've realized how futile all that micro-managing really is.  Honestly, I'm 23 years old.  In the scheme of things, I've barely lived.  Who cares if I wait five years until going to get my Master's Degree if that means I can spend more time with my daughter now?   I squeezed so many major life events--marriage, parenthood, home ownership--into one year that for my sanity, I need to slow down and smell the roses.  And the gardenias.  And the daisies for that matter.

Looking at the bigger picture has helped me realize that I need to enjoy life more.  With Michael joining the Air Force, we have so many opportunities ahead of us to meet new people and experience new things.  With this new outlook, I refuse to let any of those opportunities pass me by.  Whether we end up in sunny Florida, rainy Washington, or somewhere in between, I plan on rejoicing in the fact that an adventure lies in waiting.

I don't know if my time on earth has some divine purpose or if it was just a happenstance of biology, but I do know that it shouldn't be wasted.

I'm not saying I'm throwing my researching and planning tendencies out the window--that would be about next to impossible--but I am working on the new me.  That same new me that said "being fearless" was my New Year's resolution....cross-country road trip anyone?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

This About Sums it Up

"Leaving On A Jet Plane" by Chantal Kreviazuk

All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go
I'm standin' here outside your door
I hate to wake you up to say goodbye

But the dawn is breakin', it's early morn
The taxi's waitin', he's blowin' his horn
Already I'm so lonesome I could die

So kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that you'll wait for me
Hold me like you'll never let me go

'Cause I'm leaving on a jet plane
I don't know when I'll be back again
Oh, babe, I hate to go

There's so many times I've let you down
So many times I've played around
I'll tell you now, they don't mean a thing

Every place I go, I think of you
Every song I sing, I sing for you
When I come back I'll wear your wedding ring

So kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that you'll wait for me
Hold me like you'll never let me go

'Cause I'm leaving on a jet plane
I don't know when I'll be back again
Oh, babe, I hate to go

Now the time has come to leave you
One more time, oh, let me kiss you
And close your eyes and I'll be on my way

Dream about the days to come
When I won't have to leave alone
About the times that I won't have to say ...

Oh, kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that you'll wait for me
Hold me like you'll never let me go

'Cause I'm leaving on a jet plane
I don't know when I'll be back again
Oh, babe, I hate to go

And I'm leaving on a jet plane
I don't know when I'll be back again
Oh, babe, I hate to go

But I'm leaving on a jet plane

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tech School

Now that Michael has graduated BMT, he's on to Tech School.  On Monday morning, Michael--along with about 300 other Airmen who just graduated--took a bus up to Sheppard AFB in northern Texas. 

So far, things are going well.  He shares a dorm room with one other person which is a big change from sixty other guys.  They have their own bathroom too which means private showers.  It's sad really, when things like that get you excited.  :)

In the many briefings he had to go to yesterday, he found out that some of the programs are full so Airmen will be "laid over".  Basically that means they'll just be doing details around the base until enough people graduate for them to get into their program--for some, that will be up to a two month wait.  Please cross your fingers that Michael doesn't see a delay. 

Michael's training is only nine weeks long, so if he isn't delayed, he should be done by the end of May.  He is considering being a "recruiter's assistant" for a week or two when he gets done.  Basically, he'd help out his recruiter here at home so he can stay in town for an extra week or two before we move to our first base.  This would be really great because otherwise he'll only have a day or two to visit everyone before we have to pack our stuff and move. 

If Michael's training isn't delayed, we should find out in three to four weeks what base we'll be moving to!  I'm anxious and excited all at the same time for those orders to come.  I'm obviously hoping we get one of the five bases we put on our list, but I'm keeping an open mind for wherever we end up.

BMT Graduation: Sunday

Sunday was the last day of Graduation weekend.  Michael only had "base liberty" that day so we just stopped at different places on base.  There were a lot of little things he needed to buy to take with him to Tech School so we did that.  It's kind of fun going to all the mini malls and the BX on base because everything is cheaper and TAX free.  A shopaholic could get into a little bit of trouble there.  :)

We took Evie to the park on base again because it was just that awesome.  Within the one park, they have three different park areas.  A toddler spot for 3 years and under, a slightly larger play structure for ages 3 to 5, and a regular-sized play structure for 5 to 12 year olds.  I hope whatever base we move to has a similar playground because I feel way more comfortable with Evie playing on equipment closer to the ground when she's still so small.  As you can tell, she had a lot of fun.

Sunday was a very "chill" day for us.  Although the weekend was fun, it had been long and slightly stressful for all of us.  So much went on and none of us got as much sleep as we'd have wanted.  We spent a lot of time driving around that day, just talking.

Michael had to be back to his squadron at 4:30pm so he could pack up his stuff and help get the dorm ready for the new trainees who would be arriving on Tuesday.  It goes without saying that telling him goodbye was one of the hardest things ever.  After two months apart, four days together was just not long enough.  But such is the life of a military family I suppose.

BMT Graduation: Saturday

Michael had "town pass" again on Saturday, and since no events were scheduled, we had almost the entire day to do as we pleased. We spent the morning hanging out in the hotel room again, but in the afternoon we went to the Riverwalk and the Alamo.

The Riverwalk was amazing!  It is one of the biggest attractions for tourists in San Antonio, and I can see why.  Basically, the banks of the river on both sides are lined not only with beautiful trees, but with restaurants and shops as well.  Since this was the weekend before St. Patrick's Day,  they dyed the river green!  Pictures do the beauty of the Riverwalk justice far better than words.

By the time we got to the Riverwalk, we were all starving so we looked for a place to eat.  This restaurant wasn't as packed as the others, and it had a cute little bistro area outside so we decided to check it out.  It was fantastic!  The pasta I ordered was one of the best things I have eaten in my entire life.  Whenever we visit the area in the future, we are definitely going there again.  Looks like Michael enjoyed it, too.

After the Riverwalk, we walked over to the Alamo which was also really cool.  I have a thing for old architecture so the nerd in me was really excited!

Evie had fun skipping pennies in the small fountain at the Alamo.  How is it that a two year old can do that, and I can't?

After the Riverwalk and Alamo, we were all pretty tired of walking around so we went back to the hotel and hung out for the rest of the day. Michael's mom and sister were flying out early Sunday morning so we did a little photo session before they said their goodbye's. 

BMT Graduation: Friday

Friday of Graduation weekend held the main event:  the Graduation Parade at 9:00am.  Before the parade began, they held a ceremony for trainees who had earned certain physical training achievements.  They also had a ceremony for Airmen who had trained to be Military Training Instructors (MTIs) aka drill instructors.  That was cool to see because although they are the people who make BMT hell for the trainees, their job is a very important one.  You have to volunteer to be a MTI, and most do it because they feel so strongly about making fantastic Airmen out of new recruits.

The Graduation Parade was pretty awesome to watch.  They announced where each flight was standing; Michael's flight was just to the right of the flight holding all of the state flags so it was easy to remember where they stood.  The flights marched by right in front of the bleachers, and because Michael was right on the end, I was even able to pick him out of the group!

After the parade, I had to go find Michael again, though it was much easier that time since I knew exactly where he was standing.  His mom and sister got to see him for the first time after the parade which was exciting for everyone.  Pam and Neil and the boys came to the parade as well which I'm sure was exciting for them, seeing the ceremony from the stands this time!

We did a little photo-op with the new Airman by a plane (if anyone knows what this plane is called, please let me know!).

That morning we also got a tour of the dorm that Michael had been living in for the past two months.  He had drawn me a rough sketch of what it looked like in a letter a few weeks ago, but it was cool to see it first hand.  I am proud to say his hospital corners and general tidiness were very impressive.  (His was the bottom bunk).

I also had to take a picture of the water fountain in the hallway of their dorm.  There are lots of rules that the trainees had to follow that many of us would find useless--such as not using the water fountain in the hallway.  The sole purpose of that rule, along with not getting to use certain trash cans, was to teach the trainees to follow every order, no matter how trivial it may seem.

After the dorm tour, Michael had "town pass" which meant he could leave base.  In hopes of bypassing the heavy traffic that was bound to be leaving base, we ate lunch on base and browsed the souvenir stands.  I have to say, Lackland is probably a very wealthy base with all the families of graduates that come in each and every week!

For the rest of the afternoon, we mostly hung out in our hotel room with Michael's friend Wil and his mom and sister.  Suddenly being able to move around freely, talk to family, and leave base was all a little overwhelming for Michael, so we chose to keep it low key.  So low key in fact, that we all took naps!

To top off the night, we ate at a fantastic authentic Mexican restaurant frequented by the locals called Chacho's.  It was great food at very cheap prices--what more could you ask for?

BMT Graduation: Thursday

Michael graduated from Basic Military Training this past Friday.  The weekend festivities, however, started on Thursday with the Airmen's Run. 

Evie and I left our hotel early, hoping to beat some of the traffic and get a good spot to watch the Airmen's Run.  Apparently everyone else had the same plan because it took us almost a half hour to get through the Gate.  Finding parking was interesting, and we had to squeeze ourselves through the throngs of people in order to get close enough to see anything.  But we finally got situated, and settled in to wait for the Run to begin.

I wasn't exactly sure which color shirt Michael's Flight would be wearing though he had thought they would be wearing red.  Thankfully someone carried a flag with their Squadron and Flight numbers at the front of each Flight so the guess-work was eliminated.  They ran by so quickly that it was nearly impossible to distinguish one recruit from another so I just snapped a couple random pictures.  Luckily I managed to get him in a shot.

After the Airmen's Run, we had to wait around for 2.5 hours until the Coin Ceremony.  We sat in metal bleachers in the hot sun, but Evie behaved wonderfully.  That was probably due to her toys and a few rocks she found lying on the ground.

At this ceremony, they were promoted to Airman from trainee, and received the Airman's coin.  We didn't have a great view (their backs were to us), but it was still an emotional thing to attend.  This is the two sides of the Airman's Coin:

Although the ceremony was interesting, we were most excited for what was to follow:  getting to see Michael for the first time!  The Airmen weren't allowed to move until someone came up to them so it was left to us to find him--and because they all look alike with their buzz cuts and matching Blues, it took a few minutes.  But we finally did, and it was amazing

The rest of the day was pretty fantastic.  Because of delayed flights, Michael's mom and sister and his best friend weren't in town until later so we had almost the entire day to ourselves.  We drove all over base to see everything that Michael only knew existed because of the map he had been studying longingly for the past eight weeks.  We played at the amazing base park, ate some Chinese, and just talked.  We talked so much that by the end of the day Michael was losing his voice!  But after two months of only communicating via snail mail and a ten to twenty minute phone call each week, we had a lot to catch up on.

It only took Evie a few minutes to warm back up to Michael.  He had been worried that she'd be shy or even have forgotten him, but she did fantastic.  She played with him a lot that day, and gave out plenty of hugs and kisses.

Monday, March 1, 2010


I'm feeling a little down right now, and since the person I usually complain to (aka my husband) really doesn't need to hear anything but positive thoughts from me while at BMT, I figured I'd air my feelings here. 

With only ten days left until I get to see Michael, I should feel nothing but excitement and anticipation.  And don't get me wrong, both of those emotions are zinging through me pretty constantly.  But Graduation weekend is more of a bittersweet milestone for me to look forward to than anything else.

Even though I'll get to see Michael for the better part of four days, this is only the halfway point of our separation.  After Graduation weekend, he'll leave for Tech School in northern Texas for another 10 weeks.  While he's been at BMT, I've counted down the days until Graduation in order to get myself through each day.  Now I'll have to start all over again, and add a couple extra weeks for good measure.  I'm not sure just how well I'm going to be able to handle it this second  time around.

As I mentioned in my previous post, this time apart has really done wonders for my marriage.  Without airing my dirty laundry, I can say that absense really does make the heart grow fonder, and that we're both better for having some time apart.  But now that I have a fresh outlook on things, I'm ready for my husband back.  I'm ready for this new start, this clean slate, that we're both looking forward to.

But such are the woes of a military wife, and thus I feel whiny for even putting my thoughts into words.  In the next six years (that's how long Michael's current contract with the military is), we'll probably face many times apart.  Some of them might even be longer than these 19 weeks.  But right now, at this very moment, the thought of going another two and a half months without my husband makes me want to hide in bed under the covers and never come back out.