It really didn’t click in my mind how crazy we were until last Sunday. We were at our new church in Kansas meeting people and the conversation went something like this: “So when did you get here?” Yesterday. “Oh wow!” and then “When did he come back from Korea?” On Wednesday. “And you guys are already here???” Um, yeah…isn’t that what everyone would do??
Yeah, so within a week of Rich being home, we have packed up the remnant of our house, driven to Kansas towing the boat plus dog and little one, made it through the first arctic blast, visited our new house, started inprocessing Fort Riley, and settled ourselves into the hotel on post. Rich had a full week of inprocessing, briefings, and appointments, while Lizzie and I got back on track and did a full week of homeschool. It has not been all sunshine and roses, but we’re making the best of living out of a suitcase in cramped quarters.
And since so much has been going on, it seems the best to provide a recap by family member:
Lizzie is having just about the best time ever. The drive was so much fun. She had been waiting for a roadtrip for months. It had been agony trying to decide which vehicle to passenger in, but she settled on riding with mommy. Lizzie spent 90% of the drive listening to Mommy’s book on CD, All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot, sleeping only about two hours despite some early mornings and late nights. If she fell asleep, she would miss some of the story! That was unacceptable.
When she was told we would be staying in a hotel for awhile, she said, “Oh no problem with me. I love hotels.” And she really does. The best part is going down the hall every morning for breakfast. And even though she doesn’t like anything on the menu, it is very exciting to be out of your room in pajamas. Just the other day, she discovered they serve hot chocolate which she likes to pretend is her morning coffee.
So far, Lizzie has not made any friends at church. Walking into bible study on Thursday she gave herself a little pep talk that mommy happened to overhear, “ok. I’m going to meet some new little girls. It’s time to be brave. I’ve tried before, but this time I’m going to do it.” She didn’t ask mommy to stay with her in the kids room, but she also didn’t really talk to anyone. Making friends takes time. However, she is very excited that there are lots of kids at church. Next Monday, she starts gymnastics again and she is looking forward to that too.
Rich managed to step off the plane with 36 hours of traveling behind him and jump right into a full day of packing up the boat and garage for the trip. Before setting off for Kansas, he had to fix trailer lights for the umpteenth time in his life and with a sinking feeling he stopped at Tractor Supply on the way out of town. The northerly wind was blowing hard and it was only about 40 degrees with a setting sun and, for the first time in his life, trailer lights were repaired in less than five minutes. With Lou for company and towing the boat, he led the caravan first to north of Birmingham, then to Blowing Springs, Missouri, and finally to their destination.
On the second day of driving, he received a phone call from a 2nd lieutenant tracking his arrival. The LT was surprised to learn Rich was on his way and was able to tell him that he was going to be assigned to the GSAB, which includes general support and med-evac. This was the first good news he had heard in a long time. At church last Sunday, he was introduced to another pilot who is a company commander in the GSAB. He didn’t know yet which company Rich would be in, but on Monday Rich learned he would be in general support (non-med-evac) and this gentleman from church would be his commander.
Rich’s first item of business was to check in with medical and get step up for knee surgery. On Friday he met with the orthopedic surgeon. The surgeon told him that he didn’t think Rich needed surgery because he was still running and, prior to getting his down slip, he had been flying. The surgeon told him he could not guarantee that by fixing his ACL that Rich would have the same level of mobility he has now. So now Rich is working with medical to put in a packet to Aviation Medicine at Fort Rucker to get a waiver.
Living in temporary quarters has been a struggle. The dog barks at every little noise. The TV turns itself on every few hours. It must be unplugged after watching or it will wake you up in the middle of the night. And to top it off there is nowhere to plug in the truck at night. With temps in the single digits the first few nights, the diesel has responded with sputterings and black exhaust, among other symptoms. Although it continues to run, it is clear there is Something Wrong.
Driving to Kansas was the easiest part of this whole adventure. The audiobook was entertaining and the only real traffic was rush hour in St. Louis. The snow that was forecasted for the last day of the trip was practically a non-event. And the best part is the scenery. This section of Kansas is anything but flat. The rolling hills and miles of fields are picture perfect. It is so refreshing to be somewhere with terrain and a view.
The hotel room had boasted of a “full kitchen.” However, the fullness of the kitchen is debatable. It is a culinary juggling act trying to cook a full meal with only two burners, no stove, and limited counter space. Successful meals thus far have included: soup and grilled cheese, fajitas, spaghetti, and Mexican rice bowls. But tiny kitchen is infinitely better than no kitchen and with breakfast provided in the lobby that is one less meal to worry about. Another plus so far is that the commissary is open seven days a week and appears to be fairly new.
Hotel living is not so bad since the room is considered a suite and therefore has a separate bedroom. Taking the dog out on the leash to do her business is annoying though especially at night and in the cold. One oddity so far is that if you enjoy a particularly hot shower then the steam from the bathroom will set off the fire alarm. If the fire alarm goes off, you have to wait for the fire department to come to turn it off. And there is no fan in the bathroom to reduce the steam.
The beginning of the trip was completely aweful. First, the furniture was all gone which made it unsafe to eat or drink anything. Then Lou was abandoned by mommy and Lizzie. Then she was forced to do her business on the leash. And finally she was told repeatedly not to bark in the strange rooms despite the Obvious noises from outside. But after a little while daddy started giving her treats in the truck and sometimes even a smidge of his lunch. And Lou got to sleep in the same room as the rest of her pack.
When Lou got to the last room, she still felt it was unsafe to eat or drink. Best to be careful about these things. If daddy takes her out to do her business, she can count on stern correction, but he frequently lets her run untethered in the field of long grass behind the hotel. There is a whole new world of smells and a dog could really enjoy herself out here.
Lou has finally decided that eating and drinking are necessary. And if a dog is sneaky, she can get tasty morsels from the little garbage can in the kitchen. She likes to yip and bark a little throughout the day. This ensures that she will not be left when the family goes on outings because they are certain she will howl the whole time they are gone. Lou feels it is best if she Always goes. And now that she gets to go everywhere, this has become the best time of her life.
The New House
I keep saying we are buying a nothing house. And it really is. A nothing house on eight beautiful acres with a three stall horse barn in the back. The house is an old 1950s ranch. It is smaller than we are used to and it needs updated badly, but it will be ours. Our first house in five years. We aren’t concerned about any of the cosmetic issues with the home because we know we are going to change it all-convert the garage, frame in a third bedroom downstairs, update the kitchen, etc.
We are still waiting to close on the house. We have the hotel till Tuesday and then our realtor has found us a furnished place to rent-hopefully for only another week. This is a major upgrade because even though it is small at least we will have an oven and can do a small Thanksgiving. We are hoping for a closing date this week. The inspection was done this past week and we are waiting on the appraisal. Here are our first impressions:
Rich: House is smaller than it seemed online. Garage will have to be converted to an office immediately. The land is awesome-rolling hills, backyard portion is flat and fenced. It is directly across from the range so I can hunt right across the street. It’s perfect.
Alexia: House smells. Needs an exterminator to come. And I want it cleaned before we move in. Otherwise, what color should we paint the living room? And where should the piano go? The backyard is awesome – love it. The land is beautiful, where’s my camera? Horse barn-really? they are leaving it like this? Can we hire someone to muck it out for us? We need a cat or two.
Lou: Dog Heaven – except for that snag with the barbed wire-that was a little self-critiquing.
Overall we are very happy in Kansas so far. I’m itching to get out with my camera. We have just been so busy this last week. Can’t wait to actually get into our house and start really working. I feel like it is going to be an odd holiday season for us, but we are together and that is what matters most. We are praising God that so many things have gone smoothly thus far and we trust that we will be settled soon. It has been a whirlwind, but I’m sure my dad would say, “when is it not like that in your house?” Indeed. When is not a whirlwind? :)