Thursday, July 26, 2012

Ahhh....Settled In!

A week ago tonight we couldn't sleep, we were so excited that our goods were finally on their way here! I got a call late that night from my mom that she and dad were headed south and were going to be going right past us in the early morning.  As Mark and I were having coffee on the porch, they arrived for a very short visit, that was a complete surprise to the kids.  It was so cute to see their little faces as the realized who was driving up.  They got to see the house empty and see the moving truck pull up to the curb. The movers came promptly at 7:30 and it was pretty much non-stop until about 4pm.  There were boxes and paper packing everywhere!  In the end only one thing was missing...the bed frame for our bed.  We thought the hardware for Julia's bunk bed was missing, but it was found Saturday afternoon.  Unpacking is much better than packing!  It was almost like Christmas. We have a new dining room table that we bought before we moved to Houlton that wouldn't fit in that house, so has never been used.  It fits perfectly here and it's so pretty!!!  Now we need to find chairs to go with it...  A great excuse to go shopping!!

Saturday morning, Mark and I hung up pictures on the walls and got rid of most all of the boxes upstairs.  While Sunday for me was continuing to settle the upstairs, Mark turned his attention downstairs.  There is a full basement that is play room/sewing room/storage.  He got all the boxes unpacked!  I was so amazed when I went down in the evening on Sunday to see his progress!  Amazing!!  We had our first overnight guest arrive Sunday evening, Tim and Amy Witmer along with their kids, Malachi (3) and Logan (1.5).  It was so much fun to see familiar faces and have them here, the girls were so excited to see their little buddies and there was so much laughter around here.  I'm thinking that Dutch Blitz with just the four of us will always be boring compared to the games played around our table with the Witmers. 

Tuesday was the first official day of a no-box upstairs!!  Our bedroom is all put together, clothes in closets and not in suitcases, and bathroom stuff in it's place.  I also had a bag order to fill and get in the mail with my little uniform bag business.  It was busy and profitable and one of those days where we looked at each other that night and knew serious progress had been made. 

Wednesday we hit the pool in the afternoon.  It was a beautiful day.  Not like today.  Today was so hot and humid.  The heat index was up at 105. One of those days where you walk outside and are instantly sweating.  Guess what we planned to do today?  Gettysburg!!!  It was a hot day on the battlefield, but so much fun!  Mark and I watched the movie Gettysburg last night, my first time seeing it, which made a great night before our trip over there.  We started the day with a Park Ranger Tour of Little Round Top, one of those places that a person is so proud to be from Maine, and finished the day at the visitors' center enjoying the air conditioning.  We ran into a ranger dressed in the part of a Union soldier.  The weather today was very similar to the weather of July 1,2 & 3, 1863, and we were able to see what the soldiers wore, the layers of uniform, which made me want to melt just thinking about wearing it.  It was one of those perspective moments, where the details of my day are diminished in the thought of what these men endured.  They were so brave and fought so valiantly for what they believed.  I'm thankful for these men, the Yanks as well as the Rebs, they made our country what it is today, and for that I am forever grateful. 

Here's a few pictures of our new digs...

Dad & Mom Whiteman and the girlies


Dining Room

Hope's Room

Julia's Room

Living Room

Living room

Witmer's visit! 
Our Room, finally unpacked!  (Notice the bed on the floor with the lack of a bed frame? least it's our bed and not an air mattress!!)

Today at the 20th Maine monument on Little Round Top

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Seminar 10

The War College is divided into 23 (I think) seminars.  Last night we found out that Mark is in Seminar 10.  Your seminar is your hub.  There is a softball league and your seminar is your team.  There are multiple get togethers with your seminar.  These are the people that you will get to know the best.  Oh yeah, and they learn in their seminar too.  :)  Each seminar has a room, Mark's will meet in Root Hall room #B319, with a conference table and the students sit around and discuss the reading from the previous night, or a lecture they would have heard, or what the seminar leader leads with.  It was pretty exciting to get an e-mail last night from the seminar leader welcoming the students to the War College and Seminar 10.  It explained that they will meet for the first time on Monday, August 6th, and have a meet and greet with families on the 8th.

Yesterday Mark went to the library and picked up his books.  As he ooo-ed and ahhh-ed, I stifled yawns.  I'm not thinking there is any danger of me stealing one of his books....

Here they are!  Wow!
 We got our name tags.  The last time I had to wear a name tag like this was when I was at Word of Life Bible Institute.  I think the main reason we had to wear them was for the RAs to be able to send the demerits to the correct mailbox.  I'm very thankful there will be no demerits this year and that I will be able to "remember" peoples' names!

Our stuff did not come today like we were hoping, but the driver of the truck where our stuff is currently residing called us late this morning to say he was on the way to Carlisle!!  He should be here at 7:30 tomorrow morning!  Mark and I hung up our TV mount in anticipation of not only the TV arriving but also the Comcast guy coming tomorrow.  Yay!  Looks like I'll be able to watch Opening Ceremonies from my comfy couch.

I just found out that I can order Chinese from the awesome (the neighbors say it's great!!) little restaurant up the road online which totally is made for me and my dislike of talking on the phone.  So, I'm off to try it out!  I have to make sure that their Chicken Lo Mein is good.  We have missed Kwong Lee in Pittsfield badly so I'm hoping this will be a good Carlisle substitute. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Patience is a virtue...

Our stuff was supposed to come on the 16th.  It's the 17th and I'm sitting on a chair that our neighbor let us borrow in their moment of pity towards us.  We also borrowed a card table and chairs too!  The new date for HHG delivery...the 19th.  Two more wake ups. 

We decided to head to Fort Belvoir at the end of last week since we are "camping".  Ft. Belvoir, Virginia, is where Mark usually does his drill weekend with the Army Reserves and is just south of Washington, DC.  He had a few things to wrap up there, so we took advantage of this down time and made the trip.  It's just about 2 hours from Carlisle, not too bad considering how long it used to take us to get there.  Mark put in a days' work Friday and on Saturday, we went to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.

The girls at the National Zoo!
We got back to Carlisle Saturday night and we were able to attend church at the Chapel on post Sunday morning.  Though we miss County Road Baptist Church VERY much, we did enjoy our worship time Sunday.  There was a retired soldier there who Mark had known from his teaching time at West Point.  It's amazing how small the military world can be. 

Mark started in processing on Sunday afternoon with the financial end of things.  He left here with more papers that I'd know what to do with!  A couple hours later he came back with more papers to fill out.  Gotta love the Army and their forms.  And all their forms have names.  DD or DA followed by a number is how you differentiate one from another.  The physical that the girls need to play sports with the CYS (Child and Youth Services) is DD 7246 and DA 7625-1 is another health screening form that I filled out today.  If you Google DD forms, it's laughable at the list that is but they all serve a purpose, it's easy to find them and there is never a question on which form is which. 

Yesterday, Monday, there was one more financial thing that Mark had to complete, so on the way to do that, he found where the rest of the in processing started.  There was someone directing everyone and saying that they had 2 weeks to complete it and the lines would be long today, so to take their time going through.  Mark thought that if he was saying this to everyone, maybe the lines would be short.  And he was right!  He flew through the rest of the in processing process in record time.  He even found the Comcast booth and got us set up to get TV, phone and internet installed!  Whoo hoo!!  Previously I had said that I was okay with our stuff arriving late, but I really wanted to make sure that we had TV by the 26th...the Olympics Opening Ceremonies!  I'm so glad that in processing is (mostly) out of the way now.  More resting and relaxing is in order....

Last night for dinner, ready for this?  We walked to get supper at a Mexican restaurant!  It's right at the end of our street!!  This country girl was beside herself with excitement!!

This morning, Mark and I were sitting on the porch...yes, actually sitting on the porch since our new glider rocker is on the moving truck...sipping coffee.  Well, I had coffee, Blueberry New England Coffee to be exact, and I think Mark had green tea.  Anyway, our neighbor across the street came over in his military uniform to say hello.  He is in International Fellow (IF) at the War College from Malaysia.  There were 30 (or was it 50?) countries who are given invitations to come and study here at our War College.  The different countries own houses and their students return year after year.  The Malaysia house is right across the street from us and the Jordan house in two houses behind ours.  We also met a IF from Kirkistan, I need to look on a map to see where that is, and they told us that and IF from Finland lives right down the street too.  It's just another neat part about being here, all the international flavor and perspective that they bring to the seminar groups.

The girls and I (Sarah) found the pool on post.  It's a great pool, complete with an awesome tube slide.  We got a membership and can frequent it as much as we want.  It was 100 degrees by 11 am today, not sure what the high was, I'm sure it wasn't much hotter than the 11 am reading, but it was still 95 as of 8:30 pm.  That is one of the great things about Maine, it always gets cool in the evening.  I'm so very, very thankful for central air in this house.  But, it was such a wonderful day to be pool side, soaking up the vitamin D! 

Here is the MOST awesome pool at Carlisle Barracks

5 pm at the pool, everything stops.  Everyone gets out of the pool and the mushroom fountain is turned off.  I was so glad I was there for the first time at 5 with our neighbor!  There are so many things about life on post that I do not know about.  So, at 5 pm, everyone is out of the pool, standing quietly, and all facing the same direction.  Then *boom* the cannon goes off, and Retreat sounds.  Everyone has their hands over their heart and those there in uniform are at attention.  It signifies the end of the day and I'm sure has a deeper meaning (that I need to get to know) but it seems like a solemn time of remembrance.  At 6:30 each morning I wake up to *boom!* and then the playing Revelry.  The first morning I was pretty surprised, but the second morning, I had to giggle.  I'm sure it will become old hat at some point, but for now I'm enjoying all these little nuances.   

I know this probably sounds crazy, but I really love to cook!  In the past month of transition we ate everything frozen when I hadn't invited myself to Dawn's, Mark's sister's, house or had made reservations at what we affectionately call Cafe de Mama, aka Mom Brooks' house or when we were in Houlton mooching off the Witmers.  So today I roasted a chicken along with potatoes and carrots.  Julia says...Mom, we are eating regular food!!  It's the small things that are so important.  Who cares that I baked in the E-Z Foil roaster, right?  It was nice to sit around our little, borrowed card table and ooo and ahhh over a simple roasted chicken in our new digs!

I had to attach a picture of the girls' bathroom.  We told them that we'd outfit their bath in bright colors for them when we got settled.  This is what we ended up with after much discussion between the two of them.  I think they have a future in interior decoration.... 

Isn't it sweet?

 Hopefully soon I will be posting from my couch!  In the mean time, we have some more informational meetings, including dinner tomorrow night with our neighbors that we have been blessed with!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Hey! Where's our HHG?

At some point, I'm going to write an Army acronym dictionary.  Army Acronym for Dummies, or for Spouses, better yet for Household 6.  I once asked Mark if he knew what all the acronyms meant and he admitted that he had to look one up every once in a while. 

The most important acronym in a PCS (Permanent Change of Station) move is HHG, house hold goods.  Remember a while back our HHG left New Limerick, weighing in at 7,700 pounds?  Well, today was the day that it was supposed to arrive in Carlisle.  Supposed to.  But here I sit on my make-shift couch made of pillows on the floor in the living room.  Hey, at least there is carpet.

Let me back up about a week.  Last Thursday, I was at our house in Hartland thinking that there was no way that I was going to get the Hartland house packed and ready for our most amazing house sitters.  I was still going though stuff and weeding out things that I haven't needed for the past one and half years while living in New Limerick, thinking that I probably just don't need it.  Mark decided to call the moving company to check in and make sure that we were on the schedule for delivery of our HHG on the 11th, which is today.  She checked, said at first it was scheduled for the 16th, then found the note saying the 11th.  She thought we'd be all set, but would get back to us.  Friday comes and goes with no word, so Mark calls again Saturday.  After speaking to several people who really didn't appear to know what they were talking about, he found out that the 11th might still be a go.  Well, that didn't happen.  They are saying our stuff will come on the 16th.  Guess someone dropped the ball.  Oh, well.  I have decided that this is kind of like camping but more luxurious.  There is central air here.  And carpets.  And a very easily accessible bathroom, as well as all the amenities of a real kitchen, but with out all the dinnerware or cookware.  That's where it goes back to being like camping. 

 But I have to say being here is so nice.  The past few weeks of wrapping things up in Maine have been stressful.  Last Friday, Mark turned in his cruiser.  He said that felt a bit like retiring and it wasn't a good feeling.  I think his cruiser is more of an extension of him than he realizes.  Monday the girls had a dentist appointment and we left to head south right after that.  It was great to get in the car and know that all our Maine responsibilities were completed and we could focus on settling into our new digs in PA.  Our friends from Houlton created a game for Julia and Hope to play on the ride down, complete with challenges and auctions for goodies.  Thanks Tim & Amy!  We loved it!  The ride down was uneventful and we arrived yesterday afternoon, met with the realtor and signed the lease.  We had clothes with us along with an air mattress and sleeping bags for all, knowing that our first night here we'd be roughing it.  So, roughing it will be a bit longer than expected.  At this point, a bit of R&R (rest and relaxation) is a welcomed change for us!   

Road trip + coffee!!!  Yes, please! 

Julia's creation from pipe cleaners that were a part of the game given by the Witmers.

One of the parts of the Witmer game was for the girls to make silly hats.  After the completion of the hats, they had to get us to wear them at the next rest stop for 5 minutes in order to gain more points.  Don't we look lovely?!

Arrival at our house in Carlisle.

The girls were so excited to have their own rooms, but this is where the prefer to be...together!

Living room (I'm standing in the dining room)

Dining room and kitchen

Our room