Friday, June 28, 2013

A New Life in Virginia

Here we are!  We are residents of Alexandria, Virginia!

Packers packed up our Carlisle house on June 17th and 18th.

As they loaded the truck on the 18th, I cleaned like a mad woman behind them in an effort to get out of the house ASAP!  When it was finished and the last bit of our stuff was out, our new Brazilian neighbors who moved into the Grants' house, made pizza for us for dinner and then we were on our way.

Or so we thought.

We stopped to weigh our's all a part of moving with the military, weighing vehicles empty then full.  We got onto the road, GPS set to the new house, arrival time in a little under 2 hours, 9 pm.  That was until this little incident...

Ugh.  Flat tire.  Mark said the reason this happened was to re-hone his Trooper skill of changing a tire on the side of the interstate.  Of course it had to start raining.  And by God's grace, He protected Mark changing the tire and we were on our way again after getting air in the spare and a snack for our bellies.  Now GPS says arrival time of 11:15.

We finally made it, slept quick and were there to greet the movers to unload at 9:30 am on the 19th.  Were you keeping track?  We were packed on the 17th, packed more and loaded on the 18th, and unloaded on the 19th.  We were tired.  Our bodies sore.  And very grateful we didn't have to do it all ourselves.

I so wished I would have taken more pics on moving in day.  Of course that is me thinking all rested and not up to my arm pits in packing paper.  I got the kitchen unpacked the day we moved in.  I didn't want to wake up on the brink of insanity again.  I was glad I did it the next day, but I think while I was doing it, I might have barked at my hubby and kiddos a few time.  And shed a few tears too.

The girls found a perfect spot out back for a fort.  I think it's awesome!

Thursday, the 20th, we decided to take a break from the unpacking and make sure Mark was proficient in using the Metro.  Before we set out...we had a little visitor.

Isn't he adorable?  His grandparents live 8 miles from us!  He was hanging with them while Mom & Dad had a little vacation after a long time apart thanks to the school Dad went to train in his F16.

So, here we are as tourists.  I'm telling you now, we are year long tourists.

Friday, Mark had his first day.  It was training and in processing.  He got to meet some of his co-workers and see a bit about what it is like being a Battle Captain.  Here's his new ride...

This is our neighborhood sign.  Aren't those children adorable?!!?  I think I need to take them home with me!!

Mark survived his first few days of training and in processing.  Us girls are enjoying our new surroundings.  The pool is our favorite spot.  We went to the Dive-In Movie that showed at our pool a couple nights ago.  It was so much fun, though the girls say they need to see the movie at home to know what actually happened!

Yesterday Mark had a day off, but needed to run some paper work to Fort Belvoir, less than 2 miles from our house, and then to Fort Myer.  Traffic seems to be the main topic discussed in this area.  Here's traffic on 395 at 2:15...  Then after hitting Myer, we went back to Belvoir to hit the new PX.  It opened last week and boasts at being the biggest PX in the world.  It reminded me more of the Bangor Mall than a PX.  Amazing.  Too bad I bought the wrong kind of rechargeable batteries yesterday...we'll have to just go back and exchange them today!  :) 

Today is Mark's first day doing his actual job solo.  His schedule will be 12 hour shifts working 4 days on then 4 days off.  Today is day one of the 4 on.  He will work days for a month, then nights for a month, and back to days.  If you have never done shift work and are thinking this is crazy....there are benefits of working shifts.  Like sight seeing on a Tuesday.  Hitting the PX when every one else is at work.  Hanging with the kiddos in the middle of the day.  It's full of good stuff.  Besides, us Trooper families, we are used to this stuff.  The best part about this job is lots of it is top secret stuff.  Therefore no take home work!!  As wonderful as the schedule was at the USAWC, Mark always had homework.  And with the MSP...he worked 24/7.  Here...nothing!  YAY!

Thanks for all your prayers as we transitioned.  Things have gone so smoothly so far!  We appreciate the prayers.  Keep praying!

I found this yesterday and thought it was too good not to share.  The dandelion is the official flower of the military child.  Read this.  I found it here.

I love it.  Who ever came up with it...genius.  Though most of our life we don't live as a traditional Army family, we have experienced three moves in the past three years, one with the Maine State Police and two with the Army.  I think this fits.  I hope you enjoy it and remember it when you come in contact with our amazing military kids!

The Dandelion – The Flower of the Military Child
"The official flower of the military child is the dandelion. Why? The plant puts down roots almost anywhere, and it's almost impossible to destroy. It's an unpretentious plant, yet good looking. It's a survivor in a broad range of climates. Military children bloom everywhere the winds carry them. They are hardy and upright. Their roots are strong, cultivated deeply in the culture of the military, planted swiftly and surely. They're ready to fly in the breezes that take them to new adventures, new lands, and new friends.

Experts say that military children are well-rounded, culturally aware, tolerant, and extremely resilient. Military children have learned from an early age that home is where their hearts are, that a good friend can be found in every corner of the world, and that education doesn't only come from school. They live history. They learn that to survive means to adapt, that the door that closes one chapter of their life opens up to a new and exciting adventure full of new friends and new experiences."

Sunday, June 16, 2013


We are so thankful for our friends at the Army War College.  It was a great week of getting together with so many and saying goodbye.  It was hard though.  Especially on the kids.  More tears were shed this week than in the last year.  I have decided that I'm not making any more new friends!  Here's a few pics....

Sunday, June 9, 2013


Let me set the stage...  It had been raining up until 6am and 48 hour previous.  The phone had been ringing with seminar mates asking if graduation had changed venues to indoors.  Mean while, I am praying that the sky clears and ushers in a beautiful day.  See, if it rains, we would not be able to see Mark get his diploma.  We, the family members, would be ushered to different locations to watch graduation on closed circuit TV.  I wanted to be there so badly.  I wanted it outside with no rain therefore I prayed.  Along with Mark's parents, our friends, Chris & Vicky Grotton came to join in the celebration of of the day!  It was so fun to see them and have them be able to see our year long hang out in Carlisle.  As we left to walk over to graduation, there was that Ahhh moment where the clouds seemed to part and the sun shone through.  Okay, a bit dramatic, but honestly, that what it seemed like.  So the morning was a perfect, overcast, kinda humid, but not totally hot kind of perfect morning for a graduation.  We found perfect seats, right across the aisle from our grad.  Perfect for grabbing pictures of the seminar like this...

....and this...

...and if you hand your camera to your super cool friend, Vicky, who traveled all the way from Maine to be can have an awesome one of you, your adorable daughter and your this...

The chief of the Army, General Odienero spoke.  If you would like to listen to his speech, which I should do because I think I spent more time taking pictures and texting my grad, than listening, click HERE.

Here's another video, more of a montage of the highlights of graduation.

When Seminar 10 was up to receive diplomas, I went to the photo op area to grab a pic of Mark getting his diploma.  I was extremely frustrated that people were not following instructions given of getting out of the way if it is not your seminar getting diplomas, so the pics I got were awful!  But as I was fuming walking back to my seat, I heard my name being called...and surprise! Mark's cousin and his wife, Daren & Kristie Seekins, were there!!   Daren texted a pic of Kristie & I together to Mark and when I walked back to my seat, past Mark, the look on his face was priceless!!  What a great surprise!

Here are a few more pics of the day...

Hope had a late night the night before.  Dodge ball and Rock-n-Bowl kept her up to 11pm.  Meme's shoulder was so nice to take a quick nap on. 

Walking off the stage

After Graduation and showing Chris, Vicky, Daren & Kristie around, we sat down for lunch together and I think my stomach still hurts from laughing so much!

This was waaaay too funny of a pic to not post.  I didn't take it and was so surprised to find this among the pics. 

We scooted out of lunch with everyone to attend a promotion ceremony of COL Stephanie Williams.  Steph and Mark were in Seminar 10 together and Mark did the invocation for her promotion.

When Mark and I went to bed that night, he was all smiles, remarking that the day had been one of his best ever.  I had to agree.  To be with the people that you love from both home and Carlisle, to mark the end of a huge accomplishment, to share a fun meal and to giggle all day long with those people, makes for one unforgettable day.  It was such a fitting end to an amazing year at the US Army War College.