Sunday, March 26, 2017

How to Grow (Slowly)

By Wendi Kitsteiner
When I was twenty-one, I married my high school sweetheart. Like him, I had been born and raised in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I had grown up in suburbia, felt comfortable with “city life,” and never thought about doing anything but what I knew. I assumed my husband would feel the same way about our life once he left the military.
At some point during the next twenty years of our marriage, however, my husband’s desires morphed before my eyes. He picked up a book on farming and permaculture at a local library and was hooked. He never looked back or wavered. He was focused.
He wanted to own a farm.
I knew nothing about farming other than what I’d learned during a few days on my great-aunt’s farm outside of Chicago when I was a young girl. I never did anything else remotely rural with my family. We weren’t campers. We weren’t hikers. We were city people who played sports and stayed in hotels and kept ourselves relatively clean.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Joni brings Roy to the Farm!

First up on Roy and Joni's visit -- Isaac talks Joni into playing Bean Boozled. (Roy was having NONE of that.)

Next up, Joan and the kids took a walk over to Grampa and Grama's to visit Ritter. (We have the dogs split up right now because Arabelle is in heat.)

And as always, Joni captures some random wonderfulness from my kiddos: 

Then we take Roy on an adventure to feed and collect eggs:

Joni and Roy went to visit an old friend about an hour from us and took the boys with them. She captured some fun pictures of their adventures (including the boys trying to help each other up onto a hay bale): 

Showing Sidge some bear claw prints!

Roy really liked meeting our pups:

Military Moments (with Amanda!): It's so hard to say good by

I am so excited about a new weekly Blog post from my Amanda. She is going to be doing a "Military Moments" post where she discusses and shares ideas and stories from military life. 

Saying goodbye sucks.  It doesn’t matter why you are saying goodbye. It is just hard to look at someone for what may be the last time, but will certainly be the last time for a while, and try to imagine tomorrow when they aren’t around.  This is the basis of #6 on my pro and con list of life in the military.  “Con –You have to learn to make new friends all the time.”

Last night I had the final dinner with my friend before her family PCSs to Texas. They flew out today, and I’m not sure when I’ll see her again.  I know I said the con was having to learn to make new friends all the time, but the other half of that is that you have to then say goodbye to those friends … again.

We move to a new place still thinking about the people we have just left behind and then trying to figure out how we will present ourselves to the new people we are about to meet. We are caught between never wanting to forget the people you left and trying to fully embrace the possibility of the friendships you could have. I spent the last year getting close to my friend who left.  We will call her Nikky for this post. 

She isn’t like friends I’ve made before.  Usually, I find myself becoming close friends with introverts. I’m sure it’s because I love to talk, so it’s easy for me to do that when I’m with introverts.  

Well, Nikky is even more extroverted than I am. She loves to talk as much as I do, so there was NEVER a quiet moment with the two of us. I’m sure anyone around us could attest to that.
Finding friends may not be the easiest thing, as I’ve learned well over the last 10 years in the military, but when you click with someone it seems effortless and you just know you will forever be connected.  

That’s how it was with Nikky.  

She has two boys, and my two boys loved to play with them. So that added another connection for us. The downside to this, as it always is, someone has to leave. We come into these friendships knowing that we only have a certain amount of time together. 

When you move to a remote assignment, you know the month you will be leaving when you arrive.  One of the first questions people ask each other here is how long you have left. We do it just as conversation starters, but also because we aren’t wasting a lot of effort and brain power to meet someone who’s leaving next month. We try to find people who got here around the same time we did so you aren’t floundering for your last year at a place because your friends all moved at the same time and you’ve been left behind.   That’s what I do, at least, so I can’t speak for everyone.  It’s probably my selfishness coming out, but it’s just hard to say goodbye, and it is hard to get attached to people and watch them walk away or walk away ourselves. 

We know where we are going next, so we are in the mindset of heading out. We are officially the “old” people here because we are in our last 6 months of the assignment. It has all passed in the blink of an eye. We were just getting here and setting up our house, and now we are going through each room deciding what we can live without when we move again.

The military life seems so normal to me now, but it wasn’t always like that.  I am very patriotic. Of course I am, right? My husband is in the military, so maybe it’s a requirement. I don’t know, but I am, and I always have been.  I am used to seeing my husband and a lot of other people walking around in their camo and other uniforms, but it still gets me every single time I hear them all stand up and say the Airman’s Creed.  Their voices all coming together to say that they will fight for me and defend the country I love.  I go to any event where I know they’re going to say it, and I try every time not to cry, and it just doesn’t help.  It is my most favorite thing about being surrounded by these men and women. 

But we still have to move and leave each other. We still have to make our children say goodbye to their friends and watch them cry because they just wanted to see someone one last time. They are used to moving and packing up all of their belongings, and that part doesn’t seem to bother them anymore, but it’s the people.  These people that we meet and connect with. They take a bit of us when they leave us, and we leave a bit behind every time we move. In one way, it is amazing that I know so many people spread out over this whole world, but on the other hand, I am so spread out and pieces are removed so many times that eventually I worry there won’t be enough left of me.

Saying goodbye sucks!

**For a great post on saying goodbye from a non-military family, read this:

The Airman's Creed[1]
I am an American Airman.
I am a Warrior.
I have answered my Nation’s call.
I am an American Airman.
My mission is to Fly, Fight, and Win.
I am faithful to a Proud Heritage,
A Tradition of Honor,
And a Legacy of Valor.
I am an American Airman.
Guardian of Freedom and Justice,
My Nation’s Sword and Shield,
Its Sentry and Avenger.
I defend my Country with my Life.
I am an American Airman.
Wingman, Leader, Warrior.
I will never leave an Airman behind,
I will never falter,
And I will not fail.

Opinions expressed in guest posts are not necessarily those of the station manager (i.e. Wendi!)

Friday, March 24, 2017

Friday Funnies

This week's Friday Funnies will be a series of videos. The first is Joni. She isn't exactly ... tall ... and when she went for a walk with the kids, had to figure out how to put the rope back on the gate. Leave it to 60-something Joni to find a way:

Here she is showing off the muscles that made it all possible:

And here she is celebrating:

Joni also had a talk with Hannah about the fact that she won't wear pants. Hannah .... I'll let her speak for herself:

On her walk with Abigail, Abigail got silly. I love that Joni got this on video. Our little shy girl has been EMERGING from her shell with a dramatic flair. She makes us smile so big. She decided to do some "modern ballet" in this performance:

Scrubs Memorial Day

We are coming up on April 1. Hard to believe but nearly one year since we said good bye to our Scrubs.

Sidge took his loss the hardest. Well, next to me that is. He's our most tender hearted but also our biggest animal lover. He cries and talks of Scrubs often.

I learned a lot about death and grieving by losing Scrubs and walking Sidge through it. I didn't want to talk about Scrubs. But Sidge needed to.

And maybe I needed to also.

Last week Sidge asked me, all on his own, if we could have a memorial for Scrubs. He asked if he could plan it.

Because my in-laws will be out of town and JB is working on April 1, we decided to have it today. Sidge has planned to sit and watch videos of Scrubs, and eat cake shaped like a bone, and put spots on balloons, and eat chocolate chip cookies.

Last night I went through old videos and blog posts of Scrubs and sobbed. Just cried and cried and cried. It has been awhile since I cried hard like that.

I'm very torn. I know this memorial day is a good thing. Sidge especially needs it, and all the kids are looking forward to it.

Remembering him is so wonderful but also so hard all wrapped into one.

I love you Scrubs. It's been a year, and I feel I miss you just as much as I did a year ago. And not only do I miss you, but I feel I'm getting farther away from memories with you. I keep saying you were just a dog, but you honestly were a member of our family. You were one of my kids. I've had you longer than I have had them. 

Why couldn't you have stayed around a little longer?

You were ... the Best dog ever.

Love you boy.

This memorial day is for you.

And maybe for us too.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

On the mend

Hannah and I got sick on nearly the exact same day and nearly at the exact same moment. It was Wednesday night last week. That makes today one week exactly that the two of us were LAID UP. You all know how active my girl is. She truly spent one week SOLID on the couch or in her bed. She told us her legs hurt but otherwise didn't complain. She just laid around. So did I. The other three kids seemed okay and so did all the grown-ups so just the two of us felt horrible together. 

And then today, like some miracle, both of us woke up and were sort of back to ourselves. I helped JB a ton on the farm and even braved a solo trip on the four-wheeler by myself for the first time:

And Hannah, well I will leave you with a series of pictures that show how back-to-herself our little Sleeping Beauty is. We knew she was better when she put a cape back on, put on something other than her underwear, and then changed clothes again. :)

If you think of it, please pray for our Isaac. He is now showing signs of the flu as well, and we have tickets for him to attend a concert for a very famous pianist: George Winston on Saturday.