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Friday, May 24, 2019

Because as far as months go, this one has been a bit of a roller-coaster. Only a bit though, and it could be far worse.  There's so much out of our control that we just have to look at each other and repeat (ad nauseum) "It'll work out" because... well, we just have to.

Let's just do an update, shall we?

Katherine.  Katherine is in Maryland and we delivered 2 cats to her when we came over for Nicholas's boot camp graduation. It was a shock to our furballs. Not only tossed on a plane for 8 hours, but then driven for an hour, and relocated to an apartment that was entirely foreign.  Katherine traveled with us to SC for the graduation, so her SO had them alone for those few days.  They were not amused.  So not amused.  The smallest, tightest, furthest corners became their hideaways.  But Katherine came home, they've adapted, and all is right in their world again.  Katherine has herself a basic clearance and is bar tending at the nearby military base which she seems to thoroughly enjoy.  A while back she worked at Medieval Times, followed that with some bar tending here in Frankfurt at our Fieldhouse Wunderbar, and now serves on base. I think it's a good thing for her right now, flexible evening hours and she's comfortable.

Rebecca. Becca is in her 3rd year at SCAD. She's settled on Production Design and is thoroughly enjoying herself.  Her instructors can see her value too - in her creativity, ability, and tenacity. She was nominated for a paid contract with Tyler Perry Studios, drove to Atlanta for her interview, won a spot, and is currently commuting between Savannah and Atlanta to take classes on some days while working set design on the others.  Once the school year ends she can move to Atlanta full-time for the rest of the contract (which, have I mentioned, also provides housing?). It's an amazing opportunity for her and one she doesn't take lightly.  Mokka travels the 8 hours back and forth with her and seems to just love the outdoorsy time in Atlanta.

Nicholas. PFC Hopper is training to be a mortarman and seems to be loving it. There's a story there, of course there is.  All Marines are rifleman, but to what degree depends on their MOS, or their Marine Corps Military Occupational Specialty.  Some do 5 weeks of infantry training and then move on to their non-infantry MOS - chef, truck maintenance, pilot, there are so many so check out the MOS list here. Others do 11 weeks of infantry training and go into an Infantry MOS, one of which is mortarman. I said there was a story, but now that I'm trying to write it I realize that operational security is telling me not to. I mean, I wrote the whole thing and the further I got the more it made me nervous. Those darn AFN commercials! So suffice to say, he's in mortarman training and he's learning so much (oh, he thought he'd get away from school work, huh?).

Jonathon. Jonathon has finished his exams and gets the rest of the time off until graduation. He is provisionally accepted to the University of Essex in the UK, because of course he is.  We'd finally figured out the U.S. college system, so he's going UK. It all depends on his test scores of course and though he assures us that all the exams were "fine" he did recently note that on the English exam he confused Hamlet and Macbeth.  So... I'm sure that won't hurt him too much, right? It's only English Literature question about the Bard in an IB curriculum for a UK school. He's thoroughly enjoying weekly volleyball and ultimate Frisbee and we'll all miss these wonderful community events when we leave. In the meantime, we're already packed out and just have the PS4, AppleTV, and his Alienware thing to keep us occupied.  Oh, and Gloomhaven, can't forget Gloomhaven.  Since Gloomhaven is going in our UAB it's still with us until Tuesday, so I think we have one more campaign in us before it's boxed up indefinitely.

Us.  Oh, Us. As everyone knows, Baghdad is our onward assignment.  The movers came Monday and Tuesday and took 4600lbs of our belongings to storage.  For Baghdad we're lucky we get to bring 900lbs of belongings in an air shipment, but everything else we own is going into a unit somewhere to wait. Until the 28th we have our suitcases and UAB and welcome kit.  After the 28th we have our suitcases and welcome kit.  After the 2nd, we have our suitcases, but we'll be in a hotel, so alles gut.  And then the 28th of June arrives... and as of right now Ian will be heading to Baghdad alone (maybe...) and I'll be living with my parents.


Baghdad is the issue. Mission Baghdad is currently on Ordered Departure, which means that everyone considered essential - who is already at post - can stay. Non-essential employees (read... 80+% of State and USAID, and some others) were ordered to leave.  And if an essential employee was out of country for any reason they cannot return.  And new employees whose position is essential cannot arrive. That's as it is today. Tomorrow it may change.  But what we do know is that my position is non-essential so I will not be heading to Baghdad at the end of June.  Ian may not, but I will not.  As of today.

Of course we are lucky in many regards.  The kids are all in place.  We're not freaking out any elementary school kids or trying frantically to find a home in a great school district.  My parents have said I can stay with them as long as I need to, and our hope is that the ordered departure will be lifted shortly and I can join Ian when it does.  It may be wishful thinking, but it's where we are. Our air shipment is earmarked for Baghdad, which is currently not receiving any shipments anyway!  So it will most likely sit in Frankfurt for a while until a decision is made.  Since I haven't been officially told yet that I am not going to Baghdad at any point, and I'm still scheduled for two classes in June in order to be approved for travel, a large chunk of the air shipment is... my things - clothing, hobbies, cooking items. So, yeah.

There you have it.

What do we know?

On 26 May, my mom arrives for graduation. On the 28 May, we pack our UAB.  On 1 June, our youngest graduates HS. On 2 June, we depart Frankfurt.

After that, it's anyone's guess.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Our PFC.

I wouldn't have traded being there for the world.

Today he heads to his next training in NC.

I am back in Germany with Jonathon.  Katherine is in MD. Becca in GA. Ian in VA.

My family.....

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Almost there

Nicholas is nearing the end of boot camp.  He's already a Marine!  Mission accomplished once he completed the Crucible a week ago and these last two weeks are tying up all those loose ends.  Additional training, banking, classes, uniforms, practice, etc.  We'll see him on Thursday.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Nicholas found!

New "Where's Waldo" discovery!

Probably from Friday, January 25.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Nicholas is in Boot Camp

Well, as of January 10th he was!

There's this thing that we're essentially told not to do, and that's to go looking for photos of our recruits.  But here's the other thing, every parent of the kids in this platoon is almost desperate for word, any word. Since these young men gave up their phones on Jan 7, we haven't heard or received anything but a standard 15-second phone call on Jan 9 that we missed (Becca was in class, she got a voicemail which she shared with us), and a form letter that was sent to Becca that she photoed and shared with us.

But there's another thing. Families who go to boot camp graduation tour around the island and SEE THE NEW AND MIDWAY RECRUITS.  And they take photos.  And they post them.  And people see them and share them and we see our kids. Technically, these recruits have not given permission for these photos to be shared, these are not taken by the official photographers that do the uniform photos or build the boot camp yearbook. 

Aside from the rare sneaky photo, we wait for a letter.  Again, it'll go to Becca and she'll share with us, but so far, nothing.

That doesn't surprise us.  He's not much of a writer, and I would guess that if he did write, he would get emotional and he probably doesn't want to do that more than what reading our letters already do. So I get it.  I also know that by the time we get whatever he writes he will already have gone through so much more and his thoughts and feelings at that time are gone and buried under a dozen new challenges and a 100 new emotional roller coasters.

So we rely on the old adage "no news is good news."  As far as we know he's not sick, he's not injured, he's not falling behind, he's not starving, he is sleeping, and he has no hair.

Send good thoughts his way, OK?

Sunday, January 13, 2019

The week starting the day after Christmas was hard...

On December 26, this one went home to Maryland - to her apartment, her new car, her SO, her job.

She won't be back to Germany, but we'll get to see her in April and/or June.

Then on January 2, these two went to Georgia.  It was a long hard trip, Mokka had to be at the airport on December 31 and the pet shippers had everything arranged for her to fly out early on the 2nd.

Then on January 3, this one shipped out to Boston to get over jetlag and in-process at MEPS. He spent Thurs-Mon at the hotel, and Saturday afternoon he spent with our awesome friend Jerry and his kids at the aquarium, then caught a Bruins game in the evening. He was glad he didn't bring a jersey.

To say the house is super quiet now is an understatement. I knew this holiday season would be different - this year would be different - and so far it hasn't disappointed.

Jonathon is going to have far too much parent time....

We have a trip to Wroclaw, Poland and Geneva, Switzerland yet...

.... and several other things, but for now, how about this?

It only took 2 hours and here it is under a "second skin" wrap, with blood pooling at the bottom. I never knew tattoos bled. You know, sometimes it really is better to go into something without knowing anything about it.

48 hours later and wow... it looked awful but was also time to take off the wrap. The wrap kept the sheets clean.

Oh the suspense.....

Wrap off and pretty sure that the blobs all over weren't part of the original sketch?

A shower, some gentle soap, and some healing cream and I. Am. DELIGHTED.  It's gorgeous.

I have to say that I don't think I'll ever get another one. BTDT. It has everything I want on it and don't let anyone ever tell you it doesn't hurt.  Thick lines hurt. A lot. So very much. The last twenty minutes were no fun at all.

But it was worth it. Ian and I made a deal years ago that if the Caps won the Cup we would get tattoos.  I think the original intent was matching ones, and you've seen Ian's...

Full splendor with the Cup and the year.  Very cool.  I guess I wanted one a little more personal and I don't regret it one bit.