Friday, March 27, 2015


Hey, remember me?  Yeah, I'm still here!  I just took an unexpected year-long break from the blog!  There have been A LOT of changes in our lives this year and I'm still learning how to balance it all.  It has been a beautiful ride with a lot of learning and growth along the way.  I think I'm finally ready to jump back onto the blogging wagon!  However, I still have 9 old unpublished posts (left over from a year ago!), and most of them are worth posting, I think, so I'll try to get caught up by posting those first and eventually start publishing more current topics. Bear with me as I work to get back on track!

So, for now, here's some old news!  Enjoy!

PCS #1: NEBRASKA!  Our first duty station is Offutt AFB (Air Force Base) near Omaha, Nebraska!


Yes!  Nebraska!  Land of corn fields.  And more corn fields.  Oh, and that cute little small town.  And more corn fields...  

But... you mean... Tornado Alley?!?

Yup.  That's the one.

NO!!!!!  WHY?!?!?!

My thoughts exactly.      But, only at first.

Nebraska?  The only thing I knew about Nebraska was what Hollywood taught me.  TORNADOES.  Big, mile-wide tornadoes that throw cows and cars and flatten houses to resemble the landscape.  I was terrified.
During basic training, Rob was given an opportunity to submit a "wish list" of the top 16 bases he would like to be stationed at; a list of the top 8 foreign, and the top 8 domestic locations.  We came up with our list together, ahead of time.  We thought it through and decided it would be great to be stationed somewhere overseas while we still have a relatively small family.  We were offered the helpful hint that if we only filled out the foreign list and left the domestic one blank, we would be almost 100% guaranteed to go foreign.  We also knew that the top Honor Graduate at basic training would be given their top choice if at all possible.  Rob filled out his wish list with places like Japan, Italy and Germany.  He then graduated at the top of his class, and we waited for the news of our new foreign home!

... Nebraska

Wait, what?

Nebraska wasn't even on our list!  I didn't even know there was an Air Force Base in Nebraska.  I asked... no, pleaded with Rob to trade with someone else.  (We heard there was an option to trade with another airman with the same AFSC.)  He looked around for a trade, but also encouraged me to do some research on Nebraska.  

Reluctantly I did a little research and this is what I found: It turns out the last time Omaha has had a tornado do any real damage was over 100 years ago.  It's flat, windy, humid, hotter in the summers and cooler in the winters than Utah (where we currently live), and the tornadoes and thunderstorms are most frequent in the spring.  From what I've read so far, it sounds like if we see a tornado at all, it will likely be pretty small and very far away.  Hmm... maybe Nebraska isn't so bad.  After all, we would be living near a big city.  A lot of people live there.  I'm hoping that means they don't get those Hollywood, mile-wide tornadoes every year.  Alright, alright, now I just feel silly.  I may have over-reacted.  Nebraska doesn't sound too bad.  But I still didn't mind if Rob traded for somewhere else.
The longer I thought and learned about our new assignment, though, the more excited I got about the possibility of accepting it.  I joined the Offutt Spouses and Families page on Facebook and "met" a few of the families who live there.  I started looking at the military housing, and I was sold.  Fear melted into excitement and now the day of our road trip has finally arrived.

We camped out on the floor of our empty house for two nights after the movers had packed up our things.  When the morning of the move arrived, I wasn't quite myself.  I felt a wave of sadness as I took a last look at what we were leaving behind.  Provo has been a place of great learning and growth.  There are so many sweet memories here.  It almost feel like I am abandoning a part of myself.  I'm grateful I've kept a somewhat consistent journal over the last handful of years.  I hope I've captured this season of life well enough in my memory and writing that I might keep it with me forever.  As we drove away, I took 20 million pictures of Mount Timpanogos, the majestic landmark I've climbed and woken up to for so long.  I've heard our new home will have no similar landmark.  I've never lived so far from the mountains before.  I know I'll miss them.
Goodbye, Mt. Timpanogos
DAY 1:
Our chapter in Provo, Utah has ended and our journey to Nebraska has officially begun.  As we took off down the highway, I watched sentimental landmarks blur by through tears.  Around each corner, another memory.  It was like watching a highlight reel.
It's only about a 14-hour drive to Offutt AFB, but our road trip was split into two days.  Due to military restrictions we were only allowed 8 hours or 500 miles on the road per day.  At 7 hours and 450 miles into our trip, we determined Cheyenne, Wyoming represented about the half-way point of our journey.  We're Cheyenne bound!  CHEYENNE!!  Now that's a location I can wrap my heart around!  Setting my sights on Cheyenne provided a little bit of  excitement to relieve the nostalgia.  I can't wait to see this part of "cowboy country," a city I've heard sung about in so many of my favorite country songs!
I was feeling much better by the time we stopped for gas in a small town in western Wyoming.  My heart was in adventure mode.  I forgot my sadness and felt like a kid in a candy store photographing as much of the countryside and cowboy decals as I could.
We let Kimber out to eat and stretch her legs.  As we walked and took pictures I wondered why we didn't just stop in Wyoming and live there.  It was so beautiful and just felt like "home."  So big and open, and like living in a feel-good country song.
On the road again, I took about another 8 million pictures of the landscape.  I'd never seen the sky look so big!  At this point, I was so giddy about being in Wyoming that I took a picture of every single interstate sign we passed for about a hundred miles!  I wanted a good picture of one because they had "Wyoming" written on them.  I wasn't completely satisfied with any of the pictures I had taken so far because of the motion blur!  I'll admit that this particular photo was taken with my camera arm out the window while we were traveling at highway speed.  Why do I care so much about documenting my life in this much detail?  I'm not sure.
In between interstate signs, I also took pictures of just about anything else that looked like it ought to belong in Wyoming.  My SD card quickly filled up with redundant photos of the sky, fields, cattle, tractors, and cattle trailers.
While Rob drove and I entertained myself with my camera, Kimber impressed us with her calm and patient behavior.  She's accustomed to being allowed to roam free in the car when we take her places.  She usually walks back and forth in the back seat area and looks out the windows, but since we would be travelling at high speeds for an extended period of time, we decided to kennel her for this trip.  She must have been bored and frustrated with her limited view, but she was very quiet and waited politely between rest stops.  What an amazing dog!  She has been a great blessing.
Later that evening we hit a snow storm.  I realize now that I've used the term "snow storm" pretty librally in the past... and I had no idea what I was talking about.  This is the first time I have ever seen snow fall horizontally!  The wind was so strong that snow was drifting across the road ahead of us.  Despite the conditions, we REALLY wanted to make it to Cheyenne before stopping for the night, so we kept driving on though we were the only sedan on the interstate as far as we could tell.  It was just us, a few 4wd vehicles and lots of semi-trucks.
Fortunately we made it to our hotel safely that night and got some sleep before facing the winter conditions again the next morning.

DAY 2:
When we got on the road again in the morning, the conditions were even more extreme.  We saw a lot of trucks off the road, and an ambulance or a tow truck every so often.
We saw so many that we decided to try to keep a tally of how many we saw run off the road.
Most of the wrecks seemed to be clustered just after driving under an overpass.  We noticed our own car sliding a bit in these places too.
We continued driving slowly and carefully over the ice, and tried to keep our pace up enough to get to Omaha before dark.  We were lucky on multiple occasions to drive through passages just before the road was closed behind us.
It turns out that MANY semi-truck drivers were NOT as fortunate as we were.  There were never-ending lines of vehicles stuck behind the road closures going the opposite direction.  We also noted that we were once again the only sedan on the road.  Among only a few 4wd vehicles and lots of semis, we realized (spoiler alert!) how blessed we were to reach Omaha safely that day.
After crossing the state line into Nebraska and as our altitude decreased, the ice on the roads cleared up and we even found the sun again.  The blanket of white gave way to cornfields, tractors, windmills and silos.  "Well, here we are!" I thought.  This is exactly how I'd pictured Nebraska to look like.  LOTS of corn fields!  Even the clouds had corn rows!
It was after dark when we arrived in Omaha.  It was late and we were tired, but curiosity got the best of us so we drove by our new house before checking into a hotel for the night.  I already love our new home even though I haven't been inside it yet!  We've seen pictures and floor-plans online, so we have an idea of what it might be like.  The one we're moving into is much larger that what we qualified for.  Rob is a brand-new recruit and we have a very small family, but the smaller homes were all full so we were given a two-level, 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath, 2 car garage home with a back yard and a GIANT park behind our house!  We definitely have room to grow!

DAY 3:
Move-in day!  We got the keys to our new home just before the moving company arrived in town with our things, so the movers brought all of our boxes and furniture that same morning!  From all the stories about military moves that we've heard, we knew we were unusually lucky to have things play out this way.  In any other case, our belongings would have been dropped off at a storage unit somewhere.  Then we would have had to get by with whatever we brought with us in the car until we were able to schedule our things to be picked up again and brought to our home.  I've heard this process could take a week or two in many cases.

I loved watching the moving company "unpack" us!  It was an amazingly efficient process!  And they put each box and piece of furniture in the room it belonged in!  This saved us DAYS of work!  They even offered to reassemble anything that had to be disassembled for the move.
I'm so glad we had a team of people moving all of our furniture and boxes because we got to use the energy we saved to start unpacking our house right away!  We had a few feet of packing paper covering the family room floor by the time we were done unpacking the kitchen alone!  We couldn't resist the temptation to take a break and play in it!  We hid Kimber's toys in the paper and made her hunt and dig for them.  She's already loving her new home!
We took Kimber on a walk and I met an opossum for the first time. I didn't expect it to be so cute!
NEBRASKA.  We moved to Nebraska.  I never thought I would find myself living here.  Life has so many unexpected surprises.  I feel nervous, unsure and far from home.  I feel blessed that I don't have to feel lonely too though, because I'm here with my wonderful husband and sweet puppy.  I'm not sure what our next few years are going to be like, but I'm happy to be anywhere as long as I'm with the ones I love.  Here's to our next great adventure!