Wednesday, December 30, 2009

4 people, 3 shovels, and 2 hours

this is the walkway leading up to my front door

snow piled in the back of the truck (all I want for Christmas is a 2-car garage...!)

me, shoveling. It really took us 2 hours just to uncover the driveway enough to get out.

Well we definitely had a white Christmas! Two of my sisters and a niece flew out from Utah and were excited about the amount of snow to play in. I think we got over 2 feet in one day. Unfortunately it's cold, dry powder, so it's not much good for anything except shoveling =( Actually it would be perfect for snowboarding, if we had any hills around, not to mention mountains.
It has been fun having visitors, and it was nice to have extra help with the shoveling, but J and I both agree, it's time to have our house back!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A weird day

As the proprietor/engineer/leader of the ward book club, I encourage people to submit book ideas as well as attend the monthly meetings. This month I had lower attendance than usual, with an interesting newcomer. Let's just say there is a conflict of interest with my husband's job... This puts me in a strange position, since the person in question doesn't know what my husband does for a living.
Anyway, I am searching for a peaceful, tactful solution that doesn't involve me being questioned by the authorities. This poor girl didn't know what she was getting into by joining my club!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

frustrated and upset

My trial right now is Cub Scouts. At first I thought the hard part would be getting familiar with all the awards, ranks and advancements. Since I obviously have never participated in Scouts before, that part has been difficult to sort out. Regardless, I have plowed through and am getting a better understanding each week. The problem is not the ceremonies, or even the boys. I have a great group, and although it was supposed to be a joint calling, my other half is usually too busy to help out much. Nope, I pulled off a good pack meeting tonight, singlehandedly. With a lot of work and preparation, I had all the achievements ready to award, a fun game, song and cheers. The boys participated and had a good time. My struggle isn't even with the parents. Most of the boys have good, supportive parents who help them achieve their goals.

My problem is the administrative part. I recently completed my first purchase of awards for a pack meeting. Having been asked previously to limit my spending from the budget, I have been just paying out-of-pocket for the few supplies and snacks necessary. To my surprise, I spent over $82 on awards! Chagrined, and hoping to be reimbursed, I submitted my FIRST receipt for these symbols of my boys' achievements and hard work, only to be rebuffed and chastised for spending any money!!

Now, may I ask, what else could I have done? Not purchased the awards my Scouts have earned? Paid for them by myself like I have been doing for everything else? Waited a few months before turning in my one and only request for reimbursement?

I think it highly unfair that I was put in this position to feel guilty about spending money on something that is normal and necessary.

Does it make me a bad person to want to feel some appreciation every once in a while? Or at least more guidance as to what I should be doing?

Maybe I just take things too personally.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

feeling helpless

My hubby's brother is deployed to Iraq (again) so he suggested I come visit his wife in Colorado while he is gone. In the past few weeks, her two sons (28 months and 16 months) have both gotten sick, injured, and otherwise visited the emergency room 4 times. Her husband was in a car wreck and lost a teammate, and also his job in the Army. They have moved twice, with the help of neighbors and ward members. Her mother-in-law (who came out to help) has put the family in an enormous amount of debt due to bad choices and refuses to take any responsibililty, as well as being extremely critical of her parenting methods and very unhelpful.
So I am here, doing my best to help and feeling a bit helpless since most of the situation is out of my control. I can play with the kids and cook dinner to give her a break but not ease the stress. I am just praying that things work out with him finding a job and that they can get out of debt.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Big Day

Happy Birthday Allison!

This is us one year ago today. She looks little but Ally weighed in at 8lbs 1oz (no wonder I look tired).

Ally has such a cheesy grin, I have had many people tell me how they can't stop smiling back at her.

Some stats about Allison:

- she confidently WALKS all over the house
- She has 11.5 teeth
- She will eat ANYTHING
- She LABELS all her favorite things (dog, cracker, milk, frog, book,)
- She says a few PHRASES like "I love you" and "all done" and "thank you"
- She loves her mom but Dad is definitely her favorite. Every day he walks in the door, she yells "DADDY!" and makes her way toward him as fast as her little legs can go.
- She loves BOOKS, especially ones with pictures of animals and other babies
- She plays peek-a-boo by covering one of her eyes with her hand.
- She is obsessed with BUTTONS (on shirts, dressers, bathtub, etc.)

My life has definitely changed in the past year. I went from a full-time student with 2 jobs to a full-time mom. I went from the wife of a mechanic to the wife of a federal agent, from SD to ND. I was a teacher for other people's children, now I get to teach my own (I still coach other kids though). My life is very different but very blessed. Now that Ally is a part of it, I can't imagine doing anything else. She keeps me on my toes and I am never bored.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Focus on the positive...

Why do we, as women, judge ourselves so harshly?

Why do we focus on the five pounds left to lose instead of the 35 already lost?

Why do we stress about the one room in the house that has not yet been cleaned?

Why do we feel guilty about the one night this week we had hot dogs for dinner?

Why do we look at others and compare ourselves to them, seeing only the good qualities we have not yet attained?

I think we are inherently predisposed to bettering ourselves. Unfortunately we go one step further, causing frustration and anxiety by focusing on what we have NOT done yet instead of our potential.

My goal this month is to focus on the positive! I will give myself kudos for what I accomplish and recognize the good in my life.

-I will be grateful for the new friends I have made instead of lamenting the ones left behind.

-I will appreciate the beautiful fall colors instead of concentrating on the imminent winter approaching.

-I will congratulate the successes of my daughter's development instead of the thoughts of a past career.

-I will take advantage of the opportunities I have to visit family instead of thinking about the distance between us.

-I will enjoy the challenge of a new calling and the opportunity to grow in an area outside my usual comfort.

-I will recognize my Savior's love and all the many blessings I have in my life.

This will be a great month!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Two looong trips

We traveled to Utah twice this month.

The first trip was planned in advance, for my little brother's wedding. He is now married to a wonderful sweet girl that is adjusting to being a Rollins (it's difficult, we are weird). We flew out for a weekend, attended the wedding, visited in-laws, and somehow also drove up to Boise for a day. First class on the way home, plus another adult to help with Ally made for a nice, if fast, trip. (my 5th trip since Ally was born, my 1st with Josh around)
Us at the temple

The next trip was less than 2 weeks after the first due to my grandfather's passing. He was 88 years old and just beginning to consider moving in with one of his children to be looked after. Since my grandmother preceeded him in death almost four years ago, it was not completely unexpected, but still sad. We drove the almost 20-hour trip in two days, mostly at night for Ally's benefit.

Here we are at a Splash Park in Utah (note the mountains in the background).

My yard in ND (pre-fence)

My yard (half of a fence). And still deer...

The day we left for Utah (the second time), we finished installing the fence to keep our dogs in and the deer out. I have to brag that I did 90% of the fence post installation while Josh was at work, although I needed help with the stretching.

I have been attempting to find my niche since we moved here in June. I feel that I am making progress with the neighbors and people in the ward, as well as other moms at the awesome playland and family area at the gym on base. I finally realised what I had been missing when a mom mentioned to me that her daughter needed a coach for her soccer team.

Ever since graduating from high school I have been coaching soccer, I even ran a program through the Youth Center at my last base for 3-5 year olds teaching the basics. Naturally I jumped at the chance and am now joyfully coaching a 4-year-old team. I love interacting with children and I love sports so a combination of the two is exactly what I needed to feel involved.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

People Eating Tasty Animals

Ok this blog isn't about eating animals, I just saw that on a bumper sticker and thought it was worth repeating (sorry to any animal rights activists I may offend).
Ally and I took a last-minute trip to Minneapolis this weekend, tagging along with Josh on his first TDY. The drive was uneventful but the weekend was awesome! We went to the zoo;

Ally pet a goat

and LOVED the prairie dogs (one of her favorite words is "dog" so she had fun yelling that at the little furry guys who would stand up and chitter).

*One of my major pet peeves is when parents deliberately teach their children incorrect things. If an animal is in a cage with a large sign identifying it, don't call it something else! I seriously watched a mom tell her older children to look at the 8 foot tall "duck" in the ostrich cage. Ok it's one thing to call a bison "buffalo" but everything with antlers is not a deer!
We of course also went to the Mall of America, which is HUGE!
This is the middle of the mall, I think I counted 4 roller coasters as well as lots of other cool rides. All the stores (4 floors) surround this central area. It took me about half an hour to walk around each floor, so we spent a good part of the day inside the mall.
MMM Cinnabon. My first job was actually at a Cinnabon. Funny story, I was "let go" because I had an "unacceptable rolling technique" which means I rolled them counter-clockwise instead of clockwise. I still eat them though.
It was nice to get away, I feel somewhat secluded here now that I can't drive out to visit family in one day anymore. I am slowly finding my place here in the ward and on base. The base here actually has some really great programs and facilities that I intend to take advantage of.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

New life in ND

Ok... I finally feel like I live in a house, instead of walls held up by boxes. After a one week wait in TLF (not quite the 1-3 months we were told) we were given the keys to our house. It is a refurbished (old) house but with a spacious yard and basement. Not too bad considering our last house had zero storage space.

We had originally decided to rent a house off base but apparently heating bills range from $500-700 per month to combat the regular -50 temps, and the city of Grand Forks is quite a commute from the base. Also, trying to find a house to rent with 2 large dogs is a struggle all by itself. We will definitely be buying a home at our next station, but this one will do for now.
Lately my life has consisted of unpacking, playing with Ally, and building...

Here is my latest project. With a little help from Josh (and some materials from the Self-Help store, Ha, Ha!) I constructed a shelving unit to hold my growing stockpile of food! (P.S. Don't attempt this without a nail gun, it would have taken forever!)
Ally has settled in quite nicely and is very mobile. She now has a vocabulary of 10+ words, including "more" and of course "dog". She loves following the dogs around and poking at them. Thank goodness I have been training them since they were puppies to put up with abuse because they sure get a lot from her! I try to teach her to pet softly, but she just repeats "soft" and pokes them in the eye...
My ward has been very friendly, about half military, the other half are college students. At church today I counted 10 pregnant women and 8 babies younger than Ally. Definitely a family ward. My only complaint was the lack of a book club, so I started one.
For the most part, I think we can be happy here. Josh is enjoying his new job and I have met some nice people. Oh and the gym on base is awesome! Now I just need a new gym buddy to keep me motivated.

Saturday, May 30, 2009


Look at those teeth!
Thanks Kira for the cute hat!

We finally got our orders 2 weeks before we are scheduled to arrive in Grand Forks. We have no choice now but to move ourselves because of the late notice, so we have been packing, cleaning, and trying to schedule everything that needs to happen between now and then, including vet appointments for the dogs, inspections for the house, reservations in TLF here and there, a moving truck, packing supplies, repairs, and people to help! Also because of the late notice, we have to kennel our dogs (at $42 per day!) until we get into a house, which could take up to 3 months since we were just put on the waiting list when we received our orders. Poor Josh has been running around like crazy trying to do everything in 2 weeks that he should have had 2 months to do.
We also recently learned that someone in MPF (the people in charge) wiped clean Josh's dream sheet (a list of places we would like to live) without his knowledge, just prior to assignments being given out at his school. So basically it looked like we had no preference where we wanted to live, so we were given North Dakota. Gotta love the Air Force. The worst part is, Josh has priority over most of the guys in his class because of his time in service, time in rank, and time on post, so he would most likely have gotten his top choice. I hope that someday I can look back on this time and laugh because right now I am just very frustrated.
I threw a baby shower for a friend today and only 2 people besides her family showed up. I really wanted her to have a good turn-out since this is her first baby and I know they could use some help getting everything. I put a lot of effort into her shower and invited lots of people and now I feel that it was basically a waste of time. I was very disappointed not to receive a shower from the people in my ward before I had Ally so I was trying to make sure the same thing didn't happen to her.
As I prepare to leave this area, I have been reflecting on my time here. I moved every 3-4 years growing up so I didn't think I would have any problems with the military lifestyle. I have now lived here for 6.5 years; the longest I have ever lived anywhere my whole life. As much as I disliked this area at first, I have grown to love it and now I hate to leave. So many big changes in my life have happened here and I have found some of the best friends I have ever had. This is where I spent the first few years of my married life, where I graduated from college, and where my daughter was born. This is where I learned what it truly means to be a military spouse by surviving 4 deployments and 11 TDY's. I will miss all my friends here who have helped me through those life changes and trying times.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


Ally and I flew out to Florida for Josh's graduation, then we celebrated by going on a cruise! Josh's brother and his wife joined us and we all had a great time!

Here is our little family, finally reunited!

This was the beautiful beach at Half Moon Cay, Bahamas. Our cruise ship is in the background. It was so big it had a few pools and a waterslide up on the deck. There were also over 200 cabins on my floor alone. We spent 2 days on the ship and 2 in the tropical paradise.

Every day we had a different towel animal. Ally liked to destroy them but I managed to get a picture before she ate this one's head. Ally made lots of friends on the ship. I had so many random people just stop me to say how cute she was. (I have to agree...)

Here is me getting my hair braided. It hurt a little but was totally worth it! Between swimming, sunning, snorkeling and just walking around in general, it was so nice not to have hair everywhere.

Josh and I fed sting rays. After I fed mine, the guy picked up the ray by his fins and it spit water in my face!

I just loved all the beautiful fragrant flowers all over the island. It was definitely a VACATION!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Yay for Yard Sales!

Friday and Saturday were the days of the annual Dakota Ridge yard sale. My good friend Heather =) offered her garage for me to sell some of my furniture before we move (in one month!!!) So I recruited some men (thanks men!) and loaded 2 TRUCKLOADS of things to sell. Now my house is empty and I have an extra $500 to play with, Yay! I only had 2 things to bring back home, even with Juli trying to sell them to every person who walked or drove past the driveway. Seriously she was taking things to people in their cars and pitching sales. Thanks Juli! p.s. do you want my credenza...?
On a sad note, my friend Sarah who has been here with me for 5 years, is moving tomorrow. She has been my gym buddy, my visiting teaching partner, my travel companion, my friend and my person I call when I need to talk. Thanks Sarah for all the good times and good luck in Colorado!
Happier topic: on Thursday I leave for Florida, my husband and my cruise! I can't wait for him to see Ally and how much she has grown since he left. I am so excited to go on an actual vacation and also to not be a single parent any more! Although, Josh coming home means that the countdown begins until we move and it makes me sad to think of all the good friends we will be leaving.
We have decided to move ourselves so I have been packing and cleaning all week. Ally is not much help. So many things to do!

Friday, April 17, 2009

baby pics

While I was in Utah, a friend of the family took some pictures of Ally for her website and advertising purposes. Check out her blog for some examples:

(Ally is the second set...)

You can also check out her website Go to view your session and the password is allison for the whole group of pictures. Heather, you might recognize some of your awesome head wear...

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Home again, but not for long...

Happy Easter!

Ally having an allergic reaction (I still don't know what caused it) at Hogle Zoo.

Ally's first ride in a swing.

visiting friends in Utah (do you recognize any of these people?)

Stout family

Ally with cousins.

Ally with her great-grandpa

and her other great-grandpa

My sister Susan and her friend the donkey at Custer State Park.
She (the sister, not the donkey) came out to stay for two weeks. We had a great time visting the local sights and playing with Ally. For the first time since Josh left in January I was able to shower alone, go out with friends, and have an adult (if an 18-year-old counts as adult) to talk to on a regular basis. Basically I had a wonderful 2 weeks. I then spent 3 weeks in Utah visiting family and friends. My entire clan of in-laws (minus Josh of course) was in town for Conference so they decided to get family pictures taken. I realised that Josh was the only one of 9 siblings missing from the pictures, even all 23 grand children made it, and started to cry. I will be the one with red eyes in all the family pictures =(.
I was able to go watch Conference in the Conference Center, which was very exciting. My sister Susan again stepped in and watched Ally so I could attend. It has been so nice to have someone that comfortable with my daughter that I can leave her for hours on end without worrying. Too bad she doesn't live closer...
My wonderful mother-in-law took me out to my favorite restaurant: Macaroni Grill! for a fabulous dinner before I left. The drive home was long but familiar. I have made that trek at least 20 times while living here. Ally was a great traveler and slept most of the day. It is nice to be home but lonely with no one around. I was saturated with family in Utah.
In ONE MONTH I head out to Georgia for Josh's graduation, followed by a cruise leaving the next day! After that, we will be packing, cleaning, and moving to North Dakota in June. The good news is that Josh will be stationary for ONE WHOLE YEAR. In the 6 years we have been married, he has never been home for a whole year in a row before. He is looking forward to spending time with his daughter and starting his new job, even if it is in North Dakota =)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Ok this time it's real...

We are moving to NORTH DAKOTA!!!!!!! I know, I'm shocked too. Not even Fargo, but 70 miles north (look next to Minnesota on the state line). Grand Forks is actually an air force base and it has an international airport. I ran the numbers on Mapquest and we are 1245 miles from Salt Lake City and 1056 miles from Colorado Springs. So much for moving closer to family... The base has mostly refuelers and a homeland security section (where Josh will most likely be working). It seems very similar to Ellsworth, but a little bit smaller. I forgot to ask about our report date, so more info to come...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Our trip to Florida!

Ally and I visited Josh last week and did lots of fun things. I can't remember the last time I went on an actual vacation, not just visiting family. We stayed in Jacksonville at a Hyatt (nice!). We ordered room service and went for walks on the riverfront. We took Ally to the zoo and the beach (really I was the one who wanted to go). Here is her first experience with a gorilla.

Unfortunately she slept through the beach trip...

Proof that nice weather exists

Josh with his baby girl. He held her all weekend and was very sad when we left.

Ally cutting her first 2 teeth. She bites anything she can bring in contact with her mouth.
All in all, it was a really fun trip. I was a little worried about flying with a 4-month old, but she was wonderful on the planes and in the airports. By the end of each flight she had charmed all of the people sitting close to us. I even got my checked-bag fee waived because she smiled at the guy behind the counter!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

we are moving to...

just kidding! Despite numerous assurances that we would have something in writing by Josh's second week of training, he is now well into his 4th week and has nothing. I have been waiting to blog about where we are moving, but still no word. So I decided to blog anyway.
I have recently discovered the joys of facebook. I spent the last few days finding and chatting with people from my past. It's very interesting to see what friends and acquaintances are up to now. I even dug out some pictures from high school and posted them.
Also, in my desire to stay busy, I have become a Pampered Chef consultant. I have been addicted to PC for the past few years but never really had the time to get into it. Now I can spend time with other people, share some of my favorite things, and also make a little money. (I thought that I would make money working at Old Navy also, but only my wardrobe expanded, not my finances, so we'll see how this goes...)
Allison grows every day and is so much fun. I love to dress her up (thanks Shauna for the outfit and Heather for the flower!) and make her smile. I can't wait to visit Josh in 2 weeks!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

single motherhood: week 2

Having been through multiple deployments, TDY's etc., I thought I was prepared for yet another separation from my husband. I am sad, not for myself, but for him, knowing that he is missing Ally. I guess training keeps him busy during the day, but each night he calls and asks how "his girls" are doing and it breaks my heart. He is so worried that Ally won't even remember him.
From my end, I can't complain. I have a happy, healthy girl who sleeps through the night and takes multiple naps during the day. I have time to do everything I need to do, maybe too much time. Transitioning from full-time working student to full-time mom has been an adjustment, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

My main difficulties being alone include:
recovering my trash can after Sunday night's windstorm
carrying all my Primary stuff, diaper bag, coat, carseat, baby and blanket to church from the car
not going over on my cell phone minutes

Ally wearing jeans