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2 Girls, 2 Boys and a whole lot of noise.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

My award

The military likes to give away awards to people. Jeremy's commander is fantastic about having his people submit their names for awards that he thinks they deserve. This is often the case for me with Col Fuller. He sees an award offered and wants to submit my name for it. I cringe when I have to do this because I have to recall all the service acts I have done, tell it to Jeremy, have him cut it down and summarize it into military cryptic writing, have his boss come back and make clarifications, send it to an award writer, and then in the end I can't even remember what I have been entered in for. Plus, I don't want to feel like I do service just to be recognized by others.

For the particular award that I just "won" I wanted to explain how this works...the award organizers announce that an award is being offered. They send it out to all the military with the qualifications that they are looking for and a format to follow. In this case, Col Fuller saw it and wanted me to submit a packet to our base (or Wing). I was chosen by the wing as their nominee so they sent my packet to PACAF (the headquarter group, or MAJCOM, over the Pacific bases) and they also selected me as their nominee to be sent to the Pentagon to compete against other MAJCOMs. (Other military areas of the world). I think the next step might be the final one when it comes to competing but there are so many amazing people out there who do great things that I don't care if I win or lose.

This award is called the Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher Distinguished Civilian Humanitarian Award. I looked up these people and they were truly amazing. These are the qualities that need to be exhibited for their award winner:

  • Individual or organization who exemplify the Fisher's personal qualities of patriotism, generosity, and selfless dedication to the members of the armed forces through an outstanding humanitarian act or service. 
  •  Selflessly contributed an extraordinary amount of time, talent, or resources to benefit members of the armed services. The impact should have been broad and wide-ranging in scope, regardless of monetary impact. 
  • Significantly enhanced the quality of life of military members or their families through the act or service.
I read about Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher and their dedication to others and the military and was so impressed. They spent their lives in the service of their fellow man.

I didn't understand what being the PACAF nominee meant but after reading about these people I am truly honored to be selected. In all seriousness, I am really not sure I am worthy of the compliment.

I am grateful that Col Fuller, Gen Garland, Gen Carlisle and others think so highly of me. I hope that I can live up to this honor.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Where does the time go?

I can't believe that it has been 5 months since I posted last. I mean it doesn't surprise me that it has been a while but another 5 months have gone by? Seriously?
So let's bring you up to speed since October: (Except I guess we are going to work backwards because I loaded the pictures wrong and they are the most current first. It would take a lot of time to change them around.)
This is our goofy Mertina. She is living with us currently. We aren't sure for how long. After an intense session of interrogation by the police about a family matter, they were going to send her to a foster family. I came to get her before they arranged that and asked if I could take her with me. Child Protective Services said "Okay. I will call you by the end of the week to update you on what is going on with her." Uh, that was 2 weeks ago. I went through no background checks or official paperwork and now that I think about it, the CPS agent didn't even have a name badge or anything so for all I know, I have stolen a kid and a random girl at a police station gave me permission. That's just how things roll here.
Things are kind of crazy in her life and we are trying to work through that so for now, we got ourselves a teenager. (And when Jeremy comes back after his 2 month training, we are also going to get a cat...because we need to get back to an even number of creatures in this house, or something.)

 Before that all went down, I took my kids and our "extra" kids to Onward waterpark...in February. Because it's Guam. And did I mention that my husband is gone?

That's me...up and over after going down the slide.
My friend, Kasie Boldt, said (when her kids were young) that she was going to babysit other people's little kids to help those younger moms out" because she knew how hard it was to have little ones. So she enlisted my help and these are our little subjects. We watch them for 2 hours every other week. It is actually pretty fun. We fill them with sugar and plan cute activities that we won't do with our own kids and have a great time.
These somehow survived the Guam weather. My friend, Kasie, said "Your tomatoes look great."
I said, "What tomatoes?"
When I found them I took a picture and sent them to Jeremy (because he is gone) and told him how great his tomato plant was producing.
He said, "You bought that tomato plant."
uh huh. It's amazing these things survived because  their life history has been erased from my brain.

 And here is my cutest little guy. He wanted to save this for his dad...because, well, you know. I explained that it won't last that long so he could just eat it.

Since Jeremy got sent to training with very short notice - and I was pretty upset about the whole thing - we decided to take a trip of our own. We aren't allowed to take pictures of the Cargo planes we rode on but they were HUGE C-17s (you can look them up). We took a military flight from Guam to Hawaii. Stayed in Hawaii for 24 hours with my "twin" Angela and her family. Then took another military flight from Hawaii to Travis AFB, CA. We arrived too late to get a rental car so we ended up sharing a taxi with a young mom trying to get to Japan. We both had to stay in a hotel for the night so that we could catch flights/rental car places the next day. We spent the night in Fairfield and had my friend's mom and dad come and rescue us early early in the morning so that we could get a rental car and drive from California to Idaho in a day.
11 hours and 4 states later, we arrived in Boise on my mom's birthday. She was pretty surprised when my kids jumped out of a box as her present (she thought they were a puppy). We stayed for a week and half and experienced some seriously cold 20 degree weather. It warmed up enough to make snow so that she could create:

Mr. Mustache.

I don't know how this Harry-Potter-moving-picture thing works but I am loving this snow falling in the picture.

We bought cheap Walmart winter clothes and they played in the snow. I found my winter snow boots and wore them for the first week while my feet adjusted to the cold weather.

My mom's birthday cake. The Costco cake lady didn't believe Michael when he said she was 100, thus the question mark.

This kid loves to be silly. He loves to steal my camera and take selfies. Again, this moving picture thing is crazy for my aging self.
I don't have pictures of it but I took a road trip to Pocatello to see my grandparents, Aunt and Uncles, and cousins. This was an incredible 24 hours for me and I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with Melenna, Grammie, Grampie, James, Denae, and Janette. My kids had the best time of their lives playing with their "cousins" Gracie and Jake. We did not hear any complaints, fighting, or any issues from the 4 of them for the entire time. We just heard laughter and fun happening. It was truly amazing and made me long to be closer to my cousin. As a bonus, my almost life-long friend, Megan, came to visit me at my grandparents house. I thoroughly enjoyed that.
We drove back to Boise, I went to the temple, had a really great time with Jeremy's family, and spent time with my brothers, and my sister when she wasn't ignoring me.
My thoughts on being back in Idaho were humbling. Having Jeremy stripped away from me with little notice reminds me that I don't always love the military.
The grass always looks greener on the other side, though, and as I saw some of the issues back home I was reminded that I have been blessed despite these setbacks.
I saw my Brother-in-law trying to figure out what to do to support his family after the company he was working for took a nose dive. 
I saw my own cousin and her husband struggle with the same stress of trying to find employment and extra stresses on top of that.
I saw my brother who has no healthcare be absolutely broke after having a serious medical issue that has left him unable to have a stable job or pay the mounting medical bills. For the first time in his life, I believe, he was actually truly grateful when I gave him $20.
And I got to speak to my other brother one on one and have a real conversation, which has caused me to ponder many things.
I realized that although Jeremy and I have to endure long absences at times, we have a roof over our head, a mostly stable income (if the government would stop trying to shut down), healthcare, and a million friends who were very upset that I just walked off this rock. I am blessed.
...and then I drove back to California through snowy mountain passes that slowed me down and scared the crap out of me, spent one night there, and hopped on the military flight the next morning and headed back to Hawaii. My mom came with me on the way back and returned the rental car for me but if I could have done it myself, I would have said, "Here you go. 13 days and 4000 miles later. You should probably get an oil change."
We spent a day and half in Hawaii with my friend. I made her take us to the zoo, which was totally cool. We ate at the Cheesecake Factory, and did all we could to avoid crowds wherever we went. :)
We were all pretty sad to leave Hawaii so soon but I made a deal with the Lord that I would get back to work if we could get back to Guam on Sunday. Military flights can be hard to come by so we were blessed to get on all the ones we wanted to.
This was a great trip for me and I am grateful that I went crazy enough to do all that, because, seriously, only someone crazy would do all that we just did.

This is my kids "happily" taking down Christmas.

 We had a pretty fun New Years Eve Party with just adults. We had way more people than I expected because babysitters are few here. We played the name game, the Newlywed game, and board games, and had sparkling soda to end the night.  Because we had some friends who didn't come because they didn't have babysitters, we had an informal News Years Day party as well...and we still had food left over.
We like to party.

We have a mall here that has the huge Christmas tree that plays music and lights up. It's about the only thing that feels like Christmas because you go outside and...

You sit by the beach in lounge chairs with friends any day that it isn't raining.

For Christmas, we got a lot of board games because Cody is a game-a-holic. Jeremy is teaching him Risk here. They look as thrilled as I would be if I had to play. Why did we even buy that game?

My mom sent Cody a Nerf gun but had to use the back of a My Little Pony box to cover the open side in order to ship it. This is all he saw.
Not happy.

The Relief Society is in charge of our Ward Christmas party. With the help of many fantastic friends, it looked great. And as always, we had a dance party afterwards because we are awesome.

Jeremy got promoted on December 17, 2013 to Captain. He is now Cap'n Miller. He is the 554 Red Horse Squadron, thus the Red Horse (Charlie). They are a Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers.
I can't even remember what the first R stands for, usually.
So, remember, we are moving backwards, this is what I received from a group of Marines. It is a super cool picture of them flying in front of Mt. Fuji, Japan. You see, they were at our base temporarily during December, which is when we organize the Cookie Drive.
This was a gift to me from them because I organized the event which provided them with 5000 cookies for their Marines. This is hanging in my wall and I encourage anyone who sees it to pay homage to it as you head to my bathroom.
 These are the Marines accepting our boxes and boxes of cookies.
 So here is what happens, for about 2 months before Christmas, we plan this community event where we advertise and ask people to donate cookies on a certain date so that we can package them and give a dozen cookies to all the single and deployed airmen on Andersen AFB. Last year, we had 750 airmen that we were trying to provide for. (We received 880 dozen!!) This year, we had 1100 airmen to provide for, plus 1200 marines. We knew that we didn't have the supplies or ability to provide the Marines with a dozen each - and we never know what kind of turnout we will get so we weren't even sure if we would have enough to give the 1100 airmen a dozen cookies each. But we put our faith in the Lord, we advertised like crazy and...for 5 hours, we had 12 tables constantly full of cookies that just kept coming and coming. We had volunteers bagging them the entire time and we could hardly keep up.

The elementary school kids and Homeschool group decorate the bags, we put the dozen cookies in a ziplock, place them in the decorated bag and then staple a cute note on them. Then they are organized in to piles by squadron. The First Shirts (a leader in the squadron) comes to pick the boxes up and take them to their recipients.

We received over 20,000 cookies for the cookie drive this year! We had more than enough for our 1100 airmen (a dozen each), we gave over 5000 cookies to the Marines, who were so excited to receive them, and we even had enough for the volunteers to take home a bag. I was overwhelmed by the generosity of our base. I made 109 dozen myself but was so touched by a young Airmen who brought in 1.5 dozen just because he wanted to help. This was a seriously cool event and I may have organized it but "No substantial accomplishment has ever been through the efforts of one person alone." Everyone I worked with was amazing and I certainly didn't make 20,000 cookies by myself...But I am still keeping the gift from the Marines.

This is us at Christmas decorating our tree in tank tops and shorts. And the other picture is Jeremy and I going to his work Christmas party. It looks like we almost could be going to prom again except we have our own cars, house, kids, and Jeremy has lost some hair. :)

I also serve on the PTO board. This is a favorite picture of us. We weren't ready for the camera, obviously, but we are all doing something goofy, which fit our personalities. From left to right, Bonnie is being mischievous, Rachel is probably telling her off, Carla is laughing at whatever Jen is saying, I am making sure my lips look luscious, Heather is perfectly ready for the picture, and Jen is lecturing us all about something.
So it is November and I sent my kids and Darmarie outside to wash the cars. They were so cute even though the cars...well, they weren't perfect. Oh well. I wasn't going to do them.

This was Jeremy's 33rd birthday.

We went to the beach with our friends. Darmarie is holding Kaitlynn. It amazes me how many pictures I find on my camera after I leave it unattended for a while.

We had a Relief Society Super Saturday where we made these cute Birthday boards. We have limited supplies here so we had to have someone who went on a trip to the states bring us back most of the things we needed for this shindig. We had Jeremy cut out the boards, which looked great. And everyone seemed happy with the whole thing.

Again with the camera thing...

 Darmarie and Mertina

This was a PTO event where Jeremy, my friend Melissa, and I made pancakes and the kids did crafts. Darmarie took care of them most of the time while we made a bunch of breakfast.
And lasty, Darmarie and Mertina again. It has been a great experience living here. Both of these girls are making huge strides in the Gospel because of their great leaders. They are making good choices, usually, and doing the best they can. They live in humble circumstances but they are happy and loved!

So that brings us to October, which means we have reached the end.
Until the next time...
Kaitlynn's comments: (We are walking to school) "Mom, why are you wearing short shorts?"
Me: "Because I am going to work out."
Kaitlynn: "Well, your legs shake when you walk."
Me: "So?"
Kaitlynn: (disgusted) "Well, some people don't like that."