Tuesday, October 28, 2014

watchin' our corn pop up in rows...

It's been six months and a week that we have been back in the US.

Sure wish we would have had warning as to how tough it was going to be. I think we were so excited about getting back to our home we overlooked the fact that this would be a huge transition for us.

I have heard friends talk about how hard moving to retirement is, I just assumed we would breeze through. Boy, was I wrong!

What could be so hard about moving back? It is Kansas after all. I figured after moving to Germany- back to KS would be so simple.

Jim started a new job yesterday and though we are still struggling to get in a routine, I think we have to be through the worst of it!

The job-hiring process is brutal especially for a guy who has not ever had to go through it. This is not his dream job, but a really great offer with lots of room to move up. He is now in management at Johnson Controls in Wichita.

A few things I have learned in the last six months...

Most things in life take time. Patience.
Before we moved, our business was thriving with a demand that I could not keep up with. Even after working 10+ hours a day usually seven days a week {with Jim working weekends as well}, I was still turning away work. Putting it on hold for four years, I knew I needed time to get it up and re-launched.

It has been slow to kick in which is ok, but not when the bills are kicking in too.
Our family is incredible.
Without the support of our family, this transition would have been so much more difficult. There's no way we could have done it. Just being in the same time zone {for starters} has been really quite wonderful. We feel so blessed.

Our boys are our world.
Being able to see all four of them thrive right now is such a wonderful sight. Caden's teacher said it is as if he has always been in Mulvane- not the typical new kid trying to figure things out. Coleman has made so many friends as well. Their biggest complaint is riding the bus {which picks them up at 6:30...yikes}.

Caden just finished his football season and both started basketball this week.

We are not sure how the grades are going but Ty is having a blast at Wichita State already. He has moved into a fraternity house {with a GPA standard in order to live there}, declared engineering as his major and playing intermural volleyball.

It's only 30 minutes up the road, but he's able to do his own thing. It is nice to see him getting involved and having fun.

Along with the above mentioned positives, being able to see Justin almost every weekend has made this retirement and transition worth every fight and tear.

We have put some miles and long hours between here and Arkansas, but we have loved every single weekend.

His team is doing well {4-1 in conference} putting on some of the most exciting football you can find.

The family and friends who have supported him going to and watching games has been incredible- thank you!

A strong marriage makes it through the ups and downs.
While this has been the toughest time of our entire marriage, there is no one in this world that I would rather have by my side. I still feel so lucky every single day to not only have found the love of my life but to be so in love.

One day at a time is best.
That's what we are trying to do. Some days, it's just making it through.

Most days, it is enjoying and trying to focus on the things that really matter while letting go of the little {petty} things.

Things are looking up.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Montana State TD

It wasn't a win, but a touchdown is a TOUCHDOWN!
 
Looking for a big win this weekend as they play Missouri State at home.
We will be in the stands cheering along with Jim's uncle, aunt, grandma, brother, sis-in-law and nephew hanging with us.
 
Trying to make up for the last two seasons that Justin had very little family to watch him play.
 
I love having family close- can't imagine if we were still in Germany how crazy we would be missing out on this special time.
 
We are so grateful for our friends and family who have been able to both make the time to go watch him live or watch/listen on tv or online. Thank you. xo  
These pictures were taken by the UCA photographer.
I love them.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

it's a TD @ MONTANA STATE

Justin didn't do too bad this past weekend either.

Traveling to Montana State, we were not able to make the game. Grandma and Grandpa came to the rescue and made the trip to watch. The game was crazy loud with close to 20,000 screaming fans.
We also had friends from Germany who now live in Montana make the game. I was so sad to miss it and miss them!

Most exciting was watching (on tv for us) Justin catch his first touchdown!
A win would have sweetened it, but we are still pretty proud.
This weekend, we head to Conway for a home game v. Missouri State.
Kick-off is scheduled for 6pm CST.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

our little W I L D C A T

Caden and Justin both have their games on Saturdays. Caden missed his first game since we had to hit the road for Conway to watch Justin play. He was ok with it, but super excited to be able to play his first game this last weekend.

They had the announcer, real refs, music and cheerleaders.
They lost, but he is in his element. I look at him and think he's waited his whole life for his own games.

He's such a little leader. LOVES this game.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

S T R E P, seriously?

Coleman just tested positive for strep.

Seriously, happens every year. Taking his tonsils out a couple years ago helped but if someone is going to get strep, it's Coleman or Ty.
He's quite content chilling on the couch for a day or two.
He looks thrilled above, doesn't he?

Monday, September 15, 2014

B U S Y weekend x4

It was a busy weekend all the way around.
Big things going on for all four boys.
Ty made a big move from living at home to on campus in a frat house at Wichita State. Just thirty minutes up the road, it will cut back on his commute and keep him on campus more.

While Jim and I were following him up to campus with a load of stuff for him, we couldn't help but feel a little sad. Excited for him making this big step and really hopeful that it helps him feel more like a college student with a focus on school.

I won't lie- I'm happy he's close enough to see him whenever we want.

Hopefully, this will leave more time to study...

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

a very dramatic W I N

Yes, our world is now revolving around football. It is that season.
Not sure we would have it any other way.

Behind the entire game, Central Arkansas pulled out the win scoring a touchdown followed by an interception in the last minute to take the lead and the victory.

It was the first home game of the season and Justin's first time playing on the "Stripes" as they call their purple and grey field.
The first half was pretty stressful- dropped balls, missed catches and a few penalties.
But, they stuck with it until the very last minute. Talk about drama.

This weekend, it is up to Montana State for the Bears.
We will stay home and watch online.

Exciting times.
We love our #89.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

INCREDIBLY proud of our #89

It was absolutely incredible. An evening we will never forget.

We feel so blessed to have been able to watch our big guy play the biggest game of his college career thus far.

He definitely made us proud.


It ended in a 42-35 loss, but the Bears never gave up in front of a record-breaking attendance for a season opener of 60,778 fans.

We were a speck of purple in a sea of red. Lots and lots of red.
 
photo credit to Josh Goff, UCA Athletics
Here are just a few of the bold predictions in the media before the Texas Tech v. Central Arkansas game Saturday night.

"Give me Texas Tech 70-13. I have a lot of faith in this offense and I think the defense, as always, will be looking to prove they’re better this year."

"48-17 Red Raiders. I see this as a similar game to Texas State in 2012 when Tech traveled to San Marcos in terms of scoring, but not quite as bad. Could see Tech go up 21-0 and just coast."

"Texas Tech will come away with an easy victory with the final score being 50-10. This game will help the team keep their momentum going strong."

"Final score – 56-13. One game closer to a bowl, zero games closer to learning anything about this year’s team."

"I’ve said from the beginning this spells blowout due to UCA’s new coaching regime. If Patrick Mahomes is as good as he’s been advertised in fall camp, you could see big numbers put up from the 1′s and 2′s. 70-7 Tech."



Bold Predictions that turned to shock and embarrassment as our Bears not only held their own, but almost pulled out an upset against this huge Big 12 team.

From the beginning, Caden knew his big brother would do well.
His prediction was that Central Arkansas would win.

Along with admitting he was embarrassed, the Tech coach also had this to say...

"I felt like too many guys were just coming out there thinking it was UCA and we were going to run all over them, but we didn't."

Our Bears kept it exciting from the beginning to the end.

With games every weekend, we have a busy fall. A busy fall that we are so excited to watch unfold. This week is their first game at home. We are all {Caden especially who was not happy with the Tech fans and their "guns up" cheers} looking forward to be a part of the majority surrounded with purple.

It has not been an easy transition to retirement. I'd like to say we have been strong and gone on without missing a beat. The truth is it has been incredibly difficult and we have struggled.

Being able to get Ty into Wichita State and the opportunity to be close and watch Justin each week has made it worthwhile- our main motivation to retire and start this new stage of life. 

There are no regrets.  
It is going to be an exciting fall. 
We can't wait!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Justin's F I R S T day

What a surprise to receive a first-day-of-school picture from our big guy without even asking... I LOVE seeing how they change and grow from year to year!

I love this picture.
I love this boy.
He really didn't even have a break after taking classes all summer.

Fall football camp is over with his first game in less than two weeks.
It is going to be an exciting fall.

Especially for this family who is more than excited being back home to watch him play.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

W I C H I T A state for TY

And he's off! Thirty minutes up the road to Wichita State. Love, Love, Love him!
Starting classes this week, he is happy with his new school and excited to be a Shocker.

Not quite a sophomore, he has a year of classes on his transcript taken through the University of Maryland while in Germany.

It was college but it wasn't really the whole college experience.

Wichita State is a beautiful college with a strong engineering program.

The basketball team has done an exceptional job the last couple of seasons bringing more money and attention to the school.

Ty has the perfect opportunity to not only enjoy school but to thrive.

He has the whole college experience at his fingertips now.

It should be a fabulous year all the way around.

What a change from a few years ago...

Monday, August 18, 2014

Y E A H... first day of school

6:00 came early. However, this day did not come too soon!

With an extended summer {getting out of school in Germany the end of April} this mom and dad are enjoying the silence this morning!

We are experiencing not only a lot of change at this transition in our lives, but also many firsts.
The first full summer Jim has been home to see the craziness behind what makes a summer.
Today, he is experiencing for the first time the excitement of sending kids to school.

That sigh of relief knowing that for the next nine hours, messes will not be made!
As every parent does- we love our boys.
They just need to be in school.

We think they are in for a fantastic year.

While registering them their new principal gave a tour of the one-level grade school.
She also placed them with what seem to be wonderful teachers- ready to take them on.

What a contrast from Germany.

There are six classrooms in each level rather than eighteen or more.
They will have PE three times a week.

Caden gets two recesses a day.
There is no Spanish or German.

Rather than having 55 school busses, rural route 3 picked them up in our driveway.

No more smoking or cell-phone talking German bus drivers. I think Caden is most happy to be done with them.

It is pretty special to have our first-day-of-school pictures back on our front porch.

Caden thought it would be his first picture since he started school in Germany. Actually, he used to hang with the big guys when they had their first days...

Check out this picture here. Coleman was a little guy here.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

road trips and F A M I L Y

We are feeling quite blessed right now. Last night, Grandpa and Grandma arrived after making the journey from Utah to visit.

For Grandpa, it has been almost five years since he has seen the little guys. Big changes.
For Grandma, it has been almost a year since she spent time with us in Germany.

We have really missed them.
After losing my Grandpa in June, we lost Jim's Grandpa Behl in July. After learning he was in the hospital, we made a spur-of-the moment decision for Jim to make the drive to Mississippi to see him. Without hesitation, Caden said he wanted to go along.

They would not let Caden in Grandpa's ICU room, but Jim was able to spending a few special days with Grandpa- a man who taught him so much. Not long after Jim said his goodbye and returned home, Grandpa passed.

We miss him already but he is where he wants to be- back with the Lord.

August 2nd, we were able to celebrate Grandpa's life with the family.

It was the first day of Justin's fall football camp, but his coaches were very understanding and allowed us to have him for the weekend.

It was wonderful to be a family- even for just a short weekend.
I LOVE being close to our big guy again.

We {hopefully} don't EVER have to wait four months in between times of seeing him AGAIN!

In a weekend, we made the six-hour trip to pick up Justin. From Arkansas we drove to Granny's (another six hours) to spend the night and time with the Dickey side.

Saturday morning, we woke up early and made the two-hour drive to Girard, Illinois for the services and time with the Behl side.
Saturday night, we drove two hours back to Granny's for the night.

Sunday, we enjoyed family and a beautiful Sunday dinner at Granny's with a table set for 27. Sunday afternoon, we hit the road to get Justin back on time (another six hours) to college. We crashed for the night and finished off our trip Monday with another six hours to Kansas.

From Friday to Monday, a grand total of 28 hours in the van.It was long but well worth every single minute.

While in Germany, we feel as though we missed out on so much being so far away. Driving is not always easy, but it is nice to be close enough to make these trips. Cousins need to know cousins.
Now, we really need to make it out west....
Growing up in Alaska, I always felt so far from any of our cousins. I wanted to know my aunts and uncles and cousins. I want our boys to know their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Play with them, fight with them... make memories with them. 
Now, we get Grandma and Grandpa for a little while. I'm excited to relax and play and make memories.

School starts tomorrow.
The bus picks the little guys up in our driveway at 6:30. They are going to be so tired.
Ty starts at Wichita State in the Engineering program. Let the fun begin.

Football is in full swing for Justin and Caden.
In two weeks, we will hit the road again to Texas Tech to watch Justin play on the big field.

Life is so exciting. I hope we can keep up!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

the tasks are M U L T I P L Y I N G

Two nights ago, my Grandpa Burgan died.
He was 99. What a long life. What a tired body.
He used to read my blog and told me the last time I talked to him how much he liked it.
Can't help but think of him as I write...

It seems for every task we complete, two new tasks pop up.
Or more.

Jim's the structured, disciplined, focused one in our relationship. I know I probably don't even have to write that down- it's obvious.

I can focus, but am easily distracted and usually {always} take on way too many projects.  I think bigger than I need to some times. I get excited.
I like to think we have accomplished one heck of a lot in the six weeks we have been home, but there is still so much to do. I know we have forever to do it, but it's starting to bother me more and more.
Sunday, Jim made a list of all the little things bugging him.

He had even assigned tasks to the days he was going to do them.
Sunday and Monday, he was going strong and knocking off things left and right.
SO much focus. Nothing new from my man. I do love it.

Yesterday, was back to frustrating. Our Internet has been super slow. Until they update the Haysville tower we were told it will remain slow. The next town over has a tower as well that the first installer said he could not reach.

Then, we noticed new neighbors across the street had their dish going to the faster tower. It would not be a big deal except we run our business from home- faster service would save us so much time.

We had another installer come out yesterday {only because cancelling service with this company would have cost $180 since we have been with them more than a month... 36 days to be exact} to see if he could move the dish to get a signal on Clearwater.

We let him know if a tree in our tree line was in the way- Jim would take it down. Sure enough the installer said he got a flicker and one tree was the problem blocking the signal.

Jim put a halt on going back to the DMV {for the third time... to register Whitey} and picked up the chainsaw to go to work.

As soon as it was down, the installed said that was actually not the reason for no signal.
He still couldn't get it.

It couldn't have been a dead tree, or even one of the smaller ones. We now have a healthy, big tree cut down for no reason waiting now to be cleaned up.

More work done and more work to do all for nothing.
He did continue in close to 100 degrees and crazy winds to find a signal from the top of our shop.

Now, Jim gets to dig a ditch to bury the cable that is running through our yard from the shop to the house.

Frustrating, but we have Internet.
The wind could calm down any time now.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

C O N W A Y via St. Louis

The timing worked out just right.

Our van arrived in St. Louis on Thursday and Justin had to be back to school June 1st- Sunday.

Being that I missed out on being able to take my kid to college, I really wanted to take him back and help him get settled.

Jim's cousin was gracious enough to let us use his truck and Granny lent us her trailer to get our storage {including Whitey} back from Illinois last month. Scheduling our van to be delivered to St. Louis made it perfect for returning both the truck and trailer.

Eight {8} hours from our house to the van.
One {1} hour from the van place to Granny's.
Six {6} hours from Granny's to Justin's.
Six {6} hours from Justin's home.

A grand total of more than twenty {20} hours of driving made for one long weekend.
To get the most out of our weekend, Jim, Justin, Caden and I hit the road shortly after midnight driving straight to get our van first. Ty and Coleman opted to stay home with Lady. Just an hour from Granny's house, we showed up as weary travelers ready for a long nap.

Time with family, a yummy dinner and the boys even got a little fishing in. Twenty-four hours later and we were on the road to Conway, Arkansas to get Justin in an apartment.

We initially thought they had a furnished apartment but found out the day before that they only had unfurnished. It all worked out between Justin and his new roommate they are good to go!

It's a simple apartment in an excellent location right next to campus.

All that two guys working and going to school need. They even have a washer and dryer in the unit.

Luxury living, I'd say.

After we did a little shopping, I sent Jim, Justin and Caden fishing while I set things up.

Conway is a really beautiful city. We were so impressed. It has anything and more that one would want or need.

Arkansas was a surprise to us as well- super green and lots of lakes. It made for a beautiful drive.

With too or three practices a day and summer school {stats}, Justin's summer break was way too short.

However, that drive to Conway is much better than that drive to Frankfurt. I can handle this.

Friday, June 13, 2014

a little P O K E Y

Any given day, I'd say my man and I are pretty fast at getting things done.
We think we make a pretty good team.

 Once we get started on a project or task, we can usually crank it out in no time.

These days, I'm not feeling too fast. More like slow motion.
It's not that we are not working, or not working hard. It just seems like we still have SO much to do!
A week ago today, they finally delivered our household goods. Seeing that truck show up was a beautiful thing.

We thought we dejunked {and don't consider ourselves collectors of much} but it is still too much.
16,000 pounds to be unpacked. Ugh.

We scheduled the movers to come back today to pick up our boxes.
We thought giving ourselves a deadline might be a good idea.
I think if the last two months would have been a little calmer, I might be a little faster now.
Or, maybe not.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

quite the TO DO list

One month later and we are still unsettled.
But, we are home.
Home is good.

SO good.
Since moving out of our Mackenbach house it's been quite a trip.

Three nights with our wonderful Germany friends.
Twelve nights in a temporary apartment on base in Ramstein.
One night in a Holiday Inn Express in Baltimore.
Two nights in Evansville, Indiana with Jim's brother and family.
Five nights in Marissa, Illinois at Granny's.

Two nights in Mulvane, Kansas with wonderful friends- the second with Justin.

May 1st, our renters were out and after three and a half years, we have our house back.
It could have been in worse shape. More than anything, it feels as if it was abandoned.

We have had a lot of cleaning to get it whipped back into shape.
We knew we would be painting to freshen it up.
While waiting for our household shipment, we decided to go ahead and rip out carpets, replace fixtures, stain/refinish our hardwood kitchen floor and put in new hardwood floors (living room).

As if this was not enough, the yard is a wreck with more weeds than grass.

Birds have taken over with what sounds to be a million new babies in nests in the eves of our shop and in the guttering. We also heard birds in the chimney.

Yes, it's a mess.

Above is four years ago, what we showed up to three weeks ago and today.
It is going to be a long process just getting it back to where we had it when we left.
Our deck which was in bad shape to begin with it about to fall apart.
That will be another project in the very near future.

Lucky for us, my little brother planned a big surprise and walked through the door the day after we arrived home.

It's been pretty incredible being able to catch up- I've loved having him around. Jim has enjoyed finally getting to know him. Having the extra help on the endless list of projects and to do's has been a bonus.

The before-and-after pictures will eventually be posted.
The change already has been quite dramatic.

I can't wait to be settled.

Monday, April 21, 2014

R E T I R E D ... on to the N E X T chapter

It was a beautiful day for our family.

Jim is officially retired- going out with a beautiful ceremony.
His buddies put an incredible amount of work into making it just right.
The only thing missing was Justin and the rest of our family.
Other than that, it was quite perfect.

It was all about family.
While they {every higher-ranking official in his squadron} did not want him to retire early and did not think it would be approved, all who spoke agreed that Jim not only talk family- he lives it.

It was mentioned several times how important it is for us to be close to Justin.

The picture just doesn't look right without him in it. There is a hole and he was definitely missed.

Jim apologized to Justin {it's on video... Justin hasn't seen it or heard it yet...} for missing his first two seasons of football.

Now that we are moving back, we don't have to miss another season. We get to be there and we can't wait to get everyone settled.

It is not easy being a military kid. Both Justin and Ty had adjustments being moved mid-high school but neither missed a beat- we could not be more proud of them and the men they are becoming.
Our friend in attendance told us afterwards that as the guys filed in and sat down- there was one who sat right behind them. As he looked up and saw it was actually Jim retiring he said, "Oh man- he was one of the cool ones."

I couldn't agree more.

So funny as you know they get the email about the retirement and are told to show up even if they don't pay attention to who it is retiring.

His Chief said Jim was a future chief- no doubt. With that, there was applause in the hanger. He then went on to say that he chose his family over his career- something that he admired and a lesson he would take with away from knowing Jim.

I could not have been more proud to be his wife.
While he would have preferred to not speak, Jim had no choice but to thank everyone and speak for a few minutes. He did a fabulous job especially considering he would rather do just about anything that speak in public.

We were blessed to have close friends who took time out of their schedules to be with us.
It is a special time for our family.

Today is our last full day in Germany.
Tomorrow, we get on the plane.
Let this new chapter begin... we are SO ready!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

one hundred {thousand} M I L E S

And we have driven every one of them.
We hit six digits on our last Europe trip- our trip to Prague. 

Just over 50,000 miles driven in Europe. 

While we didn't see everything we wanted to see, we covered a good part of this phenomenal part of the world.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

so much to S A Y

We are out of our house.
We are still working to get out of Germany.

It has been one rough week. Really rough week.
I am reminded of our tough days getting settled in Germany. It has not been much easier wrapping things up.

The only difference is the prize of our home, friends and family on the other end.

My plan was to be blogging all week but, our Internet is horrible. We can't get on our laptop at all. Luckily, Ty's Mac works. The problem is I'm struggling using it- change is hard and I feel the need to let my brain rest.

We are excited but tired.
Tired of thinking.
Tired of working.

Ready for this transition to be over and the next stage of our lives to start.

Right now, working to get out of our phone(s) is proving to be a nightmare. Our house phone said they will be charging us through July even though we are no longer in our house. Even worse, the new renters move in May 1st.

Isn't that double dipping? Shouldn't it be against the law?

I got my hair cut the other day and the German girls in the salon told me the phone company can not do that to us. She tried to call for me. The system was down and they were told it's the law, we have to pay. They said to just close our bank account- they can not take the money.

Our landlord called for us to get it stopped- she was told the same thing.

Jim went to the bank to close our account. Our bank told us {on base, by the way} that if we close it and any company attempts to take money out- they will open it back up, GIVE them the money, then charge us the $ plus LATE fees.

Unbelievable.

It's no wonder Americans leave here with lawsuits and in limbo with German companies.

So, I went to the local office downtown this morning to finish out this phone account and return the router so we don't get charged even more.

After a 40-minute wait, the man told me I have to mail the router through the German PO, he can not take it. 

Strike one. 

Then, he said he can not do any customer service but he would help write a letter to see if they would consider canceling our account before July. He wrote the letter, then faxed it to the company for me. With the company logo on his building, I was still confused as to why he could not address my issues.

Then, let me know he usually charges 10 Euro {$14} for this service. But, since we do not know if this will help, he waived the charge just for today.

Seriously?

I told him at this point- I did not care. I would like to pay the three months service {we would NOT be receiving @$55/mo} and be DONE with Kabel Deutschland. He let me know, unfortunately he could not help with that either.

He could/would not accept my payment for my account.

Strike two.

It was all I could do to stay calm.

Until I got in the car and realized he mis-typed our e-mail address. E-mail is the only way for them to contact us. I should have checked it, but I WROTE it out for him. Think I'm back to square one.

Strike three.

Our cell phone company is even worse.
This is only part of why we are so exhausted.

Seven nights to go...

Monday, April 7, 2014

prague and the C Z E C H republic

March was definitely madness in our house.

April started out at a fast, furious pace as well.

As I type this, there are five Bavarian men working like crazy.

Screeching rolls of tape, a dialect of German I can not understand and crumpling  packing paper are the sounds that fill the rooms of our emptying house.  

The real packing started the last Tuesday. We were allowed to ship 500 pounds ahead of our household goods shipment.
Towels, sheets, pillows, dishes, scooters and of course, Legos are all en route to KS.
The real fun started this past Friday as the majority of our household items were boxed and snugly placed onto crates headed for Haysville, Kansas.

This afternoon, we will be left with only the dust and mess from almost three years in our Mackenbach home as they plan to finish up and sign off on our shipment in the next few hours.
Great friends have welcomed us into their home for three nights until we can move into temporary housing on base.
Wednesday, we will ship our van.
Thursday, we will move on base.

We fly out April 22nd.

Opting not to spend the weekend in a half-filled house waiting to be cleaned, we took off Saturday for our last quick trip.
Our destination was the {huge} city of Prague in the Czech Republic. In just twenty four house, we were we able to peek at another beautiful city while checking another country off our list.
Planning to drive and come home in a day, we took the advice of friends and drove the bulk of the trip (four hours) to Grafenwohr, Germany where we stayed in Army Lodging for the night. It was great advice as we did not have to wake up at the crack of dawn and all got a good night’s sleep.

Our plan for Prague did not go quite as anticipated.

We are actually just fine with that.
Prague is not a driver-friendly city.

It is also a big city. You have to be careful where you park with gangs and theft a huge problem. We saw several cars with boots attached for those parking illegally. The rules are strict, the language a barrier. We are not big-city people to start with and noted how grateful we were to be on the same track.

On top of those factors, our Coleman was on day two of an ear infection that landed us in the ER between the hours of one and four {am} the night before. On a good day, he’s not thrilled to walk. Today, we decided to not even pick that battle.


Rather than pay more than $30 for safe underground parking to fight kids in a city they did not want to be in, we did what we like to call a drive-by tour. Jim's superior big-city driving skills were put to the test with busses backing up in front of us and trams coming from every direction.

All in all, we survived.
I think we caught a little of the beauty, but were once again happy to get out of the craziness of another big European city and back into Germany.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

never A G A I N

Knowing that we N E V E R have to move again is something that is getting me through these stressful days. I know there are more to come, so I will keep that thought in my head.

Our list of to-do's is growing in spite of crossing things off.

Our stress level is elevated in spite of trying to stay calm.

Our {my} energy comes and goes- mornings seem to be more productive.

Moving is something we know how to do.

Moving continents in a month is something new that we are working to survive....

It's not easy, but I know we can do it.
Thank goodness, we have a nice prize on the other end.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

one of a M I L L I O N reasons...

...why I love my man.

Our to-do list is so long and enormous we seem to add more each day than we are able to cross off.

Seriously, who not only moves continents but adds a retirement and all that goes with it in just over a month's time.

No one that we know.

As Jim made his retirement appointment with the VA this week, they let him know that most people call six months in advance to start the process.

We don't have six months.

We don't even have six weeks.

They put him on a fast track.
Good thing there is a fast track.
Fasttrack should be our last name. We tend to be a little crazy like that.
Yesterday, I thought I was doing good staying focused working on whatever I was working on. The thought came to get the boys out of baseball since we will miss most of the season. Instead of putting it off, I emailed our youth sports immediately.

I was so proud. It wasn't even on our list and I was knocking it out!
That lasted for a minute until I received this email response:

-----Original Message-----
From: Jim and Sheila DICKEY [mailto:jsdickey7@hotmail.com]
Sent: Tuesday, March 18, 2014 3:28 PM
To: MUTCH, JESSICA A NF-02 USAF USAFE 86 FSS/FSFY
Subject: RE: Baseball season information

We have our boys registered for baseball, but just received retirement orders. We leave April 25th-ish, so we are going to miss most of the season. Any chance we can get a refund and give someone else their slots?

Caden & Coleman Dickey (both 9-10 yo)

Thanks,
Sheila Dickey

My response from youth sports:

Your husband already came in to get his refund.

Thank you,

Jessica Mutch
Ramstein Youth Sports Assistant
480-5660
Any one that I have to try to keep up with is a keeper. I'm reminded even amongst the stress and emotion right now that there is no one in this entire universe more suited for me.

I love this man.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

there's no place like H O M E

You would think having not blogged for almost two solid months things were boring around our house.

Nothing could be further from the truth.
With work and school and kids and basketball- our days have been full.

In fact, things are about to get a little more exciting.
I'm not sure even we will be able to handle it.

The bottom line: we are going home.

The Air Force {US government} is doing this whole re-shaping thing right now cutting back the military. We don't get it, we just know it's going on.

In January, an email was sent out offering an early retirement to those who qualify. We fit in the time frame that they offered with Jim hitting 19 years of service this July.

We talked about it {for about an hour} and decided to go for it.

More than anything, we are tired. We are ready to be settled. We are ready to be back in our house. We are really ready to be close to Justin and closer to family. We are ready to get Ty in college in the states.

Jim immediately submitted his packet and we have been in limbo for three months. That might not seem like long but it is when you are trying to plan your life, or even the next six months.

Last week, an article came out in the Air Force Times that all early-retirement decisions were being put on hold. More people are trying to get out than they planned on. We thought for sure that our chances were slim to none.

In fact, Wednesday night we started talking about a job in Georgia. It was actually sounding like a good plan. A path we might follow.

Thursday {March 13} around noon, Jim received his retirement orders. Not just the approval but actual orders straight from the Secretary of the Air Force. As of July 31st, his commitment to the United States Air Force is served and he is released.

He messaged me to call him immediately- we are OUT.

When he arrived home around 5:00, he let me know he had packers scheduled April 4th and 6th, taking everything on April 7th.

Just over three weeks and our lives are being packed up. Who does that?

The details will work themselves out. They always do. My non-procrastinating husband {a personality trait I actually love} reminds me daily that this is what we do.

We work well together under pressure.
We work well together.
We will be fine in spite of the stress of the next three weeks.


It will not be easy saying our goodbyes here. We have the most cherished friendships and memories that we will treasure forever.

Friendships that we would never have made had we not left Kansas. With plans of returning to Kansas, we are actually overjoyed. If I could fast forward the next three weeks, we would. I might just have to stop substitute teaching this week- I'm not sure there is time to work!

We can't wait to get back in our house with the boys' hand prints in concrete behind our shop.
We can't wait to get our business back up and running full speed- we are bursting with ideas and plans.

We can't wait to get settled and pick up where we left off.
There's no place like home- especially when Kansas is home!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

the C O L O S S E U M

The highlight of our trip.

We got up early for our second day of Rome. It was our only full day to see the city. We intended to make the most of it.

Our hotel had a nice buffet breakfast on the roof with a beautiful view of St. Peter's Basilica.

Lemon and orange trees lined the roof-top terrace. Anywhere the lemons and oranges can grow outdoors in January makes me happy. I wanted to sneak outside and pick one, but resisted the urge.

Having booked a Colosseum and Ancient Rome tour, we had studied the Metro system and how to get from our hotel {next to the Vatican} down to the Colosseum.

Looks easy enough, right?
As we were walking out of our hotel, I asked the man at the front desk to point us in the way of the Metro was just to make sure we did not get turned around. He strongly suggested taking the bus instead of the underground subway.

Rather than being in the dark, we could drive above ground and see all that there was along the way. The crazy driving down narrow streets was an added bonus.

It was great advice and we took it.
sights we took in along the bus route
The bus station was around the corner. It was around 8:00am- early for Rome. The big city was still sleepy and peaceful. When restaurants do not open until 7:30pm for dinner, you know they stay up late and sleep in.

We jumped on bus 81 which took us straight to where we needed to go. No transfers, no craziness, no crowds. Rome has a very efficient and user-friendly local transportation system- we were quite impressed and especially happy to not get lost.

Again, we had no idea what we were seeing. There were fountains and monuments and enormous buildings out both sides of the bus. A very kind non-English-speaking priest helped us by pointing out where we would get off for the Colosseum.

It was not hard to spot- the structure is incredible. You can't miss it.
Early for our tour, we stopped in a little CafĂ© for a sweet treat and a little bonus Lionel Richie on the local radio.

Our tour was small {eight others} and the best decision we made to get the most out of our short time in the city. With kids, guided tours can be long and frustrating as our boys are not always patient.

They get bored, we have to shush them {something Caden can't stand} and end up missing all the history.

We can't blame them, so we avoid the frustration all together and rarely spend the money or time on tours.

Today, we were ready for our history lesson. We hung on every word and detail our truly Roman guide Damien offered for the entire three-hour walk through the Colosseum and Ancient Rome.

This fine man of mine even took pictures- something that never happens. I knew we were somewhere grand for him to take charge of a camera.