Rapid City Is Awesome…in the Summer! I’m Getting Excited to Hibernate.

City View from Dinosaur Park. July 2018. Rapid City, SD.

Snow is in the forecast.  I’m cold.  I’m cranky.  Where is Fall?

With cold days like this, it’s easy to forget how awesome Rapid City is, primarily because I have little motivation to leave my house.

When we first arrived this past summer, I was pleasantly surprised with Rapid City.  As much as I love Hawaii, it’s also crowded and expensive in paradise. Rapid City and the Black Hills have so much to offer – to see, eat, and do, especially if you love the great outdoors.

Hubby had to work, our household goods were in transit, the kids and I had little else to do but explore our new hometown.  We had so much fun playing tourist, although we have yet to visit Mount Rushmore or Crazy Horse!  (We were initially waiting for visitors, and then our visitors ironically didn’t care to go.)

Oh, the places we’ve been!  Here are a few notable destinations:

Badlands National Park

Rapid City Memorial Park

City of Spearfish 4th of July Parade

Custer State Park – Sylvan Lake, Wildlife Loop, Cathedral Spires, Sunday Gulch Trail

Dahl Art Center

Dinosaur Park

Downtown Square @ Rapid City

Harriet & Oak Café *my favorite coffee shop*

Journey Museum

M Hill

Mammoth Site

Prairie Edge Art Gallery & Trading Post

Sip-n-Stretch @ Hay Camp Brewing Company with Sol Yoga Collective

Spearfish Canyon – Devil’s Bathtub Trail

Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

Wall Drug

Watiki

 

Now that we are settling in and school has started, our routine is much more mundane.  Less tourist, more daily living – school & work engagements, dog walks, never-ending grocery shopping/cooking cycle.  I am spending a small fortune outfitting us all for the cold weather.  After wearing shorts and slippahs for two years, we have zero cold weather gear.  I’ve been told by the seasoned locals that having the proper gear makes all the difference in handling the cold and wind of Sodak.  I just bought a long winter coat that looks like it could double as a sleeping bag.  Fashionable? Maybe.  I just hope when I do venture outdoors, it will keep me warm and toasty (and less cranky).

The hubby and kids are super excited for the winter.  As long as they don’t mind me watching from inside by the window, standing guard over the hot chocolate and baking comfort foods, I guess I’m excited, too.

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The moving stats — Hawaii to South Dakota

40+ days and counting since we have been living out of a suitcase. (* No word yet on actual delivery date of household goods. *)

11 shipping crates of our domestic bliss, approx. 12,000 lbs of stuff.

500 lbs of Unaccompanied Baggage of household essentials. (* Murphy’s Law guarantees this to be the last arrival. *)

19 mind-boggling, stressful hours waiting for word that the family dog has successfully landed in the correct destination on the mainland.

6-hour flight with an inoperable onboard entertainment system to the mainland with 2 kids depending on an operable onboard entertainment system.

21 days from drop off to pickup of family car at the Vehicle Processing Center.

1500 miles, 5-state, 3-day road-trip with 2 cars, 2 kids, and 1 set of grandparents.

55 degree cold and rainy weather welcome by Mother Nature.

0 warm weather outfits.

Complete suspension of normal family budgeting and financial operations!

Too many good-byes to count.

1 grand military family adventure to the great state of South Dakota!

Just a few hiccups: Misplaced car registration, $1500 travel bill for the Dog, Tears & Curses, Sciatica.

Are we there yet?  YES!

Are we having fun yet?  YES!

And I still have unpacking to look forward to…

Wishing you a happy, safe, low stress PCS season!

Detaching from Montgomery – The Next Move is Approaching

We rolled into 2016, a new year of possibilities. It’s usually a time to jumpstart the routine, try new things, set some goals & resolutions.

Yet for me, it’s a time to fight the detachment from Montgomery. We rolled into a new year and I’m trying hard to stay in the present moment. I’m starting to shut down, closing myself off from here, detaching. I don’t need to accept any new invitations, or make new acquaintances, nor try too hard.

We know we will be moving in June (unless the Invisible Hand of Assignments surprises us.). We are waiting for assignment notification. Once we receive the notification (most likely in March), my head is in the new place. I will be researching the new location, searching online, visiting the area to find a place to live and to recreate our lives once again. I already have one foot out the door.

When I first arrive to a new place, I am open to Possibility. I am receptive. I invite. I look for openings for connection. I randomly drive around “exploring” to learn my way around.

This is exactly what I did upon arrival here to Montgomery – I started exploring, unpacked (mostly), found my way around, tried new things, met people, and started making my community. With seven months down, I have now met all who I am going to meet on this tour, which by the way has been plenty of very awesome people! The last five months in Montgomery are about maintaining what I have established. It’s about being present for my kids, their school events, finishing up my re-certification for massage therapy, fitness, an extended TDY, an upcoming graduation, and moving preparation. Oh, we might also squeeze in a few must-see sites and, in my dream world, another trip to the beach that actually involves lounging in the sand & surf.

Meanwhile, I am trying to make meaningful connection/time with the people I have met, although we all know, we are all just passing through. These are situational friendships. It doesn’t make the friendships less than. It is what it is. Thankfully with Facebook, there is a much better opportunity to stay loosely connected. (Aside: My friend Caputa from my South Dakota days, 15 years ago, just reconnected with me today on Facebook, after we had gone our separate ways many moons ago and had lost touch. Not intentional but just the way it is. I’m looking forward to his update! This brings a smile to my face to think about that time in our lives and now to learn about his current life.)

I don’t have much more time or energy to expend on the new anymore. I am in maintaining mode.

When do you start detaching? Or do you stay connected to the very end?

Valerie

Not even 3 Months and it’s already LOVE

“Mom, I love it here! I want to stay.” [Insert my sinking heart here.]

Tree Lined Avenue

Both of my children separately uttered these words to me, unprompted, last week as we were going about our daily living. The kids love their new schools, this neighborhood, and their routines. Love with a capital L, maybe even LOVE with all capitals. They are happy, joyful, bursting at the seams, wanting, wishing that this place is Home. As in permanent home. Or at the very least, longer-than-11-months home.

Handsome Young Man and Diva Darling are excited for each and every day. No moping. No dread. No bullying. Just happy to be here. Present and in the moment.

I am relieved that this transition has been easy for them. (Maybe too easy!)

I may even pat myself on the back for making good choices that have benefited my family. Since the spring, I have prepared them as best I could about upcoming changes, handling themselves in new situations, making new friends, being themselves, and having the courage to try new things. It makes my head spin, thinking about how much has been thrown at them this past summer.

If the Queen Bee is calm, her Busy Bees should be calm too, right? Although if you truly knew how I handled this move, calm would not be the first word choice that comes to mind. Yet our hive has transplanted and is thriving and buzzing along splendidly in the Deep South.

And yet…

My heart already sinks knowing that staying here is highly unlikely. That this time next year, we will be somewhere else, most likely a place we have never been before, with new schools, a new neighborhood, a new routine. I am already dreading the break-up.

I do not dread the relocation and all the details and decisions it entails. I dread detaching from here and putting on my brave face to be the newcomer yet again. It’s getting harder for me because now it involves watching how my children will detach themselves from a place that they have grown to love, watching them insert themselves in a new place.

I can only hope that they will continue to be excited for each and every day. Today. And one year from today in the new place.

But let me remind myself to not get ahead of myself. I am happy to be here. I am present and in the moment. Because it’s not even three months, and it’s love! Ok, love is a rather strong word. Although perhaps I am willing to say I am, surprisingly, rather smitten with Montgomery.

It is my children who, unintentionally, teach me that everything is going to be alright, when it is I who thinks I am teaching them life’s lessons.

Are you smitten with your current not-my-forever home?

Valerie

A Year of Fun & Fitness in Montgomery, Alabama

Hello Nametag
I have recently relocated to Montgomery, Alabama (Maxwell AFB).

One question looming, as I unpack the house, navigate through a new city, get my family settled, is how much do I invest of myself in this community?

Our time here is short.  As I write, we are 3-months down of an 11-month stay.  Already the powers that be in Military Assignments are working on our next assignment.  I liken it to “Assignment Roulette,” as we truly have no control where the next assignment will be (although I’m hoping, not so secretly, that it’s DC!).

I think the holding pattern of thinking “I’m only here for 10 months – why bother?” is prevalent among the milspouse community here because of the nature and timing of the military school environment.  The local community, while welcoming, also knows it’s a revolving door of military families.

I can’t think about the next move yet, when I have a life right here and now to live presently and fully.   I do not want to be in a holding pattern.  Instead, I am using this time to pursue my self interests.   For the record, I considered working but my resume/track record/present career goals need a major overhaul before this is a viable option, but one that needs to be addressed before the next move.  (I will be exploring this topic at length this year because military spouse employment opportunities and challenges are a real issue for our community.)

I have decided that this is my year of writing and working out, aka fun & fitness.  These are things that I always want to do, but I frequently pushed them off my to do list at our last duty location in Texas.  I am writing and working out, no excuses.  I am making connections, making new friends and acquaintances.  I am volunteering.

I will leave Montgomery a better person, or at the very least, more fit.

How are you using your time and talents in your new location?

Valerie