navygreen: (R+J: Romeo - devastated)
As most of you know from the constant media coverages, Minot is currently in a record-smashing flood situation. We live on base - Minot AFB - and let me stress this first: we are okay. We are fine. We are not flooding, and we have not lost anything. Our only precaution right now comes from a valley-wide water system "Boil Alert." As such, I boiled and sanitized several containers of drinking/cooking/hand-washing water yesterday, and I will simply boil more if needed later. It's nothing to fuss about, especially considering that we have friends that have lost EVERYTHING in the city.

We cannot access the city at all right now (roads are either closed or washed out), but we are self-sufficient on the air base. We had gotten in the habit of venturing into the city for movies, eats, and fun things to do, as well as other shopping, and we may go a bit stir-crazy after a while on just the base, but we are still fine. The kids have their rec center, as well as a library, an arcade, and tons of parks. We still have television and video games. We have PLENTY of food because I had just completed and shopped for a 22-day meal plan, but our commissary is also running and restocking at normal rates, though the delivery trucks are taking alternate routes to our base.

There just aren't words devastating enough to describe what I feel in the midst of the massive flooding situation. Instead, I will share pictures - the ones that tell entire stories with each glance. I do hope you'll give Minot - our town - a moment's glance and look through them.

Minot Flood 2011 - lost toybox.
A lost toy box floating through a flooded residential area.


Not one of the following photos is my own, as Minot has pleaded with folks NOT to try to get to town just to take pictures. Workers are trying desperately to build dikes, and every car that insists on being on the road slows dirt drivers from where they need to be. I'm happy to heed their words and stay home in a time like this.

A story of the Minot Flood, as told through pictures. )

The city will NOT give up the fight, but we do need your help. Even all of the images I shared above are over two days old now, and the crest of the river has only just happened. Things are so much worse than imaginable. (You can see still images from yesterday's Black Hawk tour of the city HERE, for example.) However, several agencies and groups are doing their best to support the city - to "lift up Minot," and I beg you for your help if you can give.

T-Shirts sold to raise funds for Minot.
T-shirts sold to raise funds.


You can donate directly to either Minot Red Cross or Money For Minot (a group started by our neighbors on the far side of the state in Fargo, ND).

If you'd rather contribute via your cell phone, you can make a $10 donation to the Salvation Army’s flood relief efforts by texting “MINOT” to 80888 and replying “yes” to the confirmation text. A one-time donation of $10 will be added to your phone bill.

Lastly, please PRAY for the city of Minot. Even yesterday afternoon (while in the throes of fighting the flood), we experienced severe thunderstorms with hail and a few small tornadoes. Even one more drop of water is too much. All prayers and thoughts are greatly appreciated, and I thank you for remembering what has now become "our town."

(Please feel free to link back to this post if you'd like to share the fundraising efforts. I'm hoping my words spread far to help this city I love!)

Home(s).

Jun. 19th, 2010 10:22 pm
navygreen: (Keyhole: secrets)
Today marks exactly six months since we moved into this house. As well, today marks exactly eight years since we moved into our first house in Nebraska. To celebrate, our phone number there ended in '0619' (June 19th).

Time absolutely flies by, I swear.

So sleepy.

Jan. 15th, 2010 10:23 pm
navygreen: (Jack: tired)
This girl is tired.

Philip and I stayed up last night until 4:30am. Now, he needs to be on that schedule, as he went back to work tonight. Myself? I shouldn't be doing that, but I always end up staying up too late with him.

I mean, I'm a night owl, yes. I always have been. But for me, that means a bedtime between 1-2am, usually. I am DRAGGING right now because of it, so I suspect I will fall to bed with a book as soon as the boys are finished bathing.

Tomorrow, we are delivering all sorts of goodies to our neighbors. I've got "care packages" all over the kitchen, and it makes actually cooking in there feel very cramped. I made Chicken Fried Rice, egg rolls, and crab rangoon tonight for dinner. I'd been planning to have that meal on a night when Philip was gone, as he doesn't really care for Chinese food. We had fresh pineapple for dessert.

My puzzles are framed and ready for pick-up in town. I'm thinking that I might just brave the drive myself with the GPS during the morning while Philip is sleeping. I'm dying to get them up on the walls now that they're finished, but on his work days, he really doesn't have enough time to do much. We'll see. I also still really need to find a quilt shop...

I reinstalled iTunes last night, and then I spent several hours putting music back onto the computer. We have over 55gb in our iTunes collection, and I had backed it all up on the T-cube before upgrading the OS. I put As-Ms back on last night, and I had planned to finish the second half of the alphabet tonight, but it will wait until I'm not quite so tired now.

I got my gorgeous scarf in the mail today from [livejournal.com profile] daphyn! It is so light and so fun and so bright! She only began making it last Friday, and I already have it in my hands - crazy! She also included a note and a sweet little book - A Taste of Chicken Soup for the Mother's Soul. And OMG, but she must use the most glorious detergent and/or fabric softener EVER, because the entire package smells like bits of beautiful heaven. Really!

I went over to my neighbor's house tonight to let the maintenance crews come in and turn off their water. They're on vacation, and we're their "Quarters Watch." They only moved in one week before we did, and they are in the unit on the far side of us - the one not connected to our own. We are in an A-style unit, and theirs is a B-style. I just was floored to see how very different our houses are. Other than sharing a wall together, there is absolutely nothing the same between A- and B-units. It was just too radical to try and picture what rooms are adjacent to our walls in certain places.

Today was payday, and I didn't even remember it until this afternoon while talking to Marissa. Lovely! We've got a reimbursement check coming to us from Runza too, as well as our W-2s. The military will likely put out their W-2s late next week, and then I can finish up our taxes. I love having that done, and I enjoy seeing that nice chunk of refund, too.

Alrightee, the dinner dishes are calling me, and I can hear my bed even more loudly. 'Night!
navygreen: (Christmas: cookie cutter)
It's currently -19° with a windchill of -33°. Last night was Philip's first night to work since we've been here (he's been in base training for two weeks, not counting all the holiday breaks), and they were outside running an exercise. The windchill hit -47°, and even after he came in and warmed up a bit, I felt him slide into the bed with his chilly skin! Tonight should be more of the same.

I think I'm going to bake tonight. I didn't get to do so during the holidays, and I'm really needing this. I usually bake a new goodie every single day during December, but I didn't have any of my stuff to do so. (The movers packed us on Nov. 30th, and then our stuff didn't arrive until the 23rd. Then it wasn't all unpacked, giving me room to do anything, until the 30th or so.)

But who makes tons of goodies in January? Where will I send/gift all this stuff? I'm not exactly sure. I'm thinking it might be a good way to meet some of our new neighbors, and maybe I'll mail a care package or two...

Speaking of neighbors, Jack was so excited that two of the boys' friends from Nebraska live right on their bus route. Before arriving here, we already knew that four of their friends were headed to this base at the exact same time. Three of them attend the boys' school, but one little girl actually lives in the town of Minot. We'll have to find a way to get Leah around for a playdate sometime, though.

I've got everything backed up now, and I'm ready to take the plunge. I've opted for the "clean install" of Windows 7 instead of the "upgrade," so I pray that I've got everything I'm going to need! I'll do that tonight while baking, I think.
navygreen: (HP: Wood - snitch)
It's funny how very quickly the body begins to acclimate. I'm amazed by this every time we've moved - from West Virginia to Alaska to Nebraska, and now to North Dakota.

And, it's kinda fun to look back and say - very affectionately, of course! - that Nebraskans are being real wimps right now. :-)

We only left there a month ago tomorrow, but the differences in what is expected here versus the expectations there are incredible.

Examples:


- it's been snowing for three solid days here now, but nothing has been closed, cancelled, or shut down
versus...
- they cancelled school ahead of time last night due to forecasted snow of 4-6" (it wasn't snowing yet)


- the forecasted high temperature today here was
versus...
- the forecasted high temp for Bellevue for today was 18°


- our current temperature is -5°, with a windchill of -26°
versus...
- their current temperature is 13°, with a windchill of -5°


- the forecasted high temperature for us tomorrow is -10° (not counting a windchill), and the kids will still be headed to school with no problems
versus...
- they have already cancelled school for tomorrow, with a projected high of


We've had more snow, more blowing snow, and much, much colder temps. We've not had a 'snow day' here in Minot AFB yet, and I imagine it will be much like when we lived in Anchorage, Alaska - they probably won't. If they do cancel school, you can bet it will be actually necessary. As is, the kids here are still expected to have outdoor recess in school unless the temp is below -5° - they just go to school prepared with their serious winter gear ready. For my own two boys, they are loving it!
navygreen: (PotC: Barbossa - which way?)
So. Much. Unpacking.

It feels like it will never end! Realistically, however, it will be done late tomorrow or Tuesday - I can't tell just yet. I am so very much looking forward to calling the moving company and asking them to come back and pick up all their boxes and packing material! (I'll have space in my garage again - whee!)

My dining room is just gorgeous and huge. I still cannot get over all the space in there. That, to me, is the most drastic difference between our old house and this one. I love the fact that it's not situated off the main garage entrance into the house, and it's not near a television of any sorts. It's awesome, truly.

The plan tomorrow is for Philip and I to move/unpack all the stuff in the garage. See, the movers unloaded all our shed and garage items directly into the garage, so we've got to unpack everything and get it moved into its proper place in the storage room in the back. Philip already took apart our shed, and we'll put the pieces in our "renovation space." (When they renovated this house, they built on an extra room along the basement wall, and they entered through there, bringing all their equipment with them. Once they finished, they closed off the room and left a large access flap. We can easily open it via the flap, and it's an 8x10' space, at least.) While we're doing that, the boys will be playing hard in the snow. Once we're done, we'll have all our space back in the garage, and we'll move all the boxes and packing material to the breezeway until pick-up. Trash Day is also on Tuesday, and it'll be great to have all that gone, too. (Gosh, but moving creates a lot of excess trash!)

Depending on how long we're out in the garage tomorrow, we'll work on the office afterwards. It's the only room left, and that's because I considered it the lowest priority of all the rooms. I mean, *I* love this room, and I practically live in it sometimes... but everything I really need (computer, bills, filing cabinet, etc.), I can already reach, and we brought with us ahead of time. What needs to be unpacked are the bookshelves and lots of Philip's military memorabilia and knick-knacks. He heads back to work on Tuesday, and I can finish this room by myself, if needed.

As a reward once ALL of the unpacking is done, we plan to go see Alvin & the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel. The boys are dying to see it, and I think it looks pretty cute, too. I thought the first one was good, and I'm sure this one will be about the same. The boys are also anxious to spend some of their Christmas cash at the mall, too. *wink*

Speaking of movies, we all went to see New Moon last Friday. It was the boys' first time seeing it, Philip' second time, and my seventh time. I probably won't see it again in the theatre, but it was just as good this time again. A quick rundown of the showings I've been to:

1st - with Marissa as my 'date' to Amy's midnight premiere party (11/20)
2nd - with Marissa again on Sunday afternoon (11/22)
3rd - with Liz on Sunday night (11/22)
4th - with Philip the following Tuesday (11/24)
5th - with Cheyenne on Thanksgiving night (11/26)
6th - with Aimée on the Saturday after Thanksgiving (11/28)
7th - with the family (12/21)

We also recently saw The Princess and the Frog (on opening day!), and we all loved it. I cried a little near the end, but it was wonderful to see the old-style animation again. And - I was so surprised when the first song began! I'd almost forgotten how the older Disney movies always had original songs - how sad is that?! I thought the characters were very charming, and I really hope the movie does well enough that Disney will do another one in this style again soon.

We saw Disney's A Christmas Carol in 3D, too. I found it to be much darker than I'd imagined, but the effects were amazing. Honestly, though, there were parts of it that unsettled even me, and I don't think I'd let younger children see it yet (though the Disney Channel promotes it constantly). We were late to the game on this one, having been planning on seeing it ever since we rode the official movie train back in August (what a neat experience, too!). After seeing the movie, we bought my favorite as a young girl: Mickey's Christmas Carol. I didn't have the movie growing up, but I had a record of it, and I played that over and over all year long. I still have most of it memorized. :-)

I'm hoping to have mail tomorrow, but I'm not terribly optimistic. There was, of course, no mail yesterday in the face of this major blizzard, and then today was Sunday. Philip and I did watch some lady trudge through all the snow with her key, falling down in the deep drifts and then crawling on her knees atop them to get to the box, only to open it and find it empty, of course. We learned long ago (in both Alaska and Nebraska, actually) that even though the post office's motto is, "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds," that isn't always the case. We've had numerous times with no mail delivery due to inclement weather, and on a day where no travel is advised, I'm surprised that anyone would think there would be mail.

Perhaps she didn't check her box on Christmas Eve, then? *nods* We'll go with that. :-)
navygreen: (PotC: Barbossa - which way?)
Wow! Color me amazed!

Last night, I wrote that I hoped we'd hear from the moving company about our household goods. At best, I was hoping they'd arrive in Minot today, and that we would be able to *squeak* in a delivery by Wednesday, the 23rd (they're off the rest of the week for Christmas Eve & Day, and they don't deliver on weekends).

But they just called ten minutes ago! And they're on their way right now! And they'll be here in an hour or so! Yay!

And now, it's time to become a "Nicole Tornado." Too-de-loo, my friends!
navygreen: (PotC: Barbossa - which way?)
Since everyone has been dying to see... here are the pics I snapped when we got the keys to the house. They were taken at dusk, and I've not done anything to brighten them up, but you can still get a "sorta" feel to the house, I think.

The boys stand against the cut-out wall in the entryway


ALL of the pictures are located HERE. I tried to caption them with descriptions, too.

Feel free to ask any questions you might have as you look through them. I know it's hard to understand floor plans just by looking at pictures, ya know?
navygreen: (School)
The boys have had almost a full week in their new school, Dakota Elementary. This is their first time attending an on-base school, and I gotta say: it is super-nice. The security from knowing the school is under more protection than a regular school, and the peace of mind that comes from knowing that each and every one of their classmates understands and lives the same hardships, difficulties, family separations, etc. is golden. I wouldn't trade it away for any price right now.

In addition, the school is brilliant. I love the stage in the gym - the fact that their new school can hold their own concerts and assemblies without traveling away. I love that the get to experience a "true" school cafeteria, complete with sliding their trays down metal beams while their food is served. Near the front of the building, there is a special place for the pick-up children to wait - it's called the "Snow Den." The classrooms for grades K-3 have bathrooms inside, so there's not much instruction time missed for a potty break. The student ratio is a bit smaller than our their last school, and that's always a plus, too.

Their school day is now from 9am-3:15. I was surprised to hear that, having always seen schools start between 7:45-8:15 or so. The later start is great for these darker mornings though, and I have appreciated the extra minutes of shut-eye myself. We had to purchase school supplies over the weekend for the first time (our old school district supplied them), and the boys had fun picking out certain colors of their items. The breakfast and lunch choices are FAR superior, and I love that there is no set pattern in the lunch menu. Philip and I were reading the monthly menu, and even then, *we* each picked several days we'd like to join the boys for lunch, if only for the great selection!

The change in weather between Nebraska and North Dakota is apparent, and not in the least on the playground rules. Back in Nebraska, the boys had outdoor recess at school unless is was below 20°. In their new school, the school operates with outdoor recesses unless it is -5° or the windchill is -15°. Wow! Due to these regulations, students are required to wear full snow gear for recess (boots, snowpants, gloves, hat, coat). All students are provided bus transportation too, but they must wear the full snow gear while on the bus. This week, we have been dropping off/picking up the boys, as we're waiting on their brand-new (tags still attached) snow boots and snowpants to arrive with our household goods. They are SO EXCITED to ride the bus for the first time, and I'm excited to turn in my years of driving them for a bit of jammy-clad, kiss-'em-on-the-cheek goodbyes at the door. ;-)

Both of the boys have been placed into the Gifted & Talented program at school. A.J. had previously been in the HAL program (High Ability Learner) since 3rd grade at their old school, and they simply transferred him over. Jack had been pegged for the HAL program by his other teachers, but was waiting until next year to start. (He's in 2nd grade, and the program does not begin until the 3rd grade.) At this new school, however, the Gifted program begins in the 2nd grade, and he has already easily tested into it. In addition, his teacher has placed him in a special math club for advanced students. She also will be supplementing his reading curriculum with material from the 5th grade classrooms (that is where he has level-tested now). With all the extra reading he does at home, I'm not surprised in the least!

A.J. will be playing a bit of catch-up in band, as the school here began instruction in the 5th grade, so his classmates are one year ahead of him. I hope he is able to hold his own, but I'm encouraged by how well he enjoys playing his instrument.

The boys don't break at the same time as their old school for the holidays. Instead of having their last day tomorrow, the 18th, they will continue until next Tuesday, the 22nd. They return on the 4th, which is the same. We also noticed fewer breaks throughout the year, but they have a solid 90-day summer vacation, and I am very happy for them for that. School won't begin next year until Aug. 27th - which will be the first year A.J. has ever celebrated his summer birthday (the 23rd) by NOT already being in school. He is ecstatic over the news!

All in all, we have no complaints with the new school, and we have only joyful news to share. What a blessing!
navygreen: (Keyhole: secrets)
We have a house!

We looked at two, and we fell in love with one, so now it's ours. It is HUGE and spacious, and gosh, I don't even know how I'm going to fill all of it! I'm pretty sure we need to go "stuff" shopping now, just so it won't look so bare. ;-)

Guys, I have prayed and prayed over this. We have agonized and worried over the housing situation, having been told we'd have to wait over a year for a house on base (which we learned upon arriving was very WRONG information - the wait list is only for those who need a 2-bedroom unit). I cannot believe how blessed we have been, and how God has answered my prayers with a house more wonderful than anything I could have imagined!

Here are several of the perks:
  • gorgeous, genuine hardwood floors throughout the entire house (not just the hallway, like our old house)

  • TWO large family/living rooms. One has an elevated ceiling, and the other has a cathedral ceiling. BOTH have beautiful ceiling fans, and we can't decide for sure which will be the "official" family room yet.

  • a large, large kitchen (twice the size of our old house, at least). It also has an eat-in bar attached.

  • gas stove

  • ice-maker in fridge/freezer

  • an arctic entryway/mudroom before entering the foyer

  • two gigantic picture windows. One is in one of the living rooms, and the other is in the dining room. (Both my full-size Christmas trees can be seen from the road!)

  • a massive dining room (easily twice the size of our old one)

  • more closets than we can figure out what the heck to do with

  • a storage closet IN THE GARAGE (which is bigger than the shed we bought ourselves years ago and have been using)

  • an indoor storage space which we have NO CLUE what to fill with (about the size of our old laundry room)

  • four doors to the outside, plus a garage door (in other words, tons of entrances/exits)

  • beautiful tub in the main bathroom (I love the built-in hooks, shelves and racks)

  • much larger shower in the master bathroom, plus storage

  • a private DECK off the master bedroom (!!!)

  • old-timey crank windows (I think those look so nice!)

  • a full basement (One side has a kitchen's worth of cabinets installed, as well as another complete two-sided sink, and the other side has cable hook-ups, etc. It screams 'Craft room!' to me.)


I just really can't imagine how we're going to fill up the space. It seems SO BIG. I'm sure I'll figure it out, though - hehehe. The housing office told us we're welcome to come by and pick up keys again before our move-in date, in case we'd like to get inside again and measure anything or take pics, and I think we'll take them up on that. I know a couple people that would be interested in seeing the inside. (*coughs in Grammy's direction*)

As for actually moving in, we called up the TMO today, and our household goods have not yet arrived. When they do, we'll set up a delivery/move-in date, and then we'll be set. It should be no later than next week, though. I'll check with housing tomorrow to see if we can go ahead and snag our mailbox key though, so we can stop our temporary mail forwarding and begin permanently forwarding. :-)

Also, we picked up our mail at General Delivery on base, and it's a peace of mind that the temporary forwarding has gone according to plan thus far. Philip will begin in-processing tomorrow, and now that we have a house, we know which school the boys are zoned for, so I will be registering them tomorrow. Their first day should be next Monday, and they'll be attending Dakota Elementary here on base.

We're headed to the commissary in a bit to pick up some foodstuffs for make-shift meals here in the TLF through at least the weekend.

What a great Thursday!
navygreen: (Snowflake)
Since so many folks are interested in our weather forecasts, here is the best website for checking on Minot AFB (which is 15 miles north of Minot).

Tonight seems nice. We encountered no winds as we ate dinner and checked out the BX. We drove around and looked at holiday lights and located several empty homes (*insert excited squeeee*), and we are optimistic about tomorrow. Also, I'm excited to meet Michelle at the Youth Center. It seems like she and I have talked on the phone a ton in recent weeks while we got the boys registered for the youth programs, and while getting Jack enrolled in the indoor soccer league which starts in January.

And speaking of weather, this TLF unit has a super-effective heater. I keep turning it DOWN, and we're still HOT!
navygreen: (PotC: Barbossa - which way?)
We're here, and we're all snuggled into our TLF. We even have hi-speed internet, so I'm über-glad we brought our desktop. :-)

Tomorrow, we'll be checking in with housing and then finding out about the boys' school. Philip may in-process in the afternoon, and then he'll have eight days off before beginning training. My fingers are crossed for good news tomorrow!

ETA: My mouse seems crazy-fast right now, and I've got no clue why. I even went into the Control Panel and adjusted the speed down two more settings. Hmmm.

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