Bigger on the Inside

Greetings, readers. It has been some time since I last posted, but there is a reason for this that I will get into later. First off, Jen, the boys, and I have recently been sucked into the fascinating world Doctor Who.

This was always a show that I wanted to start watching, but never seemed to have the time or means in order to get into it properly. However, during the last month, we have already watched the first two seasons and are now on the third. Jen and I first reserved the first season to after the boys went down to sleep, mainly to ensure that the show is appropriate for such young ages. Many of our friends enjoy the show, and often post related topics or pictures on Facebook, so we kind of knew what we were getting in to. My advise for anyone wanting to get the true picture of the show should start back with season one (2005) with the episode “Rose.” It’s the starting point for new watchers that are not familiar with the first eight doctors that ended in the late 80’s.

Now we have a true family of Whovians. We decided to introduce the boys to Doctor Who with the first Christmas Special, and since then they have been asking to watch more almost every day. Zachary has taken to “The Doctor saved the day!” After each episode, and this has also helped us whenever he has a nightmare or gets scared of some “monster.” We simply say that the Doctor will fix it, and he calms down.

Now that I have somewhat explained away the title of this post, since the Tardis is, after, bigger on the inside, I will go into the reason I have been silent this last month. Shortly after the last post I made, we found out that Jen is once again pregnant. Neither of us wanted to accidentally post something related to the pregnancy until it was more likely to stick this time, and we are proud to announce that yesterday was the first doctor visit, and everything appears to be healthy. I know that Jen is chomping on the bit to get the word out already, and we made sure to call as much family as we could before making it public on the Internet, but here is one of my forms of announcement.

Now that Doctor Who is a regular topic in the house, we have made our own bad puns regarding every day occurrences or talked about things to do that are Doctor Who themed. One of my ideas is a Dalek-shaped coffee maker that yells “CA-FFIE-NATE!” when the coffee is ready, or having a Tardis painted front door. Last night while discussing how to announce our news, I also made the joke that Jen is “getting bigger on the inside” due to the growth of the baby. Luckily for me, she’s used to my humor and didn’t get offended.

Now that we can go public with the news again, and we are already past week nine in the pregnancy, I will try to be a bit more active here (I know, I’ve said that before). You can expect humorous pregnancy stories, things the kids have said in regards to it, and the usual geeky topics that pervade our household.

Until next time: Allons-y!!!



Wolf Hunt and other Bang Games

Since moving to San Angelo, I have taken up the hobby, some would say lifestyle, of shooting. My early Christmas present this year was a Remington M770 .270 hunting rifle. So far I’ve been out hunting twice, but only fired one shot at a moving deer, missed, but at least I saw some beautiful creatures out there. There is still two weeks of regular hunting season left, and I’m still hopeful for filling our chest freezer, Jen’s early Christmas present, with venison.
Now, today’s title might be a little confusing, but Wolf Hunt is the name of a game my landlord introduced to me about a month ago. Luckily he has a personal arsenal at his house and has plenty of shotguns so I can play. For those that are curious, I’m using a Remington 1187, a beautiful semi-automatic shotgun, 12 gauge 28 inch barrel. Wolf Hunt is a game we play almost every Sunday for practice, fun, and laughing at each other.
Here’s how it works, pay attention because the explanation is much trickier than the actual rules when applied. You start out with three shooters on the line, each with only one cartridge loaded. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll just call them 1, 2, and 3. 1 says “pull,” as usual, and the bird, or clay pigeon, is launched. 1 has first shot to break the bird, and if he does, he’s good and heads to the end of the line. If not, 2 gets a chance. If he hits the bird, 1 is out of the game. If 2 misses, 3 gets a shot, and if he hits, 1 and 2 are both out. This continues until there is only one shooter left. We play $1 per round, so the more shooters, the bigger the payout at each round.
Now to stir things up a bit and make it more fun, challenging, and confusing. We play “pieces.” Stirs means that even if you hit the bird, you may not be safe. Let’s say 1 hits the bird, but doesn’t turn it into a nice cloud of orange dust. If 2 breaks a remaining piece of the bird, 1 is still out, same as if 3 breaks it even more, both 1 and 2 are out. However, if 1 hits the bird, and 2 fires but modest break a piece, 2 is out, and so on down the line. This can make shooters paranoid at times and in this particular group, if you don’t demolish the bird on your shot, you can expect to be out of the round.
The part that really makes this fun is every few rounds we will either move the launcher’s position, or move the line, making the shot completely different. You can have the bird going straight out, left to right, right to left, or even coming toward to the line, which can be really tricky and fun if there is just the right amount of wind to give the bird some hang time before switching directions.
We also do normal trap shooting, which involves two bird launched at the same time. This is a completely different beast from Wolf Hunt, and is what most shooters are used to. Only one shooter is “in the box,” and has two cartridges loaded at a time. With trap shooting there are two variations for launching, report launching and pair launching. Report launching is when one bird is launched on command, and the second is launched after the report, or when the sound of “bang” is heard from the shotgun. Pair launching is when both birds are launched at the same time from two different launchers. This can be very interesting and fun by having the birds go at different speeds, separate angles, and sometimes crisscrossing. And once again you can completely change the tactics by moving the box around, of changing where the launchers are.
Needless to say, I have become a gun nut since moving here, and can hardly wait to get my next one. Anyone who personally knows me knows my stance on the “gun ban” debate and my complete support of the 2nd amendment.
Christmas is tomorrow, so I probably won’t post anything until afterwards, unless the blogging bug bites hard.

I survived the apocalypse

It is officially the day after the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine. I know it’s been a long time since I last wrote anything on here, but it’s been pretty busy lately, and the apocalypse was not the only thing to blame.
We have officially settled in to our new house, and everything is unpacked except for a few boxes in our shed (I’ll get to them soon, I promise). Our social circles are expanding as we get to know people from my work, the church, and the neighborhood. I’ve officially joined a new K of C council and assembly, and I am so very grateful for how accepting this organization and its members is. Jen and I have also joined our church choir, and are by far the youngest members in an otherwise fairly elderly group of vocalists.
I have recently taken up shooting, both shotgun and hunting, and I will make sure to write about that more in the coming days, since Christmas break is upon us.
Speaking of Christmas, any of you who follow me on Facebook have seen the pictorial diary of the adventures of our Elf on a Shelf, a creepy little guy we have named Perry. Each night he is hidden somewhere different for our boys to find when they wake up, and I think we all have a bit of fun seeing where he is going to end up next.
Today, Jen and I also picked up some copies of Guild Wars 2 and are in the process of installing the games, which is down to patching for the next few hours. We’ll try it out tomorrow after church, until I head out for my Sunday shooting time with the guys.
Anyway, it’s getting a little late, especially since everyone was awake before 6am this morning. I’ll be sure to get more written in the coming days.

Settling in

It’s been a while, but the moving process has not been quick for us. After spending a total of 20 days in various hotels, we finally have a house to live in. However, there is very little in the house with us. Unfortunately we have to wait another nine days before all of the household goods are delivered to the house, so we surviving with air mattresses, a mini fridge, and lending closet dishes/cooking ware.

The house is great. We’re out in the country, yet still closer to the base than when we lived in El Paso. Cotton fields right across the street, and an acre and a half to use. There is a large swath of garden in the back, well water so we don’t have a water bill, and a wood-burning fireplace. Our landlord is our neighbor, and such a nice family. We were going to go shooting clay pigeons, but the weather was too windy today to go out.

Even though our stuff isn’t here yet, I already set up the Satellite TV signal and the Internet connection. I was hoping to use cable, instead, but the entire road has yet to be set up for cable since we’re outside of the city limits. We’re also getting other necessities for the new place. On our shopping list is a lawn mower, porch chairs for sittin’, and eventually a shotgun and rifle for hunting.

I did get my super combo license today, which allows me to hunt and fish everything in Texas. If you are active duty stationed in Texas, you can bring your military ID and orders in to get your license for free. Both Jen and I are looking forward to me getting my first buck and filling a freezer with freshly shot venison. I’m sure Jen will come up with some interesting and tasty concoctions with the meat I bring in.

Over all the move is going fairly well. The boys are happy for the increased amount of room right now, but that will change once we have all of our stuff in the house again. The kitties are happy to be able to move around again and not get locked up when we leave to go somewhere. Jen has already made new friends at our church, and I will be going to my first K of C meeting here this week. We met the Grand Knight for the church’s council today after mass, and they had a newcomer welcome as well. I look forward to becoming a part of a community again.

I may be away until our stuff finally gets here, unless the blogging bug bites me before then.


Pre-PCS Life

For the last week the family has been living in a hotel in preparation for out big move. Mind you, while this room is fairly nice, good sized closet for the kitty litter and our luggage to not get in each others’ way, it still cramped with two adults, two kids, two cats, and only two full-sized beds. We have already had the house packed up, cleaned up, and turned in the keys. I have finished all of my out-processing for the unit and the post. We have two more nights here in El Paso, and then we hit the road. Tomorrow I get to final out from the base, sign out on leave, and get my PCS award. All in all, it’s been a busy few days with only a few snags along the way.

Here is my advice on preparing to move. First off, do as much scheduling as you can beforehand. Important things for a military move are CIF appointments, especially at larger installations such as Fort Bliss. I made my appointment almost a month in advance, as soon as I got a physical copy of my orders. Next you need to make sure that your PCS award is ready, or at least being worked on well in advance. This can turn into a bit of a fiasco depending on who is in charge of it. Because of my rather unique situation, my award was being completed by someone in a different company than I am currently in, mainly because I was part of that other company while deployed and he was my rater for my NCOER. By the time all the corrections were finished, which I had a huge part in, I barely had the time for signatures. In fact, I had to have my S1 type up a memo for my Battalion Commander to sign stating that the award was still waiting on signatures in order for me to pick up my clearing papers, two working days later than I should have. This also goes for NCOERs, if applicable for your situation.

Now for the big part that took the longest to resolve. Property and the Army. For some reason while I was deployed, I was chosen to sign for the organic equipment for our S3 since I was the Battle NCO, and our MSG was redeploying early. Unfortunately, I went about it the wrong way, and it has haunted me until yesterday. I made sure I knew what all the major end items were, but not the sub components, or what any shortages were for them. This was multiple kinds of wrong. First off, an NCO, or any enlisted for that matter, should not be signed for property straight off the property book. At most it should be an officer sub-hand receipting the property down on a temporary basis. The next part of the confusion came from me being moved from the S3 back to the MICO (Military Intelligence Company) upon redeployment. Because of this, I lost oversight on the property since it was stored with other staff sections. Property was moved, turned in, and otherwise shuffled about. I have spent the last month trying to track it all down, sort it all out, find out what items belong to which major item, and what items are missing to be reordered, all the while the S3 keeps moving items around after I find them. As of yesterday, helped in part with the inventory lay outs each section had to do, I have finally tracked out each item, document, and shortage in order for the next person in line to sign for everything.

My advice, if you are enlisted, don’t sign straight from the property book if there is an officer that can do it, and if you do sign for anything make sure to get shortage annexes for everything and know what goes with the major items.

Household goods time! My only advise for this is to make sure every item is actually packed up. The movers we had actually liked that we organized everything beforehand, which made their job a whole lot easier and turned a two-day packing job into one. However, while we were cleaning up the house after they left. We did find a handful of items they didn’t get, mainly in hard to see places such as deep in the kitchen cabinet behind a bend, or in the front closet. The strange part about that was they everything but our shoe rack and some of my shoes. Luckily, we should have enough room in one of our cars for everything left behind.

We had a few emotional moments at church the last two weekends. We were given a farewell at the Sunday mass two weekends ago, and had our last mass in El Paso for the foreseeable future this last Saturday. I have to say that this parish has made us feel more welcome than any I’ve been in before. I must say that this is mostly due to both the a Knights of Columbus and the Military Council of Catholic Women (MCCW). Without these two great organizations, I feel that we would not have made as great of friends. We have in the last three years, and for that, thank you.

That’s it for now. Pray for us on the road as we drive halfway across Texas to our new home in the middle of nowhere.


Moving on and moving away

First off, all spotting and bleeding has officially stopped for Jen, and we are both happy that her body is back to normal once again. However, now instead of stressing over a miscarriage, we are stressing over our impending PCS, or Permanent Change of Station for those military illiterates out there. Broken down, it means we are moving to another base.

After having spent three years and one month at Fort Bliss, I am being reassigned to Goodfellow AFB near San Angelo, TX. Yes, this is a whole 6 1/2 hour drive away. Much better than when we moved from Germany. It is time for me to be an instructor and mold our young Soldiers’ minds into something of worth for our military community. This will be good for my career and give me that rounded out experience I need in order to continue advancing through the ranks.

During the last week, Jen has been on a cleaning and organizing spree around the house, trying to get everything ready for the move. This has resulted in an influx of trash for our bin as we realize there is a lot of stuff that we’ve held on to that was not needed. Unfortunately, it also means that the day after trash gets picked up, our bin is nearly full already, and getting fuller as I also weed the back yard so it’s not a jungle when we leave.

The biggest cause for stress is trying to figure out where we will live for the next few years. Base housing is too small for our family, so we are looking off base again like we did here in El Paso. The first house we looked into, and actually drove all the way to San Angelo to check out, turned out to be a no-go. The house was built in 1950 and the landlord is refusing to have a lead and asbestos assessment done on the house. This is against Texas law, and I have already reported him to the Goodfellow housing office. Luckily, a few more houses recently appeared on the market, but will be unavailable until we’ve already been there for about a week. Not to worry though, we already have a month reserved in the base lodging while we look for a house.

Tonight is our last official night sleeping in our current house. Tomorrow we will pack everything into the cars, get them weighed full, then go to the Ft. Bliss hotel. We will come back and eat dinner at home here one last night, then unplug the fridge so it is prepped for the packers later this week. I would say that yesterday we reached about 75-80% readiness for the move, and should finish today or tomorrow.

It is a bittersweet move, and John is upset about leaving El Paso, but this is all part of the military life. As I’ve been saying all week, and everyone seems to agree with me, leaving is nice, but moving sucks. I’m ready to leave this unit, for many reasons, not all of them bad, and get to somewhere new. I will sorely miss all of our friends here in El Paso, especially my Brother Knights who have provided so much support over the past years. I know that San Angelo has a heavy Catholic population, though, and has at least four councils and one assembly for me to join. One of our first missions as a family will be to find the right congregation for us.

Until next time,

Miscarriage, Finale

…and it’s done.

Jen decided that if things did not progress through this weekend, that she would go to the OB and try to get some medication to help the miscarriage process to its completion. After the waiting, blood work, and other labs, she got her final ultrasound. Her womb was completely empty and her HcG level was 4. Education time again! In order to be considered pregnant, a woman’s HcG level must be at least 5. This is what at home pregnancy tests read, and can be more accurately measured in a hospital’s or clinic’s blood test.

What does this mean for us? Well, first off it means that the child was either absorbed into the body, was passed without being noticed, or a combination of both. It also means that there will still be some bleeding as the lining is shed from the womb and her body goes back to non-pregnancy mode. It means that Jen got the closure she needed this time around, and is more emotionally stable and less depressed because of it. It means the waiting is almost completely over and will be once the bleeding finally stops within the next week.

I’m still not quite sure how to feel about all this. I’m glad that my wife is getting her body back. I know she is more at peace this time around, and that is cause for relief on my part. It’s still a little new to me that all of this is over. It’s kind of hard to compare I to anything else in life. You make all these plans to add another person into your life, get very excited about the prospect, then find out that person isn’t coming anymore, and you just have to find a way to get through that. Then, once you come to terms with it, it’s like being told one more time that the person isn’t coming anymore. You already knew it, but the reminder still hurts. One the positive side, it’s much easier to cope with the second time you are told.

I get to go to my final Knights of Columbus meeting tonight in El Paso, so the timing is pretty good. I know Jen will be alright tonight since everything is over, and I’ll have my brothers there to lean on if I need it.