Saturday, October 30, 2010


The Korea story will have to be continued until at least tomorrow- no time to write up a lengthy post today since my parents are out of town at a fun wedding weekend.  

This post is mainly for Marshall, who through no fault of his own really likes T-shirts with witty/funny/stupid/moronic sayings on them.  He seems to get one or more as a gift just about every gift-giving holiday (no, not from me).  And-though I may have been known to wear such T-shirts myself on occasion, I have just recently started to realize that I am a little too old to rock that look any more.  (I actually had a T-shirt in Middle School that said "It must suck to be you", and got in trouble for wearing it to school!!)  Since I'm trying to convince my husband to let go of the juvenile T-shirts and wear grown up clothes, I think we should focus on finding them for our kids since that is more socially acceptable.  Here are some cute things I've found.  The links are included just in case you feel like ordering one or more.  :)

I think that is more than enough to give you an idea of the kind of thing I'm talking about!  Cute on a kid, not so much on a twenty (or thirty!)-something.

Friday, October 29, 2010

How we decided to go to Korea

In all honesty, the decision to go to Korea was an easy one.  We want to be together, and we love to travel.  Financially, we can afford to spend a little of our savings so that we can do this.  But finding all the information, and seeing if it was even possible was a different issue.

From the very beginning there were people telling us that we (when I say "we" I mostly mean the kids and I) should not go to Korea.  There is so much misinformation out there; so many people who have never even been to Korea who have an opinion.  I think the funniest thing to me is how many people still think that it is like a third world country with dirty water and no technology.  Many people I spoke to said they would "never consider going there" or it was just "not for them"....but they've never been there.  How could you just write off a place that you don't know anything about?  You'd rather be apart from your husband for an entire year than give up a few familiarities and comforts temporarily?  I don't think I'll ever understand that....but everyone is different, and I don't have to understand it.

Marshall also received numerous (as in...more than 4?) emails, phone calls, general inquiries from people in the Air Force who did not even know us, telling us that it was not a good idea to bring over our family.  They couldn't flat out order him not to, but they could highly discourage it.  Their main reasons: we would not have a car, there is harsh weather in Korea, the schools are all full, we would not have a car, we'd have to live off base, the doctors are space available only and normally full, and oh did I mention we won't have a car?  Honestly, the first time he was contacted I thought it was nice of them to try and let us know, but it's not really their decision.  The second time, I was annoyed, but I understood that they are obligated to say these things.  After that it just flat out pissed me off.  Thanks for the info, but we've done our research and the decision has been made.  Now, butt out.  My friend Nonja put it best when when said: "I'm not active duty anymore, the Air Force can't tell me what to do or where to husband yes, but not me".  

When I say I did my research- trust me, the day we got those Korea orders I was on the computer trying to find out how easy it was to go over Non-Command Sponsored.  There is a lot of information to be found, but not all of it is correct.  The biggest error I have found are people who repeatedly argue that we will not be given the Overseas Housing Allowance- which is not true.  We will receive OHA one I arrive in country with the children.  I had the best luck actually contacting people who had gone NCS and hearing about their experiences.  There were a handful of ladies who were gracious enough to answer my questions and from all of them I heard: it's hard, but not it and you won't regret it!  I also have the benefit of a friend who is there now with her kids NCS and is willing to help with whatever we need!

Here's where I'm coming from:  I have traveled internationally before.  I went to Germany one summer in High School (thanks Mom & Dad!), and in college I traveled to Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Estonia during study abroad.  I visited Marshall in Korea during his first tour and had a blast!  I am not intimidated by foreign languages, or cultures that are very different than mine.  I am a very independent person, but also know when to ask for help.  And- harsh weather?  Have you been to the Arctic Circle?  I have.  THAT is harsh weather.  Korea does not scare me.  As far as the medical care is concerned- if the doctors on base are full, we will see a Korean doctor- many of whom have been trained in the US or Europe for medical school.  Why on Earth would I be afraid to see a Korean doctor (beyond a translation problem?)?  Technology in Korea is sometimes superior to the US as far as some 4G internet and cell capabilities.  We will also have access to the base so that we can shop at the BX and Commissary, and take advantage of other activities like the ITT tours and the Community Center.  We get the Overseas Housing Allowance, and the biggest out of pocket expense is our plane tickets to get there- which is coming out of savings.  We are NOT going into debt at all to do this.  In fact, we have no debt.  Our philosophy about money is pretty simple: spend it LIVING LIFE, not on STUFF.  And not having a car- we will walk or use public transportation- again, NOT a reason to stay in Virginia.

Let's see- if I don't go to Korea NCS my other option is to live alone, unemployed in Virginia with my 2 kids and no one to help me take care of them.  Or move home with family for a year....which is not ideal for any of us.  It would be so much harder on Maddox to be apart from Marshall for that long, and Maverick wouldn't even know his Dad by the time Marshall got home.  If he was deployed to the desert and we didn't have the choice to be together- that would be different.  But when we can move to Korea and keep our family together...when we can Go. Do. Love. See.  We'd be crazy not to.  It may not be the choice that YOU would choose if it were you, but it's the best choice for us.

Tomorrow I'll tell you all about the logistics of getting there and what we have set up so far.  :)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

How we got orders to Korea

Many people have asked how we ended up with orders to Osan AB, South Korea- and why we are choosing to go over Non-Command Sponsored.  So, I'll start from the beginning.

When Marshall and I got married (which was shortly after he had joined the Air Force), we discussed things we wanted to do and places we wanted to go over his Air Force career.  He has always known that he wants to be a career Airman, which means that we would be PCSing (Permanent Change of Station) every 3 or 4 years typically.  Once we looked at the bases that actually have his job, there were a few that stuck out in my mind as places that I really DON'T want to Offutt (Nebraska), or Beale (California).  Now, I am a very open-minded person, so I know I could make the best of any situation no matter where we end up stationed.  But, when we saw places on the list like Germany, Italy, England, etc...and CONUS (Continental United States) bases in Ohio, Virginia, or Florida...those seemed much more appealing for various reasons.

One of the attributes that Marshall and I both share is that we are both Do-ers.  We want to Go.  Do.  Love.  See.  We want to live our lives out there having experiences, making memories, and we want to do it together.  So, with that in mind Marshall filled out his dream sheet (the list of bases where we would like to be stationed....and it really is a "dream" in many cases) accordingly.  We were not miserable in Virginia; in fact it had many positives to living there.  It was close enough to family that we could visit when we wanted.  It was far enough from family that we felt we lived far away.  It was a familiar area and culture to what we grew up knowing.  I found a job that I really enjoyed.  It was coastal- and we didn't take full advantage of that because we had a young child.  But all in all, we didn't want to stay stationed at Langley more than one tour.  The world is too big- AND too small for that.

There are many rumors about the best way to get orders out of Langley.  Some say that it is a black hole, and depending on your job you may never get out of there.  For others they land jackpot orders on their first try.  We didn't want to risk sitting in limbo for years waiting to see what happened.  We knew that Korea tours are not popular because they are normally unaccompanied, and we talked ahead of time about what we would do if Marshall got an assignment to Korea.  So, we crossed our fingers and he took everything off his dream sheet except Korea, Germany, and England (and San Angelo, TX...but that's a whole 'nother story!).

In February we found out that Marshall got Korea- a remote tour (service member only, no family).  We also knew at the time that I was expecting another baby- due in August.  His report date was supposed to be August due date was August 17th.  He filed for a report date change, expecting a 60 day extension, and was granted a 30 day extension- so his report date became Sept 10th.  I was excited and shocked.  I know Marshall was excited, but worried about leaving me with the kids.  He enjoyed his first tour there, and was excited to get back to working a different mission again.  Very shortly after we found out about Korea I was notified by my school system that my position was being cut due to the drastic budget cuts.  I knew in my heart then that we were ALL going to Korea- Command Sponsorship or not.  I'll tell you all about that tomorrow!  :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Way Back Whensday-November 2009

I know that a TON of stuff went un-blogged during my year hiatus.  I will use Wednesdays to play a little bit of catch-up for you all.

Maddox was about 2 years and 2 months old when I took this video of her.  I love her little voice, and it is SO funny if you watch her face when she flips the cards over, she opens her eyes really wide!  I knew she knew most of her letters, but I was surprised how many she got right!  There is a longer video but I had to cut it so it wouldn't take forever to upload.

Just a few days later Marshall returned home from his deployment to Iraq.  He actually got home in the middle of the night, so we let Maddox sleep and she saw him first thing in the morning.  They built a block tower, which is one of her favorite things to do.

I made sure we had some of his favorite foods at home for him to enjoy!

There are steaks up under those pork chops, Starbucks Frappacinos, and protein shakes!

Beef jerky, and spiced rum!

Maddox fell out of her crib that morning, because she tried to climb over the edge for the very first time. So, Marshall took the side off and put up the bed rails to turn it into a toddler bed.  Maddox really liked it!

A happy family, just loving being together again!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

In memory of Sydney Minter

Theme song for this post: Alabama's "Angel's Among Us".

I hate that this is the first post I've written in so long. I don't have a good reason for why I stopped blogging last year, except that Marshall came home from his deployment and life got crazy and busy again and I wasn't on the computer very much. However, I know with the new baby and our impending move overseas I will HAVE to blog more to keep family and friends informed. I promise I will try.

I just found out on facebook about the passing of Syd Minter, who was the librarian at the school where I taught in Newport News, VA for the last 2 school years. I had no idea she was even sick, apparently she had a very short fight with cancer, and sadly- lost. Here is a link to her obituary: Sydney Minter
Sydney was not only a colleague of mine, but a friend. Sometimes I would just walk by the library to see if she was in her office for a chat. She was the coordinator for the Battle of the Books team from our school and I would help her by reading a few of the books on the list and writing out practice questions for the kids. Sydney always wore the most beautiful funky colored outfits to school, and I specifically remember her "pocketbook". It was a purse that she made out of a book by removing the pages, sewing fabric along the spine, and attaching a handle....for a librarian that is SO COOL! Haha!

Syd also opened up her home to our family one year for Easter when we couldn't drive home to NC. She said there would be plenty of families there with kids, and she would have treats for them. When we got there we realized that her daughter-in-law worked where Maddox went to daycare and our kids were friends- such a surprise! Syd arranged an Easter Egg hunt around the house for the children, which was so thoughtful. Here's a picture of Maddox and Marshall looking for eggs in Syd's front yard:

Sydney went with some of my students to the All-City Orchestra auditions one year when I couldn't attend because I was already going to a wedding. A few of my Orchestra kids were also in the Junior Honor Society that she was a sponsor of, or in Battle of the Books- I know the kids are just heartbroken. I read some of the posts on the online guestbook, and some of them are from my former students. I wish I was there to give them a hug.

I'm really sad that I'm not going to be able to attend her Memorial Service on Wednesday. It's just so far of a drive and I'd have to take Mav with me, stop for feedings, etc. Still, it would be so nice to see everyone from school, let them see Maverick, and pay my respects- it's just not feasible at this point. I'll close with one more story of Sydney.

Right after Marshall left for his deployment last year there was a shooting at the base where he was in Iraq. I was in between classes and got on the computer and the story popped up on MSNBC: "5 killed in a shooting at Camp Liberty" (or something like that). Someone went into the stress clinic and started firing, killing a handful of people. I knew in my head that Marshall was fine, he had no reason to be in that clinic. But then my heart started racing. I hadn't heard from him. What if he was there? What if he just happened to be walking by? What if the uniforms were going to show up at school to tell me my husband was dead? I started sweating, my heart was pounding, my hands were shaking and I ran out of my classroom and down the hall to the library- straight to Sydney's office. I was FREAKING OUT. She knew exactly what to do. She had me sit in her chair, she got me a glass of water and listened to me. She called the office and got someone to cover my next class. She talked me down from a ledge that day and saw a side of me that not many people do. I finally did hear from Marshall later on that day, and of course he was fine. He told me to stop watching the news. I know I told her "thank you"....but it was not enough. Thank you Sydney for what you did for me, what you did for our kids, and for being you. I will remember you fondly the rest of my life.

I hate you cancer.