I think most holiday newsletters are impersonal, braggy, and rather insulting.
I don’t hear from people all year long (in this day of social media no less!), and then I get a (grammatically incorrect, mind you!) computer-printed, two-page holiday stationary outlining every accomplishment of every member in their family, including pets…like they’re saying, “Hey! See how we’re better than you?!”
I’m seldom on my personal private Facebook account (I only have 30 friends and family on there!). I post more often to my public Facebook Page. I post images very frequently to Instagram. I’m more political on Twitter. Since most of our friends and family are very stationary, having lived in their same house for like 20+ years, I feel like they should reach out to me to chat whenever they want to – online. It’s where I live after all. My mailing address changes every 2-4 years, but my email address and social media and blog stay the same. I realize the concept too well of “out of sight, out of mind.”
So, here’s my annual review for anyone who may want a summary.
Another year is coming to a close. We get to reﬂect on what we’ve accomplished and the lessons we learned along the way. But, perhaps, what’s more exciting, is that we get to dream of our goals for the future.
Winter 2017 was pretty uneventful. I don’t even have computer file folders for January and February. I took no pictures!
Spring 2017 was busy.
We had orders to Wright Patterson AFB and we were counting down to PCS.
We sold Aaron’s Audi in February because it couldn’t pass the German auto inspection without about $5000 worth of repairs and that just wasn’t feasible for us since we only needed it until the PCS. So that put us down to one vehicle – our new minivan – and our village was about 40 minutes from where Aaron worked. About once or twice a week, I got up early and went to the gym with Aaron and dropped him off at work and then picked him up.
We chose to have our household goods packed up and shipped as early as possible so they were available at our new location ASAP. We got temporary furniture in our house.
We stopped going to church, using our time to take days trips and explore (like Wissembourg and Cologne and some of the awesome wildparks!) before we moved. We couldn’t justify enrolling the kids in sports or other extra-curriculars since we were in PCS survival mode and down to one vehicle.
I got a new tattoo to cover up my faded yin yang on my right ankle.
What most people don’t realize is that it’s really expensive (and stressful) to move every few years. While we get a “displacement allowance,” that doesn’t cover everything that moving entails. We often live out of suitcases for several weeks, even a couple months.
We took Patriot Express from Ramstein AFB to Baltimore, that was delayed 6+ hours, so we just sat in a huge waiting room with a lot of troops coming home from deployment. We arrived in Baltimore about 2 AM local time, instead of 7 PM.
I will say that the staff on Patriot Express are so kind and the meals are superior. We then took a commercial flight to Atlanta from Baltimore late the next morning. Then we began recovering from jet lag.
We shipped our two cats ahead to Atlanta in April, to ensure airplane temperatures for them were comfortable, and it was about $1500 to get their vet records in order and plane tickets and then there are import fees. My parents kept the furbabies and I had their food delivered. Those cats are pampered!
We also had to pay almost $1000 + gas for a rental van to drive from Georgia to Ohio. We pay most expenses upfront, out of pocket for food and lodging during travel to a new location – and usually get reimbursed.
We lived on base for a week or so and there is not even a library on Wright Patterson AFB! We were excited by how much organic and natural food the commissary had. We were horrified by the selection and prices of the Class VI.
We found a perfect rental house online right before we left Germany. We moved in July 5 because that’s as early as the movers could unload our stuff. A bookshelf got absolutely destroyed during shipment and our sofas were in even worse shape from the tape and wrappings. My lovely mahogany silverware case was warped and cracked from storage for 3 years. It took 6 months for us to receive our claim on the damaged items. But it could have been worse. Nothing was lost. Nothing valuable was damaged.
We didn’t get our minivan from Germany until mid-July. We had to drive to St. Louis to pick that up. It was inconvenient and took two days.
Elizabeth mostly graduated from our homeschool and began college as a dual-enrolled student. Ohio will actually fund students if you get your request in by April, but we didn’t have an Ohio address, so we had to pay this year. The grandparents actually came through for once and paid for two semesters, totaling 5 courses. She is considering a history major with a minor in business and she also desires to certify in aesthetics (beauty and skin care). She just got her first part-time job at Kroger. She has a 529 plan and 1/4 of Aaron’s GI Bill, but most likely, her Kroger money will have to pay for some of her senior year. We hope to stay in Ohio for her to complete her education.
We enjoy the Metroparks and local parks for playing and hiking and fishing. We love all the rivers, creeks, and ponds!
We got memberships to Brukner and Boonshoft and attend their monthly homeschool classes. The kids have made some friends in the neighborhood and it’s so nice that they ride bikes, scooters, roller blades, and play together.
We found a welcoming, growing church right around the corner.
The girls are very involved in youth group and Tori and Katie are acolytes.
Our humanities studies this year span approximately 1700-1900 and finally include America, so that’s exciting that we can see some of the places we’re learning about, just like we planned learning trips in Europe. We’ve been really focusing on science this year and it’s been so much fun doing experiments and learning together. Tori and Katie completed their level 6A math books yesterday. They’re continuing their studies in Greek, Latin, and French this year. Alex begins Latin next month!
Tori and Aaron have convergence insufficiency and begin vision therapy in January. It’s SO expensive and TRICARE doesn’t pay for it.
Alex played baseball for two years in Germany and just played fall baseball here in Ohio and really loves it. He’s already enrolled for spring season. He likes playing catcher, short stop, and first base.
Liz is realizing how broken people are. Who knew people were so angry about grocery shopping? We have amazing conversations about relationships and integrity.
Tori is becoming quite the artist. Katie’s sense of humor is disarming. Alex is very active and talkative, asking questions about everything.
They all constantly surprise me.
I found a lovely hair stylist and got my hair done for the first time in forever!
We’re excited that we can rebuild our essential oils and natural living home business. We couldn’t do a home business in Germany due to taxes. The blog business is coming along nicely. I mostly break even, with a little extra to pay for Netflix and Spotify services. I got a post republished on For Every Mom and some on Military Bridge. That’s pretty exciting!
Aaron is a Lt. Colonel select and will most likely pin on in March!
It’s certainly been an adjustment for us to be back in the States.
The kids had lots more freedom in Europe and were treated more respectfully than here. Europeans trust kids more and are typically delighted by them instead of seeing them as a burden or bad.
Water is very expensive here. Our utility bills are so high! And in a wry turn of events, BAH actually goes down in 2018, so we will still not break even on our rent. Our goal is to be debt-free, and we currently only have our minivan payment and one low-interest loan. We don’t use credit cards! It’s important to teach our kids financial freedom.
We don’t send out cards anymore since they seem a waste these days. We’re minimizing and simplifying.
We made some cookies to give to neighbors, but we ate them…so now we have to make more!
We’ve had a busy year.
We don’t measure ourselves by grades, trophies, or awards.
We measure our growth in how much kindness we can give to others.
Linking up: Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers