Cabin Ramblings

“When you’re curious, you find a lot of interesting things.” – Walt Disney

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It’s a beautiful day here in Germany. It drizzled this morning but now it’s overcast and there’s a slight breeze. I still am not use to talking to family and friends in the states. It is usually lunch here before I hear from anyone. Since we don’t have a car yet (which will hopefully change soon!) the girls and I have been cooped up in the cabin. We go on walks, play at the playground, color, paint, dance, and read books, but it gets old.

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There is a trail called the Nature walk that is a 1.5 mile loop back behind the cabins.   It was drizzling and a bit chilly, so the perfect weather for a little walk. I’m ready for our stuff to be here to that Stella can once again put on her rain boots and raincoat and play in the rain. The path they have mowed out is nice. Along the path, they had signs that talked about recycling impact on the earth; the different butterfly, bee, and wasp species in this area; there are 2 inactive volcanoes in this area; the significance of dead wood (I never knew all the little holes in dead wood were where beetle larva matured); and the water habitats.

 

We got to see quite a few different types of mushrooms. There were some growing in an old stump and Stella whispered, “Mommy, the jellyfish are sleeping.” Yes, she kept calling them jellyfish so that’ll be something that I need to remember to write in her baby book. She also picked some flowers, got to see snails and slugs (which, for the record, are huge here), and enjoyed opening the boxes with the name of the trees and pictures of their leaves. It was something nice and different for us to do for the day. I have ran it twice and it’s such a change of scenery compared to the scrub brush.

 

Yesterday we walked from the cabin to the commissary to get us out and about for awhile and because I’m tired of going to the playground. I think it’s about 1.5 mi, but it took us almost an hour. I had Nora (who, after head butting, slapping, and scratching me, finally fell asleep) in the baby carrier and Stella walked. I was trying hard to make the walk fun for Stella so she wasn’t begging to be picked up. We got to walk over a bridge with running water (something we haven’t gotten to see often living in Arizona), see a snail munching on some weeds, picked flowers, and sang lots of songs. I’m sure people thought I was crazy. Hey, I’m sure it’s not the first time.

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Saturday we are going to Poland to shop for Polish Pottery and try some pierogis! They remind me of ravioli, but different fillings, and are an Eastern European dish. Hopefully it will all go well (it’s a long drive) with the two girls and doesn’t require me to drink more beer to get through it!

 

Tschüss!

Arrival to Germany

“I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything.

Suddenly, you are five years old again.

You can’t read anything, you have only the most rudimentary sense of how things work…” – Bill Bryson

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Good morning from the somewhere over Illinois

So I have been completely slacking in the blog writing department. This will be our fourth night in Germany, third in the cabin we are staying in until we find a home.   I must say, the three hour time zone difference was nothing compared to this! Nora has been waking up around 0100, which in turns wakes Stella and me up, and then we fall back asleep between 0400-0500.

So we are finally to Grafenwöhr in our little cabin. Well, I can’t particularly say that it’s small. It has 3 bed rooms, with a wardrobe and desk in each of them. The front room has bunk beds and a third, single bed; the second room has 2 single beds; and the back room has 2 singles pushed together. The living, dining, and kitchen areas are all open to one another giving this small space an open feeling. We really like it and want to try and remember the floor plan for our future home.

But onto the international move! We took the traverse to Santee to drop it off at the port then spent a weekend at Coronado relaxing and exploring the area.  The packers came that Monday to pack up and put our belongings into shipment containers to head this way. We went back home to Missouri for a week, then we woke up at 0130 on Sunday morning to head to the airport.

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After departing St. Louis and getting to Baltimore, our flight got cancelled so we waited in the airport for about 6 hours, until Justin could pick up our hotel voucher. Of course the area our hotel was in didn’t have much, we walked to two gas stations in search of beer but I am assuming that Maryland must not allow the purchase of alcohol in gas stations or gas stations don’t see it worth their while to get their license to sell alcohol. We got to the airport the next day around 1800, checked into our flight at 2000, and found all the restaurants and shops closing! According to one manager, the airline didn’t inform anyone that our flight got pushed back but he was kind enough to keep his (small) restaurant open so that 300+ soldiers and their families could have a place to eat before our 0200 flight. Thank goodness the Baltimore airport had a great play area in our terminal, where we spent 4 hours letting the girls run around and play with other children.

Around 0115 we boarded the flight and were on the runway by 0200. Stella and Nora slept the majority of the flight, Justin probably slept half of it, and I got a whopping 1 hour of sleep. Of course, whose little TV would only let them select ‘Spanish’ movies? Oh yes, mine. And I do not know a lick of Spanish, so I read and practiced some german. We landed in Germany around 1600, got into a small hotel, ate dinner (which was weird considering we hadn’t had breakfast or lunch!), and then hit the hay. The next morning we got on a bus and rode for about 6 hours before we got to Graf. Justin’s sponsor picked us up and we got to the cabin, went to the PX and commissary (thank goodness he has a jeep so the girl’s car seats fit), then back to the cabin.

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Yesterday Justin had to go in for a couple hours and the girls and I slept until almost noon (oops). So I had to set an alarm to wake up at 0815 this morning so that hopefully we get closer to sleeping through the night. I am so exhausted I am sleeping through Justin’s alarm going off, which almost always wakes me up.

Today I am hoping we will do the nature walk that I ran yesterday. There were trees, mushrooms, creeks, moss – which may sound trivial to some, but these are all things I have missed since living in Arizona. I didn’t realize how beautiful the green scenery was until it was no longer around. The weather here has been a bit chilly, but humid, 60-70* Fahrenheit (17-20* Celsius). Due to it not getting hot here, houses do not have a/c units. Instead, they have these awesome windows that open two ways; I love them and must have them in my future home! We are suppose to open our windows every morning to allow the air to circulate to avoid mold and stuffiness in the house, which has not been a problem since I love having windows and doors open.

The 2 ways the windows open

On today’s agenda we have some errands to run once Justin gets back from in-processing.  This includes getting my new (to me) phone activated so I can take better photos again. My current phone is not focusing as it should, the screen selects and moves at random, and there is always a haze on my screen.  Tomorrow (Saturday) a bus will come to the cabins so it will be easier for us to get places and explore post more! Hopefully next week we can begin the house hunting process, although I love the cabin, I would rather be busing myself with unpacking, shopping for bedroom furniture, and exploring towns.


Until then, we will be here jamming to the Moana soundtrack and Billy Joel! 😉

 

Sedona, Arizona

“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.” – John Muir

 

These past two weeks have flown by for me! Maybe it was because last week I got called in on my on call shift to the hospital and it made me sure to really enjoy my days off with my family…then I got put on call today for my scheduled shift – woe is the life of a nurse!

I’m going to go back to our first family trip once we moved to Arizona. We went up to visit Sedona AZ. If you are a nature explorer, off rode driver, organic eater, yogi lover, or anything in between there, you should visit Sedona! They had quite a few organic eateries, off road trails (for bikes and trucks/jeeps), hiking, and so many other things. It is also in red rock country, so don’t take anything white or that you wouldn’t want to be stained red. 😉 Justin was bummed we drove the traverse and not his truck because there are paths to drive everywhere and you can get to some cool hiking trails easier that way too.

On our first day in Sedona, we hiked to Devil’s Bridge. This was just one of the times Justin wished that we had driven the truck. If you have a high clearance vehicle, it cuts off a mile or so of the hike (the boring part) and there are a lot of driving trials off the trail to the path. This was listed as an intermediate hike, but there were times we were pretty much rock climbing up to get where we wanted to go. Not that it would have made us any less likely to have hiked to the bridge, but I know quite a few people we passed were surprised and upset because they had to turn around or wait for some in their group to climb up to the bridge.

The views of and from the bridge were amazing. You could even walk out onto it! We’ve been to a couple natural bridges, but this one has been my favorite because there were not a lot of people and it was kind of a tough climb, which was a great workout while wearing our kids.

The next day we hiked the Courthouse Butte Loop (a butte is a hill with steep sides and a flat top). You hike along the base of the Courthouse Butte and Bell Rock. When you climb up you can see the Cathedral Rock from the view. It was a beautiful day to hike and the blue skies against the red landscape made it look even more stunning. If you climb up Bell Rock, it also gets pretty steep – steep enough that only Justin went up because we didn’t feel comfortable taking the girls all the way up.

There were still things that we didn’t get to see. I tried finding one of the vortexes, but had a hard time pinpointing where it was exactly. I finally found some things on pintrest, so if we go back I will know where it is! I hear yogis love doing yoga in the vortex, which I would love to try!

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Have you been to Red Rock country? Or somewhere similar? As much as I hate the dust and red sand, it really is beautiful if you’ve never been. There’s plenty to just drive around and see too if you aren’t into hiking.

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I love prickly pears!

Hope you have a blessed week!

Xoxo Meghan

San Diego

“We have nothing to lose and a world to see.”

Both girls are napping at the same time, so I figured I’d try and write a post really fast. Last weekend we drove to San Diego CA. This was the first time we have been to California and my first time seeing the Pacific Ocean! We left on Friday night and drove back Sunday night, so we didn’t get to do a whole lot, but the weekend flew by.

It takes about 7 hours from our house to get to San Diego, but we stopped for an hour (much to Justin’s dismay) to eat and show Stella these welded dinosaurs, so we didn’t get to the hotel until about 1:00 am. I got up and ran the next morning (the people in San Diego definitely do not wave to or look at runners like the Midwest), we walked to Einstein’s for some fancy bagels (they were delicious!), then headed to Birch Aquarium.

Birch Aquarium, which is part of Scripps Institute of Oceanography, was a neat little place that took us about 2-3 hours to go through. We are fish and environmental nerds, so we really enjoyed it. Stella loved all the tanks and getting to see some of the fish get fed. She REALLY loved getting to see the clown fish and blue tangs and didn’t want to leave the “Nemo and Marlin” and the “Dory” tank.

They also have an outdoor patio area with a great view of the Pacific Ocean where the tide pools are, but I guess we went at the wrong time of year to be able to touch the sea critters. There was one place inside where we got to touch starfish, which was a unique experience. I’ve never had that opportunity and I was surprised by how slow starfish react to their environment. For example, if a leg started to fall from the wall and you pulled the starfish off the wall, it’s leg stayed fixed in that position.

Another bonus about this aquarium is it has free three hour parking, because, as we quickly learned, parking is a pain in the rear in San Diego! We drove around for about an hour trying to find parking around La Jolla Shores to eat lunch and visit the beach before giving up and driving to a different part of town.

We ended up at Karl Strauss Brewing Company (which has amazing beer, I wish we had bought some to bring home) and walked down to La Jolla Cove. It was beautiful and we got to see some seals sun bathing. Stella thought it was fun to watch the snorkelers swim too with their flippers, wet suits, and snorkels. Of course she didn’t want to leave, even when we promised to go to the pool at the hotel. She was having a great time running away from the waves, letting the waves splash up on her, and trying to grab sea shells before they got pulled back to sea. We finally convinced her to leave and went swimming at the hotel’s pool.

The next day we ventured to Balboa Park. I’m so bummed that we didn’t do Balboa Park the day before instead. We rode their miniature train, walked through the artist village, stopped and read about the Moreton Bay Fig Tree, and walked through the model railroad museum.

If we weren’t leaving that day we would have also walked through the Japanese Friendship Garden. If you plan a trip to San Diego, please give yourself a good day of two for Balboa Park! I wanted to go to the Natural History Museum, Fleet Science Museum, Botanical Building, Veteran’s Museum and Memorial Center, Lily Pond, Old Cactus Garden, and I may have even considered the zoo (just because it’s pricey and I’m cheap). There’s also a playground there I’m sure Stella would have liked to have stop at. Here’s the map with everything at Balboa Park listed:

We set off for home and got back around 9pm. It was such a quick weekend, but we had a great time! It makes me really want to go to New York City and visit Central Park someday. But it’ll be a minute before we are back on that side of the country…

 

 

Moving Across America (Kentucky to Arizona)

“Happiness is letting go of what you think your life is supposed to look like and celebrating it for everything it is.” – Mandy Hale

 

This weekend has flown by! I got off work early on Friday so we cleaned and finished getting stuff ready for our garage sale, we had a garage sale then some friends over Saturday, and today has been spent cleaning up, trying to plan for our weekend trip to San Diego, and enjoying the outdoors. As much as I love this place, I fear that the Arizona desert heat will be here before I know it and we’ll be trying to find things to do inside all the time.

Today I’m going to talk about our move from Kentucky to Arizona. Leading up to the move, I had: made a moving checklist, scheduled cleaners to come, figured out things for us to do after the packers came, and planned for our family trek across America! Having two larger dogs, it usually takes some time on our part to find hotels that don’t cost an arm and leg and that have decent breakfasts (one of my musts with hotels). Of course the packers couldn’t come on a Monday or Tuesday like we were hoping, so instead our stuff got packed on Thursday and Friday. That weekend we packed the rest of our stuff into our trailer. After two moves, we finally had a system down!

So the first leg of our move was from Fort Campbell to Hot Springs AR. I had a hike and some exploring planned. Since it was only our first day and Justin was pulling a trailer, he was in ‘let’s go’ mode. Instead of hiking the next day, we drove to Abilene TX (about 6.5 hours).  Although I had wanted to stop in Dallas, I didn’t want to add an hour onto two days or two hours onto one day. We just went for a run in Abilene before heading off to our third impromptu stop in Monahans TX (about a three hour drive).

Monahans was the first time we really stopped and were able to do things. This is where Monahans Sandhills State Park is located. If you’re ever in the area or anywhere with sandhills or dunes, I’d recommend that you stop. We rented a disc and went sledding down the sand dunes. It was the most fun we had our entire trip. We only got to play around for about an hour and a half since we had to return the disc by 4:00p, but we had a blast. Afterward, we ate at a local Mexican restaurant and then we all went straight to bed after showering. Having a toddler and being cooped up in the car for three days made this stop worth totally worth it.

I wished I would have looked more into this area. It really doesn’t seem to have much, but once we got there, we could have gone to the Million Barrel Museum in Monahans and the Odessa Meteor Crater. If I had known how crappy the hotel we would be staying at in Las Cruces NM was, I probably would have forced more family fun on Justin the next day before heading out. We originally didn’t have Monahans on our stops, but the girls and I needed a break from driving. We were going to drive straight to Las Cruces NM, then spend a day in Tucson, but I’m glad we changed our agenda.

We got to Las Cruces and, although finally seeing the mountains was nice, we just ran, ate, slept, ate, and left. We couldn’t turn on our A/C in our room because it hadn’t been above 65 or 70 for 3 consecutive days, so our room was hot, sticky, and smelled like wet dog. Not a great stop. I couldn’t bear to go and do things while our dogs were stuck panting in the room and we couldn’t keep our windows open because there were no screens to prevent them from jumping out or someone from coming in.

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The recycled roadrunner in Las Cruces NM

Since we lost a day, we decided to go straight to Sierra Vista instead of driving to Tucson then driving an hour and a half back to Sierra Vista. I’m glad we did because the hotel we found had a heated pool and hot tub we were able to swim in that night.  The next day we did a late check out  so we could keep the dogs in the room while we were went and explored post some and looked at our house options. Plus, they gave out two free glasses of beer per paid room, which was a bonus after driving all those days.

 

Now I’m finally onto more ‘real time’ adventures. My next few stories are more vivid in my mind, so I decided to go through all of them, then maybe go back and talk about our little vacations while we lived in Kentucky. I’m exhausted, so time for me to hit the hay. Hope ya’ll have a wonderful week! xoxo Meghan

 

2016 Summer Travels (As A Super Pregnant Woman!)

“Nothing is permanent in this wicked world, not even our troubles.” – Charlie Chaplin

I don’t want to say today has been stressful, but Nora is teething and has that cough still (so getting up at night and crying all day unless she’s nursing or sleeping) and the army threw us a curveball. So to take my mind off it all, I’m going to do my second post about our adventures. This adventure goes back to the summer and doesn’t include Justin (sorry honey). It does include Stella and a 30-week pregnant with Nora me! We from out of Nashville TN to Durango CO for a wedding, then rode in a RV with my mother and some of her friends up to Salt Lake City UT, with some stops on the way. It was a great way to spend my birthday and burn some time while Justin was deployed to Iraq.

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30 weeks pregnant in Durango CO

Of course it was hot and humid in Nashville as we got to the airport. I unpacked the stroller, strapped Stella in, grabbed her carseat, our bags, and as I was locking up the Traverse, it started raining…hard. It rained so hard the clothes in my bag were soaked. So Stella was bawling, I’m trying to carry everything to the shuttle stop with my big belly, and as we get to the canopy…the rain stopped. Go figure. Luckily the clothes at the bottom of our checked bag were dry (and all Stella’s). So once we got into the airport, I threw Stella on my back in our Ergo baby carrier, put the carseat in the stroller, and rolled to a family bathroom. I got Stella changed into some dry clothes but I had to take off all my clothes, underwear included, and wring them out the best I could into the sink.

Luckily for me, Colorado had no humidity and everything dried up nicely without getting moldy, as it would have in the humid south. This was Stella’s second time flying and she loved it, so lucky for us, the rest of the day was uneventful.

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The view from my Day 1 run

Our first day in Colorado was gorgeous! It was warmer than I thought Colorado would be, but the landscape was so beautiful I couldn’t stop taking pictures. Even though I was exhausted from flying the all day, being 30 weeks pregnant in July, and not getting to bed until almost midnight mountain time (or 1:00a central time like we were use to), I had to get up and run the next morning! I’ve been running since I was 12, so running has become very therapeutic to me. I love running so much that even when I was super pregnant I was still running anywhere from 3-6 miles to help with pregnancy insomnia and aches.

After my run we got ready for a coal train ride from Durango up to Silverton CO. The ride led us to some stunning views of the mountains and Colorado River. Stella was standing at the edge of the train car the entire ride. I sent some of the pictures to Justin and he agreed; the views were magnificent.

After a few relaxing days in Durango we jumped in the RV and headed to the south rim of the Grand Canyon. On our way, we stopped at Mesa Verde National Park. I had never heard of this park before, but I’m glad we stopped. This park is known for it’s Puebloan cliff dwellings, archeological sites, and overlooks. (It’s also where an oh-so-lovely lady informed me that if I wasn’t from elevation I shouldn’t be traveling and hiking around these places while I was ‘so pregnant’. Thank you lady for knowing my medical history and physical fitness level. **rolls eyes**) As usual everyone was done with the museum and ready to walk down to the dwellings, but me being nerdy me, I read every sign and looked at every artifact in the museum. I wouldn’t say that I’m a history buff; but I love looking at and exploring national sites. It really amazes me to see all the things our ancestors were able to create without the machinery or the technology we have today and how they adapted to their surroundings. Unfortunately we were unable to go down to the Spruce Tree House due to the path being closed, but it will be something I will have to take Justin and Nora to once we move to Colorado. (I always have to look up things when I haven’t heard of them so here’s the Mesa Verde National Park’s site link: https://www.nps.gov/meve/index.htm)

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Not the best picture, but see how awesome this would be to get up close to!?

Next stop was the Grand Canyon. Guys, I always knew the Grand Canyon was huge, but visiting it in person and knowing that I wasn’t seeing the half of it still baffles me. I cannot imagine what the first person to stumble upon thought when they saw it (maybe in that region they were shouting “Yay! Water!”) Hiking the Grand Canyon has always been on my bucket list but now I’ve added white water rafting on the Colorado River to that list too. I’m hoping sometime this summer to go back and visit the North Rim with Justin and the girls since we only live about 8 hours away right now.

The next day we drove through Zion National Park (https://www.nps.gov/zion/index.htm). None of the pictures I have do this park justice. The rocks were a vibrant, layered red and white dust. We drove through a tunnel, along the edges of cliffs, and down to the museum. I wish we had had more time so we could have hiked on some of the paths and explored a little bit. But alas, we had a timeline to follow and I had a plan to catch the next night in Salt Lake City.


We stayed in the Red Canyon (where John Wayne shot a few movies!) and we had red cliffs towering over both sides of our campground. It was a beautiful place to stop, but the red dust stained everything. My Sanuk yoga mat sandals are still stained.

Due to time constraints, we had to quickly get through Bryce Canyon and the Vermillion Cliffs. Like the Red Canyon, they were beautiful and not a site I was use to seeing after living in Midwestern and Southern states. It was a fun vacation and after mom dropped me off at the airport, they still had about a week of travel before heading back to Missouri.

Have you been out west? What are some of your favorite places you have visited? I am always up for more adventures and vacations, so I’d love suggestions or travel tips! After my crazy day, I’m going to try and end on a positive note with a quote from my elementary counselor: “Make it a great day or not, the choice is yours.”

Introduction

“You grieve you learn, you choke you learn, you laugh you learn, you choose you learn, you pray you learn, you ask you learn, you live you learn.” – Alanis Morissette

So I’m going to dive in and get my first post over and done with. First and foremost, you are amazing! Thank you for reading, skimming, or just clicking through my blog. I want you to know that, even if we haven’t met face to face, I appreciate you and hope you’re having a great day. If it’s a not so great day, I hope you are able to find something good in your day. I’m home today with a constant, dry cough and a sick Nora jamming to ABBA. It’s been lots of hot tea with honey and eucalyptus oil for me and breastmilk, cuddles, & tears for baby Nora. My toddler, Stella, has had a sweet streak in her today and I’ve taken TWO (accidental) naps with Nora. Before each nap I’ve been reading Stella books. She then has proceeded to demand  request that I close my eyes while she read to me. The first nap I woke up to, what appeared to be, the aftermath of a toy tornado in my living room, the second I woke up to find Stella napping on me. Welcome to mom life.

Anywho, most of you know that Justin is in the Army. I don’t feel like we really had a timeline of how long he’d be in the army, but it has moved us all over the United States.  He lived at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) the summer we were engaged while I stayed in Missouri (2012), we moved to Fort Benning GA for a year, then to Fort Campbell KY from 2013-2016, and are currently at Fort Huachuca AZ (pronounced Wha-Chu-Ka).

When he went to JBLM, we figured I would finish my bachelor’s in nursing (BSN) while he moved to GA and then wherever the army sent him after. Well, plans changed, we got married, I quit school, and moved to Georgia.

In Georgia, I got a job as a certified nursing assistant (CNA), at a nursing home and decided I would most definitely go back to school and become a registered nurse (RN). Not six months later, I started taking pre-reqs online at a community college close to where we would be moving in Kentucky.

We moved in May, I got my acceptance letter in July, and started nursing school in August. In October we received an amazing blessing – we found out I was pregnant and due in July! Perfect timing for nursing school since I would be on summer break, but I went back to start my third semester of nursing school when my baby was only 3 weeks old. Up until that point I wanted to work in an Emergency Department at a trauma hospital and get enough experience to become a flight nurse. Plans changed after Stella was born and I decided midwifery would be my end goal instead. After much pumping, dealing with engorgement and clogged ducts, and the general hellish nature of nursing school, I graduated with my ADN and passed my NCLEX in May. By June I had accepted a position at a local hospital in the well baby nursery and in August was working nights in labor and delivery (L&D) department. I became pregnant with Nora in January, Justin deployed around April-May, I quit my job (since I couldn’t work nights with a toddler at home by myself) and accepted a hospice case manager job. In August I graduated with my BSN (did I mention I went straight into school again?) and in September Justin got home, Nora was born, and we got orders that we would be moving to Fort Huachuca AZ.

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View of Tucson from the helipad at our hospital

I started applying for jobs while enjoying my time home with my girls and got a phone interview with a hospital in Tucson for a day shift L&D job and in December we packed up and headed to Arizona. Whew, that’s a lot of typing! So as you can see, lots of twists and turns in my once simple plan for college and life.

Our plan was for Justin to get out of the army this year, but, as things usually happen with our lives, we decided to change course. He decided he wants a more outdoors based job once we move to Colorado and we would love to own a little farm, so he wants to learn about cows, horses, goats, chickens, etc. to give us a better idea of what we can handle. So in the army he stays so he can get his second bachelors paid for. We know for certain that I will be going back to school for my midwifery degree once we move to Colorado, so financially, this is the route we’re taking. We figured two kids (maybe more), while paying for two degrees, on one nurse (potentially part time) income may be more of a financial challenge than we want to face.

Lots of people did not agree with my plan along the way. I was an honors student and 3 varsity athlete in high school, I wasn’t ‘suppose to’ get married, quit college, and move away. Then when I got pregnant, I was told many a time that college and a newborn would be too hard, much less nursing school. I want to let you know that if I can do it, anyone can do it. Just because things aren’t going the way everyone thinks they should doesn’t mean you won’t end up where you’re meant to be or want to be.

See why I chose the blog name I did? It certainly feels like we are “making it up as we go”. It’s challenging at times, but I wouldn’t trade our highs and lows for anything.  Until next time!