Sunday, April 29, 2012

Pro's Ranch, White Sands, Graham Central Station, and an Air Force Assignment

Ryan came home to visit last weekend and we had a blast! He flew in on Thursday night. While he was traveling he received an email and phone call from Msgt (Master Sergeant) Ullmann stating that Ryan received an EAD date for entering active duty, the day he swears in (August 8), and that Little Rock, Arkansas would be the location, whether duty station or school locale, we were unsure, but the message was clear- Ryan received a school slot to be a loadmaster in the Air Force! We are so excited and incredibly grateful for this opportunity. Plan A!! Through further investigation by our good friend, Becky Clinton, it looks more like Little Rock is the school location, but we shouldn't be surprised if it ends up being our first duty station as well! I did a little research...Memphis is only a two hour drive from Little Rock. Graceland would be so fun to visit!

So we had a lot to celebrate with him coming home. We thought we were going to have to wait til the next day to hear anything at a previously scheduled appointment with the recruiter. But nope. He was kind enough to share as soon as he got the news. WOOHOO!!

On Friday, we took Ryan to my new favorite grocery store, Pro's Ranch Market. It's like stepping into Mexico. The whole atmosphere is festive and very ethnic. Dried, whole shrimps, huge tortilleria, Mexican sodas, cows' heads in the carniceria. Awesome. And a fun cafe with the most delicious taquitos I think I've ever had. Funny story: While I was ordering our food, Ryan sent Monica to me to ask me to buy him a coke. While I was trying to balance the coke on the tray of food that not only had the taquitos but 12 ramekins of sour cream, guacamole sauce, and salsa, I lost control of it all and spilled the coke on the counter and received a shower of sauces all down the front of my jeans. I've never seen so many people jump into action before. There were at least four employees helping me clean up the mess and a few customers in line offering me money to buy the next round of food, and a very helpful gentleman told me where the restroom was. I thanked my fellow patrons for their offers but declined and went to the bathroom.

When I came back from cleaning myself up, they didn't make me pay again, but they wouldn't let me hold the tray either! I reached for it and one of the employees grabbed it before I could, smiled sweetly and said she'd take it to me. Clearly, I was not to be trusted. Ryan joked that everyone was so helpful because I looked Mexican. He goes, "You're their people." LOL! Anyways, we stocked up on the produce we needed and enjoyed the last of the taquitos. Have I mentioned how delicious they were?

Ryan and I went to dinner at Outback and enjoyed being on a date for the first time in 10 weeks. Big thanks to my friend, Kim, for watching our girls!

Saturday, we went to White Sands and absolutely loved it. We will be doing that again. Pictures follow this post. After we came home, we tried to get the girls in bed before Dory came to babysit. She's my friend, Alejandra's, honorary daughter. She's a foreign exchange student and she was so sweet to refuse being paid, and said she was babysitting for service. Sweet, sweet girl. We went dancing at Graham Central Station. Since we got there before 9, there was no cover charge. Sweet! We had a great time tearing up the dance floor with a bunch of grandmas and grandpas. They knew how to move!! We were trying to copy some of their moves. There was one couple that was so cute to watch. They mainly did the lindy hop and west coast swing dance moves, but every once in a while they'd start a conga line with just the two of them. Ryan and I decided we want to be them when we grow up. We also enjoyed watching a white-haired gentleman dance to every single song - by himself. He two-stepped and waltzed his way around the floor with no shame for a good three hours before he took a partner to the floor. Good times on the country western dance floor!

Sunday we enjoyed going to church together as a family and playing the piano in Primary uninterrupted as Ryan entertained Jillian. We also took the girls to the park so Monica could show Ryan how she had taught herself to ride her bike without training wheels. I'm so impressed with her persistence. We were at the park play group when her friend Michelle let her try riding her bike without training wheels. In about 30 minutes, she was riding steadily!  When we came home she asked me to take off her training wheels and then spent the rest of daylight practicing in our little backyard.

Monday went by too fast. We took the girls to the jumping place in the mall as we took a break from our search for some decent patio furniture. After having some friends over and hanging out in the backyard, I realized we needed patio furniture. I enjoy having people over, and I might even say my sanity necessitates having people over, but I had nowhere to put them that didn't seem like we were already living in backwoods Arkansas, where we probably will live before too long. LOL! Ok, bad joke. Anyways, we went to every thrift, consignment, and second-hand store in Las Cruces, Hobby Lobby, Big Lots, Walmart, and finally Home Depot. Thank goodness Daddy's Store had some very reasonably priced unfinished wood adirondack chairs. I painted them turquoise yesterday and today. Turns out turquoise absorbs heat well. Very well, in fact. I couldn't rest my arms on the armrests, it was so hot. And I thought, if they're this hot in April, how hot will they be in July and August? So, I will have to go to white.
Anyways, Tuesday morning, before the sun's alarm even considered going off, we took Ryan to the airport to go back to California. It was a terrific visit and we can't wait for the next one! All day Tuesday Leah asked me when we were going back to the airport to pick up Daddy. We'll have to make an advent chain for the next visit. My girls--they sure love their daddy! 

Jillian could not get enough snuggles.
It sure warmed my heart. I worried if she would be resistant to him since it had been two and half months. I just remember how difficult it was for Monica to go to him when he'd been gone for a year. But then I have to remind myself that she was a baby, baby, when he deployed, and it had been a full year. Thanks to the Air Force, the length we expect our separation to last has been drastically shortened. Whew!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

White Sands: The Jump Off

When the girls got tired of climbing that hill, they chilled in the back of the Blazer, so Ryan and I had fun jumping off the dune to see if we could get any cool photos. It was a blast trying to get a perfect pose. I think we got some cool shots.

I think our best shot was of the girls- both airborne at the same time!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

White Sands: Candids

Jillian loved the sand. Like, really loved it. We had just put sunscreen on her and then she stuck her face right in the sand...and trying to dust it off was not happening. It would not come off for nothing! We did finally rinse it off with water at the end of the trip and had her leaning over the edge of the tailgate. The park rangers drove by at that moment and stopped to make sure she was ok. I think once they realized she wasn't in trouble and we weren't trying to drown her, they accepted our answer of, "we're ok!" They really looked skeptical.

White Sands: Sledding

We borrowed sleds from the Harringtons and went to White Sands while Ryan was home visiting. It was such a blast. And, in a fun little twist, it was a free day! We love saving some pennies! Anyways, the girls loved it. LOVED it! Ryan and I had fun, too. The sand was so soft and when you dug your toes in, it was so cool against your skin. We will definitely be going again!