Wanderlust Wednesday

 Go find Mr. & Mrs. O for more Wanderlust fun!
If you’re going to be cold in the winter, Wyoming is the place to do it.

The first 2 years we were on Recruiting Duty in Montana, we had the Marine Corps Birthday Ball in Jackson Hole Wyoming. It snowed every year, but it was so beautiful.

Wyoming 1
I think this is the Grand Tetons covered in snow


The resort we stayed at every year was beyond spectacular.


viewing the Grand Tetons from the East


snowy drive


light snow





Although I am not a huge fan of the Great White North, I wouldn’t object to a short visit, if it involved a nice resort with spectacular views, room service, a fireplace and a big bath tub.



Military Monday Link-up

This weeks questions:Do you live on base/post/fort or away from the military world? What factors did you consider when deciding where you would live? Was one more affordable than the other? Did it help/hinder your family situation? What things would be helpful for others to know before they potentially move to your area?
Great questions! But they don’t really work in my situation. If you are a new reader, My husband is on recruiting duty for the USMC, and our nearest Active Duty base is about 3 hours away, Malmstrom AFB. So we obviously just live in town. Our current location Paul works at MEPS, we moved here from Helena, where he was a Recruiter, in February. Finding a rental in a small town, that allows cats is hard. So our biggest considering factor was can we live there with 2 dogs and a cat. That drastically narrowed our search window. Then can we fit our stuff in it. We have a king size bed and monster size entertainment centre. The town we live in is an old mining town, and a lot of the houses are OLD, and SMALL. I really thought we would never find a home, but alas this one fell into our laps, and at a very reasonable rate. We save quite a bit of our housing allowance, even after utilities. Helpfull info about Butte? Well despite the fact that it’s highly unlikely that anyone reading this will be moving here, ever, I would say don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Butte has lots of run down shanty little houses, especially in my area. In fact there is a vacant little shanty house about 20 yards from mine. But I live in a great neighborhood, and I have pretty quiet neighbors. Everyone is really nice, and keeps to themselves.  I was nominated for the top 50 Military Mom Blogs by VoiceBoks, you can vote here. Thank you for your support.

Moving My Military Family (part 1, early preparation)

I can’t wait to cook at sea level again.
We are currently at about 6,200 feet, and I have to adjust cooking times, and I burn a lot of things. I can’t even grill right. As I write this I am trying to make dinner and my mac and cheese is taking for-ev-er.
We have finally accepted our fate that we are moving to Cali. Well I had already accepted it, but we tried to change things, to no avail. I am excited, I have been excited for a while, but now that we are about 3 months from moving I am really getting excited. Paul will only be working about 2 of those 3 months because he has vacation time that he has to use or he will loose it.
So this is our third PCS (permanent change of duty station), but our 7th move in the 8 or 9 years we have been together. So 3 states, 2 countries, 7 houses/apartments. I am by no means a moving pro, but I kind of know what to expect. We are a few months out still, so a plan is in place. The plan? Get rid of all the shit we don’t want to move.

Step One: Early Prep:

We have been planning what we want to take and what we want to sell/donate. We want to get rid of most of our big furniture, except baby stuff and some bedroom stuff (hopefully, if we can get decent prices for our stuff.) I have a running list of the things I don’t want to move, things that are broken, or well past their lifespan. Like our couch. We got it our first year in Okinawa, it’s been almost 6 years. Is that a long time for a couch? I don’t think so, but ours is breaking. The springs are falling apart on one side and it sags. It’s also covered in dog slobber because Renji licks it all the time. It’s so sad. It still works, it’s just a sad couch.

I would love to take a nap, but someone toot my pillow.
“it may be sad, but it’s tasty”
“am i really related to this guy?”
Since we moved to Butte a few months ago we have been downsizing, we moved from a 4br house with a garage to about half that, and no garage. We have stuff everywhere, all of our garage stuff is outside, well not all of it, but with winter here storing anything outside is a bad idea. Plus the stuff we have outside is subject to the elements, like our tent, which I am pretty sure is toast. We still have stuff that has no home, boxes piled everywhere, we are using the extra shower as storage, because oddly this house doesn’t have any closets besides the master bedroom, and that one is filled with clothes that don’t fit.

We have already gotten rid of 2-3 loads of stuff, clothing and housewares that we don’t use or need. But there is still a huge pile of stuff I need to go through this week. I have never really hung anything on the walls because I knew we were moving in 9 months so most of that is still in the boxes the movers packed in Helena, or we repacked in rubbermaid containers.

It feels like we have only made a small bit of progress in downsizing, but do you really want to sell your entertainment center, when you have nothing else to put your TV on? Part of me says do it now, part of me says wait until October. And our bed, I think we plan on keeping the mattress but we want to sell the bed frame. So do it now? or wait?  Well it looks like we are waiting, because I don’t want to deal with it now. Also part of me thinks that we are more likely to get better prices in Cali. Way more families coming and going, some new military couple looking to furnish their house may really want my bed, and my coffee tables, and my entertainment center, and my sad couch (which I will steam clean), and my clothes that don’t fit, someone wants it, right?

Just a friendly reminder, I was nominated for the top 50 Military Mom Blogs by VoiceBoks, you can vote for me here. Thank you for your support. 

Challis 2013


If you want you can read about our previous years (Challis 2011) and (Challis 2012).
This was our third, and last year at Challis.
Challis is an annual camping trip that “Recruiting Station Salt Lake” (who Paul works under) has each year. It’s partly for training, because the Marines are spread all over several states and rarely can get together for such, and a little bit for fun and camaraderie. When we arrived in Montana Paul worked under Great Falls, so we always camped with Great Falls. The first year I was the only wife in our camp, The second year there was two other wives and a female Marine, along with all the guys, and I was 4 months pregnant. This year all the 4 Marines in our camp had wives, and three of us had babies, AND.. two of us had babies that were born only 2 weeks apart!
I think this year was the most fun of all the Challis’. Yeah the first year we (i) partied harder, but I was hungover more too, and I think last year was just way hotter, this year was hot, but not horrid, and we partied, but not too hard. We even played cards against humanity!
Evey likes the Q
This year we did get rained on the first night, it rained a lot, maybe not as much as the first year, but enough to make the tent leak and to piss me off.
hanging out in the shade under moms clothes line, to dry all of our wet stuff
High five Renji!
Too hot, must sleep
baby party
S’mores for lunch? Don’t mind if I do!
morning snuggles with the pooches
Evey and her BFF Emma
Keepin cool with our frog toggs
Aiko shared her frog togg
Aiko in the Salmon River
Aiko and Renji in the Salmon
There’s an Evey in that pouch
“What? we can’t play in the mud?”
Best S’mores on the planet!
We partied a little
There is a baby in a Ergo Carrier under that blanket.
I know.. I’m so mature
Packed up to go home!
All in all it was a great time and we all made new friends. We laughed and shared stories. I am a tiny bit sad that this was our last year, but the Marine Corps has a new adventure waiting for us.
– Alana

Recruiting Duty

Recruiting Duty is hard on families. That’s no lie. But I can deal with the long hours, the stress, the cranky husband. But we have had to deal with more bullshit in the last two years than the entire 7 years we have been together. 11 months left and we are back to the fleet. I really don’t think I can take much more.
We may be about to loose another house because we are still waiting on orders. Paul has been commuting over 150 miles a day for over a month. He has very well likely spent more on gas than it would cost to just move us. I have a feeling we’ll be here until christmas. I know I wouldn’t care as much if I weren’t going to have a baby any day now. I feel so out of control. There is nothing I can do, nothing. No one I can call and complain to, no one I can cry to, well not anyone that can make any matter.
I worry about him commuting in bad weather, the roads suck when it snows, and we live in the great white north. Yeah he can just stay down there, which he will when the roads are really bad. But I don’t want to be all alone up here with a new baby. I want him to be here with us. I don’t want him to have to get up at 3 am every day just to go to work. I don’t like when he goes to bed at 8pm because he has to be up at 3.
Early Nov we were told around the 15th, then we were told any day, last week we were told by the end of the month, today no one can give us an answer.
I just want this to be over with. I want to have a new home. I just want to be past this shit already. I don’t want Paul to miss a moment of being a dad.

– Alana

Where to next?

Well our time in Helena has been unexpectedly cut short. We are likely headed on a new adventure in the very near future. There have been rumors of someone being moved for the last few months. There are only a few recruiters here in Montana, so only a few guys to play musical chairs with. Paul was just promoted this month so it looks like he is the lucky guy. We won’t be moving far. And we’ll still be technically on Recruiting Duty. But Paul is being relocated to Butte, MT to be the MEPS guy. We’ll finish out our last year on Recruiting Duty there. It’s only about an hour away so we don’t have to move far.

Welcome to Butte!

But the thing is the timeline they are running on is really bad for us. Sometime in Oct Paul will go to school for a week to learn to do this new job. Then he’ll train with the current MEPS guy for about a month or two, and they want us down there in December.
Umm…. I’m going to have a baby in December….
Also it’s going to be the dead of winter. And Butte is colder than Helena…
Yep, No one seems to care.
We want this, the job. It comes with better hours and most weekends off which will be great with me being a new first time mom. It’ll give us a chance to experience more of Montana, Maybe we will like Butte more than Helena. But the timing really sucks. This is not how I expected our exit from Helena to be.  I didn’t think that we would be moving from this house so soon. As much as I hate it here, I imagined when I left I would be saying goodbye to Montana, and Recruiting Duty, not just this house. And I have found myself being very nostalgic about Helena since we got news that we would likely be leaving. I don’t like it here, but there are things that I will miss.
I know this is a good thing but there is so much in my head right now it just hurts to think about it.
My biggest concern being the birth of baby E.
We are being given some degree of say in the timing of the move, Paul is being allowed to commute until official orders come through, which, we are told will be in December. So we have time to find a house. If we find a house sooner rather than later we have been told orders will be pushed through early so we can break our lease here and move. Paul will be in school sometime in Oct, so I am thinking our best bet for move in will be Nov. So we have about a month to find a house. That is if we want to move before I give birth. Or we could stay here and try to move in January with a newborn. I think really it’ll come down to when we find a house that suits our needs. Our biggest problem finding a home in Helena was Taco. No one wants cats. Its funny because the dogs are way more destructive than the cat, but whatever.
The next obstacle, if we do move before baby E is born, do I try to give birth up here in Helena? It’s only an hour away. Or do I just change all my OB stuff down to Butte? and have a new doctor and hospital for the last month of pregnancy? I do like my doctor, and the hospital.
If we do come up to Helena, what do we do with the dogs?

Part of me wants to just wait, and move after the first of the year, and part of me wants to just get down there and get the move over with.
I am so torn, I woke up last night at about 5 am and just couldn’t stop thinking about what would happen next.
If I weren’t pregnant this wouldn’t even be an issue, we’d just hit the road.
But I have this other person to think about now.

– Alana

Recruiting Duty (or I’m not #1)

I don’t want anyone to misinterpret this post, I am only complaining a little. This is mostly intended to be informative. I also do not hold any of this against my husband at all, I know this is just how things are right now. Also these are my personal experiences, others may have different experiences. I don’t want anyone to think that this is just how it is for all Recruiter Wives. I have heard much worse stories, and I have also heard wonderful stories where Recruiting has lots of perks. 

Marine Corps Recruiting duty is tough. Lately it hasn’t been as tough as it could be, or as it was in the beginning, Paul is usually home by about 8-9 M-F and works only a few saturdays a month, and maybe once or twice a month works a sunday. Better than things were in the first year.

But sadly I am still not a top priority. I feel for a successful relationship each person must put the other at the top of their list. There are times in everyones life that that is not possible. Like right now.
In order for my husband to succeed as a recruiter, his first priority has to be making mission (getting x amount of kids per month). I don’t hold that against him. I understand that for him to be able to be promoted, reenlist, continue in his carrear, he has to make mission his priority. That means long days, late night phone calls, early mornings, over nights. He has to do community events, and go to events at peoples houses, he has to participate in things even when he would rather be with me (well he better rather be with me). This week there has been several things going on in western Montana that have taken priority over sitting on the couch and cuddling with me.

I do undersand now why people say that Recruiting Duty can destroy a marriage. You have to really trust your man, when he is gone, 12+ hours a day, running around hanging out with high school kids, and talking to younger girls and boys. I feel I am very trusting, but there is still jealousy. I often find myself asking who he is texting, who he is facebook chatting with, who called (especially when these calls are after 10pm), and what they want. Part of me is just nosey, but part of me is a crazy jealous green eyed monster. 

But Recruiting has its perks too. We got to go to two Marine Corps Birthday Balls last year, one for the local Marine Corps league and one for the Recruiting District. We also often get invited to events, for free, We’ve been to several boxing/MMA events, the rodeo, and the county fair. Paul helps out with the Marine Corps League and it’s a small group here but the people in charge are awesome. Really great people. 

I still can’t wait for this to be over. 

Thankfully we are more than half way done with Recruiting Duty. We have about a year and 3 months left. 



It’s just part of his job

Recruiting Duty sucks.

Okay well I need to explain a bit first. For the USMC recruiting districts are broken up into 6 areas.
We are in the 12th. Marine Corps District.
In the 12th there is 8 main RS’s.
Salt Lake, Seattle, Portland, Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Orange County.
We fall under Salt Lake.

I couldn’t tell you how many stations fall under Salt lake, But I think we have the whole SLC area (maybe even all of Utah?), most of southern ID, part of Nevada (?), and all of Montana.
In Montana there are offices in Kalispel, Missoula, Great Falls, Helena (us!), Bozeman & Billings. But our office here in Helena, is more or less a sub station, and we fall under Great Falls (about 1.5 hours north)
So several times a month Paul has to drive up to Great Falls for paperwork, or whatever. Usually once a month he has to stay overnight.
Paul also has an office in Butte, and he covers several smaller areas surrounding Butte, including but not limited to Anaconda, Townsend, and Deer Lodge. The guys here in Montana have some of the largest areas to cover per recruiter because the population in Montana is so small it doesn’t justify more recruiters. So they spend a lot of time on the road.
But anyway, A few times a year Paul has to go down to SLC for training, This week is one of those weeks. Today he left, I think he’ll be home in a few days. But it sucks. I hate being alone, and since we got here bad things happen to me when he leaves. Even for day trips.
I lock myself out
I get in a car accident
I lock myself out again
I get the flu
A dog gets sick/hurt
My car wont start
The internet breaks
I get the flu again
I lock myself out a third time
(see a pattern here? I now have a key hidden outside, so that shouldn’t be an issue)
Bad things don’t happen every time he is gone, but if something bad is going to happen, I can guarantee he will be out of Helena.
I have decided I am not leaving the house until he is home. The dogs are on lockdown. For them there will be no crazy fun, no wild activities, no trips to anywhere.
I just need to go get milk and eggs and I am set for the next few days. I could actually live out of the house without leaving for about a week at least, but I have to work.

Recruiting Duty

Recruiting duty is just a fact of life for a lot of military members who serve until retirement. 

It’s no fun, but for us at least, It really could be worse. I’ve heard stories of ruined marriages, infidelity, depression, even suicide. 

Paul and I don’t like it but we really aren’t having the worst time in the world. I can think of worse situations. He comes home almost every night, although not always in the best mood. 

Some of our biggest complaints are the hours. He works from roughly 8 am to 7-9 pm Monday- Friday and usually a few hours on Saturday and/or Sunday. Also there are often days that begin well before the sun comes up, 4-5 am and those days still don’t end until 7-9.  Usually about once a month he’ll have an overnight somewhere, normally in Great Falls, where his supervisor is. The first six-ish months the hours were longer, days were more like 14-16 hours long and he was working just about every day. Thankfully things have gotten better, if you call 12 hour work days better. 

I think it would be easier, at least on me, if we were in a more populated area. I have learned from our time here in Helena, that I am not a small town girl. I need a metropolis, at least in driving distance. The biggest big city to us I think is Spokane, WA, which is 7 hours away. The entire state of Montana has a population of less than a million. The Tucson metro area (where I grew up) has a population of more than this whole state. 

For Paul there is a lot of pressure. It’s all about numbers, he has to talk to thousands of kids, and get hundreds into his office for meetings. And he has to get roughly two a month to agree to join the Marines. If he fails to meet his daily/weekly/monthly quotas he faces the wrath of shit rolling down hill. He likes his supervisor, he’s a really great guy, but it’s his job to make sure Paul is getting the numbers he is required. We have no ill will towards him, in fact we really like him and his wife, they are great people. But during business hours he is the boss, he is a good boss though, things have been better since he came on board about 7 months ago. 
It’s just very hard here because the population is so small, and there is a high instance of drug use, mostly pot smokers. So even if kids want to they have to a. be smart enough and b. be able to piss clean. Many that Paul can even get to say yes, are failing one or both of the above qualities. 

Bad days are often, good ones are few and far between. To be completely honest what I mentioned above is about all I know about what Paul does each day. He doesn’t like it, it makes him cranky, so I don’t ask questions when he gets home at night. I try to make our lives as normal as possible so he can come home and forget about work. Until his phone goes off at 1 am, Because one of his kids has a question, or has done something. 
So my advice to wives facing recruiting duty, if you can, get a job. Otherwise you will be home alone, a lot. As much as I like my alone time I would go nuts if I didn’t have a job. The first few months here I would go to target or walmart almost every day just to interact with other humans. 
Also, do what you can to make life easier for your husband. Don’t expect him to do too much outside of work, because there isn’t much time for him outside work and he’s had a hard enough day, he shouldn’t need to come home and make dinner, or worry about dishes.