And then there were 4...

And then there were 4...

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Saga of a Space A Traveler

Taryn and I knew going into this trip that traveling Space A (space available) through the military would be unpredictable, challenging, time consuming, and very stressful.  However, getting to and from the states for free was too enticing to pass up.  Our trip to the states on the Patriot to Seattle was quite pleasant, but it wasn't the military Space A experience that we were looking for.  So, the week leading into Thanksgiving week Taryn and I started looking at flights going out of Travis Air Force Base(Sacramento, CA) and prayed that there would be a direct flight to Kadena Air Force Base (Okinawa).  For two days we looked at flights which were projected out 72 hours.  Going into the week of Thanksgiving we knew there wouldn't be too many flights going out so we started to get worried.

Instead of just sitting around and being sad about the lack of flights, Taryn did some investigating.  She found a flight to Hawaii on a C-5 that would continue onto Yokota, Japan...Korea...and then finally Kadena.  Unfortunately C-5's are terribly unreliable on the best of circumstances and having 3 lay overs in different countries was not worth the gamble.  Although, if we could just get to Hawaii, we could more than likely catch a connecting flight straight to Kadena.  So, on Wednesday night Dominik and I said our goodbyes and flew to Sacramento.  We only had a short nights sleep at Taryn's parents house and then headed to the passenger terminal at 5am.  NO LUCK :(  all flights were filled with category III flyer's (we were category 4) we turned around and headed back to the house.

On Friday we went back to the terminal in hopes the cancelled C-5 from the day before would finally take off, as well as another C-5 headed for Hawaii and then onto Alaska.  Once roll call was announced Taryn and I decided to pass up the first C-5 headed for Hawaii and Alaska and pray really hard that the second C-5 going to Hawaii and then Yokota, Japan would take off as well.  We felt good about the decision and manifested ourselves on the flight all the way through to Kadena (knowing that Yokota would be our final destination at that point...definitely didn't want to get stuck in Korea).  It took about 2 hours to finally get on the plane and once we were on for about 30 minutes they told us that we had to get off again in order to refuel.  I knew that this meant the plane wasn't going to take off and they felt bad about it; but we reboarded the shuttle and waited for further word.  After 10 minutes or so the Master Loader came on the bus and told us that we were lucky to be on this C-5 because it was going to take off; the first C-5 (the one we passed up) had a mechanical issue and everyone had to go back to the terminal and wait for it to be fixed (after checking their bags and loading the plane)...not knowing when it would be fixed.  About 20 minutes later we were taking off!!!  So grateful for prayers!!  The ride was smooth and D and I had the whole row to ourselves.  The ride was 5 1/2 hours and our destination was Hawaii.

Planes on the landing strip

How we boarded the plane.  There was another ladder inside that took us to the second story where the passenger seats were.  This plane was HUGE!!

A well stocked carry-on makes for a happy toddler and prego mom :)
Once in Hawaii we unloaded and set up camp in the family lounge.  The family lounge is a public space designated for families traveling with small children.  There is a few couches, a play area, some cribs, a kitchen, and a bathroom (out of order during our stay).  We were all exhausted from the trip and pretty much crashed after putting a few tacos in our tummies.  The next morning we knew there was a flight with 20 tentative seats on it going straight to Kadena and we were going to try to get on it.  Our back up plan was to continue on the C-5 we came from and trying to connect to Kadena once in Yokota.  After 2 hours of anticipation and having roll call changed from 0540 to 0940 we were told that 20 tentative was changed to 20 firm seats and that we were 6th on the list to get on!!!  We were going home that day!!! 

Camping out in the Family Lounge :)

Our first time to Hawaii and the tops of palm trees were all we could see

Space A travelling in a nutshell...
The plane was a KC-135 which is a refueling tanker and it had canvas seats with mesh netting backs.  There was cargo down the middle of the plane and we were sitting along the edges.  The flight was 10 1/2 hours, but once we got to cruising altitude we were able to get up and move around.  There was even a place on the plane that we could put our little pool floaty out and take a nap...can't do that on a commercial plane!!  At one point in the flight the heater stopped working and the plane got REALLY cold that our water bottles froze...brrrr!!  Once we landed in Kadena I wanted nothing more than to be reunited with TJ and go home to take a long shower and climb in bed.  Unfortunately for us, the shuttle driver got lost and we ended up sitting on the tarmac for what felt like an eternity until another car drove up and showed him how to get to the terminal.  Funny now...not so funny then!!

The view down the middle of the plane straight into the cockpit

TJ was awaiting our arrival and it was SOOOO good to see him (despite his hair cut and mustache).  Dominik was elated to be held by his daddy again, and I was so grateful for help carrying all my bags...I had a lot of bags!!! 

All in all our space a trip went great.  If you take all the stress out of the equation, this trip was the chance of a lifetime!!  We got to fly on two incredible military planes, see Hawaii, and meet a lot of really cool people.  I'm so grateful for the opportunities and experiences we had during our travels and am even more grateful that we had such a good experience.  I know not everyone is as lucky as we were.  Beginners luck I guess :)

While You were Out heard all about Dominik and I's adventures...but what did TJ do with 3 weeks of down time?  Aside from work he was able to keep pretty busy.  There was a deep sea fishing trip (without seasick patches...lets just say lots of puking!), sushi fest 2013, some carpentry, and work when there was time.  He also organized the garage and managed to have the house in tip-top shape (up to my standards too) by the time we got home.  Can I just say how much I love that man!!!  It's so good to be back together as a family!!!

Don't be deceived...this food was for 2 people!

TJ built this!!  He is incredible!!!

Parting is Just Plain Sorrow

Saying goodbyes in the past has always been more of a "see you later."  This was until I had to leave Portland with no plans of returning for the next 9 months!  9 months may seem like only a short period of time to most people, but living in a foreign country that is 16 hours ahead makes for a very long 9 months with limited communication for the duration.  Well, if you consider it being 9 months, limited communication, and being pregnant...all factors included, it made for a very emotional parting. 

D's room at grandma and grandpa's.  He is so spoiled!!

Once the trip was all said and done, we ended up staying a full three weeks.  However, during those 3 weeks we made an appearance in Salt Lake City, South Jordan, St. George, Overton, Las Vegas, Seattle, and Portland.  Once the three weeks was over I felt pretty ready for a vacation.  One that didn't require any time in the car or an air plane.  Unfortunately for us, we concluded the vacation with a 15 hour plane ride, 8 hours sitting in the Travis Passenger Terminal, and 16 hours in lay overs. 

Despite the short time in Portland and all the traveling, we still managed to have a blast.  There is something about being in Portland with family that is unsurpassable.  The only thing that would have made it any better would be if TJ were there.  We played with family, watched movies, hung out with friends, ate a lot of American food (things we can't get in Okinawa), and just did a lot of good ol' restin and relaxin with the family.  I have decided that saying goodbye would be sooooo much easier if my family wasn't just so awesome!  We love them so much and are so lucky to have them in our life!!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Baby Shower Time

The second time around with having a baby - especially same gender - is always a bit awkward.  You want to celebrate with friends and loved ones...but you already have so much stuff from your first that you don't want people to feel like they can only come celebrate if they bring a gift...or even worse, you don't want people to feel like the only reason you want to "celebrate" is because you want a gift.

Lucky for me, I have so many friends and family that I wanted to celebrate with, but because of my circumstances of living overseas I can't...that having a celebratory shower wasn't awkward at all.  Brandi and my mom planned a fantastic shower on Monday where we had a delicious lunch (taco soup, salad, chips and 7-layer dip, taquitos, and pumpkin pie) and invited all the friends that I love the most.  It was simply yet beautifully decorated, and I don't think it's possible for me to have felt more loved and more gratitude for the wonderful friends I still have here in Portland. 

I have the best family (thanks Brandi and Mom) and the best friends (Thanks to all those who came)!  I am so fortunate to be carrying one of Heavenly Father's choice spirit and can not wait for everyone to get to meet him! 

Basketball in Seattle

Since we had only been on two plane rides, and one very long road trip during our two week visit...we thought "what the heck" why not one more road trip to Seattle to see Curtis play in the Seattle Pacific University Invitational Tournament.  The trip was short compared to our Salt Lake trip, and we rolled into Seattle just in time for the first game.

A few days prior to the games in Seattle Curtis went knee-to-knee with one of his teammates and thought he tore his ACL.  Luckily, it was just a bad sprain of his ALC tendon and he would be out for about a week.  Unlucky for us..that week happened to span the 3 games that he would be playing within a reasonable driving distance of our family and were all games we were looking forward to seeing him play in.  However, being the die hard basketball fans that we are thought it would still be fun to see Curtis and watch him and we all cheer on his team.

The first game started off very competitive and then Central Washington University lost all their steam and couldn't keep the score within 20 points.  Dixie left the stadium victorious and greatly anticipating their match up for the next evening with no. 1 ranked Seattle Pacific University.

Saturday was spent exploring the beautiful city of Seattle.  We got to see the house that I was brought home from the hospital to, we explored Pikes Market, walked down the waterfront and piers, and had a delicious late lunch/early dinner at the traditional Ivar's restaurant.  Once the sun started setting we headed back to Seattle Pacific University where we heard rumors that Curtis might actually get to was gearing up to be a great game!!

A great game it was!!!  Curtis played about 10 minutes in the first half and scampered off into the half time locker room in obvious pain :(  poor guy!  The team was in early foul trouble, and were unsuccessful at shutting down the SPU point guard who could take anyone off the dribble and shoot lights out from just about anywhere on the court.  With 3.3 seconds left in the game and Dixie down by 2, Kimball Payne (point guard for Dixie) got an inbound pass, dribbled the length of the court, split two defenders, and made the lay-in to tie the game and send it into overtime.  Saying the "crowd went wild" would be an understatement.  I thought my dad was going to hug the stranger he was sitting next to. 

Overtime was quite the nail-biter.  Dixie would pull ahead by 2, then SPU would be up by two.  Eventually Dixie pulled ahead and stayed that way until the final buzzer sounded.  Dixie won the game!! 

At this point we congratulated Curtis on their amazing victory and said our final goodbyes.  He should be fine to play in this upcoming Saturday's game again Western Oregon, but Dominik and I should not be here for that.  Farewells are always so much sadder than they should be.  After all...this wasn't a goodbye, it was just a "see you later."  It would help if I didn't love my family so much!!