Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Trade Off, Revisited

A few weeks after my parents visited, my Mom sent me a link to my cousin's family blog after he had written about the trade offs between work and family.  He talks about chasing the almighty dollar early in his career and the sacrifices his wife made while he worked long hours and traveled often.  He has since realized that time with his family and enjoying the special times that you can never get back are what is truly important.  I was not entirely sure what the intended message was from my Mom given my current profession, but it led to a lot of thought on my part.  It is no secret that a lot people don't love my current situation because of the time away from my family and the environment in Afghanistan.  I understand the concern and realize that most people don't really understand what I do or see the benefits of the schedule.  Sometimes Ashley and I have to remind ourselves, we revisit them each time I'm home.  At some point, the benefits won't outweigh the time away.  But for now, they do and we like it.  It works for us.  And that's what matters.

Before accepting the job with FlightWorks, Ashley and I were both working full time, her on days and me on nights.  Riley was still an infant, making our opposite schedules that much more difficult to manage.  To be perfectly honest, my schedule at Target was killing me.  I was averaging less than three hours of sleep during the week and flipping my schedule back to days on weekends.  It just wasn't healthy and although I was home every day, I was not getting any true quality time with the family.  With FlightWorks, I am gone for large of chucks of time but when I'm home, I have nothing interfering with the time I get to spend with Ashley and Riley. We literally get 60 days at a time where neither Ash nor I have to get up to go to work.  In addition, my 6 month a year job also let's Ashley be a stay at home Mom. She loves it and I love knowing that she loves it.  It's pretty special and rare that any kid gets to spend that much time with both parents.  The time away is tough but with technology today, it is bearable - so much so that we think it is worth the trade off - for now.

I also love what I do at FlightWorks.  The level of job satisfaction is second to none. The following is one of the many reasons why I can make that statement.

While I was home, Ashley and I heard that one of my classmates, Seth Nieman, was injured by an IED in Afghanistan and was at Walter Reed recovering.  When I returned to Afghanistan, the guys I work with showed me the following note:

As you already know from visiting TSGT Matthews, XXXX took a pretty significant IED attack several days ago.  The Detachment Commander, CPT Seth Nieman, was severely injured during the incident and had to be medically evacuated to Germany and ultimately Walter Reed Medical facility back in the States.  I spent many hours over the 30+ hr period while he was here at BAF talking with him and catching up. Although he was heavily sedated he just couldn't stop saying how impressed he was with the flight crew that was delivering them supplies.  He stated that the few times we had military birds conduct the drops they were way off the mark.

They knew that HESCOing in the DZ it would make it more challenging but had to do it for force pro reasons.  They fully understand that sometimes a bundle or two might go outside the HESCO.  He wanted me to let you all know that the support you all are providing is much appreciated and keeping the team in the fight.

Thanks again for all your outstanding support.

Service Detachment Commander

Doesn't get much better than that.  Get well soon, Seth.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

We miss you already!

Well, it's that time again. Riley and I took Kevin to the airport this afternoon so he could begin his trek to Afghanistan. I stress about him flying, so the next 24-36ish hours won't be all that much fun. It must sound strange that I breathe a sigh of relief once he has his feet on solid Afghanistan. But, he is at Bagram -- anyone familiar with Afghanistan knows that it's a pretty darn decent place to be as far as Afghanistan goes.

Tomorrow, Riley and I will get back into the routine that I stick to (or risk losing my mind) while Kevin is gone. We will get up before the sun and have our breakfast. As soon as the sun comes up enough for me to see the barn without a flashlight, we'll head outside to tend to the horses and chickens. On our way back in, we will feed the dogs breakfast. Then it's back inside to play, read books, MAYBE nap. Of course, we will have lunch, dinner, and perhaps run some errands or go on a field trip (not necessarily in that order). Then it's back outside (this time, I have to use a flashlight) to tend to all the animals again before we head up for a bath and bedtime. The next day, we will get up and do it all again. Pretty exciting, huh? Trust me, it doesn't get old or mundane...Riley would NEVER allow that to happen.

For now, we are counting the minutes until we can get our hands on Kevin again. We love you! And we miss you already!

Thursday, November 29, 2012


Traditionally, Kevin and I do not go crazy on gift-giving holidays/birthdays (and often don't really celebrate them at all when it comes to one another).  We have spent so many of these holidays apart, that we just kind of shrug them off.  I suppose now that we have a little monster to dote on, these days will be more and more celebrated and anxiously awaited with each passing year.

So, here I am, keeping with tradition and only thinking a few times about what small token I'd like to get for Kevin to celebrate Christmas.  We agreed to celebrate before he departs for Afghanistan again, but I fully expected a Riley-centric event...boy was I wrong.

We parted ways on Monday to run some errands and Kevin made a pretty big deal about doing his errands without me, so I knew something was up.  Of course, my errands involved meeting my mom for lunch, getting groceries, and picking up dog food.  Kevin's errands...not so much.

When I returned home, there was a decent sized rectangular box wrapped on the table and Kevin quickly suggested we go outside (presumably to let Riley play around a bit, since it was nice) to open it.  "Ok, whatever you say." First, I unwrap the Ariat boot box (I know he didn't buy me new riding boots, lame). Next, I unwrap the Apple Mac Book Air box (I seriously got excited, because I love his new compy).  Then, open it up to find an empty box except for a tiny Reis-Nichols Jeweler box tucked in the corner.  Oh. My. Gosh.

Please excuse my sad nails.

There is not a chance in the world that I can top this gift.  It is so incredibly beautiful.  I am not much of a jewelry girl, but we agreed that my engagement ring was actually kind of sad (diamond is nice, but the setting was sort of janky).  I would've NEVER expected to get this as an upgrade though...holy crap.  I have an awesome husband.  Give him a pat on the back or a hearty handshake when you see him, because he done good.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Country Living

Living on a farm in the country is a lot of work and sometimes can be overwhelming, but there is no place I would rather live. Not only are we excited to watch our kids grow up with space to roam around and get into trouble outside like we did as kids, but we get to share it with all sorts of wildlife. The morning after Thanksgiving, we had a flock of 5-8 wild turkeys show up in our back yard. Seriously, the morning after!  I wasn't quick enough with the camera that day but here are a few of my favorite photos that Ashley and I have taken from our home over the past few years.
Sunrise on the farm (Fall '12)
Sunset after the ice storm (Feb '11)
Hawk in flight
Two of our resident hawks 
One of the few bucks that hung around long enough for a picture
Deer are in abundance around here, we probably see them at least 10 days a month

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Nana and Papa Visit!

My Mom and Mark came to Indiana a few weeks ago to visit. Ash and I would like to think they came to see us, but the reality is Riley was the main attraction.  It was just nice that we were here, too. Riley is at an age where he is more cautious of people that he isn't around a lot, so we weren't sure how long it would take for him to warm up to Nana and Papa. Turns out we had nothing to worry about as they were best buds again before we made it home from the airport.  It ended up being a wonderful visit that included a number of instances of Nana almost having a heart attack due to Riley's antics (yes, he is all boy and is completely fearless), many hours of playing ball, and too many books read to count.  All of these are some of Riley's favorite things to do right now so he had a blast during the visit.

Nana and Riley reading a book.
In addition to a lot of relaxing time at the house, we got to take Mom and Mark to their first Colts game versus the Dolphins at Lucas Oil Stadium.  If you know Mark, you know that he is a sports nut like the rest of us so he thoroughly enjoyed arriving to the stadium 3 hours before kick off to take part in pre-game on the field and in the club. The game was close to the end, but the Colts pulled off the victory putting them in great position to make the playoffs in Andrew Luck's rookie year. It was a great performance as he set the record for the most passing yards in a game by a rookie and I was glad Mom and Mark got to experience a raucous crowd at LOS. Thanks to Dan for assisting in getting them great seats for the game and for the pre-game on the field experience.

Mark in the South end zone.
A trip to the farm can't be all play and no work, even if you do come from California. I made good use of Mark's help while he was here to frame and paint our chicken tractor, or mobile second coop.  It's been a long time since we have done anything like that together so it was nice for the guys to get to enjoy the good weather.  Despite having to replace the wheels right away with more sturdy "off-road" tires and wasting a half gallon of paint figuring out my new paint sprayer, we were happy with the final result.  Now it's up to me to do the finish work which includes installing chicken wire, a door, and a chicken ramp for the chickens to get from the run into the coop.  Thanks for the help, Mark!

The chicken tractor.
Thanks for coming Nana and Papa. We love you!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Time for a Change

I have to admit, I never thought Facebook would become what it is today.  I often am terribly disappointed in the content friends and family deem appropriate and have been considering deleting my account in favor of a family blog for sometime. While I'm not completely ready to walk away from Facebook, I figured I would at least explore the blogging world that seems to be the newest trend in social media.  

I mentioned the idea to Ashley a week or so ago and she said that she too had been toying with the idea of starting a blog but was struggling to come up with a creative blog name and template that she liked.  As it turns out, her struggles became our struggle and coming up with a name we both agreed on was at least as difficult as naming our first child.  I offered up a few dozen names, all of which were quickly shot down.  "Growing Up Gilles" was Ashley's idea and like most things Gilles, I do what she says (and I liked it too). 

While the name was important to us, we figure the content is more important to our readers.  I figure most of what we blog about will be about our family, the farm, and our menagerie, but I won't limit us to just that.  We have lots of other stuff to talk about, too!