April 1, 2015

The little things

Sometimes life is just more difficult than it has to be.  We call them first world problems, and they come up when things just simply don't go our way.  But sometimes, they pile up over and over again.  It seems like, each week, there is a new challenge I have to surmount and rise above.  Some are trivial, some are not. I say "rise above" in a little bit of jest just because I remember shoveling the snow from the driveway in Alaska or cutting the grass in the enormous yard and finally feeling a huge sense of victory at the end of the task.  It's like Pa in The Long Winter yelling You can't beat us! to the blizzard.  Victory feels good.

So each thing that seems to go wrong (and I really should be keeping a list) is just another little test.  As Joey said earlier in the week, you won't be tested past what you can handle.


On Monday, I started the truck to take it to work because I'm supposed to drive it as least once or twice a week. It'd been about 5 days. My car just gets better gas mileage.  I can't help it.

The little exclamation point warning light came on.  I knew it was the tire again.  Yes, again.  The second time in less than 6 weeks.  

So, I started my car instead, drove to school, and emailed Scott.  He said to send him a picture.  Well, after school, I did that and he said it was indeed the tire.  I asked what I should do.  This is the way my mind works: If I drove it to school, what if it got flatter in the parking lot while it sat there all day?  Because I wouldn't be able to get to the tire place until at least 4:00.  If I didn't drive it to school and take care of this today, what if it went flat sitting in the driveway until Saturday?  Because if it went flat at the house, I'd have to call a tow truck to come get it or fix it.  You may think that Oh, well I'd still have a car, but then what if something happens to my car?  Then I'm left with a truck with a flat tire.  Leaving the house isn't an optional decision for me.  I have to do it.  Plus, I live in the middle of nowhere.  Also, I am 110% a worst-case scenario person.

Scott says, "Oh, whatever's easiest", clearly not grasping the gravity of the situation that I am solely responsible for fixing.

Therefore, I drove the truck to work yesterday, contemplating if I should just stop on my way and call and ask for class coverage, then I figured I had a prep period at the end of the day, so I could at least leave 30 minutes early and get to the tire place with time to spare.  So I arranged for that, arranged for duty coverage for the afternoon, and then walked out to the crosswalk with my stop sign at 8:35 (it is a known fact that if something is going to go wrong, it will go wrong during cross-walk-duty-week).

I looked over at the truck in the parking lot.  The tire looked even lower now.  Efffff....

My principal was out there with me, so I told her about it and she told me just to go take care of it. After I got the kids settled with stuff to do, I drove to Big O Tires in Fountain.  My co-worker's husband works there and she said to be sure to mention her name, so I did.  The place was pretty busy for 9:30 on a Tuesday.  However, I was in and out in 45 minutes and they. fixed. the. tire. for. free.  I knew it would have cost less than $20, but the kindness of that gesture made me want to cry.

The point behind all of this is that there is always something.  And the fact that I am solely responsible for fixing everything is starting to wear on me.  The list of "chores" and tasks is never-ending around here.  I'm very grateful for the little things that remind me that sometimes it really does work out just fine.  Even if pieces of the fence still blow down when it's windy and I still have to figure out how to hook up the sprinkler system.

At least it's "already" Wednesday.

March 31, 2015

Does a cleaning schedule work?

I think so.

I can't lie.  The day I got this post ready to go, I went to print my cleaning schedule and the printer was out of toner and so I did what any non-technologically advanced person would do:  I copied it onto a piece of paper.

You can see that I took notes and made some changes as I went...the "haha" next to "Sheets" is because I washed them and then never put them back on.  Don't worry..since then, they were put on, washed again, and put back on. 

1.  I added "mop wood" to "as needed".  If it needs done, I'm going to do it more than once a week.  This one is really dependent on the weather also because, if it's wet outside, paws will track that stuff in.

2.  I added "vacuum furniture" in its place.  I had forgotten about that.  I try to get to the couches about twice a month, so why not once a week?  Of course, if I were going to add it to the list (I did), then I need to actually do it (I didn't).

3.  I gave the guest bathroom a good cleaning and then decided to let it go for now.  It's only me so I don't need to clean a bathroom I don't use.

4.  Clothes:  Is it kind of depressing that this is my biggest challenge? Ever since I was a kid, keeping the floor of my closet clean or putting clothes away as soon as I take them out of the dryer has been an issue.  I end up doing 2 hours worth of work once a month instead of just cleaning up as I go.  I'm working on it...there may have been a Wednesday night where I worked on the closet for awhile.

5.  Cleaning up the kitchen: I'm actually getting better at this.  I set the timer for 22 minutes and work, work, work until it goes off.  If I finish dishes/kitchen-related cleaning, I move onto something else until it beeps.  Why 22 minutes?  20 seemed too short, but 30 is way too long.

6. Dogs:  I try to keep up with their needs as necessary.  Making a schedule for this wasn't going to work.  Ears, teeth, brushing, etc are things I get around to a couple of times a week.  If they're not out hunting in the mud, baths don't need to happen as often either.  Don't worry, they're well-cared for (clearly).

7.  Does anyone have tips for cleaning a laminate floor? Our basement is now laminate and I know you're supposed to mop rarely, but what kind of mop or cleaner works best?  Google is inconclusive.

8. Most of my cleaning is still happening on the weekends.  Honestly, I just dated the weeks on my schedule, but I found it was really difficult to work up the motivation to clean on weeknights.  I would cross off a task here and there, but I did accomplish more on the first weekend of March than during the week.  Then Jett got hurt and I lost the desire to clean the second weekend in March and then spring break came around and I got a lot done but I was sick so I didn't keep track, necessarily, of what I was doing.

9.Those of you who DO use cleaning schedules: What do you do when things are particularly busy?  For instance, if I have houseguests, how do I stick to the schedule?  My strategy is usually "clean for 2 days straight" before they arrive, "clean for 2 days straight" after they leave, and then don't clean again until more guests arrive.  It's not a good way to go about things.

Did the cleaning schedule work?  I'm sure it would have.  And I'm sure it will. I'm just experimenting with things and figuring out what will definitely not work and then I'll have a better idea about what I can do in the future.  I think the trick is to tailor it to your needs and wants, your schedule, and your expectations.  Some things are more important to some people.  Clean floors, clean/put away dishes, and cleared countertops are my priorities.  Dusting and folding clothes are at the bottom of my list.

March 30, 2015

Crockpot BBQ Pulled Pork

Recipe challenge, week thirteen.

This is Scott's recipe.

He makes it when he wants to impress a group of people because people love BBQ. He would make it to take to work or potlucks often when we lived in Alaska.

One time, we had to go to a gathering at a major's apartment.  He was from Miami, so he knew what was good when it came to pork sandwiches.  This guy was Scott's boss and he had like 3 college degrees, and was working on his MBA.  He'd lived all over the world.  He also owned part of a coffee franchise in Florida.  This guy was going places.

I tell you this because he was in love with BBQ pulled pork.

Scott was involved in other conversations, so the major (I can't remember his name) kept coming back to me and saying how good it was.  He kept asking what was in it and whydidittastesogood?! and canyoubelievethisismy3rdsandwich?!.  It was pretty funny to me, because I kept saying, "It's just Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce! Really!"

The guy barely believed me.  We ended up leaving the leftovers (and the recipe) because he loved it so much.

I can tell you that it is a dish you start the night before, but it's almost hands off.  You do need to shred the meat, but it's so tender that it takes no effort.  I spent some time picking out the fat and draining it really well, but you don't need to do that.  Just pour the cooked meat into a strainer and then put it back into the crockpot with BBQ sauce.

Perfect for a potluck or picnic!

Crockpot BBQ Pulled Pork
use a 6 quart crockpot

1 pork roast (1 to 2 pounds)
about 1 T. garlic powder (I did a little less of both of these spices..you can adjust to your tastes)
about 1 T. onion powder
1 large bottle Sweet Baby Ray's (I use Sweet and Spicy, but you can use whichever BBQ sauce you'd like)

Trim the fat from the roast.  If there's a bone in it, that's okay.  You'll just take it out after cooking.  Place it in the crockpot and sprinkle with onion and garlic powders. Cover completely with water and put the lid on.  Cook on low for 12 hours (overnight).  The good smell of cooking pork and garlic might keep you up all night.  That's what usually happens here.

In the morning, drain the liquid and shred the meat.  Pick out any fat or bones.  Add the BBQ sauce and stir.  Cook on low for another hour.

Serve on toasted rolls.  (I didn't have any, but I did freeze a giant bag of this pork for when I have company!)

March 27, 2015

A Map of States

I enjoy traveling when I get the opportunity.  In the last few years I've had the chance to see a fair share of the country but, oddly enough, when I look at it visually I don't see that.  I see the places I still need to go.  It's pretty obvious that I haven't seen much, if any, of the south.

Starting on the east coast, I grew up in PA so, like any respectable Pennsylvanian, I'd been to Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Ohio, and DC.  We can include Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina in that.  I've driven through those states or visited/vacationed in those states a few times.  
Then, I went to Missouri in 2009 to visit Scott at Ft. Leonard-Wood and drove through Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri, and then flew home out of Oklahoma City when Scott was spending some time at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma.  

When we moved to Alaska, we drove through OH, IN, IL, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Dakota.  Then we lived in AK. 
While we were in Alaska, I went to Massachusetts for a school conference.  Also, we went on vacation to New England.  Drove through Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York.  
Also while in Alaska, we went to California for a wedding.
The next year, we went on a cruise that left from Miami so we spent a couple of days in Florida. 
On the way to MO from AK, we drove through Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Iowa, and Nebraska..ending in Missouri.  
Near the end of our time in Missouri, we visited friends in Tennessee so we also went through Kentucky.  
Then we had that lovely drive through Kansas on the way to Colorado.  

I'm hoping that, while we're here, I can get to New Mexico and Texas at the least.  And Scott mentioned something about wanting to go to Hawaii.  I've also been to Washington and Oregon more times than I can count for layovers, but that probably shouldn't factor in.  

I don't know that I have the best travel record, but it's not the worst.  33 states.  

How many states have you been to?

This is the website I used to make my map if you want to try it and I got the idea from Kristen!

(Have I done a post like this? I feel like I have...)

March 26, 2015

Stuff and Things 3/26 (plus TWD semi-spoiler)

+I finally caught up on TWD.  My friend said, "Finally!" and sent me this:

Also, I'm hoping Carl will put down Deanna the way he put down Shane.  I almost thought it would happen there for a second.  There's always next week...

+Speaking of TWD, I say the words "stuff" and "things" a lot.  Like, if you charted my most-used words, those words would be near the top.  For example: Get all your things out of your backpack!  Why is there stuff all over the floor?  Pick those things up!

+Speaking of school, I opened up my closet behind my desk to get something the other day. A conversation ensued (there is always a conversation...).

Kid: I thought a teacher's closet would have hats and clothes in it.
Me: I have a closet at home.
Kid: No, but I thought it would be full of hats or something.
Me: What hats? What hats do I wear?
Kid: Oh, you know.
(I definitely don't know.)
Kid: Or you'd keep like shoes or scarves or makeup in it.

The other kids, who are watching this exchange:

Meanwhile, I'm thinking what kind of time do you think I spend at this school?  I show up at 7:45 on the dot and I leave at 3:35.

Then I gave in and mentioned that when I had a bigger desk with a wraparound front, I would keep flipflops or boots under it because if I wore heels, sometimes they'd hurt my feet.

Kid:  See! That's what I mean.  I knew it.

I feel like I spend all day doing this:

+I went to the dentist on Monday because, when I was at the dentist in December, this particular  hygienist had concerns.  At the time, I was on a medicine that made my gums sensitive.  Well, she took one look at my gums (that she'd just finished poking and prodding) and diagnosed me with end-stage gingivitis (or something like that).  She wanted me to come in for some kind of laser treatment that would leave me hundreds of dollars lighter and "after a few sessions", the problem would hopefully resolve.  I was skeptical. I've been to 4 dentists in the last 6 years and no one had noticed a problem but she was insistent on the fact that my gums were receding and my teeth were in grave danger.
So, I went in on Monday for this follow-up exam and they were ready to do a cleaning and pull out the laser (which I had already planned to refuse because, hey, they can't make me).  I asked that they please just check my gums first.  It was a different hygienist and after just a minute of poking around she determined that there was no problem.  The end.  

+The current status update is that it's spring break, I had what I believe to be the flu on Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday, and I've accomplished very little.  Except that I've rewatched all five seasons of Breaking Bad.  That's actually accomplishment in my book because it was, sadly, on my list of things to do this month. I was having Carnival Cruise flashbacks though, because when we were stuck in our stateroom on that trip, we watched a couple of seasons of Breaking Bad.  I had taken the DVDs with us because I anticipated airport delays, and Scott had his laptop.  I truly don't know what we would've done without Walter and Jesse's company.  That will go down in history as the best decision I made in the latter half of 2012.  

Anyway, fever plus body aches plus headache plus sore throat is the flu, right?

I was definitely sick last year for spring break too, so I should've seen this coming. 

March 24, 2015

Motivationally Challenged

Is there anything you just don't feel like doing?

I don't feel like doing a lot of things these days.  There's a few things I have to get done this week.  I must get the garden cleaned out so I can plant things next month.  I must finish painting the bar.  I must mow down some tumble weeds.  I must run all the errands I generally put off.

I must catch up on sleep.  I must play with the dogs.  I must finish books I have started.  I must do this. I must do that.

I'm on spring break, which is quite blissful really.  Everyone always asks where you're going for break and, to be honest, I've never gone anywhere for any spring break.  You see, I didn't grow up in an area that had spring break.  Most of Pennsylvania doesn't subscribe to it.  So I never got into the thought of must go away for spring break.

Oh, I lied.  I went to Pennsylvania to visit for spring break back in 2011.  Scott knew that if he didn't send me out of the 49th state for a short period of time, I would lose my mind.

So, when I've been asked a multitude of times in the last month where-are-you-going-for-break?, I've just shrugged.  Sometimes the best break is just that: a break.  Time to regroup.  Time to relax.

Anyway, I'm motivationally challenged at this point.  I know Scott is too, but in a different way.  We Skype a few times a week and I told him the other day that the only thing that motivates me is caffeine.  The strong coffee I make in the morning and then the idea of an Americano on the way to school is the only thing that gets me out the door by 7am.  And then I think, why is that my only motivation?  Like, how bad are things, really, if coffeehouse espresso is the only thing I look forward to when I leave the house in the morning?

Concerning goals and forward progress, I'm kind of terrified to revisit that cleaning schedule goal, and I can assure you that the Bible-reading-thing has not been happening as much as it should.

If anything, the only area where I've not been slacking is working out.  Now, I don't know if it would fit in with everyone's definition of such, but I joined The Balanced Life Sisterhood at the beginning of February, and I've made it a point to do 30-40 minutes of Pilates most days.  I've also made it a point to get to the body sculpt class on Saturdays at the gym.  Of course, with spring break, I'm able to get to kettleball and kick-boxing and hopefully that'll up my endorphins and who knows...maybe I'll start next week in a motivated fashion.

Is there something you're just really not motivated to do? Any secrets for powering through? 
Sometimes I think we should start a support group.  Maybe my problem is that I have SO much to do (or do I create it all?) that I don't know what to focus on...

March 23, 2015

Carrot Cake Blondies

Recipe challenge, week twelve.

I'm getting worse and worse at having posts typed up early and ready to go.  I'm typing this on Sunday evening whereas, a month ago, I would've had the post ready to go a week ago.  

I've been feeling that I'm in a blogging rut lately because things are so stagnant around here.  No big projects are happening with the house*, I'm not packing up a classroom because we're not moving, and that brings up a bigger point:  this is the first spring in 3 years that we're not moving.  I did the math recently, and I'm not sure why I didn't do this before, but we moved in April 2013 and again in May 2014.  That's 3 states in 13 months.  3 jobs in 13 months for Scott and, because of summer vacation, 3 jobs in 15 months for me.  Plus two new puppies in 13 months (fun fact: Jett and Scout are totally Irish twins).

*Another fun fact: the kitchen/dining room is actually 98% done but you haven't seen pictures because I'm...lazy? That's probably the right word.

Maybe I'm not getting posts typed up and scheduled early because I keep all of these facts in the forefront of my brain and I get overwhelmed thinking of all the things.

I do feel that I don't have a lot of fun or new changes to blog about because things are indeed stagnant.  I can't make a whole lot of changes while Scott is gone anyway.

But some things will never change: I will make brownies or blondies, I will eat half the batch of frosting with a spoon, and then I will take the finished blondies to the staff lounge because I need to get them out of the house as quickly as possible.

This is the perfect Easter dessert.  That's all I have to say about it.

Carrot Cake Blondies
makes an 8x8 pan (double recipe for 9x13, but the frosting will make enough for a 9x13)

Wet ingredients:
4 T. butter, softened
1/4 cup applesauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup white sugar
1 egg
2 t. vanilla
1 cup finely shredded carrot

Dry ingredients:
1 cup flour
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 cup shredded coconut (optional)
1 cup white chocolate chips (optional)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

In a large bowl, cream the butter, applesauce, and sugars.  After the mixture is fluffy, add in the egg and vanilla until well-incorporated.  Stir in the carrot.

In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients.  Add in batches to the wet ingredients, mixing well after each addition.  Stir in the coconut, white chocolate chips, and nuts.  Spread the batter into a greased 8x8 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.  Frost immediately and store in the refrigerator. 

Cream Cheese Frosting 
For this recipe, halve the frosting...Or don't. It'd be good for breakfast too, I'm sure.  Just be sure to store it in the refrigerator. I halved it and still had extra.

1 tub of whipped cream cheese (8 oz.)
1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
1 t. vanilla
about 3 cups powdered sugar (I don't like giving exact numbers on the sugar.  You know the consistency you want.)
1 T. meringue powder (Optional, but will help the frosting harden.  Found in the wedding aisle at Wal-Mart)

Cream the butter and cream cheese together, using a hand mixer or the whisk on a stand mixer.  Add the vanilla.  Then, add the sugar until you reach the consistency you want.  Add the meringue powder last.

March 20, 2015

Deployment Problem #287: Not having a second opinion

I don't know what the first 286 problems of deployment are, but I'm sure I could come up with them.

Remember what I said the other day?  "It is a truth universally acknowledged..."

It is very true.

Currently I have my leg propped up with ice on my shin.

And I don't want to say that I ran over Jett with the four-wheeler, so I'll say that Jett ran into the front wheel of the four-wheeler while the four-wheeler was moving and it went over top of him.

Sounds much better, right?

We have a lot of cacti in our field and Scout never fails to get something lodged in his paw everytime I take them for a run.  His reaction is always the same: stop, drop, and wait for human-mother-person to come pick him up and fix the problem.  So I stop the four-wheeler when we are way down at the edge of the property line, I run to Scout and pick him up, I carry him back to the four-wheeler.  I try to get the cactus out of his paw but it looks like I'm going to need gloves and tweezers.  I could only get part of it out.  So I hold him on my lap and we start off back to the house.  Jett, meanwhile, is darting around and stopping and starting and going left and right and left again.  Scout is squirming and I'm trying to prevent him from hurting himself and me.  Cactus is really annoying.

And then Jett darts out from somewhere behind me and boom.  I don't really want to talk about it because I think this is going to give me nightmares for a very long time.  But he squealed once and ran about 20 feet away.  I don't even know where I hit him, honestly, because it was that quick.  He had a bit of a limp in his back leg for about 10 seconds and then he just sat there and looked at me as I threw Scout onto the ground, scooped Jett up, and started toward the house.  I threw both dogs (gently) into the cab of the truck, and went into the house to call the vet.  They were closed.  The answering machine said to call a particular emergency vet.  I did.  The woman who answered said they were a walk-in clinic and she was very nice.  I google-mapped the directions and we left.

I contemplated calling Scott.  We'd just finished Skyping before I'd taken the dogs outside.  I knew I needed to tell him what had happened just in case something was wrong. I didn't want to spring that on him afterward.  However, I knew Scott was probably asleep by now and he had a full day of sight-seeing ahead of him.  He'd been given a rare day off and I didn't want to ruin that for him.  (We can talk about the unfairness of the situation later.)

And then I realized I had no one else to call and got all depressed.  I could've called my parents but what could they do?  For that matter, what could Scott do even if I did call him and wake him up?  This was on me and I hated that not only did I not have someone to give their opinion, I didn't have anyone to help me.  It's an awful feeling.

45 minutes later, I pulled into Powers Pet Emergency and Specialty after fighting through the rush hour traffic.  Jett seemed fine.  Like, perfectly fine.  Like, just happy to be going for a car ride.  If you ask me, Scout was the annoyed one because he had to wait in the truck while I took Jett into the clinic.

I was fearful of internal damage because, like I said, I have no idea where he actually got hit. The vet couldn't find anything wrong with him.  Nothing broken, no yelps of pain.  The only thing he reacted to was the thermometer and after that he wanted nothing to do with vet-lady.

Awfully smiley for being at the emergency vet

My instructions were to have him rest and not use stairs or jump up on furniture.  If he started showing signs that something might be wrong, I was to take him back for x-rays or follow up with the regular vet. He was running around the exam room and sniffing everything and pulling on his leash in the lobby.  They probably thought I was insane for bringing him because he seemed perfectly fine, but he got hit with a four-wheeler for goodness sake. I almost felt like they didn't believe me.  Either that or they were ready to send him off to puppy-protective-services.

Keeping Jett still is easier said than done.  He hasn't been acting like he's hurt.  He still wants to run and jump and do whatever.  The vet told me to take him on a leash when he goes outside.  Yeah, right.  I mean, for the first couple of days, I carried him up and down the stairs to the fenced-in area and he'd just take off!  I mean, if he was in pain, he wouldn't be doing that, right?  I can't force him to stay still, can I?

Anyway, I finally got home at about 9pm on Friday night.  The dogs were upset because they'd missed dinner, and I had to sit down with my computer and a glass of wine and type out a nice long email to Scott.  Then I got to sit up half the night and make sure Jett stayed alive (my own doing, those weren't instructions).

Oh, so back to the beginning of this post.  Why do I have ice on my shin?  I definitely tripped on the porch steps when I ran in to get the truck keys on Friday night.  Pretty sure I cracked my tibia (my over-dramatic diagnosis).  It's ironic that this story is about Jett getting hurt, yet he seems perfectly fine and I'm the one icing my leg.  He's the one with the prescription for pain pills though.

One month of deployment down...

*This happened last Friday.  He seems to be better now, and maybe we'll try running again this weekend.  He does not like walking on a leash while Scout gets to chase rabbits.*

**Also, dog-love is very close to my heart these days because I rushed my dog to the ER for pets and was prepared to pay whatever it took.  This is probably why I got so riled up over that thing I wrote about yesterday.*

March 19, 2015

Stuff and Things 3/19

+Spring break starts tomorrow at 3:30pm.  Not soon enough.

+I initially gave up Starbucks and ice cream for Lent.  But I cashed in all our change and got myself a nice little $96 Starbucks gift card from Coinstar.  Then it started burning a hole in my wallet.  Then it was Tuesday and I realized I was not going to make it through these last few days before spring break without an iced Americano or two.  So, I'm a weak person.  It was a valiant effort.

+If anyone has a great, go-to iced coffee recipe, please share.  I've tried the Pioneer Woman's recipe and it's okay, but is pretty labor intensive.  I just wonder if there's anything better out there.

+I barely feel qualified to write this post today because I'm 3+ episodes behind on The Walking Dead.  I'm all caught up on Better Call Saul! though.

+A Facebook "friend" was lamenting about how she now needs to get rid of her 5 month old puppy because she has a 6 week old baby and it's all just too much to take care of.  Never mind the fact that I don't understand how a functioning adult would bring home a brand-new puppy when she's 6 months pregnant.  This situation truly makes me want to throw up.  (Have I ever made someone want to throw up? She makes me want to throw up.) And the commenters telling her to get rid of the dog make me want to throw up too.  Oh, he chews things?  Imagine that.  He's a puppy.  I also find it interesting that a functioning adult believes puppies behave without being trained.
I could go on and on here, and I'm perfectly willing to make enemies over this, but it's actually making me sick, so I'm going to stop here.  The idea of kicking one of our puppies out makes me ill.

+I saw this on a blog last week.  Such truth.

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March 17, 2015

P to the L

(as in, Praise to the Lord)

It is a truth universally acknowledged that as soon as one's spouse leaves for some sort of extended military exercise, everything will go to hell.

I could give many examples.  The time the headlight burned out on the truck as I was dropping him off for deployment #1.  Or when, two days after that, the heater in the rental house broke and it was -2 degrees outside.  

Or how I got to live through Alaska's snowiest winter on record while he was on deployment #2.

This time, the truck got a flat tire the day he left and I had to take it to have a patch put in ASAP.  (Okay, it wasn't completely flat...).

Also, this time around, we got a letter from Jefferson City, Missouri saying we owed over $6,000.

You see, the problem with being a working military spouse is that every state has different tax laws.  And sometimes you don't even know about these tax laws because no one tells you.  Scott doesn't pay state taxes.  But my income is taxable by the state unless I fill out paperwork stating my exemption.  Alaska didn't work that way, so I'd never done it before.  Missouri, apparently, required me to fill out some paperwork or pay up.

Of course, I had no idea what paperwork I needed to do.  We're Alaska residents.  In the military, you can claim residency wherever you want.  We chose to stay "Alaskan" because, eventually, Scott will make good on that vacation property he wants there and we have the driver's licenses and all.  It's just easier because we gave up our Pennsylvania residency anyway.  Although, we still own a house there, so I'm not sure how that works...

I'm not exactly fluent in the ways of the financial world. But I do know that the reason why I can claim exemption is because, as a military spouse, I claim domicile in another state and the only reason I was in Missouri was because of Scott.

However, it goes without saying that I would have as much luck filling out unfamiliar, random tax documents as I would reassembling a truck engine.

Scott was leaving the day we got the notice in the mail and I had to take care of it on my own.  I should add that he is the one who does our taxes. He has done our taxes from Afghanistan (twice).  This is not an area where I feel comfortable.

It was dumb luck (very dumb luck) that I sent in acceptable paperwork and they sent this letter back yesterday.

Everyday, I actually dreaded the stop at the mailbox because I thought there'd be a letter saying we still owe money.

Whew.  Praise the Lord, indeed.

I've already taken care of my Colorado exemption, so now I just have to remember to fill out the correct Missouri paperwork again for 2014.  Cross your fingers.