Tuesday, May 31, 2011


There isn't any. Sorry for the fake out. It's been about three weeks since there has been any movement on any front for Lloyd getting either his leave or his discharge. He wasn't able to call or even text since Saturday, so there isn't even any news on if his cold/allergies are any better yet. Today is a regular duty day, so maybe something will happen, and Lloyd will be able to call this evening with an update. Until then, it's a continuation of the waiting game. (All you folks thought that we just were not updating when we didn't give you any news for weeks at a time. We really weren't kidding when we said that nothing was happening.) We'd appreciate prayers for some good stuff to happen soon....

God Bless!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Rainbow Days

Rainbows are pretty amazing. You only see a rainbow in the sky when the sun shines through the rain....a bright spot in a dismal day is what gives us the beauty of a rainbow. Sometimes life is like that too. There are rainbow days. When days are dark and gray, laughter shines through the tears and casts a rainbow on your heart and soul. It isn't that you go out looking for rainy days, but when they happen, you can search out that bright spot and find the beauty even then.

These last few weeks have had a fair share of those rainy days in them....not major storms - just those drizzly gray days. Sure, things in Lloyd's med board process have sped up to lightening fast by Army standards....if it gets any faster, it may exceed the rate of travel by these guys. Not quite Chuck Yeager, but getting there. In some ways, it makes it more difficult that we are in the home stretch on the process. Every little delay seems bigger and way more frustrating because the end is in sight. Little kids are way more impatient for Christmas the week before than they are in February.

We do have our bright spots of course. The big one is the planned road trip to Arizona next month even though the circumstances surrounding the trip are not what we would have chosen. Making plans has done a lot to keep us from going crazy while we sit and wait for the med board paperwork to move. (And wait. And wait. And wait.) It is a concrete date and place that acts as an anchor, and the time together will be the longest stretch that we've had together since we got married. It's very much needed. We are praying that we hear early this week yet that his leave request is approved. It will definitely help to ease some of the stress for us to know that at least that is going in our favor.

We thank you again for all of your prayers.

God Bless!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Oklahoma Freeway Trivia

The last week and a half, there has been much discussion about the color of the dotted line on the freeway. Everyone covers the basics of yellow vs. white in their drivers' ed class. The puzzle comes when the dashed line has black as well which is very common on the freeways in Oklahoma when the road is made of concrete. (Blacktop has just white dashes.) There could be any one of a number of reasons for this, but once you start asking, you've just got to keep looking until you find the REAL answer. After posing the question to many people (including an Oklahoma Trooper who looked like he had never had anyone who he had pulled over and had sitting in his squad car ask anything like that), it was discovered that the U.S. Department of Transportation has a thing called the Manual on Traffic Control Devices. It says:

Section 3A.04 ColorsStandard:Markings shall be yellow, white, red, or blue. The colors for markings shall conform to the standard highway colors. Black in conjunction with one of the above colors shall be a usable color.
When used, white markings for longitudinal lines shall delineate:
  1. The separation of traffic flows in the same direction.
  1. The right edge of the roadway.
When used, yellow markings for longitudinal lines shall delineate:
  1. The separation of traffic traveling in opposite directions.
  1. The left edge of the roadways of divided and one-way highways and ramps.
  1. The separation of two-way left turn lanes and reversible lanes from other lanes.
When used, red raised pavement markers shall delineate roadways that shall not be entered or used:
When used, blue markings shall supplement white markings for parking spaces for persons with disabilities. When used, blue raised pavement markers shall indicate locations of fire hydrants along a roadway.
Option:Black may be used in combination with the above colors where a light-colored pavement does not provide sufficient contrast with the markings.
Support:When used in combination with other colors, black is not considered a marking color, but only a contrast-enhancing system for the markings.
Random and trivial? Sure - but who do you want on your team when you're trying answer the question for that last piece of pie? 
God Bless!

Friday, May 20, 2011

May the person holding onto paperwork and delaying it get a paper cut.

"There is more to see than can ever be seen....more to do than can ever be done." Disney sure had that one right. The biggest thing that we took away from this last week is that we have got a mountain of stuff that needs to be done. We have paperwork to request, submit, and follow up on with the Army, the VA, hospitals/clinics/docs offices, and institutes of higher learning. We are planning a 21 day super sprint full out battle on the world to see how much we can physically get accomplished before we go to Arizona. We don't know when the Army is going to move on various things, but we want to have as much prepared as possible when they finally get around to it. The nice thing for us has been that we had a chance to talk over lunches this last week to develop a strategy that combines our efforts to give the maximum results.

For those keeping score on the process to get SPC Sheffer home for keeps, right now, Lloyd has three packets of paperwork floating around Fort Sill. The one that is our highest priority right now is the leave request packet for the time for us to go to Arizona. This one needs to be approved ASAP, and not just because we want to be able to know for sure that he has the leave. If it is not approved before he transfers to Charlie, he will have to resubmit to a different chain of command - and he won't have the month's notice that he is supposed to give on the request. We are praying that he gets word as soon as Monday. The second packet is the one for his med board which was submitted last Friday after a week and a half of pushing to get his commander's letter written and included. Yesterday he found out from the folks in case management that the profile information from his physical wasn't quite the right paperwork.....the doctor signed the one that said "draft" on it instead of the officially final one, so now we get to wait until he gets around to signing the correct one. Supposedly, they had been "working" on getting the signature all week. (Right. Sure. Whatever.) This makes two weeks now that nothing has moved when it should have. (The only reason that this is not more upsetting is that if it does go through, it might mess up his leave request. Maybe God's just causing this delay to allow us to get to Arizona without a hitch.) The final packet of information is his service records from when he was going through all the regular basic training stuff. (Training, certifications, qualifications, etc.) It's floating around somewhere. They lost it months ago and haven't been able to find it. Without it, he doesn't think that they will be able to process his discharge paperwork when that time comes. As soon as he hears about the leave, he will start pushing to get the chain of command to either find the paperwork or recreate it. (He doesn't want to make a fuss about too many things at once. Fight one battle at a time and all.) This is why he has become so completely paranoid about paperwork and has personal copies of everything since they screwed that up.

It has been said that TRAGEDY + TIME = HUMOR. (The Drill Sergeant "Stalker" is already almost mildly amusing after only a couple of days.) Someday, this will likely be a hysterical story told around the campfire, and someone will probably have barley pop come out of their nose as it's told. Not so much today though.

God Bless!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Like Alphabet Soup

It has been a long week for us filled with tons of important information, and it's not even finished yet. Luckily, between the two of us, we have been able to get most of it. You have no idea what a mess of various programs are out there for vets as they leave the military. It is absolutely no wonder that there is so much emphasis on having spouses there for the briefings. It's hard enough to grasp the stuff while sitting there....it doesn't make much sense when transmitted in bits and pieces second hand. Even though Lloyd has been to the classes at least 3 other times, he's still hearing new stuff and things that we need to know for after he gets out.

On other fronts, Lloyd has been pushing to figure out exactly where the delay in his transfer to Charlie is happening, so he can work on getting that obstacle removed. (His packet was complete and submitted on Friday, so he technically should have already been transfered. It's frustrating of course, but we are still within the "expected delay due to red tape and someone not doing their job" time frame.) He's also been pushing to get someone to give an answer on the leave request packet that he submitted. It's a fine line on both fronts for him. If he doesn't push, it will just sit indefinitely; if he pushes too hard, he could end up having some drill sergeant make his life (even more) difficult. Hopefully, we will get news on both fronts very soon. Until then, we wait. Still. C'est la vie. Right?

God Bless!

Monday, May 16, 2011

One Day Down

We went through our first day of the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) class today. Topics included some of the job search programs out there for vets, stress management skills for the transition, managing expectations for return to civilian life, and some of the college preparation assistance out there. It is enough to make your head hurt, and it was only day one. For all the hassles and frustrations, it is a really good thing that we are both there. It's going to take a lot of effort from both of us as we deal with the transition, and it will definitely help to have us on the same page as far as benefits as well as what to expect.

God Bless!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Blessed and Highly Favored

This last week has seen an improvement in our outlook. Spending lots of time focusing on how grateful we are for our blessings has really helped. While not a complete list by any means, here are some of the things we are grateful for:

  • friends who will go for a walk on a moment's notice - and then not even flinch when you show up at their door in tears.
  • getting "knuckles - with fireworks" from toddlers
  • puppy kisses
  • parents who worked to give us every advantage in life that they could possibly provide
  • those who remind us to walk by faith when we can't see the path in front of us
  • prayer warriors who are always at the Throne on our behalf
  • surprise adventures where the map doesn't go
  • Irish Spring
  • front desk clerks who can MacGyver open a wine bottle
  • waffles cooked on a cast iron waffle iron
  • free long distance phone calls
  • fresh from the garden veggies
  • Chucks
  • the view from Grandad's Bluff
  • no questions replacement policy on broken wedding bands
  • Christmas lights
  • fancy date nights
  • bacon
  • going to "kid" movies in the theater with no kids
  • ninja texts and phone calls
  • real weekend passes
  • painted toenails
  • listening to a thunderstorm while snuggled in bed
  • days where the primary objective is to relax in your pjs all day long
  • reading good books
  • ice cream sundaes
  • naps
  • long bike rides
  • our postal carrier who makes sure that the outgoing mail gets picked up every day even when there's nothing to deliver
  • cute little cocktail dresses and snazzy suits with suspenders
  • finding money in a jacket pocket...even if it's only a dollar
  • clean linens fresh from the dryer
  • campfires with pudgie pies and smores
  • an afternoon at the beach
  • getting an awesome parking spot at the store
  • spending an afternoon dreaming at Bass Pro Shop
  • Handel's Hallelujah chorus on Easter Sunday morning
  • friends who are willing to share their couch for a place to crash for a night or two
  • U.S. postage being fairly inexpensive and coming with such fun stamps
  • chocolate chip cookies
  • mugs of tea either relaxing at home or with a delicious sandwich at Kavarna
  • indoor plumbing and flush toilets
  • an amazingly epic spouse
  • stepping outside to temps in the 60s with beautiful blue skies and a bright shining sun to go for a run
  • the quiet peacefulness and beauty of freshly fallen snow
  • the amazing bright vibrant colors of spring
  • a tall glass of ice cold lemonade or sweet tea on a sultry summer day
  • the crisp smell of the air while watching the colors of autumn change
  • a fresh slice of pie from the Norske Nook
  • the sweet smell of an infant fresh from a bath
  • walking barefoot on freshly mowed grass
  • family and friends who share their home brew
  • laughing until your sides hurt
  • improving times on running routes
  • how much easier the internet makes it to stay in touch with friends and family scattered all over the world
  • men and women who set aside comfort and even personal safety in order to protect the rights, freedoms, and safety of others
  • discounts on buying envelopes in bulk
  • surprise packages that arrive on the doorstep
  • days when the sun melts the snow from the sidewalk before you have to shovel it
  • holding hands while walking through the mall
  • BCGs and ACUs in the back of a POV. :)
  • Dark chocolates from Beerntsen's Candies
  • getting a nod of approval for a job well done
  • hugs that you can feel all the way to your heart and soul
  • fields of sunflowers
  • bad karaoke with good friends
  • sending that last check on a debt
  • 50% off sales
  • being able to wake up in the morning
  • walking outside to blue skies and green grass, beautiful sunshine with the birds chirping
  • the fact that there is a LOT of places in the world...that are NOT Oklahoma
  • the fun arguing over the legality of Scrabble words
  • the people who use logic, common sense, and the human element to decide their actions
  • the writers of MAD magazine
  • beret wearing teddy bears
  • shared dreams for the future
  • all of you reading this

    God Bless!

    Friday, May 13, 2011

    The Definition of Insanity...

    is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. (At least according to Einstein. He was a smart dude, so we can probably take his word for it.) The definition of frustration is being only a few miles apart from the one person you most want to see and still being as far apart as when there are over a thousand miles of distance between you. Making really good travel time is not always the best thing that can happen in life.

    On the grateful list though, it was a safe and uneventful drive, and at 1000 tomorrow, Lloyd can sign out for a weekend pass. We'll continue that list tomorrow too. Peace out!

    God Bless!

    Tuesday, May 10, 2011

    Uncle Sam Hates Allie

    If you're having a conversation with someone associated with the Army, and they are telling you about some sort of rules or paperwork that seem absurd, don't even bother to ask, "are you kidding me?" The answer is no, they are not. They are probably even trying to do their best to make the situation seem less insane because the actual reality is completely unbelievable to a normal person.

    Lloyd had thought that he was all set to submit his leave request packet for us to go to Arizona. Not quite. He has all sorts of extra paperwork to fill out because #1 he is not going home for the leave and #2 he will be traveling to the destination in a privately owned vehicle (POV). (In his current status, he is not allowed to drive or even travel in a POV under normal circumstances and needs to get extra permission for his leave. For some reason, it applies to time on leave and not a weekend pass. It's easier to just not ask too many questions and go with it. Your head will hurt less.) The first part is all set and ready to go as well as all of the normal leave request forms, but he is having problems getting the paperwork for our Alero (Allie) done and will need to get additional help from a drill sergeant tomorrow.

    Yup. This is our life.

    God bless!

    Sunday, May 8, 2011

    Attitude Adjustment

    For more than a year, we pushed forward through obstacles and waited for the news that Lloyd's physicals were done and his packet was ready for him to transfer to Charlie. This last week, that actually happened. Instead of being happy or celebrating this victory though, we both have found ourselves continuing to feel tired, cynical, frustrated, and generally negative about a lot of things. Sure, it would be easy to blame it on the stress of the last 16 months, but it wouldn't fix the problem, and we it isn't the attitude that we want to have in our life.

    Enter the 365 Grateful project. (Thank you to both Katie Harbath and Kate Olsen for sharing the same link. It made it easier to notice when multiple people thought it was important enough to post.) What a fantastic way to cultivate an attitude of gratitude and focus on the most positive aspects of life. We have decided to jump start the process by spending the next week developing a list of things for which we are grateful. God willing, we will sit down together next weekend to put all of our notes together....with a much more positive outlook on life. For our prayin' peeps, we'd love some specifically for us to remain focused on making this list as well as for safe travel on the road to Oklahoma starting Thursday night.

    God Bless!

    Saturday, May 7, 2011

    Do NOT ignore the large sign that says "WARNING" on it

    It seems that Fort Suck Sill is still on high alert status in the wake of Operation Geronimo. Vehicles coming on post are being searched (why they weren't previously begs some questions on security - let's not get started), IDs are being checked a lot more frequently while on post, and it is likely that there would be much more serious repercussions to taking the back route to Geronimo's grave than just getting teased by your wife. It could make things interesting for future visits, but it is more likely to just take a few extra minutes to get places. In all fairness, the "high alert" security measures are nothing more than what one would expect to be the normal expectations for a military base. Why wouldn't you verify people's identity and check to make sure that vehicles aren't carrying weapons or explosives? Um, duh? As far as the back route? There's no way a POV should ever be able to get anywhere near there unchallenged. Even tiny little Fort McCoy verifies proof of registration and insurance for vehicles entering base....something discovered the hard way. (It's a little unsettling to stand at the security station and wait for faxes.) For next week's visit, there will be additional time allowed. How the heightened alert status impacts leave is yet to be discovered. On that, we're standin' in the need of prayer.

    As far as news on the med board status goes, this last week was a good one. Physicals are finished. Dictation is done. All of the paperwork should be in order for Lloyd's transfer to Charlie. Theoretically, it can happen any time now. The cadre just needs to get their biscuits in gear and send him over there. They can be a little lackadaisical about it though. While it theoretically could happen Monday morning, the experience of Amish, Peck, and all the rest is that it will probably take 2-3 weeks or possibly even longer. It is going to take a lot of restraint for a certain wife to not give the drill sergeant on duty an earful next Saturday morning if her husband is still at Bravo. (We'll have to see how all of those books on people skills work.) Once Lloyd is at Charlie, the game changes considerably. The primary thing happening at that point will be waiting for the review board to make their determination. The rules and privileges will be different, and we are going to have to figure them all out when the time comes. Hopefully, things will be a bit more relaxed, and it will make things a little easier on both of us.

    As those who have noticed the sharp increase in baked goods from Chez Sheffer or who have talked much to Lloyd can attest, these last months have been very stressful for both of us. (Thanks to everyone who's been eating all of the cookies.) We're getting closer to the end of this time of trial. Unfortunately, the closer we get to the finish, the more difficult it is to not lose patience or get frustrated.

    God Bless!

    Wednesday, May 4, 2011

    Short, Sweet, and the Slightest Bit of Sassy

    The good news is that Lloyd's phase one and phase 2 physicals went as scheduled today. He has dictation tomorrow, and that should go without a hitch as well. Theoretically, all that would be needed then is a letter from his CO. (Probably....it always seems that they realize that there's another form or something to fill out. You would think that they'd have standardized procedures and check lists for this sort of thing, but it's the Army. They are incredibly good at putting bits of metal into the bad guys. They seem rather inept at most other things.) Also on the good news front, the LES got unlocked on schedule, so he was able to print off the paperwork for the leave request packet.

    It wasn't enough for Bin Laden to be an despicable bastard in his lifetime. Even though he had become basically irrelevant because he's been hiding for so long, the military is on an elevated alert status due to reprisal concerns which is making life difficult at Fort Suck Sill. We're not entirely sure of exactly how that will impact us in the long term, but Lloyd is worried that it could hinder his ability to get his leave granted. He'll still request it, and we'll pray.

    God Bless!