May 30, 2012

Local Fun in Southern New Mexico

We have spent just two weekends here in our new home. But both were filled with some local fun. The first weekend, we spent a few hours sledding on sand dunes in the White Sands Monument National Park. It was pretty fun! I don’t think that my kids have ever really been sledding (I know, sad) so this was their first experience sledding. I am looking very forward to hitting up Mt. Charleston this winter, which will be a very quick drive from our new home. There, we will be able to introduce the kids to real sledding. However, our sand-sledding experience was still pretty fun. It’s just a lot harder to lug a sled up the hill when it’s 95 degrees out and the sun is relentless. It was hot and tiring. I have no plans to do it again while we’re here – especially since the summer is only going to get hotter. And I don’t want to spend a ton of time in a place where atomic bombs were tested, because of – you know – all the cancer and stuff. But we did have some fun.

P5201145 Steven hiking up the dune.P5201148 Jack was not really a fan of any of this. But he made it to the top and played in the sand. We convinced him to sled twice. He was not impressed.

P5201150You can’t tell, but we were really going pretty fast!



This past weekend, we took a little trip up into the mountains. This is a trip we hope to make many, many times this summer. It was over 20 degrees cooler once we got up there and it was green instead of brown and wet instead of dry and pretty instead of ugly. We didn’t want to leave.

DSC_0033 Family picture at a beautiful overlook

DSC_0035 Crossing the bridge that runs over the mountain stream

DSC_0043Pretty waterfall DSC_0053Lots of crossing the creek over little logs – so fun!

 DSC_0061The kids and me trekking around the beautiful space

 DSC_0064 DSC_0079 DSC_0091 Jack sat on this log with his feet in the cool water for a really long time. It was so sweet.

 DSC_0104Still there. DSC_0121 Laying in the grass.DSC_0123 Just watering the grass

DSC_0100This is how it started for StevenDSC_0130And this is how it ended.DSC_0198 Blowing dandelionsDSC_0153  Before heading out on our hike. It was such a beautiful place to spend our day!

And now you’re all caught up!

May 24, 2012

How 5 Kopers Live in 475 Square Feet

So, we moved. Again. Actually twice since I last blogged. To recap our year of transitions: January 3rd we moved from Abilene, Texas to San Antonio, Texas;  April 19th we moved from San Antonio, Texas back up to Abilene and into Steve’s Dad’s house; May 13th we moved from Steve’s dad’s house into TLF (Temporary Living Facility) on the AFB in Abilene; May 18th we moved from the AFB in Abilene to an AFB in a tiny (TINY) town located in a basin between two mountain ranges in New Mexico, our current home.
TLF is like a hotel suite in that it is fully furnished and housekeeping comes by every day to swap out towels, change bed sheets, restock toilet paper, etc. We have lived in TLF many times before. We lived in TLF in Arkansas for 7 months. Remember? It was Jack’s first home. It was very spacious. We lived in TLF in San Antonio for the first three months of this year. It was a two-story duplex unit with three bedrooms and 2 1/2 bathrooms. We had tons of room. Even the few short days we spent in TLF in Abilene last week provided us with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. We are now in a TLF unit in New Mexico for the next three months. It has one bedroom and one bathroom. It is 475 square feet. It is smaller than the efficiency apartment that Steve lived in when he lived by himself in college.
Thankfully, we knew what we were getting into before we got here so we were able to plan ahead and be careful about what we brought with us. Everyone got to bring 5 shirts and 5 bottoms, 2 pairs of shoes (I may have broken this one rule for myself. Shhhhh), and we have 1 small bin of toys. For all three kids. Yep. I know. And guess what? They are surviving. And they are even having fun. Because guess what, American Toy Industry? Our kids don’t need entire rooms full of thousands of dollars worth of toys. It’s amazing how far their imaginations will take them. We are kind of toy-minimalists compared to most people we know, as it is. So it wasn’t hard to go to one bin for a little while. I let each kid pick 5 toys to fit. Jack picked 3 little footballs, 1 small soccer ball and a toy car. Steven picked 5 cars. Gabby picked a piece of plastic broccoli, a string, a spoon and some other silly things. I made her trade them for toys she would actually enjoy having, like a small box of Polly Pockets, a toy phone, a magnetic paper doll book. They each added 1 stuffed animal at the end to sleep with.
The only thing we did not go skimpy on was toiletries. Because the packers would not pack any liquids with our household goods, we have every bottle of hair gel, mouse, hairspray, body spray, lotion, cough medicine, spray-in conditioner and eye drops that we own. It is slightly ridiculous. I never would have brought it all with us, except that not bringing it meant throwing it all away which felt much more wasteful to me than taking up an extra couple of precious storage square footage. But oh, well. We also have with us all the things that make life comfortable; electronics, coloring books and crayons, my sewing basket, a small tool chest….We brought as little with us as possible, but it’s still quite a lot of stuff for 475 square feet.
Want to see our digs? Good. Here’s our fancy Summer Home in near the Mountains.
DSC_0995 DSC_0996 DSC_0997

DSC_0998 DSC_0999A tension shower curtain rod that we brought came in handy as extra hanging space when hung across the vanity area.
 DSC_1000 DSC_1001 A bin of drawers we used to pack stuff in is now a handy nightstand.
DSC_1002 DSC_1003This is the only actual closet space in the whole unit. It does not have a door on it, which drives my husband bananas. But it’s okay since the lack of doors gives us more space to stash stuff.
 DSC_1004The entertainment stand serves triple-duty. It is where we keep our shoes (in the bottom drawer), where we stash the kids’ pillows and other bedding during the day, the navy colored crates on the third shelf down are all the kids’ non-hanging clothes, and the bottom is the “fun stuff” shelf – toy bin, coloring books, crayons. The top of the cabinet is where we keep the motorcycle helmet and windshield, of course. What home is complete without motorcycle windshield storage?
 DSC_1005 Our stroller and the cooler we are borrowing are stored on our little porch.DSC_1006 Our three parking spots are wider than our entire unit.
DSC_1008 DSC_1009 And ugly picture in the bedroom is now hanging room for flightsuits, towels and other randomness.
DSC_1014 This is what playtime looks like – with the toy bin out and the kids having some fun.
DSC_1015 DSC_1016 
During the day when Jack needs to nap but everyone else needs to function and use the space, this is our current solution. A noise-canceling fan, a propped up empty box, and a sheet over 3 pillows in the corner of the bedroom. He has napped there quite successfully all week.DSC_0022 DSC_0023 DSC_0024
At night, this is our living-room set-up. The boys have been enjoying the pull-out bed, while the Princess is more demanding of her own space and has been sleeping on the two couch cushions held together with a bungee cord on the underside, making up a little Gabby-sized bed.
One major benefit to our unit is the location. Within a very short walk (10 minutes or less) is the grocery store, the base exchange (like a department store), a coffee shop, McDonalds (oh, dear), the base library, Steve’s work building, the base pool (opening this weekend!!!! Yesss!!!!) and several playgrounds. We really don’t have to spend very much time in our little home with all the great stuff right outside the door!
Somehow, this tiny little space is totally working for us. The night we got in, Steve prayed over our little TLF unit, asking God to bless it and allow the space to suit our family. And I think we really will be blessed by this very close family time in the next few months. Plus, when we get into our brand new 1950 square-foot home in Las Vegas after this trip, it will feel like a mansion and we will be all the more thankful for it. Now, I’m off to take my laundry basket of dirty clothes 4 doors down the building to the community laundry room…..but for now, you’re all caught up!