Being a teenager is hard. Being a military teenager amplifies that.  Sometimes my kids surprise me with their resilience, and other times, just like us, all the tough just melts off.  Every Spring, military families everywhere, jump into PCS season. Or Permanent Change of Station.  It means we, our friends, our community, is on the move.

We may  move this summer.  Where to. When. IF. No idea.  I will yodel it from the mountain tops when I know.  Many of our dearest friends are PCS’ing. Some with orders. Some without, it’s not always a smooth process, and there is furious house clearing going on (“Need a couch?”; “Want a freezer”), especially the 220V stuff needs to go.  The US is 110V.

In between the furious house clearing is frantic last-minute travel (“Oh no! I haven’t been to Prague!”; “Ah the tulips are blooming in Holland!”).  What that means is, especially for the kids, is that friends they know will PCS this summer, friends they expected extra time with, are suddenly, completely, unavailable now. Little hearts are breaking in my house.

Tess is at an age where everything hits just a little bit harder. Heavier. More dramatic. I know it’s a phase, but to her it’s her life and this moment and it hurts. It’s been a hard couple of weeks.  My sweet girl has been stomping feet, rolling eyes, slamming doors and raising her voice.  It’s a tight balance to walk between okay behavior and compassionate parenting.  Luckily, this week, we unexpectedly got Jack again! His parents went to see the tulips and wander the streets of Amsterdam.

And poor Dane is sick again.  Sick Dane can’t go to Chin Chin, and while I want nothing more than for Dane to feel 100% (and we’re 90% there today), the timing was perfect! Tess had her first day of spring break yesterday so I packed her & Jack into our bus and hauled them off to the stables.

She argued a little at first. She wanted to stay home. In bed preferably, covers up over her head, Jack at her feet, mourning her friends. I tough parented and put a sulking teen in the bus, plus a very excited puppy and took off.  Tess perked up during the drive. The sun was out, our countryside is gorgeous, and we shared random thoughts the whole drive, sometimes silent as we absorbed the beauty just outside our windows.

Tess was nervous at first, it’s been two years since she last rode (No Shoes. No Soccer.), since we last had a horse.  Chin Chin is a very loving pony. He quickly convinced her he was a good pony and that she should brush him. A lot.  Beautiful guy was in Heaven being brushed by me & Tess.  I swear his eyes were set to swoon.

She even happily helped me shovel poop and straw and get fresh straw. Only wheeling a full wheelbarrow was too much for her. I couldn’t shame her into it by sharing that Dane can do it.  She just nope’d her way out of that chore, and then happily walked next to me with Jack chattering away.

Finally we saddled up and she hopped on in one try.  He is a pony. I was still proud of her. I took a little wriggling, adjustment of stirrups, reminder of how to hold the reigns, heals down, elbows in, back straight, but in no time we were walking the fields and I couldn’t wipe the grin from her face.

Chin Chin can be a easily spooked. He doesn’t like things behind him, or noises he’s not used to. On a field ride I normally clip a lead and  hold him while Dane rides.  I did this with Tess. She was a little grumpy about it.  Half a kilometer into our walk we passed the stable owners treehouse.  The kids were there, banging away & Chin Chin shied away and spun in a fast circle. I held on. Tess stayed on and said:

“That’s it? I can handle that. Unclip him mom.”

I unclipped him and away she rode.


Jack meets Chin Chin


Jack coaching Tess on how to groom Chin Chin


Someone, not mentioning names, is swooning at delight at all this attention


The hard part was convincing the pony to stay still and not follow me & the puppy


She’s remembering how this goes and they are starting to speed it up!