Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Ombudsman again, and the remodeling continues

If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you'll remember that I was an ombudsman at Zac's last command.  I had been warned by other ombudsmen that once you're an ombudsman, that tidbit of information will precede your spouse to every one of his/her subsequent commands.  It must be a small pool of people who are willing to volunteer for this position because, sure enough, as soon as we arrived at the command they had caught wind somehow that I had been an ombudsman in Hawaii.  Within a couple of weeks of our arrival Zac's command was already letting him know that a vacancy was going to be opening up soon.  (This command has more than one ombudsman.  More on that later.)

When Zac and I were wrapping up our time in Hawaii, we had talked about whether I'd be interested in being an ombudsman again when we got to San Diego.  I finally decided that I'd like to be an ombudsman again, but that I wanted to wait at least a year before throwing my hat back into that ring.  San Diego (and the Big Navy associated with it) was a little intimidating.  I didn't know the city, the different commands, the way it all worked, so I wanted to give myself some time to learn about the area before I looked into serving in that capacity again.  Truthfully, I was also hoping that when we got to San Diego that, 1.) I'd get an awesome new job (ok, any new job), and /or 2.) Maybe we would have had a baby in the first year.  Alas, I think we all know how those two goals have been working out for me . . .

So here we were, six months into our stay in San Diego (six months?  SIX MONTHS???  When did this happen?) and Zac and I attended a meeting that his command put on for the families.  We learned about the command, it's structure and what types of deployments we could expect to see during our time here.  They also mentioned that they needed some new ombudsmen.  Zac and I looked at each other and I gave him a shrug.  He nodded in agreement and after the meeting we went up to meet with the out-going ombudsman to offer my candidacy.  She was thrilled that I was interested and she said she'd be in touch to set up an interview with her and the command support team.

Today I had lunch today with Zac's Executive Officer (XO) and Command Master Chief (CMC), plus two other wives who are interested in the position.  Luckily they are looking for three ombudsmen.  The Navy would like there to be an ombudsman for every 150 sailors at a command.  Our command is around 375 right now and we'll be up to 600 in 24 months, meaning that down the road we may even want to consider having a fourth.  The other two wives haven't been an ombudsman before, but they seem eager and enthusiastic, which is promising.  I did take a moment at lunch to tell them both that I really want this arrangement to be an equal (at least as equal as possible) division of labor.  I told them that I was volunteering for this position with the expectation that we would all be contributing and that most of the time we would all be carrying our own weight.  Clearly the benefit of having multiple ombudsmen is that when you do need help, your kid has a fever, you want to go on vacation for a few days, you've got finals, etc., you can lean on one another to keep things moving along.  I just know of many situations where there are multiple ombudsmen and one does most of the work while the others (who do little) still get equal credit.  It isn't fair, it isn't right, and I wanted to be clear about that from the get-go.  I know I take this role and the accompanying responsibilities seriously and I want them to take them seriously as well.

So probably by next week I'll have a letter in hand saying that I'm part of an ombudsman triad at Zac's command.  I won't lie - I'm a little nervous.  This is a totally different type of command than before.  That was shore duty where most of the sailors were home, this is sea duty where 60-70% of the sailors are deployed at any given time and, unlike a ship, our sailors are deployed in multiple locations coming and going at different times.  This command is much larger than Zac's last command, and this command has many more junior sailors.  It's a whole different kettle of fish.  I'm expecting this command to require more time and attention than Zac's last command, but I'm excited about the learning curve and the new challenges.

If you're here for the latest installment of Extreme Makeover: Kotschwar Gasthaus Edition, here are the first few days of work:

The beginning of the demolition.  

The guy had a heckuva time taking out the cabinets.  They were really sturdy.  There was much  noise.

The debris pile. 

A little more than half-way done with Day One.

It's pretty empty in there.
The demo guy framed an extension of the wall.  This will allow us to have a pantry.  Oh, to have a dedicated food space! On Day 2 the electrician wired the new wall so we can have a light switch there.  Now we don't have to walk across the kitchen to turn on the light for the kitchen or dining room.

Canned lighting going in, the old fixtures about to come out.

Day 4, the sheet-rock guy sanded the dried mud and then sprayed the appropriate areas with orange peel (or whatever you call it) to make it match the existing walls.  Toivo was just happy to be able to lay on the tile again after being shut out of there for most of two days.

It's ready for some paint, I'm told.  Are we already at the painting stage?   Cool.

I'm excited about the little things.  Like this new light-switch that is easy to reach when you walk in the kitchen door.  No more having to close the door to get to it over by the hinges.  Hooray! 
So that's where we are.  I have to admit, it's pretty neat watching how much things change day-by-day.  They delivered the cabinets this afternoon so those will start being installed in the next couple of days.  I'm happy with how things are going and so far the guys that have been here working have been very nice.  Here's hoping for continued smooth sailing.

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